© Copyright and Trademark, Craig R.J.L. Shaw
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The History of Echoes of Salvation

The ERP - Experienced Role-PlayingTM system was a system born from disappointment.

Growing up, I had exposure to various different fantasy games and systems. I enjoyed role-playing games and the worlds and possibilities which they offered. I enjoyed collectable trading card games and the depth and strategies in their design.

My first introduction to role-playing came in the form of a system called Fighting Fantasy. It was a simple book that introduced you to the basics of role-playing and game two sample adventures, but the system itself was extremely basic in design. Effective, but extremely basic.

My next exposure came in the form of computer games. These were games that my friend's parents would purchase for him and he would show us the manuals and we would spend hours playing them at his house. This was my first introduction into the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules. While I liked the concepts of the system, and found the depth of the campaign and settings appealing, I still found it lacking. It felt restrictive and limited. I, however, began to play around with programming my own fantasy based computer game, which I called Dungeon Fantasy. This was in part, due to a game I played called Diablo. While the game did have similar class-based restrictions to other games, it had a very interesting experience system, which, while basic, allowed you to have a good degree of control over the growth of your character. In this game, it felt like the choices you made when growing in experience mattered. Even if you were a mage, if you were careful enough, you could be extremely powerful while still roaming around with enough strength to dress in full heavy platemail. I deeply enjoyed the game and it's mechanics, basic as they were.

It was around this time that I met a friend of mine, Kyle McDonald, who introduced us to The New Easy to Master Dungeons & Dragons boxed set. In the beginning he would run a few games for us, but even these I found boring and insipid, finding it difficult to be interested in them. I still enjoyed the concept of role-playing, but the systems themselves did very little to excite my imagination. My friend actually gave me his Dungeons and Dragons set, and I quickly went through it, devouring up all the information it presented, but I was still disappointed in the system and did not feel satisfied that I had a game I could enjoy and love.

So, at this point, I decided to begin creating my own role-playing game, which I dubbed Dominion. In the beginning I toyed with many different settings and many different names for it, but in the end it became Iron & Blood, A fantasy game based in a similar setting to most other role-playing games. I decided that if I could not find a system that suited my needs, I would simply design my own. I took all the things which I had found so limiting in other systems and decided that I would build my own system from the ground up to be the complete opposite of these. Whereas other systems locked you in with class choices, mine would allow players to grow past the initial starting boundaries of their chosen professions. Whereas other systems simply increased your stats and skills according to predefined levels, mine would allow players to completely customize their characters in the way they desired. If a player wanted to focus on combat at the expense of everything else, they could. If a player wanted to focus on certain skills and building their health while leaving their other areas with little focus, they could. Whereas in other systems you gained levels slowly and felt like your character almost never grew, mine would allow characters to steadily grow in experience and ability as they adventured. And so, the Experienced Role-PlayingTM, or ERPTM system was born. And this system was the setting for my own role-playing game, Iron & Blood.

The years at school passed and this system was all that we played. We loved it. Everyone who tried it loved it. I remember whenever we had free periods in class, I would get people to try out my system, even non-role players. Once I was sitting in the library after school and a girl was sitting by herself and I got her to try a solo game with me, and she enjoyed it. When not running games for my friends, I took every opportunity to find people to try and test the system, and everyone I approached enjoyed it. After I had finished school we continued to gather regularly and play. I even ended up running two groups of games. One for my old friends from school, and one for new friends I made from the church I started semi-attending. And, in this time, I completed Iron & Blood and the ERPTM system.

Then, in 2005, I had the opportunity to join and attend Bible College at Christian bible Institute, His Church, Pinetown. And this is where I truly encountered God in my life. I had been a Christian before, but had never really had any proper input and experience of God. In my three years at CBI  I grew close with God and longed to please Him. And, as a result of my drawing closer to God, I became increasingly ever more uncomfortable with the content of the game world I had created. Now I know many people will defend fantasy settings as a genre, Christians included, saying it is only make believe and not real, but in my heart, I knew that the very concept of magic was detestable to God. I didn't want to let it go, but in the end I let it go. I threw away and discarded all my work from over the past years. Over approximately nine hundred pages and thousands of hours of work. All of it. I just could not reconcile myself with keeping it, so I gave it all up and chose God, knowing that He would honour my choice. And, as my time at college progressed and I tried to think of other settings I could create a new RPG system under, I began to have small visions in my heart of a Christian based RPG as a powerful answer to the worldly concept of the fantasy genre. After all, satan cannot create, he can only corrupt and defile that which originally originated with God. So, while we were taught that God created us to be creative and expressive for His glory, I discussed the possibility of the ideas I had for a Christian based RPG with a few others, who encouraged the idea. I thought of naming the system Anointed Destiny, and even designed a logo for it. But, while I had the vision in my heart, I did not know how to create the concept which I had envisioned and portray it into a role-playing game. So, I filled it in the back of my mind and forgot about it.

Years passed and I did not even think of writing or designing, and then one day I had the feeling of picking up the vision for a Christian RPG that i had had in my heart and run with it. The problem was that I had previously destroyed all my material, having not even the smallest scrap to work with. somewhere around this time (if my memory serves me correctly, it could have been a quite few years before this) I found an old friend of mine on Facebook, Christopher Tyler who has moved to New Zealand. He had been one of my Christian friends from before Bible College with whom I had played Iron & Blood. As he had expressed interest in the game, I had given him a pdf copy before he left. Remembering this, I decided to try and contact him and see if he still had the files I had given him. I prayed about it and then sent a message. And in this, God's timing was very cool. When I messaged Chris his response was that the timing was actually good because he had been upgrading his PC and had just come across the files I had given him. So he sent me the files and I began to work with them. And, while they were not the completed Iron & Blood RPG which I had created, they did contain all the framework and details of the ERPTM system, and this was exactly what I needed to begin my work. And so, I began to work on Echoes of SalvationTM.

That was a few years ago, and since then I have been working on streamlining the system and creating a game that would challenge players, providing them with a fun and epic environment that clearly draws a line between God and his ways, and those of the world. A game where there was no good and bad magic, but a game where the true spiritual war was shown. A game where players choices matter. A game where magic and God are clearly separated. A game where players truly are the last Echoes of SalvationTM.

Anyway, that's about it. That's how Echoes of SalvationTM was born. It is a labour of love and devotion, an answer to the world that "fantasy" is okay. And i hope that it is a game world and system that you will come to love and enjoy.

In Christ
Craig R.J.L. Shaw

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