Hercules: Greetings RPGPundit! I am honored to be interviewing the author of
the Lords of Olympus RPG. Thank you for granting us this interview.
Thank you, glad to be here.
It is evident that Game Design is an important aspect of your
life-work. What were some of the games you played growing up? And
which were your favorites?
started on Role Playing Games around age 11. My earliest experiences
were with the old "Fighting Fantasy" books, then Dungeons &
Dragons. By my early teens I had played a ton of RPGs.
Hercules: How did RPGs first enter your awareness?
was already a fan of the 'gamebooks' like Choose Your Own Adventure
or Fighting Fantasy, when one day a kid in my school showed up with
the old "red box" D&D Basic Set. As no one could quite
figure out how to play it, I was delegated to try to make sense of it
and be the Dungeon Master. I got a ton of the rules all wrong, but we
had a good time playing. Later on, another friend's older brother
turned out to already be an RPG gamer and we played in his game,
which cleared things up for me. After that, I started getting the
books myself and became a nearly full-time Dungeon Master.
Hercules: Before you found your unique niche, what other career paths did you
consider or follow?
have multiple careers; my academic background is in history and
religious studies. I also write professionally; at the moment I'm a
senior columnist for Break.com (http://www.break.com/), where I write
articles on the occult, history, religion, and other weirdness.
Hercules: What inspired you to pursue the creative path of Game Designer?
was a game blogger first; and then decided to try my hand at writing
a very basic RPG. That one was called "Forward... to Adventure!"
At the same time I took ownership of theRPGsite.com
Olympus was my next game after that; and since that time I've done
two more major projects: "Arrows of Indra" (which is based
on Indian mythology) and "Dark Albion" (which
is a fantasy version of the War of The Roses, heavily influenced by
15th century magic and folklore). I've also done sourcebooks for FtA! and for Dark Albion ("Cults
of Chaos"). And of course, I worked on the 5th edition of
as a hobby versus gaming as a profession... what are the pluses and
think that if gaming was my only source of income, there might be
more minuses to it, because I might feel more pressured to write
stuff I wasn't really into. As it is, I only write the things I
really want to write, and it's pretty much all "pluses"
Hercules: What inspired Lords of Olympus?
of Olympus has two different inspirations, in terms of the mechanics
and in terms of the setting. The Mechanics were based on an earlier
game, Amber, which was written by Erick Wujcik, who was a kind of
mentor to me in gaming. He passed away several years ago. His game
was incredibly successful, and unique in RPGs, but for years
languished without any new products; it went through various attempts
to revive it but none of these came through while he was alive. Some
time after he'd died, I decided to do a game inspired by Amber, in
his memory and to revive that genre of "Diceless" gaming.
Now, Amber was
based on the "Amber" novels by Roger Zelazny, which was
about a feuding family of dimension-spanning super-powerful
immortals. As it's a series of copyrighted novels, there was no
question of being able to use that setting. Instead, I wanted to use
something else, ideally something even more recognizable. I decided
that the best choice was a game where the players are the children of
deities from a known mythological pantheon. Once that was decided, it
was obvious to me that the Greek Pantheon was the way to go, both
because of it's importance and immediate recognition to people in the
west, and also because of the very human, family-oriented, large, and
squabbling nature of this divine family.
Hercules: Can you provide us with an overview of the game's approach to Greek
Mythology and what possibilities are thereby opened for adventure?
RPGPundit: In Lords of Olympus, the players will generally play new (young) gods
or demigods in the Greek Pantheon, who are each a child of one of the
Olympian gods (or possibly of one of the Titans, or even of a
primordial). The Greek Pantheon in the game are very human in
character, they each have motives, hatreds, alliances, and goals.
Their kids will inevitably be caught up in the vast soap opera that
is the family relationship. Along the way, they'll do a lot of epic
conflict and adventuring.
As the game is set in a kind of
multiverse, it means characters can go to the divine realms of Greek
mythology (Olympus, Hades, the undersea realms of Poseidon, etc.), or
they can adventure on any number of versions of Earth: adventure can
take place on "classical" Earth (which is to say, the
ancient earth of the Greek epics), or on modern Earth, or on any
number of other worlds. Some Game Masters may want to make the game
more focused on mythological elements, or much more modern, weird, or
Hercules: Will there be supplements, modules, expansions or sequels to Lords of
are no plans for supplements for Lords of Olympus at the moment. Note
that it is an open content game, which means that if someone other
than me really wanted to make a sourcebook or adventure for it, they
totally could! If they got in touch with me, I'd even be glad to give
my advice or help (and to endorse it if I thought it was any good).
It's always possible that I may, at some point, return to write more
for Lords of Olympus in the future.
projects are you currently involved with?
think at this point I'm finally finishing up with Dark Albion. I'm
taking a little breather from RPGs, but it seems likely to me that my
next product will either be a rulebook of the 'house rules' included
in Dark Albion, or a whole new world/game book based on another
campaign I'm currently running; a gonzo fantasy/sci-fi
post-apocalyptic extravaganza named The World of the Last Sun,
inspired by (among other things) the novels of Hunter S. Thompson and
Hercules:Which of your projects or gaming related activities has been the most
Lords of Olympus took a couple of years to finally get to print. But
probably the biggest challenges were the projects I never finished
(or haven't finished yet). At one point I'd been working on a
sourcebook on the historical Roman Empire, it never got completed.
Another was a fantasy adventure influenced by Chinese mythology, also
not done (at least not yet).
Hercules:Which of them has given you the greatest level of creative freedom?
of the various projects I've worked on, all of them have happened
within certain confines. When I worked in the team for 5th Edition
Dungeons & Dragons, obviously I had to work within the confines
of a corporate environment and what they wanted, so that was maybe
the most restrictive. Lords of Olympus had the dual confines of
trying to create something that was mechanically a direct homage to
Amber but also capable of standing on its own and in some ways
improving on its own system, and at the same time the setting worked
within the confines of Greek Myth, but adding some creative twists.
Arrows of Indra and Dark Albion were both "old school revival"
products, which used mechanics that operated within the landmarks of
older-edition D&D game rules. So there was room to be creative
with those rules but also strict boundaries. Setting wise, Arrows was
all about imitating the world of Epic India from the Mahabharata, and
Dark Albion imitating our historical world in the 15th century (the
War of the Roses) but integrating magic and the supernatural to that
setting. So all the projects I've done have frameworks; but I tend to
like that, because I think that sometimes if you have to 'draw within
the lines' to a certain extent, it gives you even more motivation to
find ways to express creativity in those contexts.
Hercules:That's a great point! And which of them has given you the greatest
level of fulfillment as an individual and as an artist?
of my major projects were fulfilling. I think maybe Dark Albion was
the most fulfilling so far, only because it was the newest project. I
think each new project is a challenge to out-do myself, though really
I think all three of my most recent self-directed projects (Lords of
Olympus, Arrows of Indra, and Dark Albion) turned out to be very
Hercules:Please tell us about your The RPGPundit Blog on Blogspot.
blog is where I started, really. It began as a place for me to push
back a bit against certain trends in gaming that I thought weren't
moving the hobby in the right direction (trends that were in essence
a rejection of old-school play, and trying to redefine what RPGs were
for). Because I don't hold back in my writings, I quickly got a
reputation for being something of an "enfant terrible" in
the hobby. People either love me or despise me.
Hercules:You express your thoughts on a variety of topics aside from RPGs on
the Blog. I read How Witches and Wizards are Voting (and Cursing)
in the 2016 Election. Are you truly an occultist who will accept
money to influence elections?
am an occultist, but no, the line at the end of that article was a
joke. I think it's pretty hilarious that self-styled 'pagans',
'witches' or 'magicians' are trying to cast spells for or curses on
is the tale behind your title of the New and Improved Defender of
relates to what I said in my blog above. I defend old-school RPG
styles of game design and play. A lot of people over the last few
years have tried to manipulate the hobby into being something other
than what it is, and in that regard you could say I'm a
Hercules:In addition to sharing your own views you also run a Forum on the RPG
Can you tell us more about that?
theRPGsite.com is one of the largest discussion forums on tabletop
RPGs not commercially-owned. We talk about all varieties of RPGs
there, but many of the members particularly like D&D and other
old-school games. It's also one of the few forums on tabletop RPGs
that practice a free-speech ethos and low-moderation. Part of its
origin came about because other similar RPG forums were engaging in
politically- or ideologically-motivated moderation (banning, or
censorship) with very heavy-handed moderators. So theRPGsite has a
bit of a 'wild west' atmosphere to it (or as some users call it, the
"adult swim"), but it's a place where you can say what you
really want about RPG topics.
Hercules: You obviously care about the hobby and are actively engaged with it
on a variety of levels...
Way more than i would have expected.
Beyond gaming, what is the rest of your personal universe like?
Well, I'm also a practicing occultist, a
professional writer, a pipe-smoker, a freemason, I live in South
America after having traveled the world, and am an avid student of
the humanities (history, philosophy, and comparative religion, in
is indeed awesome! What's next in the unfolding adventures of the
Well, eventually a couple of other
writing projects, as I mentioned. Besides that, continuing to be
something of a gadfly in the hobby.
Hercules:Aside from your Blog and Forum, how else can people enter your
Aside from those, people could add me on Google+.
you very much! I enjoyed interviewing you and wish you the greatest
success on all your endeavors.
Check Out Our Review of Lords of Olympus!
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