A New Direction for Now

I'm going to be taking a bit of a break from my starter RPG project for two main reasons. First off, I've found a wealth of games I'd really enjoy to run, some of which I think would make good introductions to what roleplaying is for adult, non-gamer type people. But secondly, I still take the starter RPG notion seriously, but I realized that paradoxically, an RPG designed for beginning players should not be my first full-fledged RPG design. I should maybe know what I'm doing before I tackle that.


I had an idea for another game that is now consuming every ounce of my game design juices (okay, a few ounces are spared for stray thoughts). I am channeling the bad shit, here. I've filled out a whole notebook, and I take it's replacement everywhere I go. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas. Talking about it at this point would probably solidify some things that are still better off nebulous as I work them together, though. That being said, as a "sneak preview", here's a recommended reading list for the setting/color:

(In roughly descending order of relevance)

  • Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

  • Beowulf

  • The Poetic and Prose Eddas

  • The Mabinogion

  • The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer

  • A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

  • The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

  • Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock

  • The Volsunga Saga trans. by J.R.R. Tolkien

  • The Lord of the Rings

  • Various Irish Myths and Legends

Hopefully that gives you a pretty good idea of the 'flavor' I'm going for, but I hope you'll be pleasantly surprised by what I come up with for rules.


  1. For a darker dose of a similar (ie Welsh) flavor, "The Owl Service" might suffice.

  2. Also, as "guest blogger," if you type anything up, I'd be happy to read it and comment. I promise that I won't do the same sort of grousing that your thesis (CITATIONS! CITATIONS! CITATIONS!) inspired.

    Also... why did you go back to the Dark Ages/pre-modern Europe vein? It seemed like you were on a pulp-themed roll.

  3. Hahah, fair enough. Maybe RPGs should be as academically rigorous as theses. . . but probably not.

    Once something gets typed up, you will for sure see it, but right now I'm not planning on presenting a wholly formed world, per se. I've been rather turned onto the idea that what makes someone love a setting is their involvement in it. So what I want to present is a very clear flavor, some core elements, and some inspiration such that whoever plays comes up with their own particular version of dark ages Greco-Celto-Germanic tribal action, with their own very personal buy in. See my review on "In a Wicked Age" and the way the oracles work in that for an idea I'm trying desperately not to steal wholesale.

    To answer your second question briefly, I'm not sure. Stuff I'm reading? More seriously, it's a milieu I've dabbled with before, and a few things conspired to bring it back to inspiration-generating levels of enthusiasm. First, I've been re-reading "A Song of Ice and Fire", and the twisted intrigue mostly based on family relations made me think of tribalism and loyalty to your family and swearing oaths and all that. Which I associate heavily with British/Germanic type stuff.

    Then I re-watched season 1 of Rome, and an aspect of Roman history I've always enjoyed is the oft-overlooked primitive Indo-European tribalism underlying it's civilized attempt to paint on a Greek veneer (itself a highly developed Indo-European tribal system!). And more with the family loyalties and clans and stuff.

    So I was thinking heavily about clans and loyalty and independence, and reading about designing games making statements about people and themes and stuff, and I thought "if I wanted to make a game where play focused on where your loyalties lie and what you would and would not do to keep them, what would the setting be?" And a sort of Dark Ages northern Europe/Britain (again, with a touch of Greek bronze age) hit me as what I'd get the most into.

    Then I saw this entry at www.lumpley.com: http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=101 and thought "damnit, he beat me to it and did it more interestingly than I probably can!" but then read on and realized he was going a different direction than what I want to do, but with similar (okay, some of the most important stuff the *same) source material. And now it turns out he's working on it again. As if I'm not already way too influenced by his game designs.

    So, the long answer is that all this stuff came together and I realized it was *not* the sort of stuff I'd want to try to make into a starter game, and that any future starter RPG would probably benefit from a solid RPG design before it. Also I've just been thinking about it like crazy, it really grabbed me.