Roleplaying Games

About these Games

Back in the early 1990s, I was writing paper and pencil roleplaying games for a small publisher called Marquee Press. At the time, video games were just starting to nibble away at the market, appealing mostly to gamers who were interested in fast-paced action and combat. As computer games drew away this segment of the market, the focus of roleplaying games started to shift from combat simulators to storytelling devices. Marquee Press games represent a step in that progression.

In a Marquee Press game, the gamemaster almost never rolls dice. The players roll to resist or influence the game world, and the gamemaster interprets the results of their rolls. This puts the focus of the game on the players and their abilities, while freeing the gamemaster to concentrate on narrating what happens. In modern GNS theory, the games are “narrativist” for the gamemaster and “gamist” for the players (with an emphasis on challenge and not competition).

This melding worked very well. One talented storyteller could entertain an entire group of casual players. Not everyone needed to be a gifted actor or narrator. The games fostered a friendly, playful mood at a time when many other games were striving to be dark and profound.

I ran Lost Souls and Legendary Lives at dozens of conventions across the country. I have many good memories of the people I met and the warm reception they gave me. I also sold a lot of books and made a lot of friends. I was especially impressed by the way the games offered a structured social interaction for people who might otherwise feel awkward or alienated (myself included). They were all about having fun in a group.

I always thought computer games would be the main threat to tabletop roleplaying, and I was satisfied that Marquee Press was focusing on elements of gaming that a computer wouldn't soon be able to duplicate. But when collectible card games hit the industry in a big way, our core players and then the entire distribution chain were no longer interested in small roleplaying games. Marquee Press games weren't focused enough on storytelling, their settings weren't rich enough, and their production values weren't high enough to compete in this new industry. The company quietly went out of business and I ended up with the rights to the games.

The text files for these games have sat on my various hard drives for years. I’m making these games available online for free in the hope they will bring some enjoyment to someone somewhere. They are an attempt to focus on a feature of roleplaying that still hasn’t been duplicated in a computer game: the fun of interactive storytelling within a structured game setting.

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