For my 100th post of 2014, I thought "Happy Thoughts" and Ponies make me think of happy things. Then of little girls screaming and squealing in delight...
Ponyfinder was a surprise delight for me. I really did not expect to like it. I am not sure whether I wanted to help on my own or if I was asked to do it (I was asked and waited to come back from my trip to Montreal before doing anything about it). I wanted to know more about the man, the project and this new kickstarter. And being a charitable person, I had a short interview with him and I'm posting it here for you!
I'm talking about the man in charge of Ponyfinder and the mastermind behind Silver Games LLC: David Silver (DS).
JP - How did you start playing RPGs?
DS My first taste of D&D was at the hands of a man that offered no advice. I left the experience confused and bewildered, but proceeded to go home and tell my friends about this thing. We went on to do cooperative storytelling for months, since I had no idea what the rules were and had no funny dice. Eventually I got AD&D 2nd edition and we started playing that, and I haven't stopped roleplaying since then.
JP - What is your RPG pedigree?
DS I'm about as indie as they come. I've designed online roleplaying games for over ten years, but never made an actual roleplaying book until just before the first Ponyfinder Kickstarter, when I made the race guide to ponies(Ponies for Pathfinder), which was later expanded into the Ponyfinder Campaign Setting that people are enjoying. I'm only starting to meet the 'big names' right about now, as I press further with my desire to keep on creating.
JP - What would you say is your favorite RPG system of all time?
DS Different systems work for different things! I admit that I tend to like crunchy numbers. I think it's the programmer in me, but I like watching those gears spinning around, and designing things to fit in the existing machine without breaking it appeals to me.
JP - What draws you to Pathfinder over other games?
DS Ponyfinder is a happy fit of luck and timing. I saw the joke version of it on the web long long ago, then got into Pathfinder organized play (Pathfinder Society). The organized play got me playing Pathfinder quite a bit, as it was a very fun format to bring a character from GM to GM.
JP - Ponyfinder is a 122 page book, quite an undertaking. What got you to decide to write?
DS Related to above. When I tripped over the joke Ponyfinder again, I thought I could do better, so I made Ponies for Pathfinder over a week or so and published it for all to see. The response was very positive, even to the point when I asked if they were willing to pay for a more polished book. I put their words to the test when I started a Kickstarter and they came through. We blew apart every stretch goal we could dream up and Ponyfinder was eventually born of it. It was an amazing experience.
JP - Why Ponies? My little girls love 'em... but grown and aging men?
DS Why dwarves, halflings, or elves? Tolkein's had a stranglehold on our fantasy for too long. I like interesting species choices, and the classic ones are getting a little dry. Making some races that had distinctly different anatomy and way of approaching life is great fun to write about and to play. The ponies as presented in Ponyfinder all have goals and ambitions that I try to make consistent with the world and 'realistic' as far as that world goes with brightly colored equines. They are not all nice people, and they don't live in a sunshine world of luxury.
JP - The Ponyfinder book introduces us to the Everglow setting. Can you tell my readers about it?
DS Everglow is a world parked right between the elemental planes. It's soaked in their clashing magic, which has given rise to elementally charged races, with flying horses, dogs that are on fire, and even races made of gems. The ponies were the last species to appear, but took the world by storm with their extreme variety(sea horses, gem, doppelgangers, unicorns, pegasi, bats, desert, ghost, and more) and their eventual cohesion. While their empire persisted, they were a powerful force of law and order, providing the framework for the world to function peacefully, mostly...
JP - One of the things I really liked about it was that you presented the timeline of the setting. Not only that, but you provided some hints, story ideas, factions for the era, in short you provided three settings in one. That I must say was quite ingenious. I think I may steal the idea in future products of my own. How did that idea come about?
DS When I wrote the original Ponies for Pathfinder, it was assumed the ponies were not in charge, and hints were given that they used to have an empire worth talking about, but it fell apart. We didn't want to abandon the roots, so we had to address that point in time, but we also wanted to touch on the empire itself.
I decided to go with three major points, before the empire, during, and after, and let the GM decide where along the timeline they want to run any given game. We don't mind which you pick, and not much changes mechanically, but it changes the flavor of the world dramatically from wild west to high court shenanigans, or post apocalyptic survival, all on the same world.
JP - Other than the obvious presence of ponies, what at the most unique elements of Everglow?
DS There are a lot of four-legged races, ponies aside. It's also the easiest setting ever to throw in elemental tomfoolery. It's not unusual for the border between 'here' and 'there' to thin out, causing a place to start manifesting properties of an elemental plane, causing trouble, or opportunity, for the players. We tried to add interesting character creation options in the form of feats, traits, spells, class archetypes, and such that you can use even if you don't set it on Everglow or play a pony at all.
JP - Who are the main bad guys?
DS That's a tough one! Most settings don't have a baked in nemesis for all that is good and just. We have some evil gods to worry about, but even they have their purposes, and are acknowledged by polite folk, rather than being banned. There is no good in war, so their war god is evil, and they accept that if one accepts the idea that killing a field of soldiers is probably not a 'good' thing to do, even if sometimes justified.
We expect storytellers to come up with more specific bad guys for their specific stories. Our first level adventurer has a gem gnoll that's quite a baddie. Every party I've run the scenario for has taken glee in putting him in his place.
JP - Quite simply: Why Kickstarter?
DS Kickstarter is an amazing tool that not only gets me the funding to pay artists, layout, and editing to make the book look right, but also connects me to the fanbase to share ideas with them. People love seeing their ideas come to life, and it was a blast working in their characters, towns, and even races into the campaign book the first time through. Kickstarter allows Ponyfinder to be a true product of the community.
JP - What does the griffon add to the setting?
DS Griffons are present in the campaign book as a racial option, but it's not very generous in details about them. The griffon book (Who's Kickstarter is going on right now!) dives into details. We'll reveal where their towns and cities are up in the mountains most ponies don't intrude upon. We'll give them specific class archetypes to do things 'the griffon way', and delve into their way of life and thinking. It will be an excellent tool for roleplaying a griffon, as well as a helpful guide for GMs who may wish to use griffons as aids or antagonists for the player. They have the potential to be amazing heroes or incredibly troublesome villains.
JP - Why griffons instead of any one of the other races?
DS In staying with our community driven ways, we ran a poll with all the non-pony Everglow races, and griffons came out on top.
JP - This kickstarter should be funded. How far advanced are you in the writing of it?
DS I have a basic timeline written out with events, one unique griffon goddess, and the griffon outlook for every class in the book. We also have some griffon racial types, allowing you to shuffle your stats a little if you prefer to play a clever raven-headed griffon or a pious pidgeon. When we hit our twelve thousand mark, we're going to be expanding on those options a lot. While they all look about the same to untrained eyes, the griffons have their own variance to compete with the ponies.
We're looking forward to the next stretch goal at ten thousand, less than five hundred away, which will allow us to bring on Hugo Solis, an artist who has worked with Paizo in the past, to do up some amazing pieces for inclusion in the book.
Just about every stretch goal makes the book better. I set the funding goal just as Kickstarter suggested, at the minimum amount needed to do the project. With each goal we bust through, the book will be that much better in the end.
JP - Who is your team on this new book?
DS Our artists, Sita Duncan and Tama'at Studios returns. My right-hand editor Anthony Mckaskle is ready for action, and we have a new marketing /PR consultant, Kyle Elliott. I'll be writing and keeping things moving. Lastly, we have an actual module for levels 1-3 being cooked up by William Kreber(the fellow who did Tower of Misery) and Michael Azzolino.
JP - Do you have any plans for a campaign?
DS Oops, just touched on that above. We have aspirations to do an adventure path type thing, starting with the first module I hinted at above. We're using some of the funds raised in the Kickstarter to cover art and editing on it, and look forward to releasing it when it's done.
JP - What about an organized play campaign?
DS I would love to see this! But I think we need a lot more content and a more steady stream to support such an endeavor.
JP - Are you planning to attend any major cons in the coming year?
DS My con list for the year: Everfree Northwest, Brony Fan Fair, and Nightmare Nights I only got my first taste of vendoring at a con early this year, and it was far too late to try to squeeze in one of those big ones. Maybe next year? Time will tell!
JP - Any there any important links where people can go to learn more about Ponies/ Silver Games/ the Kickstarter?
JP - Are you looking for writers/ editors/ gms?
DSGMs are a precious commodity. If you like running games, you should set up some on our forum at http://forum.ponyfinder.net/ where you will find players waiting to play!
JP - Do you have any non-pony projects in the works that you can talk about?
DS Not at the moment. Ponyfinder is consuming my life!
JP - Any final word?
DS Thanks for the interview! I hope this was as fun to read as it was to type and if you haven't already, fly on over to griffon.ponyfinder.net and support the book. We can't wait to write with you!
If you can participate, I encourage you to check out the Kickstarter. Learn more about it for yourself. I know that talking with David, his enthusiasm about this project is quite contagious.
A lot of good stuff in there... And a few surprises if you read through everything...