The first roleplaying game I ever bought was the German translation of Marc Miller’s Traveller. I have been a huge fan of science fiction even long before I knew what roleplaying games were. After playing a couple of fantasy RPGs I thought I was ready to run a game myself and decided that Traveller was the perfect game for me. The first game I ran wasn’t actually that bad, even though the story I came up with was more than a bit weak. But nevertheless the players and I had a great time. Alas we never continued the campaign and even though I like Traveller very much, I never ran it again.
A couple of months ago an old friend of mine, Rouven Weinbach, got in touch with me. Unbeknownst to me, he was now working as freelancer for the German RPG publisher 13Mann, and has written a supplement for Traveller (compatible with Mongoose’s Traveller) called “Robots“. I have to admit that I am no expert on Traveller and me writing a review wouldn’t probably do the product justice, so we decided it would be a fun idea to do an interview with Rouven instead.
Stargazer: Thanks for taking your time to answer a couple of questions about Traveller, Robots, 13Mann and yourself. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Rouven: Gladly. I am a game designer and author and have been in touch with RPGs since the tender age of 12. That was the time when Ronald Reagan was still dreaming of SDI and the number of roleplaying products were still countable. Like most GMs I wrote my own adventures. Some of them bad, some of them worse but I never stopped doing it.
Being a game designer and author is not my real job though. I only do it during my spare time. My real job is with a big logistics company in Germany.
Bruce Heard is a name I will forever associate with classic D&D content, but for the uninitiated I have just one word, Mystara! Of course it wasn’t always called Mystara, once upon a time it was just the Known World, the starting setting and the greater world hinted at in the Dungeons & Dragons boxed sets with which I learned how to role-play.
That world came alive for me with the Gazetteer series. I remember when I got my hands on the first one, The Grand Duchy of Karameikos. It showed me what a D&D setting could be, it was at once familiar and surprising. I learned the word gazetteer that day. Of course the book that really blew my socks of was the Principalities of Glantri, the land rules by magicians cemented what this world was like in my mind and made me a long life fan. Back then I didn’t really know much about who wrote what but I remember looking at the cover and wondering just who this guy Bruce Heard was…
Imagine my surprise when I got to talk to him online not too long ago! After all these years I actually was exchanging messages with someone who was instrumental in my formation as a role-player and game master. Isn’t social media grand! Of course one of the first things I did was pester him about and interview and he was so kind as to answer the long list of questions I sent him. So now without further ado, here is my interview with Mr. Bruce Heard…
When it comes to soundtracks for pen & paper roleplaying games my favorite composer is definitely James Semple. He and his team have created several awesome soundtracks for Pelgrane Press’ series of GUMSHOE games including Trail of Cthulhu and Ashen Stars. A while ago, after finishing my review of their latest work “All We Have Forgotten”, it occurred to me that it could be very interesting to ask James a couple of questions about his work. I contacted him over Twitter and he gladly said yes. So, without further ado I am proud to present our interview with the composer and multi-instrumentalist James Semple.
Stargazer: Thanks again, James! It’s an honor being able to do an interview with you. Even though I already gave our readers a short introduction on who you are, could you please tell us a bit more about yourself and your work? What non-gaming projects have you worked on? How did you become a composer in the first place?
James: Hi Michael, it’s a real pleasure to be interviewed here. The short story on me is that I’ve been a gamer since I was about 10 years old and I’ve been a fan of film scores since Star Wars was released at the cinema. It really had a huge impact on me and ever since then I have always loved big orchestral film scores. For many years I played lead guitar in various rock bands but for the last 6 years I’ve seriously been focusing on media composition and getting back to my first love of orchestral film music. Outside of composing for tabletop RPG scores I’ve worked on videogame music (The Witcher: Platinum Edition) and feature film scores.
Back in 2001 a small company called Privateer Press released “The Witchfire Trilogy Book 1: The Longest Night” for D&D 3rd Edition. Today Privateer Press is probably best known for its tabletop miniature game lines. For quite some time fans of the original d20-based Iron Kingdoms roleplaying campaign setting have been waiting for a new roleplaying game by Privateer Press and at this year’s GenCon the new Iron Kingdoms roleplaying game made its debut. I had the chance to ask Jason Soles, who was Lead Designer for both WARMACHINE and this new game, a couple of questions about their new RPG.
Stargazer: Hi Jason. Thanks again for answering a couple of questions for us. It has become a tradition here at Stargazer’s World that I ask a few questions about how you got into gaming first. So please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the hobby. What was the first RPG you ever played?
During this blog’s history I’ve written several times about games Reality Blurs’ Sean Preston worked on. In 2010 during Gen Con I first had the opportunity to meet him in person. In 2011 I finally managed to do an interview with him, in which we talked about Agents of Oblivion which had just been released back then.
While I am writing these lines Sean’s latest project is getting funded at Kickstarter. Last Monday he launched a Kickstarter to fund tremulus, his storytelling game of Lovecraftian Horror. Especially the first day was extremely exciting. Tremulus met its goal and the first stretch goal in under 24 hours! I am very excited about this upcoming game and I thought you might be as well, so I asked Sean if he were interested in joining us for another interview.
Stargazer: Hi, Sean! It’s good to have you on Stargazer’s World again. The tremulus Kickstarter has been quite a ride thus far. Don’t you agree?
Sean: Hello, Michael. I’m absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response! Kickstarter made it a Staff Pick, featured it on the blog, and people are buzzing about it across the social media platforms. I should probably calm down, and try to sleep sometime, but I’m too jazzed right now. Heck, the whole team is!
Stargazer: I’ve been playing cheerleader for tremulus for a while now, but perhaps you could tell us what tremulus is about with your own words. What is tremulus and what sets it apart from other games you have worked on before?
Sean: tremulus is a storytelling game of Lovecraftian horror. It is described as a semi-improvisational game where you and your friends craft a story made of nightmare and events unfold before everyone’s eyes. It’s based on Vince Baker’s Apocalypse World Engine and is influenced by elements of Fiasco and Fate. In tremulus, I wrote it with a style completely different from anything I had written before. When developing support materials for other products, you have certain parameters and expectations you need to adhere to organizationally. In this instance, I was uncaged. I could structure and organize it however I saw fit and took steps to present it in a fashion for both new and experienced gamers (such as introducing term early on, include lots of examples in a central area, and so on). Ultimately, this game allows everyone to enter a shared space to build a horror game together, so, on the story level, it provides parameters but doesn’t get into the intricate details present in some of my other work. I’ve taken all the lessons I’ve learned from design and development, and have put them together in one space.
In October 2011 I did my first interview with Sarah Newton, who then worked with Cubicle 7 as head of the editorial team and line developer. Since then her novel Mindjammer has been released and she also left Cubicle 7 to form her own company Mindjammer Press. Mindjammer has recently relaunched and I took this as an opportunity to do another interview with Sarah again.
By the way, if you haven’t read Sarah’s novel yet, you really should check the interview out, because there might be an opportunity for you to win a paperback copy of Mindjammer!
Stargazer: It’s good being able to talk to you again, Sarah. How have you been in the last months?
Sarah: It’s great to talk to you again, Michael – thanks for having me on the blog! My writing life has been extremely busy since we last spoke – lots of great news to share with you!
Stargazer: In the introduction to the interview I mentioned that you created your own company called Mindjammer Press recently. Can you tell us a bit about this?
Sarah: That’s right – that’s one of the big events for us this year. After the previous production delays with the Mindjammer line, we decided to bring everything in-house and set up an imprint purely to focus on producing and publishing Mindjammer books. That includes the roleplaying line, and also the fiction line I’ve been working on. It’s a very exciting move – we’re liaising with industry artists as we speak, and have a production schedule set out right through to 2015, so at last we’ll be able to bring fans and gamers the Mindjammer products you’ve been asking for, including the Mindjammer novel, available right now, and the second edition Mindjammer – The Expansionary Era, releasing in early 2013.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be contributing for this blog for two and a half years now… How time flies! Through this time I have made many new friends, had the opportunity to interact with other fans and authors, but most of all I have been really lucky to know this guy sometimes called Stargazer after discovering his blog while searching for material about Savage Worlds. I was fortunate enough to be here when Michael invited other writers to contribute to the blog. So as a contributor I became a roadie to this show he’s been running, a roadie to the rock star himself, the STARGAZER!
Stargazer’s Worlds had its anniversary a couple of days ago and I thought it would be fitting that for the 4year anniversary I’d turn the tables on the our fearless leader and interview the guy responsible for the blog and giving us contributors a forum to talk about our passion, role-playing games.
Sunglar: Hello Michael, why don’t you begin by telling us a little bit about you? Who are you? Who is the man doing the stargazing?
Michael: Who am I? Good question. My usual response is that I’m a 37 year old German guy who loves roleplaying games, gaming in general, has an interest in astronomy, science in general and who enjoys writing about his hobby.
Sunglar: I think you have talked about this before on the blog, but just in case there are any new readers, how did you get into gaming?