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.
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.