Interview with Morgan Boehringer, Independent RPG Designer & Publisher

As I mentioned at the end of my last update, I’ve got another interview for you today.

Morgan Boehringer is a freelance RPG designer based somewhere in the Blue Mountains here in Australia. Not exactly sure where, but having been up at Jenolan Caves for a wedding back in March, I can honestly say that if his home looks anything like the areas I was riding through, then it’s a beautiful place. Jammy bastard… Where was I. Ah yes. He can be found lurking around the Paizo Messageboards under the name Oceanshieldwolf, and is the mind behind Forest Guardian Press, a third-party publisher that focuses on content for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, with his first product, the Direlock class, already being available from Paizo.com. He’s also been involved in various projects run by other publishers, and is currently developing content for the Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock Kickstarter.

For an unaltered image in all his unfettered, shirtless and tattooed glory, see below the interview

For an unaltered image of Morgan in all his unfettered, shirtless and tattooed glory, see below the interview

I interviewed Morgan earlier this week about his work as a designer, and the Strange Brew project. Thankfully, he lives in the same time zone as me, so we could actually do a real-time interview. Time differences are of course one of the biggest inconveniences of living in Australia… well, that and the drop bears… and the ridiculously inflated prices we’re expected to pay for goods and services compared to the USA… you know what? I’m going to stop there and just get down to the reason we’re here.

The point is that we were able to chat online instead having him answer a set of questions I’d emailed to him, getting answers back, and emailing further questions that arose from his responses. It led to a very different feel to the interview. I deliberately didn’t plan it out too much, so that we could just see where the conversation went. I think it turned out well. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a better way to interview, but it’s good for something different, and I have a preference for it.

So, let’s get down to it.

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Role-Playing 101: The Laundry RPG – Session 1

Hey guys,

I’m starting off a new feature for the blog today. Role-Playing 101 is going to document the trials and tribulations that I face as I teach a group of teenagers to role-play. There’ll be some funny moments, occasional glimpses of glory, and a not insignificant amount of frustration (mostly on my part), but also a hell of a lot of fun. It’ll be updated on a very irregular basis, as it generally require me to have actually run a session for the group recently, and it’s not often that we actually get to play. The actual content will be a combination of a session recap and brief discussions about the system (though more in-depth reviews may come later on).

How did I end up running introductory games for teenagers? It’s my attempt to continue the chain that my uncle started when he bought me my first role-playing book for my twelfth birthday, the Player’s Handbook for D&D 3rd Edition. A bit over a year ago, I offered to teach my cousin to play. It took a while to get started, as he needed to gather a group of friends to play with, but eventually we were ready to play. The first session I ran for them was Pathfinder, where I quickly learnt that running for bunch of fourteen year olds is far different to running a game for adults. They picked up the notion of “kill things and take their stuff” very quickly, but were having a bit of difficulty with the idea of “talking to things to see if we can avoid killing them”. Now, to be fair, D&D/Pathfinder is at its core, the game of “killing things and taking their stuff”, but Paizo’s work with Pathfinder has really started to move beyond that, often allowing for other means such as diplomacy or subterfuge to be just as effective as barreling in with swords drawn. Trying to get this concept across sparked an idea, that maybe I could help them learn that there are multiple approaches to these games by running a variety of systems for them, with the added benefit that they’d be able to pick a system they liked when they’re eventually ready to run their own games. So the group agreed that I would run each system for two to three sessions, then pick another one.

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Hollowpoint Playtest – Setting the Scene

NOTE: There’s been a bit of a change of plan on how this is going to work. This update is going to cover the basic rules and the setup of the session. That’s just so I can get something posted. The following update will involve a detailed report on the actual game, written as a report to the Board of Directors of the Firm (the organisation the player characters work for). My housemate suggested taking this different approach to it as a way to potentially work around my writer’s block. We’ll see how it goes. It’s a public holiday here tomorrow, so I’ll get up early, have some eggs benedict for breakfast and try to get cracking on it. Fingers crossed. .

Hey guys, thought it was time I get something posted. It’s been longer than I intended again, as recovery from my accident and sorting out insurance took far longer than I expected. At this stage I’m still going to be without my scooter for at least a couple of weeks, and it’s making life awkward as hell in the meantime. I do have a loaner, but it’s a tiny little 150cc, and has trouble cracking 80km/h, so I only really use it to get to and from work.

Anyway, I’m still working on the campaign journal and starting to realise it may be a long time coming, but it’ll get there eventually. In the mean time, I thought I’d share some details on a playtest we ran a couple of weeks ago for a game I picked up a month or so ago, Hollowpoint. It’s an indie RPG produced by VSCA, the same guys who made the hard science fiction FATE setting Diaspora. Rather than using the FATE or FATE Core system though, Hollowpoint uses its own system, based on building matching sets of d6s from a dice pool. It’s a fast paced, cinematic, brutal little system, and is specifically designed to emulate high violence movies, television series and comics. In fact, the book calls out some of my favourite films and graphic novels as inspiration, including Reservoir Dogs and 100 Bullets.

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A brief status update

Hey guys,

Just wanted to give a very quick update on what I’m up to at the moment, since I still haven’t got the first part of the campaign journal for Reign of Winter: The Snows of Summer up. Rest assured, it’s being worked on, it’s just taking far longer than I’d hoped. I’m also having people review it as I write it, to help make sure that the writing style isn’t too painful to read.

In the mean time, I’ll be doing another Kickstarter roundup in the next few days, as I’ve seen some more projects I feel deserve some love. I’m also beginning to prepare a short run campaign using the Hollowpoint system, which is a very quick and simple indie RPG that focuses on cinematic storytelling and high violence capers. Think movies like Reservoir Dogs, and comics like 100 Bullets. As I start getting that ready, I’ll be preparing updates on the setting and basic story of the campaign as well as looking at how the system works. Other than that, I’m working on Project Helleborus again, on and off as I get time, so there may be some more Cooking the Cosmos at some point in the next few weeks. No guarantee on that though. When I have the time to put some descriptions for a few characters together, and the money to get the art commissioned, I’ll also be doing two or three more updates for The Unusual Suspects.

That’s it for my plans for the next few weeks or so. I’m not sure if Jimbles has anything in store for the blog at the moment, given that he’s been rather ill lately, so it could be a little while until we hear from him again.

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Written while listening to Dead Letter Circus’ new album, The Catalyst Fire. They’re an Australian alternative rock/metal band with a really unique sound, and I highly recommend checking them out. My favourite song off the new album so far is Alone Awake, which you can listen to here. The chorus has been running through my head a lot the last few days…

Please don’t fade,
Now that I’ve seen who you are
There’s not enough of you here today
And this world needs you
Please don’t change
Now that I’ve seen who you are
There’s not enough of you here today

Reign of Winter – Cold, but I’m still here…

So, once again I’m bloody sick. I’m seriously starting to wonder if my body is ever going to completely recover from the series of respiratory tract and chest infections I had during and after my visit to China. I’ve been coughing on and off since then, even after a third round of antibiotics to clear out the last of the infection. Thankfully this time it doesn’t seem to be too bad, though I am more than a little annoyed that I started getting ill the Saturday before a week off on leave. Again with the coughing, but it’s not as nasty as last time. No fever either, just a constant dull ache all over my body. Still, I’m not going to let that stop me from going to see Lindsey Stirling tomorrow night. I’ve been looking forward to this for a month now, and I’ll be damned if illness is going to keep me from it… I’ll just have to stand very quietly at the back and hope there’s some seating available.

Anyway, now that I’ve got my bitching out of the way, it looks like it’s time for another update. As I mentioned last time, this is going to be an introduction to the Reign of Winter campaign that Jimbles is running for me. I was quite excited to have a chance to play in a Pathfinder game, as normally I end up running them, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to actually be a player in a D&D 3.5 game, and I’ve never yet been on the player’s side of the GM screen in Pathfinder, apart from once with a group that fell apart within the first session.

That's one mean looking old lady...

That’s one mean looking old lady…

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Welcome to Night Vale, a sleepy desert community…

Hey guys,

Bit of a random update today. While I’ve been stuck at home with this chest infection, I’ve been listening to a podcast that I stumbled across while browsing the Paizo message boards.

Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast produced by Commonplace Books. It’s done in the style of community radio broadcasts for a small desert town. The only way I can think of to describe it is as public service announcements in the Twilight Zone. It’s incredibly surreal, and I fell in love with it instantly. In another couple of days or so I should be caught up on it (there are 26 episodes so far).

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The Unusual Suspects – The Samurai

Good evening all. Once again, my apologies for the rather long delay between updates. I’m still incredibly busy with work, but I’ve also been suffering from a bit of writer’s block… every time I’ve sat down to write something recently, I’ve ended up staring at the screen for an hour or so, then giving up and playing some Final Fantasy.

I’m also likely to be offline entirely for at least a few weeks through the coming month or so, due to some travel I have coming up for work. While I’ll be able to check email and so on, getting on the blog is going to be highly unlikely.

So, I’ve decided to do a quick update for The Unusual Suspects as a way of easing myself back into it and making sure I’ve at least got something done before I’m away for another month or so. I’ll try to get another update or two up before Saturday, which is when I fly out for the first bit of work.

This character is one that I didn’t actually create myself, but I did have quite a bit of input into his design. He was built by the GM for a Supers game that I was joining part way through. I’m afraid the writing for this one might be a little rough, but right now it’s about all I can manage.

So, without any further delay, let’s meet tonight’s guest…

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Shattered Star: The Quest Begins…

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the campaign journal for my Shattered Star gaming group.

Shattered Star is the Pathfinder Adventure Path that just wrapped up a couple of months ago, and I’ve recently managed to put a group together to play through it. It’s a campaign that ranges from investigation through to old-fashioned dungeon delving and Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider artifact hunting.  It’s also a direct sequel to the earlier Adventure Paths that have taken part in the country of Varisia, but for the most part avoids retracing the same ground – As far as I’m aware the only revisited locale is the city of Magnimar.

Anyway, onto the journal itself. At the moment I’m undecided about how I’m going to write this. Since I’m pressed for time at the moment, the first update is just going to be an overview of the party and a bit of an explanation about optional rules that I use. Later on I’ll be doing recaps of each session, but am still unsure as to whether or not I’ll be doing it as a story with notations about out of character details, or just summarizing events.

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Realm Works

Evening ladies and gentlemen. This one is a very quick update, I don’t have time to write a lot since I’m about to duck out to see Second Sun play.

I just wanted to do a quick update on the state of the Realm Works Kickstarter project. They’re in the last 48 hours, and have nearly reached their third stretch goal (access to Richard Pett’s new campaign, The Blight, completely integrated into Realm Works). If anyone has been sitting on the fence about supporting this project, now is the time to jump in. Every little bit helps the team at Lone Wolf Development make improvements on the software and features, and you get some awesome content with the rewards as well.

As an added incentive, they’ve also announced a final stretch goal of a different kind. If the project hits 2000 backers – currently it is sitting at 1416 – every backer at the Timber Wolf level ($65) or higher will receive a free gift license for their flagship software, Hero Lab. For those of you like me, who already have Hero Lab licenses and pretty much every bit of content available for it, you’re able to gift it to someone else you think might find it useful. For those of you who don’t have it, the license comes with the core data packages for your choice of one of the systems it supports. Packages are availble for Pathfinder, World of Darkness (Vampire: The Requiem and Changeling: The Lost only), Savage Worlds, Shadowrun 4th Edition, D&D 3.5/d20, D&D 4th Edition and Call of Cthulhu. The license normally costs $30, so it’s a great way to get some extra bang for your buck.

You can find the Realm Works Kickstarter project here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/610004753/realm-works-streamlined-rpg-campaign-tools

Anyway, that’s it from me for now, I’ve got to run. The siren song of beautiful acoustic rock is calling me…

Kickstart my Heart!

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen. As you may have guessed from the title of this blog entry, I am a bit of a fan of Mötley Crüe, particularly their album Dr Feelgood, which was released the year I was born. I’m also quite a fan of Nikki Sixx in particular, and really enjoy the work he’s been doing with his current side project, Sixx: A.M. Seriously, if you’re a fan of him at all check out their two albums, The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack and This Is Gonna Hurt.

Anyway, my love of Mötley Crüe aside, the name was actually chosen because it ties in nicely with my topic for today. I’m sure some of you have guessed it already, but for those who haven’t, it’s time for a Kickstarter round-up. I’m going to be having a quick look at what I think are the most promising gaming related projects on Kickstarter at the moment, and providing links to the project pages so you can check them out for yourself. This time around we’ve got three projects that are directly RPG related, a board game, and a project that’s a little different.  So, let’s get started.

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