Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April A to Z - D is for Delvers of a Trollish kind

 Good day to you, readers! Today, we have Scott Malthouse, writer, creator of RPGs and all round top Geek. He's been very busy in the last 12 months, so let's see what he's been up to.
Your gaming system UnbelievablySimple Roleplaying (USR) now has an updated edition and several expansions for space opera, Lovecraftian horror, cyberpunk. 
In  your end of 2015 post, you mentioned a new setting and sandbox adventure for USR. Is there any more you can tell us about them?

There are going to be various sandbox adventures released that tie into settings like Somnium Void, Beyond Fear and USR Cyberpunk, but these are very much in the sketching out stage at the moment. They will essentially provide the tools for a GM to run their own adventures, but not necessarily set out like a traditional adventure. In terms of the new setting, I'm not completely decided. I would love to do a science fantasy setting based around African folklore, but we'll see. 

I seem to think there was a Google+ USR group. How did that go?

There still is - you can find it here - it's generally where I post my public announcements first. Lots of lovely folk on there, so you should check it out if you can.

You have created Quill - a solo game that involves writing a letter. How did you come up for the idea of Quill?

Quill was born out of a weird train of thought. I was scribbling down some ideas about 'social combat', which is structuring social roleplaying like you would a fight mechanic-wise. This got me thinking about certain types of words having more weight than others in a conversation which led me onto coming up with this game about letter writing. Writing letters is generally a solitary activity, which is why Quill is a solo game. So, yeah - social combat is responsible for Quill.
How did you come up with the stats and criteria for success for Quill? Did you write hundreds of letters to make ensure game balance?

The stats are a bit tongue-in-cheek really. I still wanted to keep the structure of traditional RPG stats but turn them on their head. Obviously someone writing a letter doesn't need strength or magic powers, but they do need good penmanship, a passionate writing style and a good handle on language, which translates in the game to Penmanship, Heart and Language. I knew, that there had to be an endgame - a way to figure out if the letter you just wrote was a stunning piece of poetry or a steaming pile of garbage, which is where the point system came in. It was then just a case of working out how to distribute those points throughout the letter, how it should be structured (I settled on five paragraphs) and what the outcome of those points were. I didn't necessarily write a tonne of letters, because the core of the game depends on how the points are scored, rather than the entire content of each letter, but it meant I spent a lot of time figuring out how to make it just the right difficulty, as well as giving the player agency over how they go about scoring points. 

You now have an expansion - Quill: Love Letters. Do you have any more expansions for Quill? Letters from the front line? Letters to the editor? Letters to Points of View?

There are going to be loads of expansions, from scenarios to campaigns. I'll be bringing out a more military-focused set of scenarios, but there's a campaign coming up that's going to be pure weird fiction set in the 1920s. I'm really excited about that one. Derek A. Kamal at Shoreless Skies has just released the awesome Coal & Parchment for Quill, which is set in the underground dwarvern world of the Homes. This is the setting for his new game The Dig, which looks all kinds of awesome. I'm in conversation with a bunch of creators who are coming up with their own scenarios and campaigns, so there won't be a shortage of Quill material. 
You are a fan of Tunnels and Trolls. How did you find the new Deluxe edition? Is there anything that you particularly enjoy?
I really love DT&T, it really does feel like the ultimate edition of the game. I think the thing I enjoy most is that we finally have an official setting in one book. Previously we've had to kind of piece it all together from disparate adventures and supplements, but here we have a host of great background material that's indispensable for the T&T player. The team have really done an outstanding job on the book, so hats off to them. 

You are working on the Kremmsellion. Do you want to tell us more about this product with a fascinating title? Sounds like a cross between Kremm from Tunnels and Trolls and the Simallirion. Am I close?

Haha, sort of close. The Kremmsellion is my biggest T&T project to date. It is very much inspired by Tolkien in that I'm taking the players back in time to discover the origins of magic, or Kremm. The players are dropped in the elven heartlands in a city that's so chock full of magic that absolutely nothing is as it seems. There's a library that contains so much knowledge that it's created a singularity that hovers over the roof. It's very much a love letter to T&T and an exploration of everything I adore about it. 

Apocalypsein your hometown looks great. When will that be out?

Thanks - it's actually out right now and you can get it here. It's a cracking project with a handful of really great writers imagining different apocalyptic scenarios set in their hometowns. Mine is set in Leeds, England and the apocalypse involved creatures of folklore returning to the UK and plunging it into a medieval society. Oh, and there are lots of witches. 

Your blog covers a lot of material from reviews to random generators. What should we expect from Trollish Delver in the future?

I'm really enjoying doing the systemless posts and random generators and these are by far my most popular and well-received posts, so I'm going to be doing more of that. All of these systemless posts have led me to start writing a line of systemless books under the line 'Imaginatum'. 

You alsohave a blog about folklore. Does the folklore feed into the gaming? Which came first?

I do, although I don't really have time to update it anymore. Yeah, absolutely. My Apocalypse in Your Hometown adventure is a celebration of British folklore and I've been juggling an idea around about a full setting about British folklore, but that's somewhere down the road. 

You have a patreon page. Do you have any tips for someone who wants to set up a Patreon account (apart from backing you)

I suppose the biggest tip is to provide good material and offer a variety of payment levels. Honestly, I'm not a pro at it, but I find it useful to look at some of the more popular creators and take a leaf out of their collective books.

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