After the last Firing Squad with Craig Campell, Liz approached me to talk to her about her latest project: Familiars of Terra.

It’s an RPG that, in her words, is a bit of a blend of The Golden Compass and Pokemon. Familiars and spirits exist, and populate a close to modern day world that is emerging from the Vast War. Into this landscape stride the Seekers, who are the main protagonists of the game.

Check out this Firing Squad Interview below!


MP3 Audio File: Firing Squad welcomes Elizabeth Chaipraditkul (Familiars of Terra Kickstarter)


Douglas Cole: Good afternoon and welcome to Gaming Ballistics Firing Squad. I am joined today by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul – did I get that right?

Elizabeth Chaipraditkul: You got it right! Good job. [both laugh]

DC: At any case we’re here to talk about a upcoming Kickstarter and roleplaying game. Elizabeth is the proprietor of Angry Hamster Games and by the time you see this video she will probably have launched her second Kickstarter. Tell me about the game itself. It’s called Familiars of Terra.

EC: Yes. So our game is called Familiars of Terra and the elevator pitch is that Familiars of Terra is a fantasy world where everyone has their own animal familiar and you play a seeker. A seeker is basically a wandering hero who performs epic deeds and adventures along with their familiar. It’s kind of a mix between the Golden Compass and Pokemon if you’re trying to think of genres and themes and where it would fit.

DC: I didn’t read the Golden Compass book, but I did see the movie and I have two children so I simply cannot escape pokemon even if I chose to. The question that I ask is Golden Compass – at least as potrayed in the movie – was kind of a dark tone to it. Lot of shadows and darkness and stuff. Pokemon isn’t. It’s sort of light and fluffy and even the bad guys – Team Rocket – is …you can’t take them that seriously, right? [TERRIBLE RUSSIAN ACCENT] We’re going to take over the world, of course! [TERRIBLE RUSSIAN ACCENT] So what’s the feel of the setting? Epic deeds in a war-torn land seems like it could get pretty dark.

EC: I think its very young adult (the setting). Even though I’m an adult who plays it with a lot of adult friends. Our game is kid-friendly. I think a lot of what you would consider darkness or serious stuff comes from the moral choices you have to make as a seeker. Deciding between what’s right and what’s wrong. How am I best going to approach this situation where it comes out the best for everybody. That’s a common theme in young adult fiction and struggling to discern the right from wrong even though you have adversaries telling you or actively working against you. So in that way it’s a serious game. You have to make those choices. The world is really fantastical. You have all these animals and these cool mutations and there are a lot of foreign places to go. Foreign yet familiar because it’s in a world much like our own. There are cars and radios and TV and internet. There is a Familiars of Terra version of Google, but it is different. You get that really cool, fun exploration kind of cutesy element almost.

Continue reading “The Firing Squad welcomes Elizabeth Chaipraditkul (Familiars of Terra)”

Go Check Out the CAPERS RPG on Kickstarter

It’s been a while since the last Firing Squad interview. I’ve been pretty head-down on other things . . . but I got the opportunity to chat with fellow IGDN member Craig Campbell about his upcoming RPG, CAPERS.

It’s a cool concept . . . 1920s gangsters with moderate superpowers during prohibition. It features a pretty awesome and novel card-based resolution system that I found quite compelling.

But don’t take my word for it . . . watch the video, read the transcript, or listen to the MP3!


MP3 Only Audio File: Craig Campbell Discussed the CAPERS RPG and Kickstarter


Text Transcript

(transcription courtesy of Christopher R. Rice)

Douglas Cole: Good afternoon and welcome to Gaming Ballistics’ Firing Squad. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, but today I’m joined by Craig Campbell of Nerdburger Games.

Craig Campbell: Hellooo! Hey Douglas.

DOUG: Hey. Haven’t done these for a while I know that you’ve been busy since you’ve got a Kickstarter coming up next week and I’ve been busy doing and getting some books. But today is all about the Capers RPG and the upcoming Kickstarter. So tell me a little about it.

CRAIG: Capers is a tabletop roleplaying game. It’s sort of a game in super-powered gangsters in the 1920s. Prohibition era criminal activity organized crime is one the rise and alcohol is illegal and criminals are out to make their buck off that. We think of it as the rise of organized crime in the United States and the federal government and law enforcement agencies were not prepared to deal with the rise in illegal alcohol they are fighting a losing battle very much. Historically it was repealed a little over a decade after it was enacted, but during this game, its happening and you’re portraying potentially a gangster who happens to have a superpower or two, kind of low end. Nothing world-bendy. Nothing no is going to be mind controlling the entire neighborhood. Think of it as X-Men B-Team street level stuff. But then otherwise it’s that gangster era you can think to shows like Boardwalk Empire, basically any Jimmy Cagney movie, a lot of earlier gangster and noir stuff – maybe not fully noir, but in that era. (mumbled) Untouchables and stuff and kind of create those stories. You’re the villain. You’re the bad guy. Maybe you’re the villain with the heart of gold. There are a lot of ways to go or you can play the members of law enforcement attempting to bring these criminals to justice and that has its own uphill battle and its own struggles and you’re looking at all the gang groups have some members who have some sort of superpower or ability. Members of law enforcement have that as well and it gets to be more than tommy guns and laser eyes and flying around and force fields and invisibility and all that stuff.

DOUG: So the Roaring 20s genre as a pretty vivid canvas. What inspired you to add superpowers on top of that. In a way it’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. [both laugh] You got superpowers and you got gangsters you put them together and you got awesome. What was the spark that said You know what was the mash-up that said we need it do it!” Continue reading “The Firing Squad welcomes Craig Campbell (CAPERS Kickstarter)”

A bit over a week ago, I was joined by David Kenzer of Kenzer and Company. In fact, I was originally joined by Jolly Blackburn and Steve Johansson as well, but after nearly 90 minutes of great conversation, I had the horrifying discovery that I had 90 minutes of video . . . and no audio whatsoever.

Fortunately, David had the time and grace to do it again. We covered some of the same, and a lot of different topics the second time around, though Jolly and Steve were unavailable.

It was a good chat, and we covered topics ranging from the history and product portfolio of Kenzer and Company, to the production and design of Hackmaster, to the current Kickstarter for Aces and Eights Reloaded.

A transcript was added to the post May 21, 2017.

MP3 File – Kenzer and Company Interview

Text Transcript

Douglas Cole: Good evening and welcome to Gaming Ballistics’ Firing Squad.

I am joined today by David Kenzer of Kenzer and Company. We may have some other people join a little later.

This is a special event for me because David has agreed to join after we already recorded this yesterday, and we got 90 minutes of great video and 0 minutes of audio. So there is a whole lot of animated conversation, but it is literally animated with no voices.

Kenzer and Company was gracious enough to do this a second time . . . so thanks for joining me again! 

David Kenzer: [chuckles] Hi everybody and thanks for having me a second time. I don’t think . . . I know for sure Jolly is not coming, and Steve is probably not going to be able to make it either, it doesn’t look like today. Maybe I’m the only forgiving one of the group.

DC: Which is entirely fair, batting .333 is pretty good in the major leagues, and I’ll take it where I can get it.

So what I wanted to do for people who aren’t as familiar with the history of Kenzer and Company: Maybe you could briefly lay out some of the highlights: when the company started, first product, the breadth of the portfolio. I knew of Kenzer from Hackmaster and Knights of the Dinner Table, and not much necessary more than that.

But as I dug in and we conversed yesterday, you have a very broad, dynamic, interesting product portfolio. So why don’t you walk through a little of the history of the company, so people know where you are coming from as we talk about the kickstarter you’re currently running, and some of the other games you’ve done. Continue reading “GB’s Firing Squad welcomes Kenzer and Company”

A lot of my “index pages” have gone the way of the dodo since my migration from Blogger to WordPress, and while I take time to fix that, I wanted to offer up something as a reminder and a bit of a throwback.

I have conducted quite a few interviews, some recently, some a while ago, with SJG staff and freelancers. Since the upcoming Dungeon Fantasy RPG (Powered by GURPS) game has passed some big hurdles and is headed off to print, perhaps in time for GenCon.

So with that, here are some interviews, in reverse date order. Some special things about them is that each of them has a text transcript – you can read them, listen to them (MP3), and/or watch them. For the most recent ones, I use post-production to try and do a bit of value add, showing products and images relevant to the conversation. But, without further ado, here’s the list of interviews with SJG folks and freelancers on The Firing Squad. (The PK/Hunter one wasn’t mine; it was a transcript with which I was gifted).

I’ve updated the older posts so the text flows better, but at the cost of losing some of the graphics. Trust me – it’s better this way.
Continue reading “Steve Jackson Games – Interviews on The Firing Squad”

The Firing Squad welcomes Sean Punch

I had the opportunity to sit down once again with GURPS Line Editor Sean Punch for a 90-minute interview concerning the GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set.

The Kickstarter is ongoing – and to back the Kickstarter is to vote for more physically printed GURPS products.

The interview is fairly clear, though Sean and I both talk fast, and there will be some interruptions in the flow.

This is the first Firing Squad video in over a year . . . sorry for making you wait so long!

If you don’t have time for the full 90-minute show (but you should make time for it, because Sean’s an engaging speaker and I mostly just shut up and listen), at least listen to this seven minute long pitch about the DF boxed set, and what’s in it for you, and why it matters to the future of GURPS.

Seven Minute Summary


And for those with more time on your hands, here’s the full video:


Full 90-minute Interview

As always, as soon as I can make it happen, there will be an MP3 file and a transcript available.

Hey, and why not? Here’s the first interview I ever did, and also my first with Sean.


When I heard that there was going to be a big SJG project, and given that I have a certain amount of contact with Sean and the SJG team thanks to being an author for them, as well as doing the fairly well-received GURPSDay compilations, I volunteered to conduct a series of interviews with the SJG team.

+Phil Reed is a busy guy. CEOs are like that, in my experience. While I usually try and do interviews on The Firing Squad, which allows me to dig deeper and probe with follow-ups, that simply wasn’t going to happen.

Phil graciously answered a few questions on the Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set via email. I’ll be following up in a more content-driven conversation – on video – with Sean next week (though it’ll take a bit to get through my post-production, and then transcription, though the vid will go up before the transcript is ready).

My questions are in bold. His answers are in plain text. Continue reading “Dungeon Fantasy Boxed Set – Q&A with Phil Reed”

Thursday is GURPSDay, and much like Christmas time, I was gifted with the transcript that someone did of the conversation between Hunter Shelburne and +Rev. Pee Kitty (PK Levine, Jason Levine) regarding the GURPS worked-example series After the End.

For an absolutely shameless set of plugs, if you want some comprehensive reviews of each volume, check out After the End 1: Wastelanders (review) and After the End 2: The New World (review) that I did previously.

But what was the interview, you ask? It was part of SJGamesLive.

(I should note that these transcripts, whether it be this one or those on The Firing Squad, are pretty intense piece of work. As an example, the AtE transcript is just shy of 10,000 words long. That’d be about a 12-page Pyramid article, which is on the longer side of things. So there’s a lot of content here.) Continue reading “Transcript: Hunter and PK talk After the End”

This was far too long in coming, but in January, the Firing Squad welcomed +Brian Engard, and we discussed game design, self-publishing, and how to broaden the gaming market, among other topics. It’s about a 90-minute interview.

I interacted with Brian first as a contact about the interview with +Steve Jackson, only to discover that Brian has a ton of notches on his belt, from design work with +Leonard Balsera on Fate Core, as well as Spirit of the Century and Shadow of the Century, and Strange Tales of the Century.

He’s also self-published a very different kind of game, called Becoming, which is part improv theater, part RPG, and likely different than anything that you’ve seen before.

Give a listen!

MP3 Audio File

Text Transcript

Douglas Cole (Gaming Ballistic): Good evening and welcome to Gaming Ballistic’s Firing Squad. Tonight we are joined by Brian Engard. Game designer and marketing guy for Steve Jackson Games. Brian, welcome.

Brian Engard (Steve Jackson Games): Hi. How’s it going?

Douglas: Good. Thank you for joining me. One of the reasons why I jumped in and wanted to chat with you is because I saw your Daily Illuminator, where you talk a little about yourself and your games. I didn’t really put all the pieces together until I went and got my copy of Fate, and “Ha! There you are.” I know that Leonard was very much involved. Tell me a little bit about Fate, Shadow of the Century, Spirit of the Century, and what’s your history with Fate, Evil Hat, and Spirit of the Century? Continue reading “The Firing Squad welcomes Brian Engard”

The Firing Squad is not out of business – I’ve just been busy. Plus, I raised my standards.

I really liked the visual impact of the images I added to Steve Jackson‘s and Hans-Christian Vortisch‘s interviews. So I decided to keep doing them.

But it adds overhead. I can estimate as I work through +Brian Engard‘s interview – which was 90 minutes long – that I will spend about 7 hours in post processing of the video alone for every hour of conversation.

Additional time above and beyond what +Christopher R. Rice spends in the preliminary transcription will be spent adjusting the text – as a result of 14 years of trans-pacific conference calls with coworkers with variably accented English, I have a ridiculously good ear for this. I’d guess about 3 hours of editing for every hour of conversation (again, above and beyond the 3-10 days for the raw transcription, and it’s usually closer to 3 than not).

So to get it right takes time. The only thing I could think of to speed time to viewing would be to do a rough-cut video where I remove any long pauses, bathroom breaks, or other interruptions. Then include the text transcription and post-production video as time allows. My predisposition is obviously to release the post-production video first with an MP3 file, and either at the same time or shortly thereafter throw down the full text transcript.

But I’m interested in opinions and thoughts.

I do have something like four confirmed candidates for interviews in the works. All are published authors for GURPS and other works.

I’m always interested in suggestions as well, and would be simply thrilled to hear from someone in WotC with whom I could chat about D&D 5, because I’ve been enjoying the hell out of it and would love to speak about the present and future of the game, as well as design choices, etc.

In any case, if you are wondering what’s this Firing Squad thing . . . well, take a peek.

For various reasons this took a bit. Holidays, dead computers, oh my.

But the text transcript of my interview with +Hans-Christian Vortisch is now available. 

It was a fun interview for me to do, and we covered a lot of good ground. 

If you haven’t seen it, heard it, or watched it: now’s your chance!