An author and his fan (I)
Gonzalo Durán: What you consider yourself more a game designer or a gamer?
Patrick Taylor: The answer to that is 50-50. I love gaming, but can't help dissecting the system/rules/setting during play. It's a curse/blessing. I enjoy it, but I also notice any mistakes or bad decisions and these tend to irk me.
GD: If you’d have to choose… Player or GameMaster?
PT: Player! I am a horrible GM, because I can design a whole campaign but after playing a single session I can already see how it's going to play out, and in my mind I'm onto the 'next thing'. In fact, I have a bit of a bad rep for terminating games because I'm bored of them. Now my friends only let me run one-shots or short games!
GD: When you played (or GMed) last time?
PT: Within the last week. Deadlands.
GD: HAEL is a very special setting… How did you create it?
PT: It was a mash-up of Psihammer, and an older unpublished setting (A.O.E.P. for AD&D, using the psychic rules), plus new interest in Savage Worlds. A.O.E.P. was one of the first settings I constructed, and I still think the most original, and I bought I lot of that to HAEL. Technically, I think it's different to other Savage fantasy titles because it takes more liberties with the core rules. It's also different to most fantasy games in general because it turns the world-view on it's head, by putting humans at the bottom rung of the ladder and encouraging you to play other races. It also mixed magic and technology with psionics, and gave it an overall 'apocalyptic' tone.
GD: What is your favourite part of the setting?
PT: I still feel strongly towards the key NPCs who I created, as well as the Yaena, the Kirene, and the Nuclarine concept.
GD: How well did HAEL do commercially, and what lessons can you draw from the experience of publishing the game?
PT: Sales were surprisingly bad! It was a wake up call for both myself and Joe [Sweeney, of Storyweaver]. We learnt a lot about market preferences, and the 'constant volume' of output is paramount. I think the later is something that all indie game designers struggle with.
GD: Where to now for HAEL?
PT: Parts of the setting are being spun off into the High Space 'Uplift'. Some of the non-human concepts are also being spun off into a new contemporary game setting, with its own unique rules, and which I think will be a cracker of a game! The playtest's have been great so far. In fact it's a daily distraction from what I should be focused on right now… the High Space 'Uplift' Kickstarter!
GD: So is HAEL still alive?
PT: Sadly, I think it has, unofficially at least, fallen into the realm of the 'discontinued product line'. But I'm okay with that. I can't labor my whole life on a setting with such low market appeal. If I wanted to do that, I'd right poetry, right?
PT: I fell in love with SW from playing Deadlands. I remember after publishing Psihammer that the SRDv4 came out and there was a lot of uncertainty about the future of indie publishers. So I got in touch with Shane and Clint at PEG, and they were supportive and friendly, and I got he sense they knew how to manage their product well. That clinched it for me.
GD: BTW, Savage Worlds is my favourite game system. Which is yours?
PT: Depends on the game. SW is my favourite action system. I also like the Amber diceless. I also really like the Apocalypse engine. To me, the system always has to fit the setting.
To be continued…