The Collectible ULTIMA


Here is where I list "everything else" for you. If only I had a kitchen sink to throw in, but as far as I know, there aren't any sinks in Ultima. Yet. If you know of any other artifacts you'd like to see listed here, by all means, let me know.

Game Completion Certificates
  • Publisher: Origin Systems, Inc.
  • Characteristics: Paper certificates sent out on request when people beat various Ultimas.
These printed, hand-signed certificates were produced for most of the games since Ultima III. People completing the games who called Origin would receive one, personally autographed by Lord British. It would be difficult to come by one of these now... good luck getting someone to give up one of their memories like this! Who knows, perhaps for Ultima IX Origin will give them out again. I hope so; it's a nice tradition.

Ultima Crossbow

David Watson, aka "Iolo" from the computer games, was approached by Origin and Electronic Arts about releasing an "official" Ultima crossbow, created to coincide either with Origin's release of Ultima Online or Ultima IX. But after the initial talks, he never heard back from them. Mr. Watson thinks EA was scared off by liability concerns; I suspect he's right. There's a bit of a difference between having an official mug or tee shirt, and having an official deadly weapon. Still, it might happen for Ultima IX, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Ultima Online collectibles

On April 3, 1997, Origin sent out email to everyone signed up to participate in their beta test for Ultima Online. The message asked what sorts of UO merchandise they would be most interested in purchasing, and gave a list of possible items. These included earrings, beer mugs, lapel pins, key rings, coffee mugs and so on. While Origin has produced a baseball cap and a tee shirt, none of the other items mentioned have been made available. An online shop has been set up on the Ultima Online web site, and one can imagine that whatever items are eventually sold would be found there.

Ultima Online Beta CD Ultima Online Beta Test kit
  • Publisher: Origin Systems, Inc.
  • Characteristics: Cardboard disk envelope, containing one (1) CD in a plain white paper sleeve. The CD is marked "Ultima Online Public Beta Test".
Origin held the first "phase" of their public beta for Ultima Online during June 1997, sending out only a few thousand CDs. A few weeks later, in July, the second phase was held, and new CDs were sent out to all beta testers, including those from the first phase. There is no distinguishable difference between the two different beta CDs, apart from the postmark date on the cardboard envelope and the physical filestamps of the files on the CD.

Japanese collectibles

When Origin rolled out the coversion of Ultima III for the Nintendo Entertainment System, FCI launched a media blitz in Japan. There was apparently a bit of a craze over the games, and several sideline items appeared. According to Shay Addams in the Official Book of Ultima, these included Ultima comic books, an Ultima album on compact disc (could this be the mysterious genesis of the first Origin soundtrack?), two kinds of wrist watches, a tape dispenser, a pencil holder, a board game, a jacket, a beach towel, and animated cartoons. Other Origin employees have recalled seeing many of these items as well, particularly the comics and cartoons. But other than the comics (which have turned up! See the entries on the manga page) I don't have any of these items, and nobody I've heard from has ever been able to find any of them either. Richard Garriott doesn't have a copy of the cartoon pilot, so it may be lost. If anyone ever runs across any of these items, please let me know.

Ultima: The RPG

In the late '80s and early '90s, Origin did some initial work on a pencil-and-paper role-playing system which they tentatively named Ultima: The RPG. A number of Origin people worked on the project, which continued on at minimal staffing through at least the end of 1996, but seems to have finally dissipated. At GenCon '95, Richard Garriott actually demoed his paper RPG, but to date nothing has ever come of it. One former Origin employee who was involved with the paper RPG and other Ultima projects has provided some details of the game as it was when he left:
  • The game could be played during any time period of Britannia or Sosaria, but as last implemented used source material for geography, magic, etc. from the time of Ultima VII (Black Gate) or later.
  • The demo run at GenCon was apparently set in Britannia during the time the Avatar was on Pagan.
  • There was not yet any provision for travelling to different worlds, though they planned to include that eventually.
  • Though specific characterization was not done yet, the game as planned would include the Guardian.
  • The game had not gotten far enough in design to include plans for adventure "modules" ala AD&D, but long term plans definitely included them.
  • Originally it was planned that Ultima IX, Ultima Online and the Ultima RPG would all use the same "rules" for magic, characters, and so on. As time passed, though, the "rules" for Ultima IX and Ultima Online have continued to evolve, so that will probably not be how the RPG would end up.
  • The "final" (as in, the last known) word was that a paper RPG would definitely be published out-of-house. Where it would be designed was also a big question. Given Origin's long-standing relationship with Steve Jackson Games (Car Wars, Ogre, GURPS), one could imagine SJ both designing and publishing an Ultima paper RPG.
Maybe someday the game will be released, either by Origin or maybe by their friends at Steve Jackson Games. At least we can hope! Alternatively, if someone is interested in working with me on a public domain GURPS extension for Ultima, I think I have enough source material to make a go at it.

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