Five Questions for … the Storybrewers
This interview with Hayley and Vee, the Storybrewers, first appeared in translated form in our (Thorsten’s and Tina’s) German-language story game zine.
We’ve decided to publish the original English version right here in the zine’s blog because it might be of interest to a few English-language readers as well.
Hayley and Vee are two likable Aussies making cool small RPGs that are all about story and that you can download for free from their website.
Their newest game Alas for the Awful Sea was a big success on Kickstarter earlier this year and they also participated in this year’s Game Chef competition as well as the 200 Word RPG Design Challenge.
The Five Questions
What’s currently happening around Alas for the Awful Sea?
Hayley: We are so close to unleashing Alas on the world! It’s super exciting to see everything come together! We’ve just received the proofs from the printer and they’re looking great. We’re excited to be able to share Alas with you very soon!
While we’ve been finalizing the core book, we’ve also been playtesting the stretch goal scenarios that backers unlocked during our Kickstarter campaign. These are all shaping up to highlight diverse aspects of the setting. Right now I’m working on two very different adventures: The Fire Burning, a slow burning scenario about class politics and family drama, and Hunters a high octane scenario about threat and the supernatural.
I’m excited to see what different GMs and players make of our game.
(Editor’s note: The interview is already a few weeks old - fulfilment is in full swing by now and many backers all over the world have already received their physical copies of the book.)
Your games are always laid out very nicely (and recently, you’ve started to also make your own illustrations). What inspires you?
Vee: Thanks for the kind words. I really enjoy working on layouts for RPGs, as it requires a delicate balance between usability and thematic atmosphere. What inspires me during the design process is playing the game a lot and finding out how that game makes me feel and what kind of stories it tells. I want the design layout and/or illustrations to be an extension of the game experience!
I’ve read that board games were “your first love”. (Tina: Mine too, as it happens!) Have board games influenced the way you design RPGs or are the two topics completely separate for you?
Hayley: For me, these two hobbies, which I both love dearly, scratch a completely different itch. I enjoy board-gaming for its technical challenge of optimization. It’s a fun tactical challenge. Roleplaying for me on the other hand, is all about telling stories, and is very little about tactical thinking or crunching numbers. For me, roleplaying systems exist only to moderate and influence the narrative that is told at the table. My focus is on characters, and their interactions with the world around them.
I actually think it’s just a strange coincidence that I’m passionate about both!
Vee: Agreed, they’re very different. Although I’m sure some die manipulation mechanics cross over between the two topics, we don’t really think about them in the same way at all.
You started a quarterly report about RPG kickstarters. What is your motivation for that?
Hayley: The RPG scene is dynamic and constantly evolving, and a lot of that innovation hits Kickstarter first. I’m fascinated by our industry and how it is changing, and I like to know what people value and why.
Can you tell us more about your upcoming Jane Austen game? I’ve seen photos of cards on Twitter - what role do those play in the game?
Hayley: Sure! Our next major project, High Society: A Jane Austen Roleplaying Game, is a TTRPG played in the style of a Jane Austen novel. At the beginning of the game, each player picks a secret objective card for their character. They then scheme, manipulate, and maneuver as much as possible to achieve these objectives throughout the session.
Vee: However, this is rarely an easy task! Player characters have a reputation to uphold, which is tracked on each player’s sheet. Losing reputation can have terrible consequences for a character, and their family. Not only that, other characters have their own desires, and are bound to get in the way.