The First Universes

Thanks for the exciting response to our announcement last week: we’re bringing the MetaArcade platform out in closed beta in February 2019, just a few weeks away! Soon you’ll be able to create your own adventures using our platform, so for today’s blog I thought we’d tell you a bit more about the first universes you’ll have a chance to create in.

Naturally, we are thrilled to begin with Tunnels & Trolls, the second RPG ever published and our first endeavor here at MetaArcade in partnership with T&T’s stewards, the Fellowship of the Troll. Tunnels & Trolls has a deep, rich history in tabletop RPGs, which we proudly recounted in one of our first videos. Created by Origins Hall of Fame RPG designer Ken St. Andre, T&T provided gamers with a rules system evoking the feel of reading a Marvel comic: fast-paced action, interesting character dilemmas, and a proper sense of humor. Dozens of T&T solo adventures have been published over its 40+ year history, exemplifying some of the finest Sword & Sorcery to be found in any RPG. In fact, Buffalo Castle, the first T&T solo adventure created by Rick Loomis, predates the first Choose Your Own Adventure book, establishing T&T as one of the true pioneers of interactive storytelling.

In remastering T&T for digital platforms, we’ve incorporated much of the classic black and white art from the game’s archives. And with our expanded development team, we’ve been able to give this unique art spanning the history of tabletop RPGs the proper framing it deserves. Here’s a quick sneak peek of how we’ll be presenting the art in closed beta:

1. T&T mockup.jpg

Our second project, Cthulhu Chronicles, is also making the leap to the new MetaArcade platform. Created in partnership with our friends at Chaosium, Cthulhu Chronicles is the official Call of Cthulhu interactive fiction game. We’ve aspired to bring H.P. Lovecraft’s universe of cosmic horror, the Cthulhu Mythos, to life through adventures comprising both remastered Chaosium CoC modules and new works of our own. Cthulhu Chronicles places characters in a universe where otherworldy terrors lurk just outside our awareness. The existential dread reflected in Lovecraft’s original writing and the CoC RPG is often too much for our fragile player characters to fully comprehend, and as they learn more about the Mythos, they struggle to retain their sanity.

Call of Cthulhu and Lovecraft’s writings are set in 1920s America. So for our original Cthulhu Chronicles release on iOS and Android, we used a combination of Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu art and an array of public domain photos reflecting life in that era. And while players loved the immersion the art provided, we felt it was appropriate to create one coherent art style across the various sources we used. Here’s a quick look of some “before” and “after” images, showing some of the art as it originally appeared in Cthulhu Chronicles alongside the treatment we’re giving it for the new platform.

Today we’re excited to announce our newest universe: Old Roads. We at MetaArcade have been intrigued with the idea of bringing the great mythologies of the world into our interactive storytelling format. Players will walk along the Old Roads, interacting with the folklore of various cultures within a fictionalized version of history, weaving in and out of stories featuring fantastical creatures and ordinary humans alike. In the end, players will make choices and decisions which impact the people around them; the moral of the story—if there is one—is completely up to the player.

Old Roads spans the globe. Our first Old Roads campaign is based on Slavic mythology, and the first adventure arc in our “Tales of Baba Yaga” campaign will be set in a fictional version of old Russia. We’re excited to work with you in the community to take this approach to adapting folklore and mythology across the globe. There are so many roads to travel down, and we can’t wait to walk them with you.

With each of these three universes, we’ve aimed for different balances of narrative vs. game mechanics. Tunnels & Trolls is heavier on the RPG side, with more skill checks and combat as befits its origins. Cthulhu Chronicles is heavier on the storytelling, with a lighter application of game mechanics to let Chaosium’s and Lovecraft’s narrative shine. Old Roads strives for a balance between the two, and as you create your own adventures in these universes, you can feel free to go in whichever direction you choose. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on the various approaches and can’t wait to get all this into your hands!

Of course, the real magic of what we’re aspiring to do at MetaArcade is to let you create your own universes—and that too is a major part of next month’s closed beta. Stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll share more detail on how you’ll be able to use our tools to create adventures in any universe you choose.

Thanks, and happy delving!

David