Saturday, May 14, 2016

Buck Rogers Adventure Game

The Buck Rogers Adventure Game has an interesting history. HeroPress has information on the rules and content but I want to briefly touch on the backstory of the game.

Gary Gygax had just lost control of TSR, which he had actually had for a only brief period of time (read this for more details) and the reins of the company were now in the hands of Lorraine Williams, who, through her family, also owned the rights to the Buck Rogers character (do you see where this is going).

Since the rights to Buck Rogers were separate from TSR, Williams, while continuing to produce the company's mainstay D&D products, also directed TSR to produce books, boardgames, comics and RPGs utilizing the Buck Rogers license. This meant that TSR had to pay a licensing fee for use of the character to the Williams family for each publication. TSR's foray, under Williams' direction, into the Buck Rogers universe lasted from about 1988 until 1993 and, while Buck Rogers did not cause the collapse of the company (low cash reserved and high returns from the book trade did that), it did distract the company from focusing on its core product lines at a time when the company had significant penetration into the mass market but and needed management to focus on those product rather than promoting a product line based on a 50+ year old license.