I’m just a sucker for anything Roman, something I’ve written about more than once. As a result, I’ve been excited about the ongoing Kickstarter for Lex Arcana a best-selling RPG from Italy that is now coming to the English-speaking world. Full disclosure I’ve backed this myself but I also figured other people would want to hear about it before the Kickstarter ends Thursday of next week. That’s why I reached out to Quality Games for some more info!
Valerio Ferzi is on the publishing team for the second edition of Lex Arcana and he was more than helpful in answering my questions! For another perspective you can check out this interview on ENWorld with the game’s author, one Francesco Nepitello. That interview has a lot of info on the Kickstarter and the development process, but the answers here will let you know what to expect with the game itself.
Mephit James: To start, give us a brief summary of Lex Arcana.
Valerio: Lex Arcana is a historical fantasy RPG based in ancient Rome in 476 AS, an alternative, ucronic world. The idea is that the Rome Empire never fell thanks to the use of Roman Magic, that is real and powerful: precognigtion, retrocognition, and clairvoyance rituals help the PCs to discover dangers and mysteries. The characters are members of the praetorian guard that, thanks to a law promulgated by the emperor called “lex arcana,” are authorized to investigate all over the empire. It is a sort of X-Files set in ancient Rome.
MJ: What sort of characters can you play and what are the missions like?
V: You can play the fighter, the augur, the diplomat, the explorer, and the scholar.
In this edition we have also added the assassin as a stretch goal, a type of character that the fan base was already playing in the last 25 years and that they asked us to add to the new edition.
MJ: I have to say, I just love the setting of ancient Roman. There are a number of well-known RPGs already set in that period and place, of course, from Requiem for Rome and Weird Wars Rome to Centurion and Cthulhu Invictus. What does Lex Arcana do that other Roman RPGs don’t?
V: First, as I said, the Roman Magic (that obviously wasn’t real) is very, very interesting because it is a sort of ‘passive’ magic: no fireballs or thunder, only the chance to investigate or to ask the fates. And well… lots of things will be tagged as inexplicable phenomena, like the Pompei eruption in the adventure that we are creating as the second stretch goal.
MJ: How important was historical accuracy in writing this? Is there a lot of cultural information in the book to help Gamemasters?
V: The first thing we thought when we signed the contract for the rights was: how can we help non-Italian players to write adventures? Consider that here in Italy (as you can imagine) we are completely up to our necks in Roman “things.” You in the UK have Bath and Hadrian’s Wall and in France, Spain, Germany and so on there are Roman sites. But we [in Italy] are also studying Latin in high school and (some of) our laws come from that period as well as all the words.
Basically in the first edition there was no reason to explain a lot of things! 😀 But now it is different, because we are trying to spread the game abroad. So we thought that we should be very, very accurate from the historical point of view, even when we are trying to explain the ucronic scenario. So we engaged Francesca Garello, an historical consultant: everything we think, play, plan, and write, every picture, translation… literally everything is double-checked by her.
MJ: Is this version of Lex Arcana set in a particular point in Roman history or is it adaptable to periods throughout the civilization’s span?
V: The first edition was only about 476 AD and later, but we are introducing scenarios and playing aids to allow people to play during all the history of Rome (the Pompei adventure [the second stretch goal] is a good example).
MJ: There are a lot of stretch goals already reached with this Kickstarter. Are there any remaining that you’re particularly excited about? Any sneak peaks at what future stretch goals might be?
V: Oh, we have a lot of ideas but we need to check the economics: what I can say for sure is that we are working towards an upgrading of the dice and if we reach a good level we can introduce the last book, a sourcebook to describe the every-day-life in the year 476…. Our roadmap is four-years-long, we have a lot of thing to publish, but to ensure the delivery on time (june 2018) we are not able to do more.
Well, I’m really excited to see what else happens with the Kickstarter and to get my hands on Lex Arcana and start running it! Thanks to Valerio and everyone at Quality Games for taking the time to answer my questions and to put a lot of thought into a great-looking product.