Tomb of the Purple Man: The Early-Middle Years

Sorry about the art quality of this picture, tried it on three different scanners but no luck…

So when I last left off, I had the core concept for my fantasy role playing game, and only the vaguest ideas on how magic would work.

I was in a healthy relationship at that point in my life, and my partner wanted me to actually focus on my game ideas, so I did. I experimented with concepts such as using water as a form of currency for the desert regions the game was going to take place in (or at least where I was writing up adventures) and I would regularly brainstorm out ideas for spells.

I realized that I wanted some level of balance between spellcasters and non-spellcaster characters, so I invented the concept of Tactics, which were the equivalent of spells for champions and rogues. They were mostly combat-based, which I justified as a kind of muscle-memory that allowed them to pull of stunning maneuvers of combat prowess without having to roll and see if they landed a hit.

I had a small group of players who provided me with reasonable feedback for my game ideas. I apologized to them profusely, but they were confident enough in my rule set to overlook odds and ends that didn’t quite mesh up.

To be fair, at that point I just had a character sheet for the four core Archetypes with their specialized skills, general skills everyone might potentially have, and some janky rules for equipment and spells/tactics written on sone index cards.

Eventually, index cards gave way to artwork I rendered in Bryce3D and Poser 2

I wound up working a couple of McJobs simultaneously, and due to the workload I wound up putting the project on the back burner for a while. The relationship I was in fell apart, and I wound up on my own for the first time in years.

Having that solitude actually wound up not being a horrible thing. At the time, my income basically consisted of pushing computer sales. I was good at it, but there were no real days off. I was regularly coming home close to after sunset, and because my mind wandered all over the place when I was waiting for new customers, I was pretty charged up with creative energy which I funneled into writing up the rules and setting for my game. I’d write anywhere from one to three hours every day, and as a result I managed to write up not just rules and descriptions for every skill, but a short narrative of the skill being used by a handful of different character storylines. Spells and Tactics got a serious write up as well, with nearly two dozen specializations and core influences of each magical realm and tactical school, and each of those sub-categories got eight spells or tactics each.

I also double-downed on the idea of something I called Hometown Generation, which was a detailed section allowing players to each design their home town, picking a handful of businesses and services that were present, but each one came with their own little drawbacks or created small, local villains. With each player having a town to call home, and with me placing the towns all about a day’s ride from each other, there was a lot of scurrying back and forth between places to solve problem A and B, but discovering the solution to C requiring going over to the next town, which needed help with D, but by the time they got back to the first town, they discovered solving A only caused problem D, and so on.

They also visited the exact same dungeon outpost four times, and each time they collectively forgot about the falling block trap in the hallway from the first room to the second. This, incidentally, led to me developing Checks like “Common Sense” and “Resist Temptation” and “Memory” to allow the players to roll for things they forgot but should remember.

Some of the card artwork that came from the Hometown Generation rules.

While the creative energy lasted for a while, the work/write/sleep/repeat situation didn’t last forever. I struggled financially when the store I worked at suddenly closed, and working on the Tomb stopped again.

I would poke at them here and there over the next several years, but I wasn’t able to really get back into the groove until 2010-12.

More on this to follow!