Guest Blog: AGON: The Epic Journey to Roll20

 Sean Nittner

Sean Nittner

Guest Contributor

AGON is a game of mighty heroes and the legendary deeds they commit, and designing the game was an epic journey in its own right. It’s a tale worth retelling, however, because while we were creating the pen and paper game, Roll20 played a key role in refining it. Many playtesters pulled their oars, and rolled their dice, to bring us home!

In 2018 John Harper and I were developing AGON together but didn’t live close enough to play in person. Technically it’s only a 2 hour flight—which we’ve made a few times—but in practice we needed a way to playtest AGON remotely.

Our first attempts started on Roll20 using dice rolling commands. Does /roll {2d6+1d8}kh1 look familiar to anyone? We worked with Ash McCallan to create a very early character sheet as well,though we probably started too early – the rules changed nearly a dozen times afterward!

Once we had the game mechanics locked in, we were still faced with cobbling the dice rolling commands together, but now that we knew all the possible roll combinations, development could begin in earnest on the final Roll20 character sheet. Working with Jakob Oesinghaus to code the sheets and Tim Denee to create art for the roll results, in April 2020, we released the official AGON character sheet on Roll20. Everything you needed to play…

…Or, maybe not quite?

Even though the character sheets allowed you to create mighty heroes to contend with mythic foes, we felt an Orphean pang of longing. John had poured his amazing skills into art for our twelve islands and the battle map designed to track the heroes in their contests, and the Roll20 experience just didn’t feel complete without them. There was more work to be done!

Toil, toil, toil, and with the aid of my co-developer Sophie Lagacé, in July of 2020, we released the Islands of AGON. This supplement included the art for the twelve islands, the battle map, plus tokens, sample characters, a strife player sheet, and a start page with quick-start directions to guide new travelers on their mythic journeys. Surely it was time to pull in our oars and carry our ships out of the wine dark sea…

But when bright-haired Dawn brought the morning, we saw one more distant island on the horizon. What if truly everything you needed to play was available on Roll20? And not just available, but fully integrated with the platform?

Working with Licencing Director Emily Floyd and Sr. Producer Todd Gizzi, we realized that not only could we create a Roll20 Compendium for AGON, but we could also modify the existing character sheets, create a structured data format in the Compendium, and combine them to make all our our islands drag-and-drop objects a GM could pull right into their game!

We had seen the ambrosia and our hearts were set on tasting it! Working with character sheet developer Miguel Peres and compendium developer Nic Bradley, we modified the character sheets to have a new island option and then created a Compendium which includes all the rules of the game and all twenty islands—12 from the core book and 8 from our initial stretch goals.

This all culminated in the AGON Mythic Bundle. It’s an epic achievement not only in how you can play AGON online, but also in how it’s opened a path for other indie games to get the full Compendium treatment on Roll20.

My collaboration with John began back in April 2017. Since then, we have wrestled with rules development, forged bonds with powerful allies, and climbed the golden heights of the digital Olympus. May Artemis’ arrows strike me down if I ever ask again “But what if we…?”

Grab the AGON Mythic Bundle here and start exploring your own epic sagas!

Sean Nittner Guest Contributor

Sean (he/him) is the Evil Hat director of projects where he scouts for new creators, manages contracts and shares project management work with Sophie Lagacé. He is the steward of Big Bad Con, a gaming convention in Oakland, CA that focuses on welcoming and promoting marginalized gamers as well as highlighting indie and small press games. He streams games on twitch.tv/actualplay, a small channel that often features new games in development. He recently co-authored the game AGON with John Harper, a game of heroic action in a mythic world.