The impending release of the new, live-action Peter Pan movie inspired me to dig deep into the darkest parts of my computer’s hard drive. There I found a rough, uncut gem from my past that I thought I’d share with you as a kind of Christmas present.
Once upon a time (back in 1991), a game company by the odd name of Starchilde (publishers of the Justifiers and Guardians roleplaying games) asked me to write a Peter Pan roleplaying game for children. It seems the copyright for J.M. Barrie’s classic novel had finally fallen into the public domain, which meant we could do the game without any licensing fees.
I developed a manuscript for what was to be a lavishly illustrated rulebook that showed adults how to entertain children by way of concocting a story together, one set in Neverland, the home island of Peter Pan. The company folded before it could publish the game, though, and the rights to the manuscript reverted back to me. Ever since, the game has sat untouched on one of the series of computers I’ve used over the past 12 years.
The copyright laws surrounding Peter Pan are fairly complex. Back in 1929, Barrie assigned the copyright to the Great Ormand Street Hospital. The copyright expired in 1987, 50 years after Barrie’s death, but the British Parliament passed an act in 1988 that granted the hospital the Peter Pan copyright permanently. The US followed suit in 1998, extending the hospital’s copyright protection until 2023.
I wrote Neverland: The Imagination Game in 1991, which makes it illegal in the UK but just fine in the US. However, since the copyright laws have since changed, I can’t make any changes to the manuscript without violating the law.
As such, I’m offering up the Neverland manuscript as is, warts and all. It doesn’t have any artwork, nor a proper layout, but hey, the price is right. It’s free.
You can download the game here. Read it, play it, and have fun with it. Be warned that it’s dirt simple. There’s not much “game” to it at all, but it’s fun for what it is.
If you like the game—or just feel like being kind—I suggest making a donation to the Great Ormand Street Hospital Children’s Charity. If this was a properly licensed product, that’s where the money would go, and it’s a worthy cause chosen by Barrie himself.
Merry Christmas to you all, and best wishes throughout the holiday season and beyond!