The Secret of Zir’an, Part 3

I am returning to The Secret of Zir’an this week with one of my favorite parts of the book: character creation. While every game system has their own version of creating a character, this game does so in a way I would love to see adopted to other systems. In fact, the early playtest versions of D&D 5e came very close to this. You might not remember, but there was a time in the playtest where you chose a specialty that went along with your background and your class, and some of the current background and class features were found in this specialty selection instead. This created a very modular character creation design, and allowed for the emergence of some really cool fantasy archetypes you typically have to work really hard to portray in the more stringent confines of D&D. The Secret of Zir’an takes this idea to the extreme. Instead of selecting classes, backgrounds, and even specialities, the game says, “build the life of your character.”

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

The Secret of Zir’an, Part 2

Last time on Performance Check, I began to take a look at an older RPG by the name of The Secret of Zir’an. While the game’s reputation as one of the worst RPG books ever published is deserved, it’s not due to the content. This week, I am picking up from where I left off, and covering skills. As a brief reminder, this game was published back in 2005. Context is important when talking about progressive design, after all.

Part One | Part Two

The Secret of Zir’an, Part 1

It all started with a trip to a small comic and game shop. Any time I visit one and have a pleasant experience, I pick up something to support the store. I found a few books that caught my attention, but narrowed it down to an EverQuest sourcebook by Sword & Sorcery or a book by Paragon Games called The Secret of Zir’an. As a long-time lover of EverQuest, I was naturally pulled to the guaranteed mess of the EQ sourcebook, but the strange World War I Magitech feel of the art in The Secret of Zir’an intrigued me. I decided to go with the unknown quantity of The Secret of Zir’an. Don’t worry. Thanks to inexpensive book market of the internet, I’m currently building out the Everquest RPG library. I will totally have a lot to say about these one day in the future. For now, let’s jump into The Secret of Zir’an.