Friday, October 2, 2015

It's your turn Venger.

1.  How did you get your start roleplaying? What system did you use? 

My aunt bought me the basic D&D magenta box when I was 10.  My cousin (slightly older) got some other boxed set or modules that I can’t remember.  We were young, ignorant, and impatient.  So, we described what we thought was the adventure (or an adventure) to each other without specific characters or dice, based on the pictures and our imaginations.  This “session” lasted about 10 minutes. We won.  It wasn’t until a friend or his older brother taught me the ropes that I started playing D&D like it was meant to be played.

2.  Tell me about your blog? How did it start?
I’ve been writing all my life – stories, poems, songs, scripts, essays, thoughts, ideas, adventures, lists, etc.  Before the roleplaying blog, I had a blog on the Cthulhu Mythos, black magic, Satanism, Fourth Way, the Left Hand Path, and so forth.  Once I began to get into RPGs again, it seemed the most natural thing in the world for me to start publicly writing about old school gaming on the internet.

3.   How and when did you discover OSR?
After D&D 4e, I kind of gave up on RPGs.  RPGs seemed to be evolving [well, we say “evolve”, but what we really mean is change] at such a gradual pace (from my perspective) that I couldn’t see how wide a gap there was between what I started with and what had ended my love for RPGs.

A couple years after that, I had heard about Dungeon Crawl Classics and that led me to certain blogs and old school enthusiasts, then Matthew Finch’s “Old School Primer”.  I decided to give RPGs, specifically D&Desque play-styles of the 70’s and 80’s another try before discontinuing the hobby altogether.  Luckily, I had tons of fun (that was playtesting Liberationof the Demon Slayer, by the way) and realized that I still loved RPGs – just not what some games had become.


4.  What was the first adventure you published? 
That would be Liberationof the Demon Slayer.  I just ran it again for a one-shot last week.  It was fun going back.  I know what fans are saying about it being a little rough around the edges or a “hot mess”.  But that’s part of its charm, too.  Oh well, you’ve got to start somewhere. 


5.  Tell me a little bit about the last few projects you’ve produced. 
Crimson Dragon Slayer is the big one.  That’s my attempt at crafting an OSR type RPG with a few modern sensibilities while also making it a sort of parody of science-fantasy RPGs.  It tries to be so awesome that it also resembles something kind of ridiculous and occasionally god-awful.  Purposefully, though and with tongue-in-cheek; as though we’re playing it ironically from the get-go, instead of many years later and suffering through the game mechanics and art we dislike (hello, Rifts).  It’s not for everybody, but most that have tried it think Crimson Dragon Slayer is hilarious – even just reading the rules.

The Outer Presence is another one I’m proud of.  It’s one-tenth the level of gonzo, but uses roughly the same system as CDS – d6 dice pools.  It’s similar to what West End Games was doing in the 80’s with Paranoia, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters; yet borrows from 5e, such as Advantage and Disadvantage (truly an evolutionary leap).  Anyways, The Outer Presence is investigative horror.  I like to bring Lovecraftian themes and/or the Cthulhu Mythos into most of my creations.  The scenario makes up most of the book.  It’s like a cannibal exploitation film from the 70’s.  At least, that was the inspiration.

6.  What is your favorite OSR clone? 
I’m still a fan of DungeonCrawl Classics.  It’s a big book and big game.  I never use even half of it, but it’s still a good, weird time.  Each retro-clone has something cool about it, something it does especially well.  DCC and Fantastic Heroes & Witchery are the only ones I’ve used multiple times (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea only once – but still love it), the rest I just borrow ideas from when Game Mastering. 


The case could also be made for 5th edition D&D.  It’s also a kind of modernist clone of original D&D, though aesthetically it seems “off” to me.  The artwork and layout is too polished and fancy while also occasionally looking chincy like the new CGI footage George Lucas shoehorned into Star Wars.  At first, you might be thinking, “Neat!”  But then the honeymoon is over and you’re like, “Man, that’s going in the wrong direction.”

7.  What are you currently playing?
Currently, I’ve just been running Crimson Dragon Slayer.  Months ago, I ran The OuterPresence a couple times.  Both of those as a Game Master.  I also played in a new zombie game that an acquaintance of mine is play testing and the Ghostbusters RPG.  Every once in awhile, it’s fun to just play, instead of running the game.


8.  Your such a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, what sets his writing apart for you?
You can tell that Lovecraft was a weirdo.  He indulgently wallows in the stuff he’s interested in, which most people aren’t.  He tries to fool you into thinking that he’s not obsessed with cosmic horror, black magic, and alien gods – but he definitely is.  Modern writers don’t have that pretense of not being obsessed – they just pile on the depravity, gross things, or blood.  There’s no subtlety.
I also think Lovecraft was a visionary.  He tapped into something that still resonates today, almost a century later.  That’s powerful stuff.


9.  What is your favorite published module other than yours? 

One of my favorite, recently published modules is Qelong Carcosa is also precious to me (it could use a lot more unusual tables, however), but it’s much bigger than a module.  I own a lot that I haven’t read through or ran because I’m constantly working on my own stuff, play testing that, and also being a husband, father, dude with a job, etc.


10.  If you could campaign in any world which would it be? 
 When I think of that kind of “world”, it brings me back to the 80’s and 90’s published campaign settings of TSR D&D, such as Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Spelljammer, etc.  I love a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, also post-apocalypse stuff.  So, anything like that but weird and gonzo… and Lovecraftian!  Basically, I write about what I love and everything I publish starts out as material I want to use.

11.  What are the plans for Torth your community campaign setting?  
I’m still waiting for the clamor of fans and stampeding herd of Torth lovers to force my hand and put out parts 2 and 3 (Revelry of Torth being the 1st).  Nothing yet, though.  Haha.  Soon after Alpha Blue, I’ll start working on more Torth stuff.  And I’m still cool with publishers taking up the Torth reigns and running with it.  There’s no license or restriction.  Go forth and Torth it up!


12.  When you get a chance to play a character, what type of PC do you like to play? 
I oscillate between my go-to character type and trying to widen my horizons – inhabiting or pretending to be a character I’ve never been before.  I like to get into character without being too actor-y about it.  But my usual thing is a magic-user who tends toward the dark side, probably an elf.  Occasionally, a rogue or thief type. 

EDITORS NOTE:  Venger wrote a cool class - The Baleful Sorcerer Of Tsathag'kha


13.  What are you most excited about in the RPG scene currently? 
The hope that paper & pencil RPGs see a huge resurgence that will bring in way more people, media attention, talent, technology, and money.  I feel with that will come competition, which will make all of our respective jobs harder but ultimately, force us to evolve or die.  And by “evolve”, in this case, I mean get better, make progress, etc.
Just imagine if role playing products and the people who played them were as ubiquitous as i-pods/pads/phones.  The influx would make companies, groups, and people compete.  The bottom of the barrel would be avoided and the cream would rise to the top.  Instead of celebrities bringing notice to games like D&D, we might live in a world where D&D would make a GM, player, designer, or artist an actual celebrity (in the real world, not a celebrity within RPG circles).

I mean, why shouldn’t RPGs be that popular?  When done right, it’s like watching an interactive movie or reading a choose-your-own-adventure book – except socially with your friends!

14.  Rum, Bourbon, beer or none of the above?
Mountain Dew is my poison, though I’m trying to cut back.  I also like Grape Crush a lot.  Every once in a while (like 2 or 3 times a year) I’ll have a couple beers or glasses of wine, but mostly it’s soda, water, or milk.

15.   I love the 33% mechanic you came up with (and I use it often!)  How did you come about this?
During a game, players would ask me things like, “Is there some kind of symbol or design on it?”  Maybe it was a tapestry, sword, altar, or something else.  Doesn’t matter.  They saw something potentially awesome in their mind’s eye and were asking if I might be seeing it the same way.  
I’m not the kind of Game Master that just says, “No.” if I don’t have to.  But I’m not always going to say, “Yes.” either.  Obviously, I thought, there needs to be a mechanism for saying yes and no without me giving it serious thought every 10 or 15 minutes something like that comes up.
It’s not just player questions, either.  Sometimes an idea will come to me, something devious, craft, super-weird, or tangential.  Should it always be up to me to decide?  What if I’m torn between several options? 
I just decided in the moment one day to give something a 33% (or 2 in 6 if I’m feeling d6ish that day) of occurring.  It worked really well, and I decided to keep doing it ever since.

Watch Venger explain it here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afhRMSNbfz4

16.   Tell me about Draconic Magazine?
Basically, it’s another blog like my old school gaming one via google.  My personal blog is just me typing away about actual play experiences and what’s going on with Kort’thalis Publishing.  Draconic Magazine covers more role playing content, reviews, interviews, etc.
Originally, I planned for Draconic Magazine to draw gamers like some of the more established gaming hubs with forums and the like.  It doesn’t do that.  It also doesn’t make any money.  But it looks cool and gives me another place to post cool shit, so I keep it around… plus, it’s paid for.  Might as well use it.

17.  Who does your art for your books? It’s awesome!

Thanks!  I use several great artists.  My latest find is a man named Bojan Sucevic.  But over the few years I’ve been doing this I’ve had luck acquiring illustrations from Zarono, Randy Musseau, Terry Pavlet, Monstark, and many more.  Looking outside the RPG community allows me to include artwork that’s a little bit different than what you’d find everywhere else.

Also, Faustie and HELMUTT have both done several of my covers. 

This give me the friggin creeps - http://mrzarono.deviantart.com/

18.  What are the plans for Kort’thalis Publishing this year?  Anything in the works?
I just finished another little module for Crimson Dragon Slayer (and O5R systems – that’s what I call OSR and 5th edition D&D).  It’s called NoEscape from New York.  It’s silly, dark, sleazy, strange, and ridiculous at times.  Never a dull moment.  The adventure details what might happen if a group of adventurers suddenly got warped into New York City, circa 1983.  Not the real one, but an alternate reality.  More great artwork by Bojan Sucevic in that one! 


Now, I turn my attention to AlphaBlue.  As one Kickstarter backer insight fully revealed, it’s my take on a 70’s porn film named The Satisfiers of Alpha Blue.  But, this being for a RPG, it’ll have a bit less XXX and more campy, screwball fun like the Ice Pirates and Heavy Metal films.
Here’s the (possibly NSFW) KS link for Alpha Blue:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1575519826/alpha-blue

19.  You've had a lot success with Kickstarter.  Why do you think that is?  What have you learned from the process?
Here’s the key to being a modest Kickstarter success…

1.        Don’t be a fuckup. 
2.        Only promise what you can accomplish.
3.        Listen to your backers/customers/audience.


20.  A lot of publishers have been using Patreon, have you considered it? 
Yeah, I’ve considered it.  I guess I’m just not there yet.  I don’t need a tip jar for the stuff I’m already getting paid for.  Although, it would be nice to get something for all the freebies on Draconic Magazine.  On the other hand, posting that stuff gets me noticed and gets my books into gamers’ hands… and that stuff gets me money. 

So, I definitely don’t need it.  It almost feels like double-dipping.  I’m not comfortable with doing it myself even though a lot of awesome and creative people are and it seems to be working well for them.
___

Thanks for asking me for an interview, hoss.  Happy gaming!

You can follow what Venger is up to 
http://draconicmagazine.com/
http://vengersatanis.blogspot.ca/