Monday, 10 October 2011

A to Z of UK RPG in the 80s - B is for Beast Enterprises

As some of you are aware I am based in the UK and I've blogged before about how the roleplaying scene differs in Blighty to that across the pond (and probably that over in the Eurozone to boot).  Here's an attempt to pick out some of the highlights of what it was like to be a roleplayer back in the dark days of Thatcher's Britain of the 1980s (cue the V for Vendetta trailer)...

B is for Beast Enterprises

Tortured Souls! - Issue 5
Publishers of Tortured Souls! magazine from 1983 to 1986 which was a scenarios only title in the same vein as Dungeon but pre-dating it by a whole 3 years!.  It's primary focus was of course D&D / AD&D and specifically the Zhalindor campaign, but there was always an attempt to reach out to the Runequest DM so stat blocks also featured RQ conversions.

The genius idea (which was probably made out of necessity rather than anything else) was that they worked in close partnership with a few other companies, namely:

Integrated Games - Producers of the Complete Dungeon Master Series of boxed-set scenarios each containing everything you needed to run an entire game from the scenario itself (written by Simon Forest and Basil Barrett) to the floorplans (Brendan Hickling), A4 scenic illustrations (by Judith Hickling) and even a GM's screen.  The boxed sets were:
  • CDM1 - Halls of the Dwarven Kings
  • CDM2 - The Lost Shrine of Kasar-Khan
  • CDM3 - The Watchers of the Sacred Flame
  • CDM4 - The Feathered Priests
  • CDM5 - Deep Water Shallow Graves (never released although 3 copies are allegeded to exist)





Endless Games - Produced A range of very detailed architectural floor plans known as Endless Plans, drawn by Allen and Brendan Hickling which featured in all of the Integrated Games products and Tortured Souls! issues.  This mutually beneficial arrangement (from a GMs perspective) is much like that of  Ptolus where Monte Cook teamed up with Ed Bourelle (Skeleton Key Games) to produce high quality campaign material with equally high quality floorplans.

TM Games - Manufactured (in partnership with Endless Games) a range of accessories such as the A4 character record pad and the ever useful hex map pad.

Back to the magazine

Looking back at Tortured Souls! I find it odd that the scenarios were never credited to anyone.  They were always well constructed although they shared the same densely packed san-serif typography which was to be frank a little tireing on the eye.

The covers always stood out in a minimalist kind of way being almost exclusively black with a single illustration in the center.  Interior art was supplied by Paul Ward and Jon Baker, who also supplied interior artwork for the CDM series and both had very distingtive styles.

Next: C is for... Citadel Miniatures

    12 comments:

    1. Another blast from the past - don't suppose you have a link to their material too? That would be too much to hope for. I still have one of their stiff-paper scenarios that I've always wanted to run but never managed to build into my campaign. "A Flight of Eagles" I think it was called - or was it from Imagine? Maybe one day as a standalone.
      The other "always wanted to but never got round to" was Irillian. Oh well.

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    2. You know the CDM books eventually transmogrified into the Doomstones Campaign for WFRP?

      http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/family:297

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    3. > Savagelegend - I have seen a torrent on the web but it doesn't have any seeds. If I ever stumble on e-copies I'll update this post. Copies on ebay command prices in the region of £15 per copy.

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    4. > James - Whilst researching this post I discovered the link (I wasn't previously aware) thanks for posting the link.

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    5. I do have one of the copies of Deep Water Shallow Graves.
      Very good - but unfinished - still in draft form

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      Replies
      1. if your claim of owning a draft copy of Deep Water Shallow Graves does exist then i would be very interested in purchasing it

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      2. I'm trying this again ...

        Did you ever get a copy of the Deep Water - Shallow Graves manuscript?

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      3. Would be so cool if this could happen

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      4. I've got CDM1-4 and all the Tortured Souls magazines 1-12. If only we could get a copy od CDM5 ... did you never hear from Adam J?

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    6. who owns the copywrite for this? it would be great to see this released as a pdf. i own feathered priests but always wanted the rest there just hard to come by these days. really want to play the whole senario in its original form. it has some great stuff in it and i'd love to see Deep Water Shallow Graves.


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    7. Is anyone still interested in this?
      If so - I will dig out my copy and look to share.
      Can we put pics on here?

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    8. Hi Adam,

      Definitely am still interested in seeing it. Don't know about the legalities of hosting it as someone must own the copyright. Please email me at tonybrotherton001@gmaildotcom

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