Mount Olympus Presents:

Hercules: Greetings RPGPundit! I am honored to be interviewing the author of the Lords of Olympus RPG. Thank you for granting us this interview.

RPGPundit: Thank you, glad to be here.

Hercules: 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?

RPGPundit: I 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?

RPGPundit: I 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?

RPGPundit: I 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 (, where I write articles on the occult, history, religion, and other weirdness.

Hercules: What inspired you to pursue the creative path of Game Designer?

RPGPundit: I 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 (

Lords of 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 D&D

Hercules: Gaming as a hobby versus gaming as a profession... what are the pluses and minuses?

RPGPundit: I 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?

RPGPundit: Lords 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 multi-faceted.

Hercules: Will there be supplements, modules, expansions or sequels to Lords of Olympus?

RPGPundit: There 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.

Hercules: What projects are you currently involved with?

RPGPundit: I 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 "Adventure Time".

Hercules:Which of your projects or gaming related activities has been the most challenging?

RPGPundit: Well, 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?

RPGPundit: Well, 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?

RPGPundit: All 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 high-quality.

Hercules:Please tell us about your The RPGPundit Blog on Blogspot.

RPGPundit: My 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?

RPGPundit: I 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 political candidates.

Hercules: What is the tale behind your title of the New and Improved Defender of RPGs?

RPGPundit: It 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 traditionalist.

Hercules:In addition to sharing your own views you also run a Forum on the RPG site. Can you tell us more about that?

RPGPundit: Yes. 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...

RPGPundit: Yes. Way more than i would have expected.

Hercules: Beyond gaming, what is the rest of your personal universe like?

RPGPundit: 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 particular).

Hercules: That is indeed awesome! What's next in the unfolding adventures of the RPGPundit?

RPGPundit: 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 creative realm?

RPGPundit: Aside from those, people could add me on Google+.

Hercules: Thank you very much! I enjoyed interviewing you and wish you the greatest success on all your endeavors.

RPGPundit: Thanks!

Check Out Our Review of Lords of Olympus!

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