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Interview with the Platinum Warlock

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This month, I figured I’d try something new. I’ve teamed up with Andy Klosky, author of Scrolls of the Platinum Warlock, to do a blog exchange. He’ll be writing a series of posts on my blog and I’ll be writing some on his. This month’s post is an interview of Andy to give you an idea of who he is. And be sure to check out my interview on his blog here!

Andy Kloksy, hamming it up (while wrapped in bacon)

Introduction

First off, tell us a little about yourself:  who are you?

I’m Andy Klosky.  I’m the president and owner of the newly-created Blackfall Press, LLC.  I’ve been gaming for almost 20 years and founded the Wittenberg Role-Playing Guild while I was in undergrad.

Tell our readers a little about our experiences together.

I met Will when he began attending Guild meetings at Wittenberg.  While we became acquainted through a friend’s D&D 4e game, we got to know one another over the years as he took a much more active role in the Guild and introduced me to Deadlands and Savage Worlds in general.

What upcoming RPG products do you have your eye on?

I’ve really been keeping an eye on John Wick’s Big Book of Little Games, though it seems to keep getting delayed.  I’m also high on Pinnacle’s Hell on Earth right now, as well as the new releases for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

What are you playing/running right now?

I actually just wrapped up the first plot point campaign for Deadlands, called “The Flood”.  My wife has just taken up the GMing reins, running Hell on Earth.  I’m running a cryogenically-frozen soldier who, through some circumstance, believes that he’s Hawkeye of Marvel Comics fame.  It’s a hoot.

If you could be a gaming die, which one would you be and why?

A d12.  I don’t come out all the time, but when I do, there’s pain for players…

Design

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently editing the first full roleplaying game I’ve designed:  Cold Steel Wardens:  Roleplaying in the Iron Age of Comics.  I’m also drafting a series of essays on the theory of GMing practice, tentatively called The Pendulum Method:  GameMastery, Advanced.

What’s exciting about your current project?

With CSW, I’m really excited for the new rules-set.  The mechanics I’ve designed–the MAFIANAP mechanic–are designed for heavy investigation and short, brutal combat.  While it’s perfect for the Iron Age of Comics, it’d also be great for a mafioso-style game or a crime drama.

With Pendulum, I’m really in uncharted waters.  There are tons of great resources for new GMs out there, but few for those who really want to up their game to a new level.  The titular essay deals with how to structure non-linear plots in a game, so that you can build game sessions and campaigns around time travel, perspective changes, and multiple conflicting goals.  It’s really something else…

Where do you pull inspiration for your games and designs?

Comics are a big influence on me right now.  CSW was directly inspired by Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil: Born Again, and the like.  Truth be told, even Pendulum was greatly influenced by Jonathan Hickman’s run on Fantastic Four.

What would be your dream RPG design gig?

I’d love to redesign the Planescape campaign setting outside of the D&D mechanics.  Give it a mechanical set built to play up the philosophical elements and the idea of “belief = reality”, while maintaining the setting elements in the City of Sigil.

Favorites

What’s your favorite system? 

Right now, I’m very high on the FATE-variant from ICONS.  It’s simple, it’s flexible, and it’s easy to understand.

What is your favorite campaign (as a GM and as a player)?

As a GM, I absolutely loved running “The Flood”, which was quite the departure for me–I very rarely run published campaigns, preferring my own themes.  My favorite game, though, may have been a 4e D&D game based on the “Tear of Ioun” adventures by Robert Schwalb.  Really great role-play in that campaign.

What’s your favorite settings for Dungeons & Dragons, Savage Worlds, and any one other system?

  • D&D–either Planescape or Ravenloft.
  • SW–Deadlands and its variants are great, but I also like Rippers.
  • Other–I love playing in the DC and Marvel comics universes, and I’d love to run a one-shot of All for One: Regime Diabolique sometime soon.

What’s a setting and/or system that you’ve always thought was underrated?

The d20 version of Call of Cthulhu really gets a lot of flak, but I actually like the rules better than the BRP version and the book itself is gorgeous.

GMing

How would you describe your GM style?

Conniving?  Does that make sense?  I’m always plotting, or at least laying the groundwork for a plan that will come to fruition later in a campaign.  While I tend to run very extemporaneous game, I never let a player off the hook…

What’s the best advice you could give a budding GM or player?

Instigate!  When the game runs down and things seem slow, do something unexpected and throw a cog in the works.  It’s a game–don’t be afraid to take a risk.

What’s your ideal player like?

An ideal player shows investment.  Whether that’s writing a background or actively seeking out NPCs or taking part in the formation of the narrative, an ideal player is willing to step out of the comfort of their character sheet and into a bigger world.

What’s something different that you’ve always wanted to run, but haven’t?

I pulled an idea dropped on RPG.net at one point tentatively entitled “Five Apocalypses”, centered around the five Chinese elements.  I have no idea what system I’d use for this, though, and I’m not sure that the central plot would be strong enough to carry a campaign.

Playing

Who was your first character and how did they turn out?

My first character was a cyborg in the Palladium Heroes Unlimited system, which I rolled up with the help of my cousin Jason.  Unfortunately, I never actually played that character; my first “real” character was a 2e D&D Elven Thief named Miron Blademonger.  He did fairly well in his first time out, finding a +2 rapier!

How would you describe your player style (and is it different from your GM style)?

As much as I’d like to say I’m a “storyteller” or an “explorer”, I’m absolutely an instigator.  I cause as much trouble–usually for myself–as possible.  While I’m absolutely goal-oriented at the table, I’m all about the heroic “struggle”.

What’s a gaming quirk that you have at the table?

My dice get names.  My “player-killer” d20 is the “Black Die of Doom”.  My hideous hunter-orange d10 is “The Die of Shame” and is given to players who make bad puns at the table.  My Cthulhu die refers to my tentacled “Wild Die” for Savage Worlds.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I’m shooting for a Summer/Fall 2013 release for Cold Steel Wardens, so keep your eyes peeled for our Kickstarter.  Alternatively, check out the official Blackfall Press website at https://sites.google.com/site/blackfallpressllc/home

Fantasy Flight Games Event Center

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This week, I’m going to be talking about a little known secret, even here in the Twin Cities. Turns out that Fantasy Flight Games, creators of board games like Arkham Horror and A Game of Thrones as well as roleplaying games like Deathwatch and the new Star Wars: Edge of the Empire have the Fantasy Flight Event Center in Roseville, MN. It’s about 15 minutes from my house and 5 minutes from the Roseville Public Library where I go every Wednesday as part of my AmeriCorps service. And let me tell you, it’s awesome!

As the name implies, there are two parts to the location:

Fantasy Flight Games…

The Fantasy Flight Games Event Center’s main purpose is to provide an outlet where Fantasy Flight’s games can be sold. Of course, Source Comics and Games (described here) has all of these games and more, but I imagine Fantasy Flight prefers to have a direct outlet so they can make a bigger profit. Fortunately, this means that games at this location are discounted (15% off for members only) as are preorders (10% for nonmembers, 20% off for members). There are games from other companies as well there, especially if they are products for the same universe as some of Fantasy Flight’s products (e.g. Cubicle 7’s The One Ring roleplaying game was next to their Lord of the Rings Living Card Game).

You can also check out games there to play ($3, free with a membership) or even rent a Warhammer army ($5, free with membership). Membership is a bit steep, especially if you’re on an AmeriCorps living stipend like me, ($20 one month, $50 three months, $75 six months, $125 one year), but if you are a heavy gamer who buys lots of Fantasy Flight products, I could see it easily paying for itself.

…Event Center

Some gamers play Star Wars: X-Wing using a fan-made Death Star trench run map!

In addition to being a store, the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center is a location where people can play games. There are about fifteen open gaming tables tables set up on the main floor and another five on the upper mezzanine (a quieter, more secluded area, but for members only). While I was there, I saw several minis, roleplaying, and board games being played. The staff lets you play whatever you want and said I’d be more than welcome to run my weekly Deadlands game there (we had our first session on Wednesday and it was a lot of fun!).

These gamers were doing a HeroClix tournament between themselves. The player on the far left was really excited to get a chance to pull out his giant Clix!

The Fantasy Flight Games Event Center also hosts special events from time to time. Next weekend is Arkham Nights, a three day event devoted to H.P. Lovecraft and the games inspired by his works. Not only will there be sessions for board games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, and Elder Sign (with special promo cards as swag), but also a Call of Cthulhu Living Card Game tournament, a costume contest, and even a Cthulhu-themed Fiasco game. Plus the game designers for these games will be there. The only downside is that the event costs $20 to attend, which as said before, can be tough if you’re on a budget.

All in all, the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center is an awesome place. It’s a great place to host your weekly game (they even stay open till midnight on weeknights) or have a pickup game with some friends. If you’ve got a disposable income and can afford to be an avid Fantasy Flight gamer, there’s lots of great events and discounts that you can take advantage of. If you’re ever in the Twin Cities, I highly recommend visiting it!

The view from up on the mezzanine. Pictures like this often wind up in the promotional material because it makes the location look HUGE!

Finding Gamers in a New City

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Announcements: The Wild Card Creator Kickstarter drive reached $8,000 unlocking the iPad/Android tablet version! And my Elder Scrolls conversion for Savage Worlds has been updated to version 1.2 with many, many changes and additions.

So after moving to St. Paul, one of the first things I wanted to do was get in touch with a gaming group. It seemed to me that the best place to start was the Friendly Local Gaming Store, which I managed on accident the first time I was up in St. Paul after taking a wrong turn. Source Comics and Games happens to be the fourth largest gaming store in the world (Fairborn’s Bookery being the largest), but they had way more stock than Bookery or even YottaQuest! (However, it seems that the size of a gaming store is inversely correlated with the quality of its website…)

Source’s massive collection of RPGs. They have an even bigger collection of board games and comic books!

During my first foray to Source, I found a copy of an All for One: Régime Diabolique supplement that a friend of mine couldn’t find anywhere else. Even more encouraging was the vast number of Savage Worlds books. With so many diverse RPGs, I figured it would be easy to find a gaming group for whatever game I was interested in.

I asked employees at Source if there were any Savage Worlds campaigns they knew about or if they had one-shot demos for any other systems. To my surprise, the only thing that ever gets run at the gaming store is Dungeons & Dragons 4e and Pathfinder. Only those two? But there are probably close to 100 different systems being sold on the shelves, including relatively popular ones like Savage Worlds, Warhammer 40k, and White Wolf. I realize that there is a great disparity in popularity, but why do only those two ever make an appearance?

Unfortunately, it seems that my time in the Wittenberg Role-playing Guild has spoiled me. There we regularly ran campaigns from a variety of systems and even had Friday Night One-shots where we ran many obscure systems.

So I decided to not be part of the problem and instead be part of the solution. I told the employees that I’d be interested in running a few Savage Worlds one shots at the store and perhaps one-shots for other systems I enjoy like Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. I also asked if I could put up a flier looking for a Savage Worlds gaming group to play in a Deadlands: Last Sons campaign and they said I could. It’s my hope that I can get some interest in these systems. Just like how a lot of roleplaying game fans are those who don’t know they are ones yet, I imagine that many fans of these lesser known systems are D&D/Pathfinder fans who don’t know they are yet.

You might be asking why I don’t just play Dungeons & Dragons. Frankly, I’m still too burnt out from it. Although D&D Next does look promising, I really have no interest in anything being offered right now. I think that it’s the lack of really innovative settings (although Dark Sun was cool) more than the mechanics themselves (although their complexity seems more stifling to me these days) that fails to keep me inspired.

I’ll be sure to keep others posted on how my search for gaming in a new city goes. If anybody has any good suggestions, please share them!

Moving to a New City!

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No post this week because I’m busy with a move from Cincinnati, OH to St. Paul, MN. I’ll be beginning an Americorps service year with the Community Technology Empowerment Project. And I was happy to discover that Source Comics & Games, fourth largest gaming store in the country (with more stock than YottaQuest or Bookery) is up there!

Happy Independence Day!

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For those of you in the United States, happy Independence Day! I hope that you all get a chance to spend time with family and friends today and perhaps watch some beautiful fireworks this evening.

By the way, I ran the Independence Day scenario for Deadlands on Saturday at YottaQuest in honor of the holiday. This time, the players managed to figure out the identity of The Butcher a full day (game time) before they were expected to and managed to stop him, allowing them to spend their Independence Day in peace and quiet.

Also, if there is an alien invasion today and you have any experience flying planes, please volunteer to help the military fight against them!

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