Interview with the authors of RAG

RAG coverResolute, Adventurer & Genius is a brand-new and exciting pulp roleplaying game powered by my own Wyrm System. Like WR&M it’s available for free on DriveThruRPG. The 36-paged PDF contains all the rules you need in order to play adventures set into an exciting world right out of the pulp magazines of the early 20th century. Last week I had the opportunity to ask the two designers, Andrew Modro and Jason Cabral, a couple of questions about their game.

Stargazer’s World:
We already know you, Andrew, from the blog and your last interview, but who is Jason? Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Jason:
I’m a 30 year old Mainer, who dabbles in science fiction literature, and gaming. Primarily a wargamer of the historical stripe, and ore of a player then developer, I’ve been encouraged to expand my horizons by my friend of ten years, Andrew Modro.

Andrew:
Jason is a long-time friend of mine that I met over IRC about ten years ago.  We’ve always had a lot of similar interests, and he’s been wanting to try his hand and working with games, though he’s more of a wargamer.

Stargazer’s World:
While there have been quite a few great pulp games in the past (Hollow Earth Expedition and Spirit of the Century come to mind), it’s not the most popular genre. What made you want to create a game in this genre?

Andrew:
I had originally approached Jason about doing a cyberpunk game with the Wyrm system.  We tinkered with that for a couple days.  Then, out of the blue, Jason said to me, “You know what would really rock?
Pulp.”  Since my current favorite game is White Wolf’s Adventure!, I jumped at the idea and we started working almost immediately. Everything fell together so well that we knew we were on the right track.

Jason:
Personally? I love the genre, The Shadow, Dick Tracy, Indiana Jones and the Rocketeer have always been my literary heroes so it felt natural to write a game that was an homage to them.

Stargazer’s World:
The pulp genre – as I understand it – also includes stories like Robert E. Howard’s Conan and  Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter stories. Do you think it’s possible to run games set into the Sword & Sorcery or Planetary Romance genres as well? If so, what would you add or change to make it happen?

Jason:
You could, But honesty if you wanted to Sword & Sorcery,WR&M works just as well.

Andrew:
You could certainly apply what’s already present with minimal reskinning, probably.  You could represent Conan with good attributes and some of the less-obtrusive talents, and the mystic and mentalist talents would certainly work for weird and dangerous foes.
Barsoomian planetary romance could also work with a little effort. WR&M-style race templates could be easy to work up for, for example, tall multi-armed green fighting men and noble red-skinned humanoids.
Ray guns should be easy to extrapolate from the existing firearms, and chases shouldn’t need any modification at all.  A simple situational bonus to some skills for the lower gravity, and you’re off!

Stargazer’s World:
In RAG you have made some significant changes to the Wyrm System. How is RAG different from WR&M? Can you explain some of the reasoning behind those changes?

Jason:
All the changes me made were really to make the rules fit the period and the atmosphere of the genre.

Andrew:
I felt free to tinker under the hood because that was one of the things I liked so much about WR&M, how easy it was to bend, fold, warp and otherwise change around.  The most obvious change would be the attributes, which don’t exactly map to Warrior, Rogue and Mage but do have a lot of similarities.  Also, we kept character creation the same, but there are new ways to figure hit points and luck points (what WR&M calls fate points).
More nitpicky tinkering came in with die rolls and combat.  I have a pet peeve about exploding dice — simple exploding dice can’t result in some numbers, namely the die’s maximum total, because you’re always adding at least 1 more to the roll.  So I changed the “explosion” to where if you roll a 6, you add 5 and roll again.  That way you can have a roll result of 6.
Attacks no longer have a damage roll.  Each weapon or attack has a base damage rating, and for every point you exceed the target’s defense, you add 1 more to damage.  I did this because I hate making a great attack roll and then rolling “1” for damage, which happens to me a lot.  This way, great attacks are rewarded automatically.
Magic no longer has its own subsystem.  Instead, mystic talents, which represent various styles or areas of magical ability, allow characters to make narrative changes to the world.  It’s a lot like spending a luck point, but more powerful, only within a much narrower field, and it allows players and GMs to get creative by not restricting them to a list of spells.

Stargazer’s World:
The various WR&M supplements were quite popular. Do you plan to support RAG in a similar way?

Jason:
Yes, we do.

Andrew:
I would love to, but I’m also hoping that RAG will receive the kind of support from others that WR&M got (and will, I hope, continue to get).  The Imperial Library and Imperial Forges supplements were particularly fine embodiments of the spirit behind WR&M.  I’d be ecstatic if other people liked RAG enough to put forth that kind of effort to support it.

Stargazer’s World:
As you know, I have been thinking about working on a SF game using the Wyrm System for some time now, Mark Meredith has been working on a spy version called Pointman, Thief & Hacker. In your opinion, what other genres could the Wyrm system be converted to?

Andrew:
I’ve already got three other Wyrm projects boiling away in my mind: a supers game, a game designed to emulate the wild blend of action, science-fiction and espionage from the Speed Racer universe, and a
game about godlike beings comparable to Immortals from classic D&D or very powerful Exalted characters.
With as easy as it was to get RAG from WR&M, I’m sure the Wyrm system can be adapted in all kinds of ways.  I know Mark’s had to put off PHT for a while because he’s super-busy with other projects and has a baby on the way, but in the sneak peek I got I know he had a “progress bar” mechanic to resolve both chases and complex actions, which I thought was really cool and thematically appropriate.  It also shows just how easily the Wyrm system can be adapted to a different genre.

Jason:
Honestly, with enough work and some good ideas, WYRM could be used for almost any genre.

Stargazer’s World:
Is there anything else you wanted to let our readers know which I forgot to ask?

Jason:
Yes, I am available for hire if any large game publishers are  reading this.

Andrew:
First, give yourself a big pat on the back for the bang-up layout job you did.  RAG is as much a Stargazer Games production as it is Blue Hex.  It really shows what a fantastic thing you created with WR&M and I hope it will encourage more people to see what they can do with the Wyrm system.
Blue Hex now has a forum on RPG Table Talk, right next to the Stargazer Games forum.  It would be great if people would come check it out, tell us what they think and share what they’ve done with RAG. Every so often I’ll probably toss out a little nugget, like an NPC hero or villain, a new monster or maybe even a new talent.
I spoke with Jeff Uurtamo, our friend from RPG Circus, about giving us a plug on the podcast.  Their latest episode went into recording on Tuesday (January 25th) and should be available for download soon.  I
encourage everyone to check it out; the Circus is a great gaming podcast, consistently high-quality and interesting.

Stargazer’s World:
Thanks for your kind words, Andrew. It was an honor doing the layout for RAG. And thanks again for taking your time to answer my questions, guys.

6 thoughts on “Interview with the authors of RAG”

  1. Count me as a fan! I love the pulp genre; the first game on that vein (and my first foray into the Hero System) was Justice Inc. While I never got to play it I loved all the information on the book. Since I have played various one shot pulps but never a long lasting campaign. RAG certainly seems like the system to try it. Very interesting interview and a great game, thanks you all!!!

  2. I'm just catching up on my RSS feed for this site, and came across this. That caused me to look up WR&M/WyRM … which seems like a very nice little game (I wish it was a little more FUDGEy, instead of d6 based, but that's cool… I also wish it had a damage system a little more like SavageWorlds and FUDGE … and a fatigue based mana system, instead of point based; but other than that, I don't have any "complaints").

    I haven't looked at the new stuff in RAG yet, but I plan to do that very soon. I downloaded all of the WRM stuff, and RAG. I'll probably use it extensively in my own FUDGE stuff, and possibly submit my own ideas back.

    My main question is: will we see more genres covered? Post-Apocalyptic? Supers? Space Opera? Cyberpunk? Steampunk? or what about something that tries to tie the various things together (I'm big on cross-genre and meta-genre settings).

    Anyway, just wanted to say: I like this, a lot. Thanks for such a simple yet rich game.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, johnkzin! I am currently thinking about a SF version and I have brainstormed about a supers game with Andrew (aka Corvus). When you check out the setting in WR&M you'll notice a few Steampunk elements already.

      1. yeah, I did notice a few things, and you could also call some elements of the setting "Fantasy Post-Apocalyptic" (fallen empire, lost glory of the past golden age, a hook/tease about exploring the infested ruins of the old capital … only instead of being infested with mutants, it's infested with undead), as opposed to sci-fi post-apoc. I'm not really a steampunk gamer, though, I just like to see the staples covered, as I tend to steal a little bit from everywhere.

        My own favorite home-brew setting was a mix of fantasy and sci-fi post-apocalyptic … and I tended to model some of the mutants using supers ideas. And it was set inside a dyson sphere. That had been built by Angels.

        And my favorite non-homebrew setting was pretty much The Mutant Chronicles (which mixes some space opera, some steampunk and cyberpunk, some cold-war/spy elements and pulp elements, and even some fantasy elements).

        Like I said, I tend to love cross-genre and meta-genre settings. I also like to reveal the genre twists slowly over time. The home-brew game started out billed as a simple post-apocalyptic game, and I slowly revealed the fantasy elements to them… and then slowly revealed the dyson sphere to them. Was a very successful game :-}

        Anyway. Don't intend to drone on about my favorite settings. Just sayin', I like the system you've written. Is there a forum or mailing list for it, that I can jump into?

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