Interview – Brian Shotton, MERCS Miniatures

I recently had the opportunity to interview Brian Shotton of MERCS Miniatures. In the interview we discuss the future of MERCS and a little bit of how the game came to be, and get some background from the creator. To learn more about the game visit


TE: Could you give a little background about your company, and a little bit of your "gamer cred"?


BS: MERCS started as a minis company. Keith and Tom started making minis just to see if they could. People loved them. They won some TGN awards; next thing you know people are clamoring for more: more minis, more background, and a game. Keith and I knew each other from our day jobs; he knew I played all kinds of games. He asked if I would write some background for the website, and if I thought I could design a game.

I obliged. A couple months later, I invited Keith and Tom over to play MERCS. Everyone had a ball.

Keith is relatively new to gaming. I, on the other hand, have been playing games for more than two decades now. I cut my teeth on AD&D, early GW fantasy, old SSI wargames. Moved to 1st edition Space Hulk, Mordheim, Puerto Rico, Advanced Squad Leader, Fortress America, Shogun (Samurai Swords), Tigris and Euphrates.

TE: MERCS is a true skirmish game with only 5 models per side, why did you chose to limit the factions in this manner? 

BS: We wanted to make the game cheap to get into for one. However, with only five models the stakes are pretty high. I liked the tension only five figs. It was also the average number of people in a fireteam when I was in the army.

TE: For those who don't know the story behind the game could you briefly summarize the backstory?

BS: MERCS is our world; it is Earth circa 2170. Corporations have merged with nations to create giant mega-conglomerates, or what we term as MegaCons. These MegaCons have elite trained security forces called MERCS. MERCS do all kinds of jobs, some on the record some not.

TE: With a limited number of models needed to play how do you envision the game growing? Will there be new models for the existing teams or will you be releasing sets of new factions that don't mix with the existing factions?

BS: All of the above. I can't wait for people to see what we have in store for them. Each MegaCon can have multiple MERCS groups. The FCC has a potential of twelve distinct houses. It is our intention to continuously add to the existing MERCS groups, both with regular team members and special limited edition one-offs.

And the MERCS world is a living world, MegaCons can rise and fall . . .

TE: The models for this game are really great sculpts, could you give a bit of background on how you developed the concept?

BS: Thanks! We are very proud of them as well. The process has evolved a bit, but this is the method that we have found to work well:

Once we have determined where a faction is from in the world and their general play style, it goes into the game test phase. Brian, Kenny and eventually the beta team test play and tweak until they function properly and are balanced. During this time, there may be sketches and concepts roughed up. Nothing is super concrete yet though.

After testing is complete we move into the visual concept. At this point I have a list of each characters stats, such as the weapons they wield or equipment they may have, their armor value, movement speed, etc. It’s most important to be faithful to their in game stats, but other elements like their nationality, location in the world, and cultural history can be referenced as well.

I begin by designing a base armor model. Since all the soldiers are humanoid, I differentiate them mainly by their armor and weapons. Important things to consider are their general silhouette (and how this contrasts against the other factions), form and functionality of the armor, color palette, etc. During this time we also talk about poses we like. I do lots and lots of thumbnails of interesting poses. There's a great deal of trail and error involved. Sometime we'll shoot photos of ourselves in crazy poses and I'll draw from them.

Once the armor is designed, the final characters are rendered, with any variations on the armor made to models that need it. I do spot illustrations to show different angles, and design the weapons at this time as well. Then it's all emailed to one our great sculptors!

TE: In the demo games I've seen (and played in) the Kemvar faction seems to be really strong, have you had any complaints about the power level of the different factions?

BS: KemVar isn't stronger or weaker than any other faction. It simply is a very good faction for beginners to play as their Active Camouflage softens mistakes that beginners often make. As players start to figure out MERCS and their own MegaCon's strengths, the edge KemVar appears to have vanishes rapidly.

TE: Do you have plans for releasing mission packs in the future? The missions in the book are fairly robust but gamers always want more options.

BS: Do we ever. We have plans for a pretty large campaign that will be published and tied into the MERCS world in a number of ways.

I am writing the second MERCS book as you read this. It will have many thing in it (new faction portfolios, additional rules, etc.), but it will be in large part a campaign book. This will tie directly into the fiction that Jennifer Sims is writing now as well (she wrote the short story in the MERCS Game Rules). The fiction, in turn, feeds back into the next campaign book, and back and forth we go. In addition, we'll have side-scenarios in a couple gaming magazines throughout the year that tie back into what people have read and done.

It is ambitious, and I hope we can pull it off. The entire campaign is planned out. It actually feed back into my answer for the fourth questions a little.

TE: Digging through your forums I found some pictures of a melee orientated faction, could you give some details on how they'll play?

BS: sefadu! Yes, they are very exciting. I love their look and their play style. They are very cool looking, fast, and play very fun to play. I can't give many details out, but they rely on their Leader more than other MERCS groups. If he is successful, his team has a easier time hitting targets. THey have a lot of tricks but are still easy to use. I think people will really dig them.

TE: What games have you or are you currently playing?

BS: I have played too numerous games to mention, but I am currently playing K2, Notre Dame, Tichu, Here I Stand, Dominant Species, and 7 Wonders. And a couple games of my own design. 

TE: What are the next Megacons up for release? Should we expect them at GenCon?

BS: sefadu and Keizai Waza are the next two factions. Unless something goes horribly wrong with the sculpts or casting they should both be available at GENCON. After that it is Texico and Ios. Texico is almost ready to launch to my beta players now. Ios is in the early stages of Alpha currently.

TE: In the story from the book, KemVar repulsor tags can target buildings, is it to game breaking for them to be able to do so in game?

BS: Yeah, the same with shooting your own guys. It is one of those things that just doesn't work in a game without really complicating the game to such a degree that we lose a good portion of the audience. Creating a list of what it can and can't stick to is not something I wanted to do. I realized in beta testing them that there would always have to be a line drawn somewhere, so why not draw it in such a way that the rule is easy to remember and follow.

TE: You recently announced several accessories that will be available soon, do you have any other details?

BS: Sure. We are very excited to be working with Battle Foam and Gale Force Nine.

Gale Force Nine will be producing counters for MERCS and printing our maps that we have at shows. Everyone always wants the maps and they are something we have tried to manufacture for quite some time. John came over to our booth at GAMA Trade Show and told us he could do the maps if we wanted to try.

The MERCS Battle Foam bag is going to blow people away. Keith and I are pretty creative guys and when Romeo asked what we wanted to do, we told him. I can't give details yet, but MERCS was designed around the philosophy that a players didn't need to own a small moving van to play our game. We have never been a fan of gaming luggage; the bigger the more we hated it. I think our bag will fit our philosophy very well and introduce something very cool and very different in gaming carrying cases.

We are also very close to doing faction specific dice and retail group packaging. Things are very exciting.


Interview – David Freeman, Cipher Studios

I recently had a chance to talk with Dave Freeman of Cipher Studio. Cipher picked up Hell Dorado and has begun releasing it in English.

TE – For those that don't know what's your role with Cipher Studios? Could you provide some background on the company and your own experience in game development?

DF – I am the COO and Design/Development Manager at Cipher Studios. I spend most of my time doing scheduling, management of remote freelancers, editing, co-ordination of translation, and development of games/rules. I have also done our web design so far, meager as it is. Cipher Studios was founded in January of 2006 with Anima Tactics as its first product. I joined up in 2009 and we have been working to bring great gaming entertainment to the public since. As to my experience in game development, I worked at Sabertooth Games, a division of Games Workshop, for about five years. While there I managed organized play, was the lead developer on the Lord of the Rings Tradeable miniatures game, was the lead designer/developer on the Ultimate Fighting System CCG, made card sets for WarCry, the warhammer fantasy CCG, and the Horus Heresy and Dark Millennium incarnations of the Warhammer 40k CCG, as well as working on other unreleased game products. I have been a gamer since I was in grade school and have played most types of hobby games from RPG's to chit based strategy games. My favorite genre's are CCG's and table top war games.

TE – Hell Dorado seems to be picking up steam, do you have any updates as to when the rules will be released in the US?

DF – The finished layout files for the English book have been sent to the printer in the last few days. I hesitate to name any concrete date that we will have printed copies at this point, but it is off being printed right now!

TE – I've never played the French version of the game, but have oogled the minis for a long time. Are there going to be any significant changes to the ruleset? How comprehensive are the quick start rules, they seem to be a solid starting point for the game?

DF – We haven't made any significant changes to the rules system. The system that was in place is quite good, and I saw no reason to reinvent the wheel. The quick start rules are pretty comprehensive they give the basics of how combat and abilities work, anything that was missing is technical clarification and more complicated special rules. The special abilities section was written to only cover the figures that are in the starters for the game. The quick start rules have worked so far at teaching players the basics of the game, which was their goal. I am planning on making a PDF out of the complete English rules and scenarios sections and posting it at some point so players can easily refer to it as well.

TE – It seems as though the minis are slowly being released with the starter boxes and a few blisters available at the moment. Are there plans to ramp up the release of models, do you have a tentative release schedule?

DF – We are planning to do 5 releases a month for the foreseeable future. We have gotten a little backed up due to technical difficulties and getting some materials printed, but we seem to have most of that straightened out at this point. In the rest of this month and April you should see these figures hitting distribution ...

• Great Damned On of Wrath
• Saurav-Geet
• Blessed Warriors (2 in a blister)

• Sara Zingaresce (With 2 lemures)
• Blade Master, Hybrid
• Infernal Ambassador
• Retiarius
• Thirty Coins
• Dibbukim (2 in a blister)

• Lemure Pack B (3 in a blister)
• Husaym al Din
• Blades for Hire (2 in a blister)
• Damned Rank and File (3 in a blister)
• Arquebusers (2 in a blister)
• Succubus
• Jaws of the Deep
• Pillar of the Faith, Halberd

This is to catch up on the back up that I talked about earlier.

TE – What games do you currently play? How have they influenced your design?

DF – Well of course I play Anima Tactics and Hell Dorado quite a bit. I also play Warhammer 40,000, Space Hulk, Dominion, Dust Tactics, and Acquire fairly regularly. I own lots of games and it can be a challenge to play them all with any kind of regularity. On the professional note, I try and determine what makes any game I play fun, not necessarily just for me, so that I can bring things of that nature into my own work.

TE – What's your favorite model in the Hell Dorado range? Anima Tactics?

DF – Currently my favorite figures are Vincenzo Maculano de Fiorenzuola for Hell Dorado, and Marchosias for Anima Tactics.

TE – Cipher seems to be a fairly small company, do you think that makes thing more challenging or do you feel a leaner company keeps things running smoother?

DF – It really depends. In some situations being small allows you the agility to adapt and address issues. In others it means you only have limited resources and must make and execute realistic and achievable plans.

TE – How much of the original art from the French version of Hell Dorado will be in the new book? Is there much new material?

DF – For the most part we have kept the book almost exactly the same. It hasn't seemed to be a huge priority to develop brand new art when many players have not seen everything that was in the original book. We have started new asset development, but those are to be used in new releases and later books.

TE – Does Cipher have big plans for GenCon this year, if so can you share any details?

DF – We are currently discussing what we will be doing at Gen Con this year, unfortunately our plans aren't concrete yet so I can't share them.

TE – Is there anything else you'd like to share?

DF – Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you and your interest. I hope you, and all of the miniatures enthusiasts out there, enjoy Hell Dorado as much as I have!

I recently had the opportunity to interview Eric Johns of Wyrd Miniatures. If you don't know who he is, he's one of the owners of Wyrd Miniatures and is responsible for most of the ruleset. Read on to learn more about Wyrd and their plans for 2011.

TE – How do you feel about the success of Malifaux so far. It’s relatively rare for a new company to rise in popularity so quickly.What do you attribute the success to?

EJ – I am of course thrilled by the success and continued growth of the game. After putting so much time into it, I had hoped it would do well, but I was also realistic, so kept my expectations low. I think it’s safe to say that all those expectations were easily exceeded, and they continue to be. 

I’d like to attribute all the success of Malifaux to my game design!  I do think that the Game itself plays a big role, and includes some exciting and innovative elements which continue to attract players. But, even I have to admit it’s not quite so straightforward. We see new players drawn to the game all the time due to the miniatures, or the artwork, or the fluff, each of which seems to continue to get very positive responses. So ultimately it’s all of these things in combination. On top of this, I do believe we entered the market at a good time, despite the downturn in the economy. Our game suddenly became “economy-appropriate,” or in other words, a relatively inexpensive game to play at a time when people had less and less money to spend on games! Also at a time when there were relatively few other new games hitting the market. 


In short, it seems like between hard work and luck, all the elements seemed to come together!


TE – As with most miniature games Malifaux has quite a bit of errata. The new rules manual and pdf seems to be a strong idea in addressing the issues that came up from the initial run of the book. How do you feel about the reaction from your player base? Is it true that the pdf will basically be a quick-start guide? When is this scheduled for release? 

EJ – Unfortunately the initial release of Malifaux did have a ton of errata, which no one liked! However, we have always been dedicated to fixing the problems in the absolute best way we can think of, and this led to the idea of the Rules Manual. 


As we were preparing for the 2nd round of errata to go “live” I realized it was simply too much to expect players to have to deal with, and in our efforts to close every loophole, and fix all the wording issues in the game, we’d created something which was simply not usable any longer! As a result we knew we had to find a different solution. 


The Rules Manual allowed us to create a new book, which incorporated all the changes with the goal of presenting to the player a quick, easy, completely revised and updated rule-set, and do it at far less than it would cost for a completely new, full sized book. Also, with it’s small size, it would become the perfect game accessory, and easy to carry around any time! 


The PDF of the Rules Manual will be available at the end of March. It will include all the same basic information as the Rules Manual itself, but with a bit of twist to it. It will be missing a bunch of the extras however (artwork, examples, diagrams, additional strategies/schemes). The result is everything you would need to get pick up the game, but leave out just enough to get you wanting more Malifaux! 

TE. The encounter system for Malifaux is one of the more unique aspects of the game (other than the card mechanic), how did you come up with it? Were there any other games that lead to the idea? 

As you know, a lot of other games feature different scenarios, which was the basis for our system. However, to my frustration, it seemed like in the vast majority of cases, the scenarios were just a way to pretty up the game, when in reality you always only had 1 goal, which was to kill your enemy. So we wanted to go beyond where we felt other games had fallen short, and really make the Strategies/Schemes system in Malifaux integral too the game, and get beyond the idea that war-games had nothing more to offer than the goal of slaughtering your opponent. 

It did take a lot of work and testing, and is in fact something we constantly are working on and adjusting (as you’ll see there are quite a few little changes in the Rules Manual even!). But keeping in mind our stated goals, we’re finding it more and more easy to think up fun and challenging ways to force a player to get more, different results out of their miniatures on the board.


I think it was perhaps my favorite Malifaux moment ever, during the first Tournament at Gencon when the game was released. Two players finished up a game, and called me over to report their results, with one player stating that her routed the other off the board, expecting full points and a win in the tournament. I sat down with them to figure out the Victory Points for the game, and it turns out that none of his Strategies or Schemes had anything to do with killing other models, and he resulted with 0 VP for the game, while his opponent had achieved 2 or 3 (I forget). The result was of course a solid win for the player who was routed. The initial confusion on their faces eventually turned into something more, and at that moment I realized that perhaps we achieved at least part of what we set out to do.

TE –  Are there plans to release models for the story-based encounters? It seems like this would be a excellent opportunity to do limited release models. It seems like any time a limited release is issued there are plenty on nay-sayers as well fans.

EJ – Yes, there is! In fact we are hoping to have our first “Scenario Pack” available at Gencon, which would include a whole story-line of encounters for players, as well as a miniature or two you won’t be able to get any other way. I’m not making any promises right now though, but it’s an idea we’re excited about!

TE – What are Wyrd’s plans for 2011? Almost all the models from Rising Powers are released or scheduled to be soon, what’s next?


EJ – We have a TON of plans for 2011! As you’ve already seen we’re released the Rules Manual, which we’re very excited about. In addition we expect to have another Malifaux book ready for release at Gencon, along with a whole host of new miniatures and ways to play Malifaux. Also, we expect to finally see the release of our exciting modular terrain TerraClips, which is getting VERY close to completion now. It’s something that has taking a lot of work to perfect, which caused far more unfortunate delays that we had hoped, but we’re very excited about it! And finally, we of course have Puppet-Wars, a new game which has been taking up a ton of my time lately, and should be available later in 2011 as well.

TE – If you could change one thing about Malifaux what would it be? 

EJ – Well, ideally I’d love to be able to go back and hand myself the rules manual before the initial book release of Malifaux, so I could have gotten everything right the first time! But of course that’s not possible.  In terms of the core mechanics, I’m actually very happy with the result, and there is very little that stands out to me, leaving me wishing I had done it differently. Of course there are lots of little things, models, abilities, etc...which I sometimes wish I had done a bit differently, but definitely nothing that keeps me up at night! 

TE – Can you tell us anything about Puppet Wars? It’s hinted at on the puppet deck and photos of puppet models are floating around the internet and there’s been a call for playtesters. Is this a new game, any super secret things you can reveal?

EJ – Ah, Puppet Wars. This is a game which has been getting a huge chunk of my time and attention, and something which I’m VERY excited about. At first it was designed to be “Malifaux-light,” and something which would be a good, quick introduction to Malifaux, but very quickly I realized that I had a chance to make the game so much more. It is still very much simplified from Malifaux, while keeping some of the core mechanics you’re used to, but at the same time, by simplifying the core of the game, it’s let me build in a lot more depth! It is a bit hard to explain, but with a simple core, it allowed us to build in more elements of both board games and collectable card games. All together, the game becomes quick and easy to play, but with the synergies and potential combinations that you might find in a CCG. That’s the goal at least! 


With the artwork, game, and miniatures, we’re hoping all the factors come together as well as they did with Malifaux, but to create a distinctly different gaming experience.

TE – What’s it like working with Nathan? How about the other developers?

Ah, trying to dig up the dirt around Wyrd HQ? As with any project, people have different ideas about what needs to happen. However, with Nathan and I, we’ve been friends for long enough, that we’ve never reached a breaking point, or even come close to it. In fact, more likely, the disagreements turn into conversations, which turn into hybrid ideas, which turn into something better than either of us could have thought up alone. Bottom line is that without the hard work of everyone around here, we wouldn’t be close to where we’re at as a company, and I think that we all recognize the contributions of the others.


As for my development team. I don’t have enough good things to say about them. A bunch of WAY too smart people who work long hard hours for far less appreciation than they deserve. And they have to put up with me regularly pulling the rug out from under them and taking projects in new directions with little or no I guess they also must be a patient bunch...or at least don’t let me know it to my face! Either way, it’s another part of Wyrd that I feel is a big reason for our successes. 

TE – Do you currently or in the past play other games? What are your favorites?

EJ – It’s the funniest thing; when you spend so much time making games, you find yourself playing less and less, until you aren’t playing any at all. 


In terms of Miniature Games, I did spend quite a bit of time playing the “big” ones out there (you know the ones), but also dabbled in quite a few others, and ultimately have read just about every game system I can get my hands on. It’s not the same as playing, but it’s enjoyable for me, as I think my mind thinks in rules more than experiences sometimes. 


I’ve also tried my hand at quite a few board games, but typically stayed away from chance based games, those simple ones we all grew up with, and always gravitated towards games of strategy and skill. I would probably say however, my favorite board game is Diplomacy. A game which features NO random chance. Unfortunately it takes 7 dedicated players and quite a bit of time to play, and I rarely get to play anymore.

I’ve also played quite a few CCG’s, had a year of two of extensive Poker playing, along with all types of other dice and card games. In the end, those have all faded, as I’ve gotten more and more focused on creating my own games! 

TE – Early in the game there was an option to buy T-shirts as well as an online magazine. Any plans on bringing these back? Are there plans for other Wyrd branded product?

EJ – Yes, we have tons of ideas and plans, just waiting for the time and energy to make them happen. However, I know for sure you will be seeing at least a few of these plans come to light before or at Gencon this year

TE – Competitive play is always a big draw for miniature games. Does Wyrd have any plans to support competitive play, possibly prize kits? Do you think the story-based nature of the game lends itself well to organized play? 

EJ – You’ve hit another of our upcoming plans, and this one happening sooner rather than later. You will soon be seeing an official Organized Play document for Malifaux, which will correspond to new prize kits. Additionally, I think you will find that the new Story Encounter Packs will also lead to some very interesting events in this new system as well. 

TE – Some other companies have recently released campaign kits, does Wyrd have any plans to do something similar?

EJ – With everything else we’re working on, it’s not something currently in the works. However, I do think in a lot of ways our Story Encounter packs will take the place of this in our game system and world. I do have something bigger along these lines on the back-burner in my mind, but it’s something that you will just have to wait for!

TE – Who’s your favorite master?

Marcus. I think that my involvement with him left him a bit on the weak side (as determined by the consensus of gamers out there). It was a lesson I learned early, to not get too involved with any single master or model, because it removes my ability to be unbiased when working on them. 

TE – Is there anything else you like to share?

EJ – How about I just show off some of the new exciting Puppet Artwork we have coming up. I’ll leave it up to you do figure out which puppet is which ;)

Interview – Dave "nerdelemental" Bowen

I recently had the chance to interivew Dave "nerdelemental" Bowen. Dave is part of our local group and also is one of the writers/developers on Malifaux: Rising Powers.

TE: What's your role with Wyrd Miniatures? How did you get involved with Malifaux?

Dave: It’s ever evolving! Mostly “piss-boy” for Nathan and Eric. It started back at Gencon 2008 when I met Nathan and talked his ear off about the models on display and the ideas he could share about the upcoming game and plans for it. I shared my interest in the world he had envisioned and the plans Eric had for the gameplay. I was intrigued and enthused and let them know that I wanted to participate. I became a very vocal playtester, determined to end up with a game that I’d enjoy playing for years. With enough pestering, they eventually shoved me into the Development Team so they could more comfortably tell me to shut up whenever I got on their nerves. Now I’m in the development of rules, do a considerable amount on the editing side, and devote a tremendous amount of time as a part of the writing team.

TE: Were you the head writer? How much influence did you have on the story? 

Dave: That’s a tricky question to answer. We don’t have a “head” or “lead” writer moniker anymore. Nathan’s the head of the writing department and he consults with every writer about the vision that person is writing about. Every plot idea goes through him. Sometimes I had what I thought was the coolest and best idea in the world and then Nathan will shoot it down.  Like killing Perdita seemed like a totally cool idea to me! He said no.  

However, once I got my voice and vision aligned better with his there’s a lot of trust and leeway and he’ll loosen the reins and say, “Write it up. Let’s see how it looks on paper.” Once the project was in my lap it became clear that the world, itself, has so many story paths that want to be talked about that it almost drives itself. Since my mind’s a full step ahead of what the general populace has regarding the fluff fiction, it cracks me up when I read on our forums “I don’t think undead beasts work with Marcus thematically so I’m not going to do it,” and I think “What are they talking about? Marcus would have no trouble because of this…” and I forget that not many people know what’s in the planning for the future. I’m already writing the story for Book IV so I have to be careful because I’m providing answers in my writing for questions everyone else haven’t even thought of yet.

TE: Is "Rising Powers" focused primarily on the new masters? Do any of the masters that didn't get much love in Book 1 featured (ie Nicodem, Marcus etc.)?

Dave: Of course. There’s a need to shed the spotlight on every master, to give them some validity in the world. But, there’s also the story that must be told, too. Book I had a lot of attention on Seamus and Rasputina and the camera shifted off of them for Book II: Rising Powers, but they’re surely integral to this first story arc and the attention will have to come back to them. But, it’s not hard to list the masters that haven’t been given much attention and expect more stories to wrap around them. Marcus, McMourning, Lady Justice, Pandora, etc.. They’ll see more face time as the full story unfolds. Even the fluff of RP isn’t entirely on the new masters, either. Sonnia is strongly present as she prepares to do whatever she’s planning, as is Perdita. Nicodem has a lot of attention and Ramos is in and out as a string puller. You’ll also see a lot more development of secondary characters like Gideon as a Desperate Mercenary and Lucius, the Governor’s Secretary, and the Governor General, himself.

TE: What happened with the TerraClips Product? From the GenCon Coverage it looked like a solid product.

Dave: It is a solid product. Even as it is right now there was a lot of interest in it and many people at Gencon expressed an interest in buying it as it exists. However, Wyrd’s standards are high and the Partners made the call that several aspects of the product were simply below their standards and expectations and they’d rather fix them, increase the value of the product, and then get it to consumers to make them even happier. As for “what’s wrong with them”? You’d be hard pressed to identify the problems yourself – suffice it to say that in less than a couple of months an even better package will be available! Now that Book II is out, it’s clear that I need several of the “Building” kits as I have my mind set on working up Colette’s Star Theater with them. I’ll make tiny tables and the whole deal.

TE: What can we expect in the future for the Malifaux story line? Is there an outline for where things are going or are you playing it by ear?

Dave: Well, at Gencon Eric and I did some brainstorming and talking and Nathan and I have spoken at great length on a more formal outline: of Book IV!  So, yeah, we’re forward thinking rather than whipping it from the hip. However, as we write, new ideas come and we talk again and tweak the story, go back and rebuild what we did before, that sort of thing. The outline is living, though, and the difficulty is keeping the story, concept art, and model stats aligned throughout the process as those things are living, too. For example, we’ll discuss how we think something looks and I write it up, then the stats change, giving it some twist that needs rewriting, then the artwork comes in and Nathan may request changes and pretty soon I have to go back several chapters to revise something because it’s changed in several ways. Because the fiction is by far the most time consuming aspect of a book we have to try to get some down before stats are even out of the alpha stage. Now, what can you expect for the story line? As the game is very unique and introduced an entirely new mechanic, I hope the story can match that. I don’t want the typical “Here’s the master of this chapter and he’s fighting this other master and crew” kind of storytelling. We’re pushing for real people in phenomenal circumstances that Fate has twisted for them and see how they rattle. I’m no Poe or Faulkner but keeping the story character driven is much more important for us than one battle scene after another. Of course they’re in there and fun to write – hopefully they’re the fun breaks between the true story. I’m hoping for some unexpected unions and allies and some conflict between individuals we might have thought were tight. Some of that was introduced with Sonnia and the Ortegas in RP and Rasputina probably ticked off Ramos quite a bit by doing what she did to those miners while up in the mountain. We’re going to explore a lot more of the character’s motivations and conflicts.

Ultimately, I develop a storyline plot structure and then Nathan gives various thumbs up and thumbs down to different ideas and we talk for a long time about it and he throws ideas around like crazy. My favorite part of the writing process is the “talking with Nathan” stage! When I write, my mind’s still on him. I want to surprise him with something. If I can get him to react then I know the rest of the readers will. And Book IV has some chapters that caused him to respond immediately so I think we’re getting the job done! I can’t wait for it to drop. I can’t write fast enough.

TE: Can we expect a new book each year at GenCon?

Dave: That’s not a call for me to make. So far that sure seems like our track record, though, doesn’t it? :wink:

TE: Can you tell us anything about this Puppet Wars that's mentioned on the plastic card deck box?

Dave: No. However, it’s not terribly hard to imagine. We have a deck of cards that says it can be used with Malifaux as well as the Puppet Wars game. We had puppet figures on display that sure resemble the real figures used in the Malifaux game. I’ll let the masses speculate what the game will actually be.

TE: What's it like to work with Nathan and Eric? 

Dave: They’re slave drivers! That’s not much of an exaggeration but they’re both totally cool. Each will simply get the job done himself and both rarely ask for much from anyone. However, there’s a ton of work to get done and they appreciate forward thinkers and self-starters. You’ve got to be independent to stand a chance in this industry. They’re both visionaries of a high caliber and together they see things on a grand scale. We all debate and get attached to something in our projects, but they appreciate other’s visions even if they don’t agree with them. Emotions might run high as tension mounts and we playfully taunt and call names, but there’s a tremendous amount of respect they grant the people that step up to the plate for them.

TE: Are you going to start your own Twitter Feed?

Dave: Ghah. I hope not. Not unless they make me. That thing’s the voice of Satan or something. However, in the vein I think you’re asking: I have a plan that’s on the table to bring you more updates about the fictional world in a more timely manner. However, as you can guess, there’s a tremendous amount of projects we all have stuck on the end of a stick that’s getting hot in the fire. Honestly, you really couldn’t imagine the number of ideas we’ve generated about new material, content, new games, and supplements. Wyrd’s a small company with colossal ideas. I hope I can influence the story enough to get more out into the public. We’ve even come up with a clever experiment I hope to initiate that will allow our fans to get involved in a story arc and have them drive the direction it goes. I’d love to get that going soon.

TE: What other games do you play? Do you draw any influence from them?

Dave: I used to play a lot of games and still have interest in many. I barely have time to play this one right now, though. Privateer Press games, Dark Age, and I’d like to dabble in some other really impressive looking games that have been on my radar for years. Gencon is awesome for driving up a person’s interest when you see them in person. Helldorado and WarGods of Aegyptus look interesting. Drawing influence isn’t quite how we steal from everyone else, though. What’s more common is that we consider the games we like and specifically say, “I hate this aspect of this game that I otherwise enjoy” and make sure we push that game element in the trash heap for our game. It’s hard to make a perfect game, but we’re making one that we enjoy, with little that we dislike in a miniature game.


TE: What's your favorite faction?

Dave: That’s a hard question. I literally play them all. When I put them on the table, I guess I have the most fun playing Neverborn. Pandora, specifically. But I like the trickery of a good Viktoria list, too. Crews with complex interactions make me happiest to play from any faction. The fiction is far different, though. Faction isn’t as important as much as rich backgrounds and open-ended story possibilities. I rarely play Resurrectionist crews (to be changed now that I have the Kirai crew!) but I’m very drawn to their stories in the fluff. Odd paradox in my interest. Kirai became very interesting to me because she was so young, so vulnerable, and at the same time driven by rage and a thirst for vengeance. She had to overcome her own self-pity to turn it into that driving hatred. Even Nicodem tried to manipulate her and she came out on the other side, ignoring his drive to connect that punk zombie with one of her spirits and she played along just to learn what he had to offer. That’s a cool character.


Lady Justice, however, seems a bit flat. I’m working out some angles to make her more appealing to me – maybe more dark and brooding like our version of Wolverine or Bruce Wayne. Mostly I just dropped a big building on her to get her out of the way. If you don’t like writing the character, just kill ‘em off! That’s my motto. Nathan tells me I have to quit trying to kill all of the Book I masters but I think I’ve got him worn down where maybe he’ll let me truly get one in the grave.


TE: Will any other characters make the move to master? In a related question why is Hamlin on a 50mm base?

Dave: Never say never! We’re consciously not going to get ourselves stuck in a place where there’s no growth, I can promise that. I think we could potentially see a master change, entirely, too. New stats for the same character name, that sort of thing. As the characters evolve in the story, their stats may change to reflect that evolution. I think it’s clear that we’re not shy about presenting a change no matter how jarring it might seem at the beginning. We want to make as many innovative changes as possible to keep everyone on their toes: from the use of cards as the key game mechanic to completely devouring a character in the Necropolis only to see him rise as one of the vessel of an ancient Tyrant entity. Eric loves to push the envelope and if he can envision something in his mind he’ll work out stats for the thing and then the rest of the Development Team will tell him it won’t work. He’ll still send it to the playtesters and several months later it’ll be getting ready for the book. Nothing’s ever off limits unless it’s a simple creature you could find in every Monster Manual since 1977. Everything else is fair to consider.

Hamelin on 50mm? Nix. The dog’s on a leash. He needs room to move about. The Hamelin the Plagued model, though, doesn’t need Nix on a leash. So they’re separate models and each has their own appropriately sized base. That’s really your only question about models? We’re doing awesome!

TE: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Dave: Casey J. says I use the word “upon” so much that it’s pervasive and…what did she call it?... “almost pathological” I think she said. Maybe there should be a drinking game where you have to take a shot whenever you see the word “upon” in the writing. She tried her damnedest to clean it up for me but I found one sentence that has two “upons” in it!

Also, keep in mind that we have a real writing team on Rising Powers. There are several others that made substantial contributions to the fiction. It’s all really solid if you ask me. The Arcanist introduction story is super fun for me to read and I had nothing to do with it! We’re going to see the contributions from some of these guys more and more, I’m sure.