Sometimes a company gets off to a rough start. While fantasy
settings perhaps aren't the cream of the crop that they once were,
Diomin still has a place in many gamer's hearts. Not ones for resting on
laurels, Otherworld Creations has also created Forbidden Kingdoms, a
well received game of pulp action. In the months ahead, the company's
mature titles like Mercenaries promise to bring us grim reality even as
Solid! takes us to new and exciting realms of roleplaying. R. Hyrum
Savage of Otherworld Creations
took a few minutes for an OgreCave interview with Joe Kushner.
Who is Otherworld Creations and why should the common man fear them?
OWC is a 3 man operation run out of Los Angeles, with offices in the [San Francisco] Bay Area. All should fear us because we have pulpy goodness, blaxploitation heroes, an army of Mercenaries at our beck and call, as well as the powers of the Unknown!
The company started off with Diomin, a campaign setting. Like Mystic Eye and their Hunt setting though, it seems there has been some branching out, not only in d20 terms, but company terms. Reasons?
When Diomin was released the only other campaign setting was Living Greyhawk, and was an attempt to bring a non-traditional fantasy setting to D&D. Seeing that fantasy was starting to get glutted with product, we turned our eye to other genres in an attempt to produce good product that wouldn't get lost in the shuffle.
Why a Vertigo line? Why an 'adult' line? Why start with Mercenaries?
Vergo is our attempt at not sugar coating fantasy, and bringing it back to the roots of Moorcock, Leiber, and Howard. We started with Mercenaries because at their root, all "adventurers" tend to be
mercenaries in some way, plus there hasn't been a book on the market that goes in depth about why mercenaries existed, what they actually did, and how a GM could effectively use them in their campaign world.
What are you waiting for to hit the SRD?
I'm really looking forward to the Epic rules and Deities and Demigods.
What's your opinion on 2nd editions? Revise and revamp or just fix the typos/layout and move on?
2nd editions, as opposed to Revised editions, should be a serious revision and movement forward in terms of the material in the book. I like them, think they're necessary, and plan on producing a couple of them. :)
Has Gen Con moving to Indie changed how it effects you and your company?
Not at all. We're really excited by GenCon SoCal though. I can't wait to drive to a GenCon and not have it be a 48 hour car trip.
What's a typical day at the office like?
Dave works in San Francisco, and I work in LA. Our typical day starts off with me answering emails and visiting Industry related websites, followed by phone calls, faxes, and other "business" necessities. I usually spend the second half of the day either writing, doing layout, or game design. Currently I'm working on the final bits of Solid! and doing layout on Cities: Born of Stone and Paris.
When will you beat down Chaosium's doors, take Pulp Cthulhu away from them and add it to Forbidden Kingdoms?
This will happen once our team of crack ninja's get back with our Elder Sign. So far I'm not impressed with crack ninja teams though.
What's the biggest problem with getting a product out the door? Freelancers? Print queue times? Battling with ancient elders from beyond the stars while your bullwhip is tangled?
We've been lucky with most of our freelancers, although we did have a freelance artist problem last year that set us back a lot. Right now I'm the only one doing layout and that's our biggest slowdown.
Seriously here: What were you smoking when you decided to do Solid! and will it be playable with d20 Modern and standard D&D?
Chuckle... Solid! started off as a joke between Dave and I back when we first started doing OWC. Filled with heady excitement over D20 we would continuously throw out D20 ideas: D20 Blaxploitation, D20 He-Man, D20 Family Feud, D20 GI-Joe, we thought up ideas for D20 everything. Over time the one we kept returning back to was D20 Blaxploitation, although we never thought it would go anywhere. However, after I saw Undercover Brother in LA, and Dave saw it in Oakland, we both came back and said we had to do it. Audience reaction to it was the same in both theaters (they loved it) and we felt it was something untouched in terms of genre. As to which system, it's being written from the standpoint of being a D20 Modern supplement, although with some tweaks you could certainly use it for standard D20. (In fact, I've heard about fantasy, modern, and sci-fi campaigns being planned for when Solid! comes out.)
What's the convention scene like for you?
Dave and I love conventions. They're busy, as we're usually there before the fans, and stay after the con is finished, but there's nothing like talking to your customers. Plus it's an opportunity to hang out with our friends in the industry, people we don't get to see very often.
What is "Paragon Games' The Secret of Zir'An"? Sounds like another game system and setting.
The Secret of Zir'An is a new fantasy RPG developed by Paragon Games and published by OWC. It takes as its starting point a traditional fantasy world and then moves it forward 2-3 thousand years, including logical technological and magical developments. So you've got rune mages fighting tanks, and bi-planes swooping down on dragons. It's incredibly high fantasy, with characters being Chosen of Fate and capable of deciding the destiny of millions. It uses a new system titled the Finesse System that uses d10's, with skill+stat beat a TN. The difference is that for every success over the TN players can then spend those successes to power special abilities, do more damage, make called-shots, etc. The book will also include OGL conversion notes in the back.
How's Chill moving along? Will it be the original game system, OGL, or something in between?
Chill is moving forward, although it's been pushed back to Spring of 2004. We want this to be the definitive horror game and rushing it out the door wasn't going to do that. As for system, it will be a streamlining of the Mayfair version of the system, but will include OGL conversions. Right now we're still deciding between doing a house system book and a D20 version (ala Silver Age Sentinels) or one book with both systems included.
Dual question here. What's the best/worst thing about working in the industry?
The best thing is the creative freedom and just plain fun. Worst thing would have to be how many fans see the industry as just a hobby, not worthy of companies making money.
If you had to keep just one product from Otherworld, what would it be and why?
I'm proudest of Forbidden Kingdoms. It has it's problems (it could use more editing), but I still think it's a great book. We're moving forward with it and should have a surprise announcement to make soon.
Any closing two-fisted words of pulpy goodness?
The city is a forest where Death prowls. And Death is a Man! You probably mean serious words of closing. :) Just thanks for this interview, and for doing reviews of our products. It's people like you that help keep this industry alive.