Eternity RPG Origins
Eternity RPG used to be called “FF Game.” I began writing it as a fun project following my freshman year of college. It had been a rough year and I was going to be changing majors for the next semester. So, it was sort of a comfort for me to create another game like I’d made when I was a kid. Of course, I never knew that those first few ideas written down in one of my college notebooks would be the Eternity RPG origins, and I never knew how big it would all become.
“FF Game” was basically a combat-only game, fashioned after the Final Fantasy series of turn-based, tactical fighting. The game had only three races: human, silver elf, and mountain dwarf. I’m guessing there was something like eight classes, which were probably something like this: legionnaire, pyromancer, witch hunter, vampire mage, vanguard, sage, samurai, and black knight (many of which you find in the version of Eternity RPG we have today). The game had the sort of basic stats that you’d see in any Final Fantasy game. Nothing fancy.
Creating The Tabletop RPG That I Wanted To Play
The previous summer I’d read through all the D&D books I could find (which was 3.5ed at the time). There was something like 500 pages of source material to read, but it was fun because the genre of tabletop gaming was so enthralling to me. The only problem was that I didn’t like the combat very much, and that was one of the main reasons I was interested in playing the game. I wanted to play a paladin, but I wanted to be as useful in combat as a fighter, and I wanted to do more “cool paladin” -type stuff like you might find in World of Warcraft. A few simple spells that were mostly unimpressive weren’t going to cut it for me.
I checked out a few other tabletop RPGs but ultimately decided that if I wanted to play the kind of game I was really interested in playing, it probably wasn’t out there and I’d just have to make it myself. At the time, zero thoughts were given to producing a game that others would enjoy. It wasn’t meant to sell. My only goal was my own enjoyment. I wanted to play the type of character that was interesting to me, and I wanted any strategy I might come up with to be viable (which is one of the main tenants of Eternity RPG today).
It took about a month to make. I got a group of friends together and we played “FF Game” for the entire summer between our college classes. The entire campaign lasted only seven sessions but we all still remember the game fondly and recount some of the great battles we had. It wasn’t a very in-depth story as the game was mostly about killing things. For most of us it was our first or second experience playing a tabletop RPG.
The Original Version of Eternity RPG: “FF Game”
I’d post the original “FF Game” online for free for you all but the copy sadly got somehow deleted on an old computer. I do however have one character left from the campaign, and the corresponding class sheet: click here to download Count Rasler the Black Knight. There’s a lot going on with that character sheet. For one, the numbers were way higher with “FF Game” than they are today. Having to keep track of 74HP instead of 4HP is a big difference.
I can’t remember all the mechanics, but I do remember there being a lot more math, and a lot of percentage-based items, skills, and abilities. For example, a protect spell might reduce physical damage taken by 30%. So, if you were hit by a sword, you’d reduce damage taken by your defense value, then reduce damage by another 30%. A lot of players had calculators sitting right next to them while gaming. Obviously, those mechanics were going to have to go in later editions of the game.
There was also a neat mechanic with hit chance. “GF” was the name for your AC, or chance to evade physical attacks. However, you also had a “Block” stat which you would add on to your GF. If an enemy’s attack rolled in that Block range, you only took half damage (calculated after first reducing defense, of course…). So, with Count Rasler, if an enemy rolled 1-13, they’d miss entirely. If they rolled 14-19, he’d only take half damage. Enemies had to roll a total of 20+ to deal full damage to him, so he was a pretty tanky character.
From the early heavily-math-ridden days of those first seven sessions, the game grew substantially. I spent about three months beefing up the system, adding new races, classes, items, monsters, and lore. A lot of mechanics were taken out entirely, such as the percentage-based items, skills, and abilities. The game couldn’t just be called “FF Game” anymore because it had really taken on a life of its own and deserved its own name. For some reason I can no longer remember, we called it Eternity RPG.
Eternity RPG – The Famous “2nd Campaign”
Eternity RPG (the system at that time also became synonymously known as the “Devourer Campaign,” or the “2nd Campaign”) was by far the best iteration of the game system up until present day. People ravingly loved it. I’ve decided to release the Eternity RPG “2nd Campaign” to you all as a free PDF download (Click here for the 2nd Campaign version of Eternity RPG) for being such loyal fans of Eternity RPG. For those of you interested in RPG design or want to know where Eternity RPG came from, this is definitely the best way to see for yourself. You’ll have to excuse the vast number of file downloads as the game was never intended for release to anyone but our own gaming group.
We kept finding that people were following our Eternity RPG blog from way back in the day, even though the game wasn’t meant for the public. The fact that so many people were following what we were up to was surprising.
As a quick side note, if you want to read about our famous “2nd Campaign” you can read all the adventures here: Eternity RPG Chronicles of Aeturnum. Except for a couple posts on the front page, all posts are listed numerically.
The blog was originally intended to give the campaign’s players something to read and enjoy during the week, in between game sessions. They generally featured NPCs who had been in the adventure that week and explained the progressing story through their perspective. Some blogs were also early attempts of mine at creative writing in the fantasy genre as I had just started my new major in English and minor in writing.
Gaining A Small Following & Publishing
One thing led to another and we hosted a few open games to the public at our local gaming shop. As people started getting more and more interested in the game, we knew it was time to clear out all the unnecessary rules, streamline, and differentiate Eternity RPG from other tabletop RPGs on the market. I figured that if people were interested in the game it was worth investing a little time and money to make Eternity RPG something we’d be proud to share with other gamers.
The game went through many more variations and ultimately took another eight years to publish. During that time there was something like ten more iterations. I have a problem (much less now) with perfectionism. I’ve had to learn to just get what I’m producing out to my audience and let them tell me whether it’s good or not. For anyone else interested in producing any kind of product or service for the public, it’s not worth the time to try and make everything perfect beforehand. You’ll fail anyways. Just get a minimum viable product out there and launch.
Finally, about two years ago, I learned what I just shared with you, and published. The game was better than it had ever been. Simpler. Easier to understand. It now took players about 10 minutes to get started instead of the typical tabletop RPG standard of 45 minutes. We started selling the RPG as PDFs only so we could give our buyers free updates as the game progressed. We also started giving away free editions of our supplemental game, Eternity RPG: Lords of Aeturnum. At this point, new people download the PDFs every month and the list of people loyal to the Eternity RPG world continues to grow.
Eternity RPG Now & Into The Future
I’ll be honest. Eternity RPG is a huge passion of mine but it’s is still not my main focus in life. I run a marketing company as my main source of income, so Eternity RPG takes a back seat. But, for those of you interested to know, our plan is to make it a big focus in the next few years. At this point we continue to update the game and release free PDF expansions every 3 months – that’s the promise we made and will continue to keep. I try to blog about once per week (usually on Saturdays or Sundays if you want to follow the blog), post on our Facebook page twice per week (though that’s been inconsistent lately), and send out a monthly email newsletter (which you can find and sign up for on the Eternity RPG website here by scrolling down to the bottom of the page).
You can count on Eternity RPG continuing to grow over time. It’s already survived 10 years of gaming. We somehow beat the odds and published. Our blogs go back nearly ten years (this initial blog post is dated November 1, 2009). We have people who have been gaming with Eternity RPG for a decade, and who call some of our campaigns their favorites, ever. We hope you’ll join us for the years ahead, grab a copy of the game, and add your incredible campaign stories to the ones we’ve all been already enjoying for so long. Thank you for being part of the Eternity RPG family. Happy gaming!