Friday, 4 January 2013

Interview - Joshua Kubli

Please welcome to the blog Joshua Kubli of Imperfekt Games!

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

Hi, Farsight Blogger! My name is Joshua Kubli. I'm a roleplaying game designer and publisher, and my personal publishing imprint is Imperfekt Gammes. I designed the Invulnerable Tabletop Super Hero RPG, and its sourcebook Dauntless. I have a free dark modern fantasy/horror game available online called Dirge. I also write and do layout for Occult Moon's Scifi Toys line. By day I'm a computer technician on the Oregon South Coast, and I love movies (both good and bad), coffee, spicy food, and family. I've got a severely autistic kid who I adore and who keeps me very busy, and a brilliant and beautiful wife (who also keeps me busy).

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

I got into gaming in middle school, probably about 1987.
 My friends and I were kids with huge imaginations in a rural town without a lot to do, and gaming encouraged us to be heroes, play with big ideas, be creative, and be social. Hard things like math became fun through gaming, and fun things like science became better by giving me new concepts to game with.

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

I love sitting down with friends, making up our own new characters, and creating new legends with just some paper and dice. What makes RPGs special is that you never know exactly what's going to happen; I can write a short story, even collaborate with others on a story, but these stories don't surprise me the same way that a game session does. Some of my best friends I've made through gaming, and I can't recommend tabletop gaming highly enough to anyone with even an ounce of creativity and imagination.

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

I love so many games! My all-time favorites are Champions 4th Edition, Mage, and Amber. I love that each game has a totally different approach and ruleset, but that you can tell almost any kind of story with each of these games, albeit with their own distinct style. I am really looking forward, some time soon, to running something in Larry Moore's Barebones Fantasy game system. Larry's a really cool guy, his product is frankly beautiful, and it's perfect for low-prep games, and for introducing new gamers to the hobby.

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

It gets harder to find time when you're a parent, and you're writing as well, but I make time to play. Right now I'm running Dungeon Crawl Classics for some friends, and we're having a blast. The chaotic randomness of the game really appeals to us; as much as we try to be serious, it doesn't happen that often, and a game designed to surprise you in weird ways each time is perfect for my group. A friend is currently running me through an Invulnerable campaign. It's always fun to see how your game works in other peoples' hands, and the cool new directions they can take your ideas.

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 don't personally think roleplaying games will ever "die out." Nothing ever dies out, it just changes. The market needs to adjust, certainly, and it will probably be totally different in a few years, but I don't see tabletop RPGs going away. The games that do best going forward will be the games that offer something that MMOs, card games, and the like can't. MMOs have some of the social aspects of tabletop games, but not the complete and total customizability. There are a few moves in that direction, like the custom-built missions in Star Trek Online, but that's a far cry from the complete hackability of a tabletop game. Card games are quick and portable, but aren't, on the whole, as good for making characters and telling stories.

More changes are coming. I think the spread of 3D printers will revitalize wargaming, and we'll hear a death-knell for tabletop games yet again; but gaming will mutate and evolve and come back new and different, hopefully keeping in mind everything in the past that made it awesome to begin with.

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

I'm rather proud of Invulnerable. I wanted to make it easy to make any super hero you wanted, with a diverse power set, quickly and easily. I also wanted to make a game with a gritty combat system, where heroes need to fight smart to win reliably. And I wanted to make a setting that called back to all the great classic tropes of comic books, but which spun them in some interesting ways; a setting where the dark and grim existed alongside silver age "gosh, wow!" strangeness. There are lots of truly great supers games out there -- Marvel Heroic, Champions, Wild Talents --  but I think Invulnerable has something to offer to the right group and campaign. 

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! 

If you remove "other" from that sentence, then it works for me. :) I've met a lot of industry folks online, but family needs and our remote location mean we haven't met as many face to face yet as I'd like. Still, I've gotten to work with some great folks in the field, made friends with a few, and had a lot of fun. The only downside to the game industry is there's a lot of negativity. Creative, smart, driven people take great pride in what they do, and that's great, but some people take very personally the fact that some game products don't agree with their personal design priorities. I don't care to be negative, not even about negativity, but this sort of reaction just alienates people. The answer is always, make good art!

What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a scifi game called Broken Symmetry. I wanted to see a starship-based game that focused on cooperation, set in a plausible, fleshed-out hard scifi setting. The game encourages exploring and making new contacts as well as ground and starship combat. There are optional rules for breaking up the GM's duties among multiple players. 

You can see a playtest draft of the rules here

I also hope to release a new edition of Invulnerable early next year. You'll be hearing more about that when the time gets closer. Keep an eye on the Imperfekt Games website

Thanks for the opportunity to babble some about my games. Next time, ask me about my 12th-level wizard! :) Have a great day.

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