Origins of The 23rd Letter


As mentioned earlier, it started out as a psionics ruleset for a sci-fi corporate espionage game called Syndicate which was masterminded by John. Syndicate was never published and indeed never went beyond a couple of dozen pages of brainstorming materials. I adapted some material from some of my earlier attempts at game backgrounds, mainly one called 8162AD where superhuman psychic investigators were sent to fight terrorists and criminals on an interstellar stage. But it went nowhere so…


This was the first working name for the game. I got it from “The Demolished Man” by Alfred Bester who goes strangely uncredited in the Wikipedia article and I reckon Bester’s work had a lot to do with the film Minority Report (2002) but I digress. It fit and I used it.

Right up until 2 days before we went to print, which was weeks and weeks after we’d started marketing the book.

Cease and Desist

Came the email. From some guy called James Hudnall. Remember this was before Wikipedia, before Google. This was early 1996, the dot-com boom wasn’t even there. Turns out he’d authored a comic book called Espers back in ’86 and he thought we were ripping him off. Our local comic shop had never heard of him or it. So we had to decide. I certainly didn’t have the money to fight a battle just for a name that neither of us owned, so I took the easy route and spent an evening thinking up new names. And one of them stuck.
I eventually got hold of a copy of one of his Espers books and was quite happy that the name was the only similarity. They’re superhero comics, not comics about shadowy psychic conspiracies. They’re more Marvel/Image than Warrior/Vertigo if you know what I mean. Anyway, we changed the name and I don’t regret it one iota.

The Project Sourcebook

This unfinished work came out of a couple of years of writing part-time by half the team. Now I’m glad it was unfinished and unpublished (though it was released as a PDF for a while). It needs rewritten, heavily edited and heaps more content added.


The 23rd Letter will be back on sale in the US with a couple of distributors. I’d like to hear from people who know of it, or who liked it. Or just if they read about it on this blog. I’m kinda upset that we’re not in the wikipedia article for Psionics (roleplaying games) but I’ll get over it.

About matt

Gamer. Writer. Dad. Serial Ex-husband. Creator of The 23rd Letter, SpaceNinjaCyberCrisis XDO, ZOMBI, Testament, Creed. Slightly megalomaniac
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