Back to RPGs

Posted: 6th March 2019 by Christian in Blog

Getting nerdy so, politics types, keep scrolling. If you want to bring a hat to the geek career tables… come in.

Inspired by the fact that this Critical Role thing made 3 million dollars. Today. I’d like to talk a little about designing games. I haven’t ever really spoke about this part of my career publically much.

I wrote two books for Call of Cthulhu, Mythos Magic, about the various forms of sorcery Mythos creatures and cultists might use. And the Cruel Empires of Tsan Chan. A setting book for a place Lovecraft mentiond, in a few syllables, twice. A sort of horrific far future black fantasy.

I also wrote for a game called Secret World. A horror/conspiracy MMO. A few other things that aren’t worth talking about. And a game that was launched to considerable disdain called ‘Sacred 3.’ The only review of which I read started with the line ‘something went very wrong here.’

(Resisting a long diatrabe on ‘world building.’)

Anyway. I got the job and pitched ‘The Vampire Empire!’ a horrific fantasy world in which a vampire aristocracy had arisen and using monstrous faeries creatures, had destroyed the angelic empire, angels being a theme the producers saw as central to the franchise from other games.

No. I don’t like it. That was my only feeback. Start again.

OK… its 2010 or something. Steampunk! A clockwork world where magic and technology have become one. A centralised government works to control the mystic energies of the land, doing great harm.

No. I don’t like steampunk.

In the end, what they said yes to was a generic David Gemmell rip off. They bought in a writer after me. Because apparently, my take was ‘too traditional’.
That’s life. ‘You hear about the blonde so dumb she slept with the writer?’

But I think I’m good at that part of the work. It’s fun. And it’s a light touch to suggest elements people would like to play in, or design in, without being demanding.

‘Frankenstein rules this kingdom’. Ok. Fine. So what? Ten thousand world down to the innkeeper’s rash is stupid. Designers won’t design over such ruinous detail and GMs don’t stop to look up innkeepers.
But ‘Frankenstein rules here from his father’s old school. He ritually taxes dead bodies. At night, his born again wolf-bear things patrol the wood, keeping out Dracula spies.’ Yeah. That’s the stuff.

With that much RPG money on the table, I think it would be irresponsible of me to not get back in the ring.