Apologies for the long silence. I have a lot of work on at the moment (hooray!), which means I haven’t had time to work on new blog posts (boo!).
Right now, I’m working on an exciting fiction project, and I’ll tell you all about it just as soon as I can.
In the meantime, here’s what I’m planning for the near future:
The Outsider Hero: It has often been said that villains are more interesting than heroes. Mythology and folklore beg to differ – and offer great opportunities to develop the kind of internal conflicts that how-to-write books tell us are vital.
Of Gods and Mortals – Thor: It’s been too long since I wrote about OGAM. Following on from my earlier post on the Theseus myth (and my Osprey book Thor: Viking God of Thunder), I’ll be delving into the mythology of Thor for more OGAM fun.
Warhammer Memories – The WFRP Rulebook: My memories of Games Workshop seem consistently popular, so I’m kicking off a new series going through my work on first edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay book by book. I have no idea what will come back to me as I open the books again, so we’ll find out together.
My Complete and Utter Monsterography: The bibliography project takes a detour as I look at my lifelong love of monsters from myth and folklore, and how it has shaped my career in fantasy games.
Dark Future was released in 1988, the same year as Adeptus Titanicus. At least part of Games Workshop’s strategy was to get better at plastics before introducing them as a major part of the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 product lines. It has been claimed that Bryan Ansell was also testing the competition’s tolerance by producing games that were very similar to two major titles of the day: Steve Jackson Games’ Car Wars and FASA Corporation’s BattleTech. I don’t know if that is true, but no lawsuits resulted.
The title Dark Future came before the game. After reading William Gibson’s seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer, Jervis Johnson became very excited about the potential of a cyberpunk RPG. Cyberpunk was a very new sub-genre at the time, and no cyberpunk games existed. Marc Gascoigne and Jervis developed a whole setting for the proposed game, but the tide in Games Workshop had already turned against new RPGs and so far as I know the project never received an official green light.
Dark Future was developed by Richard Halliwell at the same time as Jervis was working on Adeptus Titanicus, and the work done for the cyberpunk RPG was grafted onto the car combat game. The spaces between Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay products were growing longer and longer, so I was drafted in as an editor/developer on both games.
Initially, no link was planned between the Dark Future setting and the Warhammer/WH40K mythos. This changed around 1990 when the first Dark Future novels appeared, with some stories featuring demons based on Realm of Chaos.
Another departure from the GW norm was the scale. This was so that players could adapt commercially-available toy cars for use in the game. The boxed set came with two types of cars: the Interceptor used by the Sanctioned Ops (the good guys), and the Renegade used by wasteland gangs such as the Mad Max style Maniax. GW never released any other cars for the game, but the line of metal miniatures included accessories for adapting other toy cars.
Dark Future was a modest success initially. A supplement, White Line Fever, was released later in 1988, and another was planned under the title Dead Man’s Curve. When sales plateaued, the Dead Man’s Curve material was published in White Dwarf 124-125. After that, the novels puttered on as a minor GW fiction line, but nothing was done with the game until 2015, when Auroch Digital announced an electronic version subtitled Blood Red States. It remains to be seen whether this will help revive the IP.
There are still Dark Future fans out there. I recently discovered the Oldhammer: Dark Future Facebook group, with over 500 members who are still modeling and converting vehicles and playing the game. There is also a fan-made wiki.
My involvement with Dark Future was brief and peripheral, but I’m still happy with it. It was a fun setting to play with during that time when cyberpunk was still new and cutting-edge, and I enjoyed writing a lot of the flash fiction and text vignettes that went into the two supplements. Here’s what I did:
Dark Future (1988) – developer, color text
White Line Fever (1988) – developer, color text
“The Sand Cats,” Challenge #52, 1991 – author
“Dead Man’s Curve” White Dwarf # 124-125, June-July 1990 – developer, color text
“Saint Louis Blues,” White Dwarf #112, May 1989 – developer, color text
“Redd Harvest,” White Dwarf #104, Sep 1988 – author
Other Bibliography Posts
My Complete and Utter Warhammer Bibliography (Warhammer, WFRP, HeroQuest, AHQ)
My Complete and Utter Warhammer 40,000 Bibliography (WH40K, Adeptus Titanicus/Epic Scale)
I’ve redone the tabs at the top of the page. Almost no one was visiting the old ones, and I wanted to clean things up and showcase the books that can still earn me royalties, as well as what I’ve got on the horizon. The new tabs are:
Just what you’d expect. A list of the books I have currently in print, with cover images, brief notes, and links to various places where you can buy them. You can buy my books at these places. Did I remember to say BUY THEM?
Everything that’s currently in the works. Where available, I have added links to books that are on preorder, so you can PREORDER THEM.
Links to the blogs and web sites of various people I’ve worked with down the years. Expect this to grow when I get more time.
A short bio, mugshot, and all the other stuff you’d expect a proper writer to have on his site, along with links to other online places where you can find me.
Downloads and links to various roleplaying game adventures and articles. Here you’ll find some of my old work from the 80s and 90s whose rights have reverted to me, links to articles that other folks have available free online, and some articles from the blog that I have reformatted into PDFs so that people can still find them. This section will also grow whenever I find time to scan and upload more.
I’ve done a few less visible things, too: I’ve added categories for fiction, games, nonfiction, myth and folklore, and monsters, which should help you find posts on a particular topic. Each post is fairly extensively tagged, the most popular tags being Games Workshop, WFRP, and bibliography.
I’ll be continuing to work on upgrading the blog whenever time permits, but these changes covered the issues I saw as most important.
Take a look around!