Writing a game means looking at the tings that have influenced you: what is it I like about them, how do I recreate it, and how do I make it fit together? Travellers on a Red Road is influenced by any number of games and my experiences with these.
An important part of the influence comes from the OSR movement, especially the less orthodox parts of it (i.e., the ones not married to conventional fantasy or antiquarian recreation of rulesets) – what Patrick Stuart has referred to as “artpunk OSR”. If any specific products stands out as inspiring me it’s Yoon-Suin, with its complex setting utilising parts of history that are not frequently at the centre of attention in RPG products. I’m not doing straight-up OSR, though: while some of the principles inform the game design, and I greatly enjoy OSR gaming, class and level systems aren’t actually my preference.
Other influences on my setting writing has come from blogs such as Straits of Anián and Against the Wicked City, who both touch upon my main sources of real-world inspiration, the Pacific Northwest and Siberia. Reign and Empire of the Petal Throne also have wonderfully inspiring settings that have provided some impulses in the creation of this game.
Apocalypse World has been a big influence on my writing in the past, and whatever embryo of a game started this project was more or less a pared-down gritty AW hack in the veins of Ghost Lines. However, a lot of my process over the years has consisted of removing artifacts from this that don’t really work with the more traditional style I’m aiming for.
The grittyness of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay has always appealed to me, so I wanted to reflect this in my game. The protagonists are desperate paupers, opportunistic scoundrels or disgraced nobles, not heroic figures destined for greatness. Some Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu can also be found in the game’s DNA.
To make a game, then, I have attempted to take what I enjoy about all these sources, as well as many more, and define what makes it work. Creating a framework that encompasses all of this without turning it into a patchwork monstrosity has been among the most interesting parts of this project.