Lit We Hav to Go on an Adventure with Jello

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac, Mar 7, 2016.

  1. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Yes, you have to. This is mandatory.

    I'm excited to announce the launch of a brand-new read-through thread project. GrandAdmiralJello and I will be reading through the Adventure Journals one feature at a time, luxuriating in their gloriousness and occasionally deigning to share commentary with you, the proletariat.

    For those of you familiar with the Adventure Journals, we expect this to be a welcome opportunity to reflect on some of the EU's lesser-known gems. For those of you unfamiliar with these classics, we hope to give you a taste of a unique era of Star Wars fandom in which the Expanded Universe grew significantly through the efforts of West End games, whose roleplaying games did so much to establish the background of the Star Wars galaxy and tell smaller-scale stories within it.

    Back before the internet made fandom as easy as googling "star wars books," magazines were a huge part of fandom communications. Starting in 1994, West End Games, holders of the Star Wars roleplaying game license, began printing the Star Wars Adventure Journal, a magazine designed to supplement the experience of its gamers. Unlike its sourcebooks, which offered information focused on specific subjects, the Adventure Journal was a chance to offer a diverse Star Wars experience. Illustrated short stories, enriched with sidebars and writeups designed to give gamers material and inspiration with which to weave their own stories during gaming sessions; news features; interviews; adventure seeds that provide the outline of a story for gamers to progress through; articles describing settings or aspects of the universe; and of course lots of ads filled the pages of these magazines, which were published until WEG finally lost the license due to its financial troubles.

    Please come with us on our adventure of reliving these amazing pieces of historical EU!
  2. Pfluegermeister Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2003
    star 4
    Ooooooooooooh, that sounds like fun! Special attention to the news articles, please! :)
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  3. Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 15, 2006
    star 4
    Airen Cracken was the king of the AJs. And they had the Pentastar Alignment, too.

    Good to see the readthrough threads brought back. I was considering doing one dedicated to Pablo's latest tweet, where we'd examine a new letter each day for 140 days. But this is a much better idea.
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  4. Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 4
    I have a couple of these buried away somewhere. I'll have to see if I can dig them out and join the fun.
  5. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 5
    YES YES YES YES YES
  6. Abalore Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2001
    star 1
    Really excited for this. I own #s 1, 2, 3, 7, 9. Figure I have a little bit of time to consider if I wanna scour the webs for my missing issues.

    I actually own two #1s. I found one buried in a shelf in a Half Price Books (used bookstore) signed by Timothy Zahn on the inside cover. Had to pick it up.
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  7. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    [IMG]

    That's the cover of the first-ever Adventure Journal. Open it up and one first finds an ad for the Lucasfilm Fan Club. "WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF STAR WARS?" "ARE NEW STAR WARS MOVIES IN THE WORKS?" "JOIN FOR ONLY $9.95" It's really a blast from the past. You can clip out the little thing in the corner, fill it out, and send it in with check or money order -- or call 1-800-TRUE-FAN to join (it's a great phone number, but it caused a great deal of confusion with the one-digit-different Star Wars sex line, 1-900-UP-TEEBO). Joining gives you a one-year subscription to the Lucasfilm magazine, which promises, in essence, articles on Star Wars and Indiana Jones. If you want to read interviews with the guy who played Piett, this is clearly your go-to resource. You'll also get a catalog full of Star Wars memorabilia you can buy (through the mail or phone), because there was no Amazon. You're also promised a poster, ROTJ 8x10 stills, a sticker, a letter from George Lucas himself, and wonder of all wonders, a membership card, so you can pull it out of your wallet at bars to impress ladies. "Did you know, madam, that I am a fully accredited member of the Official Lucasfilm Fan Club? You wanna come over to my place and see my holographic sticker?" All this is over a little art piece of three X-wings hurtling toward the Death Star II, spewing a swarm of TIEs, in the midst of some kind of nebula thing and at least five different orbital bodies, so it looks pretty cool but is super busy.

    That brings us to our first feature in the magazine. Titled Admiral's Communique, and featuring a photo of Ackbar guaranteed to make young Nick smile in anticipation and the heading "Power to the Fans," which makes it sound like the beginning of some kind of revolutionary manifesto for people very interested in buying The Empire Strikes Back commemorative plates, it is editor Peter Schweighofer's statement introducing the purpose of the new Adventure Journal. He leads off with some quotes from people writing in (via real, actual letter) expressing the magic of Star Wars. Well, the first one expresses the magic of Star Wars, and its "struggle of tiny, struggling good," which is always struggling through a struggle, against big evil. The second just says that the guy likes Star Wars a lot, has read all the Star Wars things, and thinks he writes well enough and has some good ideas, so please pick him.

    You see, the magic of the Adventure Journal . . . is that it isn't just professional authors. Sure, they've got Tim Zahn's name up there on the cover, and they would continue to attract top-tier talent. And much of the content was by professional RPG writers. But the Adventure Journal was also an outlet for fans to write real, canonical Star Wars. You too could be a Star Wars author. If you could write well enough, and had good enough ideas, you could create your own little corner of the universe -- one your fellow gamers could then use. It's an awesome, engaging concept. And it would be easy to be skeptical of it, thinking that you're just going to get a bunch of guys writing about their own special Corellian smuggler, or secret Jedi, or a bunch of horrible prose about their new kind of Star Destroyer and just exactly how long it is. The fact is, though, it worked out amazingly well. In a time period when this sort of thing was one of the only ways to be tapped into fandom, WEG had a vast pool of enthusiastic Star Wars fans to draw from, many with real talent and a fan's eye for giving the people what they want, and were able to pick the cream of the crop.

    And because that's pretty light as far as features go, I'll also tide you over by telling you what lies between this and the next feature: the table of contents over a two-page spread of McQuarrie artwork (always a great go-to for random Star Wars background illustrations throughout the nineties), an ad for WEG's Indiana Jones RPG ("Coming This Summer," below a picture of a very unenthused-looking Indy), the credits for the issue over a random still of the Emperor (Jello will be very happy), and an ad for Illuminati Online, with "the latest in Star Wars gaming." Illuminati Online proclaims itself to be "the online headquarters of the gaming community," back when online gaming was something very different. It's full of super awesome early internetisms, so much so that I feel compelled to reproduce their explanation of their business model:

    If you telnet in over the Internet, the cost is $10 per month for unlimited access. We have a fast T1 connection.

    If you dial us direct at 512-448-8950, it's $28 a month for 80 hours (30 cents an hour over that) or $10 a month for 20 hours (50 cents an hour over that) for the same deal plus full Internet access, or free for an account that only accesses the Games conference (this is for our old-time users who don't care about anything else). The long-distance bill is yours, which is why the Internet is better.

    That's some amazing copy. But they promise "all the topics, all the fun of the Illuminati BBS," and online games with "multiplayer games in the very near future." Also thanks to the Internet and their direct lines, they have "capacity for dozens of callers simultaneously." There's also a "multiplayer real-time text-based environment" called the Metaverse that allows you to explore and build a virtual city called Freegate. Did anyone here ever use this?

    Also Starlog presents THE OFFICIAL MAGAZINE Star Wars Technical Journal of the Planet Tatooine, which is 100 pages and promises four-page fold-out blueprints, "Color throughout!", and a deluxe collector's edition that boasts "FANTASTIC HOLOGRAPHIC FOIL & COLORED FOIL COVER!!!"

    No, I'm not going to go into this much detail with all the ads. But they're fun atmosphere while we're getting started.
    Last edited by Havac, Mar 7, 2016
  8. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 5
    As much as I put lots of effort and some expense into avoiding advertising today, I always love looking at old ads in genre publications. It's like a time capsule.
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  9. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    Jul 8, 1999
    star 6
  10. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 10
    Oh, the D10 based WEG Indiana Jones RPG. Such a... not great system.

    Will you guys review the accuracy and usefulness of the stats in the SWAJs as you go?
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  11. Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 4
    Did WEG actually ever make an Indiana Jones RPG?

    I met Peter Schweighofer at a small-ish convention a decade or so back. He was a nice guy, though the one thing I remember is him talking about having to make RPG stats for Palpatine in TPM-era works when people still didn't know if he, Sidious, and the Emperor were all really the same person.
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  12. GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin + Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Nov 28, 2000
    star 10
    I've been waiting to read the SWAJs for ages -- but I always saved them for a rainy day, thinking they were too pristine and too pure SW delights to devour at once. I painstakingly scoured conventions and used bookstores to gather these up over the years. It's probably my favorite set of SW products ever -- challenged only by my favorite novels, the X-wing books.

    My rainy day idea never panned out -- the Disney sale happened and suddenly I had a lot of new SW in the era I love. But with the new SW being WEGish and with WEG still being my favorite, this is a good time to visit what I consider to be the pinnacle of SW storytelling.

    Part fanciful, part silly, always quirky and always fun, the SWAJs are a real treat. I saved most of them, only really reading the GalaxyWide NewsNets because I'd been seeking those out for years. Sure, HNN was excitingly meta and deliciously clever retcon magic but the NewsNets were always my favorite -- particularly because of the differing subject matter, style, and biases of each fake news outlet.


    As I just noted, I guarantee I'll pay special attention to the NewsNets and I hope others will also partake in extended discussion of them.

    But the feature first appeared in issue #3 so it'll be a while yet. Which is fine -- I'm happy to enjoy the SWAJs slowly (I prefer it) and give them the attention they deserve.


    Missa ab iPhona mea est.
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  13. Zeta1127 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 5
    The last two Tales anthologies and Wookieepedia definitely peaked my interest in the Adventure Journal, though actually tracking them all down would be a tall order I am not likely to pull off anytime soon.
  14. Darth_Garak Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2005
    star 4
    I never saw any of these (wrong part of the globe for it) so this sounds fun.
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  15. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 5
    The NewsNets were a thing of beauty, and a strong contributor to WEG's "living galaxy" feeling.
  16. Force Smuggler Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2012
    star 7
  17. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
    [IMG]

    As far as I recall the poster you got was actually that same said picture just without the writing of course.

    PS: Looking forward to you guys covering AJ 2's Privateer article ;)
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  18. jSarek VIP

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    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2005
    star 4
    Well, congratulations. You brought me out of lurking, despite not having time to do otherwise, with this. ;-)

    I really don't need to tell you how much I love the AJs. (Just wait until we get to #7.) But I wasn't always so smart, and this seems like the right place to wax nostalgic about my own failings as a Star Wars fan. ;) Despite being a WEG Star Wars player who regularly scanned the shelves of my not-so-local Waldenbooks, B. Dalton Booksellers, and (later) Barnes and Noble, I passed over most of the AJs MANY times when they were in publication. At the time, I was on a limited budget (a little thing called an "allowance"), so I ignored any that didn't have info that looked directly applicable to my characters or adventures - and, as someone raised in an RPG tradition that eschewed using prepublished adventures or unique creations like characters or planets, that meant the AJ wasn't something that I felt spoke to me much. And sometimes, I just didn't have the money on me. Ultimately, while WEG was still in business, I only purchased four issues: #5 (for "Stock Ships"), #9 (for "Repulsortank Battlefield" and for the stock Firespray stats in "ISB Intercepts"), #10 (for "Toria Tell's Droid Journal" and "Alliance Intelligence Report: TIE Fighters"), and #11 (for the Star Wars Rules Upgrade). It was only later that I began slowly accumulating the issues I'd missed, a real challenge even with the help of eBay; it took years to finally amass them all.

    No, but I was quite familiar with it, as it was a house organ of Steve Jackson Games, maker of GURPS, which was the other roleplaying game I was into (much less so) in this timeframe. You can read about the history of Illuminati Online here.

    Indeed. Nothing sends one down the nostalgia pipeline faster than a period advertisement.

    Yep. First as the flagship setting of their Masterbook rules set, WEG's first attempt to create a setting-independent rules set a la GURPS; and then, when Masterbook didn't do so well, they soft-launched it again with a few books using the D6 System (another attempt at setting-independent rules, this time loosely based on the Star Wars RPG rules).

    That was after West End Games went bankrupt and Schwieghofer got brought on, like many WEG veterans, to the WotC version of the RPG.
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  19. Taalcon Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 12, 1998
    star 4
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  20. Bly Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 28, 2005
    star 4
    Oh, this is wonderful news! I'll have to dig up my copies of these so I can follow along, it'll be great to read them again. Some of my favorite stories and characters took place in these magazines---Dirk Harkness and the Black Curs, the Brandls and Fable Astin, Alex Winger, the Red Moon mercenaries, The Last Hand, Simple Tricks...

    Yeah I definitely gotta find my copies. I am hype. :D
    Last edited by Bly, Mar 8, 2016
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  21. AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature

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    Member Since:
    May 28, 2003
    star 6
    Admiral's Communique? Do tell! :D

    Alas, for all the bazillions of dollars I have spent on SW stuff over the years, I never did buy the Adventure Guides. I've thumbed through a few, excited to follow this thread!

    --Adm. Nick
  22. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    And now, New Horizons! This is essentially a "What's new in the EU?" article, discussing various forthcoming offerings from LucasArts, Dark Horse, and Bantam. We start with Rebel Assault, which gets three whole pages. "With more than 400 megabytes of intense action," you will be reminded just how small digital storage used to be. The article is typical superlative salesmanship, claiming the game is going to be a revolution in "CD-ROM entertainment." They make much of its 3-D art and "astoundingly realistic game visuals," which incorporate full motion video. There's also a mention of the fact that you could pick Rookie One's gender, something that the sequel would of course retreat from in favor of canonizing him as male. The Exile remains very, very lonely. There's some discussion of the actual attraction of playing the game -- exciting missions and explosive gameplay. Then there's a hilariously long recitation of the game's specs and a bunch of press-release material about LucasArts.

    [IMG]
    Pictured: "ultra-realistic graphics," circa 1994. Actually pretty good.

    Super Empire Strikes Back, however, gets half a page, under the heading of "Other LucasArts Entertainment Company Releases," with a promise that it will be featured in the next Journal. I'm holding you to it, company that folded twenty years ago!

    The section on Dark Horse comics features Tales of the Jedi, Classic Star Wars, and Droids. Bizarrely, it chooses to lead off with Droids. In fairness, Droids is the newest series; the article offers a brief summary of its second issue, along with the tantalizing (and ultimately inaccurate) information that the series takes place "before the fall of the Republic and the rise of the Empire." Also inaccurate is the statement that the series ends in April -- that's actually the month the first issue dropped (and it ran on for years). I'm guessing that, written well in advance, the magazine was the victim of changing information.

    Despite spending only a paragraph on TOTJ (issue five, the end of Nomi Sunrider's introductory arc), all three covers depicted are TOTJ covers. They know they've got a good thing in those covers, man. Classic Star Wars, Dark Horse's reprint of the stupendously badass Archie Goodwin/Al Williamson newspaper strip, has two issues advertised, allowing it bragging rights in the Dark Horse break room. They're "The Paradise Detour," the arc in which Luke gets stranded on a jungle world and thinks he runs into actress and Nic Cage aunt Talia Shire improbably attractive tug operator Tanith Shire but actually it's a mind-witch using the power of illusion. It's pretty sweet, and actually got adapted for no perceptible reason in the little Life of Luke Skywalker biography, you know, like the Vader and Obi-Wan ones, except Ryder Windham further expanded on it by bringing the mind-witch back again also for no perceptible reason. Other than that the newspaper strip was awesome as ****. It also ends on the note that "Issue #17 sports a color cover by Cadillacs and Dinosaurs creator Mark Schultz." I naturally immediately researched the existence of a comic called Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, and discovered that it is exactly what you would think it is: a comic about Cadillacs and dinosaurs. Specifically, a post-apocalyptic future in which dinosaurs have come back but people still have a little bit of old technology, such as Cadillacs, and get chased by dinosaurs in said Cadillacs (the people are in the Cadillacs, not the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs driving Cadillacs would be too awesome). It sounds like the best kind of deliberately pulpy nonsense but somehow it only ran for fourteen issues -- despite giving birth to, and I quote Wikipedia, " an animated series premiered on CBS, an arcade game from Capcom, a Sega CD video game from Rocket Science Games, action figures, trading cards, candy bars, and a Twilight 2000 system role-playing game." The best fact in an article full of spectacular goofiness, however, is the fact that General Motors actually owns the trademark "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs."

    We then get to Bantam's 1994 publishing slate, which leads off with the Jedi Academy Trilogy, primarily discussing Jedi Search. Also, The Courtship of Princess Leia is featured. Not much to work with here.

    Then they talk about some people selling Star Wars pins. Prices range from $4.00 to $12.00. Someone go find out how much they're selling for now.

    Showing remarkable good manners, WEG leaves itself for last, advertising its Last Command Sourcebook, and also a couple sourcebooks revised for the second edition of the game, which do not get billing in the heading of this section. They also herald the forthcoming arrival of the Indiana Jones RPG, which is stuck in the awkward middle ground of having a lot of really cool concepts to work with that would make for great adventures but also it's tying into a movie series that's really narrowly focused on one guy you can't really be, rather than a wider universe. Also using its new Masterbook rules will be Bloodshadows, a game that "will combine elements of dark fantasy with the excitement of 1930s pulps." And that's literally all they say about it. So . . . I'm guessing vampire private eyes? People who played 1990s RPGs, tell me of these things.

    Coming up next, we finally get to the meaty stuff: Timothy Zahn's First Contact, a story that should be familiar to most of our readers.
  23. JoinTheSchwarz JC Head Admin & Community Manager

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    Nov 21, 2002
    star 8
    I'd be watching this thread with interest...
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  24. Vthuil Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2013
    star 5
    :ben: Now that's something I haven't heard touted in video games for a long, long time. A long time.
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  25. JoinTheSchwarz JC Head Admin & Community Manager

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    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2002
    star 8
    ...Although I don't know how much to trust anyone that hadn't heard of Xenozoic Tales/Cadillacs & Dinosaurs until now...
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