after reviewing Beasts and Barbarians, and liking it, I asked Piotr Korys from GRAmel if he would agree to do an email interview. And he did! And not only that, he got in contact with Umberto Pignatelli, the original author of Beasts and Barbarians, and got him involved too! Enjoy the interview and read you soon.
Chaosmeister: Lets start by talking a bit about yourself. Who are you, how did you come to gaming and what is your job at GRAmel?
Piotr: It is a long story. In the early 90s, a friends of mine got some nice looking books from a foreign copy party (Berlin, I think). I read something similar in a fantasy/sci-fi magazine. In GRAmel, I`m a husband of the owner. And a brain behind RPG part of GRAmel (we do a few other things in GRAmel, very different from roleplaying or publishing 🙂 )
Umberto: I am italian, living in Turin. I started playing RPGs in 1985. An uncle introduced me to the gaming world. I know Piotr from a couple of years. We worked together on a Slipstream adventure for Pinnacle and came in touch. Currently I am the designer and developer of Beasts and Barbarians, GRAmel’s swords and sorcery setting for Savage Worlds.
Chaosmeister: Please tell me a bit about GRAmel, I have never heard that name before the Beasts and Barbarians release.
Piotr: It is a small company from Poland. 🙂 We are publishing polish edition of Savage Worlds and a few other things.
Chaosmeister: Please talk a bit about your last release: Can you share how Beasts and Barbarians came to be?
Piotr: We love Sword and Sorcery Genre. We as Umberto (author) and me. I had a licence, he has a lot if ideas, so we decided to work on it.
Umberto: Well, when, five years ago, I had my first experience with Savage Worlds, I tought “This game is PERFECT for a Sword and Sorcery setting, a thing like the stories of Howard, Leiber, Ashton Smith”. The project was in hiatus for some time, while I was freelancing for other publishers, but in the end came up again. I contacted Piotr, he liked the idea so the whole adventure started.
Chaosmeister: The Cultures are what primarily make the setting for me. Why where the described cultures chosen and from where came the inspiration for them?
Piotr: Why? Because they are “clishe”. Howard, Cook, Wagner, Kuttner. All have such things. And inspiration came from those works. And of course, from our world.
Umberto: I always liked realistic settings, and I wanted the races reflect the real world, or at least, a reasonable sword and sorcery version of our world, to make easier taking the role of the characters.
Chaosmeister: Personally I like racial/cultural modifications to my basic characters. What is the reasoning to not go that route with Beasts and Barbarians?
Umberto: Do you mean while the races are all basically humans, with no particular racial modification? The reason is simple: they ARE all humans, their culture (and so roleplay background) is the difference not the mechanic. I don’t want to have a “race for a class” game as happens in other settings, where certain races are built to portray a certain role: in B&B you can freely develop a character without thinking too much on min maxing and follow cool idea without bothering with artificial limitations. On the other side, I added some racial Edges as Dancing Witch or Ghoulblood, to further develop certain aspects of races, but only where strictly necessary.
Piotr: As Umberto said. 🙂
Chaosmeister: Especially the Cairn Lords creep me out, good work on those. Why where the Cairn Lords and the Tricarnians included as player cultures? They seem much more fitting as antagonists.
Piotr: Imagine to have such guy in your group 🙂 Yes, they are… different, but they are very interesting. I just love to play a Cairn Lord 🙂
Umberto: Cairn Lords and Tricarnians are exotic and alien, but they interact with other races in a civilized way, so their presence in a party of adventurers is reasonable.
Chaosmeister: The Caleds and the Pigmies have been singled out as NPC only. Why ? And can you please give us a hint about the plans with them?
Umberto: They are xenophobic and isolationist, so uncapable of peaceful relations with the other cultures. For this reason they cannot be included in a party: they represent the really scary side of barbarism. But don’t worry, you will hear of them in future. 🙂
Chaosmeister: Can you please tell me some background on the after adventure events table? I would usually play these things out in a standard fantasy campaign. What was the reason to create this table?
Piotr: Because they always happen in S&S novels. Conan is always in need of a new job. Heroes always find trouble when resting… It is just … cliche 🙂
Umberto: It was a precise design idea. Sword and Sorcery fiction is based on the concept that heroes start their next adventure without any gold, alone in the desert, drunk or enslaved. I wanted to maintain this aspect of the game, being this a trope, but on the other side I know certain players can find it frustrating. So I decided to formalize and give it to the hands of the players, at least partially. Your character was captured and managed to barely save his skin? Ok, but YOU the player decide how this happened and, if you make the story funny, you deserve a Bennie. On the other side the After The Adventure Table contains also lucky strokes and interesting narrative hook: you can make yourself an Enemy off screen, but you can also find that strange amulet engraved with snakes…
Chaosmeister: Who came up with Barbarian Belch and Running in High Heels edges and when? That must have been one hilarious game.
Piotr: Umberto. But I think that everyone had such situation in games 🙂
Umberto: Yes, I am the culprit 🙂 . I always think the gaming tables are very different, because the people sitting are very different. Someone like serious dark games, some other really silly games. Probably the major part or players enjoys a healthy half way. These Edges are example of how is simple to change the mood of the game to reflect your taste. By the way, both Edges came out after a couple of very hilarious playtest sessions.
Chaosmeister: The PDF has been available for a while now, are you satisfied with the reception of Beasts and Barbarians so far?
Piotr: Yes. I`m very happy with it.
Chaosmeister: As this first book is labeled as the players guide, when can we expect the GM Guide to be available?
Piotr: GM guide will be in adventures. Something like Triple Ace Games Region guides and Daring Tales. An adventure, book of lore, bestiary. New stuff, for GM`s.
Chaosmeister: Can you please give my readers a short summary of what will be included in the GM Guide?
Piotr: See above 🙂
Chaosmeister: You seem to be committed to the Beast and Barbarians line, with two free adventures already available. Are there any plans for more free content?
Piotr: Of course!
Chaosmeister: Besides the GM Guide, are there other products you are working on for Beasts and Barbarians right now you would like to talk about?
Piotr: A monster book 🙂 Something like Foes of Kane, but for Beast and Barbarians. We have something else in mind – a mini game in RPG game, to be honest. I think that for now, it is the best description of our plans. 🙂
Umberto: We also have 4 adventures written, bundled with an expansion of the Book of Lore. Each booklet includes a full, developed story plus useful background on the area/theme of the scenario. In this manner we hope to give a product useful even after you play the adventure.
Chaosmeister: Lets quickly move to another topic a lot of people have been wondering about. The marines in red armor illustrations in the Savage Worlds Deluxe book seem to have drawn the attention of many people as can be seen on the Pinnacle Forums. I understand these are from one of your other original settings called Nemesiz? What can you tell us about it?
Piotr: That it is nice setting. And will be published in English in 2012 🙂 Imagine a space opera meeting cthulhu and mutant chronicles. And using Savage Worlds. And btw, Nemezis in SWD is also on page 21. 26, 86 and 96 🙂
Chaosmeister: I see from your website that Gramel has even more products in the portfolio. Are there any other Savage Worlds settings or books we can look forward to you want to tell us about?
Piotr: For SW – not right now, but I think that there may be something soon. For other game lines? Of course – our ICONS “setting” “Comicworld Europe” will be available soon. Comicworld Germany is available now. Also, GRAmel will publish Umberto’s other products, some not for Savage Worlds RPG. First is already in production. Those will be published with Epic Werkes Studio.
Chaosmeister: As the final question: Would you mind sharing your most memorable RPG game memory with me and my readers?
Piotr: Maybe not game memory, but I`ll always remember when I became a part of SW community. A great place to be. And Shane is a great guru there 🙂
Chaosmeister: Thank you very much, I appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions. I wish you and the others at GRAmel all the best for the future and look forward to your next releases.
Piotr: Thanks, Marcus