Richard Garriott
Image: Richard Garriott

Richard Garriott is famous today for his ventures into space, but once upon a time, he was better known as 'Lord British', creator of the Ultima series of RPGs.

Ultima began life as Akalabeth: World of Doom, a 1979 adventure which the teenaged Garriott largely created as a hobbyist project, even going as far as to print the manuals himself and pack them with the disks in Ziploc bags before shipping them to customers.

While this part of the tale is well known – as is the fact that Garriott's next game, 1981's Ultima I: The First Age of Darkness, would kick off a franchise which would sell almost half a million copies in North America alone by 1990 – there's a segment of this narrative which is less publicised, as Garriott himself explains on his Twitter account.

Garriott made copies of the manual and cover sheet for Akalabeth at a print shop in a local mall and stapled everything together with his mother when they got home. However, one visit didn't go exactly according to plan:

When they were being printed, it was just me, and the young woman on the other side of the counter running the huge printing press. The printing press had ink, that was spread evenly before being transferred to the final roller with the image on it, by running over a series of rollers rolling in opposite directions… perhaps 6 such rollers.

While the woman was operating the press, making the Akalabeth manuals, her hair got caught in the rapidly spinning series of inked rollers! In a matter of a split second, it sucked in her long hair, and slammed her cheek into the machine. Fortunately, she also, instinctively, reached around and shut off the machine.

But, she was now pinned against the machine, deeply entangled and bleeding significantly.

I jumped over the counter and began disassembling the machine in haste. By the time we got her “extracted”, we where both covered in ink and blood. So was the print shop. But we did get her out, a few stitches were needed to patch her up.

So… if you have an original Akalabeth… check it for blood and hair!