What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook - 7th Print Edition

Monday, September 22, 2014

Amazing Adventures Q&A

With a week left in the campaign, the Amazing Adventures Kickstarter has already met it's funding goal and funds are still being amassed to grow the line through a variety of stretch goals.  Now, Amazing Adventures isn't a new game but it is one that is getting a bit more of a polish with expanded content and a couple other support books to go along with it.  You can read my original review of it, HERE.  I thought it was a well put together book and game and had high hopes for it as a fan.  With the campaign still-ongoing, the writer of the game, Jason Vey was able to take some time and answer a few questions and the game and fundraising campaign.


ME: Amazing Adventures isn't a new game but many people may still not know what it is. Could you sum up for the readers what it is and why they might want to check it out?

JASON: Amazing Adventures is an RPG that's designed to emulate any kind of pulp gaming you want. Whether it's Lovecraftian Horror, Chandleresque hard-boiled noir, Howardian adventure, or the cases of Doc Savage or the Shadow. Whether you're into lost temples, the shadows of the city, Asian secret societies, or lost temples in the jungle, Amazing Adventures can handle it. It's a toolkit game that's set up for you to play in the world of your favorite gritty literary pulp or the high action lighthearted Saturday Morning Serials of the 50s. It's very open, fast-playing and fun. I think the biggest selling point of the game is its flexibility in genre. Pulp encompasses so many types of storytelling, and with the right group of players, AA can handle it all and do it easy.

ME: This game was originally released a couple of years back but this was far from being your fist project. Can you tell us a bit about Elf Lair Games and some of the work you've done in the industry before Amazing Adventures?

JASON: Elf Lair Games was kind of a lark. Spellcraft & Swordplay came about sort of by accident--I was trying to do some scholarship around the original D&D rules and before I knew it I had a game half-written. I decided to finish it and throw it out there on lulu and it's actually gained some followers and has sold pretty well, all things considered. I actually started in the industry writing for Palladium books and my first full gaming book was a sourcebook for Nightbane called Shadows of Light. After that I moved on to write for Eden Studios and have done three sourcebooks for All Flesh Must Be Eaten as well as contributed to a few other publications. I've written for Misfit Studios, Iron Crown, Cubicle 7 (contributing writer to a Doctor Who sourcebook), and a few other small press companies before Troll Lord. My first work for TLG was actually an adventure module for StarSIEGE called "Another Fine Mess." Since then I've done everything for AA, and was a contributor to the Castle Keeper's Guide for C&C.

ME: Having worked on and played various game systems, were there any influences on Amazing Adventures that you would like to share?

JASON: Honestly, it was just my love of pulp and Castles and Crusades that got it started. Most of Amazing Adventures came out of my house rules for my home C&C game at the time. I did end up drawing some open content from the Conan RPG and from an older d20 game called Forbidden Kingdoms, which so far as I'm aware was the first pulp d20 effort and was pretty cool at the time, too.

ME: Amazing Adventures is a level-based which focuses on character archetypes as opposed to skill-based game. Given the overall ease and success in running this sort of game in a system such as Savage Worlds, what would you characterize as advantages of gaming with Amazing Adventures as opposed to one of the other games available?

JASON: First of all, I will NEVER, EVER claim to be in competition with Savage Worlds. I love Savage Worlds and Shane Hensley is an amazing guy. There is room for a lot of games in our industry, so I'm never out to compare or challenge Savage Worlds with Amazing Adventures. I wouldn't say you should pick mine instead of someone else's. Why not play both? But what makes Amazing Adventures work is the SIEGE engine. The way the SIEGE engine scales, it's incremental like a point buy game, only it does the point buy for you. What I mean is, in a lot of class and level systems you hit, say, level four, and suddenly get a ton of new powers you never had before. In the SIEGE engine, you get a little something every level, so it feels more like a natural growth of a character. When you do get new abilities, it actually feels like a new short story from your favorite pulp character where they can do something you haven't seen them do before. Not to mention, the SIEGE engine is a clean system that gets the hell out of your way and lets you get on with telling great stories. 

ME: Amazing Adventures largely builds upon Castles & Crusades and the Siege Engine mechanic. What would you say to some that just look at Amazing Adventures and think it's a non-Fantasy variant of C&C with the serial numbers filed off?

JASON: I didn't file the serial numbers off. Amazing Adventures IS a pulp variant of Castles & Crusades without elves, dwarves and the like. In fact, it has been designed for maximum compatibility with C&C, and the new printing will be that way even more so.

ME: With Amazing Adventures being similar to C&C which, in turn, is similar to classic D&D and other derivatives, it makes it a great an easy platform to play and convert some classic TSR-era modules. Are there any favorites that you've heard people using, that you've used yourself, or would want to in the near future?

JASON: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks is so pulp it's not even funny. You were talking about filing off the serial numbers--in a lot of pulp stories, you've got a hero in a dungeon crawl, just with guns. Ravenloft (the original I6) is another one that would work great as a Gothic horror module with AA. How about Temple of the Frog? How cool is the idea of battling that cult with your two-fisted action heroes? Yeah, a lot of classic D&D modules work really well with pulp. The key is in how you present it. If you tell your characters they're fighting orcs, it kills the mood. But if you describe them as slimy, foul-smelling degenerate beast-men with watery yellow eyes and prominent tusks, that's setting a mood. 

ME: For those of us who may have already invested in the first printing of the game, what is the appeal to doing so again with the second printing? There was talk about new and expanded content in the book beyond errata and clarifications. Can you give us an idea of what new stuff readers can expect from this?

JASON: I've done a complete cover-to-cover re-edit and revision of the game. A few character classes have gotten a facelift--the Pugilist is the most altered, along the lines of what the Trolls did with the Barbarian and Illusionist in C&C. Classes like the Gadgeteer that may have been a bit confusing have been clarified. The bestiary has been reduced, but the monsters were replaced with a rogue's gallery of various kinds of human enemies from Thule cultists to mob enforcers, and a few iconic monsters like vampires, mummies, zombies and werewolves have been kept. The GM section has been expanded overall, with a lot more information on how to use the rules, how to run pulp games and general GMing tips. Thanks to our first stretch goal, there will be a whole section on designing and using secret societies in your game, along with a bunch of sample secret societies from the Hellfire Club to the Illuminati. I've also created some NPCs and so-called "iconic" characters for the game. The second print is going to have an overall and pretty noticeable facelift that I think people will really dig. 

ME: There are a couple other books listed as rewards in the Kickstarter – a Manual of Monsters and a Companion book. The Manual of Monsters is described at collecting various creatures found in the Monsters & Treasure and Classic Monsters books for C&C which are 'slightly altered' as well as some new ones. With the kind of overlap that we might be seeing for fans of C&C, were there any concerns in making this it's own separate book as opposed to just adding a Bestiary section in the Companion book?

JASON: Well we've pulled the bestiary from Amazing Adventures, as I said, and are adding a TON of monsters from other sources, some of which have never been collected together in one place. I've picked only those monsters that are suited to pulp and we're giving them minor tweaks for the genre. I was aware, however, that there might be concerns about this, and that's why I'm including over two dozen brand new monsters that you have never seen in any other C&C book. Can you still use your other C&C monster books? Totally--please do! But we want AA to have its own identity and that's why we're collecting the monsters we are, and I'm adding all those new ones so you get something new for your purchase. 

ME: On the subject of the Companion book, could you give us an idea of the sort of material players and gamemasters could expect to find within it?

JASON: The kitchen sink. That sounds funny but really...new character classes. Mystic locales. Live action rules. Expanded vehicle rules with more vehicles. More guns, equipment and gear. Ways to think outside the box with existing classes like using the Gadgeteer to play a supers game. New, Lovecraftian-style magic that's tied to sanity. Rules for sub-genres of pulp from Steampunk to weird west to horror to planetary romance to modern pulp to sword and sorcery and more. I am hoping the companion will help set Amazing Adventures up as a lot of people's "go to" game. 

ME: The campaign quickly hit its primary funding goal of bringing this new printing to a hardcover format and there are a couple of other stretch goals promising to bring two more books in hardcover format should they be met. One of these is a monster book and the other is a companion book which expands the game further. Unfortunately the campaign has appears to have stalled with $9000 to go until the third book hits the hardcover goal. Additional incentive goals don't seem to be yielding as much success as it could. Do you have any thoughts or concerns about this that you would like to share?

JASON: I'm really not sure what the reason for the stall is. If I did, I'd do whatever it took (within my power) to get it un-stuck and make that $21K level happen. I SO appreciate all the support we've gotten so far, but yeah, it's a bummer in some ways. I sincerely hope it picks up in the last week or so, because hitting that final stretch goal would really be a dream come true for me. I'd be able to look at my career as a game designer and say, "Man, that one time, I really was successful with an effort."

ME: The fundraising campaign has various pledge levels with the most popular one being the $99 pledge which gets copies of the Core Rule Book, Monster Manual, and Companion along with Character Reference Sheets and whatever stretch goals are also met. So far, these include a digest copy of the core book, 2 player books, and the Spell book. About an equal number of backers are spread out on the lower pledge levels which only include one or two of the main books. With a week to go, do you think you'll be able to sway some of those backers to upgrading their pledges? What do you think it will take to make that happen?

JASON: Honestly, I have no idea. Again, if I knew how to get more folks to pledge and folks at lower levels to up their pledges, I'd do it in a New York minute. But Kickstarter is a mystery. You never can predict what's going to be successful and what's not. By many benchmarks, the AA kickstarter has been successful. It'll likely at least hit the hardcover bestiary level. Still, it would be nice to see it take its place among TLG's other more successful KS efforts. This is only the second one that's happened for one of my books (the first being Eden Studios' Band of Zombies).

ME: Having designed and run the game, have you had a chance to be just a player in Amazing Adventures? What would be your favorite character class from the lot listed in the core book?

JASON: I have, during my playtest. When I write a game I rarely run my own playtest sessions. I prefer to play and have someone else in my group run. The reason is, I know how it's all supposed to work so I'm more prone to overlook and miss mistakes, where if someone else is running it, they will stop and say, "Hey, dude, this doesn't make sense. How is it supposed to work?" and I know something needs to be clarified or fixed. As for my favorite character, one of the iconics in the group, Natalya "The Fox" Abramova, was my playtest character. She's a multiclassed Mentalist/Hooligan who is an up-and-coming Hollywood Starlet who moonlights as a high-class cat burglar. 

ME: While Amazing Adventures is essentially a 'love-letter' to the Pulp genre, Pulp covers a lot of ground and the game seems flexible enough to meet most needs. Is there a particular sub-genre of Pulp that you particular like or find inspiration with? An author or particular book or movie? Something else?

JASON: Robert E. Howard has been one of my favorite writers ever since I was about 12. I love everything of his, from his Conan Yarns to Solomon Kane, El Borak, Kull, Dark Agnes, his Western stories, and all his work. I also adore Edgar Rice Burroughs and planetary romance in general. Of course, Star Wars, which is very much pulp translated to the screen--my earliest memory at the age of 3 years old was seeing Star Wars in the theater, so I've been poised for geekdom my whole life.
ME: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to the readers?

JASON: Just that I really hope you'll buy in and support the Kickstarter. I have had nothing but positive feedback about the game, it's got a pretty vocal group of fans, and I'm looking to keep expanding it and building on the support for the game in the future. I am very proud of Amazing Adventures and consider it the best thing I've done in the 14 or 15 years I've been writing in the industry. I really think you'll find it worth the price to support the Kickstarter. Thank you for taking the time to read, and for those who have already supported by pledging or just sharing the link (http://bit.ly/amazingrpg) I can't express my gratitude enough.


So there you have it.  If you are the least bit curious, I highly recommend checking out the Kickstarter Campaign HERE for more information and to pledge.

Thanks for reading!

M