Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Looking Back at Empire of Satanis
"If you're going to do something that is naughty, do it, and realize that you're doing something naughty and enjoy it."
~ Anton Szandor LaVey
It seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote one of the worst RPGs in existence (well, a few people kind of liked it).
Empire of Satanis was my self-publishing origin story. I wrote it over the course of a few months (with some help from The Forge) and put it out there for God and everyone to see (and be ashamed of) in 2005. Not sure why some of the product information shows a 2011 date - maybe that's when Lulu updated their site?
This being 2005 and 2006 (for the 2nd edition), right around the OSR's genesis, I cobbled together a traditional and what would later be known as a "story game" hybrid. And with games such as Alpha Blue, I'm still doing that. Neo-OSR, baby!
This is the free PDF. That is a link to the Lulu print-on-demand hardcover (why I thought this deserved a hardcover version is fucking beyond me). Both updated versions are a bit longer than the original. I doubled-down on the unnecessary quoting of inspirational luminaries such as H.P. Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti, and Anton Szandor LaVey. The three L's!!!
I also did all my own layout using Lulu's templates. Jesus Titty-Fucking Christ! Now, you know why Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design does everything for Kort'thalis Publishing. So bad!
You can read this guy's Fatal & Friends detailed analysis of the game right over here! He updated the F&F EoS autopsy not too long ago.
Yes, it's an uncharitable view, but I can't say he's wrong. Empire of Satanis is an amateurish mess of terrible cliches and something even worse - running in the opposite direction of cliche... only to hit a brick wall at top speed. Indeed, the thing is weird for weirdness-sake, and tries too hard in the process.
However, taken from the standpoint of purposefully awful, perhaps... maybe... possibly there's something intriguing deep inside. I can barely imagine pairing it with Encounter Critical or Crimson Dragon Slayer. Irony only goes so far...
Is there a moral to this story, High Priest Satanis? Yes. Yes, there is. Even if what you're writing now is so bad it stinks on ice, there's hope for the future.
A couple years from now, you could be getting paid a few thousand dollars a year for writing whimsical exploitation trash. I did it, and so can you!
p.s. I took the name Satanis as part of my nom de plume to keep myself humble. Never forget!