Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Interview - Matthew Sprange

Please welcome to Farsight Blogger Matthew Sprange of Mongoose Publishing. Matthew's impressive RPG history includes more than fifty gaming books, including the Babylon 5, Judge Dredd and Starship Troopers games. He's also earned himself  two Origins Awards for his miniature wargames.

Hi Matthew, and Welcome to Farsight Blogger. Perhaps you'd like to tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well, I am in my thirties, have been running Mongoose in one way or another for 11 years, have two guniea pigs (Starbuck and Boomer), and like to pretend I am an average pilot with radio-controlled planes!

Tell us about your RPG history - what got you into the wonderful world of tabletop roleplaying?

Ultimately it was the Lone Wolf solo gamebooks, closely followed by Tunnels & Trolls and the red box D&D basic set. Though I still remember seeing Star Wars in the cinema when I was three years old, and that had to have had some effect...



What is it about the tabletop RPG hobby that attracts you? What do you enjoy most when playing a game?

Tough one. Possibly the freedom of action, possibly the highly social aspect of it, maybe the fact that the game never really ends until you want it to, as there is always something you can be doing related to it when not actually playing (reading, preparing the next adventure, figuring out character upgardes, etc). There is no other type of game quite like an RPG - even the most advanced computer games are pale imitations.

What's your favourite game? What games that are out there at the moment float your boat?

Traveller. Hands down at the moment, Traveller. Gareth Hanrahan did such a good job with the current rules set, allowing you to do, well, pretty much anything.

As for other games, D&D will always be a favourite. Other high-rankers would include Dragon Warriors, Dark Heresy and WFRP.

Do you still get time to play? What are you playing at the moment?

Actually, I do, and try to make a real effort to do so (how can you write games if you don't play them?). I get together with two regular gaming groups each week. In one, we have just finished Star Wars (the Dawn of Defiance campaign), and have just started Mongoose's own Drow Wars campaign in D&D 3.5 (bliss, been wanting to play this one since we released it years ago!).

In the other group, we are currently rocking it old school, with red box D&D, going through all the old, classic adventures.; We started off with King's Festival, have gone through the Isle of Dread, currently on Drums on Fire Mountain, and about to start Skarda's Mirror. Planning to keep going on this one all the way up to Immortal levels!

I also mess with miniatures a great deal, covering just about everything from Warhammer 40,000 and Star Fleet to Stalingrad and Imperial Rome!

The tabletop roleplaying hobby has been through a lot changes over the years and it seems that its death-knell is always sounded when newer hobbies come along, such as collectible card games and online computer games. It still seems to be able to hold it’s own, though – what do you see happening to the hobby in the future? What changes, if any, do you think will have to be made to ensure its survival?

I think it will become increasingly difficult, and then impossible, to buy RPGs in regular shops - you will only find them online. Traditional print runs will disappear, leaving only POD and ebooks available. As a print-enterprise, RPGs are dying. They are not holding their own. If I told you the average print run these days, even with the largest companies, you would be stunned.

As ebooks/PDFs, they seem to be getting quite a new lease on life!

Out of all your projects, what are you most proud of?

Tough one. Maybe the A Call to Arms line, which has covered Noble Armada, Star Fleet and Babylon 5. Or perhaps the D20 Quintessential line.

You’ve no doubt mixed with other great names in the roleplaying community – do you have any stories or anecdotes to share? Any horror stories? Be as frank as you like!

Honestly, if I answered this one, I would get sued...

What are you working on at the moment?

Right now, just editing Trillion Credit Squadron for Traveller, then Gladiators of Legend for, well, Legend. Currently writing this year's State of the Mongoose, Victory at Sea 2.0, and a historical novel set in the 12th Century!