Text Games: an Interview with Robb French (Estarra)

text games roleplaying

Ben Gorlick recently interviewed Robb French, Producer of Lusternia from Iron Realms Entertainment, about his role as a producer at Iron Realms. During the interview French also discussed his history as a player and Goddess on the popular rpg text game Achaea and explains why Lusternia stands out as a uniquely interesting world.

Just before the turn of the new millennium, Robb French began his adventure in Iron Realms text game Achaea and experienced the first ever mortal transformation and ascension into becoming the Goddess Eris of Chaos as well as the building lead for the game for years to follow. This very experience, in an out of game sense, may have been the motivation behind French, nearly a decade or more later, taking his creativity to new horizons and expounding upon the creation of a multi-planar, high fantasy role-playing world called Lusternia. With years of creative writing under his belt, French takes his own imagined stories and characters into an interactive environment to make one of the most unique and fascinating text rpg games on the internet. This interview takes a close look at the history of Robb French as a gamer, the world he has created and the challenges he faces on a regular basis as a producer and developer of a text game. Enjoy!

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I counted atleast 23 fnords. ATLEAST. Why can't anyone else see them?!

Fnord. That is all.

what's an Fnord?

Ha! Achaea...where great ideas are born.

Achaea rules!

Obliviousness is the skill to block out extra spam.



A lot of this information is new to me, is awesome to get the insider scoop.  Thanks! 

I agree.



Points that occur to me as I watch:

1.) WAS on pen and paper? I regret to inform ben that Half of my friends still play Dungeons and Dragons. My laptop usually sits around like a hunk of junk unless I need to look something up on a PDF of a Rulebook I don't have. 3.5e, and 4.e I think especially, don't make any special accomodation for computer use (although I've seen various digital character sheets which, I'm sure, can be very useful to some people.

2.) The Skill system is not so limited with regards to power and leaving cities/communes as  Estarra makes it out to be. the Nekotai have a policy (and I enforce it rigourously) that anyone who leaves the Nekotai and retains the Nekotai kata - even if they stay a member of Glomdoring - are branded enemies of the Nekotai and are hunted down and killed (This has happened a few times). Simply because its that easy to do. I feel like the class most limited in the way he talks about are mages - which is fine, and makes sense. Also, I realize that he's mostly talking about jumping cities, rather than just leaving guilds, say, and not forgetting the skillset, but this happened with Krin and the Nekotai. He was a rogue for a long time, and the Nekotai don't have any real use for power, and we had to repeatedly hunt him down in the Grey Moors. Stealth and Acrobatics are really the biggest power users for me, and the Nekotai skillset doesn't have any (good) skills, or any real need for power, to the point where its possible to kill without using any power at all (and yet the skillset is STILL pretty underwhelming, but yet extremely tasteful in lore and RP).

3.) +1 interest in printed Elder Gods material



All hail Estarra!

Enough interviews, already!

for Tecton's and you'll be happy :)

Yeah, I'm waiting for that too. Then we'll get pics from Tecton&Valnurana wedding :P

uh, hopefully

I'm enjoying them actually, nice to meet the people behind the games!

Good to see a divine in flesh and blood hehe. Not sure how much this impacts our perception and immersion in-game when we KNOW the divine is just another person.

I don't see too much of a problem with interviews.  It's interesting to see the other side of things sometimes.

There not too bad, its not like they are the only articles that are being shown/added so.

No! I love the interviews! Keep them coming!


I find the interviews boring

I think it's kind of cool that we can put a face to our producers. Particularly when they look like The Situation (sup G)

this was very insightful, thanks

from mortal to godhood had always been pretty interesting to listen or read about. Time is the most demanding and important ingredient to reaching that plateau. Up to the point where it consumes a big part of one's life. Big respect for those who are willing to make that kind of dedication.


Awesome information in here.  I love posts like this!

I sometimes wish I were born in an earlier era, but then I remember all the awesome quests and places to explore we have!

I think we should get an interview like this with all of the IRE devs.


yes please

Seconded. More devs! And divines!


He is missed.

that he is


Lord Clementius is definitely missed. Nobody could punish a newbie killer like Him, lol!

definitely a loss, not having Him around anymore.

Its nice to hear what devs have to say about things. Keep the interviews coming!

i could not agree more.

I'm interested! Especially if it has extra chapters.

sounds like I need to try out Lusternia too.

Good Interview

Extra chapters! Go!

It's so easy to take for granted all the work that goes on behind the scenes. This is a good window into that.




interesting post. makes me want to play Lusternia for a little bit. i'm an achaea player right now.

Lusternia is interesting but I think midkemia is the place to be if you want to have an impact on the game. The other games are just too entrenched.

What about Midkemia lets you impact the game more than other games?


I presume the rationale is that it is newer thus less caught up in lore and obsolete code.

Out of all Iron Realms games, Lusternia has been the one I have enjoyed the most. And, I still don't know all of the history. I do hope Robb and the rest of the dev/volunteer team keep at it for many years to come.

If you do extra chapters, there should be a book of Fininkora! I love the finks and the little hints at Fininkora's story in the other Elder Wards books (just the one, really, but still. That was enough to make me interested!) have always made me want to know more about them.

It doesn't seem very likely, as the book of Meridian definitely looks like the end of the elder wars, but I want to read more about the finks too!


For smelly, gnome killing goblin thingies they're pretty awesome.

Fantasy is an important part of my life and I've read (and still read) a lot of fantasy books in my free (and not so free) time. Yet History of the Elder Wars was more than just EPIC, and to be honest, better than most of the books I've checked out.

Respect, Estarra!


Definitely more Elder Wars chapters please!

...just got a thumbs up!

Agreed, I'd love to hear more about the gods who got stuck in aetherspace and how they (at least two of them) sharded into races.

Currently have played Achaea and now sitting on Midkemia. Might give Lusternia a look. But really, this all just goes to show the creativety that can come into only MUD games.


totally agree!



cant run videos at work.. :(

We are supposed to have high-speed Internet connections and why the hell doesn't this load! Now I am annoyed...

pretty awesome saucem

haha hard to believe achaea's where it all starts :)




Subject says it all.


One of my favourite Producers! :)

what an interesting look into IRE. I like it!

I had no idea Estarra was Eris!

Looks like there is our answer as to why Eris will not be coming back.

Thanks for the info about the Elder Gods. I've always been curious and somewhat confused, as the descriptions of the Divine have sort of thrown my view of them and their races off. 


Also, +1 to wanting a hard copy of the Elder Wars! 

Estarra's a guy?


Well, power is beautiful and s/he's got the power.

Nice to see the people behind the gods

very interesting interview, more!

I like hearing the different stories.  Interesting to see the man behind the man.

Person behind the character.

Huh, I didn't know Lusternia's history branched from Achaea, Cosmogenesis makes more sense now! Also how to pronounce Lusternia.

Good to know more of the inner workings of Lusternia, especially the transition from creative writing to an interactive world.

Dude...Eris is a dude?


that is all.

Now I need to check the Elder Wars out on interlibrary loan. Who's the author?

Really great to read - keep them coming

That is really not how I pictured Estarra... at  all o.O. Seems nice enough though

Pretty cool to hear all the info from the source.

to get a look at the other games to see how they differ.

Each IRE has its unique flavour so no need to be overly comparative

I only really wish I had enough time to devote to a M.U.D. Or the programming skills... But le sigh, wishes, wishes.

Perhaps they could look at digital distribution. I'd prefer to pick it up for my e-reader.

We needs to show some appreciation for gods and goddesses... I mean c'mon... they do all the work while we reap the benefits.. 

just saw this - pretty nice interview.

Decent at least!


Interesting indeed!

One great thing about Estarra is how willing they are to interact with the playerbase of Lusternia.

Estarra is my Facebook friend!

You are one lucky person!

I concur.

never would have guessed that Eris was a dude.





other producers should do interviews