Is Evil Hat Republishing TSR's Star Frontiers?
  • Is Evil Hat Republishing TSR's Star Frontiers?


    Last year, Sasquatch Game Studio announced that it had acquired the trademark for TSR's old Alternity science-fiction game. At the time, it was mentioned that they did not have the Star*Drive, Dark*Matter, Gamma World, StarCraft Adventures, or Star Frontiers, properties owned by WotC. This may be changing, though - because Evil Hat Productions has applied for the trademark to Star Frontiers.




    Some caveats are worth noting - the trademark application was made in July 2017, and it's likely that nothing will happen on it for months. At this stage, it's just an application, so there's no guarantee that it will even be approved. Speculation is what speculation is, but this is very much a "wait-and-see" situation.

    So, what's Star Frontiers? It's a space opera RPG produced by TSR back in the early 80s. Many elements of the game were later re-used in various forms in Spelljammer, d20 Future, and other TSR/WotC games and settings. It was a percentile system game, set in an area of space dominated by the United Planetary Federation composed of four races - Humans, the amoeboid Dralasite, the insectoid Vrusk, and the ape-like Yazirian.

    Evil Hat, of course, is the publisher of the popular ENnie-winning Fate line of RPGs, which is a flexible system designed to accommodate a vast array of settings. Whether they plan to make a Fate version of Star Frontiers is far, far too early to start speculating on. I guess we may find out more next year, if the trademark application is approved.
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    Comments 77 Comments
    1. lyle.spade's Avatar
      lyle.spade -
      I loved Star Frontiers. It was my first non-DnD RPG, and took over completely from DnD for me for years. I had both boxed sets and most of the adventures and played it to death. I'd love to see a reimagining of it, with more background (and background that made sense, frankly), and updated systems.

      There's nothing quite like those old Elmore covers to inspire ideas, right?
    1. Zarithar's Avatar
      Zarithar -
      I approve... this was also my first foray into Sci-Fi roleplaying, aside from a brief stint with Traveller.
    1. Bruce Heard's Avatar
      Bruce Heard -
      The question with this is that acquiring a trademark only grants use of the product's title. Game mechanics are still covered under copyright laws, and those therefore remain WotC's property AFAIK.
    1. Charles Dunwoody -
      Phone died before I could delete.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Charles Dunwoody View Post
      I think if they get the name they would use their AGE system rules.
      They would if they were Green Ronin. Being Evil Hat, I imagine they would use their Fate system rules, instead.
    1. Sketchpad's Avatar
      Sketchpad -
      I would love to see a Fate version of Star Frontiers!
    1. Reef's Avatar
      Reef -
      Quote Originally Posted by lyle.spade View Post

      There's nothing quite like those old Elmore covers to inspire ideas, right?
      Heh...I think I'd buy it no matter the system if it kept the Elmore artwork .

      A Fate version would be pretty sweet, for sure.
    1. Ghost2020 -
      I didn't think game mechanics could be copyrighted?
    1. aramis erak's Avatar
      aramis erak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ghost2020 View Post
      I didn't think game mechanics could be copyrighted?
      IANAL; IANYL.

      While they can't within the US, several countries in Europe do allow it, at least based upon successful litigation.

      Still, it would be hard to do a functional clone without stepping upon a few elements which are - like the species described.
    1. Bruce Heard's Avatar
      Bruce Heard -
      Quote Originally Posted by aramis erak View Post
      IANAL; IANYL.

      While they can't within the US, several countries in Europe do allow it, at least based upon successful litigation.

      Still, it would be hard to do a functional clone without stepping upon a few elements which are - like the species described.
      If you remove the game system and what makes Star Frontiers what it is as a setting, what's left, really? I don't mean to offend, but I'm not interested in something that is Star Frontiers in name only and doesn't at all sell in the US.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Heard View Post
      If you remove the game system and what makes Star Frontiers what it is as a setting, what's left, really? I don't mean to offend, but I'm not interested in something that is Star Frontiers in name only and doesn't at all sell in the US.
      I guess we have to just wait and see. Well all just speculating here and conjuring up our own scenarios. For all we know, they’re in deep discussion with WotC. Or not. No way to know!
    1. Bruce Heard's Avatar
      Bruce Heard -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      I guess we have to just wait and see. Well all just speculating here and conjuring up our own scenarios. For all we know, they’re in deep discussion with WotC. Or not. No way to know!
      I wish 'em luck with this.
    1. Staffan's Avatar
      Staffan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Heard View Post
      The question with this is that acquiring a trademark only grants use of the product's title. Game mechanics are still covered under copyright laws, and those therefore remain WotC's property AFAIK.
      The issue isn't so much game mechanics, as it is setting - and that's definitely a copyright thing. I highly doubt that Evil Hat would use Star Frontier's mechanics over their own highly successful FATE rules.

      Of course, that necessitates the question: why would they use the name, when they can't use the setting and likely won't use the mechanics or anything similar? At least when Sasquatch was making neo-Alternity, they used a similar mechanic to old Alternity (though I'm not a fan of some of their choices, which is why I decided against supporting the Kickstarter) even if they couldn't use the StarDrive setting.
    1. maedsl's Avatar
      maedsl -
      Fate is 💩💩💩
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by maedsl View Post
      Fate is ������
      Don't use profanity, or try to skirt the profanity filters, please. If you have something to say, do it civilly.
    1. darjr's Avatar
      darjr -
      In case it's news to some, the original Starfrontiers is in a grey place that looks like it makes it free legally.

      http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthr...ma-World/page2
    1. pming's Avatar
      pming -
      Hiya!

      Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Heard View Post
      If you remove the game system and what makes Star Frontiers what it is as a setting, what's left, really? I don't mean to offend, but I'm not interested in something that is Star Frontiers in name only and doesn't at all sell in the US.
      I'm 100% with you here, Bruce. I was just thinking about the use of the word "republishing" in the thread title. I was going to remark that...if it is an actual republishing of the system, then I'm all for it. But then I thought about that and in about 2 seconds realised that would be stupid.

      Why? It's already republished as "Star Frontiers Remastered" ( http://starfrontiersman.com ...upper right is the purple box-links to all the stuff ). You could (can?) even get POD versions of them all. I did that, in fact, buying all the StarFrontiersman fanzines as well as 6+ copies each of the Alpha Dawn and Knight Hawks books to give to my game group.

      So, yeah, they're gonna eff it up with trying to use the Fate system. (Sorry to all you Fate fans; I've read it and even tried playing it with my bro waaaay back when it was still free/developing...we felt too limited with too broad a stroke for determining things).

      Like Bruce here said, if they are going to rewrite the history, rejigger the races, rip out all the system stuff, and then just slap "Star Frontiers" on the cover, then you can count me as annoyed and against it.

      If they clean up some writing, reorganize the rules, pick and choose stuff from the StarFrontiersman (and, pay the contributors, obviously), but otherwise leave the core "d100" rules system intact... then HELL YEAH! I'm ALL for that!

      (I'm betting on the former... ).

      ^_^

      Paul L. Ming
    1. shidaku's Avatar
      shidaku -
      Took one look at that cover and all my attempts to forget the 80's just went right down the tubes.

      Anyway, reprints, rehashes, remakes. It's all the rage these days. I'm not particularly enthused with Starfinder, but at least it's not a reprint. Creativity seems to be at an all-time low across markets, with us looking at what, the 3rd Spiderman reboot? The 4th Abramsverse Star Trek and the, lets say it together folks: SIXTH Transformers movie, not to be outdone of course by a Power Rangers movie!

      Yes I have a low tolerance for rehashing old content. Sometimes it works. Most of the time it's a flash in the pan. I don't have any real objection to Star Frontiers in particular, and in fact I hope they do use their new system. I hope they do something radical and interesting like they did with the new Battlestar Galactica.

      Don't reprint Star Frontiers. Make Star Frontiers 2: Destroyer of 80's Tropes.

      As one of the few people who gets existed when classic material gets revamped, updated and make relevant for a new generation, I just can't stand how much of "nerd culture" is stuck in a NASCAR loop. Hey guys, guess what? We're going to turn to the left!
    1. Ratskinner's Avatar
      Ratskinner -
      Evil Hat seems fairly flexible regarding system, consider Blades in the Dark and Monster of the Week. I wouldn't be surprised to see an Evil Hat version of Star Frontiers show up with either Fate, BitD, PbtA, or its own unique system. It all really depends on who wants to author it.

      I think part of the reasoning for that flexibility is that Fate is so easy/fast to adapt to a new world/genre that setting books aren't really necessary, if the players and GM all know the setting. I think that limits the inherent desire to publish everything in Fate for Evil Hat. Still, Star Frontiers would really take some dusting off.

      Just my .02 credits.
    1. doctorhook's Avatar
      doctorhook -
      Just FYI, Spider-Man Homecoming was excellent.
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