Rowan Fossil Park inspires “Fossil Fracas” card game

Rowan Fossil Park inspires “Fossil Fracas” card game

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Undergrad Lucas Petrin explains his game to campers at Rowan's Fossil Park.
Undergrad Lucas Petrin explains his game to campers at Rowan's Fossil Park.

The question in the game, as it is so often in the animal world, is a simple one: are you the predator, or are you the prey?

Inspired by experiences volunteering in the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University, undergrad Lucas Petrin developed the card game Fossil Fracas: Not So Nice Age, as a sort of midpoint between two passions – the study of fossils, and a love of games.

A prototype complete, he now seeks to fund his prehistoric passion project through a 21st Century Kickstarter campaign.

“I launched the Kickstarter July 1 and it runs through Aug. 7,” Petrin said. “The goal is to raise enough money for a small print run as part of my BFA thesis.”

Petrin, a rising senior in the Biomedical Art & Visualization program through the College of Communication & Creative Arts, began creating Fossil Fracas in a game design class last September as part of his thesis project.

Petrin acknowledges a weakness for video and online gaming, card games and new-fashioned board games.

“Board games and card games are really popular right now,” he said. “My friends and I play a lot of them.”

But he isn’t talking your old man’s Dungeons and Dragons, or your grandparents’ Monopoly set.

An honors student, Petrin said a popular board game club within the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration pits students against one another over such titles as Shadow Hunters, a survival game set in a devil-filled forest.

“Shadow Hunters really inspired me,” he said. “It’s one of the games that we had the most fun playing as a group.”

Like players in Shadow Hunters, Fossil Fracas players conceal their identities from others as they try to determine who among them is on their team.

 “The goal is to figure out who’s predator, who’s prey and to try to win with your team,” he said.

In creating Fossil Fracas, Petrin designed dozens of unique pieces of artwork including character profiles, action cards (which tell players what to do, how to interact with others and help them win), and ochre cards, which help players figure out the identity of others.

Set about three million years ago toward the end of the Pleistocene era, Fossil Fracas: Not So Nice Age takes place shortly before the dawn of humankind but long after the asteroid impact 65 million years ago that wiped out Cretaceous-era dinosaurs. Rowan’s fossil park in Mantua Township, a former marl quarry, is teaming with the remains of aquatic animals from the Cretaceous period that perished following the asteroid’s impact.

Petrin said his experience volunteering at Rowan’s fossil park since freshman year inspired his creation of the fossil-focused card game.

“I help out during dig days,” he said. “I teach kids about fossils and help people with the sifter. We also have to keep visitors away from the actual research going on, so we guide them and help ensure that everyone is safe.”

Petrin said that while the game is set in the Pleistocene era, it has a modern message: that the planet is fragile and steaming toward disaster.

He hopes, of course, that the game takes off commercially, but also hopes it raises awareness about the dangers of climate change.

“In my card game, the weather is getting colder and the animals are getting extinct. In reality, the planet is due for another ice age but it’s not happening, mostly because of all the greenhouse gases in the air, and we’re losing plants and animals.

“There are extinctions happening everyday around the globe and a lot of the endangered animals, especially species of insects and amphibians, haven’t even been discovered. They’re susceptible to environmental changes and die out the fastest. Unfortunately, a lot of small animals are being lost but no one pays attention to them and they’re going extinct.”

To learn more about Fossil Fracas: Not So Nice Age, visit the website and check out Petrin’s Kickstarter campaign.