Great Dane Games

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This weblog is the digital playground for Anders Højsted. I'm a philosopher, indie gamedeveloper, writer & all-round renaissance man.

Shadows Of Europe

Game DesignPosted by Anders Højsted Fri, July 24, 2009 22:51

The first thing that I do right after making a rule for myself is very often to break it, - you know to get it over and done with. I'm going to break not just one, but two rules in this blogpost. I promised you a while back that I'd post my games in a chronological order and that I'd leave you my pen& paper RPG-stuff. Well, this is post about a pen&paper-RPG that comes before anything else on blog. So there you go.

(BTW: When I write about roleplaying, I'm referring to pen & paper roleplaying. I've only played Live-Action-Roleplaying a couple of times).

I've been a p&p-RPG-player for more the 15 years. My favorite systems have been Dungeons & Dragons, Shadowrun, Call Of Cthulu & Cyberpunk 2020. I've played others but these are the stables; I'm currently playing Shadowrun (2nd edition; out master had a retro-fit) and mastering Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 (more about this later...maybe).

I joined the Shadowrun forum Dumpshock in 2002 and started debating Shadowrun. One guy in there – Peter ”Synner” Taylor – had this crazy idea: what if we got a group of european writers together and pitched a Shadowrun sourcebook about Europe? With local writers from Europe?

We were 3 danish guys that initially jumped to the idea. One dropped the project for editorial reasons and I ended up doing the actual writing – for the pitch as well as for the published book: Shadows Of Europe.

Working on Shadows Of Europe (SOE) was interesting for a couple of reasons.

The pen & paper-RPG Shadowrun was originally released in 1989. The setting is Earth and a combination of fantasy & cyberpunk (cyberfantasy?). The players play illegal operatives, who perform illegal operations for international cooperations. The jobs are called shadowruns; the operatives are called shadowrunners. The setting started in 2050 and the storyline is advanced every time a new book is released. When we wrote the book in 2004, the storyline was advanced to 2063 and 87 ”canon” books have been published.

The first big challenge with writing SoE was to coordinate our material with these books so we didn't contradict them. Some of the books already dealt with Europe (the London Sourcebook & the Berlin Sourcebook) so we had to pay particular attention to those two. But there was also minor remarks in other books that we had to take into account, - like the mentioning of the ”Copenhagen Accords” in side-remark in one of the books: we had to dig it out, find out what they were about (or make it up) and integrate it in the book. With 87 previous books - some more then a decade old – this was a a daunting task. It was very interesting to experience how people read eash other stuff, comment, fact-checked and helped put it together. I believe we succeded very well.

Secondly, Peter had to coordinate the contributions from all the writers around Europe, so we didn't contradict each other. This was done over the internet via email and forum. Anybody who has done editorial work with writers online can tell you how many issues that can arise from ”bandwidth”-issues with just one writer; Peter had to coordinate 15+ writers, - many of whom was completely inexperienced with writing. He went on to become Shadowrun Product Line Editor for two years and resigned from the position this march. It was a pleasure to work with him and I'd recommend him as editor anytime to anyone.


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