I remember when I was around ten years old going to a garage sale with my mom and spying a blue box with a huge dragon on the cover. The game was Dungeons and Dragons. I picked it up for only a dollar and this was my gateway to role playing games. There are a lot of different companies out there developing new games and one is EN World. Recently I had a chance to catch up and talk to them about their newest kickstarter. Here is what they had to say.
TR: How did you get into role playing games?
Russ: About age 12, I think. School lunch breaks with my friends. Somebody brought in a copy of D&D and we gave it a whirl, and I’ve been playing ever since apart from a brief break in my early 20s.
TR: You also started your own publishing company. Tell us about EN Publishing.
Russ: EN Publishing was created nearly 20 years ago as the publishing arm of EN World. We’ve published nearly 700 titles, including Judge Dredd and the Worlds of 2000 AD, What’s OLD is NEW (WOIN), the War of the Burning Sky and ZEITGEIST: The Gears of Revolution adventure paths, EN5ider magazine for 5E, and tons more. We’re also – currently – one of only 20 TTRPG companies to have crowdfunded over a million dollars in total on Kickstarter (albeit we’re right down the bottom of that list!)
We’re a small company with about a half dozen employees, an army of awesome freelancers, and a prodigious output!
TR: Right now you have a project on Kickstarter. What is the Awfully Cheerful Engine?
Russ: ACE!, as we like to call it, is a light tabletop RPG of action comedy. It’s an irreverent take on pop-culture tropes, designed for one-offs, or short campaigns. You can play anything from a wizard to a robot to a talking dog to a vampire, and more.
TR: Give us a brief overview of the game system and how it sets itself apart from other RPGs.
Russ: OK! I will! It’s a rule-lite dice pool system where a character sheet is the size of a credit card. You have four stats and a special ability, plus a pool of Karma points which lets you do wacky stuff.
The beauty of the game is that the core rulebook is a 30-page comic-book sized booklet. You can pick up the system in a few minutes and be playing straight away.
TR: Will you be able to plan out long campaigns with this system or is it just for one shot adventures or both?
Russ: It’s designed for one-shots of short campaigns, but there is a simple advancement rule should you wish to play longer campaigns. But the focus really is on you playing different characters in a different genre each time, whether that’s hunting ghosts in NYC or crewing a starship in the far future.
TR: Tell us about the various setting books that are available upon launch.
Russ: We have four initial adventures. Spirits of Manhattan is an affectionate take on ghost hunters in New York in the 80s. Montana Drones and the Raiders of the Cutty Sark lets you hunt for artefacts and punch Nazis. Strange Science mixed elements of 80s ‘kids on bikes’ adventures with pod-people called Steve and time travel. And Beam Me Up is a parody of everybody’s favourite final frontier.
Like the core rulebook, these are all about 30 pages in a comic-book sized format.
TR: What are some of the rewards that you have planned for the backers?
Russ: The things I talked about above! Plus some cards you can use as ID cards (character sheets), monster cards, and role cards.
TR: Are there any other books other than the first five planned for release?
Russ: We have stretch goals, two of which have been reached and another which has been announced. All backers who pledge for the full set will also get Orcs & Oubliettes (a parody of the world’s most popular fantasy RPG), and BITE ME! (an adventure in deepest Transylvania featuring werewolves, ghosts, zombies, and You-Know-Who). The next stretch goal is Domes of Thunder which is all about post-apocalyptic mayhem, mutants, and big explosions!
TR: The kickstarter is doing very well. What would you like to develop for ACE?
Russ: We have some possible future stretch goals, but we’ll see how the initial ones go before announcing any more!
TR: What is a dream project that you would love to work on?
Right now, it’s the Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition (www.levelup5e.com
) project we’re working hard on and which will be coming to Kickstarter in October. It’s probably the biggest thing I’ve ever done.
TR: Is there anyone that you would love to work with on a future project?
Russ: Our team on Level Up is a diverse team of the best 5E experts in the business! We can’t wait to publish a version of 5E with such a range of voices. I feel very lucky to be working with them.
TR: Anything else to add?