I first heard of Andreas Walters, was when he invited me to a conversation on Google Plus. I had no idea who he was, so I snooped his profile on GooglePlus to learn more about him. Turns out he is a game designer working on a set of cards.
We talked briefly, starting with me telling him I had no interest in his card game. Yeah I'm as blunt through chat as I am on this blog! But he stopped me by informing me that it was not a card game, but a deck of cards. Chatting some more, he explained more of the project and I my interest rose. Rose enough that I wanted to learn more about it.
And when I learn more, I do an interview! So here goes.
JP - Who are you?
AW To put it simply, I'm a lot of people, I’m an analyst, a medieval fighter (SCA), a traceur, a jewelry designer, a philosopher and a game designer.
JP - How did you become a gamer?
AW Well, this happened when I was in early middle school (maybe earlier) when a group of my friends showed up in a mini-van and told me we were gonna play this cool new game (which they seemed to have some experience playing already). It was D&D 3.0, I got my first character (some level 1 fighter) I really had no idea what was going on, but when we got to combat, I was told I got hit, defiant I argued, "But i have the dodge feat, I dodged!!" (little did I actually know that only gave a +1 dodge to my AC). I’ve learned since then.
JP - What is your RPG pedigree?
AW When I was in high-school my friend was a fanatic about Star Wars (he still is), and he wanted me to create a 3rd edition D&D hack to fit Star Wars, I guess thats when I really started going into the manipulation of rules and systems.
From there I came up with a number of rules for other rules adjustments to streamline the Star Wars Saga Edition (when we found it, as the Use Force skill was waay overpowered).
After that, when D&DNext just started development, I started blogging about design ideas to make D&DNext a better, more balanced system, i pretty much was writing a blog in response to every one of @JoshWOTCs tweets.
When Monte Cook's Numenera came out, thats when I really started getting into game design and writing my own works/systems. Other systems I've played: Pathfinder, Star Wars Saga Edition, Scion, 13th Age, D&D 3.x/4e/next playtest
JP - What is your favorite RPG system of all times?
AW Hmm.. of all time....It would really have to depend on my mood, but right now I am a big fan of Monte Cook Games (MCGs) Cypher System.
JP - What game system do you currently play?
AW Currently, I am playing Numenera (which uses MCGs Cypher System), where I am GMing a play-by-post, and recently my old college friends got back so I'll soon be playing a Star Wars Edge of the Empire campaign which I'm really excited about starting.
JP - Why become a game designer?
AW Well, I kind of fell into it. When Numenera first released I was a very active member of the community. I got close to several great minded gamers whom i worked with to create a number of 1-3 page PDFs of supplemental information for players. Then once the Numenera 3rd Party Limited License was released, I really wanted to take my own shot at creating a short supplement. At first I thought I was going to just do a short 15 page supplement on poisons (since its a rather unexplained in the Corebook), and well the months passed and it grew to a 104 page supplement, which is offered in PDF and print on DriveThroughRPG. I've always loved manipulating systems (as its partially my job to manipulate data and streamline regulatory systems).
JP - I'm not a card man. I loose them all the time, get them out of order, etc. That's really on me. I just hate cards (funny I (try to) play Warmachine...) But, what made you decide "I want to produce a deck of cards"?
AW I’ve been itching to do a card project ever since I’ve published my first book. Cards are quick, easy to use and tactile, leaving their use and interpretation easy. Also, the use of cards enable us to focus in on each facet, allowing us to write a meaningful description in addition to showing off the evocative and inspirational art.
JP - How did you come up with the idea for this deck?
AW So, me and my lead author Andrew were working on an NPC supplement and we were working on a roll table that would be in the back of the book. After doing lots of research on various other NPC generators, we finally pieced together a comprehensive list, but it didn't feel right. Recently I've been trying to find a card project to do, Andrew suggested perhaps the NPC tables, and so I gave it a stab with a mockup and we liked it soo much that we're here with this Kickstarter.
JP - Flat-out: Why Kickstarter?
AW Well, being perfectly honest, Kickstarter is a nice way to:
1) get money without being tied to an investor that might influence the product
2) get an idea of whether people even want the product at all
3) tap into a community of like-minded people that like to see creative things happen
Also, $15k is a lot of money and is no way me or Andrew can rustle up that kind of funds for the project. If we tried spending that money ourselves it would put us in a lot of financial risk, risk that would be a distraction from actually making and delivering a great product. So if it can be funded by people that actually want it, we get the best of both worlds - a product actually gets made for people that actually want it, and we get the freedom to focus on making it the best it can be without having to worry about whether we'll be able to eat next month or lose our homes.
JP - This is a pretty ambitious project for your first effort. Why should people back you?
AW The project is ambitious, the budget is not as much.
Honestly, the total cost doesn't phase me at all. In my prior job, in the city department of transportation, I was an analyst in addition to being a project manager, of which I managed and facilitated several projects with budgets well-over $15k.
Why you should back this project? I think we’ve created a great product, that will become even more after this project is funded. It has great art and great writing which all lead to a good inspiration tool for both players and GMs. If you don't like cards, just go with the PDF rewards and get the Reference Booklet (and even upgrade to the print).
JP - Who else is working with you on this deck?
AW Yes, I'm not the only one going at this project alone, my lead author Andrew Montgomery-Hurrell is assisting me with the writing portions and technical bits of the project (including app specs and website programming). The other member of our team is Eren Arik, who was a classic painter that transitioned to digital paint. I love the work that he does, as he uses his classic painting skills to create imaginative and evocative pieces.
JP - What state is the project in write now: the writing, the art?
AW Currently the project is in its writing stages. We have most of the facets written out, most of our upcoming work will be writing the short descriptions that accompany each facet.
JP - Do you have any other projects you are involved with or have in the works?
AW Yes, actually I am currently in the process of releasing three titles for the Numenera Setting. Unfortunately, I can only publicly speak of one of them, which is Naval Supplement, covering the weird and diverse ways you can use vessels in your campaign, including trade goods, navigation, navigation hazards, naval-combat and customizing vessels.
JP - Any links for those who want to know more?
JP - Are you looking for some artists? If artist wants to participate in the project, how can they become involved?
AW At the moment, we haven't considered adding more artists to the project as we originally wanted to maintain a consistent style throughout the entire deck. That said, we are always looking for artists for to help us with our other publishing efforts.
JP - Are you looking for additional editors/ writers/ designers/ etc?
AW For this project as a measurement of quality control we want to keep the team small, however, as I said earlier if you really want to be apart of the project or help out with this, or my other publishing projects shoot me a message.
JP - Final words?
AW First off thank you for the interview.
Also, I wouldn't be here now if it weren't for Monte Cook for creating the Numenera setting and the Cypher System which got me into creating in the first place. So if you haven't played Numenera, I highly suggest you check it out, its a great community and a great game.
If you can support our project, I would be more than appreciative. This is an awesome product that we’re creating, but we need your help to make it happen.