"The Forge" (www.indie-rpgs.com) is a website dedicated to indie Tabletop RPGs. Founded as "Hephaestus's Forge" in 1999 by Ed Healy and Ron Edwards, it was retooled in 2001 by Edwards and Clinton R. Nixon to become a discussion forum on the theory and practice of pen-and-paper RPG design. In 2012, Edwards had effectively shut down the website, declaring its original mission fulfilled, and it nowadays serves mainly as a repository for his essays on the so-called "Big Model" of RPGs (also known as the "GNS Theory"), while the discussion hub has moved to www.story-games.com. Although this model/theory had sparked a lot of controversy outside of the Forge community, it remains a popular and influential school of thought in the North American RPG design.
In very, very rough terms, the Forge community advocated tight Gameplay and Story Integration from the earliest stages of design onward, requiring all mechanics in a particular RPG to feed into and to reinforce the specific type of experience it is supposed to create (thus rejecting the idea of a Universal System, among other things). Additionally, while they acknowledged that different people role-play for different reasons, by and large, Edwards and his associates generally pursued a specific style of story-focused ("Narrativist") play that produces plots with literary merit by design, rather than by happenstance. The narrativist approach was inspired by Lajos Egri's book The Art of Dramatic Writing and strives to (depending on who you ask, more or less successfully) facilitate character-driven drama in gaming form.
A comprehensive digest of common Forge terms and design principles is available at the Socratic Design blog.
Games created by the Forge community members and associates include:
- Adept Press: Ron Edwards
- Black and Green Games: Emily Care Boss
- Bully Pulpit Games: Jason Morningstar, Steve Segedy
- Burning Wheel: Luke Crane
- CRN Games: Clinton R. Nixon
- Galileo Games: Brennan Taylor
- lumpley games: D. Vincent and Meguey Baker
- Memento-Mori Theatricks: Jared A. Sorensen
- one.seven design: John Harper
- Ramshead Publishing: Ralph Mazza, Mike Holmes
- Dust Devils (2002) by Matt Snyder (Chimera Creative)
- Little Fears (2001, 2009) by Jason L. Blair (Key 20 Publishing)
- The Mountain Witch (2005) by Timothy Kleinert (timfire publishing)
- My Life with Master (2003) by Paul Czege (Half Meme Press)
- Primetime Adventures (2004) by Matt Wilson (Dog Eared Designs)