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A TSR Announces a Star Frontiers Reboot

One of the new TSRs (yes there are now two TSRs!) has announced a reboot of Star Frontiers, the sci-fi game made by the original TSR back in the 1980s. Star Frontiers was a percentile dice roleplaying game set in a galaxy with four races (Human, Dralasite, Vrusk, and Yazirian) which were re-used by WotC in d20 Future in 2004.

Happy to announce that in addition to our flagship new world and game system by James M. Ward & Dinehart, GiantLands, and Justin LaNasa's children's RPG Tales & Tots, our next internal project "Star Frontiers", a reboot of the original, is currently in preproduction and has Larry Elmore attached. Stay tuned for more details!

It appears that one of the new TSRs registered the trademark in April. More if I hear it!

You can currently buy the game from WotC on DriveThruRpg, so I'm not sure how that works. When asked about this on Facebook, one of the TSRs answered:

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Of course, Evil Hat Productions registered the Star Frontiers trademark, too, back in July 2017.


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

It wasn't a coincidence. There are thinly disguised Dralasites ("Degleash plasmoid"), Sathar ("syllix"), and Vrusk ("rastipede") in the same Monstrous Compendium appendix that introduced the hadozee. I don't know why they did this, but it clearly was intentional.
What a weird, baffling thing to do. Were they worried about losing control of Star Frontiers and coming up with Baatzu-style backup names for all the player character species?
 

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pemerton

Legend
Someone on face book shared this. I’m posting it just for more info and/or view. I dint necessarily agree or disagree with it.
Thanks for posting that. It answers my question upthread about what new TSR's use consists in - there isn't any yet!

The only point where I felt I disagreed was where it says no owns the Star Frontiers trademarks. I don't think that's quite right, because that is treating it as a system of title by registration rather than registration of title. I'm also no IP expert, but my understanding is that in a common law jurisdiction trademarks are the latter, not the former. So I think WotC does own the Star Frontiers trademark - it is engaging in trade and commerce (via DriveThruRPG) using that distinctive mark for its goods and services - but does not have the benefits of registration (which include proof and, as per my discussion with Maxperson, geographical reach).

This really does seem like a fiasco on the new TSR side, unless there is some further dimension to this that we're all missing.
 

It sounds like the best case scenario, absent a licensing agreement, is they produce a game called Star Frontiers with the not-particularly-remembered rules system, but none of the original worlds or aliens. And they have to do it by December.

I would bet against this ever occurring.

That said, for people looking for a fun space game that can do a lot of what people did with Star Frontiers, I recommend Scum & Villainy.
 

What a weird, baffling thing to do. Were they worried about losing control of Star Frontiers and coming up with Baatzu-style backup names for all the player character species?
There were fan requests for crossovers once spelljammer was out. TSR was working on D&D 3E, and had implied it would be the universal core for all their other worlds.

Star Frontiers would have been one of those. I'm not at all surprised they'd port them over with different names, and then later have an AD&D 3 settingbook for Star Frontiers, making use of the Buck Rogers rules (which are a close variant on AD&D 2E)... After all, it is canonical that the Beagle crashed on Mystara, and it was read by many as being from The Frontier. Many fans would have been thrilled to have the stats for using with Buck Rogers and/or Spelljammer. At the time, I would have.
 

darjr

I crit!
It sounds like the best case scenario, absent a licensing agreement, is they produce a game called Star Frontiers with the not-particularly-remembered rules system, but none of the original worlds or aliens. And they have to do it by December.

I would bet against this ever occurring.

That said, for people looking for a fun space game that can do a lot of what people did with Star Frontiers, I recommend Scum & Villainy.
Well? How apropos!
 

That said, for people looking for a fun space game that can do a lot of what people did with Star Frontiers, I recommend Scum & Villainy.
The default mode assumed in rules is that players are essentially contractors doing troubleshooting for Star Law or one of the Corps. The implied assumption is that the PC's aren't the scum/villains, but hired help for often legal but dangerous actions, especially when the Sathar War heats up. (There is a metaplot hidden in there.)
Many groups ran it more as D&D in space... but that doesn't seem to be the intended mode, where it's private contractors for a variety of mission types. Now, I've not read any adventures other than the ones in the boxed set and the movie tie-ins for 2001 and 2010, so I can't speak to later adventures, but the first one is PC's vs Environment with animal combat a possibility.

I'll note that, for Players willing to use the Fate Engine, Diaspora can be hacked very easily to do that kind of feel, or the Fate Core can be used with the same assumption as core SFAD - ships just take you where the mission is and drop you off.

Traveller can also cover that space, as can it's spinoff, Cepheus Engine. I don't know whether the guy with the Traveller Conversions of the races has taken his page down or not.
 


One of S&V's three modes is bounty hunters, which can get handwaved to Star Law pretty easily. (The other two are Firefly or Han Solo-as-rebel modes.)
Firefly and the Rebel Transport modes are not ones that are open to starting characters in Star Frontiers RAW. This is largely because the ship operations skills have high prerequisites per SFKH.
 

Firefly and the Rebel Transport modes are not ones that are open to starting characters in Star Frontiers RAW. This is largely because the ship operations skills have high prerequisites per SFKH.
Right, I was saying that Firefly and Han Solo modes are the other two modes of S&V. The not-Cowboy Bebop mode is the S&V mode that can be hacked to play something similar to Star Frontiers.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
It sounds like the best case scenario, absent a licensing agreement, is they produce a game called Star Frontiers with the not-particularly-remembered rules system, but none of the original worlds or aliens. And they have to do it by December.

I would bet against this ever occurring.

That said, for people looking for a fun space game that can do a lot of what people did with Star Frontiers, I recommend Scum & Villainy.
They don't even need to adapt the original rules system, they might just use the name "Star Frontiers". TSR 2.0 published a "Top Secret" game that doesn't use or adapt the original game rules, doesn't use the IP or setting . . . it's just another spy game using the name "Top Secret" without any real connection to the original . . . other than the main designer, Merle Rasmussen.
 

Marc_C

Solitary Role Playing
They don't even need to adapt the original rules system, they might just use the name "Star Frontiers". TSR 2.0 published a "Top Secret" game that doesn't use or adapt the original game rules, doesn't use the IP or setting . . . it's just another spy game using the name "Top Secret" without any real connection to the original . . . other than the main designer, Merle Rasmussen.
Yep. The same thing happened with Alterity 2.0. The name Alternity was grabbed by Sasquatch. The system has nothing to do with the first version by OTSR.
 


pemerton

Legend
This is an excellent illustration of what kind of confusion customers can experience when trademarks are not clear.
Alternatively, it shows that the basic logic of trademarks works better for some products - eg food, cloths, perhaps cars - than for others like books and bands.
 






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