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Author Topic: Some of my ICE History....  (Read 1105 times)

Offline Rasyr

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Some of my ICE History....
« on: January 04, 2023, 10:27:19 AM »
I was recently asked about some of the things that went on a bit over a decade ago in regards to ICE. So I figured that I would write this up again. I had written much of this up previously, and posted it on my website here, but then the site crashed and I lost a lot of it, so time to write it up again....

In the mid-1990's, I belonged to a Rolemaster mailing list, and on this mailing list I got involved in trying to become a Rolemaster author. The first book I submitted to write was a Channeling Companion, but Corey Magel was selected to author it instead of me.

After speaking with him a bit, I provided him some things for him to include in the product. My name was listed in the SPecial Contributions section.

Some short time later, myself and other authors decided to get together on our own private email list, and we called ourselves the Guild of Freelance Authors. A little later on, we decided to create a monthly fanzine-website, which we called the Guild Companion.

I was later contracted by ICE for two projects. The first being a Races & Cultures book for Mannish Races. And the second, I was one of several chosen to help John Curtis develop a new setting that was based on one of the continents from Shadow World - the same one from the Bladestorm miniatures game.

This setting, Bladestorm, was predicated on Kulthea (i.e. Shadow World) blowing up and the continent of Folenn being encapsulated in a magical bubble and traveling through space in search of a new planet. The setting included something similar to the sunbane (a magical effect from the second Chronicles of Thomas Covenent series). It was not identical, but there were lots of similarities to it and other things as well as several oddities.

For example, Elves were gem-based, born from pools of liquid gems (no idea where this came from), only the players were not going to know until several books for the setting were released. There was also an underground city of stunted dwarves (this seemed identical to something from the Dragonlance setting). Other Dwarves were bald and beardless and considered themselves cursed and they lived as river nomads and traders.

Anyways, thanks to certain events (several of which I was later informed were taken by Tolkien Enterprises), ICE went into bankruptcy and closed down. While I have no direct knowledge here, I was later told it was that TE wanted the license back for Middle Earth, cause they wanted to sell the movie rights, which ICE kinda held at the time. Again, this was second hand information, so I cannot speak to its accuracy!

Anyways, the Rolemaster IP was sold to a guy named John Seal, who lived in England at the time. He licensed it back to a couple of folks frmo the original ICE who had formed a company called Mjolnir LLC. Seal ran the ownership through Aurigas Aldebaron, a company that I presume he made for this purpose.

Some time later, I got into a conversation with Bruce, the CEO of Mjonlir and told him that ICE needed a new intro game, in the same sort of style as MERP. I then started sending him bits I worked out and wrote up.

This game was called HARP. And the version published was very very different from the first version I wrote. Many of the changes were introduced frmo either Seal not understanding how certain things worked or from my other boss wanting to make changes and I let myself be talked into those changes.

So in the end, HARP was flawed in a number of ways I did not realize (because I had never written a full system before then). About half way between the time I started writing it and it being published, I went to work for Mjolnir full time. I became an editor, author, IT guy, and whatever else was needed.

My bosses had a bit of a plan in that they wanted to bring back the RM2 fans before we moved towards revising Rolemaster. So we created the RM Classic line. And in working as editor on it, we realized that many of the things that the public thought were core rules were actually options that could be applied or not as a GM wanted. However, RM was never clear on that, hence the confusion.

This led me to propose Rolemaster Express as a way of showcasing how simple the core rules actually were. Now, some of the core rules were a bit more complicated than they needed to be, so I substituted some options to make the core RMX book fully playable. We then expanded that towards the core RMC books by releasing smaller chunks of the system in issues of Express Additions.

On the HARP side, I had envisioned a setting that was compact, we called it Cyradon. And a guy named Gavin was contracted to write it. My boss wanted it to have the flavor and some of the feel of Middle Earth, but the author kept turning in manuscripts that seem to be rehashing the actual history of Middle Earth (and it took me a few years after I stopped working for Mjolnir to realize what was happening). And my boss was unhappy with the manuscripts and kept giving me notes to pass along which I did, but I was passing along comments that I did not fully understand myself (this was a bit of a habit, where i was used as the go between and thus I was often the one ticking folks off since I was the one who had to pass things along, and often could not say I was just the messenger).

Thus, I often ended up rewriting bits here and there for the various books when my boss did not like something in it. In one incident, it was felt that one creature in a book was not suitable because it was almost impossible to kill (you could not hurt it if you were touching the ground), and it had been given to the author of the book by an ICE fan, and he went ballistic after he learned it was changed and from that point on, he often blamed me for everything that he did not like (it did not help that I was the face of the company on the forums, and what most did not know was that any policy or other important posts were not my decisions, though I was the one left to explain things.

Anyways, we wanted to provide RM fans with access to the Cyradon setting, so I wrote RM Cyradon, where I adjusted the RM rules to fit the setting, something which I am a huge proponent for!!  I had it almost finished when John Seal told us we could not publish it, cause "two people" that he trusted told him that it was another new version of RM and thus would confuse the fans.

I later learned that these "two people" were Nick Caldwell, and Thom Jones (who was also John Seal's brother-in-law). So I proposed we used those adjusted rules to base a revision of Rolemaster on. I evne wrote up a product line outline/plan to show what product we would release and how those products would help unite the fan bases by providing a base system that could be expanded into an RMFRP-like system for those who wanted that.

So I started working on that, and we were just weeks from releasing the open beta for it, when Nick Caldwell posted that he was taking over HARP SciFi, something that Mjolnir had no idea about until after the fact.

Apparently, Nick Caldwell and Thom Jones had been working behind Mjolnir's back to poison our relationship with Seal, and they apparently also laying most of the blame for the problems on me. To me, that makes them both nothing more than backstabbing bastards.

A few months later Seal pulled the license completely, and gave it to Caldwell and his brother in law, who have been slowly killing it ever since....

After they took over, they kept trying to ban me from the ICE forums for the same exact things that other forum members were saying and I had fight to get re-instated several different times. They would also try to ban me for things I said on other forums. John Seal also threatened to sue me if my own game that I started developing was anything like Rolemaster....

I even tried to get permission to sell RMX and Express Additions after rebranding it as "Rasyr's Rolemaster" but I was told no because it would cause confusion and would steal their fan-base.....

If you look now, everything that I personally authored has been removed from sale. Caldwell & Jones (who are both pompous asshats in my opinion) apparently decided to erase all my contributions that they could (they could not erase HARP, but notice that they revised it very very quickly, much more quickly than Rolemaster).