09 Oct An Interview with Indie Designer Venger Satanis

I recently had the opportunity to interview Indie Tabletop RPG Designer (and OSR disciple) Venger Satanis, the creator of two successful Kickstarters (for “How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss” and “The Outer Presence.”), with one more currently open for funding!. Check out his views on life… the universe… and everything!

What made you get into tabletop RPG design?

I love writing, roleplaying games, and designing things.  So, maybe it’s in my DNA?  That, and I’m just not ready to seriously tackle a novel… yet.

What would you say your biggest challenge was for that – and how did you overcome it?Venger Satanis2

I got my fear of failure out of the way by failing spectacularly.  Not just generally in life, here and there, but in RPG design.  I suppose that fear was still there when I tried again a few years ago (after discovering that the OSR was a thing), but there was really no where to go but up.
These days, time management is an issue.  Not wanting to let people down is a big one.  Keep going even though you can think of a dozen good reasons to quit.

Gathering a fanbase can be a big challenge for an Indie designer – how did you go about tackling that?

I read some good advice awhile ago – stick to one thing, one type of product and keep doing it so you don’t have to re-invent the new-audience-wheel continually.  Well, I think that is pretty good advice, but I just couldn’t follow it.  That’s not in my nature.  I have to try new things or I’ll get blocked, frustrated, bored, etc.
However, there are certain recurring themes that readers will find in my books.  For other indie designers, hopefully, whatever is in you also resonates with your audience.

I saw you had a successful Kickstarter a short while ago (with a very cool title might I add) – what lessons did you learn from that experience?

The last one was called The Outer Presence.  I learned that I can do something way different than I’m used to doing and not completely alienate the people who like my work.
My current KS is called Alpha Blue.  Here’s a (possibly NSFW) link:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1575519826/alpha-blue


Venger Satanis3Your book “How to Game Master Like a Fucking Boss” looks pretty cool – can you give us a taster of what’s within?

Reading it is like I sat down with you for several hours over a few beers and spilled my guts out about how I run games, what I think makes a great campaign, tips, tricks, and techniques, as well as, various off-beat tables and such that could spice up the “typical” fantasy RPG.
 

What do you consider that Tabletop RPGs have that makes you enjoy them so much?

It has the interactivity, immersion, simulation, narrative, and game elements that make it one of the best hobbies/pastimes I can think of.  If I could go off for a few hours every week and actually be in some kind of pseudo-medieval realm summoning demons, blasting monsters with magic and wielding a big fucking sword, I would.  In a heartbeat I would.  My only reason for not completely leaving this world, this reality would be my wife and kids.  Otherwise, I’d want to actually live in an RPG type world 24/7 and never look back.
Being a part of an RPG is the next best thing to actually living out that fantasy.
 

What is your favourite RPG (aside from your own, naturally!)?

While I love unique, indie RPGs, it can be difficult finding people to play them… even trying it out for a few hours.  So, most of my gaming life has gravitated towards super-popular RPGs like D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire: the Masquerade.  But on occasion, I’ve had the chance to experience a wide variety of games (though not nearly enough) that make me fall in love with RPGs all over again.
Wow, this is a hard one.  I’m trying to imagine if I was stranded on a desert island with just one RPG of my choosing, what would it be… hmm.  Well, roleplaying is a social activity and it would be easier to recruit my shipwrecked companions with Dungeons & Dragons.  So, I guess I’d pick D&D 5th edition.  It’s both old school and refreshingly contemporary (skipping that dubious middle period of RPG design from the mid 90’s to the late 00’s).
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