Return to the Empire without end. What it means to work on Lex Arcana after 25 years
Francesco Nepitello: When we were asked to work on Lex Arcana again, we were overtaken with emotion.
The original Lex Arcana was the first game we created, a surprising assignment considering how young we were and the beginning of our current career. In these 25 years, writing narrative, board and roleplaying games has become my job and it all started here! Since then I have learned many things and have refined many of my initial skills, as if I had levelled up…
What was initially a passion for Marco and me has been channelled into a professional, commercial and editorial path which has its rules, in Italy as in the rest of the world.
With this in mind, imagine what it means to authors to return to their first game, full of experience, and to be able to revise, update and improve it, leveraging all that has happened in the meantime in the gaming world and in our lives.
Once the initial enthusiasm passed, we picked up the original manuals and turned back to what we had written, helping memory to reconstruct not just the rules and procedures, but also the reasons behind the choices we had made at the time. And the thing which surprised us most, right there and then, was to find that many of the logical decisions applied then were very modern and still work today!
Marco Maggi: It was a big surprise, indeed. The balance of the mechanics, the basic simplicity, the double version (introductory and advanced), the derivative rules which are consistent with the basic game, and also an element of strategy, appeared to us still very relevant and efficient. And yet, we noticed there was something important missing in the first version: things like options for internal balance, sharper focus on overall themes, and the possibility to progress with your own character. These are things we noticed when rereading the manual for the first time, and which we want to work on during the development of the new edition.
Other than surprisingly modern rules, we found it interesting that Lex Arcana is still being played 25 years later! There are groups which, just as 25 years ago, meet and take on the role of Custodes and Demiurges. There are also several clubs and stores which do so publicly, whether it be short adventures or campaigns. This has given us the incredible opportunity to observe, study and receive feedback directly from the people who still play our game.
Coming back to Lex Arcana is going back home… or maybe it’s something different – as if we had never left at all!