This interview is part of a series focusing on candidates in the running for the 2014 ENnie Awards. The Gen Con EN World RPG Awards (the “ENnies”) are an annual fan-based celebration of excellence in tabletop role-playing gaming, with voting beginning 7 a.m. Central on Sunday, July 20 through 7 p.m. Central on Wednesday, July 30. The winners will be announced at Gen Con, the Grand Hall at the Historic Union Station on Friday, August 15. To vote, see http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/. In this installment I interview Sean Preston, President, Reality Blurs
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your company.
Sean Preston (SP): Reality Blurs just turned ten years old recently. We began as a Savage Worlds licensee in mid-2004 with a vision to develop RPG settings and games we want to play. This vision continues unchanged. Over the years, we’ve dipped our toes in other systems and other settings as we experiment and grow. We’re based in Memphis, Tennessee, and have a handful of folks we work with regularly scattered all over the globe.
MT: Has your company been nominated for any ENnies in the past?
SP: We received a nod for Agents of Oblivion against some very stiff competition.
MT: Tell us about your nominated products.
SP: tremulus is a storytelling game of lovecraftian horror. Yes. The small ‘t’ is intentional. It started off as side project for me, a way to stretch my design skills in some new directions. When I brought it to Lyn, our Editor-in-Chief, she said I should push it up our priority list, and I started developing it full-tilt, expanding out the possible directions we’d like to take it, should the Kickstarter campaign take off (and, boy, did it).
MT: What distinguishes your entries from your competitors?
SP: We’re up for ENnies in five categories, so there’s a lot of competition. And there’s some really great stuff up there. If I have to list what separates us the most from everyone else then I’ll give it a go. First off, it is the number of folks who worked on tremulus. There were just three of us. THREE. I did the writing, the layout, and the art. Lyn Harm and Brad Bell handled the editing. Together, we did the proofing. Wait. There’s one more person, Justin Suzuki, who worked closely with Lyn and myself during the planning stages of the Kickstarter project. So, let’s say there’s FOUR of us.
Now, breaking things down a bit more:
The Best Rules nomination is something we’re gratified to see. tremulus is based on Apocalypse World and we got the approval of Vincent Baker early in the process. It’s not exactly the same in some elements, while it is quite similar in others. We expanded out some moves to make them reminiscent of, though more narrow, than declarations in FATE. Where we pushed things out is to make it possible to tell a suspense-filled, horror mystery on-the-fly with a definite Lovecraftian vibe.
Best Setting is the nomination which surprised us most of all. We knew we had something special with it, but it nearly didn’t make it into the core book. I was going to offer it up separately, but was voted down by the Blurry Ones, so I went with the consensus. Ebon Eaves is a small town generated from the results of the players’ answers to questions regarding Local Color and Town Lore. This creates two dynamic sets of information (one for the players and one for the Keeper) allowing for pick up and play right from the outset.
So the pick up and play aspect is likely what caught the Judges’ attention and got it the nods for Best Game and Product of the Year. While there are some really great games up for these categories, I don’t know of one where you can go from sitting down at the table, selecting and customizing your playbook (character), and being immersed in the story in fifteen minutes WITH NO PREP by anyone (player or Keeper).
I’m especially gratified to be nominated for Best Writing. That shows some personal growth on my part, and lets me know I’m not completely spinning my wheels.
MT: What products will you be producing for the remainder of this year?
SP: Things are up in the air at the moment. There are always a lot of projects in development for us at any given time, and we like to stay nimble. We’re hoping to get some more materials out for our Savage Worlds lines, and are working on wrapping up the writing of a handful of other things. We’re not the fastest studio, but we’re hoping to ramp up our release schedule as we move ahead. (This is a constant hope of ours.)
MT: Have you participated in any recent Kickstarters? Are there any upcoming Kickstarters on the horizon?
SP: As we wrap this one up, we think of where we’re going next. We have several project ideas that we deem suitable for Kickstarter. There is one large in scope, and one we think of as much smaller. There are pros and cons to both, certainly, but we’re hoping to launch something this fall. When the stars are right.
MT: What do you think of the new edition of Call of Cthulhu?
SP: Honestly, I haven’t looked at it. Yet. I’ve got the quick-start rules downloaded, and am certain I shall delve into them when…well, you saw how I answered the last question, so…
MT: Will you be at Gen Con? Where? Will any new products debut at Gen Con?
SP: No. I shall be tucked away in the Mad Lab writing. Personal obligations have made it impossible to get away. Our stuff will be available for purchase from our distributor’s booth, Studio2 Publishing. We generally debut products each Gen Con, but not this year. We have some projects nearing completion, though not quite there yet.
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
SP: The Reality Blurs website is at realityblurs.com, and I’m frequently on twitter @realityblurs. It’s like my virtual water cooler where I take intermittent breaks and recharge my sanity. And we have a Reality Blurs facebook page. We’re in the process of giving our website a facelift. It deserves it.
MT: Anything else you’d like to share?
SP: We appreciate everyone supporting tremulus and our other game lines. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. And we’re honored to be part of such a fantastic community!