Secrets of the Magi


Status: No Download, Findability: 1/5

A short entry which has been highlighted thanks to Brian Bagnall, which depicts a game which eventually would turn into Lord of the Rings, another game that never saw the light of day (on the C64 at least!)

Towards the end of the 1980’s, Brian Fargo had employed Jennell Jaquays to design a fantasy adventure game for them. She created a title called “Secrets of the Magi”, which was primarily targeted for the Commodore 64. She designed game play and wrote design documents. The game was planned to be a fast-paced and real-time game, with free scrolling movement replacing grid-based movement. Action orientated combat would replace turn-based combat.

After a while, it was decided to turn the project into a new Lord of the Rings game (volume 1), which was apparently a result of the commercial failure of Dragon Wars and the 8-bit market collapse.

It is not yet clear if any actual code was started, but Jennell kindly posted some designs on a forum for the original game, which you can see here. We hope to find out more soon about whether any actual code or assets existed. The chance of seeing things may still rest with having to find the Lord of the Rings game which is still at large.

Contributions: Brian Bagnall, Fabrizio Bartoloni

Supporting content

Creator speaks

Borrowed from Jennell Jaquay’s Throwback Thursday posts:

“Once again, it’s Thursday and time to share a bit of my project history. Up today, a scan of some original notes for Secrets of the Magi: The Final Spell, a computer FRPG that I was developing for Interplay in the late 80s. I had been give Origin’s Times of Lore as a visual target for making an original fantasy title for Interplay, planning for it to go on the C-64 computer. What details I remember involve structuring a game around crafting spells from components and adventuring to find those components. The “Final Spell” would be what the player needed to win the game. Somewhere, I have a few surviving documents for this, but history has claimed all the digital records and most of the paper ones. I came across the attached page in a notebook while unpacking my library today. It depicts some early thoughts for building a map and the way that maps would fit together into a world.

I didn’t work on this project long before Interplay asked me to change directions and craft the maps and adventure content for what would become Interplay’s Lord of the Rings: vol. 1 (essentially the journey from the Shire, through Mordor, Lothlorien).

The page was taken from a lab notebook that I liberated from a trash can during my departure from Coleco. I removed the former owner’s contents and started recording my own. It includes design notes for a project that I was creating for Odgon Micro Design (an education time travel adventure for which I was actually writing scripting!) , the Dragonquest versions of several characters in the Shattered Statue game adventure, and design notes for the second Central Casting book.”


“More #ThrowbackThursday (because I missed it last week and I won’t be able to do it again next week). Back in the late 80s, Interplay Entertainment was one of my clients. Brian Fargo recruited me to work on designing a fantasy adventure game for them (this was after Bards Tale and Wasteland). I jumped in with designs for a title that I called Secrets of the Magi (targeted for the Commodore 64). I busily began designing game play and writing design documents. This project morphed into Interplay’s Lord of the Rings vol. 1, which I designed the lion’s share of the content for (sharing those duties with Scott Bennie near the end of the project). Anyway, here’s some gameplay area diagrams and ideas for a variety of keyboard movement controls from my design documents (Did I mention I’m packing down my apartment this weekend?)”

Update history

17/12/19 – Added notes from designer and an extra scan.

Posted in: GTW64 archive | Tagged: | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Secrets of the Magi

    • Same people that worked on Lord of the Rings too for this entry! Interesting!

      I’ll get tidying up and adding materials to the page for the Christmas update. Thanks Fabrizio!

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