Yesterday I finally did something that I’ve been kicking around in my head for a while.
I’ve been a fan of the setting for the game, Engel, since I stumbled across the corebook many years ago. The property is owned by a German company, Feder & Schwert, and the English version was published by Sword & Sorcery, a division of White Wolf. Unfortunately, White Wolf decided not to continue with the line. I can only assume that sales weren’t as high as they expected. Only the corebook, a prelude graphic novel, and two sourcebooks (a bestiary and one out of the five character splatbooks).
The setting has always resonated with me. Post-apocalyptic Europe, dominated by the Angelitic Church which seems at times both savior and slaver. The players take on the roles of Engel (German for “angel”) and combat the insect-like Dreamseed, protecting the Church and the European countryside. They also stand against the Diadoches, or Junklords — those regional leaders who stand against the Church. Of course, there are also cults and the internal corruption and politicking of the Church to deal with as well.
I love what I’ve read in the few English books. I’ve longingly looked at the expanding list of sourcebooks printed in German. The other four splatbooks for the Engel. A book on the inner workings of the Church. A book about the Junklords and other “free” zones of Europe. A book about the British Isles, hidden behind their New Splendid Isolation. Some great stuff! Not to mention an advancing meta-plot that intrigues the hell out of me!
A while ago, I bought all of the books available in pdf format from DriveThruRPG (one more has come out since, plus a number of novels), and began the long, slow work of translating to my native tongue from a language of which I only know the most basic rules of grammar. I took German in high school, but that was long, long ago.
I’ve been wanting to do a couple of things with Engel. I want all the source material in English so that I can run my campaign with all the information at hand. I know, many people would tell me that I’m free to come up with my own ideas. Normally, I’d agree with them. But what the original designers have come up with blows away the ideas I’ve had. I was going to run a campaign at one point. Then the first splatbook came out, and covered much of the same ground, but so much better! Plus, again, there’s the meta-plot that I’m really interested in.
Second, I’d like to design my own system for the game. The English version used the OGL/d20 system. I’ve never liked that system much, and I really don’t think it’s a good match for this particular game anyway. The German version gives the OGL system as an optional ruleset. It primarily uses a deck of Tarot-like cards. You can use a Tarot deck, but they also sell their own Engel-themed deck. This method is too rules-light and freeform for me. And I like me some rules-light systems. But this goes too far for my taste. Building my own system from the ground up is the way I’d like to go. This is another reason to get all the source material in a form I can read it. The system needs to cover the entire setting, after all.
The third thing I’d like to do is spread the word of this game. White Wolf decided to drop it, but I think it could do well on the independent market, handled by someone who cares less about profit and more about this wonderful game. Someone like me.
Yesterday, I sent an email to Feder & Schwert asking a couple of things. Primarily, I asked if they had any English translations of their books that they could send to a non-German gamer who legally bought all of those same books in German. I know at least one of the other splatbooks was in the process of being released in America before White Wolf dropped the line. I expect that one’s done. Others may be being prepared for further American, or even British, release.
I also asked if they’d be open to the idea of an independent publisher releasing this material in the U.S., and what would need to be done to make that happen.
We’ll see if anything comes of that.