Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry."

Me, in my rightful place, in the
Ministry of Magic
Last week I posted about how I've always wanted to write an official Harry Potter Roleplaying Game, and went into some detail about why this is not only a great idea that would be true and respectful to the source material, but also how it would be beneficial to kids and adults alike, getting their imaginations flowing and interacting in a more social way.

This post I thought I'd go into a little more detail about how a Harry Potter roleplaying game could be produced. As I mentioned before, I've tried on a number of occasions to pitch a Harry Potter game to Warner Bros. and J K Rowling. Though I've come close and there were a few tense weeks when I thought something may come of it, it hasn't reached a stage when Warner Bros. would actually see the ideas and how respectful to Rowling's works it would be.

So here in the spirit of Blomkamp, out in the open, for the first time, is the basic pitch. 

Harry Potter: Adventures in a World of Magic Game


Harry Potter: Adventures in a World of Magic Game aims to allow players of all ages to experience the excitement of being a student at Hogwarts, and to enjoy the endless possible adventures that can await them in the wizarding world.  Players decide upon their student’s actions as they attend class, investigate mysteries and battle dark forces.  Using a quick and intuitive game system it aims to reproduce the feel of the setting, while allowing players to fuel their imaginations and develop their problem solving and social skills.
Early prototype layout for Chapter One
Layout by Will Brooks

The basic game will focus on their first few years at Hogwarts. Game rules are provided to allow players to invent a new student to attend the school, set after the climatic battle of Hogwarts and the defeat of Lord Voldemort. The game then takes them through the experience of shopping in Diagon Alley for supplies, choosing a wand (or rather, having a wand choose them) and embarking on the journey to Hogwarts. Rules will allow the players to be sorted into Houses, attend classes, play Quidditch, and engage in thrilling adventures while sneaking around the school.  A series of introductory adventures will be included, so players will be able to start almost immediately.

The basic game will be followed by periodic supplemental material expanding the information presented, and covering advanced classes, magical creatures, the Ministry of Magic, and more.


The huge popularity of Harry Potter means that the game would appeal to the following groups:

Game Players

Obviously, we want game players to pick up the Harry Potter: Adventures in a Magical World Game.  All elements necessary for play will be included.  The plan would be to use our own, simple and innovative system that is simple enough to be easily picked up by new players, which would be able to be used over and over again to create more complex adventures and stories.

Game players who aren't necessarily Harry Potter fans will hopefully be tempted by the game's presentation and innovative game play.

Harry Potter Fans

Harry Potter has captured the imagination of millions of fans worldwide. Most of those fans dream of being able to go to Hogwarts, to fly on a broom and cast spells with their own unique wand. This game would allow them come a little closer to the fantasy, to immerse themselves in the wizarding world and experience the magic of the books and movies.

For the Harry Potter collector, we'd hope to include cool background information, possibly even exclusive content (unseen photos or design artwork, maybe even background similar to the amazing entries on Pottermore) that would entice the completist who may later be tempted to have a go at playing the game.


There are a number of people who will buy the game because they collect and read this sort of thing, but do not have the opportunity or time to actually play the game.  The game will include interesting information that’ll appeal to gamers and fans of the series alike, and present a handy reference in a lavishly illustrated way that would encourage readers and fans alike.

Above all, the key is going to be accessibility, aiming to appeal to everyone, from 8 to 80 years old!

Sample prototype layout for Chapter One
Layout by Will Brooks

The basic game, and all supplements, will strive to capture the feel and ideals of the books.  Above all, it will be accessible, with the basic game acting as a gateway to both gaming as well as Harry Potter’s world in a clear and friendly way.  Sidebars will include interesting facts about the school, creatures and staff, and the history of the wizarding world, which will appeal to Harry Potter fans.

The book’s style will be visually identifiable as Harry Potter, using stills and promotional photography from the movies, and a style that fans will find familiar, presented in a similar format to The Daily Prophet, or the fantastic Page to Screen or Film Wizardry books with their amazing graphic design.  It will be supplemented by quotes from the books, used to emphasise specific elements of the rules or the book's design when it adds a suitable flavour.

The language will reflect the feel of Harry Potter.  It will be capture the humour, the adventure and the optimism of the stories.  It will also be written in “English”, using British spellings of words, rather than the traditional American spellings as seen in most games.

Above all the integrity of the story will be maintained.  The setting is after the events of the books, after the defeat of Voldemort at the battle of Hogwarts in 1998, but before James Sirius Potter attends Hogwarts in 2014-16. This way, while the players will be creating their own adventures and stories at Hogwarts, the events of the books, and any potential sequel, remain out of bounds and untouched. 

The game is designed to encourage children’s imaginations, storytelling, problem solving and to get them interacting in person in social situations, rather than relying on computer games and talking over the internet. And, above all, it is supposed to be fun, exciting and magical.

Harry Potter: Adventures in a Magical World - The Basic Game 

Have you ever wanted to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? To learn to cast magical charms, to brew potions and learn of the wizarding world? Maybe even take part in that most dangerous of wizarding sport – Quidditch? 

Now you can enter Harry Potter’s world, learn the secrets of Hogwarts and defend your fellow students against dark forces. The Harry Potter: Adventures in a World of Magic Game takes you from your first trip to Diagon Alley to board the Hogwarts Express and enroll in the most prestigious and famous wizarding school in the world. All you need is a pencil and some dice!

Within the box you'll find:

* A Student’s Book, providing a guide to creating a student to attend Hogwarts, as well as the basic rules to get you playing.

* The Headmaster’s Book, with even more options to expand the game, allowing you to do just about anything in the school from attending lessons, learning Quidditch, to sneaking around the castle to investigate rumours of strange goings on, or venturing into the Forbidden Forest.

* Report Cards to keep track of your students’ progress through the school year.

* The complete game rules, simple and easy to use for new players, and able to handle even the most troublesome situation.

* The basic lessons of magic, how it can be used, what must never be used and where you can use it.

* A smattering of magical creatures and beasts that may be encountered during the average school year.

* A guide to creating your own adventures and advice for the Students and Headmaster on how to play them. All of this and more is covered!

* A complete adventure, ready to play, so you can start playing straight away!

Harry Potter: Adventures in a World of Magic Game
86 page Student’s Book, full colour, paperback
144 page Headmaster’s Book, full colour, paperback
32 page Adventures Book, full colour, paperback
Hogwarts Acceptance Letters
4 page Quick Start Guide, full colour, paperback
Counters and tokens
Box – full colour, made to look like a vast Hogwarts tome
RRP: £34.99

Breakdown of Contents:

The amazing students' book covers
designed by MinaLima for the
Harry Potter movies. Wouldn't the
game books look awesome like this?
The New Student’s Guide to Hogwarts

Written from the perspective of either a Hogwarts Prefect or possibly the Head of House, this book will introduce all of the rules for the player, as well as offering some advice on how to play and how to get the most out of the game.

The first section will introduce readers setting the tone for the game. It will also provide a summary of what is to follow, and the conventions used (text conventions, sidebars, font indicators, rule descriptions, gender references, measurements and a note about the author(s)).

A very brief summary of the world of Harry Potter is explained for those foolish enough to be unfamiliar with Harry’s adventures or the wizarding world.  

The basic explanation of the game and its elements are introduced here. Using an example of play, the way the game works, how the players create an adventure in their imagination, while using rules to avoid the typical “I got you,”/ “No you didn’t” problems. The basic terms of the game are also covered here. The game requires the Report Cards, Tokens to keep track of things, and dice, all of which are provided in the box.

Each player controls a new student at Hogwarts, going to classes and sneaking off to have adventures and uncovering possible threats to the school. There is a Headmaster, a player who controls the action and knows where the story will develop and controls any extra characters, or enemies the players may face.

The adventures are divided into Chapters, resolved in one or more gaming sessions. Chapters can be linked into a story arc that can last the whole school year, building into to an epic story created purely by the interaction of players.

Students and Report Cards

The bulk of the Student’s book is dedicated to filling in the player’s Report Card, which defines how good they are at doing certain things, and explains what the grading on the Report Card actually mean for playing the game.

The students can come  from all walks of life, and the game allows for this. Whether muggleborn or pureblood, with a knowledge of the wizarding world or coming to it all new – just about anything the player can imagine is possible.

The only limitations are playing inherently evil characters or setting the game during the events of books. Those are forbidden. Harry Potter is all about good overcoming evil, how love can conquer hate. It is about players having a good time and being happy – and while there is danger, and darkness, the players are actively keeping this darkness at bay rather than embracing it. 

The events of the Harry Potter books are set in stone and the game is designed to avoid playing during the events of the return of Voldemort.

School Rules

The other large section in the student’s book covers the full game rules, everything from classes, potions, charms, flying, and all of the drama and action that we’ve come to know and love.

One basic mechanic (roll two dice and add the student’s grade from their Report Card; the higher the total, the better the result is) determines the result of most actions, from noticing a clue to avoiding a Bludger.  This mechanic is only used when the outcome of an action is in doubt and is dramatically important; no rolls are used for eating trifle or walking down a school corridor, unless it is somehow relevant to the Chapter.


Most tabletop games are about competing against each other to find a definite winner. However, this game is all about working together. Helping each other through the school year, working as a team to uncover any dark forces that may be threatening the school, and using each other’s differing areas of expertise to win through in the end. Just as Harry, Ron and Hermione were challenged to use their own skills (flying, chess and herbology knowledge) to get through the tests that lead them to Professor Quirrell at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the players will find that cooperation will overcome almost any obstacle.

Actual direct conflict with other people or creatures remains true to the themes of the book. The spells immobilise, disarm or hinder, and never kill. The Unforgivable Curses remain off-limits to the students, and even experienced players who feel they have to use such a Curse will find their student wracked with guilt and nightmares. This doesn’t mean that characters cannot be killed during the game – Hogwarts can be a dangerous place at times, but in these times of peace such an event is rare.

House Points

House Points allow players to temporarily nudge reality in their favour.  If a roll doesn’t go their way, or if they are badly injured, or unable to fathom a way out of the situation they’ve wound up in, House Points can be spent to tweak the game at suitably dramatic moments to the player’s benefit.  House Points are gained by good game playing, making witty lines at apt moments, being brave and making the story dramatic and exciting.  At the end of the school year, the House Points that the students have earned can go towards the House’s totals, in order to win the House Cup.


The rules section also cover the student’s actual learning – whether this is during classes and being studious, or through their experiences outside of the classroom. The students mature, get better at their work and grow, and as such, their grades may improve. Of course, if they spend all of their time on the Quidditch pitch or being a socialite their studies may suffer and their grades may actually go down!


Finally, in the student’s book, are a few helpful guides for playing the game and getting the most out of it.

Mastering Headmastering

The Headmaster’s Book repeats most of the information from the student’s book, allowing the Headmaster to have access to the game rules without having to repeatedly borrow the book from the other players. However, the Headmaster’s book also includes additional information, clarification of the rules, and additional advice on how to play the game.

Written as a guidebook supplied to a new school headmaster, the book features additional rules for writing up a student’s Report Card, playing through their first trip to Diagon Alley, purchasing their wand (or rather, having a wand choose them), through to the train journey to Hogwarts. It also details the important process of being sorted into a House, as well as advice for playing a game where the students are all in different Houses. Of course, each House is covered in more detail to give the Headmaster more information for running the game.


The Headmaster’s Book also goes into more detail with the basic classes as the students learn about Astrology, Herbology, Charms, Potions, flying and the all important Defence Against the Dark Arts. The limitations of magic and the Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration are also covered, so that the Headmaster knows exactly what the students can and cannot do with magic.


A section of the book also covers playing Quidditch, allowing students to take part in the most exciting and dangerous of sports. The rules are quick and cinematic, allowing the actual game of Quidditch to feel fast and action packed, like watching it in the movies. An additional game will be produced to allow a more strategic Quidditch simulation at a later date for those who wish to incorporate it into their school year.

The School and its Surroundings

A brief overview of the school, locations and classrooms, House common rooms, and notable events is covered for the Headmaster to refer to during the game. The surroundings are also covered briefly, including the Black Lake, The Forbidden Forest, the Gamekeeper’s Hut and Hogsmeade. 

The Dark Forces book cover, photographed
at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Designed by MinaLima - An example of how
the book covers could look
An Introduction to Potential Threats to the School

While Voldemort has been defeated, there is still danger and threats to the students as well as the school itself. Woe betide anyone who feels they’re able to wander through the Forbidden Forest without thinking twice, and who knows what may be lurking in the castle’s dungeons? Most of the Death Eaters have gone into hiding or have been rounded up and sent to Azkaban, but there may be one or two plotting in the shadows, looking to gain a fraction of the power that they once had. This section details some of the creatures, Villains and threats that the students could encounter on a particularly bad day at school. 


Finally, the book also gives the Headmaster everything needed to create and run a game.  Advice and
guidelines for the development of Chapters and Terms is also provided, as well as help in creating the overall themes of the story.

The themes of the books – potential, optimism, love conquering darkness, and destiny are all suggested here, and the Headmaster is encouraged to keep the game in the same tone and share these themes.

Acting as Headmaster can be a little daunting, and this section aids the player who has never managed a game before.  Advice includes avoiding “railroading” the players on a predetermined plot, concentrating too much on classes and ignoring the personal dramas that make the story interesting, and getting a feel for how the game is going to ensure everyone has fun.

An Appendix is also included to recommend further reading, provide a glossary of terms and spells, and handy game-play reference.


Quick sketch of how the box design
would work, making the box
look like one huge book.
The idea would be to have a basic game that would come in a box, designed to look from the outside like one of the old textbooks from the Hogwarts Library.

To make the box more attractive and more commercial, this would be wrapped in a slip-cover that would partially cover the front with more colourful images of Hogwarts, Harry and so on, and provide information about what is inside.

This cover would be slightly shorter than the box is wide, so the cover can be stored inside the box once opened.

Not only that, the inside of this cover would be filled with useful information for the Gamemaster so the cover could double as the Gamemaster's Screen.


So that was the initial pitch. This doesn't include the plans for the supplements, the expanded rules for the later years, and more. Next post, I'll go into some more detail on these, and look at how the game system would work.

I hope you like what you've seen. Please spread the word, you never know, if the right people see it and like it, magic could happen...

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