Sunday, 27 January 2013

Interview - John Griffiths


Please join me in welcoming John Griffiths of Spica Publishing!

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

Thanks for inviting me! I run Spica Publishing, a UK-based third party publishing company. We produce material for the current edition of Traveller, but we’re hoping to expand our range of products and genres. I work for the NHS in my ‘proper’ job.

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

I first started playing RPGs at upper school in 1980. I was introduced to D&D, Traveller and Runequest by some friends and we used to play at home after school and at the weekends. We formed an after-school gaming club where we played D&D, T&T, Aftermath! and Traveller. A bit of Starfleet Battles and a small amount of fantasy and SF wargaming were thrown in for good measure. After I left school the RPG scene began to shrink in the 1990s and I had stopped playing by then. I came back to Traveller in the early 2000s, then into publishing in RPG 2006.

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

It’s the social interaction, the sense of a shared enjoyment and the ability to imagine a gaming world that can be truly yours. I particularly enjoy it when things go wrong for players in a game through sheer bad luck or a terrible dice roll (but I try not to be a mean GM!). I like to have humour in my games, so turning bad dice rolls into something funny is something that has happened regularly in my games in the past.

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

I can’t honestly say I have a favourite game or system – all of them have good points and bad points, but Traveller is the system I know best. I particularly like the simplicity of Diaspora, which is based on the FUDGE system, and I love the rule in Diaspora that says “say yes or roll the dice”. I also like parts of the d20 and d100 systems.

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

Unfortunately I don’t get time to GM or play, although I would love to do either if I had the chance. At the moment the Traveller system dominates my RPG thinking, but that’s only because it’s the system we currently use at Spica Publishing.

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?

The RPG hobby survives because those of us who were around at the start of the hobby (or, in my case, just after) are still getting together to play.  The rise of PDF publishing has made access to old and new gaming materials far easier and cheaper for players and GMs but people still like print books, and the various print options available to publishers and customers fulfils that need.  There are already a wide number of game systems available, which can be off-putting for a new gamer and fragments the market. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to see just a few systems dominate the market and stifle the development of new systems. The RPG hobby still needs new players and GMs and will continue to do so if the hobby is to remain viable.  Online gaming now occupies the traditional ‘core’ of new players in the 14 to 18 age group and it’s looking increasingly difficult to tempt new players to try tabletop RPGs.

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

I’m proud of everything we produced at Spica Publishing, and I’ve really surprised and pleased at how well Outer Veil, our own Traveller setting, has been received. Out of the Spica Publishing books I’ve actually contributed to, I have to say Allies, Contacts, Enemies & Rivals is the book I’m most personally proud of, although I am also particularly pleased with the character height/mass, physical appearance and family background rules I wrote for Career Book 3.

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!

I can’t honestly say that I have ‘mixed’ with any of the big names in the RPG community, so I don’t have any anecdotes to share. Sorry!

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment Spica Publishing is working on more material for the Outer Veil setting, some more generic Traveller source books and  we aiming to put out some print books with our partners at Chronicle City.