We didn’t have too many bombs when I was president of Chaosium. But no one is perfect.
“Superworld” was originally one of three 16-page games in the boxed Worlds of Wonder RPG. It was the usual Chaosium d100 system, and original cover was so great that it was one of our biggest preorder autoshipments. Look at that gorgeous cover! The other two games were “Fantasy World” and “Future World.” The idea was to use the generic RPG system and pump out a batch of other “Wonderworlds,” wow the whole market with our cleverness, and retire as millionaires.
Steve Perrin loved superhero games, and with this assignment took the Superworld from WoW and turned it into its own full game. He admits that he largely copied ideas from the superhero game he had been playing, whose name was Hero Games Champions.
Well, since we had a game now we had to have supplements for it. We commissioned one of our favorite writers, Ken Rolston to create one. I believe he was a high school teacher at that time. He wrote Bad Medicine for Dr. Drugs, where the characters would be high school superheroes working to get rid of the nasty drug dealers in their otherwise blissful school.
It was awful. Ken is indeed a master, but at that point his choice of setting and situation was so… soinappropriate that he was, in this case, Master of the Awful. This supplement was a real dog and we ended up with boxes of copies that would never sell.
After a few years of them collecting dust I decided to just get rid of them and get a write off. Dundracon, our local game convention (which is still going on each year) was coming up so I took a couple of boxes over. On the first night of the convention I just walked through the open gaming room and gave a copy to anyone who wanted a free game supplement. I got rid of a LOT of games, maybe 50 or so. It was a BIG open gaming room. I felt pretty good about it.
I went from the open gaming room up to the lobby where, to my utter surprise, I bumped into Ken himself checking in! I hadn’t even known he was going to attend. We were each squealing and shouting happiness at each other and he said he didn’t even want to get his suitcase to his room. He wanted a tour of the gaming site right now. This being my local con I agreed and we set off. First stop, Open Gaming!
We were just sort of wandering around the room, seeing what people were playing, when Ken said to me, “Hey look, that guy’s got a Bad Medicine!”
“Oh yea,” I replied, “It’s actually the hottest game around here.”
“Ohhh yea,” said Ken, knowingly, “Right.”
“No, I’m serious!” I said. I pulled up a chair and stood on it, and it my loudest voice (which is still fully capable of being heard over a bit room full of gamers playing) I shouted out, “Hey everybody! Everybody who has a copy of Bad Medicine for Doctor Drugs, pull it out and hold it up over your head!”
There must have been 30 people who did just that. I looked down at Ken, who was agape with astonishment.
“See,” I said, “I told you!” OK, I really meant he was agape with laughter. Me too.