Interview with Rob Jordan of Keep Games
Rob Jordan is the President of Keep Games and Lead Designer behind Labyrintheus.
To start off, tell us about yourself and your history in gaming.
I’m Rob the lead designer of Labyrintheus. Personally, I’ve been a gamer (board, computer and pen/paper RPG) since I was very young. My favorite games from when I was a child were Heroquest, D&D (First and Second Edition) and Magic: The Gathering. I used to dabble a little in programming and at one point thought that my calling in life was to create video games. But life took hold, and I went a different route getting into data and voice networking. Around 2000 I really started branching out from the normal RPG style games (D&D, Vampire, Werewolf, etc.) into Warhammer 40k and Mage Knight. Then on to non-CCG like Munchkin and Red Dragon Inn. As far as professionally, none. Keep Games is a new venture for me, a chance to actually do what I’m passionate about. A chance to chase a dream and live it!
Describe Labyrintheus for us in the form of an elevator pitch.
For years this King has taken the adventurers and put them up against each other in this magical dungeon called Labyrintheus. And if you can survive Labyrintheus, then you are offered a place in among the King’s Champions, his personal body guards. It’s really a way of finding the best of the best. It’s a card game where you choose your persona, or character you want to be and utilize their special abilities to survive monsters and traps and sometimes the other players. But if the king is bored with you, he will increase the difficulty of everything inside of Labyrintheus to increase the carnage. You use items found from killing monsters or treasure chests to increase your odds of survival. Each persona comes with their own unique monsters, traps and items. So every time you play with a different persona it’s a different experience.
What works of fiction helped inspire Labyrintheus?
Tolkien for one. Roman history as well. Most, if not all, the items in the game has artwork based off of actual items from that time frame. For instance, the Orcs in this world are pretty much the Roman Empire.
What aspects of Labyrintheus do you believe cause it to stand out from other dungeon crawler-style games on the tabletop market?
The art style is fantastic. The Persona Card System is the inventory system and give a unique feel to the game. The Encounter Level Up Cards are very flexible. You can use those to speed up or slow down a game if you desire. The game is playable from 2 to as much as 6 players if you want. We put on the base box 2-4 since it only comes with 4 personas. But with the expansions you can increase that. And increasing that will only increase the time slightly since its time factor is more controlled by the Encounter Level Cards. You could be twenty minutes in and think it’s going to last much longer. Then all of a sudden, wham! Things just got harder. The longer you go the more difficult the game becomes.
If Labyrintheus proves to be successful, are there any additional expansions you would like to release?
When we started designing Labyrintheus we originally came up with between 10-12 personas. We picked four to begin with, but we have plans for others. Each expansion we’ll want to include two additional personas. The first expansion will have a Half-Dragon Paladin and a Halfling Druid in it. Each will introduce a new mechanic to the game and new Encounter and Treasure cards. The expansion after that we are thinking Human Cleric and Gnome Bard. The Encounter cards will also have some of the same mechanics as the other persona decks, but will have new mechanics not already in the game to spice things up.