The History of the Aden IP

A little history surrounding SSI's World of Aden: Thunderscape, World of Aden: Entomorph - Plague of the Darkfall, and the setting's recent tabletop resurgence on Kickstarter comes to us via a two-part feature (Part One and Part Two) on the website of Kyoudai Games. Since any information on these CRPG gems is hard to come by, I'll do some quoting:

Strategic Simulations, Inc., or SSI, was founded in 1979 and developed a reputation for developing quality computing games during the 1980s. So much so, in fact, that they acquired the license for Dungeons & Dragons and produced several titles using that property. Eventually, however, they parted ways with D&D and wanted to go into business with their own properties that captured the same feel as the D&D gold boxes. They decided that they wanted to develop a world to set their games in. Apparently they were gamers at SSI, no shock there, and they happened to read a Shatterzone novel published by West End Games, written by Shane Hensley, and they decided that Shane was the man they wanted to develop their world.

It was Shane who developed the core ideas of Aden, including the unique source of its many villains and monstrosities, the Darkfall. In fact, the game was originally intended to be called Darkfall, but that was changed to avoid confusion with Dark Sun, which was something D&D was working with at the time. The idea behind the Darkfall was originally to provide a means of generating virtually any kind of enemy that SSI might need for any game they generated for the setting. Some of the ideas one can see in Aden are obviously inspirations for Hensley's later works, among the most famous of which are Deadlands and Savage Worlds.

Thunderscape was followed by Entomorph, which was released late in 1995. At this point, both games were successful, and it was hoped that many more might follow. Three novels were produced in 1996 by HarperPrism using the same setting: The Darkfall by Shane Hensley, The Sentinel by Dixie Lee McKeone, and Indomitable Thunder by Mark Acres. (You might notice yours truly reviewed all of those novels on Amazon. I wonder if I should go back and add a disclaimer that I now own the propery?). SSI also licensed the property to West End Games for use with their Masterbook series, which at that point was also supported by their popular D6 system as well. The World of Aden was written by Shane Hensley, and its companion work, Campaign Chronicles, was written by Stephen Crane.