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Newnan man designs tabletop roleplaying game

  • By Jeffrey Cullen-Dean
  • |
  • Jan. 21, 2022 - 8:57 PM

Newnan man designs tabletop roleplaying game

Photo courtesy James Weeks

James Weeks designs his tabletop roleplaying game "Source of Epics."

James Weeks loves games.

He's made them for his students, he's made them for class assignments, and now he's made one for everyone.

After three decades of work, James Weeks, a Newnan resident, finished designing a tabletop roleplaying game titled "Source of Epics."

"I've always loved games since I was a kid," he said. "I have an overactive imagination, and when I get bored, I just make up games. When I started teaching, I loved making up games for kids. Throughout college, most of my assignments I made into some kind of game."

"Source of Epics" is comparable to "Dungeons & Dragons." Players create characters and embark on adventures. But James Weeks designed his game to be a little different. Instead of using dice to determine the success of player's decisions, James Weeks designed his game to use percentiles.

James Weeks started designing the game with a friend when he was 19 years old.

The pair noticed there were tabletop games built around various types of dice, but there wasn't one designed with the 12-sided die in mind.

But, James Weeks said the two derailed themselves on fleshing out the world of their game, but when they finished, they realized they never incorporated the die into the rules.

"We started making up abilities and spells and everything that the game would need instead of how it would run with a 12-sided die," he said. "We tried all night and all day to get the 12-sided die into it and we just couldn't get the numbers to work … and then we thought, 'What about percentile?' I loved it, so we took everything we had and just started writing a new game."

Since that first brainstorming session, James Weeks worked off and on with the game as he took systems out, reworked rules and added things in.

Originally, he had a system for magic that allowed players to create their own spells by stringing together words in a language made up for the game, but during testing, players were able to break parts of the world because the spells were too powerful.

To make the game playable, James Weeks said he opted to create a list of spells for players to use.

"Somehow one of my best friends destroyed the game," he said. "So finally, as much as I hate to confine people, I said I'm just going to make the spells myself."

James Weeks said he used a variety of people for testing his game over the years. Some of the testers were experienced gamers, others had only played tabletop games for a year or so, such as one tester, his wife, Rebecca Weeks, who had little gaming experience.

Her unfamiliarity with the game's systems made her a valuable sounding board.

"As someone who doesn't have as much game experience as he does, I tend to ask a lot more questions than someone who maybe he's played with before or whose brain it comes from," Rebecca Weeks said. "So sometimes I'll ask questions that he's like, 'Oh, I didn't think about that,' because my brain doesn't work like a gamer's typically."

"Source of Epics" experienced some setbacks during development, James Weeks said.

Time constraints because of his job as a teacher limited James Weeks on when he could work on the game.

The game almost neared completion several years ago, James Weeks said, but the hard drives that he saved his material on crashed, and he lost everything.

His only methods of recovery were the few documents printed and reproducing as much of the game as he could from memory.

"Being a teacher, being an educator, you have little free time, and I used all the free time I had to write, and it would have been finished seven years ago, but I had two hard drives that both got destroyed," he said. "They were burnt, and I literally had to go back to what I had printed out and what was in my memory."

Development of the game also had some delays because of advancements in technology over the decades.

James Weeks said he started writing the game with a typewriter that had a ½-inch by 2-inch screen, and the files were saved on floppy drives.

As technology changed, Rebecca Weeks said her husband had difficulties because file types changed, too, and some formats weren't compatible with newer computers.

"It started in a notebook, a spiral-bound notebook, where he was drawing the symbols for the magical language that he created," she said. "I watched his frustration and trying to translate that from hand-drawn notes and computers that are not compatible with today's computers and trying to figure out how to format that and adjust to the technology."

"There were a whole lot of problems because I went through many operating systems that would change the tab settings and the format and the layout," James Weeks said.

Despite the setbacks, time constraints and computer errors, James Weeks said he persisted with this project because making a game is something that he always wanted to do.

"It's just been a dream," he said.