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FASA

The FASA Corporation, commonly known as FASA, was an American gaming company that produced role-playing (RPG), text, board, and video games. It was founded around 1980 by Jordan Weisman and L. Ross Babcock III in Chicago, Illinois. The "FASA" acronym reputedly stood for "Freedonian Air and Space Administration", according to some. [1]

Some of FASA's most popular and extensive lines included the Shadowrun, MechWarrior, BattleTech, Doctor Who, and Star Trek games. Its (now highly sought-after) 1979 Battlestar Galactica role-playing game, one of the first products that the company released, served as the template for the Star Trek: The Role Playing Game four years later. [2]

Upon losing the Star Trek license in 1990, FASA wound down on releasing physical tabletop games and their accouterments, focusing instead on digital products alone, becoming the computer game company "FASA Interactive" in the process as of 1996. As such, the company drew the attention of Microsoft, who bought the company in 1999, renaming it "FASA Studio" and incorporating it – and its two founders – into their own Microsoft Game Studios computer game division. [3]

FASA closed its doors in 2001 after twenty years in operation, but it was not untill 2007 that the company was formally dissolved. On that occassion it was co-creator Weisman who was awarded all FASA licensing rights, and it was he alone who continued to license new games based on earlier FASA releases, those of Star Trek excepted. It appeared that Babcock was left with nothing to show for his twenty year involvement with FASA, even though he had taken on the thankless task to oversee the company's closure. (Designers & Dragons, p. 127, ISBN 190770258X)

Meanwhile, Star Trek gaming content has continued to evolve and licensing has been awarded to other companies including Last Unicorn Games, Decipher, and WizKids, the latter of which actually founded by FASA's Jordan Weisman in 2000 for which he had deserted both FASA and his fellow co-founder Babcock the year before the latter had to close it.

Star Trek licensing

FASA Star Trek the Role Playing Game v1.jpg FASA Battlestar Galactica The Role Playing Game 1979 box cover.jpg
FASA's succesful Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, released in 1983…
…and its Galactica predecessor it had been based upon
FASA gaming miniatures assortment.jpg FASA logo, original.png
Assortment of painted FASA gaming miniatures
Original FASA logo, replaced around the turn of 1985-1986 [4]

In 1982, FASA received licensing from Paramount Pictures to produce a RPG based on the studio's first four Star Trek films and Star Trek: The Original Series. After four development versions were rejected because they focused too strongly on combat, which did not fit in with Gene Roddenberry's vision of a more utopian future,[1] a fifth development team consisting of Guy W. McLimore, Jr., Greg Poehlein, and David F. Tepool, was brought in. It was this team, named "Fantasimulations Association" (the second contender for the FASA acronym according to others, even though the chronology does not line up) that succeeded in developing a version that was met with approval by both the franchise and FASA. (Designers & Dragons, p. 120) FASA's Star Trek RPG became a major contemporary competitor to Task Force Games' Star Fleet Battles RPG, which, as the first of its kind, began to debut its releases a few years before FASA.

The basic game was released in 1983 as Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, followed by numerous associated components, supplements, and reference works. FASA also produced four Star Trek "Micro-Adventure" games that incorporated some of the RPG's elements into smaller, less complex games. Aside from live-action canon productions and information created by the FASA game staffers themselves, the game also included some content from non-canon Star Trek novels and comics. Information from Star Trek: The Animated Series, then still considered non-canon, was also incorporated into the game's content, as it too was covered by FASA's licensing.

Conversely, information and designs from the FASA game have been influential in subsequent Star Trek novels, comics, and games. And because there still was little available in the way of official in-universe information at the time outside the filmed productions, fans and production staffers alike started to consider the information provided in the game as "quasi-canon" or "fanon". Despite the non-canonical nature of the game, content created by FASA designers has therefore even influenced some elements in early canon Star Trek: The Next Generation-era filmed Star Trek productions.

A major contributing factor to the success of their game was the simultaneous release of a line of highly imaginative – where their non-canon starship designs were concerned – pewter gaming miniatures. They proved to be very popular in their own right, eclipsing the popularity of the previously-released Task Force miniatures, and garnered the company a 1984 H.G. Wells Award in the "Best Vehicular Miniatures Series" category. This was followed by two "Best Vehicular or Accessory Series" awards in 1985 and 1987 for model sculptors Ab Mobasher, who sculpted the first twenty-two models of the line, and Randy Hoffa and Steve Apolloni, respectively.

With the advent of The Next Generation in 1987, FASA geared up to incorporate the new production into their game framework and published the season one supplemental sourcebook and the Star Trek: The Next Generation Officer's Manual in 1988.

In 1989, FASA was already in the process of manufacturing accompanying gaming miniatures based on TNG when its contract with Paramount was terminated abruptly, due to difficulties with acquiring renewed licensing. The predominant reason for the Paramount Marketing and Licensing Department ending the relationship was its desire to establish a more coherent "franchise" approach by exercising a firmer grip on content and continuity. This new approach was exemplified by Paramount's expressed displeasure with FASA's Next Generation publications, which contained information upon release that was already contradicted by aired episodes, instantly rendering them non-canonical. (Designers & Dragons, p. 123; – see also in this respect: Print material franchise)

Furthermore, reports started to make the rounds again that the increasingly warlike, aggressive nature of the game (in its game supplements especially) reared its head anew as the additional source for the franchise's disenchantment with FASA; a supplement about the Star Fleet Marines and a related game involving a scenario where the Federation preemptively attacked the Klingon and Romulan empires was in development at FASA at the time of its licence retraction.[1][5]

Star Trek: The Role Playing Game editorial staff

this list is currently incomplete

Footnote

  1. 1.0 1.1 In the same year that FASA received its Star Trek license, Japanese company Tsukuda Hobby had actually released such a game, called Star Trek: The Invasion of Klingon Empire, for the home market, and which was based on the Star Fleet Battles from FASA competitor Task Force Games. The game's crystal clear subtitle "The Game of Space War in Star Trek" left nothing to the imagination – in stark contrast, FASA's first four attempts were at virtually the same time rejected by the franchise for being "too warlike". Ironically, the Japanese company had at that time been fully licensed by Paramount to do so.

See also

External link