Jack Chalker’s WELL WORLD series of novels is fun sci-fi / science fantasy adventure. A vastly-powerful ancient race created a world long ago to contain and study alien races. The surface of the Well World is segregated into large regional hexes, each with its own biome. A large number of sapient beings from nearby planets unknowingly transit portals, and become “translated” onto the Well World: They keep their mind, but their body is vastly different.
It becomes a study of adaptation: Some beings cannot handle the change, and soon perish. At the other extreme is oblivion, with many beings completely “losing” themselves in their new phenotype.
I read these books years ago, and reviewed them.
In the Eighties, the Well World was adapted as a roleplaying game, authorized by Jack Chalker and created by Timothy L. Green.
I’ll say right off the bat, the Well World RPG is not great. Lizard’s Gaming Blog does a thorough job of documenting the game, and its few strengths and manifold weaknesses. (Check the comments there for a post by one of the designer’s gaming friends. Very interesting and uplifting.)
The issues, in summary: Dot-matrix printer publishing, in Courier font: Crude even for a 1985 RPG. And dubious design choices, focusing on rules and topics of little interest to a Well World fan (starship combat, world generation away from the Well World, etc). There is little campaign material, except for a large bestiary of the denizens of the Well World.
That bestiary of Well World aliens is pretty cool though.
In my opinion, the Well World RPG would primarily be of interest to collectors or serious Well World enthusiasts.
Midnight at the Well of Souls: Roleplaying System [BOX SET]
1985 … Timothy L. Green … TAG 1000
• 112-page game book including 150 character races
• Introductory Scenario
• Combat tables and charts
• Starship blueprints and combat system
• Partial map of the Well World
Starship Rules, Introductory Adventure, and Reference Cards
Map and Dice
Errata and Order Form
Saga of the Well World – My 2016 thoughts on the fiction series.
Jack Chalker’s Well of Souls series – The Del Rey paperbacks – More photos of the book series
Ringworld: Roleplaying Adventure Beneath the Great Arch (1984) – For an Excellent adaptation of a popular science fiction series. A great contrast with the Well World RPG.