Sunday, 12 June 2011

Crazy things you didn't know about 3 RPG companies

Ask anyone familiar with tabletop roleplaying games who make Dungeons and Dragons and they will likely answer Wizards of the Coast.

However, there are some weird things games companies have done that few people know about; and in some cases secrets best left unearthed.

So for you reading pleasure, here are some things you didn't know about three roleplaying companies.

1. White Wolf (inadvertently) created a WWE wrestler...and then sued him

Let's just say that the typical gamer is not well known for their physique (not me of course; I'm built like an angry Bruce Banner). Mixing roleplaying and sports is to nerds is what merging Lady GaGa and black metal is to metalheads - it just isn't done.

Well that's not what David 'Gangrel' Heath thought, a WWE wrestler whose ring name was taken directly from a Vampire: The Masquerade clan. Not that anyone would make fun of him for it, with moves like The Impaler and a habit of spitting blood everywhere.

If the thought of a muscle-bound goth lumbering around a ring doesn't unnerve you then this will do it. Gangrel once teamed up with fellow wrestlers Christian and Edge to form, and I'm not kidding, a faction called The Brood. That's not the weird part. The Brood had this gimmick where when they were in the ring the lights went out and when they came back on their opponent would be covered in blood.

When CPP games bought out White Wolf they weren't happy with Gangrel keeping his name so decided to sue the WWE. The case eventually fell through since there wasn't enough evidence to show that the character was infringing trademark rights.

2. Wizards made a diceless RPG...and then quit RPGs

There was once a time when Wizards of the Coast wasn't the massive Hasbro subsidiary it is now. Once, founder Peter Adkison was working in his basement with a handful of employees, solely producing roleplaying games like Talislanta (which is still going now). Then one day a guy called Richard Garfield came along and invented Manaclash, which became Magic: The Gathering. After massive success with the trading card game, Wizards hit the big time and Adkison was rolling in baths of cash laughing gleefully.

After Garfield became their TCG cash cow, Wizards decided to release a new roleplaying game called Everway, which was one of the few RPGs that didn't involve dice. It was an innovative game that involved a fantasy-style multiverse with oodles of ancient mythological themes. A tarot deck was used as a randomiser, but the GM could interpret the cards in any way she wanted, making the GM crazy powerful.

Although Everway was clearly a cool concept, four months after production Wizards decided to kick it and all their RPGs to the curb, stating that they were losing money on them.

But we all know what happens next. Wizards acquires TSR and Dungeons and Dragons and lives happily ever after, pissing off gamers left, right and centre.

3. Palladium is trying to make a Rifts movie...with Disney

Rifts undoubtedly has a really great mythology. Anything you can imagine can happen in this game, with a multitude of transdimensional portals opening up around the world, spewing out anything from aliens to King Arthur. Sounds like a great premise for a movie, right?

Well, Palladium certainly thinks so and in 2004 the movie rights were optioned to none other than Disney. Pirates of the Caribbean director producer Jerry Bruckheimer was approached to make the film a reality, but there the project seems to be having difficulties getting off the ground. The last thing Palladium gave an update was back in 2009, when they said the film option had been renewed for another year.