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UNC faculty release new board game

Steve Segedy (left) and Jason Morningstar, application analysts at UNC, stand in Bullhead's Bookshop with some of the books they have written. The two have recently developed Warren, a role-playing game based on the classic novel Watership Down.
Steve Segedy (left) and Jason Morningstar, application analysts at UNC, stand in Bullhead's Bookshop with some of the books they have written. The two have recently developed Warren, a role-playing game based on the classic novel Watership Down.

So when he read “Watership Down,” an adventure novel about intelligent rabbits living in south-central England, he knew he had to combine his love of animal fiction with his love of gaming.

His first big tabletop role-playing game, called “The Warren,” is set to be published by Chapel Hill gaming company Bully Pulpit Games in about six weeks.

Jason Morningstar, UNC School of Nursing webmaster, and business partner Steve Segedy, applications anaylist at UNC Libraries, both run Bully Pulpit Games.

Morningstar, a 2001 graduate of the School of Library and Information Science, said playing role-playing games like “The Warren” is a very natural activity.

“It’s sort of like playing cops and robbers, except that there’s some rules to adjudicate and act as an intermediary because we’re not kids anymore and can’t figure it out for ourselves,” Morningstar said. “It’s sort of at the intersection of improvisational theater and playing a board game.”

Although Morningstar and Segedy had the means to publish “The Warren” already, they still decided to set up a Kickstarter for $5,000 on July 14 to fund the publishing of the game primarily to reach a different audience than they have before.

As of the end of the campaign on Aug. 4, the Kickstarter campaign has raised almost $40,000.

“By putting (“The Warren”) into the Kickstarter ecosystem, lots of new people are going to discover it,” he said. “So in that way, it’s a really valuable marketing tool and a way to get some exposure.”

Segedy, who graduated from the School of Library and Information Science in 2003, said having a Kickstarter campaign also helps them get new fans invested in the game early on.

“I think maybe two-thirds of the people who ended up backing us for ‘The Warren’ came through Kickstarter, which suggests that they are people who may or may not have known anything about us or our previous games, but they’re interested in rabbits or ‘Watership Down’ or whatever,” he said.

Morningstar said in “The Warren,” players role-play as rabbits trying to survive at the bottom of the food chain.

He said one of his favorite things about the game is the way it turns the normal design of role-playing games on its head.

“Typically, you’re playing a power fantasy — you’re powerful people.” he said. “In this game, you can’t fight, and everybody’s your enemy — and that’s a really interesting place to be.”

“It forces you to be creative and clever and adventurous in different ways. It’s really, really refreshing and fun for people who are seasoned gamers and think they’ve seen it all, to turn it upside down.”

Morningstar said he loves the social aspect of gaming, and said there are all kinds of benefits that come from creating something new with friends.

“It’s a very satisfying and healthy way to spend an afternoon,” he said.

“You’re telling a story together, and that’s a really beautiful way to spend some time.”

arts@dailytarheel.com

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