Lou Zocchi founded Zocchi Games, later renamed Gamescience
, in Biloxi, Mississippi
. Zocchi is best known today as a colorful old timer
who attends various role playing conventions like GenCon
. He's known to many as Uncle Lou, although he prefers to go by military titles he earned while part of the Alabama State Defense force. He retired with the rank of full Colonel
Back in the late'70s, early '80s, his Gamescience company published inexpensive role playing games. They were poorly written with shitty art and lousy production values but they were fun. Most of his role playing games were lifted from TSR
system. His company release the first super hero role playing game called Superhero 2044
(1977) and an early sci-fi role playing game called Star Patrol
He started off writing and selling a set of miniature rules for Star Trek
called the Star Fleet Battle Manual
but Paramount Pictures
quickly came calling. After some brief discussions with Paramount
, Zocchi realized he couldn't afford to purchase the rights. He released his game under the name Alien Space
, cleverly renaming the Enterprise "Earthship". The Klingons were renamed the "Kuzi". A friendship with Franz Joseph
, author of the legendary Star Fleet Technical Manual
(1975), helped Zocchi secure rights to Star Trek
from Paramount on more favorable terms. Alien Space
was updated again and re-released as the Star Fleet Battle Manual
While his role playing games weren't very successful, he did manage to find great success early on by founding his Zocchi Distributing endeavor in 1975. Zocchi's company acted as a general middle man between game publishers and the hobby shops that sold the final product. Before Zocchi the fledgling role playing/war game industry had no such general distribution method.
Zocchi sold his distribution company in 1996 to Mike Hurdle, who then resold it in 1999 to an Anime
distribution company called SyCoNet. In 2001, Zocchi Distributing lost its license to sell Wizard of the Coast
products, which is like saying you've lost your license to breath air and it went kaput, owing a lot of money to some 600 small game publishers and manufacturers.
Although Zocchi sold his distribution company, he retained his Gamescience creation. He published fewer and fewer actual games, although he secured rights from TSR to published a new version of Aztec
-inspired Empire of the Petal Throne
(which had all but vanished from TSR's catalog by the late '70s). He also published a parody of GURPS
(The World's Easiest Role Playing System). Zocchi got more into gaming accessories and specialized in premium "high impact
" gaming dice. He invented and patented several odd ball dice like the D5, the D7, and the amazing D100 aka the Zocchihedron
(you can see some pictures here http://www.dozensofgames.com/precgamdicse.html
Zocchi got into a bit of hot water in 2001 when it released a reprint of Judges Guild
's Tegel Manor
. Zocchi claims Judges Guild co-founder Bob Bledsaw authorized him to do a reprint but Bledsaw claims no such authorization was given and he was darn surprised when he saw a fresh reprint on a store shelf. It's unknown what the state of this disagreement is.
Since about 1997 there has been a rumor floating around that Lou Zocchi was dead. However, many who have seen him since 1997 at role playing convention
s report he's sufficiently animated and cantankerous enough to qualify as "living".