Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Covering the FASA version of Crimson Skies.
Patrick
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Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby Patrick » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:05 am

Hi Everyone,

At the urging of Grant a few other fellows here via emails to my website, and after reading many of the posts here, I have decided to post this thread in the hopes that it gives additional information regarding the lost Zeppelins & Bombers source book and clears up some confusion that might exist.

First off, the information I know you probably care about the most: yes I do have the backup files of the manuscript and diagrams I turned into FASA back in 1999/2000 for Zeppelins & Bombers. I am working on trying to see how much (if any) I can release to the public via PDF. Keep in mind this manuscript is not in the final format that it would have been over at FASA. To explain why, allow me to segue into the back story for a moment.

I discovered Crimson Skies in 1998 in a comic shop. Having been a fan of all things FASA, I bought the box immediately, and was smitten with the concept of a free Republic of Texas. I enjoyed the game, became an active member of the forums under the handle Flamberge and decided I would like to write the Texas source book. I knew FASA accepted freelance proposals, and followed their instructions online. I mailed off the 5 page proposal for the Texas source book and waited several months. One day I received a letter from Ross Babcock saying my proposal was approved. He became my handler/liaison with FASA and we traded emails while I worked on the manuscript. I finished it several months later and turned in the rough draft. After awhile, a few weeks I think, I received the list of edits and changes they wanted me to make. I made the changes and sent them the "final draft". From there they did a few spot edits, formatted the pages and added the artwork, cover, etc, and mailed me a hard copy of the final version. This final version was printed in black and white on 8.5 x 11 standard paper, single sided, but otherwise it was exactly the way the final book was to appear once in print. About a month after that, I received a box in the mail with 6 author's copies of my book shrink-wrapped together, as well as a box or two of swag which mostly included Crimson Skies source books (which were all duplicates since I bought anything they released with a CS logo on it) and some Shadowrun/Battletech stuff.

While I was in the final draft stage of the Texas source book, I traded emails with Ross regarding a zeppelins & bombers book. They had already been considering it, and I had taken care in Pride of the Republic to mention the bombers and zeppelins Texas had in case the book was given the green light. He told me to get started on it once Pride was finished. I got to work on the rules, coming up with movement rules and construction rules for zeppelins and bombers both. Ross (and probably others behind the scenes at FASA) played a critical role with this stage, so I can't take all the credit for the rules themselves.

I'll have to look over my files, but basically the zeppelins had anchor points (nose and tail) that they moved (so one hex forward for both would be straight forward movement, a hex to the left or right with the opposite hex for the tail would be a turn, etc.) Bombers were built on a negative scale, so the largest ones were -8 or -10 or something. I know it sounds like I am being vague, but I haven't actually looked over the files in over a decade and since I have been fostering my writing career, it hasn't been something I've needed to look at. In other words the info is from memory.

So I wrote the rough draft, and like Pride, sent it off to Ross for the first round edits. He got back to me with the changes and I sent off the final draft to him. At this point I was invited to write a couple of chapters for an future source book and agreed to do it, though I never wrote a word of that material due to FASA's untimely demise. While waiting for the on paper final copy to be sent to me, I received a call (or email, I can't remember, but I think it was a call) from Ross saying FASA was "closing its doors" and best of luck to me. He said he would send more swag as a thank you for my hard work, and that was that.

Crimson Skies lived on with Microsoft/FASA Interactive, and I posted regularly on the MS/CS forums. I even traveled to Redmond in 2002 and met with Eric. I am glad to have written for FASA and proud of the Texas source book. It was my first legitimate paid writing gig and as detailed as they allowed me to be in regards to how Texas works, sees its neighbors, and is seen by its neighbors in 1937 Crimson Skies North America. I would have liked to have seen the Z&B book see the printers but I honestly don't think it ever happened. I have seen comments on this board saying German copies exist, English copies, etc, and I'm not calling those people liars, but I would be genuinely surprised if any legitimate official FASA copies survived and made it to print.

The reason being I never received the final "on paper" black and white print of the final version. Ross *did* say it was "at the printers" when FASA died, but if that is true, the books would have been recycled by the printing company or sent to FASA. If it had been sent to FASA, I believe I would have received copies because even after they were out of business, Ross still mailed me - from FASA's warehouse - a ton of FASA products. He told me it never saw the light of day. I have since lost contact with him, though I have a few other contacts from FASA and the "industry" from back then.

I would say the chances of an official printed version of my Zeppelins & Bombers book existing anywhere in the world would be slim to none. That said, if there WAS a copy, I can promise you that no one in the world would rather have it than me, since I wrote it, and never got to see how it looked, the artwork or cover they used, etc. (The cover you see on my website, on Amazon, etc, was a mock up). In fact, "Zeppelins & Bombers" was the working title, so that's not even what the book might have been called in the final version. Pride of the Republic was just called "the Texas source book" until I got the print out in the mail revealing the title. (Ross asked what I thought it should be called, but all of my ideas weren't as good as the title they ended up using.)

I can try to answer any questions anyone has on this as best as I can, and if I can get the blessing of those who hold the IP rights to the work (the status of which I won't go into here), then rest assured I will save the word docs and diagrams as PDFs and make them available.

One more thing: It is amazing to me that I still get emails, more than a decade later, regarding my Crimson Skies work. I am still a struggling writer and it has been pretty cool to see the comments here about how much anticipation Z&B had and that Pride is generally well received.

So thanks everyone!

Tally ho!
Patrick K

Patrick
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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby Patrick » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:25 am

I'm looking through the files and I had forgotten there is also a 20,000 word campaign section of Z&B that would have dealt with designing squadrons to use in a campaign against another player's squadron. It includes different situations and attributes to at variety (this unit might be flying from a zeppelin, that unit might have a well-defended canyon base, this other unit might have a famous fighter ace, etc.)

I had forgotten a lot of this.

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Thom
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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby Thom » Mon Mar 05, 2012 6:16 am

Thank you very much for setting the record straight for us Patrick. I hope that one day we might see the full fruit of your efforts.

And PotR is an awesome sourcebook!
Flying the Crimson Skies

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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby foxmalcolm » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:18 pm

That is awsome!
I am hoping that this comes to pass.
PotR was written with such depth and factual feel that it could easily have been a real account of historical events.
If ZaB is even halfway as in depth then we are in for a real treat.
I can only hope that that if it does get the green light that you might want to stick around and give your insight into rule interpretation.

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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby Jerba » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:35 pm

Wow! What a great opportunity to hear directly from the source. Thank you for taking time from your work to respond to a bunch of random guys on an internet forum!

Pride of the Republic is the best source book and by far the most fun. We'd all love to see the stuff you have, but we completely understand the hoops that must be jumped through. We hope you visit from time to time and check in!

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Grant
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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby Grant » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:22 am

Patrick, I appreciate the time you took to come here and post. I am glad to see that a true fan of Crimson Skies had so much input on the POTR sourcebook. It certainly showed compared to some of the others.

Please know that if at some point in the future the forum or community can help out in some way, CS or your own project-related, let us know.

Patrick
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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby Patrick » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:16 am

Thanks for warm welcome, everyone. I spent about an hour last night looking over what I actually had, and it turns out I have everything. I was pretty sure I only had the rough draft version of Z&B I sent in to FASA, but I actually have the pre-formatted final version (which is what the art department gets so they can insert the images, cover, titling, et al). This is good news because if I can eventually release it as a PDF it will mostly be in a somewhat understandable format.

One of my strategies for attempting to release the manuscript without breaking my contract and NDA is to release it as an unofficial sourcebook. Since it never saw the light of day, I would say it doesn't get much more unofficial than that. I have a contact at Microsoft and will reach out to them at some point (I'm holding off until I know exactly where I stand).

However, what I can do is release my own personal stuff that I prepared during my efforts with the Texas source book. There are really only three interesting images worth sharing, and keep in mind these are definitely pre-production "unofficial" versions of what ended up being in the book (and they do look better in the book, much more meat on the bones.) I made these 3D models in a proprietary 3d modeling software package while I was working at a simulation software company. This is before my degree in computer animation, so the images are rough, but you get the point.

Image
This is the standard paint scheme (minus specific unit insignia and serial numbers) for an RTAF Mockingbird.

Image
This is Phillip O'Malley's Mockingbird, painted in his famous blue and white livery. I requested two things of the art department when I sent in this image. I was hoping they would make the border of the cover blue (in honor of O'Malley) and asked for this plane in this paint scheme to be on the cover. I love that they delivered on both. The Mockingbird is my favorite CS plane, and I was disappointed that it never made it into the Microsoft game and never saw life as a Ral Partha miniature. If it had you can bet I would have bought and painted squadrons of them! I mean come on, Size 7 4-4-3, with more firepower than a Bloodhawk? Take that, Hollywood. :)


Image
This is the map I made for myself to use as a guide while writing the different sections of Pride. I broke the nation into four parts. Lucky for Texas, the Crimson Skies world would have made them one of the more powerful countries in North America due to the oil fields that were being discovered all over the state/republic in the 20s and 30s, the fact that 95%+ of the world's helium all comes from Amarillo (which is still true today), and the Port of Houston is one of the busiest ports in America. This isn't an official FASA/Microsoft map, but everything on the map is spelled out in PotR.

Looking through all this stuff reminds me of why I loved CS in the first place. What a cool world they created! FASA was always my favorite game company, and my dream was to write a Shadowrun book for them, but Crimson Skies quickly become my favorite board game of all time.

I'll keep everyone updated.

Patrick

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Thom
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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby Thom » Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:19 am

Good stuff!
Flying the Crimson Skies

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doc shirmon
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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby doc shirmon » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:21 pm

hey patrick,

thats so amazing, ZaB at last.
its like revealing the rosetta stone for us, i guess.

thats a breaking news, i would love to read it,
after all the rumors about it, great.

in my opinion ZaB should keep name and cover because
we lived with that for years and its part of the ZaB mythos, or?

is it already layoutet? if not i could help and do this for the community.

totally stoked
i think i must start the engines tonite.

thanks patrick so much 4 solving these mystery.
doc shirmon still fly'n
who's flying this thing?

Jerba
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Re: Zeppelins & Bombers - New/Old Info

Postby Jerba » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:45 pm

Another great post. Thanks, Patrick. Seeing behind the curtain certainly gets this pilots heart racing. Here is hoping all goes well with the process of revealing the Z&B book.

What kind of restrictions were you given when you wrote the book? Were you given a certain timeline you had to incorporate and then free reign to fill in the holes? Did they direct you on certain character creation? Were you surprised with what you were able to get away with if you tried to push the boundaries at all?


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