SS' tale

Hey SFers, Richard "Shadow Shack" Rose here. I'll start with a brief introduction, my real name's Richard, but my friends simply call me...Richard. Now that that's over with, here's my SF background:

I jumped into Star Frontiers head first shortly after it was first published back in 1982. Before that my friends and I were heavily into D&D...not so much the AD&D, mostly regular basic/expert/companion etc with a bunch of the AD&D items integrated. It was interesting playing AD&D modules by basic/expert rules. Our D&D group consisted of five, but that was whittled down to three due to circumstances beyond our control (I'll touch on that in a bit). 

All of us were Star Wars nuts at heart (return of the Jedi had yet to be released, Lucas was probably filming in northern California under the guise of Blue Harvest at the time), some of us were into comic books, and when we started seeing the ads for the new TSR SciFi game in those pages we had to have it. I don't remember which of us brought the boxed set home first, but we pretty much all bought it within the same week!

Security Breach in Port Loren/the Hydra was naturally our first game and we played it several times under the basic rules, building up our characters' monetary level. After we earned a thousand credits or so from the repeated sessions, we went for the expanded game and chose a pair of 1st level skills and whipped through the Hepplewhite Inc. expanded rules sample scenario, then we jumped into the Volturnus trilogy.

As we played and played, yearning for starship rules, we all sat down and drafted some basic ideals and rulings so we could build/buy a ship. The Omicron module was something we'd play over and over as well (and basically used as a model for starship deckplans), the first time with our own characters and then many recurring sessions with the eight pregenerated ones. We loved that one almost as much as the Volturnus trilogy, and we'd even create our own scenarios to pit the eight pregenerated characters against.

A year passed and all three of us moved away simultaneously in separate directions (our fathers were in the USAF, that being the "circumstances beyond our control") and I ended up in Las Vegas in the summer of 1983. I found a couple of guys that were AD&Ders and introduced them to SF and eventually my former group's ship rules. I began drafting my second ship for my primary character, dubbed the Volturnian Knighthawk, and no sooner than when I was done with the rudimentary deckplans I was wandering in the toy section of a department store and much to my amazement, I found this magenta colored box set with the familiar Star Frontiers font on it bearing the name "Knight Hawks". Wow, imagine the surprise of a fifteen year old kid finding such a thing bearing the same name as a ship he'd just drummed up for a campaign!

Well I snatched that up and dug into the pages that night, and introduced my group to it shortly afterwards. About this time that group drifted apart, the older of us enlisted into the Air Force for full active duty and the other guy moved away (damn those uncontrolled circumstances!), and my family finally moved into the neighborhood where our house was being built. I eventually found another guy that was a Star Wars nut and in a group of AD&Ders and we eventually began to play SF. That group started off six strong but was eventually down to three (seems to be a magic number for me). One of them bought some of the Traveller stuff, another picked up Car Wars...and we would drift away with those (and occassionally D&D) whenever the SF campaign got flat, but we always eventually came back to SF each time.

After high school, things began to wane in the gaming arena. I'd run into a new college friend here and there that proclaimed himself as a fellow gamer and/or Star Wars nut and if they showed interest in the game, we'd play it for a year or two on our days off. It always seemed to ressurect itself in cycles, and we'd play the hell out of it each time with each group. I have some dice that are completely rounded off from use! Funny thing, none of us in any of those groups ever heard of the West End Games Star Wars RPG, and it wasn't until recently that I began researching the stuff but alas, it's only available on E-Bay in its original form and quite pricy at that. I discovered the online SF groups around 2004 and quickly jumped in.
Lately the live gaming end has been stagnant once more, although the wife and I play it on occassion. My original characters from my first group, having been NPCed each time a new group "catches up" to them (or in some cases gets fast forwarded), are in their early 90s age-wise and relatively tapped out in their primary skill areas. As such, I have "offspring" second generation characters from some of them that I use with new players/groups, just to steer clear of the "ultimist" NPC associates, whom I still use on occassion making cameo appearances (they currently command a dreadnaught cruiser).

My campaign echoes the Zebulon Timeline to an extent, although I rewrote some of it so that a group of new players could play all the published modules in a 20 year period with the same characters. I rewrote the latter 30 years with a dark/alternate reality: in a nutshell an upstart dictator rises to power with the alleged assistance of at least one cult and one mega-corporation, and eventually takes over the Frontier establishing a new authoritarian order of military might. The UPF and Council of Worlds gets dissolved and loyalists are rushed into hiding, the Sathar threat is all but removed as the new order eventually discovers their homeworlds and meets their first major defeat, and they eventually leave each other alone recognizing each others' strengths in their own systems and weaknesses in the oppositions' systems. Even the pirate threat is neutralized, although piracy still occurs it isn't as common as it was under UPF charter.