Wm John Wheeler of The Companions has passed
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Post Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:11 pm 
 

Hey all,

I only found out about this yesterday, and finally got confirmation on the details.

William John Wheeler, game designer and co-founder and publisher of the Islandia Campaign through his game company The Companions, passed away on June 3, 2008, at 66 years of age at his home in Chicago, Ill.

John authored The Curse on Hareth, Plague of Terror, and with his friend Peter Rice, Brotherhood of the Bolt and Gems for Death; John also edited the complete line of The Companions products, including Treasure Trove, Companion Pieces, and the Places of Mystery series. John was well-regarded for his very popular fantasy role-playing game campaign seminars given at conventions across the country during the late '80s, especially at Gen Con, where he often gave his presentations in conjunction with Peter Rice.

A man of great intensity and intellect, he will be missed by his friends and students, including Peter Rice, Scott Thompson, and many, many others. Memorial donations can be made in his name to the American Diabetes Association or similar organizations, but the best way to remember him would be to get together with some friends and play some games.


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:02 pm 
 

jamesmishler wrote:Hey all,

I only found out about this yesterday, and finally got confirmation on the details.

William John Wheeler, game designer and co-founder and publisher of the Islandia Campaign through his game company The Companions, passed away on June 3, 2008, at 66 years of age at his home in Chicago, Ill.

John authored The Curse on Hareth, Plague of Terror, and with his friend Peter Rice, Brotherhood of the Bolt and Gems for Death; John also edited the complete line of The Companions products, including Treasure Trove, Companion Pieces, and the Places of Mystery series. John was well-regarded for his very popular fantasy role-playing game campaign seminars given at conventions across the country during the late '80s, especially at Gen Con, where he often gave his presentations in conjunction with Peter Rice.

A man of great intensity and intellect, he will be missed by his friends and students, including Peter Rice, Scott Thompson, and many, many others. Memorial donations can be made in his name to the American Diabetes Association or similar organizations, but the best way to remember him would be to get together with some friends and play some games.


That's sad to hear. The Companions items are really some of the best written and best presented 3rd party RPG products of the 80s.  I wonder why someone doesn't redo these for a broader and more modern audience, since they are really quite good.  I wish he had done more RPG items besides the Companions line.

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Post Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:12 pm 
 

Probably on account of the copyright issue, and the lack of interest by the authors. Good quality product though. Some pretty rare too. Wouldn't mind seeing what notes are left in WJW's attic. Perhaps something orcish in there?


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 6:43 pm 
 

Sacrifices to the Orc Lord would be good to see, Ian, and a fitting tribute to Wheeler's works!

James:  do you know if any manuscripts survive?  It would be wonderful to see the entire series back into print, or at least the unpublished items?  Perhaps Peter has some ideas?


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 10:33 pm 
 

I don't buy much new stuff, but the originals are a bit pricey for me, and I'd definitely be interested in the 5/6 Islandia adventures (separately or in a compilation).

  


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:13 pm 
 

I am speaking with Peter, trying to figure out what they have completed and where things stand legally for the intellectual property. He's very interested in seeing John's legacy and his own live on. I hope to be able to help him get something going, either on his own, with myself, or another publisher. We shall see what develops.


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Post Posted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 11:46 pm 
 

jamesmishler wrote:I am speaking with Peter, trying to figure out what they have completed and where things stand legally for the intellectual property. He's very interested in seeing John's legacy and his own live on. I hope to be able to help him get something going, either on his own, with myself, or another publisher. We shall see what develops.


The great thing is the adventures are alredy in the "generic" style, so adaption to any edition would be easier than a edition or system specific adventure. These really need to see print again....

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:38 am 
 

The issue might be more one of cost of publishing rather than conversion.   I think most of these were around 50 pages that crammed as much text as possible on each page.  I would think that the page count might double if published in a format typical of today.

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 12:46 am 
 

Unless it went the standard route that seems to be en vogue these days (unless you actually are a publisher) -- print on demand or pdf distribution.

Anyway, it is a loss. I'll have to give a run of some of the Companions stuff I have, as a tribute.


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:06 am 
 

E-mail sent...


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 2:05 pm 
 

Perhaps a mammoth sized. compilation book with memories and trivia?

  

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 3:45 pm 
 

Alexander1968 wrote:Perhaps a mammoth sized. compilation book with memories and trivia?

That would get around a lot of legal issues, if it were a retrospective look at the products.


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 02, 2009 6:35 pm 
 

mordrin wrote:I don't buy much new stuff, but the originals are a bit pricey for me, and I'd definitely be interested in the 5/6 Islandia adventures (separately or in a compilation).


(provided that the reprints weren't 'heavily edited', the way the TSR release was reportedly going to be)

  

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Post Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 12:49 am 
 

mordrin wrote:
(provided that the reprints weren't 'heavily edited', the way the TSR release was reportedly going to be)


It would have had to be. Companions modules are high on "Adult only" themes, such as slavery, child abuse, child sacrifice, and gruesome deaths. For example, Plague of Terror has as a sideplot a psychotic serial killer who kills women, dismembers them, and leaves pieces of them where their loved ones can find them...including one girl's head on her family's front door.  8O   Not for the squeamish.   Even EGG didn't focus on such issues except tangentally in modules like D3.  However, that was actually a plus for The Companions, I think they were really the first D&D style adventures to deal realistically with the repercussions of evil in a fantasy world without "sugarcoating".

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Post Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 11:48 am 
 

Badmike wrote:
It would have had to be. Companions modules are high on "Adult only" themes, such as slavery, child abuse, child sacrifice, and gruesome deaths. For example, Plague of Terror has as a sideplot a psychotic serial killer who kills women, dismembers them, and leaves pieces of them where their loved ones can find them...including one girl's head on her family's front door.  8O   Not for the squeamish.   Even EGG didn't focus on such issues except tangentally in modules like D3.  However, that was actually a plus for The Companions, I think they were really the first D&D style adventures to deal realistically with the repercussions of evil in a fantasy world without "sugarcoating".


Hm... considering everything, I can't fault TSR position. I refuse to order anything questionable (especially on covers) IF can be bought by minors and especially children. I still remember some deck protectors showing the lovable buttocks of a beautiful lady (they did them in Yu Gi Oh size too   8O ).

  

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Post Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 7:03 pm 
 

No, I don't fault TSR at all.  In the situation they were in ("DD has magic and demons!") and the youth market they had, of course they had to do it that way.

Now I don't own these modules, so I don't know the content details, but I would suspect that 20 years later a smallish 3rd party company that isn't under the kind of microscope TSR was could release them with fairly minor precautions  (slight edits, shrinkwrap, parental cautions, whatever might fit).

For those that actually own copies, how explicit/gruesome are they?  Distasteful, even for adults?  Comparable to an R-rated movie?  Just not for pre-teens?

Or maybe (if the more adult portions are artistically worthwhile) they could take the route of having PG versions for brick and mortar sale and 'in the spirit of the original' versions for online/credit card purchase only?

  

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Post Posted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:56 pm 
 

mordrin wrote:No, I don't fault TSR at all.  In the situation they were in ("DD has magic and demons!") and the youth market they had, of course they had to do it that way.

Now I don't own these modules, so I don't know the content details, but I would suspect that 20 years later a smallish 3rd party company that isn't under the kind of microscope TSR was could release them with fairly minor precautions  (slight edits, shrinkwrap, parental cautions, whatever might fit).

For those that actually own copies, how explicit/gruesome are they?  Distasteful, even for adults?  Comparable to an R-rated movie?  Just not for pre-teens?

Or maybe (if the more adult portions are artistically worthwhile) they could take the route of having PG versions for brick and mortar sale and 'in the spirit of the original' versions for online/credit card purchase only?


I think now the market has changed enough that the material wouldn't be explicit or distasteful to alter in publication....remember we are talking 27 years ago, and things were quite different back then.  I've seen worse in 3E products (and certainly items like The Book of Vile Darkness or The Book of Erotic Fantasy are far, far more explicit than any Companions adventures).

In terms of specifics, I don't think any of the Companions items ever get past a PG point...think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom level adventure.  More just the point of making children the sacrifices for the evil cult more than anything overt in the Gems series.

Mike B.


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Post Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:33 am 
 

grodog wrote:Sacrifices to the Orc Lord would be good to see, Ian, and a fitting tribute to Wheeler's works!

James:  do you know if any manuscripts survive?  It would be wonderful to see the entire series back into print, or at least the unpublished items?  Perhaps Peter has some ideas?


jamesmishler wrote:I am speaking with Peter, trying to figure out what they have completed and where things stand legally for the intellectual property. He's very interested in seeing John's legacy and his own live on. I hope to be able to help him get something going, either on his own, with myself, or another publisher. We shall see what develops.



Did this get pursued and anything learned about ownership?

  

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Post Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:45 am 
 

>BUMP<
jamesmishler wrote:I am speaking with Peter, trying to figure out what they have completed and where things stand legally for the intellectual property. He's very interested in seeing John's legacy and his own live on. I hope to be able to help him get something going, either on his own, with myself, or another publisher. We shall see what develops.

Did anything ever come of this, James?


This week I've been mostly eating . . . chicken and wild rice soup.


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Post Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2016 3:17 pm 
 

<BUMP> <BUMP>

Does anyone know anything more about this? Is Peter L. Rice still around? If so, does anyone know how to contact him?

I would love to see this stuff updated and back in print. I would be more than willing to do what I can to help make that happen.

mbassoc2003 wrote in Wm John Wheeler of The Companions has passed:>BUMP<
jamesmishler wrote:I am speaking with Peter, trying to figure out what they have completed and where things stand legally for the intellectual property. He's very interested in seeing John's legacy and his own live on. I hope to be able to help him get something going, either on his own, with myself, or another publisher. We shall see what develops.

Did anything ever come of this, James?

  
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