Interview: Ether Wars

Ether Wars promo image. Shows the game with a nebula in the background

We got the chance to talk to Burning Games and Ether Dev about their new Kickstarter for Ether Wars. This game didn’t fund last time, but have made some changes to make it more appealing to players! We talked to them about the original game, and are really excited to see them to re-launch with Burning Games!

1) Give us the ‘elevator pitch’ for Ether Wars. What sort of games is it similar too, and what’s the setting like?

It’s a sci-fi game of area control and worker placement with a twist: all your troops are represented by dice. You must place, move and roll the dice to defeat your opponents and obtain 5 pieces of Ether, the mythical power source. It has stunning art and nuanced and addictive gameplay.

2) It’s really great to see Burning Games and Ether Dev working together, how did this come about?

A couple of years ago we were demoing FAITH in a big even in our hometown. The developers of Ether Wars happened to be doing the same, and we had a chance to exchange plays and ideas. Some months later, when their game failed to meet the goal on Kickstarter, we decided to try to bring it back at the right time, which is now!

3) You’re halfway funded with 24 days left, how does that feel? What kind of feedback have you received?

A Kickstarter campaign is one of the most exhilarating things you can do, this side of bungee jumping. Backers are very enthusiastic and always eager to help, and their feedback has been very positive. We have polished the game following their advice and it really shows. Now we have to keep spreading the word and make sure as many people as possible hear about the game to complete the campaign in style.

4) What changes have you made that you think will help Ether Wars fund?

The main change is that now the English and Spanish editions are completely independent. Before, each card had info on both languages, which was a huge turnoff for many players. Apart from that, we have tweaked the graphic design and overall style of the game, and have implemented our logistical knowledge (gathered with FAITH) to lower the costs and the Kickstarter goal.

5) Do Ether Wars and Faith: the Sci-Fi RPG share the same artists/art director? We see a similar aesthetic.

Many people ask us that, but funnily enough there is no connection at all between the games. They were born apart and brought together by serendipity well after the main art was created for both. I think we may share similar sources of inspiration, though. Don’t we all?

6) Are there any plans for future expansions for the board game? Any possible tie-in with FAITH?

If Ether Wars is successfully funded we will definitely keep creating content for it. The final word is the developers’, though, and we will heed their vision for the future of the game. As for FAITH tie-ins, it’s unlikely at this point. We will create boardgames based on that Universe, but they will be tailor-made to ensure that they fit in the lore of the game.

7) If this venture is successful, do you plan on future partnerships with local or international game designers as publishers?

Yes, this is something we really want to do, find games that suit our brand and give them a fair chance in the market.

8) Where can we see or play a demo of the game?

Undead Viking did a very nice overview of the main mechanics of the game and thinks its the perfect entry point for everyone.

9) What is your personal favorite mechanic or aspect of the game?

Battles are super fun and very physical. Opponents throw their dice (oftentimes a handful of them) and count the dots. Some of the dots are blank to begin with but can be powered up, event cards can be used at any time, the faction’s special abilities may be triggered… there are several mechanics that add tension to a fight, and it’s definitely our favorite part of the game.

10) What are your reward levels?

We have kept things simple: you can select the English edition or Spanish edition of the game. And of course there’s a bulk-order option!

11) Any thing else we should know about Ether Wars?

It’s a fantastic game that will hook all your gaming group in seconds. Also, it’s a passion project by two incredibly committed gamers and we think their efforts deserve to be brought to reality.

12) Could you tell us about a stretch goal you’re particularly excited about?

We have announced the first few, and the most interesting of them are the Ether Gems, a Kickstarter exclusive goal. Ether is such an important asset that it deserves to be special on the table!

13) Where can we find you on Twitter or Facebook, or anywhere else on the web?

We welcome everyone to our social media- Twitter and Facebook.

You can find Ether Wars on Kickstarter and add it to your own collection!

Interview with Jonathan Tweet about Clades, the Evolutionary Card Game

We sit down with Jonathan Tweet to talk about Clades, an educational card game to teach children (and adults!) a little bit more about evolution. We’re also joined by Jeromy French.

You can find Clades on Kickstarter until December 6, 2016. You can find more information about the game and Grandmother Fish at the Grandmother Fish website. You can also follow Jonathan on Twitter!

Outro Music:
Port_City_Music_-_29_-_Night_Terrors from ‘Silber Sounds of Halloween’

The World of Aetaltis Kickstarter Interview with Marc Tassin

World of Aetaltis kickstarter image

We sat down with Marc Tassin of Mechanical Muse to learn more about his new Kickstarter for The World of Aetaltis, a 5e setting. We learned a lot about the new world and denizens of Thornwall, as well as the really great ideas Marc and his team have put together for magic and downtime. I’m really excited for when we can get our hands on these books because I think the ideas will really help to make 5e even better.

Interested in Aetaltis? You can find them online here, or check our their Twitter Feed. The Kickstarter has launched and will be running until October 11.

Red Markets Interview

We sit down over Skype with Caleb Stokes, the creator of Red Markets, a new RPG about economic horror and zombies. Since we recorded this, he’s blown through several more stretch goals, so check it out on Kickstarter and follow him on Twitter for more information.

Direct Download

Lil’ Cthulhu Interview

Lil' Cthulhu throws a tantrum

We talked to Richard Laufenburger of De-Evolution Studios about their new Kickstarter for the card game Lil’ Cthulhu. This competitive card game challenges you to get Lil’ Cthulhu his toys before he throws a tantraum, causing you sanity loss. You can check out the game on Kickstarter and you really should!

Interview with Jaye Foster from 6d6 RPG

Art from the kickstarter depicting seas monsters around a Greek ship with mountains in the background

We had the pleasure of talking to Jaye Foster from 6d6 RPG about the system and their new Kickstarter for Age of Legends. You can learn more about the 6d6 system on their website. We really love the inspiration of this setting and the ease of play of the system. Check it out before the Kickstarter ends on December 5!

Direct Download!

Interview: Shane Ivey on Delta Green

We are extremely grateful to Shane Ivey for taking time out of his schedule to answer some of the questions we had about Delta Green and the current Kickstarter campaign. TRF is a huge fan of Delta Green, and a lot of our material is inspired by the awesome conspiracy/mythos blend it presents. You can find the Kickstarter here! Also, we’re releasing a play through of the scenario Last Things Last on Sunday, so you can see how we deal with being tasked with a mission.

What led to Delta Green becoming a stand-alone RPG? What are some changes you are making to Call of Cthulhu to make the system work better for Delta Green?

Delta Green has always been a series of sourcebooks for Call of Cthulhu, and every one of the Delta Green developers have always loved Call of Cthulhu as their favorite game. But Delta Green has always emphasized things a little differently than Call of Cthulhu. It’s set in the present day. There’s not the same distance between the players and their characters as when modern-day gamers play 1920s academics and explorers.

Delta Green is about realistic people in our own modern world. Even when its protagonists are federal agents and special forces operators, they’re meant to feel and act like real people with real vulnerabilities. All too many of us personally know people who have been exposed to the terrible traumas of violence. We’ve seen the long-term toll it takes on the individual psyche and on family. Delta Green is a game about brave men and women who choose to confront overwhelming terror and trauma to keep it away from their loved ones. It was critically important to Delta Green’s developers that the game respect the real-world price that people pay for making that choice by reflecting it in the rules and game-play.

Man looks worried as he raises his gone, floating orange jellyfish like creatures are behind him. So Delta Green characters have Sanity Points and Hit Points, as you’d expect, but they also have other features that come into play in long-term games. Bonds are your two or three most important human relationships. They can protect you from losing Sanity Points and they can help you control yourself when your Sanity snaps, but relying on them too much weakens them. The shared traumas of a Delta Green mission often causes agents to develop new Bonds with each other, which in turn weakens their Bonds back home.

There’s an optional rule for tracking Work Performance, which could result in your agent getting fired for bringing too much baggage home from Delta Green missions, and which in turn can damage your Bonds. There’s an optional rule for detailing what kind of equipment and tools your agent can obtain. Trying to get too much too quickly can impact your Work Performance if it’s on the job or it can damage Bonds if you’re burning through your own money.

The core mechanics received some tweaking, too, to suit the way we want Delta Green to run.
Most actions revolve around skills that have percentile ratings, as before. But we encourage the GM to not bother having players roll dice for their skills at all unless the situation is a crisis or otherwise out of the agents’ control. In the slow investigative scenes that usually begin a mission, just look to the rating of a skill. Tell the player if the agent understands or finds what they’re looking for, or tell the player that they need someone with greater expertise. Leave the dice for events that SHOULD feel random, like using a skill in a crisis or interacting with unpredictable non-player characters. That way when your expert with a 65% skill fails the roll a third of the time, it makes sense. That was a terrible crisis — it would have been impressive to succeed at all!

We’ve tightened up the way combat works to make violence swift, brutal, suspenseful, and unforgiving, while leaving many core issues firmly in the hands of the GM to allow room for common sense at the table.

We’ve revised the way Sanity Points work, and the way characters develop mental disorders, to suit the way we want the game to run and to better reflect the way these disorders work in the real world. In Delta Green, an agent can gain a long-term disorder over a long period of time due to a slow accumulation of stresses and traumas. And sharp moments of overwhelming, immediate terror can cause a short-term loss of control as the “fight or flight” response kicks in.

We want the way things happen in the game world to feel like they would happen in the real world. That makes unnatural horrors have even greater impact.

Is there a threshold of success for the Kickstarter that could lead Arc Dream to think it viable to restart the Delta Green line beyond this project?

At this point (Friday afternoon, Oct. 23) we’re less than $300 away from hitting 600% of the goal that we set to relaunch the game line. So yeah, it’s launched. Just from this project’s fundraising we’ll publish:

-The Agent’s Handbook (the core rules for players without much information about the setting or the supernatural).
-The Case Officer’s Handbook (everything in the Agent’s Handbook plus tons of information about the setting, the supernatural, the Cthulhu Mythos, cults and factions, and customizing any or all of it to keep players guessing).
-A Game Moderator’s Screen with quickstart rulebook, sample characters, and a scenario.
-Impossible Landscapes (a campaign and sourcebook about Carcosa and the King in Yellow).
-Control Group (an introductory campaign built to bring newcomers into the game).
-More than a dozen downloads, including six scenarios.
-Conversions of nine scenarios written for earlier editions.
-And it looks like we’ll hit the next big stretch goal to unlock yet another big book, Deep State, which will detail the secret government programs and private-public partnerships that surround and bedevil Delta Green.

What we publish beyond those six books depends on how the game line performs over the next year or so. We have enough ideas to keep going for years as long as gamers stay with us.

Which of the proposed source books are you most excited to see released?

Two men look out of a helicopter a flying tentacled monster who is staring back at them with it's one eyeThe Case Officer’s Handbook, though if the terminology matters it’s a core game book and not a sourcebook. It includes the rules engine that Greg, Dennis and I have been working on for years as well as great resources for building a Delta Green campaign as a world filled with secrets, so even the most die-hard, well-read player will always be surprised and frightened.

Of the sourcebooks proper, I personally most look forward to Deep State. That book will let us really dig into the core philosophical issues that have always been at the root of Delta Green: the risks and benefits of power and secrecy, and the ways we change as individuals and as a culture when we come to accept things that we once found abhorrent. Those issues are even more relevant today than in the Nineties when Delta Green first appeared.

How did you decide to add a Gumshoe version of Delta Green to this Kickstarter? Are you planning to continue a relationship with Pelgrane for Delta Green materials?

We know Simon Rogers and the Pelgrane crew very well. Kenneth Hite, author of Trail of Cthulhu and Night’s Black Agents, is one of the developers of Delta Green: The Role-Playing Game. Simon and Ken came to me with the idea of a Gumshoe version of some kind. I loved the idea and ran it by the Delta Green Partnership (the creators and owners of the Delta Green property: Dennis Detwiller, Adam Scott Glancy, and John Scott Tynes). There was immediate and unanimous enthusiasm. The rest was just hammering out details.

Pelgrane plans The Fall of Delta Green and if that does well a supplement to it, probably a scenario collection. We’ll see how things stand after those come out.

What do you think has lead to Delta Green’s enduring appeal?
A large part of it has always been the setting — the non-player characters that players encounter in the game. Delta Green has always featured factions and actors who are well-rounded and interesting. Even the clear villains are three-dimensional characters. You may not find their aims and methods sympathetic, but you can see why they make the choices they make. Even when that choice is to throw the rest of humanity on a bonfire for the sake of just a little more life.

Delta Green is about characters who feel real, in a world that feels real, encountering unreal cosmic horrors that are entirely beyond their capacity to understand or confront. It’s about player characters who stand up as long and bravely as they can in the face of the death that the universe wants to inflict on us all. Delta Green agents are incredible not because they’re so much more dangerous or lucky or bad-ass than everyone else, but because they are not any of those things — and yet they stand and fight.

That means Delta Green does not pull punches. It does not offer second chances. It doesn’t give your character any points to spend for plot immunity. If you step into the darkness, you take your chances. It is incredibly suspenseful and chilling.


Again, a huge thanks to Shane Ivey for his team, and all the people at Arc-Dream who are making it possible to get a chance to get this amazing product. There are tiers to get whatever you want, including, hardback books, PDFs, and releases of previous Arc-Dream materials. You can check out the Kickstarter, the website, or find Shane Ivey on Twitter. You can also find Delta Green @DeltaGreenRPG. Want to help spread the word and get more rewards? Look at some of the ways listed here! The campaign runs through October 29th, so get your pledge in while you can.

Don’t forget to listen to this Sunday’s episode to hear more about Delta Green!

RPG Academy Interview

Caleb and Michael from RPG Academy were kind enough to come talk to us about RPG Academy, their upcoming convention AcadeCon, and their Kickstarter. Look for their Kickstarter on August 6, or you can find them at, @TheRPGAcademy, @TheCalebG, or @AcadeCon.

Read More …

Interview with Part-Time Gods of Fate Creators Eloy and Phil

Aser and Megan spoke with Eloy Lasanta from Third Eye Games and Phil Vecchione from Encoded Designs about their Part-Time Gods of Fate Kickstarter. We were thrilled with the opportunity to talk to the creators, find out more about the mechanics of the conversion, and just what your god will be able to do. We can’t wait for this to be released!

Third Eye Games‘ ground-breaking RPG Part-Time Gods was released in 2011: a game of balancing one’s mortal and divine life. Maintaining one’s human bonds and deciding how much to give in to one’s godhood are all strong themes running through the game, which is still one of Third Eye Games’ highest selling gamelines.

In Part-Time Gods, you take on the role of brand new gods in our modern world today. The Source, theorized to be the creator of all things in the universe, was sealed away by the old gods who are now mostly dead and gone, but the entity no struggled in its cage and is trying to free itself. this has leaked its energy into our world and started creating hundreds of new gods, and even more monsters (called Outsiders) who are out for god’s blood. All of this, while you also attempt to maintain your normal life. Dealing too deep into your godhood forces you to cut ties with your human side, but clinging too closely limits your growth. It is a hard choice, but one every god must make.

The original system was the DGS-Lite, which fully explored the themes and moods of the game, but we are also huge fans of the Fate System from Evil Hat Productions. With the help of Encoded Designs (Phil Vecchione, Chris Sneizak, Bob Everson, and Shawn Merwin) we’ve fully realized Part-Time Gods using the Fate Core system.”

You can find Eloy at Third Eye Games and @ThirdEyeGames and Phil at Encoded Designs and @encodeddesigns.

Direct Download!

Interview: No Thank You, Evil! A new game from Monte Cook Games



It’s no secret that we at The Redacted Files are huge fans of the Cypher System. So we were quite thrilled when Shanna Germain, Monte Cook Games co-founder and developer behind the new project No Thank You, Evil! agreed to answer a few questions for us about this project that launched on Kickstarter last Wednesday.

What inspired you to create a game designed and made for kids and families? What are your goals for No Thank You, Evil!?

The idea originally started with the name. When one of the kids in the MCG family was about a year old, she attended a day care that taught the kids that instead of screaming “NOO!” at the top of their lungs, they could politely say, “No, thank you.” Which resulted in the predictable screaming of “NO THANK YOU!” at the top of their lungs every time a disagreement arose.

When she saw a trailer for the upcoming X-Men movie on a store TV, and asked what it was, her dad tried to find a non-complicated way to explain superheroes and secret identities to a one-year-old, and finally just said, “They’re fighting evil, honey.”

So she raised a pointed finger, shook it sternly at the nearest TV, and with all her gravity told it, “NO THANK YOU, EVIL!”

When we heard that story, we said, “We should make a kids’ game and call it that!” and we all agreed and then we went back to working on our current projects. But then we started hearing from all of these players who were playing Numenera with their kids and loving it. Reading the blogs and essays from parents who were spending their family time playing Numenera (and later, The Strange) was inspiring and informative. Then we started getting drawings of characters, letters from young players, and papercrafts of creatures in our mailboxes and inboxes. It quickly became clear that many gamers with kids wanted to bring their families into the fold. So it seemed like a great opportunity to create a game that was designed just for that experience of bringing the family together around the table.

I think it’s super cool that you account for the age differences that you have in a family for character creation; for example a six year old playing a princess while a ten year old might play a super smart princess who experiments with science. Does this lead to an inequality to what they can do with their characters?

Playing at a higher level increases the complexity and variety for the player by providing more choices, but it doesn’t make your character “better.” In a story-drive game like No Thank You, Evil! the creativity of the player is the key; no matter what type of character you have, if you can think of it, you can try it—and potentially succeed.

Of course, what we’re really finding is that some six-year-olds want to play the same way that their older siblings are playing. And when you give kids that opportunity, they really rise to the challenge. So it works both ways – the younger player gets to feel smart because she’s playing with the older kids, and the older kids get to feel cool because they’re helping the younger players learn and understand the game.

In Numenera and The Strange you have three core classes the players can choose from. Is this the same in NTYE, or can the players choose any sort of class they want?

The character types in No Thank You, Evil! are mechanically much simpler, so it’s easy to offer more of them. So there are a larger number of core options–Spy, Superhero, Princess/Prince, Robot and others–and there are mechanical differences between them, but it’s mostly about flavor. So you can be a Spy, and use all the stats and special skills from the Spy, but actually call yourself a thief or a ninja or name yourself after your favorite cartoon spy. Nothing changes except the name. We wanted to make sure that players could play anything they wanted without making that variety a burden on the person running the game.

It’s a good way to introduce players to the concept of roleplaying, because at first they can emulate their favorite TV, movie or book character, but eventually they will leap into their own creations. We wanted to make sure there was room for all of that.

At TRF we are very invested in accessible gaming and supporting companies that care about the same. One of the things that caught our eye about this system (besides being a Cypher System game) is the emphasis you’ve put on making it accessible to players with color-blindness, dyslexia, visual-impairment, and autism. What inspired you to design your game with these kids in mind?

I come from a family that is deeply invested in helping all kids learn and have fun. My grandmother was a school librarian, my mom works with children with special needs, and my sister is a teacher. My family has a farm, and when I was young, we participated in The Fresh Air Fund, a non-profit that provides children from low-income communities in New York City with the opportunity to spend time on farms. As a kid, I couldn’t understand how someone didn’t know the difference between a cow and a goat. But of course, I learned that there was so much I didn’t know about their world too.

All of which is to say that I really believe that the younger generations will do better, greater things than we will—if they’re just given the opportunity. So I wanted to make sure No Thank You, Evil! was as accessible to as many young people as possible. It’s not that hard to open those doors, but it does take some work and attention. The most difficult part, I think, is that there is no “right answer” for making a game more accessible. For example, we looked at all the research on fonts, trying to find the most readable font for players with dyslexia. And the results were all over the board. Even the fonts designed for dyslexia didn’t work well for some readers. The same is true for players on the autism spectrum. Some children are highly verbal, others aren’t. Some are social, others aren’t. You can’t make a single solution that fits everyone.

So in all of these cases, the goal was to do as much research as we could—reading, but also making sure to include players with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, dyslexia, etc. in our playtests—and then choose the best options. Picking a font that seems to work well for most players, and staying away from known issues like italics and complicated backgrounds, for example. And giving players options: you can be verbal or not, you can be social or not, and none of that penalizes you during game play. In fact, you’re rewarded for being creative within your own comfort level and skill set.


We’ve been huge fans of how the cypher system makes tabletop gaming so accessible for the visually-impaired: was that a conscious decision on your part or just a biproduct of your design philosophy?

Thank you so much! I think that it has a lot to do with the lenses that we use when we’re looking at the confluence of game design and player interaction. Our goal is to make it easy to say yes, to take away impediments to fun, and to give players and GMs exactly what they need, but no more. I think when you have a goal of making a game that is accessible for anyone who wants to play it, then those kinds of things happen as a natural byproduct of that philosophy. Which then makes the game even more accessible. It’s like the world’s best domino affect.

Can you explain some of the ways you plan to make games accessible to people with disabilities?

I mentioned dyslexia and autism earlier. We’re also working to make sure that we’re using colors, shapes, and symbols that are good for people with color-blindness. Fonts are a big one—so many RPG books are beautiful, but hard to read. We’re trying to make things beautiful and readable.

For No Thank You, Evil! in particular, we’re also making the game playable with almost no reading or writing on the player’s part. If reading, writing, or drawing is something they love, then they can absolutely do that, but if not, they can use tokens, symbols, and cards instead. We’re making dice and tokens in a size and shape that are easy to grasp and we’re looking into braille supplements for the character sheets, tokens, and cards.

For me, another important part of accessibility for people with disabilities is visibility. So we also have characters in our world and in the art who have visible physical disabilities. One of our Superhero characters is in a souped-up wheelchair. And we have a another character with an artificial limb. This is so important because it makes players with disabilities feel included—they can see themselves, right there on the page—but it also helps the other players develop human empathy and understanding. When both of those pieces come together, that’s how we start to really create an inclusive, supportive culture.


Do you feel that the tabletop gaming genre has become more inclusive over the last few years? Is it an “easier” community to be a part of now than when you started?

It’s kind of hard for me to say for sure, because I’ve been very lucky in my own experiences. I never felt excluded when I was playing games as a teenager. My gender, my sexual orientation—none of that mattered to the people I played with. Even now, most my experiences have been positive and supportive. But I know that’s not true for everyone.

I think everyone has had a different experience with regards to inclusion. Your gender, race, sexual orientation, experience level, location – all of these can impact that. I’d love to say that we’ve moved past that, that everyone can feel welcome and safe at every table, but I know that would be blind optimism on my part. I do think that many people are working harder to be more inclusive, to create safe spaces for everyone at the table, and to create a welcoming, positive environment. But it’s a process, and often a cyclical one, so two steps forward, one step back.

What was the most inclusive gaming experience you’ve ever had?

Any game that treats all of the players like players. Without expectations or presuppositions based on the players’ gender, race, appearance or anything else. If a game isn’t like that, then I do my best to help turn it that way via education.


What are some of the major changes between NTYE and the other Cypher System games?

No Thank You, Evil! has a more whimsical sensibility, with just a bit of a dark edge for older players. It’s also stripped down to the bare essentials, allowing players a lot of flexibility within the rules, while making it easy for even younger GMs to run the game. The game also uses a d6 instead of a d20. This allows the game mechanics to never be more complex than subtracting or adding 1 to a single digit number, which most kids at four or five can do pretty easily. And there are tokens to help with that visually as well.

What are the rewards for backing this Kickstarter?

So far, we have a couple of different options: the PDF version of the game, the basic version of the game, and the KS deluxe version. The basic and KS deluxe version include the rulebook, an adventure book (that was added for our first stretch goal), dice, tokens, cards, and character sheets. The deluxe version also gets you extra cool stuff—next up if we hit our stretch goal is reuseable character sheets. We have a lot of ideas for additional stretch goals, which I’m really excited about!


What has been your favorite part of this project so far?

Watching the kids playtest the game. They get so excited and they are so creative. They just blow my mind with the ideas they come up with, and how willing they are to just slip right into being a character. Roleplaying is something they do all the time anyway—if you just give them some guidance and a problem to solve, they can just take off with it and do incredible things.

I know you have the Cypher System Core book coming out this year. Any other exciting releases coming out?

We’ll have Worlds Numberless and Strange coming out at the same time as the Cypher System corebook later this summer. Worlds Numberless and Strange is the worldbook for The Strange, and just like the Ninth World Guidebook, it’s stuffed with art and maps and all kinds of wonderful new places. Closer to the fall, we’ll have Into the Night – a Numenera book that looks beyond the Ninth World into the far-away places of the sky.

We can’t thank Shanna enough for sitting down and answering our questions. We wish her and No Thank You, Evil! every success! You can find the Kickstarter here! It has already been funded and runs through June 17, 2015.