GTM #291 - Epic Encounters: Local Legends
by Steamforged Games


 Epic Encounters: Local Legends Tavern Kit by Steamforged Games

Epic Encounters: Local Legends

Local Legends are your complete tavern kit, from Steamforged Games, the creators of Epic Encounters. Read on and learn a bit more about how this fantastic line came to be!


In a few words, what is Local Legends and who is it for?

Local Legends is our love letter to the great “you meet in a tavern…” scene.

Every fantasy campaign either starts or finishes in a tavern, and usually with many repeat visits along the journey! Crowded bars full of new people to meet, smoky atmospheres heady with the hint of adventure, raucous music and epic revelry are what we imagine…but what we get is the typical mysterious stranger, in a bar full of background filler.

We all know these are really tough scenes to run for Game Masters and there’s little out there in terms of support. Local Legends provides a tried-and-tested system for running these challenging encounters that will help everyone, from those starting their behind-the-screen careers to the longest-serving Game Masters.

Local Legends Bat-Demon Encounter by Steamforged Games 

What inspired the concept and theme behind Local Legends, and how did you approach translating that inspiration into game mechanics?

As it did for many Game Masters, COVID brought an opportunity for more games and chances to share ideas and try new ways of using technology.

When I run a game, I want it full of scenes that have plenty of flavour, but also some degree of positional relevance and importance in case a combat breaks out. Top-down maps with grids didn’t work for me, especially for scenes in which a lot of roleplay is important. Similarly, using cool artwork is a powerful tool for creating flavour quickly, but not as useful if it comes to combat.

 Local Legends Ghost Pirate Encounter by Steamforged Games

Can you share insights into the game's development process, highlighting any unique challenges or creative breakthroughs experienced during its design?

Finding the right art style was key. During development, I was using a free camera in video games to try and find angles that would work. So, we initially looked at building scenes in 3D and screen-grabbing, but we quickly decided we wanted a more illustrated style.

“Where’s Wally?” (or Waldo in the US) and the children’s illustrated history books from my childhood really inspired me. I wanted loads of details for players to enjoy, where the more they look, the more they find. I found the exact look when I saw Maethavee Padungsakdisin’s architectural concept portfolio, and when Doug Telford (SFG Concept Director) teamed up with her to help provide a tonne of flavour to her precise illustrations, the combination was perfect.

 Local Legends Owlbear Encounter by Steamforged Games

Local Legends has garnered attention for its innovative approach to RPGs. What specific elements were intentionally incorporated to make it stand out within the roleplaying gaming landscape?

Something awesome happens when you can take advice and also actually understand how to apply it in the real world. Too often, there’s some excellent advice out there, but it’s not always obvious how to use that knowledge effectively. Or the instructions are so specific it's hard to see how it applies to your game.

When it comes to the Epic Encounters brand, our design philosophy is focused on creating and sharing easy-to-use systems, supported by just the assets you need to reliably deliver high-quality gaming experiences.

This means the Game Master can focus their energy on running the game and enjoying themselves along the way, too. And we deliver all of this in a way that makes it easy for new Game Masters to enjoy, as well as those with lots of experience.

 Local Legends Green Hag encounter by Steamforged Games

How did you balance accessibility for new players while maintaining depth and engagement for experienced GMs in Local Legends?

By adding a myriad of simple touches that can be flourishes of polish for experienced Game Masters, and also essential lifelines for those without years of experience to fall back on.

A good example is the ‘The First Thing You Notice’ feature for every NPC. This is a defining feature that helps cement the newly-met character in players’ minds.

Experienced Game Masters will often feel comfortable making this kind of thing up on the fly, or carefully prepping it all in advance—although, it’s still possible to get tripped up when put on the spot. But, for a newer Game Master, this kind of descriptive tactic is incredibly powerful, and is something they can build into their personal toolbox for writing their own games. And, of course, it gives them that idea at their fingertips when they need it at the table.

 Local Legends Griffon Encounter by Steamforged Games

Steamforged Games is known for high-quality components. What considerations were made in terms of component design and production to enhance the overall gaming experience?

The stunning artwork and visuals created for this game demanded excellent components. Further, Local Legends is a toolbox designed to be used many, many times in a Game Master’s career, and so the components had to stand up to that level of use.

Then, as with everything, we examined the product through the eyes of the end user. Did the maps have the right amount of shine to show off the art without the glare being distracting? Did the cards feel good in the hand? What kind of finish felt right? Are the rulebooks laid out in a way that presents the information easily? The list goes on and on, but is always looked at from the end user’s perspective.

Local Legends Berserker Encounter by Steamforged Games 

Local Legends has a strong narrative aspect. How did you integrate storytelling elements into the product, and what role do they play in the overall player experience?

While Local Legends started as an easy-to-use system for running tavern encounters, we wanted to provide even more for our wonderful Game Masters.

Adding some cool stories that were unique to each tavern felt like a fun element for players to discover and involve themselves with if they wanted. It's like giving Game Masters an intriguing side-quest to introduce to their current game, or to use as a kicker for a whole new adventure.

In England, we call taverns our ‘local’. Each tavern has a story, and stories quickly become legends. And with a local legend, it’s likely every patron has something to say on the matter. A legend is something that players can sink their teeth into…or have teeth sunk into them, depending on the dice!

Local Legends Green Dragon Encounter by Steamforged Games 

As a seasoned designer, how have your past experiences in the tabletop game industry influenced the creation of Local Legends, and what lessons from previous projects did you apply to this game?

When designing, I’m always looking to find the balance point of elegance. It's a variation of the ‘minimalism’ design idea, where the design is stripped down to its most fundamental features, and every element serves a purpose.

My experience gives me the confidence to focus on creating those imperatives and ignoring or trimming the unnecessary. Oftentimes complexity is confused—or worse, conflated—with depth. Being brave and not adding superfluous ideas and elements is much harder than one would think, and is more commonly learned with experience.


Epic Encounters: Local Legends encounter kits are available from your friendly local game store now!