Big news about Game Fest. Author & Game Designer Tim Brown will be the Guest of Honor at Game Fest 2014. For those of you scratching your head, wondering who Tim Brown is, let me introduce him. Tim has been designing and writing role-playing games for over 20 years now. He has worked for a number of industry names like Game Designers’ Workshop and TSR, Inc. The big titles he has worked on include designing 2300 AD with Mark Millar and being one of the main creators of Dark Sun!
That is not all, as if you are into Dark Sun and Kickstarters, you already know that his new setting Dragon Kings is releasing in April. If you have not heard about it, you can read all about it here. It is the spiritual successor to Dark Sun and is a multi-media and multi-system epic. This game is being release as a system agnostic setting with rules supplements for Pathfinder, 13th Age, and Savage Worlds. If that was not enough, Tim is also an accomplished musician and is releasing a Dragon Kings progressive rock album and concept album book in the tradition of Rush’s 2112.
At Game Fest, Tim will be sitting on panels on DMing, World Design, and Dragon Kings. And he will be running some Savage Worlds games set the land of the Dragon Kings. So come to GameFest and spend some time with Guest of Honor: Tim Brown.
As a special exclusive for Origins of a Dark God, I was able to interview Tim.
Tim, thanks for signing on with GameFest and to agreeing to do this interview for my blog.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for talking with me.
What was your first RPG and how did you get into gaming?
I played D&D way back in ’78. I was already a boardgame and miniatures game player, and a friend of mine introduced me to D&D. It was a ton of fun, such a new concept!
How did break into the RPG industry?
I started working for Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW), which was in my hometown in Illinois, playtesting boardgames. I wrote my first supplement for the Traveller game in 1980. I ended up working at GDW for 12 years, on Traveller, Space: 1889, 2300 AD, and as editor of Challenge magazine.
If you had to pick one, what would be your favorite product that you worked on?
That’s difficult to pin down. I reminisce the most about Traveller, I suppose, and some of the great sessions and campaigns I was involved in. 2300AD, though, appealed to my ‘hard sci-fi’ leanings, though, and I had a more direct involvement in its creation. Of course, Dark Sun was such an all-encompassing positive experience, too.
How did Dark Sun come into existence?
TSR management let it be known that they wanted a new AD&D setting, and I volunteered to be part of the project. The existing settings – Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and Forgotten Realms – all seemed to be pretty straightforward medieval fantasy worlds, so I wanted to create something different. None of those satisfied the Conan or John Carter vibe, so we headed down that direction. Troy Denning and I started working on the savage setting originally titled War World, and hooked up with relatively new TSR artist Brom to get the ball rolling.
What was it like working on a new setting in the TSR/2nd edition heyday?
Very open and exciting. Honestly, we had a lot of time and resources and very few directives ‘from above.’ As you can see, we took advantage of all of that to create something pretty special. The AD&D 2ndEdition game could accommodate anything easily, I felt.
Who came up with the cannibal Halflings?
Our original thought was to dispense with all of the AD&D races, perhaps even humans, and create entirely new player character races. As we got into that, though, we found it wasn’t as satisfying as we had originally hoped. So, we decided to severely ‘twist’ each of the traditional races to make them unique for the Dark Sun setting. The halflings’ voracious appetites were already well established; we just changed their menu.
After all this time you are returning to the desert with Dragon Kings. Dragon Kings had a successful Kickstarter and is offering a variety of products: books, cd’s, pdfs, art, and more for three very popular systems. Why come back?
I had only a limited period of involvement with Dark Sun back in the day. After the initial design, I moved on into overall management at TSR and that took me away from the setting as it matured. With Dragon Kings I can take my various musings and introduce them into a thematically similar environment for game play. There are a lot of stories to be told in the spreading wastelands …
How would you describe Dragon Kings?
For centuries, a race of benevolent, powerful creatures known as the Dragon Kings watched over the civilizations of Khitus. But as their power waned and they one by one disappeared from existence, more sinister powers have risen in their place. The time has come for new heroes to emerge, defeat the despots, and reverse the planet’s fortunes before it slips into oblivion.
Being a spiritual successor Dark Sun, it invites comparison. What would you say are the key differences between Dragon Kings and Dark Sun?
I’ve tried to create a richer, more complete fabric of tribes, societies, and organizations in Dragon Kings, all working in their own ways and with their own agendas to remake the world in their image. How the players position themselves within and among these groups takes on a more substantial role in the unfolding of each adventure, how it sets up expectations for the adventures that follow, and drives the role-playing aspects of each session. Further, the decline of the world is rooted in theft, both overt and subtle, rather than ecological collapse, so the themes are more in keeping with its danger and savagery. Finally, Dragon Kings introduces races who display truly alien intelligence and challenging motivations that take it a step further still from the traditional medieval fantasy setting.
Will Dragon Kings be available at GameFest?
It will be close. The books will be away at the printers in plenty of time, but whether we have them back in hand or not for the convention is anyone’s guess. At the very least I’ll have printouts of the PDF versions of the World Book to share with everyone there.