Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Inteview with Wolfgang Baur (Open Design) part II

Welcome to the second part of my interview with Wolfgang Baur as we talk about his ground breaking work with Open Design his fey gone wild 4e paronage project Wrath of the River King and my favorite clockwork 3.5 patronage project Tales of Zobeck You can read Part I HERE

11. What specific design choice are you most happy with, and why?

I'm very happy with a couple of them, the use of "alternate history" encounters in Castle Shadowcrag has gotten raves (and neatly sidesteps the problems of time travel adventures), and the expansion of 4E encounters to include heavy use of roleplaying and skill challenges in Wrath of the River King, in direct contradiction of the WotC "house style" that privileges combat as 95% of the encounters. They know their audience, of course, but there are other audiences out there as well, which aren't being as well served. I'm happy to step up for some of the storytelling groups and some of the exploration/sandbox style gamers.

12. What has been your best moment playing with an Open Design product?

I've very much enjoyed the 4th Edition Wrath of the River King playtests. Even when the design is getting shredded, I know we're going to have a much stronger adventure as a result. The sad fact is that most adventure published by the big houses don't get much (or in some cases, any) playtesting. Paizo is a big exception, which I think is part of their formula for success.

13. What has been your most memorable fan response to Open Design?

I think the essay and local legends from our patron in Kuwait count as a major high point, since that was during the Six Arabian Nights project. There's nothing like having someone in Arabian to give you some added insight into an Arabian project.

14. Are you happy with where Open Design is today?

After winning the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in gaming, you'd think I could rest on my laurels for a little while, wouldn't you?

But I can't. I want the next patron project to be even bigger and better than the two currently underway. It may be a massive sourcebook,a Cthulhu adventure, or a traditional Conan-style sword-and-sorcery epic. It may be an extremely experimental city adventure with planar overtones and unusual villains. The beauty of the patron approach is that it will be something that no one else is likely to try, because it doesn't need a mass audience.

So, yeah, I'm happy that we're taking chances and doing niche items. And I expect to try to raise the bar even further on the design, the art, and the interaction with patrons. There's always a higher mountain.

15. Where do you see Open Design at a year from now? 5 years?

Hey, I'm not an oracle! I have no idea where it goes, because it's a creative endeavor first and foremost. It may flame out in the edition wars, if the patrons continue their split into 3E/Pathfinder and 4E camps.

I can tell you that patrons will set the pace as much as I will. It may continue to evolve the Zobeck campaign setting into material that reaches the broader public, like the Gazetteer that will be released after Thanksgiving, or the Kobold Guides to Game Design (Vol 2 ships in December!). There may be more patron-designers "graduating" from Open Design to carve their own niche in the freelancing world. Who knows?

16. What is the Patronage Project you want to join?

Heroes of the Jade Oath, of course!

And after that, I would love to see someone try a genre that we haven't seen yet, maybe Cthulhoid horror or a conspiracy project.

17. The Ollamh Lorekeeper is dedicated to Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved , so I askeveryone this question. Can you name for us a totem type, champion type and witch type that would be cool but you have never seen from the fans?

Alas, I am woefully underinformed when it comes to AE... But I'd say my favorite totem is the raven, my favorite champion type would be the Flagellant Witchhunter, and my favorite witch would have to be the redheaded kind.

18. Is there anything else the world should know about you?

I'm a workaholic (you know that already!), and I have a secret love of arquebus and pike AKA 16th century history. Don't tell anyone, it'll ruin my medieval street cred.

19. Is there anything else the world should know about Open Design?

I think it's an eye-opening view of what it really takes to publish professional work, and a great chance to go behind the scenes, but it's also a community of the smartest, most engaged, and most passionate gamers out there. Because everyone has donated to fund the work, everyone

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