Thursday, December 02, 2010

Spacers, what is in a name... err trademark?

It's kind of funny to me that most of you reading this blog have not known me for ten years plus, nor have played in my chat-room role-playing games that I have been running since about '97. In fact probably only three of you, Caed, Old Sock, and "old-old"-Paul, were around at that time. More distantly Trollgod, Colleen and a few Trollhallans were there as well, but probably not paying all that much attention. More than a few of my original inter-webby friends, have dropped off to answer the calls of the real world. A couple for less than glorious reasons, like prison and/or decades-long bans from being on-line. A few for growing differences between them and me. I say this because most everyone in a rather large group of friends, who happen to be artists, writers, editors, gamers and other sorts of inhabitants from the Island of Misfit Toys that I associate with have appeared over the last four years or so. Mind you, no one with any sort of felony will be discussed from here on out.

Anyone who knows me does know of my love of science fiction, and not just TV sci-fi or paperback books, but a very specific brand/style known as space opera. Space opera, whether "classic pulp," "retrograde" or sphere fantasy has been a fascination of mine since about the age of nine. And I am sure everyone reading this knows about my "niche" role-playing setting for space-faring sorts of player-characters, which emulates the look and feel of B&W space opera given voice with T&T style (requiring two six-sided dice and a pencil to use) rules, often called SPACERS (TM). What you might not know, is a bit of the history.

"Spacers" started out as a ten-paged set of T&T sci-fi rules called "Sputniks to Spacers" around June of '97. This product was folded over to give it twenty-two whole pages, including the cover and back cover. This was snail-mailed to about four people for the price of $4 each. I drew the original cover which went on to adorn a friend's fanzine, based out of Utah, called Space Races. Lemon-Face was very happy with it. But Elfis On-line, out of Austin, Texas, asked for some help as well. I was also a bit busy doing Call of Cthulhu(TM) chatroom sessions using my TAG, then called LAG (Laggy's Adventure Gaming), rules, so it would take me a few years to get around to playing "Spacers."

In the spring of 2000, I had lived through Y2K and was facing my Ford plant closing down, I was in the mood for something to make to me happy. So I assembled four people, including Old Sock, into a Yahoo chatroom called "Spacers: A Foothold on Pluto" the second weekend of that May. When the plant closed down in June, I went to California to spend good times with Grampa (my grandfather) and Old Sock for a couple of months. Back in Cleveland, while the Summer was slipping away, I sat between a fan and an open window writing up the next installment called "Spacers:
A Fungus Among Us" for three new chatroom friends, ran just before I re-entered schooling to establish a job certification for the State of Ohio that September. The climax of these scenarios would not take place until early 2002, as I got busy after having run out of savings, getting stable enough again to spend long evenings on-line. Old Sock returned to re-play his Spacer character, Trax, the Android, "Spacers: Don't Pay the Ferryman." The last game was quiet a little chatroom party, it lasted for two days.

Life came and went. Caed hooked me up with Peryton, a like-minded game designer and all around fantasist-geek. In the year 2004, Peryton's and my wedding vows included the term, "We will go to GenCon every year that we are able." So while fine-tuned her D20 variant, I boosted my Spacers' rocketships.

My next scenario turned out to be a bit more of a saga than I had first thought it would be. It lasted like five years and has meant about five hundred on-line sales. During it I made my best friends in life to date, Monk and LumberingJack. Apparently the title "Rocketmen Vs the Saucers" had already been scooped by Disney in the 90's, but after a couple letters from me to them, I got the gist that they were not interested in telling me to "cease and desist" my efforts. I get the feeling that they already made their name off of the title in question and did not care any longer. But in 2006, I was interested in realizing the Spacers brand in relation to space opera role-playing, so I began promising "Spacers" rules in a formal, official form, and soon this came about. It is right around this point, that a friend, LumberingJack, pointed out that I had better claim trademark.

"It's a good title, man." To quote him directly, "Start to make it yours before a big company get around to making it its own for a game expected to sell plastic miniatures for a few months..."

'Jack happens to be an accountant and his wife a business lawyer, so I figured that he was telling me something important. In 2007, Peryton Publishing was functioning high enough to release
a copy of Spacers (TM) as well as Spacers: Rocketmen Versus the Saucers, Episode Two, "The Straits of Sublight." My 'Versus the Saucers serial of scenarios actually started in August 2005, and I ran to varying table sizes at many conventions. I have made many friends because of these sit-downs, for all of that it's been worth it. Of course being able to buy beer and pizza on a PayPal debit card does not hurt in the slightest either.

Still 'Versus the Saucers gig having taken a name from 90's TV culture, even if unknowingly so, was not going to be my defining Spacers moment. I am after all Major Tom to all Space Cadets everywhere. Even before finishing the serial, I was onto the next project. This time for a Vermont-based convention Carnage in November 2009, I started Spacers: the Centaur's Bow. Not only did I get involved with the rather vibrant and talented New England and New York gamer scene, I got some talent for PeryPub as well, including the indefatigable CCrabb. This latest Spacers campaign, the third as far as I am concerned, only marks current efforts in a long line of more things to come.

In short, I'm rather proud and proprietary of my efforts. Thought I'd end this post with a list of PeryPub products that you can expect from the Spacers line over the coming three years.

First Campaign (May 2000- Feb 2002)
SPACERS: Planetoids of Death
Locales- Pluto and Charon
1. Call from the Underworld.
2. A Fungus Among Us.
3. Don't Pay the Ferryman.

Second Campaign (Aug 2005-Aug 2010)
Spacers: Rocket-Men vs the Saucers
Locales- the Oort Cloud, Earth-Venus Half-Way Point, Phobos, Neptune, Pluto-Charon
1. Rendezvous at Ice Station Zero:Zero.
2. The Straits of Sublight.
3. Trouble At SOHO Station.
4. The Moon of Fear.
5. The Blades of Triton.
6. The Whale.
7. Goofy Space.
8. The Charon Incident.
9. The Wrong Side of Pluto.

Third Campaign (Nov 2009- and on-going)
SPACERS: The Centaur's Bow
Locales- Uranus, Miranda, "Goofy Space" (and still going)
1. Space Head.
2. Ionek.
3. Automachen.

Bear with me on the slowness, we have to pay our great artists, editors, and helping writers. And there even more expenses to stick with more legalistic markers, mind everyone reading this they are not half the battle.

1 comment:

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