Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Guest post: The Way of the Tiger RPG - returning to Orb
Today I have a very special guest post from David Walters, a novelist and designer on The Way of the Tiger Roleplaying Game. Walters gives us an insight into how the game is shaping up...
For those not in the know, The Way of the Tiger by Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson is regarded by many as one of the very best gamebook series. You play a ninja on a quest of revenge in the fantasy world of Orb, a world originally developed for more standard fantasy adventuring, but given new life with Oriental themes and an innovative martial arts system. Other gamebooks by the authors have been set in the world of Orb, most notably Talisman of Death, and yet it is a world not officially developed for roleplaying before now.
The Way of the Tiger RPG is a pen and paper roleplaying game which can now be pre-ordered from the Megara Entertainment website. It will be released next year in hardback copy, with all 200+ pages in colour, and peppered with specially designed new artwork including new, detailed maps of Orb.
There are more than a dozen character classes to choose from, including Shieldmaiden of Dama, Knight Errant of Rocheval, Templar of Time, and many more (including the titular Ninja of the Way of the Tiger). Each class has multiple skill trees to choose from, and can eventually reach special grandmastery skills.
In terms of statistics, the team has replaced the gamebook rules from The Way of the Tiger with those based on a more detailed role-playing approach, but key Way of the Tiger influences such as Fate and Inner Force remain.
There will also be a detailed adventure in the book, showing more of the world of Orb and tying in with the overarching story of the gamebooks. More campaign books are planned, with the team committing long term to the project.
As well as chapters containing the bestiary and more about the setting, there will also be a chapter dedicated to the gods. There is an impressive pantheon that has a direct bearing on everyday life in Orb, and the gods, their temples, and followers are all detailed from Mark Smith’s private notes.
It should be noted that Mark Smith is directly involved with the creation of this role-playing game, not only supplying material never seen before about his world, but also quality checking work by the design team to ensure it all fits his vision of Orb.
The design team – the Avengers Assemble
Working for Mark, there is a team of designers from around the world who are working to bring the setting alive.
Mikaël Louys – Mike has been a gamesmaster since 1984, and is owner of Megara Entertainment from its headquarters in France. In 2004 he worked for one year with Joe Dever to develop an online computer role-playing game based on Lone Wolf that went as far as beta stage but no further. He then became the manager of another company, Magnamund Studios.
In 2007 Mikaël opened a new company: Megara, to work on various licences in order to be truly independent and this time with a long term vision. Megara develops pen-and-paper roleplaying games, print gamebooks (such as the new release Arcana Agency: The Thief of Memories), and electronic gamebooks (including Fabled Lands, as well as The Keep of the Lich-Lord). Megara is an international company of artists and game designers, recently opening a USA branch in California.
Megara is now celebrating its 5th year, having designed around 15 products (not all games related).
Richard S. Hetley – based in the USA, Richard is a writer, game designer, and community manager at Megara Entertainment LLC, who has written for Jamie Thomson’s Fabled Lands app, as well as The Keep of the Lich-Lord app. He met Mikaël in 2005 during the Lone Wolf project; it seems he just can't stay away from all these gamebooks.
Michael Spencelayh – based in the UK, Michael is the creator of the Orb encyclopaedia, which he started back in 1992 and released online around 2000. He has kept it up to date ever since in order to help keep Orb alive until this release of the roleplaying game. He’s a games enthusiast, who has used Orb as a setting to play 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons.
David Walters – I’m a UK based author of six novels, many of which include ninja. I’m also a long-time fan of the Way of the Tiger gamebooks, which were an inspiration for me to become an author, so my work on this project is a real labour of love. I’ve been involved in roleplaying for nearly twenty years as a gamesmaster and a player.
Paul Gresty – originally from the UK but now based in France, Paul is the author of the Megara’s new gamebook 'Arcana Agency: the Thief of Memories', and various published short stories. He has contributed to several game products in recent years, and is a long term role-playing enthusiast having been involved in role-playing since he was ten years old.
Marcus Smith - Marcus was born and resides in Australia, where he has been a gamemaster for 20 years, six of which he has been running a role playing game set on Orb using 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons rules. Marcus has been detailing previously unexplored areas of Orb with the assistance of his player's adventures, Michael Spencelayh's encyclopaedia, and occasional correspondence with Mark Smith. Marcus' experience of writing is principally vocational, as a Lawyer where he is presently practicing as a Solicitor; and, from a career as a High School Teacher of Maths, English, and History.
How we’ve got on so far
Mikaël guides and steers the group, and is the conduit to ensuring Mark makes a decision when he has to or provides information when needed. Mikaël made sure the core attributes and rule mechanics were captured, before we each specialised in different areas that are then subject to peer review.
Marcus and Michael have been dealing with the gods (as only high priests can) and detailing some of the lands and the Orb calendar.
Paul has been working on the skill trees for the different classes, ensuring that the abilities match up with the source material and lead to interesting role-playing opportunities.
Richard has been detailing non-combat actions, the economy and the bestiary.
I’ve dabbled in a few of the other things, but I’m mostly focussed on writing the adventure.
The book is coming together well, with play testing scheduled for early 2013, with the book being released that year. Indeed, progress has been so good that work has already begun on a follow up campaign book…
Other things to look out for in the meantime
An article on Orb is hopefully coming soon to Fighting Fanzine, which explores why the setting was popular and what efforts are underway to revive it. Dave Morris’s company already has the rights to republish the Way of the Tiger as an app, but he continues to try to secure the rights to republish them as paperbacks, and possibly release the 7th in the series.
If like me you loved the Way of the Tiger series, or are curious to learn more about it and the world of Orb, then you can always check out the Facebook page for updates http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/370105323051113/ or the Megara website http://megara-entertainment.com/