Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ringworld

I'm deep in a Chaosium nostalgia mode right now. I'm still devouring my copy of Stormbringer and awaiting my copy of a 2nd edition RuneQuest boxed set I managed to snag. And today, courtesy of James Mishler, I finally managed to obtain the Ringworld RPG.

I never owned this game back in the day, though I wanted it very badly. I think I only ever saw it once in the stores, while I was on vacation in North Carolina. Rather than pick it up, I bought the D&D Companion Rules instead and, much as I loved that particular boxed set, I think I'd have been better off if I'd grabbed Ringworld instead.

I can't help but feel that I missed out on a lot of Chaosium-fueled gaming goodness in my formative years. Few companies can compare to Chaosium creatively. I don't think they produced a single genuinely bad game, even if they produced several that weren't to my liking. And I have long considered two Chaosium efforts -- Call of Cthulhu and Pendragon -- to be among the best RPGs ever written, nearly perfect from the start. There aren't many game companies with a similar track record of excellence, certainly not the TSR by whose Gospel I lived as an impressioble youth.

Better late than never, I guess.

22 comments:

  1. Ah, Ringworld! It is a prize of my collection, but I've never gotten to play it. It looks to be great fun.

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  2. I had the Companion book for this for years before I was able to actually get a copy of the game itself! I remember seeing it in a game store when it was in print as well and, though intrigued, passed on in in favor of ...GDW's Judge Dredd game.

    I was young...what did I know?

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  3. I've played it once and run it twice (a total of about 8 game sessions).

    The game as presented is nothing to write home about, however the material as presented is gold for any Niven fan.

    When Niven started farming out the Man-Kzin Wars novels, he realized he needed to present the authors with a "Known Space Bible" to work from. Instead of writing one, he photocopied this game and sent them copies as the "bible".

    A true prize in my collection. I got mine signed by Niven at WorldCon this year.

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  4. Another great company, that printed some great "pulpy" games was (is?) Fantasy Games Unlimited.

    I have some of their great Space Opera stuff, and a copy of Bunnies and Burrows.

    I missed out on most of the Chaosium stuff in the day, due to lack of cash, and snobbery towards any non-TSR and non-GDW products

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  5. One of the great things about the Ringwold game is the essays filling the GM's book about technical specs for the Ring. They're an incredible resource for any SF RPG, going into a level of crunchiness rivaling, perhaps surpassing, your average GURPS genre book.

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  6. Runequest was very populare in the UK, and in our gaming group. Ringworld was another of those games I saw in White Dwarf but never saw in the local game store.

    RQ II boxed set is brill hope you do a retrospective on that. I also hope you can get your group to play some of these games you didn't get to play first time round.

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  7. I remember have seen it in the local rpg shop in my french town, when I was still a young player. I was intrigued, but I'm not even sure the novels have ever been tranlsated.

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  8. Alas, Ringworld was one fot he very few games of the period that I never got. They had some truly different creatures on the ads for the game that they ran in Dragon and White Dwarf!

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  9. I got this game at the height of my Known Space addiction. Reading the books and stories, and having the game at my side, I was in hog heaven.

    Played it a couple of times, but not, actually, on the Ringworld itself, but in a campaign set on WeMadeIt. As I recall, it was quite a fun game.

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  10. Ringworld, as presented, was definitely something to write home about. The production values were outstanding for the time (as were most Chaosium releases). I mean, that's a Ralph Mcquarrie (sp?) cover, fer gosh sakes. And the interiors by Lisa Free (iirc) were fantastic.

    The real downside to the game is that it's pitched as a "crash land on Ringworld" RPG and not a "Known Sapce" RPG. Still, there's tons of great info for a Niven-based campaign in there.

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  11. I never saw this. I think this is the only game (other than Bunnies and Burrows) you've mentioned that I never owned.

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  12. Ah Ringworld. Definitely a prize in my collection, although sadly packed away in storage right now. I ran it a few times back in the day, and derived even more pleasure from the Known Space / Tech Data in it. My strongest memory is using the tech rules to design a suit of "Iron Man" style armor as a prize for one of my players.

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  13. I bought this and the companion book when they were released. I consider it one of the gems in my collection. Possibly the best 'background' info of any setting. We never ran it proper but we did use it as the setting for an AD&D campaign. Set on the 1:1 scale map of Earth. I think I was the only player to ever figure out whet the Great Arch actual was. :)

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  14. Like you, I came to Chaosium late. Been catching up ever since. (Personal quest: to own one of every edition of CoC ever made.)

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  15. Back in the day as a teen at Aero Hobbies in Santa Monica, I played in some CoC games run by a local teacher who was a friend of Sandy p. i vividly remember a bunch of us sitting around the shop while he read a letter from Sandy around 82 or 83, and in it Sandy detailed a lot of the work that was going into the Ringworld game, including rules and artwork and such. I never did end up taking a look at the game when it came out. I guess I was pretty busy with AD&D, Champions, and CoC campaigns.

    Although I read the first Niven book, I never really had much desire to run a campaign on Ringworld. Flash forward 20 years or so and I am playing a little video game called Halo 2. The amazing visuals during play on the Halo ring made me seriously reconsider. Gazing into the distance and seeing the ring rise up and fade into the sky like some road to heaven is an amazing, chill inducing image.

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  16. @Brunomac

    Back in the day as a teen at Aero Hobbies in Santa Monica,...

    Those are my old stomping grounds, too! :)

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  17. Chaosium does some games really well, and others not so much. Stormbringer is a good one; ElfQuest (while a beautiful book, chock-full o fun)...um, not so much.

    Glad you're enjoying RW.

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  18. Ringworld is my favorite novel. The game provides a wealth of background information about Known Space, though not really all that much about the Ringworld. The game itself seemed very mechanical and uninspired. Part of the problem is the setting. Invulnerable General Products hulls, gigantic gas lasers, Slaver Stasis fields, and infinitely lucky people make for good stories, but are probably not good for an RPG. See Niven's "Safe at Any Speed" story. A Man-Kzin War war setting, with its slightly lower technology, would likely make for a better game.

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  19. Another great company, that printed some great "pulpy" games was (is?) Fantasy Games Unlimited.

    FGU is a company about which I have some very mixed feelings. I plan on talking about them in the not-too-distant future as well.

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  20. RQ II boxed set is brill hope you do a retrospective on that.

    I shall indeed -- have no fear.

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  21. Ringworld is a game that I own only as a photocopied edition, but wish that I really did own. There are few games that I wished I owned and this is one of them. I have the Companion though...

    A friend did run it, though I remember very little from the scenario itself. It was twenty years ago now.

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