9 March 2009

The Adventures of Percevan Begin Anew

The Chronicles of Percevan at FFG

Given Fantasy Flight Games' rise and success in the hobby gaming industry, beginning with Twilight Imperium and Disk Wars more than a decade ago, it is not uncommon for fans of FFG to not have heard the "origin story" of the company we have all come to know and love. BoardGameGeek's entry for Fantasy Flight Games begins with the humble statement: "Fantasy Flight started out as a publisher of European comics in the US." True enough, before Fantasy Flight Games produced its epic board games and challenging card games, FFG humbly began as an outlet for the European comics, Lucky Luke, Spirou & Fantasio, and Percevan.

The 1996 and 2009 editions of Percevan

The idea for the company that would become Fantasy Flight Games began around 1995 while CEO Christian T. Petersen was still a student at Minnesota's Saint Olaf College. Having grown up in Denmark, Christian was immersed in the diverse world of the large-album European comics (bandes dessinee in French), the most well-known examples of which being Tintin and Asterix.

To quote Christian from the FFG Company History rant: 

"Did you read comics as a kid? In Denmark, where I am from, we read LOTS of comics. Except they're not comics as we think of comics in the U.S. They're more like illustrated books — sometimes funny, sometimes serious, and almost always absolutely great. If you are familiar with TINTIN or ASTERIX or LUCKY LUKE, you will know what I am talking about. In Denmark, every kid has a stack of these books (they're really more like books than comics), and even more kids rent stacks and stacks of these books from the local library. They're sold in bookstores, supermarkets, and gift shops. Frankly, they're part of 'kid culture' in a way that U.S comics have never attained here."

The genesis of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. was the notion that while these European comics were wildly successful all around the world, they were virtually unheard-of in the United States' whose market was and is dominated by superhero comics.

Christian: "[A] business idea was born. The concept was of a business that would publish quality European comics in North America and change the way that comics were read and sold in the states."

Fantasy Flight Publishing's initial foray into comics publishing was brief, 1995-1998, and coincided, unfortunately, with the collapse of the 90's comics speculation boom. Superhero comics speculation artificially swelled the market, crowded out shelf space for other comics, and then collapsed, causing a chain reaction of comic shop closures and distributor consolidation. In that market there was little room for new entrants, especially for introducing European comics. FFP soldiered on, distributing backlist European comics to independent-oriented comic shops, but, again, to quote Christian: "The writing was on the wall baby, Fantasy Flight needed a dramatic change of direction." Fortunately for Fantasy Flight Games, Christian decided to pursue his main passion, games, transitioning the company with Twilight Imperium into the game publisher we have become today.

Fantasy Flight, however, was unwilling to let go of comics entirely. Percevan merely waited for its moment to re-emerge, in a slightly modified form. As the markets for graphic novels have swollen at an amazing pace in the past decade, the time seems right to reintroduce the adventures of our red-haired knight and his trusty sidekick. Percevan and Kervin's adventures through a fantastic version of the Middle Ages fit nicely alongside the games and themes that Fantasy Flight Games has been developing over the course of the last decade. The worlds of Runebound and BattleLore are not so far-removed from Percevan's, being similarly filled with magic and monsters, battles and betrayals, and most importantly, the broad appeal of adventure mixed with a sense of fun and enjoyment.

The adventures of Percevan begin with The Stars of Ingaar and follows Percevan in hot pursuit of the avaricious Baron Deadstone, who has stolen his precious family heirloom, one of the legendary Stars of Ingaar. Along the way, Percevan will meet Kervin, the jolly minstrel, Balkis, the seductive sorceress, and Zenzarael, Baron Deadstone's personal wizard. Join Fantasy Flight Games and take a journey with Percevan into a world of adventure!

Download a free preview of Legends of Percevan, Volume 1: The Stars of Ingaar (PDF, 2mb)

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