Chad Bowser, writer of Cthulhu Invictus

In 2011, Chad Bowser wrote Cthulhu Invictus and ran a few sessions of it at MACE 2011.  He was kind enough to answer a few interview questions.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.  Tell us a little about yourself and your gaming accomplishments?

Thanks, Ron. I’m not sure what you want to know, but I’ll try. I grew up in Buffalo, NY. Except for the time I was traveling with the carnival, I was an upstate New Yorker. I moved to NC in 1997 to go to graduate school for medieval history. After earning that degree, I immediately shifted fields and went to work in IT. I’m now an engineer for a major financial institution.

I’ve been gaming since 1989, when I started playing AD&D 2e. I haven’t looked back. My first published item was a Call of Cthulhu scenario published in the now defunct Demonground magazine.

Tell us a little about yourself and your gaming likes/dislikes?  What kind of gamer would you characterize yourself?

To be honest, I like most games. I prefer unified mechanics, but that’s by no means a deal-breaker. My favorite games are, in no particular order, Call of Cthulhu, Pendragon, Fiasco, and Victoriana. In case you can’t tell, I’m also a sucker for historical games.

If you look at the GSN scale of gaming, I’d classify myself as a simulationist/narrativist depending on how the mood strikes me. At the end of the day, I’m the type of gamer who just likes to have a fun time playing games.

Tells us a little about the Cthulhu Invictus?

Cthulhu Invictus is the brainchild of me and my wife, Andi Newton. She’s also the co-author. It’s a horror game situating the Cthulhu Mythos in ancient Rome. I think the Roman Empire’s a good analogue for Lovecraft’s New England. You have the civilized center (Rome/Boston) surrounded by these peripheral villages where all the weirdness happens (the provinces/Arkham/Dunwich).

CI, as we call it, is a melding of history, mythology, and the Mythos. I worked on the history, Andi worked on the mythology, and we collaborated on tying in the Mythos. We view it as a toolbox where Keepers can pick and choose which elements to include in their game. If you include everything we present, you’ll have a very crowded world!

One of our other goals was to include enough of the mythology from every part of the Empire that you could ignore the Mythos and run a straight sword and sandals game. If you ever enjoyed a Ray Harryhausen film, you know what I’m talking about. Andi worked overtime to make sure the mythological beasties presented in CI stayed true to the myths and legends.

When CI won the 2010 Golden Geek Award for best RPG supplement, Andi and I were thrilled. It really meant a lot to us that we won a fan-sourced award like that.

Since then, we’ve released the Cthulhu Invictus Companion, which is a collection of three scenarios and six more cults.

If anyone’s interesting in learning more about Cthulhu Invictus, look for Andi or me at MACE. We’ll have copies to show you.

What is your latest work?  What is in the future for you?

We have several irons in the fire right now. I can’t divulge a couple of them, though. Two that I’m really excited about are a Steampunk book for the Victoriana line and an alternate history game set in 19th century Russia. The Russian game will combine Russian folklore with the revolutionary politics of the late 19th century.

Tell us a little bit about your plans for MACE?

First, I want to thank you, Jeff, and everybody else behind the scenes at MACE for putting on an excellent show. You guys have been really supportive in ways you can’t imagine.

I plan on running a few games this year. I’m demoing Delta Green for Arc Dream on Friday. On Saturday, I’ll be play testing material for a new Cthulhu setting. If you want to help shape a setting, or at least get your name in a book, make sure to sign up. I’m not 100% sure what my Sunday game will be, so keep your eyes on the schedule. If there’s something in particular you want to play on Sunday, email Ron and let him know.

One of my MACE goals this year is to play in a game of Harnmaster. I’ve wanted to play that game since the early 90s, but have never been able to work it out. Since there’s a MACE fixture who runs Harnmaster, I hope to sit in on a game.

I also look forward to meeting a couple of people I know from the rpggeek.com online community.

 

 

 

T. Glenn Bane, author of Bare Bones Multiverse

In 2011, T. Glenn Bane of Scaldcrow Games took the time to talk with us before MACE that year .

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.  Tell us a little about Scaldcrow and it’s formation?

Scaldcrow Games was founded in 2005 and made its debut at Origins 2007, in Columbus, Ohio. Before that time, I was part of a small publishing company called NeDeo press, developing a handful of high quality, award winning projects. NeDeo got behind my interests for development of an RPG. I had been on a number of publicity events for our other projects that brought me to science fiction, fantasy. and horror conventions. Once reconnected with the convention world and surrounded by the sort of people that I always had the highest affection for (gamers and fiction enthusiasts), I felt the kid inside me break loose, and found myself running full speed to part of it. Since that time I have been “all ahead full” on RPG design.

Tell us a little about yourself and your gaming likes/dislikes?  What kind of gamer would you characterize yourself as?  

Here is how my interest and direction mapped. My love of RPGs and speculative fiction lead to a discovery and interest in artists like Larry Elmore and Frank Frazetta, which in turn put me on a path to art school (Savannah College of Art and Design), which ultimately lead to Creative Director for NeDeo Press, which opened the door for RPG design, which well . . . brings me full circle as the founder and owner of Scaldcrow Games.

Since nine years old I have been involved in gaming and storytelling, in one way or another. I have always liked games that offered the highest degree of choice, where the rules were not so cumbersome as to interfere with GM’s and players’ opportunities to share in the game and storytelling experience. Like a lot of gamers of my vintage, it all started with Basic D&D, from where I quickly began to explore other rule systems and storytelling methods.

What I dislike? Well, You can always mine good stuff out of most games. What I dislike most are games that attempt to rehash old rules, offer nothing new, but confidently declare originality. I feel that the result of this practice is a stale, unfulfilling game experience, that ultimately devalues the creative efforts of visionary storytellers.

I guess I would be a “Soul Gamer,” a person in love with the essence of what gaming is and captivated by the shared creative energy and friendship of those who play them.

Tells use a little about the Bare Bones Multiverse System and the philosophy behind its design?

The system is based on the simple notion of “Fewer Rules Equals Bigger Gaming.” The game was designed for the benefit of veteran gamers with limited time to prepare and play, as well as inexperienced gamers who just want to play a game. When I tested this system with Team Castle (Scaldcrow Games official testing group), I referred to the test as “speed tests.” I wanted the game to work as close to the speed of storytelling as possible. The rule book was created to serve as place where fictional genres could be quickly described for the GM and applied to practical gaming. It is not a nesting place for endless tables and chart check.

Character creation is as fast and easy for players as the game rules are for the GM. A character can be created in only a couple of minutes or as fast as it takes to name one. “The game has a name it play it option,” that means lost characters do not mean the game is over or that a player must sit out the rest of the night. As simple as creation is, the directions that a character can grow are endless.

I have had entire families sit down at a table together, where everyone is involved and everyone has fun.

How does Bare Bones Multiverse compare to games of it’s nature?

There are lots of games out there that offer one rule system for many universes. Bare Bones Multiverse is the fastest and easiest – bar none. Those are not my words but the words and opinions of those folks who signed up to play my game at past events.

Tell us a little bit about your plans for MACE and Bare Bones Multiverse. 

Scaldcrow Games will be demonstrating two of the many genres described in the rule book. I will be running a fantasy game at one table, showing the broad possibilities of magic and combat, and revealing a few new twists on old monsters. The second table will be dedicated to super hero gaming and run by original play tester and founding “Team Castle” member, Paul Witty.