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Words from the Wise (Guys)

An Editorial Rant


To the eleventh issue of The Guild Companion, and the first to be published in 2000. Happy Millennial Year to all our readers.

The fact that you are reading this on or after January 1st 2000 suggests that we've all survived the Millennium Bug. Of course, I'm writing this in early December, so anything could happen between now and then ...

The Winds of Change

The start of a new year always sees a boom in charlatans and prognosticators trying to predict the trends and events of the coming year. So if you can't beat them, join them ...

The buyout of Wizards of the Coast by Hasbro will do more than make a lot of Wizards of the Coast staffers wealthy. It provides Wizards of the Coast with the capital to take big risks to reap even bigger profits further downstream. It also provides new opportunities to tie role-playing and adventure games into the more mainstream activities of Hasbro and their abundance of licensed games.

1999 saw the return of George Lucas' vision of the struggle between good and evil to the cinema with Star Wars : The Phantom Menace. Prior to their declaration of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, West End Games held the license to role-playing games based on the original Star Wars trilogy. However, this was lost by the advent of The Phantom Menace, leaving no official supported RPG for the Star Wars fans.

That has now changed with Wizards of the Coast acquiring the complete Star Wars RPG license. With the first of their Star Wars products projected to appear in the third quarter of 2000, Wizards of the Coast will be ideally placed to nurture and build interest in the genre in advance of the second episode of the prequel trilogy. A well-supported Star Wars game could do much to bring new gamers into the hobby.

Closer to home, 1999 saw ICE declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the consequent loss of the Middle-Earth license, even as filming for the Lord of The Rings movie trilogy was underway in New Zealand. The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings are fundamental works of modern fantasy. Even if the cinematic versions mangle the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, there will still be an upsurge in gamers, new and old, inspired to play in Middle-Earth. There needs to be an effective supported role-playing game which captures the style and tone of Tolkien's world, before the movies appear.

I'd prefer the successor to MERP to be something other than 3rd Edition Dungeons Dragons. However, neither should it be MERP or Rolemaster as both systems are too magic-heavy. One difficulty I foresee in replacing MERP with a new system will be rewriting the source material. ICE has mined the imaginative resources of the main areas of northwestern Endor very thoroughly.

A question (to be answered on our Middle-Earth discussion forum): What features would you like a new role-playing game for Middle-Earth to possess?

Speaking of ICE, 2000 will be the year of decision, which will make or break the company. A whole slew of Rolemaster FRP and Spacemaster products are at various stages in the publishing cycle. As usual, there are rumors that Bladelands is once again nearing completion. The clock, however, is ticking. Bladelands must be established before 3rd Edition Dungeons Dragons arrives on the scene at GenCon 2000, because no other products will be able to compete with 3rd Edition in terms of publicity. It will be interesting to see if ICE will publish or perish.

Farewell (for now ...)

Time for me to stop ranting and for you to start reading. Our next issue will be published in February 2000 but until then,

Keep gaming and have fun!

Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor
Co-author Mentalism Companion

Please post your thoughts on the General Discussion Board.

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