Friday, April 17, 2015

Six Questions with Paul Mitchener

As you are hopefully aware, I am currently running a giveaway for two digital copies of The Age of Arthur. Remember, you still have a few days to enter!

I decided to shoot author Paul Mitchener a few questions and he decided to shoot me a few answers, and I decided to share them with you.

I hope you enjoy.

How did you break into writing RPGs?
A while back I had the idea of running a game of the Reign RPG set in Ancient Greece. Then I picked up Wild Talents, and had the idea to do Greek demigods in the vein of Heracles as superheroes, and I wrote lots to run this game, including lots of cultural details and bits of historical research, as well as mechanics- over a few weekends I had a game supplement. I spoke to some friends, who persuaded me to do something with it, so I pitched the setting to Arc Dream. I was pleasantly surprised when they were interested, so after further tidying up and playtesting, I made my way into being a published RPG author with Blood of the Gods.

Since then, I've started to find the process addictive. I love research. I love writing. I love playtesting scenarios and settings.

Why did you choose a grittier and more "historical" Arthur over the arguably more famous version and romanticized version ala Le Morte d'Arthur or the film Excalibur?
I've been fascinated by the period of history sometimes called Late Antiquity for a while now- the time after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The post-Roman period of British history- the dark ages- is a fun though there are big gaps in what is known. Writing about that era let me play close to home (I'm British) and play with bits of local history and legends.

Basically, it's a love of that part of history. Then when Graham Spearing and I read Bernard Cornwell's warlord stories, we knew that was what we wanted to do.

What do you feel made Fate the perfect choice for this game?
Fate for me is extremely hackable, and convenient to create rules for. So it made it easy to play with magic in a relatively rules light, but I hope flavoursome way, and to do fun things with mass combat (there's another big inspiration there which I believe you've picked up on).

Graham and I also knew we wanted character personality and emotions to be a part of things mechanically, but not overshadow character abilities. The version of Fate we used brings that out really nicely, I think.

What is next for the Age of Arthur roleplaying game?
Well, very soon (we're just waiting for some of the art to be finalised) we're releasing Time of the Wolves. Time of the Wolves is a saga of four linked scenarios for Age of Arthur, involving the defence of Ebrauc (roughly modern day Yorkshire) against invasions from two rival Angle princes. Time of the Wolves also includes a local gazetteer of Ebrauc and surroundings, detailing some smaller places than the main Age of Arthur book, Since both Graham Spearing and I are Yorkshire locals, we really enjoyed writing that bit.

It was also great getting the Age of Arthur team back together- Stephanie McAlea returned with maps, and Jason Behnke with art. I'm excited about this one!

Tell us about your Patreon? Where can we find it? What have you produced thus far, and what's planned?
My Patreon is there so I can produce short (around 50 page) historical fantasy settings. It's sort of a subscription service- patrons pay for each one, and I aim to release something new about every three months. About a week ago, I sent patrons the first of the settings, Hunters of Alexandria. It's urban fantasy in ancient Alexandria, in the year 1AD. What's not to like about that concept?

The things on my Patreon would not have a chance of seeing the light of day without the support of my patrons. Can I take the opportunity to thank them all here?

Next up is World of Herodotus- the world known to the Ancient Greeks, assuming all the fantastical traveller's tales that Herodotus wrote about are literally true. There's also investigation and politics as the Persians prepare for war.

You can find my Patreon here if you'd like to take a look:

Oh, and one other thing while I'm talking about this. I've written a custom light version of Fate (about 10 pages long) for the Patreon game settings (this was my first stretch goal).

Do you have any other projects on the horizon that can, and would like to, talk about?
Can I mention two things here?

One is Starfall, something else I'm working on with Graham Spearing, Starfall is a self-contained RPG ("powered" by Graham Spearing's Wordplay engine) about an alien invasion of the world in the early 1950s. Despite the era, it's more hard science fiction than pulp. The game is written, and in the final stages of Graham and I bashing it around before we start moving towards publication.

The other is me returning to Arc Dream to write Ninth Legion, a setting for the Reign RPG. In Ninth Legion, a Roman force vanished in Scotland, but turned up to a Celtic Otherworld. It's a big project, and with playtesters at the moment. It will hit Kickstarter later this year.