Sunday, February 14, 2021

Lost Songs of the Nibelungs: Mission Statement 2021

Time to tackle this beast again. While we work hard on getting my first take on a complete game published and distributed, it's always been my declared goal to make all this happen to allow Lost Songs to be my best effort. Because I care about it. I have been a bit silent about it on the blog, about where I am in that regard, but that's just me being busy and doing this on the side. As you will have noticed, my ramblings had gotten somewhat redundant and more and more, let's say, baroque in the last few months ... Most certainly because 2020 was a snail-suckling fuckfest of epic proportions. So now for something more productive.(Maybe, no promisses) 

That time again ... [source]
What you don't need ...

Here's one preconception that won't hold for Lost Songs: it needs to be a pastiche of some sort of existing game. If you want to trace the origins of this (and I make no effort to hide any of it here on the blog), you are free to go on a deep dive to find and see all of it. Or talk to me about it. I'll probably give you an ear full or two of half-assed theories about why Hit Points are Confidence and how that is actually psychologically sound, design-wise and in general. 

The truth is, you don't need another clone or re-hash or reiteration of games that already exist. Not from me, anyway. It's all out there, most of it for free, and if you by now aren't avoiding the sugar-coated money-milking machine that is corporate roleplaying, I don't know what to tell you other than that I have a bridge to sell for you ... Anyway, there is a world of games out there, catering to many of the same basic assumptions. There are bad takes and there are good takes. You are good in that department. Roam free, my friends ...

All I'm saying, is, that since all of that is out there, I feel no obligation what-so-ever to cater to that in any way shape or form. There is room for all kinds of experiements, and mainstream looks a bit too cozy and a bit too insane to me right now.

What to expect

As I said, I'm giving this my best effort. What this meant up to this point, was going as far as not only writing and testing and more writing about Lost Songs in the last, what, six years, going hard on seven? I also wrote and am about to publish a (completely different? to some extent different ...) roleplaying game, just to see what it takes. Just to be prepared. I'm not saying it to brag (there is nothing to brag about, tbh, it is what it is), I'm saying it to make a point: I want to publish a game, I need to see what it takes.

There is another dimension to this, and that would be the fact that it actually helps to have different projects at different stages in the air. The ideas hold each other in check, so to say (which means I will give The Grind some love as I go into the next stage with LSotN). All of this already took years and will take some more, if I keep the pace I'm having.

Many will have moved on by then, I presume (many already have). In a way, it's funny. If you go the distance, you don't care that much about the turnout. Attention in the age of the internet is fickle. If something can't be satisfyied within a forseeable future, people will move on. That's ok. I have made friends here and we keep in touch. The same will be true when I get Lost Songs out there. So I'm sure I can make someone happy when this becomes a reality.


There's also an extensive amount of research to this. For what I'm trying to do, it needs a exhaustive knowledge about history, psychology and game design. 'Exhaustive' means in this context, enough for me to be comfortable with the result. I actually want to have an inkling how people have lived 1500 years ago in Europe. What houses, what music, what food, what languages ... That's some dark history right there, with lots of unexplored areas, actually. Which is where psychology bridges the gap, I guess. And since I'm not writing a fricking novel here, game design is my form of expression.

That's what you can expect, then. If you care enough to stick around (or if the short attention span cycle brought you by in a couple of years from now). A game based on the potential exhibited so far here and with my other publications. Is that enough? I'd say, it's honest. Let's go from there.

What I aim for

It's not that there isn't any vision, and it might very well be out of my reach. Still, something to aspire to, so here it goes. I want players and DMs of this game to get an inkling what live had been like back then. To gain some insight into the kitchens of the old Germanic people. Playing Lost Songs of the Nibelungs, you should take away an idea how those legends of old came to pass and what they meant to the people telling them.

Not in the sense of a documentary, or anything like this. It'll still have zombies and tentacles and cosmic horror and Elves and Dwarves ... just through the lense of someone who lived 1500 years ago. See? That's the thing. It's not something the players need to bring to the table, it's something the game needs to evoke when it's played, not even when it's read. That's with the designer. If I'm not able to deliver that, I failed you when you actually decided to explore the game.

I keep saying that roleplaying games are a distinct form of medium, so this is what it takes to make that happen, imo. Player will be heroes, but they might die from the damage they received in a snow storm short before fulfilling their destiny. It should be a wild ride, the game should allow players to play the system to have their characters excell, but failing needs to be satisfying as well. The story told needs to be great, just from the system output alone. It needs to make the DM look good, offer a (plat)form of expession specially customized for this experience.

It all needs to come together, and I have a very specific idea about the layout, that will be very experimental (to say the least .. but it might just work). It needs to be complete, which might make another intensive play-testing campaign necessary .. In the end, I need to be happy with it. A good friend of mine said the game so far reinded him of a very complex clockwork of a system (a comment I still appreciate, after all those years). Problem with that is, that it takes little to go wrong with that big-time.

Either way, you probably guessed it by now, it will be very special interest :D

Goths, before it was cool [source]
Anyway, lets write this mother ...

You see, many, many construction sites. As it is, I can make that happen at the table, if I DM it. To some extent I can make it work if I'm accompanying a DM helming a game. It needs more than that, and if you actually read the above, you know I have set up some hard standards for this. So far it's a fun experience (and yes, I know I'm strange).

I'd love to see the following happen in 2021:

  • a complete collection of everything I did for the game so far (all 4 books)
  • collecting, expanding and summarizing my research into the Dark Ages
  • getting an idea what this should look like, as far as layout and artwork go (what can I do, what could I invest, how far can I push this) 

I expect this to keep me occupied for some time, with some fun projects on the side (we are play-testing/developing that module I have talked about, called THE RISE OF ROBO-HITLER, and it's a hoot). So I will keep you all informed (the three people reading the blog, ha!).

One last thing I have learned and will dare to share here: it doesn't matter as much how long it takes to get something finished, finishing it is what counts. That's what people need to have confidence in. I want this to exist, so it will exist. And as long as I have a say in how it will exist, it'll be something I will be proud of to have in the hands of others.

I wonder, of course, if anybody out there is still interested in seeing how this turn out. So if that's the case, it'd make me really, really happy to see a comment about that below. Show some love, if you feel like it. Gimme that vote of confidence. It goes a long way (as this might still go sideways, for some reason or another ...).



  1. I’m very interested in seeing LSOTN. Very interested in migration era history, and I’ve been following the development for quite a while now. I don’t think I’ve commented on this blog before but, well, here I am!

    1. Thank you very much, Ben! I see, of course, numbers of clicks on the blog and all that, but it's so easy to dissociate from the idea that there are actually people reading, not just bots and crawlers (and those are legion ...). Your comment is very much appreciated!

  2. Here's looking forward to seeing this move forward. Have liked much of what I have seen so far.

    1. Thanks, man! It's really appreciated. My first impulse was to do something about The Grind first, just to cleanse the palette :D Honestly, I can't wait to dive into LSotN again. The end phase of the project just now is killing me ...

  3. Well, Jens, you know at least that some of the hits are real people! Of course I want to see how Lost Songs turns out, and I don't mind how long it takes. The destination is a thing and the journey is a thing, and they're both important. If you're after some encouragement... yay! You rock! Go go go SuperJens!

    1. Thanks, Red! It's been an interesting journey so far, with more to come, I hope. Glad to have you along for the ride :)

  4. You know I think Lost Songs is your Opus.
    I can’t wait to buy it read it and share it

    1. Thanks, my friend. I really hope it will be something and I'll give it my best shot :) Your kind words are appreciated!


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