Interview with Jesse Galena, writer of Timeline Fracture RPG
To start off, tell us about yourself and your history in gaming.
I am a twenty eight year old fiction writer who recently married a wonderful, intelligent woman. I started playing tabletop RPGs ten years ago when a friend introduced it to me in college. A few years after, I began making my own RPG systems for me and my friends. I wanted to play games, use mechanics, and tell stories that I could not find in other games.
Tell us a little about Timeline Fracture and it’s inspiration for it? What experience do you have with it?
The original idea came when I wanted to make an RPG party with a first-generation astronaut, a warrior, and a cyborg. I looked into genre-bending RPGs that already existed, but their rule books were all so massive I was unsure I could convince an entire group of friends to learn such a dense system. I decided to try a different approach.
Everyone I knew who played RPGs has played a game that uses the d20 system. If I made a game using the d20 system, then everyone would already know the core mechanics. I started looking at all of the different d20 games I could find, examining their classes and feats and understanding how my players and myself could use them together. There were already tons of games giving players options for different classes from virtually any timeline. The wealth of possibilities was astounding, and I knew this was the method I would use to create Timeline Fracture.
I wanted to create a world where, rather than jumping from dimension to dimension, the entire planet was made up of disjointed pieces of different worlds from alternate dimensions. This gives the world a strange economy and each land holds an interesting relationship with its neighbors, since they all have a long history but none of them were familiar with the practices or capabilities of the others before they came together. Players can walk across a border from one land to another that is drastically different, but both lands were forced to be part of the new world.
After more research into the d20 system, I ran my first Timeline Fracture game. That was over two years ago. I have run many more Timeline Fracture games and campaigns and done exponentially more research on the d20 system and its different games over the years. Now I have a polished product that I want to share with the gaming community so everyone can enjoy it.
Why does anyone need Timeline Fracture? Can you use d20 books together without it?
Regardless if people like the idea or not, everyone seems to ask this question. The short answer is yes, you need Timeline Fracture or years of researching the differences in d20 games and play testing them to streamline the numerous unexpected problems you will discover so you don’t have to stop your game and search for a solution that is fair to all of your players. You need Timeline Fracture because you need answers to the problems that surface when you mix multiple d20 games together. What do you do when one of your player’s classes get action points but your other players don’t? If anyone can buy a laser rifle that deals 4d6 damage, why wouldn’t everyone in every timeline use a laser rifle instead of a crossbow, pistol, or any other ranged weapon? What’s the exchange rate between gold pieces and galactic-standard currency? How do you resolve a grapple check when two character’s are using two different methods of making the check? Timeline Fracture offers you the solutions.
Another problem Timeline Fracture solves is completely non-mechanical. Let’s say you’re playing a game and you tell your players, “You come to a land with mythical creatures and people who dabble in the arcade. This is a fantasy setting.” One player thinks of Narnia while another thinks of Game of Thrones. Both are fantasy, but they are incredibly different and each player will be expecting something very different. You might have created a fantasy setting that’s not like either of those, but that is still what players will be expecting if they don’t have a clear reference.
Timeline Fracture provides lands with distinct histories, atmospheres and expectations. This allows the GM and all of the players to better understand the world and know what is to be expected in each of the lands they discover.
Why crowdfund Timeline Fracture instead of writing it and releasing it?
Tabletop RPGs are social at their core. A book of mechanics and lore are not very exciting without a group of people to experience it with. When I starting making Timeline Fracture, I had the social interactions with my players about what they liked and what they thought. I wanted to make the final stages of the production process mimic that social interaction and connection with the future players. I wanted to have open dialog with interested gamers, hear their thoughts, and let them help change the game for the better. I wanted to get those who want to be involved involved, and make the game even more enjoyable and personal, for them and all the players, because of it.
What about using elements from games that say they are d20 but have some alternate rules?
When a company makes their idea into a d20 game, they tweak the rules to better suit the feeling they want to capture. They add some things, take other things away, and change a few things. This is great, but it causes problems when everyone isn’t using all of their material from the same book. Some books use different methods of giving players skill points, resolving grapple checks, initiative, and more. Timeline Fracture offers ways to streamline the use of multiple d20 books together, keeping your game from crashing to a halt to find solutions to unexpected problems.
What does the Timeline Fracture setting add to the game play?
Timeline Fracture adds variety, a new, original setting, and the ability to create characters and campaigns that you couldn’t do with any other game. Using Timeline Fracture, you have access to hundreds of classes and thousands of feats to create the most intriguing character you can. You can even cross-class between different books. If you’re new or are only familiar with one d20 game and you don’t want to experiment with using multiple books, you can create a character using a single book and it will fit perfectly into Timeline Fracture.
For the GM, Timeline Fracture offers a world players have not experienced before. This allows the GM to use technology, magic, differing social standards, and other factors of the environment to introduce new challenges for their players to overcome. Having such a variety allows the GM to create new situations in which players cannot rely on their old methods of problem solving to resolve.
Once this Kickstarter is successful, what is next?
I have written a fantasy novel and am looking for an agent, I want to create and release even more material for Timeline Fracture, and I have a new, completely different RPG system to make. What order those get released is not entirely in my control, but they are sure to happen.