Too Complex and Slightly Creepy

Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest comic, a landmark of independent comic publishing, emerged in the 1970s alongside the rise of tabletop RPGs, but as Richard Pini notes in his introduction to the 2nd edition Elfquest RPG rulebook (comprising the core Elfquest rules and the supplemental material previously issued in the Elfquest Companion) at first the married creative team didn’t give much thought to RPGs, not seeing the point of using dice and rules to constrain creativity. With the passage of time and increased exposure they came to the conclusion that RPGs were a valid creative field in their own right, and when Chaosium came a-courtin’ to seek the RPG licence a deal was soon reached.

However, the Elfquest RPG isn’t as fondly remembered as other Chaosium RPGs of its vintage. In more recent years Sandy Petersen has gone on the record about some of its issues; apparently, far from the impression given in Richard Pini’s introductory comments, it wasn’t Chaosium who approached the Pinis, but the Pinis who came to them – and at first Wendy Pini was very uncomfortable with the idea of participants in the RPG being able to bend, fold, mutilate and destroy the canonical Elfquest characters until she eventually got the idea that Elfquest RPG adventures would be, in comics terms, “what-if” stories rather than canonical tales.

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