Monday, August 23, 2021

#RPGaDay2021 Day 24: Translate

"Translate" is an interesting prompt word for me. As is probably pretty clear to anyone who reads my RPG writing regularly or knows me, I'm a huge fan of Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game. This game was published by White Wolf back in 1994-95, then the license expired and the game went out of print. There was later an effort around 2004 to create another Street Fighter RPG (to be called "Capcom World Tournament") based on d20 rules of the D&D 3 era by a company known as Living Room Games, but it was never fully completed or released. 1995 was 26 years ago. What do you do when an RPG that is quite possibly your favorite goes out of print forever, now gone over a quarter century ago?

Well, it turns out I had a plan, but we'll get to that. It also turned out that the Street Fighter RPG wasn't only published by White Wolf in the form I knew it. The game was also published in Brazil, originally in the form of a magazine spread across a few issues, then eventually collected and printed together. Dragão Brasil Especial 9, 11 and 13 laid out the core rules, which were then bound together in issue 24. This bound together edition of the game published in Dragão Brasil Especial 24 was published in 1999, a full 4 years after publication by White Wolf had ceased. These rules were the equivalent of the core rules we saw here from White Wolf, but with different art and presentation. They didn't have rights to publish all of the supplements that White Wolf produced for the game, and so they filled out the rules themselves in further magazine articles with new styles, villains and rules. Aside from the White Wolf game, they also published an adaptation of Street Fighter Zero 3 in another game system from Brazil, 3D&T.

Back here in the USA, after White Wolf allowed the game to drop out of print, the fandom for the game continued through Yahoo! Groups to a large extent, and through a number of fan web pages. As you might naturally expect, the fandom shrank over time and activity dropped quite a bit. In the early 2000s, the US fandom was creating new rules, making commentary on what was or wasn't considered broken, writing articles that got combined into little PDF fan magazines, but it all started to wane at some point. No one used Yahoo! Groups anymore, some lonely RPGer would from time to time call out to see if anyone was still there. Matt Meade of sfrpg.com continued to work on a solid supplement, the G-File, intended to fill out maneuvers styles and stats for all of the Street Fighters that weren't in the game material produced by White Wolf. A Google+ community was set up for fans to keep in touch, which saw some traffic but not tons.

Back in my world, my group played Street Fighter almost obsessively from... I dunno, 1994 until 2000-2001 or so? Even after this we would find times to play, though less regularly. We had tons and tons of characters and stages and maneuvers and rules we'd house-ruled into the system over the years. Some of these rules, styles and maneuvers were distributed between us on dot matrix printer printouts, because that's how old we are! Still, after 2001-ish or thereabouts we were past the heyday of our Street Fighter playing. Street Fighter was always fondly remembered, but life happened, the old group was out of college, the GM had long spells of living overseas, kids were born, new games were played with different people. It wasn't until some point in early 2014 I believe, that I started on my plan.

White Wolf, as a game company, went through a lot of ups and downs, was acquired in 2006, sold, acquired again. A lot of folks that worked for White Wolf went on to continue producing games with the IP as Onyx Path Publishing. As the famous White Wolf "World of Darkness" games approached their 20th anniversaries, Onyx Path began to Kickstart deluxe 20th anniversary editions of those games, collecting all of the rules material and synthesizing it all into one definitive rule book. To me, the best White Wolf game was always Street Fighter, and I believed it deserved a 20th Anniversary Edition of its own, as impossible as that was. So, I started to make it myself! 

I transcribed and wrote and assembled for a few months before I contacted Matt Meade on October 13th, 2014, linking him to some in-progress material I had and letting him know about my project to create a compiled version of the Street Fighter RPG. My goal was to release this "20th Anniversary Edition" by the end of 2014, to match up with the release of the original game back in 1994. Matt published an article on his blog. I teased the release on the Google+ group. That was a bit too ambitious, it turned out. I burned out for a while, but eventually picked the project back up in 2015. By that time, some people on Google+ were pretty sure it was a promise unfulfilled, but with the transcription and editing help of some friends I was able to release the 20th Anniversary Edition on September 8th, 2015.

Around this time, Google+ was winding down and a new Street Fighter RPG community was formed on Facebook. I was happy to find the 20th Anniversary edition was well received, and in chatting with Matt Meade, he was also inspired to keep working on his G-File. What the Facebook group revealed to me, however, was the vast fan community the game still had in Brazil. They had been publishing their own fan supplements, adventures, and zines, and not a small amount of it. They also had their own main fan site and their own Facebook group. In fact, their Facebook group is over 3 times larger than the English speaking group! Yes, at last we are getting to today's prompt word! An English speaking community and a Portuguese speaking community... and the internet had finally got us interacting in a serious way!

So...  a lot of members of the Brazilian community would visit the English Facebook group, just for fun, but also because they had questions about what White Wolf had produced here. Matt Meade had managed to land a few interviews with original creators of White Wolf material for Street Fighter, and so it was an interesting time. One of the writers for the game became a regular in the Facebook group as well. Between these interviews, my release of SF20, and some resultant increase in fan activity, Street Fighter was feeling more alive than it had in quite a while, but even with this increased activity it was pretty clear that the Brazilian scene was more alive. They had a fan produced magazine with tons of issues. They made their own supplements, and aside from Matt's G-File, the English speaking community had not done that since maybe 10 years earlier! It was time to break down all of the walls between the two communities. This was not going to be simple, it'd take some work. Fortunately, there were people in the scene willing to put in that work. There is a good number of people on both the Brazilian and English speaking sides of the community that were involved, but key among them was Richard "Bat" Brewster of Batjutsu!

Over the course of the last few years... efforts have been made to translate all of the major efforts of the Brazilian community into English. Something like 34 issues of the "Warrior's Fist" (Punho Do Guerreiro), a couple very well produced adventures, a Mortal Kombat supplement, "Circuit Guides" of new fighters and more. Going the other way, while not a direct translation, the Brazilian community were inspired to create their own "20th Anniversary Edition" as well. It's been a wonderful thing.

Translation: Bringing the world together. Keeping games alive.

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