While he is now more famous for his work as editor of the Thieves’ World books and his own Myth Adventures series, Robert Lynn Asprin’s first novel was a fun take down of corporate espionage entitled The Cold Cash War. The book has been published many times and is currently available as one of the stories in Baen Books’ recent compilation volume Three Faces of Asprin. The premise of the novel is quite simple. As large corporations have become global enterprises, they have created an extra-legal system to solve their conflicts. Instead of relying on international courts, these corporations rely on mercenaries who battle one another in proxy wars. These proxy wars begin as lasertag-esque competitions between willing combatants, but it doesn’t take long before non-mercenary corporate personnel become fair game. What was once a simulation of war becomes real life and death struggle.
Being a first novel, the story told doesn’t quite live up to the gonzo premise, but there is a lot of potential in the setting and the good folks at Battlefield Press have acquired the rights from the Asprin estate to publish a role playing game setting based upon the novel. Battlefield Press is currently attempting to fund the setting using a Kickstarter campaign. They’ve run several successful campaigns in the past for a variety of role playing game settings that have ranged from WWI to Space Opera.
The Cold Cash War role playing game setting book is being designed for use with Savage Worlds and with the Cepheus Engine game system. The Cepheus Engine system is a retroclone that is compatible with older editions of the Traveller role playing game. Depending on how lethal you prefer your futuristic corporate espionage action to be, you may prefer one or the other of these systems. The game has yet to build much traction on Kickstarter, which is a shame because the Battlefield Press has been a reliably good publisher and the setting is one that could make for fun gaming campaign that has a touch of commentary on our current political and economic systems. While the danger of global communism have faded from the zeitgeist, the dangers of unregulated capitalism loom large and this is a setting that has fun exploring those dangers.
Check it out!