A team of web developers and designers have donned the mantle of archivists to collect Mörk Borg content - both official and third-party - into one easily accessible and searchable website called Ex Libris. Along with crowdfunding support to keep the lights on, its contributing members want to see their tools applied to other popular titles and beyond.
Mörk Borg, Ockult Örtmästare Games’ award-winning bone-and-blight tabletop RPG, has been riding a wave of popularity since its release last year. The only thing matching the ardour of its players is the creative output from indie designers who have been inspired by its gnarled, bloody apocalypse setting. Walton Wood loved both but found it difficult to keep track of adventures, supplements and third-party creations across the disparate corners of the internet. So, he created a library for them.
“Content directories are a good resource for players. Instead of having to hunt content across platforms like itch.io or DTRPG, a central directory puts everything right in front of them, making it easy to find new stuff to use in games,” Wood said in an email.
Ex Libris Mörk Borg sprang from the primordial online soup in 2020 and quickly grew into one of the more comprehensive bibliographies dedicated to a single RPG. Wood, along with John Bannister and a small team of consultants and coders, managed to shelve upwards of 700 creative works that players and game masters could reference. Important to Wood, it meant Ex Libris also acted a bit like a Mörk Borg-dedicated storefront for the official rules, sanctioned additions and independent works.
“That leads to the second benefit, which is increasing creators' visibility to players. More visibility nets makers more feedback, validation, and compensation for their creative work, and those are vital to keeping the indie RPG scene healthy,” he said.
ELMB, as it’s colloquially called, has adopted the striking yellow and black that makes Mörk Borg’s core book stand out. Collected works - such as the Treasures of the Troll King adventure can be searched for directly, but everything is also tagged as rules, classes, tools, etc. and are listed with brief descriptions of the concept, what’s included and pithy assessments of usability and layout.
Wood and the team began renovating the site in April to improve searchability, squash bugs and apply a fresh look, which took the better part of three months. Paying everyone for that labour is the primary reason for the current Kickstarter Campaign, which has already surpassed its initial $3,000 (£2,150) ask, but it will also give them the means to prepare Ex Libris for public adaptation to games beyond Mörk Borg.
“Ex Libris is also an open source, open-license tool. Anyone who wants to establish and curate their own database of RPG content will be able to do so independently of the official Ex Libris platform,” the campaign reads. “We will provide resources like deployment documentation that will help independent directories thrive.”
Wood says he would love to see Troika!, Mausritter, and Wanderhome benefit from a similar collation of game material, but he personally hopes folks take it further, creating user-friendly libraries of games arranged by genre, themes, or jams. Itch.io's digital platform has become the default place to find indie tabletop games, though its searchable tags and discoverability remain a critical weakness. DriveThruRPG has maintained a huge offering of digital title and print-on-demand physical RPGs, but the site suffers from age and is losing ground with newer designers.
“Will a directory for an established game help its community thrive?” Wood asked, hopeful and curious about the impact of Ex Libris. “Will a directory for a new game's third-party content help it build steam? Will centralized resources draw new players to new games? Overall, will it raise indie games' profiles in the market, and could it even help disrupt prominent titles' dominance and foster greater diversity in the RPG space?”
The Ex Libris Kickstarter campaign runs through August 30th, with minimum pledges starting at $5 (£3.60).