from the Wise (Guys)
the twenty-first issue of The
At the start of October, I planned to use this editorial to describe some imminent changes in The Guild Companion and to continue my musings on the D20 system and "open gaming". That was before the news broke that ICE was dying.
Sunset for ICE
Years ago at the height of the "solo gamebook" craze (remember "Choose Your Own Adventure", "Fighting Fantasy", "Lone Wolf" and all the rest?), ICE made an extremely costly mistake with a line of Middle-Earth gamebooks. The company found itself saddled with a million-dollar debt.
Lesser companies would have died there and then.
ICE survived and occasionally even flourished, but always under the shadow of that great debt. Over a year ago, ICE filed for "Chapter 11" protection in order to reorganize its debts. Though it lost the Middle-Earth license, ICE was able to modernize its Rolemaster and Spacemaster lines, support "Run out the Guns!", and expand its highly successful Silent Death space wargame. They even came tantalizing close to releasing Bladelands, a new fantasy setting for Rolemaster.
Last month (October 2000) ICE unveiled its plan for recovery from "Chapter 11" status. Unfortunately the plan was vetoed and ICE was compelled to file for "Chapter 7" - the complete liquidation of the company. ICE's headquarters has been sold, its staff made redundant and a bankruptcy trustee has been appointed to complete the dissolution process.
Thus ends the final chapter of ICE's glorious and proud twenty-year history of delivering great games of every type to gamers across the world.
The Memory of ICE
For me personally, ICE provided countless hours of great fun and enjoyment through its Rolemaster, Middle-Earth and Spacemaster products in all their various incarnations. Thursday nights in Cambridge have always been Rolemaster nights for the last seven years. ICE also allowed two naïve would-be writers to add to the Rolemaster Standard System by accepting and publishing our conception of the realm of Mentalism as the Mentalism Companion.
I am not alone in this. Other members of the Guild have similar fond memories of playing and running ICE's games, and many gained their first entry into the world of publishing thanks to ICE.
As a magazine, The Guild Companion has been very grateful for ICE's support and permission to publish articles and fiction for and about their games. The Guild Companion has benefited greatly from the freedoms which successive ICE editors have granted us.
We may not have always agreed with ICE's decisions or policies, but ICE staff always put their heart and soul into their products and their work, doing their best in increasingly tough circumstances. All the staff at ICE have our best wishes for their future careers.
ICE will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.
So is that it? Are Rolemaster, Spacemaster, Run out the Guns!, and Silent Death dead? Is Bladelands never to see the light of day? Will these great games endure only in the hands of scattered gaming groups?
ICE's legacy will live on in new hands.
In the role-playing arena, there are rumors that a European games company is interested in purchasing the rights to ICE's role-playing games. There is also a consortium of private individuals who have expressed a desire to carry the games forward into the future. Stephen Lee (see www.idtiger.com) is making preparations to form a joint-stock company to raise the funds to buy the rights. Most of the discussions are happening on the Rolemaster mailing list.
(To subscribe, send an email to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, e.g. if your email address was email@example.com, then send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
(In news just in, Stephen Lee has announced that he'll be setting up a web-based forum to discuss this - the address is www.ironcrown.org)
The rights to Silent Death appear to have already been sold to Mythic Entertainment. However a band of Silent Death writers and gamers have united (under SeanMike Whipkey) to save the tabletop game. They freely admit that their plan is mad, but they'll fly until they die. (And their plan might work too!) Again there are discussions happening on mailing lists, so if you're interested in preserving Silent Death, then join the saveSD list at http://www.egroups.com/group/saveSD.
All of the above was true when this editorial was written on October 28th 2000. However the situation is extremely volatile with changes happening at an incredible pace. Existing bidders may merge or new factions may appear. The Guild Companion will do its best to keep you informed on the latest news.
The Guild Companion
What does the future hold for The Guild Companion?
We plan to be a center of stability throughout this time of trouble. We will continue to support all of ICE's legacy, and once the ownership of the games has been resolved, we will build a new publishing relationship with the new owners.
Collectively the Guild now holds the copyrights to a number of Rolemaster and Spacemaster products as the rights reverted to the authors with ICE's liquidation. Our aim will be to get these books, including some thought lost forever (such as Essence Companion and Castles & Ruins) and some complete manuscripts, back into publication with the new owners.
A New Webmaster and A New Server
Cliff Hammerschmidt is stepping down as webmaster for The Guild Companion this month. The Guild Companion would like to express its thanks for all his heroic efforts in designing and maintaining this site since its very inception. Cliff will be remaining a staff member in the less stressful role as a regular writer and reviewer.
We welcome Ian Thornton-Trump as our new webmaster and web site provider. We'll be moving the site to a new server (and indeed may have already completed the move as you read this) which will allow us to provide a number of new and exciting services to support all our readers. We hope to minimize any disruption during the switch, but accidents do happen, so let us know if you find anything broken on the new site.
Farewell (for now ...)
Our next issue will appear in December 2000, but until then
Keep gaming and keep the faith!
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion
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