The History of ICE

Shannon Appelcline recently posted on the latest in his series of articles about the histories of various companies in the adventure gaming industry. This is a two-parter about Iron Crown Enterprises (ICE).

I worked for ICE back in the early ’90s. In fact, ICE published the first large book I wrote entirely on my own: Western Hero (also produced as Outlaw, a supplement for Rolemaster). I added bits to a number of books in their Middle-earth Roleplaying line, and I handled the second edition of Silent Death for them and worked on retainer as that line’s developer for a good while.

Shannon does a fine job of summing up ICE’s history. Of course, there are many tales that can’t be told in public about any company, but he dug up some great sources (including myself) and got them to talk, so this is about as good a history as you’ll find without cornering one of the company’s ex-employees over a beer at a convention.

To add to what he says, I’ll tell you that ICE owed me a large chunk of change at one point. I never badmouthed them about it, though, and I worked with them to get what I could out of them. When they published the Middle-earth Collectible Card Game—a huge hit—they paid off every dime and even handed me a complete factory set of the cards as a way of saying thanks for being so patient.

I still run into many ex-ICE folk over the years. Pete Fenlon and Coleman Charlton are now with Mayfair Games. Monte Cook co-designed the third edition of D&D, and he and his wife Sue now run their own successful Malhavoc Press. Kevin Barrett moved back to Canada where he wrangles all the writers for Bioware. Terry Amthor works as a Mac tech in DC. Jason Hawkins co-designed Parthenon: Rise of the Aegean, published by Z-Man Games—which won the Origins Award for Board Game of the Year last year. Bruce Neidlinger and his wife Heike Kubasch run the new Iron Crown. There are others, of course, who I’ve lost track of over the years, but I enjoyed working with them all.