Interview with Matthew J. Hanson of Sneak Attack Press

Matthew J. Hanson is the founder of Savage Worlds licensee Sneak Attack Press. Their latest offering is Kronocalypse.

To start off, tell us about yourself and your history in gaming.

Sure thing. I began gaming in the Eighties with the Mentzer red-box edition of Dungeon & Dragons. I always enjoyed creating my own adventures and settings, so at some point I figured why not get paid for it? I started freelancing in the early 2000s during the d20 boom. In 2010 I decided to start my own company, Sneak Attack Press, and we’ve been growing ever since.

Describe Kronocalypse for us in the form of an elevator pitch.

It’s a time-travel mash-up setting where cavemen, wizards, sky pirates, and cyborgs unite to save time itself.

What works of fiction helped inspire Kronocalypse?

The biggest inspiration is the old SNES game Chrono Trigger, which has a similar premise of characters hopping around time. I think it’s currently available on the DS for anybody who hasn’t played it. Beyond that I’m mostly influenced by fiction of the individual eras, so things like Blade Runner for the cyberpunk era, and everything from Lord of the Rings to A Song of Ice and Fire for the fantasy era.

The four genres represented in Kronocalypse are stone age, fantasy, steampunk, and cyberpunk. Were there any reasons for using those specifically?

A few things. First I wanted eras that I thought would be fun to game in and would be fun to write about, which I think all of these are. I also wanted eras that are iconic. You can just say “stone age” and gamers get an idea in their head right away. I also wanted the eras to feel distinct from each other, to help the players keep things straight as the heroes adventure through time.

What aspects of Kronocalypse do you believe cause it to stand out from other multi-genre settings on the RPG market?

I think time travel is really the key, as a lot of multi-genre settings I’ve seen focus more on dimension hopping.

To focus on the time travel theme, one of the major goals is that while it incorporates different genres, I want the setting to still feel like a unified whole. While each age is distinct, there are many threads running between them.

For instance, the dominant religion, called The Faith, exists throughout all eras. It starts as a form of tribal animism in the stone age and evolves to a more structured religion akin to Shintoism by the medieval era. It is still around in the steampunk era, though fewer people believe in the “miracles” the old books talk about. By the cyberpunk age most people consider it an old superstition, but a few true believers still persist.

Families and places also tie the settings together. They’ll see ancestors and descendants of various NPCs through the ages, and watch how locations change and grow.

The characters start near a city called Aberwyvern, which is loosely based on Cardiff, Wales. There’s no city there in the stone age, but by the medieval era, a Duke has built a castle there, and a large town has grown up around it. In the steampunk era, it’s a major industrial city, thanks in large part to the coal deposits nearby. By the cyberpunk age, most of Aberwyvern has been abandoned, as global sea levels have risen, flooding the streets.

One thing many Savage Worlds settings feature is known as a Plot Point Campaign. Will Kronocalypse have one, either in the main setting book or a future supplement? If so, are there any details about it you’re willing to reveal at this time?

Yes, the plot point campaign is a major part of the main book. As the players bounce around in time, they start to notice there are other time travelers out there, many of whom are wreaking havoc on the timeline. As they learn more, they’ll discover that somebody is manipulating things behind the scenes, and the heroes eventually learn that whoever it is seeks to destroy time itself.

I’m being a little vague here for spoiler purposes, but I’ve got an introduction to the big bad guy in the GM’s part of the playtest documents that are currently available to backers of the projects. Backers can access it through the backer-only first update.

If Kronocalypse proves to be successful, are there any additional supplements you would like to publish for the setting?

I want to focus on the main book before solidifying plans for supplements, but I’ve got a few ideas I’ve been brainstorming. I might have books that introduce new eras or that expand upon the current eras. I also have thought about other possible plot point campaigns that use the multiple eras in different ways, such as a flashback campaign, or one where heroes are reincarnated through the ages.