How did the concept for LoS finally come together as a whole, and whose main idea was it [I assume Clark at this point]? I get the impression you guys were all pals and maybe kind of hashed it out together...
Some personal background first. Marco and I met at a D&D game around 1980 or so. I met Derrick at Ryerson in 1986 or 1987 and we ended up as executives at the Ryerson Game Club. Then Marco and I, Derrick and his friends ended up as a gaming group.
Global Games was launched as an unconventional retailer by Derrick, Marco and (if I recall correctly) another fellow named Steve, in 1989 or early 1990. At the time I was working full time as my unit
storesman and saving every penny for a return trip to Australia (Marco and I visited in the summer of 1989 but I wanted to go back). Global Games sold mail order and at conventions at 20% off MSRP, which ruffled a few feathers and is a story for another day.
Somewhere in there the guys met up with Lawrence Simms, author of Battlelords of the 23rd Century. A deal was struck whereby Larry could focus on marketing his RPG in the USA, and Global Games would handle the international distribution. After I got back from Australia around Labour Day of 1991 we struck another deal to license Battlelords and publish an adventure titled: Do Not Be Alarmed: This Is Only A Test.
It was while we were putting together DNBA that Marco picked up a copy of Space Hulk. We played it once or twice, loved the format - sci-fi miniatures on a fixed yet changeable board - but weren't impressed with the rules and various aspects of the game play. So the box got tucked away.
A few weeks later at about 2 a.m. the idea dawned on me: the backstory, the premise, the rules, and the figures. It all fit on two typed pages, single spaced. The next day we all looked at it, thought it had potential, and then filed it away until DNBA got released in early 1992.
At this point, you have to look at the evolution of Global Games, proceding up the food chain as it were. We had gone from consumers to retailers to distributors to licenced publisher: it was time to launch something proprietary. So out came that two-page draft from a few months earlier.
In the first instance, the name - Legions of Steel
- was there, the Machine invasion was there, the League of Aliens and Operation Planetstorm. The major difference in the rules was that it began as your standard two roll (to-hit + damage) system. I think it was Derrick's idea to make it all one roll. I came up with a system that worked well but was too difficult to apply in practice so it got stripped down to substantially the fire mechanics that would end up in the Black Box Set. Similarly, movement was basically what you see; leadership and suppression were added shortly after.
The first 5 figures were the trooper, the heavy weapon trooper, the Nightmare
, Succubot and the Balrog. In the original conception, the basic set would contain a commando section
and 12 Nightmares with the other two intended as advanced robots for a supplement. Marco and I improvised to alpha-test the mechanics and the biggest problem was that you could set up firelanes and then cover or suppress such that the game stalemated. So then we added forcewall, k-pulse and Nachtmacher grenades to provide portable cover and a bit of indirect fire.
We had a conception, a format, and a workable set of rules. How the heck were we going to turn this into a boxed game?