Tuesday, December 12, 2017

TSR bibliographic ghosts

So, one of the things that used to fascinate me back in the Lake Geneva days were the old TSR catalogues from earlier times. Each was a kind of time-capsule of the company as it was at the time it put out that particular catalogue. Particularly telling were the products that got announced as forthcoming which never saw the light of day.*

A case in point: a page from the 1984 catalogue features new and forthcoming adventures for TSR's second-tier games: TOP SECRET, GANGBUSTERS, BOOT HILL, and GAMMA WORLD. And in the course of a single page they announce no fewer than seven adventures that never came out.

For TOP SECRET, these were the adventures TIN MAN, about fighting off computer hacking (which still sounds timely), and WHITEOUT, set at a base at the South Pole (from which I conclude that somebody had seen ICE STATION ZEBRA, or indeed read the book).

For BOOT HILL, the promised modules were DELTA QUEEN, a riverboat full of high-stakes gambling, which sounds like it cd have been a really good BH adventure, and BARON OF SAN ANDREAS by Zeb Cook, about a local strongman, the self-proclaimed 'baron' of the title, who's set himself up as undisputed ruler of a small town.

For GAMMA WORLD, there was NIGHTWIND RIDER by Bruce Nesmith, which sounds as if it might have been a solo adventure, and RAPTURE OF THE DEEP, set on a mysterious island (aren't they all).

Finally, and to my mind the biggest lost among these might-have-beens, was the GANGBUSTERS adventure BASES LOADED: The Lakefront Mudcats Scandal) by Jeff Grubb, which wd have been GANGBUSTERS' analogue to the once-famous 'Black Sox' scandal in which one team was bribed to throw the World Series (way back in 1919). But then I always did like GANGBUSTERS, and was sorry there were so few adventures for it published (just five)

Here's the page in question, with more information about the individual intended releases.

--John R.
current listening: Leo Sayer, of all people

*most famously, perhaps, Gygax's SHADOWLANDS

P.S.: I forgot to include the scan. Here goes.

UPDATE (Th.Dec.14th)
Jeff Grubb has just posted an interesting account with much more detail of BASES LOADED (and TIN MAN as well) on his blog: highly recommended.




Zenopus Archives said...

Thanks, I'd never seen that page before or heard of most of those projects. Rapture of the Deep is fairly well known as the "missing" GW module, GW5; there's even a a fan-created version available as a pdf. An "Operation: Whiteout" module by Merle Rasmussen did appear in Dragon #87 (1984) and in a later letter he said that it was originally run as a tournament at GenCon XVI.

Zenopus Archives said...

In a post from his blog this past summer, Jeff Grubb indicates that "Tin Man" was his idea: "And I had a pitch in for a TS Module called: Operation: Tin Man, which involved a camera on Mars sending back a picture of a banner saying "Surrender Dorothy!". Ah, yeah, good times."

GRUBB STREET: The Gaming News

Zenopus Archives said...

Found some more relevant info for two of these in the "Notes from HQ" column in Polyhedron #20 (Sep 1984), recapping Gen Con 17:

""Baron of San Andreas" by Troy Denning was the BOOT HILL game event ... Dave Cook provided us with "Rapture of the Deep" (or "Face of the Anemone") as our GAMMA WORLD game tournament. It featured adventures aboard a truly unique ship with a mysterious mutant who might or might not be on your side"

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Zenopus
Thanks for the additional news, which goes a long way into rounding out the picture of what these seven adventures, long-abandoned if not unbegun, would have looked like. I dug out my copy of DRAGON #87 and you're clearly right about WHITEOUT (p. 41-57). I think I have a copy of the catalogue this page comes from; if I come across it I'll look to see if it has any ghost entry for STAR FRONTIERS, which was winding down at about the same time.

Still, just going by my own personal preferences, it's the Mudcats (GANGBUSTERS) and Riverboat Queen (BOOT HILL) adventures that I'm most sorry didn't get beyond an idea: they wd have been good entries in their respective sparse lines.

--John R.

John D. Rateliff said...

As stated in the UPDATE I just added to the end of my post, Jeff Grubb has just posted an informative and enjoyable piece about BASES LOADED (which it turns out was begun but not finished before being cancelled); he also has some more information and clarification on TIN MAN. Highly recommended. --JDR