R. Talsorian, I miss you…

R. Talsorian is a by-gone gaming company that I don’t really hear many folks talk about these days. Even though I started with D&D when I was eight, honestly, the golden years of my gaming really happened in the mid-to-late nineties. Those carefree days before all that “adult responsibility.” And a big part of those days for me were the games of R. Talsorian.

While I realize that most still remember Cyberpunk, the company made three other games that were all huge influences on my formative gaming years and are well worth a look even today. So, here’s my, “forgotten games everyone should play” post.

First up, Cybergeneration.

A wonderful spin-off from Cyberpunk, this game was all about hope. Well, it was about being wild teenagers living a crazy life on the streets, facing danger, and being awesome. All this inside the trappings of a funky cyberpunk universe. I had the pleasure of playing this game when I was just the right age to enjoy the the high school drama of it all. Despite the intervening years and all the growing up, I recently purchased this game again on RPGNow and I still love it. A simple system, a great meta-story, and the capacity for silly and serious in equal measure. If you get the chance, give it a look. It’s worth it.

Teenagers from Outer Space
is the second game. One of the most fun romps I’ve ever enjoyed. For a long time I ran an annual Halloween game of TFOS. The recurring saga of the fight against the otherworldly menace of Hasturkey. It really only makes sense if you’ve ever lived in Rockingham County… but it was fun.

Seriously though. This is the only “comedy” RPG I could ever get behind. I was never big on Toon or Tales from the Floating Vagabond. But Teenagers was so ridiculous, well-written and just downright enjoyable that I still run it from time to time even now. Again, a simple system, some nifty mechanics — like the “Relationship with Parents” stat. I especially like the “too good a roll” mechanics designed to discourage min-maxing. Despite the comedy trappings, there was some good stuff in here.

Finally though, the greatest game that no one I know has ever played (except me). Castle Falkenstein. An amazing game, with a very different mechanical system based on using decks of playing cards and no dice. Gentlemen don’t play dice. It’s important. The game book was a product of it’s times. Like some other games that came out around then, the books was one half story and one half mechanics. It was beautiful, with an amazing art-style. And the magic system was more of an influence on me than anything else I’ve ever read. Whenever I thought about making a game I always keep this in mind. And CF was ahead of its time. It was steam-punk before steam-punk was the mainstream geek favorite it’s become today. In every way, Castle Falkenstein is probably one of the most shaping games I’ve ever had the joy of playing.

So, after all these years, I miss R. Talsorian and it’s fantastic games. I know that GURPS did a Falkenstein book and all, but I really wonder what happened to Mike Pondsmith. After a little searching, it appears that R. Talsorian may be ‘techically’ still alive, but I’m not sure how much they’re really doing these days. Despite this, they will always hold a special place in my gaming heart for their work in the nineties. If you get a chance, you should definitely check out all of these old games. They’re genuinely good stuff.

Thanks for Reading.


11 responses

  1. Never played the others, but Falkenstein. A quality product from cover to cover.

  2. Castle Falkenstein for the win. I spent hours writing in my character journal in the early ’90s, not to mention the time spent playing.

  3. A game left of you list is probably one of the Greatest Convention Games never played. Dreampark was a brilliant adaptation, just perfect for short games and convention style play. I was always disappointed it never was given a real chance.

    Also, TFOS is the best comedy game I ever played. Still love the game.

  4. I never had the chance to play any of these. The only one I even saw on FLGS shelves in those days was Castle Falkenstein. I loved Cyberpunk, though~

    When I look back now it usually feels like I had all the time in the world to play games and try new ones… with this post, I am not so sure! Did I waste a weekend doing something silly when I could have been playing one or more of these?

  5. I’m glad to see that others share the Falkenstein love. It really is a true favorite of mine.

    Dreampark is a game that I wish I’d played. It always looked fantastic — and the old ads for it in Dragon were amazing. But it’s the one I never got around to. Maybe I’ll try and track down a copy now and see what it’s all about.

    I’m not really sure how it happened that I played all these games… Mainly, back in the old-days, I had a really good, willing group of players around and I’d pick up something new, suggest it, and we’d give it a try. At one point I was in five different games a week. So, gaming was clearly a priority for me.

    Damn shame is, these days, I’m lucky if I can hold one game together for more than a semester. And honestly, it isn’t really about lack of time, it’s about lack of commitment. I need to do better.

  6. The Talsorian website is still up, but it definitely has an abandoned feel to it. Anybody know what’s up with them these days? Are they well and truly dead?

  7. I noticed that too… the site is still up, and appears to be “active” but just barely. I think they must be dead. I still miss ’em though.

  8. You’re indeed correct with this writing…

  9. We’re BAAAAAAAACCCCCK! Check out our new site at rtalsoriangames.wordpress.com! Lots of new and exciting stuff regarding our collaboration with CD Projekt Red on the new Cyberpunk 2077 video game, all new Cyberpunk 2020 projects, and several new soon-to be-announced projects for this year. It’s the year 2013, and the New Age of Cyberpunk has begun! Join us!

    R.Talsorian Games

  10. cauldronofevil | Reply

    I second the notation for Dream Park – both a 1d6 system and a universal system before they were cool!

    But how could you leave out Mekton! This game was single-handledly responsible for my love of anime and still a great system!

    FUZION was also a really admirable attempt at a simple, universal system, but they had to go and ‘Champions’ it all up. 😦

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