Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

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shesheyan
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Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by shesheyan » Fri Feb 02, 2018 8:24 pm

Image

I missed this completely when it came out. Seems SPI had its own sci-fi rpg at the beginning of the 80s. Its was SPI's answer to Traveller. I was playing Star Frontiers at the time.

Wiki « Universe: The Role-Playing Game of the Future is a science fiction role-playing game published by Simulation Publications, Inc (SPI) from 1981 to 1983. It was praised for its innovative and tightly organized rules for such sci-fi RPG concerns as generating planets, applying character skills to in-game situations, and resolving the initial moments of alien encounters; however, it was also criticized for its cumbersome encounter/combat system and its lack of compelling background material. Universe was also noted for its "striking" Interstellar Display, a poster-sized, astronomically accurate map of all stars within 30 light-years of Earth. SPI planned several adventures and supplements for Universe, but in 1983, financial difficulties led to SPI being bought out by TSR, Inc (creator of Dungeons and Dragons). TSR, which had its own sci-fi RPG (Star Frontiers), soon ended development of Universe. »

Did anyone around here played this game ?

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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by Havard » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:46 pm

Wow!

I know nothing about this RPG! Thanks for sharing the images!

What's the origin of SPI anyway?

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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by shesheyan » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:06 pm

Havard wrote:Wow!

I know nothing about this RPG! Thanks for sharing the images!

What's the origin of SPI anyway?

-Havard

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulatio ... tions,_Inc.

The company was founded in 1969 by James F. Dunnigan to take over publishing Strategy & Tactics, which had been in financial trouble. However, SPI quickly proved that it was primarily a game publisher; not only did it produce many regular wargame designs, but starting with SPI's takeover, each issue of S&T included a complete wargame, comprising a map, rulebook and a sheet of die-cut counters.

SPI negotiated a promissory note loan (at the time mentioned as $225,000 but here listed as $400,000 from TSR (the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons). The note was guaranteed by SPI's assets. SPI used the cash to pay their venture capitalists, and were broke but happy. However, less than two weeks later, TSR called in the note.[2] SPI, with no cash available and no options to get the cash, were forced to give over their inventory stock to TSR in early 1982, and were effectively out of business. TSR originally claimed they acquired SPI, but as that would mean they also would be responsible for their debts, quickly changed that statement. Thus, SPI's assets—but not its debts and liabilities—were acquired by TSR in 1983.[1] TSR refused to honor SPI subscriptions and used the "assets, not liabilities" agreement to ignore SPI's debts. This policy alienated many of TSR's potential customers.

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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by barrataria » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:58 am

And yet again googling around for game info leads me back into the clutches of the Piazza! I keep looking back at Universe for ideas to mine, but I never had any exposure to it back in the day. My uncle gave me Dragonquest once upon a time, but I was too young/green to figure out what to do with it. The characters tend to be of the "jack of all trades" type, so I had a hard time to get my mind around a character that was a fighter and magic user etc. all at the same time.

Anyway, SPI once upon a time was the king of hex and chit wargames, Terrible Swift Sword, Campaign for North Africa, Sniper, and eventually a LoTR game. The wiki leak is broken, but Greg Costikyan wrote a takedown of SPI and TSR's role in its demise that's a good read, like all the stuff on his site.

If anyone else has played or used Universe I'd be interested in hearing tall tales. Or even short ones!

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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by shesheyan » Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:44 am

barrataria wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:58 am
And yet again googling around for game info leads me back into the clutches of the Piazza! I keep looking back at Universe for ideas to mine, but I never had any exposure to it back in the day. My uncle gave me Dragonquest once upon a time, but I was too young/green to figure out what to do with it. The characters tend to be of the "jack of all trades" type, so I had a hard time to get my mind around a character that was a fighter and magic user etc. all at the same time.

Anyway, SPI once upon a time was the king of hex and chit wargames, Terrible Swift Sword, Campaign for North Africa, Sniper, and eventually a LoTR game. The wiki leak is broken, but Greg Costikyan wrote a takedown of SPI and TSR's role in its demise that's a good read, like all the stuff on his site.

If anyone else has played or used Universe I'd be interested in hearing tall tales. Or even short ones!
Interesting article. I loved SPI wargames. I would also like some testimonies.

I found this site to download the three original books in text only format :
https://universerpg.sourceforge.io

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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by Dread Delgath » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:38 pm

I don't remember this game at all! And that's unfortunate, as I could have easily used a 3rd alternate to science fiction RPG or wargames, aside from Traveller or Star Frontiers.

The art, or the ship design on the cover of Delta Vee was recycled by TSR in Dragon magazine for a Star Frontier ship. I couldn't tell you which issue it was, but I do recall it was in the Dragon's short run of science fiction gaming articles, mostly aimed at Star Frontiers or Gamma World - the sub-zine named Ares.

After reading the description of SPI's demise, I can now put into context of the hate for TSR that I encountered in the late 80's during my Navy days. Old grogs who were so full of hate for TSR that all they could do was rant & rave about stealing the hard work of others, etc., is now put into perspective. :shock:
My D&D 5th edition Dakan Mar Campaign setting Conspectus and Campaign Rules here at The Piazza Forums, a Fool's Errand WIP.

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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by shesheyan » Wed Sep 19, 2018 8:58 pm

Dread Delgath wrote:
Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:38 pm
After reading the description of SPI's demise, I can now put into context of the hate for TSR that I encountered in the late 80's during my Navy days. Old grogs who were so full of hate for TSR that all they could do was rant & rave about stealing the hard work of others, etc., is now put into perspective. :shock:
The hate was real. A friend of mine bought SPI's Dragon Quest rpg when it came out. We played a few games. He was furious when TSR killed it and refused to play any TSR games after that.

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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by Sturm » Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:28 am

And this was in Gygax time. Which reinforces my idea he too behaved not much differently from Lorraine, she was just smarter than him.
He had a great part in creating a great game obviously, but he also tried to become a capitalistic shark, problem was, there were bigger sharks :)

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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by Dread Delgath » Thu Sep 20, 2018 5:46 pm

Sturm wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 11:28 am
And this was in Gygax time. Which reinforces my idea he too behaved not much differently from Lorraine, she was just smarter than him.
He had a great part in creating a great game obviously, but he also tried to become a capitalistic shark, problem was, there were bigger sharks :)
The Blume brothers were in charge of finances & legal aspects of the company. Yes, Gary was probably made aware of the double dealing, but I bet donuts to dollars it was the Blumes that spearheaded this dickery.
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Re: Universe sci-fi RPG [SPI 1981-1983]

Post by Sturm » Thu Sep 20, 2018 6:17 pm

Possibly, but not necessarily. Gigax was kept in high consideration by fans of D&D for his merits but I'm not sure his behaviour for example with Anderson was speckless and neither the Blume were responsible for all. I think he was a bit intoxicated by the success of D&D and too sure the game could not live without him, so he took unnecessary risks and was too careless with finance.

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