I caught up with my buddy Caias, lead writer for TaleSpinner Holdings, to discuss his latest Kickstarter, Riders. The Kickstarter has 15 days to go and is at over $2,000 of its $3,300 goal.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your Kickstarter.
Caias Ward (CW): Riders is an RPG based on the idea that the world is worth saving. You play a mortal servant of the Horseman of the Apocalypse or other being invested in the fate of humanity who decides that you aren’t going to let the world end. Heaven and Hell want you dead because they think you are working to end the world, and the Horsemen will end you if you reveal your plans. With some help, you found a way to fool God’s scribe, the Metatron, into believe the world is getting better. All you have to do is fix the events which would lead to the Ends of Days, even as the very real Doomsday Clock (which you have to fight on occasion) ticks away…
MT: Tell us about your company.
CW: TaleSpinner Holdings is a creator of games and other media both in-house and on a consultant basis. We previously have developed the Trigger Happy action and crime RPG (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/120689/Trigger-Happy) and are working on several other projects in addition to Riders, including our first licensed property.
MT: Why should backers contribute to your Kickstarter? What sets it apart?
CW: For once, we have a pre-apocalypse game which encourages you to do the right thing even if you have to make difficult choices. This isn’t bad people doing bad things (mostly), or tortured souls woe-ing their way through a game, but people (and maybe a rogue angel or demon) who believe that the world is worthwhile and that it should not end. We’ve created a game world which lets you have enough to work with in play while giving you the freedom to add your own mythology, while having game mechanics which emulate the genre and setting.
MT: How does the Element Engine work?
CW: Our resolution mechanic, The Element Engine, isn’t just a matter of deciding what to do or what ‘skill’ or ‘attribute’ is appropriate, but what’s motivating you to take the action. Why are you taking a swing at someone? Is your Pride not going to let some angel think he is better than you? Do you regret Not Stopping A Homeless Person’s Beating Death and have vowed to never let such a thing happen again? Each of these indicates an important Element of your being and can inform any number of actions, from a footrace to talking down someone in a hostage situation. Each Element has a modifier to indicate how central it is to your character as well as Element Dice, a resource for dramatically increasing the chance of succeeding in actions you believe are important. Spend your Element Dice before or after a Task roll, roll the dice and determine your success based on a Target Number.
MT: How does the layout differ from other role-playing games?
CW: The book is designed to visually represent an in-game artifact, a notebook left by the Morning Star herself for the player characters. It’s a blend of scrapbooking, paintings and sketches to represent God’s own Adversary and her efforts to help the world keep on going even as we get closer to metaphysical midnight. Both immersive and legible, we’ve tried to create something which will put people in the mood of the game without killing their eyesight.
MT: What stretch rewards are available?
CW: We have a number of stretch goals planned, including additional character sets, fiction and even some work from some guest stars in the RPG industry. We’ve been careful to keep the stretch goals in line with the project and making sure they don’t interfere with the delivery of the initial project.
MT: What’s the appeal of apocalyptic themes in media today?
CW: Apocalyptic themes lets us see both the best and worst of people. The systems which keep us civil and intact as a society sometimes constrain people for good or ill. Removing those constraints lets us play around with the idea of what kind a person someone actually is. If the world is going to end, what kind of person would you be? Such worlds are also familiar; many of these apocalyptic events aren’t far off from what we see in the news regarding unrest in foreign countries or even our own backyards and playing in such worlds let us better understand who we are and how we can be better… or worse.
MT: What’s next for your company?
CW: I’m currently developing a game system for the Arena Mode superhero novels, based on the Trigger Happy system. We’re also testing Mighty Sea Heroes, where you play hardcore dolphin adventurers in a light-hearted fantasy world.
MT: Will you be at any conventions? Where?
CW: I will be at both Metatopia (http://www.dexposure.com/m2014.html) and Dreamation () in New Jersey. If anyone thinks of anywhere else I should be, let me know!
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
CW: Sadly, our web presence is not as great as it should be. The best way to find out about us is to see our products, available at DriveThruRPG (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse/pub/4960/TaleSpinner-Holdings).
MT: Anything else you’d like to share?
CW: This has been an exciting project to develop and something I’m really proud of. It’s an accessible game system which still manages to innovate and we’ve gotten great feedback in our testing.