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Fantasy Flight: We’re working on turning Twilight Imperium into a universe like Arkham Horror, Netrunner and L5R

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Space opera epic Twilight Imperium could become an expanded universe and series of games akin to Arkham Horror, Android: Netrunner and Legend of the Five Rings, publisher Fantasy Flight Games has said.

Designed by Fantasy Flight founder and Asmodee North America CEO Christian T. Petersen, Twilight Imperium debuted in 1997 and has since seen three major revisions, including this year’s fourth edition.

The game centres on the sprawling galactic conflict between more than a dozen different playable alien races, all of which have a unique backstory and role in the long history of the universe.

Twilight Imperium has received two notable spin-offs, 2001 disc-flipping dexterity title Armada and the more recent Rex: Final Days of an Empire, a 2012 reimagining of the tabletop adaptation of sci-fi novel Dune. A 1999 roleplaying game based on Twilight Imperium was poorly received upon release and is considered non-canon.

Speaking to Tabletop Gaming, Petersen said that his growing responsibilities as head of Fantasy Flight and subsequently Asmodee’s US division had stopped the publisher from exploring the universe of Twilight Imperium with more games based in the setting, as it has done with series such as the Lovecraft-inspired Arkham Horror Files – comprising Mansions of Madness, Arkham Horror, Eldritch Horror and more – and the recently acquired Legend of the Five Rings, which has been revived as a living card game, RPG and board game.

“Fantasy Flight has over the years developed some proprietary worlds and brands, and we've acquired one with Legend of the Five Rings that kind of is very connected to the flavour du jour – the flavour and genetic makeup of FFG,” he said. “We go back, we have some IPs that we really like to delve into – something like Arkham Horror, the Android IP, IP such as Legend of the Five Rings, Twilight Imperium and the Terrinoth Runebound universe.

“I think the one reason we haven't done more with Twilight probably has more to do with the fact that I have not been able to engage as much in the actual creative side and people have just kind of left it alone because they probably knew that I would want to be involved in it.”

Petersen created the first three editions of Twilight Imperium alone, but collaborated on the fourth edition with Star Wars: Rebellion creator Corey Konieczka and Eldritch Horror co-writer Dane Beltrami – a possible hint at how the series could move forward in the future.

“My view on these IPs is not to control them or to be the only person who touches them, it has more to do with us having the time and the slight few months of peace where we can sit down and write down what the natural laws of this universe are, what the detailed history of this universe is and the vision for how we want to treat it going forward,” Petersen continued. “Visually, emotionally and in terms of what kind of narrative, story and scope we want to project with it. That stuff takes a lot of time and we've done a great job of that in Android, we've done a great job of that in Arkham Horror. We continue to explore that in Arkham Horror, kind of lay the foundation. In order to create an IP and a world [like that], in my view, there needs to be a very, very strong foundation. Once that foundation is built, then it can be collaborated upon and multiple people can attack it. But we need to build those foundations.

“That's something we've concentrated a lot on over the last few years on the FFG side: to build a foundation of Android, build a foundation of the Arkham Horror-verse, build a foundation of some of these others. Certainly Twilight Imperium is going to have its day and we're working on that foundation which is necessary to launch starships off the platform. Once that's done, I'm not particular concerned about what's done with it, but I'm just concerned that everybody has a strong foundation and is coming at it from the same direction.”

Exactly how Fantasy Flight might take the universe of Twilight Imperium to new frontiers remains unclear, but Petersen isn’t ruling out the possibility of a living card game in the vein of 2016's Arkham Horror: The Card Game or this year’s Legend of the Five Rings: The Card Game.

“Certainly stranger things could happen,” he said. “We are fortunate, especially in the FFG studio, to have this embarrassment of riches of IP, both of our own and these very valued licensing partners that we have, whether it's George [R.R.] Martin or Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. There's no end of ideas and fantastic stories.”

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