Sean Patrick Fannon, game writer & designer

In 2011, Sean Patrick Fannon attended MACE 2011 and ran several games for us.  This is an interview we did with him that year before he left DriveThruRPG.com.  Since then, Sean has moved on to other projects.

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.  Tell us a little bit about yourself and the type of gamer you are.

You might say I’ve been gaming ever since there’s been gaming. I discovered D&D in 1977; I had to teach myself how to be a game master, using “Keep on the Borderlands” to start building a world.

That world, by the way, is what eventually became Shaintar (what is now my epic fantasy setting for Savage Worlds).

Because I read about roleplaying instead of discovering it at a game table (as most of my peers did), and I came from a place of epic adventure and broad high fantasy. “Star Wars” released the same year I found D&D, you see, and I’d grown up on The Lord of the Rings and the Shannara tales. As such, I was far less interested in the tactical exercise of dungeon crawls; instead, I wanted to tell sweeping tales of heroes facing impossible odds to save kingdoms and worlds.

Frankly, I’ve never looked back. As a gamer and as a GM, I prefer stories of Heroes vs Villains, high adventure with sweeping scope, and lots of action and drama. I’ve never really gone in for puzzles and traps, and deep personal horror or gritty realism just don’t work as well for me. Don’t get me wrong – if that’s the game I end up in as a player, I will play it to the hilt. I commit to the roleplay absolutely, whatever the theme.

As a Game Master, I can admit that other flavors do sometimes end up permeating into my style as a matter of inspiration or a desire to add more depth to a story. My foundations, however, will always run to the Big Epic Cinema Action Hero stuff.

Tell us a little about your involvement with DriveThruRPG.

I’ve been with them for almost four years now. I started out as a contractor, helping them figure out what kinds of products should go into what kind of search filters; this was shortly after the big merger between DriveThru and RPGNow, and they were still rectifying a lot of the mis-matched stuff in the database.

Sadly, this just wasn’t my forte; I am a solid user of technology, but database stuff really isn’t a strong suit for me. However, Steve Wieck saw in me a lot more that could be brought to bear, and I soon became the Publisher Relations Manager for the sites. As well, I became involved in marketing, communications, and business development. I started learning a great deal about not just the digital market for RPGs, but the business of the RPGs overall.

As well, I was able to bring to bear everything I learned over the years, including my time as a freelancer, my leadership of Obsidian Studios, and my time as a staff member for GAMA. I’ve been writing, designing, and otherwise working professionally in the RPG industry since 1988, so it’s been great to take my accumulated experience and my passion for gaming and bring it to bear in my work for what I believe is the most important player in the RPG Business game.

What is your most proudest accomplishment at DriveThruRPG?

Though I am continuously proud of helping so many great writers and creators bring their visions to life (and make some decent money doing it), I’d have to say that helping elevate DriveThruRPG as a focal point for social consciousness and charity efforts is the proudest of my accomplishments.

It all started, of course, with the terrible aftermath of the Haiti Earthquake. The bundle we pulled together with our publishers after that – and the way we were able to reach so many gamers and others through the social networks and otherwise – ended up generating nearly $179,000 for Doctors Without Borders. We’ve since managed to launch many other efforts to help in the United States and around the world, and we’re proud to be a continuing resource for publishers to support the various causes they champion.

What other projects are on your plate? What is the The OmniVerse?

Plate? Friend, I need a platter at least!

As you mention, I’ve got the OmniVerse in development. The “elevator pitch” would be “Imagine Rifts and Torg crashed into each other, spawned a nigh-infinite set of connected realities, and you could play with any character from any game system, translating from one reality to another. Now make this into the world’s largest tabletop MMRPG.”

Of course, there’s a lot more to this, but that’s the short version. We’re working with many of the top talents and long-time pros in the industry to create a new vision for RPGs and the tabletop gaming community.

As well, I am very excited about the re-launch of Shaintar next year. I’ve been working closely with Sean Preston and the Reality Blurs gang to put together a really spectacular line of products, and I am blowing the doors off of Epic High Fantasy gaming for Savage Worlds fans everywhere.

On top of all that, I remain deeply involved with DriveThruRPG, of course, and the changes we’ve made to the structure and content of the weekly Newsletter has turned it into a kind of mini-magazine for gamers all over the world. The features, gaming content, and comic strips have really made it a fun thing to get in your inbox every week, and I am very proud of the work being done there.

Outside of conventions, do you game regularly? What games?

Gaming is my life, believe me. We have a regular gaming “mini-con” once every four weeks at my house in Huntsville, AL. We call it SilverMeet, and friends come from all over the region – including from Atlanta, Chattanooga, Birmingham, and even as far away as Cincinnati! – to play in all kinds of campaigns we have running. Many are run using the Savage Worlds system (naturally), but there are also Pathfinder, ICONS, Storyteller, and other systems run. Heck, Hawk just started up an Amber Diceless campaign.

I run a couple of Shaintar campaigns regularly on those weekends, and I also have a weekly Shaintar game I run for locals. I get to play in a couple of Shaintar games that Carinn (my lady love) and my friend JD run, and I am also in a lot of the other campaigns. I GM more than I play, but I am grateful I get to play at all!

What do you like best about MACE?

The focus on our hobby is fantastic, and the show is run very well by people who clearly care about the gaming culture. The MACE folks have figured out what their attendees want, and they know how to give it to them effectively with a maximum focus on fun. I’m proud to be a part of it.

What can we expect in the future from Sean and his many projects?

There are some really amazing things cooking up where SilverMeet Studios and the OmniVerse Project are concerned, and while I can’t get into them, I can assure you they will be impacting the hobby in a fun and game-changing way in the foreseeable future.

At the same time, I am increasingly excited about the impending release of the Shaintar product line. I know for a fact that the Savage Worlds community is going to enjoy what these books bring to the fantasy landscape for the system. As well, the setting is much more deeply explored and some the promised story arcs and revelations from the previous release are delivered on. The expansiveness of the setting will shine through, and fans will get a fantasy setting that is both familiar and refreshingly different.

After that, there may even be an effort to present Shaintar in other systems, based on popular demand.

Sean Patrick Fannon
(formerly) Customer Marketing & Communications, DriveThruRPG
Creative Director, SilverMeet Studios
RPG Writer & Designer