Aaron Allston: Requiescat in Pacem (Updated)


Sad news this morning from TheForce.net, a significant hub of Star Wars fan news: sci-fi author Aaron Allston has passed away. He will probably be remembered, primarily, for his many contributions to the Star Wars Expanded Universe, for which he authored a number of novels.

However, as his online biography notes, Origin Systems fans have a few other reasons to remember him:

In 1990, I did story development, character scripting, and other writing work for The Savage Empire, a dinosaurs-and-cavemen-with-magic computer game in the Worlds of Ultima line for Origin Systems, Inc. Sukbsequently I worked on several more computer game projects for Origins, gradually moving out of the field as I also transitioned away from paper role-playing game work (see below).

This is a…bit of an understatement of his role at Origin, it would seem. Warren Spector singled him out for a mention when interviewed by the RPGCodex, labeling him a designer for that game:

My role on Savage Empire started and ended early. I wrote up the initial 20-ish page design spec (which I wish I still had!) for a lost world, dinosaur game. And I wrote up a spec for what became Martian Dreams. I couldn’t make both and wasn’t willing to pass up the chance to make a Victorian time travel game, so I took on Martian Dreams and Johan did Savage Empire. He and designer, Aaron Allston, probably scrapped my initial design doc instantly. No matter, Savage Empire ended up being a swell game and, despite all the traipsing around the Martian surface, I’m still inordinately proud of Martian Dreams. Frankly, I wish we’d kept the Worlds of Ultima games going.

Ben Lesnick, currently of Cloud Imperium Games and formerly of the Wing Commander CIC, marked Allston’s passing with a few more observations about his role at Origin:

If you stop and consider just how much the good Mr. Lesnick came to embody the Wing Commander series and mythos, you’ll realize just what height of praise this sort of comment is. And he had more to say besides:

As should surprise nobody, Allston’s Facebook page has become, in effect, a shrine to his memory; fans and friends of the man are leaving tributes to him there.

The First Age of Update: Ben has penned a touching memorial article over at the CIC, which I would encourage you all to check out. As well, pace the comment from Natreg Dragon below, I’ll just note that Savage Empire is available for free from GOG; it would be a fitting tribute to play the game in the good Mr. Allston’s honour, methinks.

1 Response

  1. Natreg Dragon says:

    I’m really sorry to hear about this. Allston was also the autor of the Rules Cyclopedia and Hollow world setting from Dungeons & Dragons, which are among my favourites books from D&D. He really did a lot of great things in his life. I’m also sorry to hear it was a heart failure. Having heart problems is very unpleasant, I know first hand.

    Weird thing is that just yesterday I started playing Savage Empire. I guess it will be my personal tribute to him that I finish this playthrough.

    He will be missed.