Interview with Francesco Nepitello

FrancescoNepitelloFrancesco Nepitello is an Italian game designer. He is very well-known as one of the three designers of the amazing War of the Ring strategy game, currently published by Ares Games in more than six languages. Furthermore he is the lead designer of The One Ring roleplaying game, published jointly by Sophisticated Games and Cubicle 7, and licensed to various foreign publishers (Devir among them). Although he took part in creating the Age of Conan strategy game, The Battle of Five Armies, Hobbit Tales, Marvel Heroes, X-Bugs, Venetia and else… Francesco Nepitello is an erudite connoisseur about Middle-earth, the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien and one of the biggest names in role-playing and board games.

Francesco Nepitello

Born in: Venice, Italy

Date of birth: 29/12/1967

Personal blog: I don’t really update it anymore… 😦

Favorite role-playing club: I don’t have one! We always play either in my studio, or in friends’ houses.

Favorite book: Apart from the works of J.R.R. Tolkien? Jonathan Strange & Mister Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Favorite role-playing game: either Call of Cthulhu or Pendragon. But I really enjoyed also the Capitan Alatriste rpg, for example.

Favorite boardgame: My own games aside? 😉 Current favourite: Dogs of War by Paolo Mori

Favorite wargame: Currenlty Conflict of Heroes

Juegos y Dados – Welcome Francesco, it is a big pleasure that you are here. Thank you so much for your collaboration. I must say I am a fan of your role-playing game The One Ring.

Francesco – Thank you for having me!

Juegos y Dados – What was the first roleplaying game that you played?

Francesco – My first proper rpg was Dungeons & Dragons, back in the early eighties, when a number of photocopied translations started circulating. Before that, me and my older brother tried to interpret the English version of Traveller.

Juegos y Dados – What was the first roleplaying game that you created?

Francesco – My first published rpg was Lex Arcana, in 1993. It was a game set in a fantastical version of the Roman Empire, where magic existed and a special division of the Praetorian Guard was set to investigate the occult. It was a fairly good success in Italy, and many fans still remember it fondly.

Juegos y Dados –You work with other popular designers, like Roberto Di Meglio and Marco Maggi. Can you tell us something about it?

Francesco – I know Marco Maggi since my days at school, and we entered together the professional world. We wanted to be writers or screenwriters, and we ended up being game designers instead! We met Roberto Di Meglio many years ago, and started working with him after a short time. We share the same taste for deeply immersive games, and intend to create more in the future.

Juegos y Dados – You have one of the best role-playing games set in Middle -earth. What do you think about there being so many people with a copy of The One Ring in their personal libraries?

Francesco – I am incredibly happy about how the game is being received. I put a lot of effort in creating what I wanted to be the most faithful game about Tolkien’s stories ever, and I think I took some chances. Luckily, the gamble ended well, and the game has received wide praise and enjoys very good sales.

Juegos y Dados – Have you ever been The One Ring Loremaster? Do you have any funny stories about your role-playing sessions?

Francesco – Of course I play The One Ring. Actually, it is the only rpg I play these days, as I don’t have time to play any other games! Funny stories? There are many, as I try to play the game as open-endedly as possible, letting my players do what they want and using pre-designed adventures only as springboards. The end result is that I am constantly surprised by the odd turns my players are taking. For example, one of the adventures from the Tales from Wilderland supplement has two hobbit NPCs open an inn in Wilderland, with the sponsorship of Bilbo Baggins. In my game, the inn ended up being opened by one of my Hobbit players, with the sponsorship of Gandalf!

Juegos y Dados – I explained you that in our RPG club we are thinking in a The One Ring campaign for different Loremasters. Could you give us any recommendation for the masters?

Francesco – Yes! Please make all stories about your players. Use all the material provided for the game as ingredients, to mixed and customised following your own needs as a playing group. And please do not overestimate the Tolkienian canon! Your players are inhabitants of Middle-earth, not modern scholars of Tolkien lore. Middle-earth is, and must remain, mysterious, full of secrets.

Juegos y Dados – Do you think writing any new role-playing game in the future? Could give us any details?

Francesco – I think The One Ring will scratch my role-playing itch for a long time. We have many things in store for the game line for years to come. But maybe one day… 🙂

Juegos y Dados – Thank you so much again for your time. We are happy for your collaboration with Juegos y Dados.

Francesco – Thank you for asking. And enjoy your gaming!


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