I've talked about D&D vaporware in the past, but, in re-reading Dragon as part of my "The Ads of Dragon" series, I was reminded of two TSR RPGs that were announced and never released. The first is Proton Fire, which was a robot-related sci-fi game originally scheduled to appear sometime in 1985. There was even an article by Mike Breault in the Ares Section of Dragon describing it. I can't say that, then or now, I was particularly aggrieved when I later learned that it wouldn't be coming out. (Actually, it was first re-assigned as a supplement to Star Frontiers and then cancelled outright) The basic premise of the PCs as robots and humans in the employ of "the University" fighting against "the Corporation" in a single star system 100 light years from Earth didn't strike me as particularly compelling. Indeed, Proton Fire -- what an awful name -- struck me as someone's pet project sneaked onto the release schedule amidst the chaos of the Blumes vs. Gygax battle royale.
Another abandoned TSR RPG came a few years later in 1991. I remember seeing the image above in a catalog of upcoming releases. I also remember thinking that it was TSR's hamfisted attempt to cash in on the popularity of the newly-released Vampire: The Masquerade, which, in retrospect, should have alerted me to the fact that TSR was in big trouble. No longer were other companies aping its products; now, it was aping theirs. The other thing that's obvious, looking at the image above, is how hastily put together it was. Not only is the R.I.P. logo spectacularly bad, but two of the three names on the cover are misspelled. Granted, it's a mock-up, so such things are to be expected. Yet, even 20 years later -- it really has been that long -- R.I.P. gives off a halfhearted vibe to me, as if no one involved really believed in the product.
I often wonder what became of the manuscripts for these games, assuming they were ever completed. If they exist in any form, I suppose they're probably the property of Wizards of the Coast now and will never see the light of day. That's too bad, not because I think either Proton Fire or R.I.P. were ever likely to have been good games, but because, like most creative endeavors, games tell stories about the people who created them and about the times in which they were created and I like those stories.