A History of Age of Legends

As the Kickstarter enters its second week, we’d like to tell you about the history of the project.  Four years of work have yielded 100,000 words, 35 gods and 440 advantages.  Not bad for our first game.

A Beginning

Back in 2009, I came upon the idea of writing an RPG and wrangled my brother into joining in.  After a couple of years of making little bits of progress, my wife gave us a push.  She booked us into attending Indiecon 2011 and suddenly we were playtesting.  Our playtest went very well with good feedback from the players.  But the previous day Mark has played Mincepies and Murder, an adventure for 6d6 1st Ed.  His enthusiasm for the system was contagious.  We were also considering if we wanted to write for another company to gain experience before pushing ahead with our own game.  After sitting down to think, we went to Chris Tregenza and pitched us writing a game about Ancient Greece.

Our thinking is there’s a gap in the market for this setting and style.  It was a place where our writing would better stand out.  Chris agreed and within two weeks we had a first pitch and a contents page approved.  That was December 2011.

A Lot of Research

What followed was a lot of reading.  Starting with Wikipedia and Theoi to get a grip on the original legends, we moved onto textbooks when we needed details on of how the Ancient Greeks lived and fought.  As we wrote we had to make careful decisions on what to keep, what to change and what to add.  We kept as much of the often complicated relationships between the gods, between the Greeks and between the gods and Greeks.  The Ancient Greek lifestyle is different enough from our own that we kept mundane details like food, funerals and buildings.  To lose this would have diminished the value of the project, with its goal on an RPG set in Ancient Greece.

Not every aspect of Ancient Greece made it into the book.  It was a time of very different morality, with horrific treatment of women, foreigners and slaves.  Perhaps the biggest change we made was to adapt the legends and lifestyle to better match our ethics.  Accuracy was sacrificed to create a game we wanted to play and stories we wanted to share.

A lot of what is known about Ancient Greece comes from the writings of others and surviving texts from Athens.  The passage of time has left us with many stories of some gods and nearly none of others.  Wanting to give each god a fair and equal write up, we had to rise to the challenge of writing new myths to fill in the gaps.  This was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the writing process, as we got to give new character to Hades, Hecate and Hestia, gods previously maligned or forgotten.

Edits and Artwork

Why did it take four years?  Mark and I wrote a lot as we devoured the source material.  All those words took a lot of drafting, proofreading and editing.  A lot of mechanical work on the setting, paths and advantages had to be reworked as the 2nd Edition of 6d6 was being developed in parallel.  The last six months has seen the biggest visual change as the layout developed and the fantastic artwork by Jack Door has been added to the project.

As the project comes to its conclusion, I can certainly say that I am a much better writer than I was four years ago.  Writing is hard, but you do get better at it the more you do.  What else did we learn? You should get yourself a good editor.  In Chris we found someone patient enough and knowledgeable enough to guide us through the process. 

Thanks to all our backers and here’s to the stretch goals!

Image Credit – Omens by Jack Door – CC-BY-SA