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New Future for Kadimah RPG Setting: Darker Hue and Chaosium Agree on New Home for Science Fiction Project

https://www.chaosium.com/blognew-future-for-kadimah-rpg-setting-darker-hue-and-chaosium-agree-on-new-home-for-science-fiction-project

Eighteen months after announcing a science fiction RPG setting built around the Basic Roleplaying system, Ann Arbor-based publisher Chaosium Inc. and award-winning designer Chris Spivey have announced that they have halted development on the project. All setting material created to date will be released to Spivey, who had been serving as creative lead. Spivey will continue developing the material through his studio, Darker Hue. The decisions to stop work at Chaosium on the Afro-Judeo setting, currently titled Kadimah, and for Spivey to take control of the material were mutual.

“I’ve been working on this project for quite some time and was looking forward to partnering with Chaosium to bring it to life. After months of positive discussion together, it became clear to both of us that the best way forward was to take the journey separately,” Spivey said. “I look forward to publishing this project in the future and I am thrilled Chaosium will continue to lend their support. The science fiction genre is perhaps my all-time favorite, and incorporating African and Jewish elements into the setting and story will reflect the richness of my and my family’s heritage.”

Chaosium executive editor James Lowder added, “The recent growth in popularity of our core game lines, the acquisitions (or reacquisitions) of 7th Sea and King Arthur Pendragon, and the progress of new ventures such as the upcoming Rivers of London RPG have devoured Chaosium’s development and production bandwidth. It became clear at the start of 2020 that we couldn’t schedule the BRP science fiction project as quickly as we had originally hoped.

Moreover, as Chaosium worked with Chris Spivey, we recognized that the material he was creating was intensely personal. Out of respect for Spivey as a creator, Chaosium revised the original work-for-hire contract and released the material to him. We know that he will do fantastic things, and we look forward to seeing the project’s final form.”

Chaosium and Spivey continue to work together on other existing collaborations. Spivey is the creator and writer of a currently untitled modern-day superhero campaign book for the Pulp Cthulhu line, which is in the early stages of development. The second edition of Spivey’s award-winning Harlem Unbound is in final production and will see release by Chaosium early in 2020.

“Spivey is a talented designer,” Lowder noted. “We hope to see his name alongside the Chaosium dragon for years to come.”

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Chaosium is pleased to announce award-winning RPG designer Chris Spivey will be developing a new BRP-based science fiction line to add to the company's suite of roleplaying game brands.  Last yea

Just some clarity here:  Chris' project will be an original setting.  It will use BRP/RQ rules (we're letting him go a la carte with them and pick what rules options work best). Compatibi

I can answer some of these questions, but honestly I'd rather wait until we have more to show.  But first, please take the arguments about the genesis of various other games to another thread, or

Back to the drawing board, I hope. Will Chaosium consider developing and releasing a new science-fiction RPG based on the BRP system, but with a different designer? I have a few ideas concerning who might do it...

Edited by ColoradoCthulhu
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Thanks for the updates, @MOB and @Chris S !

I'm curious to know if "Kadimah" will be developed as a BRP-engine game (or some other known mechanic), or do you expect to create your own game-engine to power it?

 

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Sooo... I take this to mean there will be no Sci-fi RPG with BRP/D100 DNA in the foreseeable future. Bummer.

Would have loved to see Chaosium’s take on how to translate BRP into a futuristic setting—especially in comparison to M-Space. The latter is proof that it can be done, and the result goes to show that a D100-based Sci-fi RPG system doesn’t need to hide from, say, GURPS Space, Traveller, or (gods forbid) Starfinder.
 

 

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1 hour ago, foolcat said:

...

Would have loved to see Chaosium’s take on how to translate BRP into a futuristic setting—especially in comparison to M-Space. The latter is proof that it can be done, and the result goes to show that a D100-based Sci-fi RPG system doesn’t need to hide from, say, GURPS Space, Traveller, or (gods forbid) Starfinder.

There's the Ringworld RPG, occasionally available on the used market.  BRP game by Chaosium from 35ish years ago.

Noble Knight has it for sale... $85  Collectible pricing, but only "painful," not "crazy".

 

 

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1 hour ago, foolcat said:

Sooo... I take this to mean there will be no Sci-fi RPG with BRP/D100 DNA in the foreseeable future. Bummer.

Would have loved to see Chaosium’s take on how to translate BRP into a futuristic setting—especially in comparison to M-Space. The latter is proof that it can be done, and the result goes to show that a D100-based Sci-fi RPG system doesn’t need to hide from, say, GURPS Space, Traveller, or (gods forbid) Starfinder.
 

 

 
 

Don't forget River of Heaven, an OpenQuest-derived sci fi game. So there are two d100-DNA scifi settings in print. Just not by Chaosium.

Edited by Questbird
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It's disappointing that its going to take a bit longer, but it sounds like its clearly the right decision for both parties, and I applaud Chaosium for acknowledging their limits and trying to the right thing by a creator, that I hope they work with again on other projects. 

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Sounds like everyone did the right thing here! I was (and am) really looking forward to this RPG, and if it has become clear that it is such a personal project for Chris Spivey that he needs complete creative control, that actually makes it even more interesting. Chaosium has enough in its plate, and I kind of hope that the switch to Darker Hue Studios might even mean that we'll get to see Kadimah sooner rather than later.

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4 hours ago, Sigtrygg said:

I'm still of the opinion that Future World could be dusted off, updated and then fleshed out into a full on campaign setting.

I agree. I ran a campaign about three years ago (24 sessions)and my players enjoyed it. Just enough information to set up my own universe with most of the game mechanics already there, devices and equipment to give me options and several races to give me ideas for existing races to flesh out the game. I found it easy to run and was able to concentrate on game play instead of worrying about the rules. Perhaps something along the lines of the Runequest Quickstart.

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I too long for a BRP-engine sci-fi game.

I don't believe "Future World" (as itself) is what Chaosium will use; bear with me on this, it'll take a couple of steps...

1)  You see, Chaosium -- the new management -- has brought a bottom-line attitude that I don't think the company has had before.  Yes, they're gamers who love gaming, with a deep and rich history of fannish activity.  But it's no longer just a hobby for them:  it's their bread and butter.  And housing.  And everything else.  At the end of the daypayperiod... if all of them aren't taking home a reasonable paycheck , then the company isn't WORKING, its FAILING.  And for "reasonable," read a "professional" paycheck, not some "side-hustle" bullshit:  they're giving it their all, and it needs to support them.  They left behind professional careers, not from feckless "I wanna do this, so screw reality & practicality" but in the genuine belief they could make it work as new professional careers.

2)  They have all the history of Chaosium at their fingertips (or in musty boxes; depending).  Sometimes that emerges in fabulous finds of ancient Greg'ory.  Sometimes it's boring ledgers and accounting, sales figures, &c.  And this "boring" stuff is fodder for their bottom-line geeks; yes, there really are multiclass Gamer/Accountants in Real Life... and at least one of them works at Chaosium.

2.a)  Chaosium has stated that -- based on the sales numbers they can see -- the general rule is, "generic rulesets sell poorly / setting-rich rulesets sell better."  This was the basis on which they elected not to further develop Magic World, for example:  it wasn't selling in sufficient volume to justify the hours of labor.  (I note FWIW that we're not seeing much from them about Superworld, either.)  I don't think they have ruled those out in a "never again, under any circumstances" way; just that they don't realistically see such circumstances in the foreseeable future.

2.b)  Notwithstanding however much some of us just luuurve us some generic rules that we can slap onto our own setting -- without having to excise some other stupid stuff (like Glorantha or Cthulhu) -- Chaosium has the sales numbers to demonstrate that we just don't buy BRP games in sufficient numbers to be a viable market for them to make that product.

3)  It follows (almost inevitably) that Future World won't be something they see as a viable (in a business sense) candidate for further development.  If they had some IP to hang it on -- something with an existing fan-base -- it would be different; I expect the FW engine could be used as the basis for any number of viable games... but that nice adaptable-and-spare feature turns out to be a downside (sales-wise) not an upside!

* * *

Mind you:

A.  I'd love to be wrong, and for Chaosium to just go, "fuck it, we'll make it work!" and do a full work-up of Future World.

B.  I do think a FW chassis could underlay a very successful SciFi RPG...  I just think that Chaosium has proof in hand that it needs a rich deep setting to really drive the game in the market.

 

Edited by g33k
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Perhaps more succinctly, @g33k, Chaosium is approaching all current and future projects in a very businesslike fashion.  As you discuss above, a project needs to support itself, its developers, and additional product development through actual sales.  I can say with a certain confidence that these are still very much works of love, but yes, it's a tough love that pays the bills.

I agree entirely with your final Point B, that Future World and the body of BRP mechanics from Ringworld could be the foundation of an incredible Sci-Fi roleplaying game, and that it'll need to be tied to a setting to play right out of the box.  Is that another space opera/fantasy setting?  A far future, speculative technology setting?  Or a near-future, real-tech Expanse-like game as discussed in another recent thread?  What do people want these days?  And how can BRP deliver that thing that they can't get elsewhere?

If anyone has a real vision, write up a plan, and pitch that idea!

!i!

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30 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

Perhaps more succinctly, @g33k, Chaosium is approaching all current and future projects in a very businesslike fashion.  As you discuss above, a project needs to support itself, its developers, and additional product development through actual sales.  I can say with a certain confidence that these are still very much works of love, but yes, it's a tough love that pays the bills.

I agree entirely with your final Point B, that Future World and the body of BRP mechanics from Ringworld could be the foundation of an incredible Sci-Fi roleplaying game, and that it'll need to be tied to a setting to play right out of the box.  Is that another space opera/fantasy setting?  A far future, speculative technology setting?  Or a near-future, real-tech Expanse-like game as discussed in another recent thread?  What do people want these days?  And how can BRP deliver that thing that they can't get elsewhere?

If anyone has a real vision, write up a plan, and pitch that idea!

!i!

There's two options, really, as I see it...

1)  Take an existing IP with an existing fan-base, and develop the RPG of it.  Many of these are already developed or in development (Star {Trek|Wars}, Dune, The Expanse, etc), but plenty of others exist.  (I wonder which of the MANY properties that SJG did for GURPS (a) sold well & (b) would be available for re-licensing...?)

2)  Get an author/developer (an individual or a team) who are passionate and devoted to a new creation of their own (one with the richness and depth and breadth that some of those pre-existing IP's have).

Is there any other good/likely option than my (1) & (2) ?

I note (with a bit of dismay) that they already had option (2) in hand, with Chris Spivey (proven successful! author/dev) and his own Kadimah setting.  Evidently Chaosium feels (per the 5Mar announcement posted here by MOB) that their plates are full with existing projects, and they cannot adequately support this 2nd option:

Quote

 ... popularity of our core game lines, the acquisitions (or reacquisitions) of 7th Sea and King Arthur Pendragon, and the progress of new ventures such as the upcoming Rivers of London RPG have devoured Chaosium’s development and production bandwidth

I am therefore uncertain whether they'd be (currently) able to pursue ANY sci-fi game (including option (1)).

Per some other threads here, I'm likely to move ahead with my own hacked-together FrankenBRP for a sci-fi game (neither OQ's nor Mythras' existing offerings quite hit my mark).

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15 minutes ago, g33k said:

I am therefore uncertain whether they'd be (currently) able to pursue ANY sci-fi game...

Indeed, it will behoove a deeply motivated soul to make the case for moving any proposal up the production schedule.  Or to negotiate a license to produce a project independently.

If a project is good enough and people want it, it'll find a way to market.

!i!

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2 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Indeed, it will behoove a deeply motivated soul to make the case for moving any proposal up the production schedule.  Or to negotiate a license to produce a project independently.

If a project is good enough and people want it, it'll find a way to market.

!i!

My wistful that-ship-has-passed wish is that the Posthuman guys would have come to Chaosium, and licensed BRP as the engine for Eclipse Phase.  😢 

My new hope is for Chaosium to jump on their announced OGL-ish & SRD-ish BRP initiatives, plus something like the MiskatonicRepostory / JonstownCompendium (but for BRP); and then someone to do some cracking-good work in sci-fi !

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1 hour ago, ThornPlutonius said:

/cough/ M-Space /cough/

Eagerly looking forward to the expanding Weaver setting!  Also the new Elevation setting...

I am... kind of amazed that the 3rd-party expansion to Mythras (that is Frostbyte's M-Space) is pursuing TWO separate campaign-settings!  It speaks to the passionate interest many of us have in some good sci-fi gaming!

It's pretty clear to me that Chaosium is missing SOME boat, here...

 

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Consider too that Chaosium was practically (if not actually) bankrupt not 5 years ago. I'm sure they are being cautious at the moment with whatever they pursue until they can get enough cashflow to take on some more of the pet projects that are floating around. As a former GURPS fan I'm still pleased that Chaosium is publishing as much as they are.

(Also hoping for an OGL-adjacent BRP, but that's just me talking here)

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2 hours ago, prinz.slasar said:

Three, if you add ODD SOOT.

Gadzooks, sir, but you're right!!

That quirky little gem /most/definitely/ should count!

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