As a life-long gamer, becoming fascinated with role-playing games (RPGs) was pretty much a given. Sooner or later, I was bound to get exposed to the joys of putting oneself in the shoes of someone larger than myself. And like many of us who get drawn into the world of RPGs, my first experience came in the form of Dungeons and Dragons, or D&D. To the uninitiated, D&D can seem off-putting, and indeed, as one of the more rules-heavy systems out there, it can be intimidating to approach. But from my first game, what drew me in was crafting a character. Even during the first several games I played, surrounded by those interested in using their carefully-crafted character scores to make the best of each battle, I was more fascinated with WHY my character would be doing whatever it was we were doing.
As time has passed, of course, I have been introduced to many other RPG systems, some of them heavier on rules than others. But regardless of how much or how little importance is attached to character backstory and development by the game system itself, that facet has been the most compelling for me. Good character support and focus can make or break a role-playing game for me. Enter Legendaria.
As part of meeting Vincent and the rest of the team at AndoCon 2018 - the Atlanta-based gaming convention that I founded - they told me about this chat-based game they were working on, laughing their way through recounting some of the grand, ridiculous, and sometimes hilarious situations that had come up during their early tests. By the end of one conversation, I was practically begging to be let in on the next beta test.
The concept of Legendaria drew me the same way that the Civilization computer game series by Sid Meier draws me - the idea of playing out an "alternate history", taking real-world historical figures and smashing them together in a free-for-all in the pursuit of dominance. But where Civilization takes place on a global stage, Legendaria focuses on the people themselves - recognizable faces from history and fable, given incredible powers, and set against each other in a battle royale.
In my first experience with Legendaria, I took the role of the Comte de St. Germain (or in English, the Count of St. Germain), a real-life European adventurer from the 18th century. Not being familiar with this legend at first, I of course had to do some research. Considered by many a brilliant man, a philosopher, an author and a composer, he also had what one may consider an eccentric personality. When asked about his birth or education, he would deflect such questions or more frequently, create fantastic myths such as being a 500-year-old immortal.
This alone would make him an interesting person to meet, but in portraying a magic-imbued fantastical version of him, I had to go over the top. Nothing less would do for a man who was known for inventing such elaborate fictions of his own identity. In my interactions during the game, I waxed eloquently verbose, loading my dialogue with paragraph after paragraph of flowery speech, run-on sentences, and back-handed compliments. Vindicated's own Trey Falco was the World Master for the game, and he assures me I had him gleefully rolling his eyes and laughing at how I could use so many words to say so very little.
What I found most interesting about the experience of playing the foppish Comte was how, despite not literally creating the character from scratch, I was able to take a historical figure and play my version of him so smoothly. Legendaria enabled me to put a unique, personal spin on a person who truly lived. And while some of the Legends available to play are from fairy tales, even those are embedded enough in popular culture, and have enough presence in our written lore, to be no less-established in our cultural awareness than George Washington himself (who, I must confess, was the death of my ill-fated St. Germain).
Legendaria is not an easy game to define or describe to someone who has never played it. It has many markings of an RPG, but is most frequently played digitally over a chat program. Yet, it isn't truly a mobile game, as it is not graphical and requires nothing more than any freely-available chat app, and indeed can even be played on a computer screen. It doesn't really fit within any categories or genres. But we have seen many people grasp it as soon as they truly get started playing, and it is a very easy, approachable game. And with the added benefit of encouraging some historical learning, it could even be considered mildly educational.
So if you haven't yet done so, make sure to give Legendaria a try - you can always ask one of us here at Vindicated for a few pointers, and we try to host games regularly. You never know what historical (or semi-historical) awesomeness you may discover.
Ando has since join us over here at Vindicated! You can follow his new podcast he’s started here.