Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Dangerous Journeys (Necropolis), a CRPG that never was.

Dangerous Dimensions, Omen Nomen. 
The Dangerous Journeys/Mythus Role Playing Game is mainly notorious for two aspects: being one the biggest Gary Gygax's fatigues after the TSR period and its short life on the shelves. In fact the pencil and paper game published in the '92 was ceased around the '94 after TSR sued GDW. Anyway all the problems for Gygax & Co. started immediately after the publication of an early advertisement on the White Wolf magazine.


White Wolf Magazine,  May/June 1992 Advertisement

Apparently the name Dangerous Dimensions (DD) was too close to D&D and TSR immediately complained. At that stage, to avoid any other problem, the name was changed to Dangerous Journeys. Gygax & GDW were completely unaware of the fact that it was just the beginning of all the issues between GDW (Dangerous Journeys/Mythus publisher) and the rival TSR.

That's what actually Gary Gygax confirmed on one his last interviews.
When we heard that TSR objected to the umbrella title, I immediately contacted NEC and JVC to determine if they would object to a name change to avoid a lawsuit one likely to have little merit, but costly. They agreed with my assessment and I changed the umbrella title to Dangerous Journeys.
Despite that, TSR sued, attempting to get a temporary injunction preventing release and sale of the new game products. In this they failed.
GDW and the rest involved in the project, the big companies plainly excluded, were sued for copyright infringement of the AD&D and D&D games. At this point the biggies dropped out of things, not wanting to become in the lawsuit. This was devastating to us, of course, because we were certain that if they joined us, TSR would have had no recourse but to drop the action, as the corporation was not financially able to fight against powerful corporations. The TSR complaint was patently ridiculous, of course, but to a court totally unfamiliar with RPGs, not worthy of dismissal before proceeding. Imagine someone not familiar with either chess or checkers. So the publisher of the checkers game goes to court claiming chess infringes on checkers. Your Honor, look at the similarities: the board is exactly the same, the game is played by two opponents, each side has pieces called men and there are kings in play. Moves alternate and are varied and, as in checkers, chess pieces can promote to be more powerful. To top that off there are captures, and one side eliminates the other to win! . That was the sort of thing we were facing.
Source: http://www.thekyngdoms.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=37

The Dangerous Journey Videogame, from the announcement to the first previews.
However, despite the controversy, a Dangerous Journeys Videogame was planned to support the Necropolis Module Campaign. Gygax managed to sell the licenses to Electronic Arts for the PC version, JVC for the Nintendo and TTI for the Turbo Grafx CD Version.   

Since the first publication of the Core Dangerous Journey Manual, an advertisement was claiming the future plan for an actual DJ Videogame.  Anyway the first actual release date appeared only on one of the two official advertisements on the back pages of the Necropolis Campaign Module in the 1992.

Dangerous Journeys Necropolis Module, Back Page AD, 1992

Dangerous Journeys Necropolis Module,
Back Page AD with the release date, 1992 

Here's the copy extracted from the ad above.
Gary Gygax’s Dangerous Journeys™ Super CD Adventure Game
Coming soon for the new Turbo Duo is TurboGrafx Super CD version of Gary Gygax’s Dangerous Journeys™, a new Mulitgenre Roleplaying Game System, This product can be used on the new Turbo Duo platform or the TurboGrafx CD accessory system with system-upgrade card. Initial release of the Dangerous Journeys product is planned for April, 1993
For more information contact 1-800-366-0136
Dangerous Journeys is a trademark of Omega Helios Limited.
TTI Turbo Technologies, Inc.

According from the Turbo Grafx ad so, the release date was optimistically set to April 1993. In fact, between the 1992 and 1993, some previews of the game appeared on the Turbo Play Magazine. 

Turbo Play Magazine, Issue #02 September 1992,
Preview Box at the Bottom of the page

 Turbo Play Magazine, Issue #04 Spring 1993,
Top Left Screenshot and Description 
According to the preview appeared on the issue #04, the Dangerous Journeys Game existed, at least as an actual project. After having scanned the web for a while I have been able to retrieve only two minuscule screenshots of the game.

 Dangerous Journeys Videogame Preview Screenshot,
Turbo Play Magazine Issue #04

The second existing screenshot is an absolute rarity scanned by a former TurboGrafx-16/TurboDuo magazines TurboPlay and DuoWorld editor. 

Dangerous Journeys Videogame Flyer, TTI,
http://video-game-ephemera.com/014.htm

Both images are pixelated, not finished and really poor executed. Looking at their awful quality we can assume that they were no more than production mock ups done for the promotion of the Turbo Duo version. 

CRPG hoax or vaporware? 
Let's start saying it wasn't a hoax. The game realistically existed mainly because it was implemented from the beginning in the core rules as supplement of the rest product range. Nevertheless we could reckon the DJ/Mythus video game more as an actual vaporware piece in some ways, but we have to considering that all production DJ related was officially ceased for legal and financial reasons.

Here's an evidence of this theory appeared on a forum some time ago:
Howdy!
No, the bogus lawsuit filed by T$R back in the 90s closed the door on the deal we had with Nintendo/JVC. After that I did a number of CRPG designs, two of which that were oprioned for development but never got into production for reasons not related to the game itself.
Anyway, the material I am speaking of was not one of the two game designs sold, but rather one that was a stand alone product. I never got it far enough along to do a formal proposal to any publisher. After the second CRPG (after the MYTHUS ONE) was accepted, word came on a Monday it was going forward into development, and on Wednesday we were told the company was sold and all projects were being canned, I decided I would return to paper games once again... Thus that design, along with some 20 or so others is lauguishing somewhere in this place, in disk limbo if you will.
Source: http://www.pcenginefx.com/forums/index.php?topic=3223.70;imode
Farewell to Dangerous Journeys CRPG so.

Conclusions. 
At this stage, according to the proofs, we can simply assume that only some production mock ups were created for advertising purposes. A part from a one colour flyer, a screenshot appeared on a magazine and some advertising, there's no other trace of this game. We don't even know the real genre (Action RPG like Heroes of The Lance?) or any of the details about the gameplay. The only thing we might assume is that the game was based on the excellent Necropolis Campaign for Dangerous Journeys. 

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