Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's your turn Johua! - Interview with Genius Loci Games

What?! Gah! *Runs and hides under a table*

1.  How did you get your start roleplaying? What system did you use?

I've had an interest since I was a little kid in the 80s. The cartoon series of Dungeons & Dragons was one of my favorites growing up and I caught every episode during the first order run. So the name was already there in my mind from an early age. In middle school a few friends played outside of school given that I went to a Catholic School and D&D was for the devil. So I missed my shot there. I finally started playing in AIT in 1999 with a TSR box set that I picked up at the Ft. Leonard Wood PX during weekend pass. I don't know what edition it was, just that it was gold, and there was a dagger with a dragon relief in a pile of trash in the small dungeon the box set came with.

2.  How and when did you discover OSR?

That is difficult to answer. I think the best way to put it is that I accidentally fell into it. I was actually looking for some of White Wolf'sSwords & Sorcery OGL stuff and being that I was working third shift at the time and was doing this search after pulling a double (so 2200 – 1400) I typed in Swords & Wizardry instead. I found the 3rd printing of Matt's Core edition and was in love. I didn't go to sleep that day and just read the pdf over and over, glorying in the system. I think I sent the pdf to Staples that day to print (didn't know about lulu yet). Since then I have tried and played with a lot of OSR game systems but S&W Core (especially 3rd printing) is still my go to.

3.  Tell me about Genius Loci Games, How did it start?

I think 4 years ago I was starting to collect my ideas for a Celtic themed setting that I was haphazardly running for my daughter and her friends down on digital paper. I had no idea if I was doing right, no idea if I was following the “rules as written” for S&W or any of that stuff so I decided to submit to the mythmere forums one of the race-as-classes I made for my daughter's game; The Cat-Sith (This would later reappear as the Chesh in New Class Options).

Unfortunately, I think the forums were down that day so I ended going to this new fangled thing I had barely heard of called Google+ and the Swords & Wizardry Fan Discussion Page. People liked the Chesh, gave me some awesome feedback and I kind of just joined the community.  

A few weeks later Erik Tenkar started doing his 30 days of content block, and me not knowing anything else though this was normal, so I started a blog to showcase my original content. Genius Loci Games was born. As a “studio” it came actually from you. I think you were showing off your ideas for the 20131-page dungeon contest and I was like “I can do that!” and … I couldn't, no way I could get it to one page. So I did it in two, released it to RPGnow as the first Two-Page Adventure (The Nest).

4.  Tell me about your latest release “The Bards Of Ur”?

 “The Bards of Ur” is a 5e adventure that is a lot of fun, it is a race against time to stop a death metal Bard Troupe from unleashing a chained demon lord into the mortal plane and then dragging it down into the Nine Hells.. But not before eating most of the population. There's werewolves, ghosts, nobles names Dread … it was a hell of a lot of fun to write, and was really a venting process in a way for me. I always try to be the upbeat, “show them wonder” adventure writer, and all to often it feels like I'm the weird guy in the room for having that mentality so I just went nuts, blasted some folk metal and cut loose.


4.  What are you currently playing?

 I am currently playing Mane Tales which is an original system game for my daughters about magical ponies learning about friendship hides nail file and that has been a joy. Watching my four-year-old pick up on tabletop gaming and start to do more than roll dice and move around a board has been … well, again a joy. I am also running a 5e game on Fantasy Grounds twice a month, having just taken over for the previous DM who ran the game for over a year. 

5.   If you could campaign in any world which would it be? 

Oh man, that's a tough a tough one! Do I have to choose just one? While I love the Forgotten Realms I feel its played out, so that one is out. I would love a shot at Mystara, Savage World's Pinebox, Tx/East Texas University, TheLost Lands, and so many others … more than I think anyone could hope to play in a fulfilling way in a lifetime.

6.  How is your Patreon going?

The Patreon is going pretty good. I have 14 extremely dedicated patrons who have stuck with me through thick and thin, and who are very supportive of both the process and the styles of adventures I produce. Right now I'm averaging 3 to 4 a month with a good mix of short to long adventure (so 2 to 12 pages). I hope to one day reach the final goal, which would allow me to put my kids in a drop off day care for a few hours a week so I could get some dedicated writing time in, but that isn't something I pushing hard at.

7.  Tell me about the “Adventures In Basq” Module?

Adventures in Basq was and may be the only Kickstarter I will ever do. It is a massive Sandpark adventure that takes place in the southern reaches of the Usarm Setting and holds a lot of the lore answers to the setting as a whole. The text is pretty massive, not Barakus or Rappan Aku massive but its big. At last page count it was sitting at 55 pages without art, layout, or any of the fancy stuff with a 10pt boring font. 

While there is a lot of detail I also left a lot up to the Referee as well, one of my main design philosophies is that the Referee is god and that his or her will should take the forefront. So I may give a summary for an area that is two paragraphs long and some suggestions but beyond that every instance of that area will be different from Referee to Referee. That however, isn't always the case, the dungeons, the various factions, and so on are pretty well detailed, but things not in the immediate area of the setting (i.e. the Rift Bridge, The Salt Pillers, The Great Seas, etc) are only thinly described.

8.  You’ve released an adventure using the Mini6 rules from anti paladin games, how do you find writing for that system?

Two actually, Paranormal Investigators & Exterminators, and Good-byeAmerican P.I.E.. I love mini-six, it is by far my second favorite system and I wish there was more support for it. Designing for it can be tricky because of how the combat system is but as a whole it is fun and quick and I can't wait to get my hands into it again.

EDITORS NOTE:  Here's a link to Mini6 by antipaladin games -

9.  What is one of your favorite adventures other than something that you’ve released?

Your TheLizardmen of Illzathatch jumps to mind immediately, I also love Grimesgate by Matt Finch and have used as the Rosetta stone in a lot of my early adventures.  Going back in time the 3.5 Ravenloft adventure "Expedition to Castle Ravenloft" will always hold a special place for me as it was my first adventure, as will the "Mask of Death" because of its association with my favorite movie "Gamers 2: Dorkness Rising".

10.  Your modules contain some amazing art & cartography, who are these awesome artists?

Frank Turfler is my go to guy. The man is a genius with both a pencil and mouse and I work with him as much as I can. He is the primary artist for “Adventures in Basq”, and has done covers and interiors in a lot of my work. Many of my Patreon adventures piggy back off of his Patreon map releases, trying to show case the different uses for his maps. I also have a great working relationship with Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood design who is the cartographer for “Adventures in Basq” and who designed the new logo for GeniusLoci Games. Glynn is amazing … and is very patient. Seriously the man should be canonized. I also have worked with the super awesome Eric Quigley who did the cover for “Adventures in Basq” and is on the short list should I ever have the money to hire him again. Finally there is Danny Prescott who has done some work for “Adventures in Basq” including the city shot of Basq itself. He does really good work and doesn't get near enough credit.

11.  When you get a chance to play a character, what type of PC do you like to play?

Erik is going to think I'm copying off of him but I typically play a Dwarven Cleric when the system allows for it and the roll isn't already taken. Otherwise I play a Dread Pirate Roberts style ranged fighter who typically annoys most of the groups I've played with … so I stick to the dwarf.

12.  What are you most excited about in the RPG scene currently?

A lot actually. I am really excited for the upcoming unity version of Fantasy Grounds. While I love in person gaming and I don't think anything can ever truly emulate it, I feel with how our society is changing VTTs are the future, and FG is, in my opinion, the best of them. There is also a really fun dark sci-fi adventure coming out that I had the privilege to play test that has me excited, because it is going to blow some minds. Outside of that there is the obvious “Stuff from Frog Gods” that I was actually able to afford this time around.

13.   Hockey Or Football? And bonus question Italian or Asian cuisine?

Well, you're going to kill me but neither; I'm a baseball fan. As for food, the last name is De Santo so of course I like Asian.

14.  What are the plans for Genuis Loci Games this year?  Anything in the works?

The main goal right now is to get “Adventures in Basq” out the door. After that my primary focus is on finishing the development of Mane Tales and Eldritch (A Modern Paranormal take on S&W Core) and releasing them to the wider world in one form or another. Unfortunately I may end up shopping those around instead of releasing them myself, as the price of putting out a Grade A professional product is beyond me, and I am still very doubtful of doing another kickstarter.

Thank you, Shane!  It was an honor and a half!

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