Justus Productions

Matthew W. Croshaw, Fourth Dimension Studios

Matthew W. Croshaw and Fourth Dimensions Studios have been a supporter of MACE and all its incarnations for the past several years now.  They have consistently run multiple tables of the Time Warriors with great success.  We are delighted that Matthew took the time to answer a few questions.

Hello Matthew.  Thanks for taking the time out to talk with us. Tell us a little about yourself and what type of gamer you are?

MC: My name is Matthew Croshaw, I am thirty-five years old, married to a wonderful woman named Lisa and father to three equally wonderful children named Brooklynn, Elijah, and Caroline (who will be here this coming January).  I am the Production Pastor at Revelation Ministries in Marion, SC…which means I am in charge of all the production aspects of the worship services as well as all ministry programs that deal with any type of media arts.  Examples would be-movie ministry, theatrical ministry or as simple as a quarterly newsletter ministry.  I have a theatre degree from Mars Hill College (which is where I also went to undergrad for RPGs).  Later I would attend Grand Canyon University for a BA in Christian Studies and finally, a Masters in Christian Studies.  Last year after fifteen years of running a game written back in 1996, I finally took Time Warriors, public at MACE, as the owner of a one-month-old business called Fourth Dimension Studios LLC.

As far as gaming goes, I am the talker of the bunch.  I like to negotiate and run cons.  I tend to build characters that can fight well enough to take care of themselves but would much rather talk themselves out of a jam.  In short, if it is a hack and slash game, I am going to have a long night.  As much as I love to role play, I very rarely get to play anymore, at least not like I used to in college.  Now, I mostly run and when I do play, it is usually to play-test ideas we have within the company. So I am looking for problems with the story or examining the minor changes in the use of the D6 system and so on, instead of just playing the game.

How long have you been gaming?  What kinds of games do you prefer?

MC:I have been gaming since 1995, so roughly 17 years.  The second part of that question can be taken two ways, so I’ll address both.  First, is genre. I prefer a mixture of Sci-fi with a taste of something real.  For example I like Dark Heresy where I play an Inquisitor.  The Sci-fi setting is a really neat environment for an Inquisitor.  It isn’t for everyone, but I like it. I enjoy the dichotomy.

Now to address the same question differently … Style.  I love a good story.  I want to be swept away in detailed intricate stories.  I want to walk away from the game thinking about the world I was exposed to.   I want to lay in my bed awake at night staring at the ceiling whilst daydreaming about what it would be like to really live in that world.  I want the magic.  Some game masters have it and others don’t.  However, as a player you immediately recognize when you are in the midst of a good story.

So finally…if I get a great story that just happens to be Sci-fi based, I’m good to go!

So it’s been close to a year now since you started this journey, right?  How has it gone so far with Time Warriors and starting a game publication business?

MC: Yes, it has been a year, one that has seen some ups and downs for 4DS.  First of all let me explain how grateful I am to all of you, who have helped 4DS.  MACE and SCARAB have both jumped at the opportunity to build 4DS, provide sound advice, and even help with play-testing.  However, there are the guys you never hear about that make 4DS possible.  They have worked and shared their creativity with 4DS for absolutely free thus far.  Those guys are Scott Moffitt, Randy Miller, Clayton Harbaugh, Aaron Crouse, Cameron Mills, Tommy Poston, Melvin Robinson, Chris Robinson, Jason Makowski, Mitchell Hilburn, and Matt Scruggs.  These guys are awesome role players and a great bunch to work with.

As far as the business itself, we have found the gaming business to be very friendly and supportive.  We have heard the word, “No” on certain things but most often it is “yes.”  We have been very aggressive in making our presence known within the gaming community, in that we have begun the networking process of “you advertise for us and we will do the same for you” type deals.  We have also become more aggressive in the writing of our games.  Right now we are sitting on ten games, five of which will be ready for public use during the 2013 con season.  The plan is to self-publish through Drive Thru RPG who has been extremely wonderful to work with.  The guys at Drive Thru have been so very patient with us as we have been learning the business so to speak.    Keep in mind that with each game, there will be source books and so on.

The big hang up for us has been artwork.  We don’t have an artist on the team that can even begin to compete with the artwork in various other gaming books.  We also learned very quickly that hiring an artist for such a project can be very costly.  However, we have been able to find a solution to that problem and we are diligently working to have the game ready and available to the public by 2013.

Tell us what inspired you to make Time Warriors?

MC: I think the two largest inspirations were 1)the concept of time travel and 2)expansive and massive epics spanning throughout time.  I have always been fascinated with the idea of time travel.  I also have always had a deep appreciation for history.  One of my favorite things to do in game is to make VenRacken activity or Time Warrior activity directly responsible for major events in history.  An easy example of this would be: Adolf Hitler as a VenRacken plant.  Since Adolf Hitler is in our history books, the VenRacken’s were successful in the very least in planting him.  Since he lost the war, the Time Warriors were successful in eliminating Adolf Hitler thereby thwarting the VenRacken plan.

Why did you decide to use the d6/OGL?

MC: Well, first and foremost it was the system that we have always run the game with.  We have heard a lot of people say that they disliked the d6 system.  At first that was a concern for us, but then we saw firsthand the lack of use of the system at cons.  It became apparent that 4DS had an opportunity in some ways to reintroduce the system.  We changed the system up a little, just in the areas that we knew were frustrations for players. For example: One of the biggest complaints was leveling. So we made it go a little faster for the PC’s.  What we like about the D6 system is that it enables us to move quickly in-game. It is very fast paced. It is just what we wanted to keep our PC’s on their toes. Plus, you only need one type of dice to use the system. D6’s are available everywhere. So far, the reaction of players at the conventions we have attended seems to be “I used to play other D6 games and didn’t really like the die system, but you guys have made it fun to play.”

What do you think makes Time Warriors unique and so successful?

MC: Scott Moffitt, who has played the game from its conception over 15 years ago answered this question: “What makes Time Warriors unique and so successful is, first of all, the story arc.  When one plays the game for the first time, he or she gets sucked into this amazingly detailed world.  The characters are larger than life, the story is larger than life and the player is drawn back again and again.  What could be better than saving humanity’s history, to preserve our way of life?  Also, I think TW may be the first game to allow one to play himself or herself in a story arc.”

I tend to agree with his points, though I do believe there are other games out there that allow players to play themselves.  The truth is the Time Warriors saga is MASSIVE!  When we get done putting it all in book form for gaming, the story will encompass five different role playing games (Origins, The Resistance, Time Warriors, Terran Legacy, and Shattered Empire). Each game will have a good number of source books and plenty of adventure books, etc.

What players have said to us at conventions: 1) They love the pace of the game. The game is meant to be fast paced much like a real fire fight would be.  2) They love the detail of the game. We want players to smell, feel, and see the events and locations described in game, not to mention the “oh crap” recognition of being the underdog.  3) They love the build of adventures we bring to conventions. This is good because we write our adventure books in the same manner we prepare “missions” for conventions.  4) They love the intensity we bring to our product.  4DS game masters rehearse their sessions with our home brew groups before conventions, in an effort to bring not only their “A” game, but also to bring out the highest potential each story arc has to offer for players at conventions such as MACE.  5) Believe it or not, they tell us how much they love the D6 system with this game.

What is in the future for you, 4D Studios and Time Warriors?

MC: First, Scott Moffitt and I are starting an official partnership in the administration and creativity of 4DS.  Scott and I have been close friends for a long time.  We have gamed together, worked together, and dreamed about making games together.  His help and his assistance with game mechanics, story details, and just his love for the story is inspiring and fun to be around.  4DS is a better, more viable gaming company with the addition of Scott Moffitt.

4DS will be attending many more conventions during the 2013 Con season than last year.  This is, of course, an effort to get our name and product noticed by more gamers.

4DS will also be hosting our invitation-only event “ShadowCon.”  ShadowCon is a major event for the company through which we are able to test our products and get immediate feedback from the gamers who have been invited.   We are shooting to have 100 players this year.  The event will be centered on various 4DS games such as Time Warriors, LOTE, Paladin, among others, as well as a little surprise we are currently trying to get the rights to.  This doesn’t mean that other non 4DS games will not be allowed.  In fact we will encourage other GM’s to attend the event to ensure that all players are playing during each scheduled session.  ShadowCon is an annual event that takes place every February.  This coming ShadowCon is when we are planning on Time Warriors going public.  Finally, as I have said before, we are sitting on a lot of games. Once Time Warriors goes public, one should expect to start seeing a lot more 4DS products hitting the market.

Other news is the development of our filming wing.  Matt Scruggs, an SCAD graduate, has teamed up with us so that we can 1) Shoot “shorts” to help 4DS become more “known” 2) Incorporate film and computer graphics into our gaming products, and 3) Enter our shorts into film festivals at gaming conventions.

My personal plans for the future are to continue to learn the business, continue to tell good stories, and to be a good husband and dad. I look forward to when my kids can play.  Overall I am going to focus on just keeping things close to home.

As for the future of Time Warriors…well the truth is…only time will tell.

Thanks again.  We look forward to see you at MACE 2012.

 

 

Mike Welham , 2012 RPG Superstar

At MACE 2012 Mike Welham, Paizo’s 2012 RPG Superstar, attended and ran some games for us.  He took time out from his busy schedule to answer a few questions we had for him.

Hello, Mike.  Thanks for taking the time out to answer a few questions.

MW: Thanks for taking the time to interview me.

Congratulations on the win for 2012 RPG Superstar. How does it feel to be one of the elite?

MW: Even 6 months after the fact, it feels a little surreal. I’m pleased that the voters saw something each round to push me into the next round, and I really appreciate Paizo doing this contest every year. Doom Comes to Dustpawn won’t be released for a couple of months, but I will be excited to see it in print.

What kind of gamer would you say you are?

MW: When I play a character, I like to create a slightly off-kilter hook for the character. It’s a lot of fun to come up with an unusual character and just throwing that out there for the others to interact with. At the same time, especially in “living” campaigns, I make sure the character can benefit the party in combat situations. My overall goal is to bring a little bit of laughter to the table, usually at my character’s expense. I primarily GM at home, and I run my campaigns a little loose, because I have learned that I can have a perfectly crafted plot for a night’s adventure, and the players will go off on completely different tangents, which have absolutely nothing to do with what I planned.

You are one of many RPG Superstar contestants that are from the Carolinas.  Why do you think that is?

MW: That’s amazing, isn’t it? You’ve got Neil Spicer who won in 2009, and this year featured 3 North Carolina residents in the top 4. I believe the Carolinas have a lot of gaming communities that provide a medium for talent to develop. Also, with the sheer number of colleges and military bases in the two states, I think the gaming population is fairly substantial. Of course, conventions like MACE get people excited for gaming. I know when I’ve had a great convention experience, I am eager to contribute back to the community.

Is this your first time being a contestant?

MW: Far from it. I have entered every year Paizo has hosted the competition. I learned something new during each attempt, and I finally found myself in the top 32 this year.

Tell us a little about the RPG Superstar Competition and how you got involved?

MW: Paizo has run RPG Superstar for five years now. It is their way to find amateur designers who can potentially become regular contributors, which Neil Spicer has done. However, you don’t have to win the competition to become part of Paizo’s stable of freelancers.

The first round of the competition is always the same: design a wondrous item in the Pathfinder RPG format using 300 words or less. The judges choose 32 entries, plus 4 alternates in case one of the 32 drops out, and those 32 entrants have a week or so to create their entry for the next round. In 2012, the second round challenge was to create an organization, but previous years have had contestants create an archetype or a monster concept or something else. After the first round, contestants progress through votes cast by the community. The judges have their say about each entry, but the Paizo community at large determines who advances. Ultimately, in the final round of four contestants, the challenge is to submit a proposal for a 32-page adventure module, and the winner gets to write that module (with help from a Paizo developer), while the other three contestants get the opportunity to write a Pathfinder Society scenario.

What was it about Doom Comes to Dustpawn that you think put you over the edge?

MW: I think I lucked out and struck a chord with the voters by choosing to touch on the recently released Distant Worlds supplement.

Did you have an opportunity to see your competitions’ works after each round?  If so, who impressed you the most?

MW: Each round I tried to take a look at what everyone else was doing. Since we couldn’t comment on our own entries, and some decisions for the next round had to wait until the judges released the full rules, I had time to at least skim my competitors’ entries. They were all good and made me nervous about my chances of survival. Overall, though, I felt Tom Phillips had the most consistent presence in the competition, and I thought he was a lock for the win. According to Mark Moreland, the difference in votes between the two of us was less than two percent, making it the closest competition in the history of RPG Superstar.

What inspirations kept you going in the competitions?

MW: I had  two sources of inspiration during the competition: my family and the “Forums Are Way Too Long” group. My wife, Cheryl, is not a gamer, but she was extremely supportive during my run through RPG Superstar, as she has been throughout all of my freelancing career. My daughter, Rachel, patiently allowed me to bounce ideas off of her, and she volunteered to read the judges’ comments first for one of the rounds. The FaWTL group gave me a place to vent frustrations, and a couple of people from the group critiqued my entries. That’s definitely something I would suggest to anyone interested in the competition: find a couple of peers that you trust to honestly critique your work.

Once the complete Doom Comes to Dustpawn is published, what plans do you have in the future?

MW: I’ve already made my turnover for Doom Comes to Dustpawn, so I have already started on my next projects. I have work coming out from Butterfrog Studio, Clockwork Gnome Publishing, Raging Swan Press, Rite Publishing, and Zombie Sky Press. I hope to continue working with Paizo as well, but I am certainly keeping busy.

Thanks again.  Looking forward to meeting you at MACE!

MW: Thank you! I am very much looking forward to meeting you and enjoying everything MACE has to offer.