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A Labour of Love

Larry Niven’s Ringworld: Roleplaying Adventure Beneath the Great Arch

By John Hewitt & Sherman Kahn  

21 Jul, 2015

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Many,many role-playing game companies have been tempted into doing RPGadaptations of established media franchises, such as books, TV shows,or movies. The attraction is obvious; the product comes with abuilt-in market. Unfortunately, there are also many, many pitfalls.Many of the companies who have dabbled in licensed products haveemerged from the experience poorer for it. There’s a trick tosurviving adaptations and not every company has it.

Wayback in 1983, I was thrilled to read in DifferentWorlds29

that Chaosium Games had acquired the rights to do a role-playinggame based on Larry Niven’s Ringworld(a title that did not at that time inspire feelings of melancholy anddespair over the decline of a once-great author). Not only hadChaosium created Runequest,one of my favourite RPGs, but they had ample experience at turningliterary properties into games [1]. By 1983, Chaosium’s licensedproducts included ThievesWorld,Stormbringer,and of course Callof Cthulhu.

It’s not entirely true tosay that Ringworldthe RPG got caught up in Development Hell but I do think it’s safe tosay the project turned out to be bigger than John Hewitt or any ofthe other people involved could have envisioned. Despite delays,LarryNiven’s Ringworld: Roleplaying Adventure Beneath the Great Arch wasfinally released in 1984 [2].

Andwhat did a youthful James find when he popped open his copy of thegame?

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