Updating Ingenium: Dusting off the manuscript

January 14, 2021

Silver Gryphon Games shut its doors in 2019. This meant that the second edition of my Ingenium role-playing game was mothballed and it would never see the light of day.

Or so I thought.

Fast forward to 2021. Earlier this month I cloned the manuscript git repository for the second edition and started digging through it, just for nostalgia's sake. Then I started noticing little corrections I could make. I began writing these up as issues in GitLab for the manuscript's repository. After not too long, I started working on it again.

First, I rewrote the whole manuscript from LaTeX-enhanced Markdown to full LaTeX. I then ported the layout definitions from my Vox Draconis: Kingdoms of Stone and Fire project to Ingenium. That all took several hours. Once it was done, then I started hacking on the text itself.

Time has not been kind to the manuscript. Since I last touched it in 2014, the world has changed. While the system itself was mostly fine, some of the world description was problematic, and "races" as a mechanic have really fallen out of favor. One of the first changes I made was to replace the original "races" with "species," and then began to rewrite all of the species descriptions to remove anything that implied that species defined culture and behavior.

I also reworked several parts of the world description and made note of a large number of sections that just felt rough or awkward. After that, I changed the "Monsters & Challenges" chapter into two chapters - Adversaries & Allies and Bestiary. I moved all of the sentient "monsters" into Adversaries & Allies as non-player races and reworked their descriptions to no longer make them monotone. For example, goblins are no longer uniformly evil thieves, and don't have a single culture. All of the non-sentient "monsters" I changed into entries in the Bestiary chapter and began fleshing them out more as inhabitants of the world and not just things to kill.

I also removed the experience point reward for killing things. In its place is just a reward for overcoming challenges, which de-emphasizes killing enemies in favor of finding ways to help allies. The system needs more work, but I plan on adding even more emphasis on the player characters as social members of the world, and not just murderhobo tomb raiders.

The world of Eiridia itself needs a lot of fleshing out. What's written already is a decent start, but it's mostly historical information about how each country came to be. I want to add more accessible information to the setting chapters so that players can understand how the various cultures behave, and how their own characters might behave within Eiridia. I also want to write more about how to build interesting stories in the context of Eiridia and how the player characters fit into that world.

None of this means that Silver Gryphon Games is coming back from the dead. Kevin and I have discussed that possibility, but at this point, reworking the Ingenium Second Edition manuscript is purely a creative exercise.