Sunday, 21 January 2018

Interview - Brian Fitzpatrick of Moebius Adventures

I'm very much into my science fiction RPGs at the moment, and a game that caught my eye recently was 'Aliens & Asteroids', a game 'written to evoke the terror of being on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere being stalked by creatures only wanting to survive and thrive'.

I got in touch with Brian Fitzpatrick of Moebius Adventures to find out more.

Hello, Brian, and welcome to Farsight Blogger! Tell us something about yourself and how you ended up wandering the wonderful worlds of roleplaying games.

Thanks for having me!

As far as my entry to the wonderful world of role-playing games, I was lucky enough to be a geeky kid in the early 1980s and managed to find a group of like-minded individuals who were playing AD&D. I think the first time I played was 1982 and I was hooked from that moment on. And my geeky nature worked to stoke the fires of my imagination, tapping into my love of reading where I discovered the Lord of the Rings, Robert Heinlein, Piers Anthony, and many many others, not to mention my fascination with myths and legends from around the world. Maybe not as exciting as the 80s setting of Stranger Things, but just as awesome!

Though there were a few lean years for RPGs in high school, I found them again in college and have never looked back. I've lost track of the number of RPGs we've played, from D&D and Palladium Fantasy to Ninjas & Superspies, Vampire, Heavy Gear, Battletech, Call of Cthulhu, and many others. And after college in the mid-1990s, I teamed up with a buddy of mine and we started Moebius Adventures. We've been tinkering in one way or another for a very long time!

These days, I still play some D&D 4e and 5e fairly regularly, but most of my time is devoted to working on our OSR game Mazes & Perils or our latest science fiction offering, Aliens & Asteroids.

Aliens & Asteroids sounds like my cup of tea; the darkness of space and the horrors that dwell there? Yes, please. What do you think this game brings to the science fiction roleplaying experience that’s different?

Glad to hear you're excited! I know I am! We've been having a great time playing at my FLGS with a fun group, romping around the universe, battling aliens, and trying to save humanity from the awful Dread (our big baddies)!

Originally I wanted A&A to be an OSR-inspired game of space marines and battles on alien worlds, but the system we developed felt very forced and clunky. Thankfully my friend Alan Bahr (Gallant Knight Games) chimed in with the ideas that became the Inverse20 system, so we came up with a very light system that is VERY easy to learn and yet has adapted to everything we've thrown at it so far. Keeping the system light has allowed us to explore more fast and furious adventures along the lines of Aliens, Predator, The Expanse, Firefly, Babylon-5, and more -- letting us focus on the story and using simple mechanics rather than bringing in a lot of overhead we didn't need.

The universe of A&A is a bit like the Expanse mixed with Aliens and a little Call of Cthulhu. If you've ever played the video game X-COM 2, we've gone for a very squad-level feel that still allows for gonzo heroics and a bit of the panic that sets in when you're facing creatures of unknown origin simply shrugging off any weapons fire and are definitely not of any world you've ever seen.

And when you pull in the Dread, things go from bad to worse. The Dread are on a mission to devour the life energy of the universe and something tells me Earth would be a really tasty morsel!

What was the attraction to the darker side of science fiction? Is it something you’ve always been interested in?

Honestly, I've always loved Lovecraft's ideas surrounding alien forces and intelligences that we simply cannot fathom. The Universe is a big place and I see a bright future once humanity hops to the moon, Mars, and beyond. But I also think that when we head into the dark, there will be things waiting for us we won't be ready for. It's true that humanity already has a pretty dark streak and is capable of beauty and horror in equal amounts, but when we work together against a common enemy we can do some simply amazing things. We'll just have to see what happens when we get that far.

That said, A&A presents a dark future with a lot of hope. At my own game table I've seen people band together to save complete strangers from horrors that make even the brave men and women of the space marines tremble in their boots. I think there are some great opportunities for amazing stories to be told to light the darkness for a long time.

Can you explain a little more about the Inverse20 system? How does it work?

Inverse20 is based on a few basic concepts. Each character has a set of attribute values like Toughness and Education that can be used to quantify their strengths and weaknesses. Each character takes traits to help define what they're good at, such as Guns or Medicine. And based on those two ideas plus the difficulty of a task, a player gets to roll one d20 or two d20s to determine success or failure. If you are shooting a gun but don't have the Guns trait, it's your Accuracy attribute. If you roll your Accuracy score or less, you hit! If not, you fail. If you roll a 1 or right on the attribute value, that's a Critical Hit. And if you roll a natural 20, that's a Critical Fail.

If the task is easy or you have a trait that makes it easier (like the Guns trait when shooting weapons), the roll is at an Advantage. That means you roll two d20s and take the most advantageous result (either the lowest or the die that's right on the score you're aiming for). If it's a particularly difficult task, it may be at a Disadvantage. In that case, you roll two d20s and take the highest number. And with No Advantage, it's just a single d20.

This task resolution system keeps things simple at the table and moving quickly as a result. We dig it and I hope to develop a few other variations on it, including a fantasy version I've been tinkering with.

The Kickstarter was successful and the game is due soon. Once the initial core book has been sent out, what kind of support can the game expect in the future in the form of scenarios and supplements?

Yes! I'm very excited for us to get the A&A core book out in February, but that's just the beginning!

We have a long list of projects on the horizon, from new professions and traits, to setting books describing different locations in the A&A universe, to adventures on alien worlds! Though we had a few stretch goals we didn't get to see realized during the Kickstarter, all of the folks willing to write for us then are on the hook to provide some great stuff for us through the rest of 2018 and beyond. I'm very excited to see what they come up with and I think we have plenty of ideas to keep us busy for a good long while!

What else does Moebius Adventures have planned for the future?

Though A&A has been our main focus over the last 6 months, we have some fun things planned for our Mazes & Perils line as well as some collections of older titles that may finally see the light of day. Beyond that, I really want to explore some older ideas from the Moebius back catalog in the cyberpunk and fantasy realms to keep things hopping. Our new partnership with Gallant Knight Games has provided a great springboard for some fun projects to come!

Art from Outland Entertainment and Jason Adams
Art from Outland Entertainment and Jason Adams

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