What is the game about?
Heirs to the Lost World is a game of European, African, and
Native America heroes adventuring in a land of mystery. Aztec
Jaguar Knights fight side by side with swashbuckling pirates
and voodoo priests. The tone is cinematic (rather than realistic)
and heroic (rather than gritty). The setting focuses on the
fringe of contact between the New and Old Worlds in Middle
America during the Age of Exploration in an alternate history
in which legends and myths are true. The default metaplot
in the game is the struggle against corrupted Underworld beings
called Xibalbans. This metaplot could be ignored if players
wanted to have different adventures in the setting. The default
mood of the game is high-flying adventures like in action
movies (wire-fu, but with jaguar knights). This mood is tightly
tied to the mechanics and would be difficult to ignore.
What do the characters do?
Characters are high adventure heroes who travel the Americas
fighting evil and corruption while attempting to create a
land free of tyranny and slavery where Old and New World people
can coexist peacefully. In the standard campaign model, characters
are members of the Order of the New Dawn, a secret society
with members of many different heritage groups. Therefore,
players can portray virtually any character type they want,
and still have a reason to work with the other players' characters.
What do the players do?
Players portray a character with both a Motivation and a Complication
Matrix that drive the character's actions. Within a scene,
players decide where their character is focusing his or her
effort. Characters "spend" Effort dice on those
actions considered worthy of their energy. Whenever a character
achieves a critical success or a fumble, the controlling player
becomes the narrator to describe exactly what happens. Surprisingly,
narrating your own fumbles often becomes highlights. The mechanics
reward players who narrate creative and exciting Stunts (see
How does the setting (or lack thereof) reinforce what the
game is about?
The setting is the fringe of contact between Old and New Worlds
in Middle America in an alternate history in 1665. This provides
the backdrop of racial, national, and religious conflict within
which the characteres are immersed. In addition, the setting
includes supernatural conflict in the form of beasts and creatures
from American myths such as the Mayan Xibalba, the Realm of
Fear. The evil sorcerers of many cultures (European witch,
voodoo bokor, Aztec Naualli, and Native American skinwalker)
are the ever-present example of corruption and evil.
How does the Character Creation of the game reinforce what
the game is about?
Players create the character they want by assigning stats
and choosing backgrounds, assets, and complications. Players
also choose their character's motivation, which directs his
or her action. Groups wishing a rules-light game can use the
basic character creation elements while those wanting more
"crunchy" parts can use the rules on paths which
provide characters with special abilities. Many of these abilities
are tied to American legends.
What types of behaviors/styles of play does the game reward
(and punish if necessary)?
The game rewards heroic game play in which characters take
risks to satisfy their motivations. Characters perform Stunts
for a chance to earn Destiny Points, that can be spent later.
Critical successes, fumbles, and Destiny Points allow the
player to become the narrator for the action and describe
How are behaviors and styles of play rewarded or punished
in the game?
Players earn Destiny Points for their character through their
heroic actions and Stunts, and therefore the game encourages
cinematic action rather than simply saying, "I attack
again this turn". This creates a positive feedback loop
so that doing cool stuff rewards players with tools that allow
them to do more cool stuff. This also provides a creative
back-and-forth interplay between the rules (mechanics) and
the narration (game fiction). Characters have a better chance
to advance their character if their actions work towards their
motivations and if they role-play their complications.
How are the responsibilities of narration and credibility
divided in the game?
The Game Director has the primary responsibility of narration,
but players become the narrator for actions that achieve a
critical success or fumble. Players can also spend Destiny
Points to change a story element slightly.
What does the game do to command the players' attention, engagement,
and participation? (i.e. What does the game do to make them
The most engaging aspects of the game are the cinematic combats
in exotic locations in the Americas. These scenes should be
like high action scenes in adventure movies. Players make
tactical decisions for their character and use their special
abilities to oppose corruption in the world. Players are rewarded
for creative Stunts (so the game stays interesting at a narrative
level), but they also must make tactical decisions (so the
game stays interesting on a mechanical level).
What are the resolution mechanics of the game like?
when players attempt an action that has a risk of failure,
they roll a dice pool made up of trait dice plus skill dice.
The player may choose o conserve some effort by rolling fewer
dice, saving them for later. Each die that rolls a 4 or higher
is a success. If the number of successful dice is greater
than or equal to the difficulty, then the action succeeds.
Some rolls may trigger a Mojo die, giving the character many
more successes. Minor NPCs are called Minor Characters. As
secondary actors in the story, these characters have a simplified
method of resolution.
How do the resolution mechanics reinforce what the game is
The player characters (and major villains) have many more
options and decisions to make and therefore are clearly the
heroes of the story. Secondary characters are simplified and
clearly secondary. Characters can also spend Destiny Points
to greatly improve their rolls. In critical successes and
fumbles, players become the narrator for the action.
Do characters in the game advance? If so, how?
Players earn Character points in an adventure by working toward
their motivations and role-playing their complications. These
Character points are spent to gain additional abilities or
How does the character advancement (or lack thereof) reinforce
what the game is about?
Players are rewarded by being heroic and working toward their
motivations and portraying their complications.
What sort of product or effect do you want the game to produce
in or for the players?
The game should be fairly rules-light so that the rulebook
is never consulted during play. The players should be making
tough decisions, both in terms of role-play (how do you reconcile
conflicting motivations?) and in terms of mechanics (should
you devote all your Effort on your attack leaving noting left
for defense?). Players should be narrating cool Stunts, critical
successes, and fumbles that simulate action movies.
What areas of your game receive extra attention and color?
The setting based on history, but with elements of fantasy
inspired by American Indian legends, especially Aztec and
Paths - Paths provide the "crunchy" rules that some
players desire by giving their character's special abilities.
While entirely optional, paths add much flavor, as well as
complexity, to the game.
Which part of the game are you most excited about or interested
The resolution system that requires no tables nor detailed
bookkeepinging and instead uses resource allocation so that
players make important tactical decisions in the action scenes.
Stunting rules that encourages cool narration from the players
by rewarding them with Destiny points, allowing them to do
more cool narration.
Simplified resolution system for minor characters so that
players and the game director can easily control many characters
without much bookkeeping.
An effect-based magic system which allows players to customize
spells to fit their character and magical tradition.
An exciting setting combining elements of Native American,
pirates, voodoo, Aztec, Maya, alchemy, etc.
Where does the game take the players that other games can’t,
don’t, or won’t?
The game has an interplay between mechanics influencing narration
and narration influencing mechanics. The Gamist elements of
the game allow all players to make interesting tactical decisions.
The Narrativist elements allow players to occasionally become
the narrator for their character's action and encourage staying
engaged with the fiction.
What are the publishing goals for your game?
PDF and a POD book.
Who is the target audience?
People who like tactical role-playing games in which they
make resource allocation decisions, not just "I swing
again this turn."
People who like games that do not need sheets and sheets of
reference tables and GM screens to hold important information.
People who want to spend their game time playing rather than
bookkeeping or looking up rules, but who still want more tactical
choices than are usually available in "rules lite"
People who like some of the sensabilities found in many story-games,
but who want a more traditional game.
History buffs who enjoy a little alternate history, fantasy,
legends, and myths thrown in for good measure.
Fans of swashbuckling movies like Pirates of the Caribbean,
Legend of Sleepy Hallow, and Brotherhood of the Wolf.
Those interested in Native American peoples such as the Aztec
People interested in voodoo.