RPG Update - Last Unicorn GamesBy Amy
October 10, 2000 - 1:53 PM
Earlier this year we reported on Last Unicorn Games' surprise loss of the Trek Role Playing Games license to Trek CCG license holder, Decipher. At the time, Last Unicorn had just been acquired by Wizards of the Coast, one of the largest and most prominent RPG companies around, and thus was in an excellent position to deliver the Star Trek range to a larger audience, while Decipher had no RPG experience whatsoever. We now have a little more information of what exactly this meant for Last Unicorn, and what projects they had in the works or even had completed that now look unlikely ever to see the light of day.
Last Unicorn acquired the RPG license in 1998 and have since marketed a successful range of games based in the Star Trek universe, including the 'Original Series', 'The Next Generation', 'Deep Space Nine' and 'The Expanded Universe', in addition to their 'Dune' series. Their 'Next Generation' RPG won Origins "Best RPG of 1998" and they were the developers of the award-winning Aria game system in 1994. Projects under development before and after the take-over by Wizards included 'Star Trek: Red Alert', designed in conjunction with Fantasy Flight Games, a ship-based space-combat RPG comprising of 5 factions (Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Cardassian, and Ferengi) and 8 unique starter sets. Also in the wind was a change over to the much-hyped D20 System, apparently used to great effect in Wizards' 'new' Dungeons & Dragons, from the Icon system being used as LUG's gaming system at the time, though its reception from all quarters of the Trek RPG world was uncertain.
However, apparently it wasn't to be. The Decipher acquisition of the Trek RPG license pretty much spelled the end for the LUG Trek RPG line as it was, making it both unprofitable and unfeasible to develop and attempt to mass-produce both the completed and uncompleted projects before the deadline of December 31 this year, after which Decipher will hold the exclusive rights in North America. While the "To Boldly Go," "The Klingons," and the "Mirror, Mirror" sourcebooks have actually been completed for several months, Wizard squandered the opportunity to publish them before the deadline and hence they seem destined to languish in limbo, unless Wizard elects to publish them electronically for free or a small fee as some fans would like. It certainly seems a shame that three high-quality products appear to have wound up on the scrap-heap, but the customer service department of Wizard, when asked for a statement by a poster at TrekRPG.net, said that none of the Trek products slated for release would actually be published. The 'Red Alert' game appears to now have been limited to just the first sets originally released, with now expansions in sight, while the 'Latinum Project', a promotional offer linked to the game, lies buried in the dust of the Last Unicorn website, which hasn't been updated since early August.
What happens next appears to be up to Decipher, whose exclusive contract runs for five years, and not, as was previously thought, for two years. According to TrekRPG.net, a Decipher employee posted on the company's message boards, saying they do indeed plan to publish a Star Trek role-playing game, though no details on that are yet known. With Decipher planning to publish its own RPG, it would seem the chances for any further Icon Trek products being released are extremely slim.