Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Five or So Questions with Elizabeth Chaipraditkul on WITCH

Today I am super lucky because I got to interview Elizabeth Chaipraditkul about WITCH! You're super lucky, too, because I have some pictures and her awesome answers here for you to enjoy! AND, guess what? WITCH is on preorder for release in February in the Angry Hamster Publishing shop. Let's get to it!

Tell me a little bit about WITCH. What excites you about it?

So, WITCH: Fated Souls is a modern dark fantasy role play game where you play a member of the Fated, someone who has sold their soul to a demon for power. When I started to write WITCH it was something I just had to do, when I started writing I figured even if no one else read the game at least it would be out of my head. I always loved dark games - gothic horror, haunted exploration, anything occult. Games that allowed me to make a character I could fall in love with, that haunted me, even when I was awake. I wanted to make a game based on the heroine in every one of my dreams. A setting where she could live, flourish, and fight her demons (internally and externally). I wanted to make a game that everyone could play who felt the same way, who had formed similar people in their minds - stretching them, shaping them over the years. When I see my game it's not as horror-filled as I thought it would be, but there is still something about it that's mysterious, dark, and filled with adventure. I feel I accomplished my goal, that is exciting.

The crunchy mechanics side of me is excited about the magic system for WITCH. I am always frustrated with games that limit my magical power in odd numeric ways. Like only having five spell slots or only having enough mana for three spells. Realistically, in these games the idea is that there is a point where your character is tried and can't cast any more. But I never found that much fun and the idea that my power was capped (even if that meant I was just tired) bothered me. In WITCH you can cast your magic as much as you'd like. However, each time you do your chance to critically fail/botch increases. So, out of character, you get to live that exhaustion with your character. Are you going to gamble casting another spell, you can do it, but what if you botch? Worse yet, what if you have cast your magic so many times that you cause an Eternity Chasm (extra horrible botch), a catastrophic event that rips through all space & time.

What sort of inspiration did you use for the horror and occult imagery and feel of the game?

When I was thinking of how I wanted my game to look and feel I wanted it to be like Charmed, if it had met Hellraiser early on and was corrupted by it. American Horror Story: Coven, while it came out after I was almost done development for the game, definitely captures the look and feel I was going for.

I am a very visual person. So, from the moment I started writing I was pinning images that fueled my writing. Art gives me energy. Images can tell such an amazing story and were endless inspiration for me.

I am also a huge fan of buying crappy old books from the thrift store. There are a lot of random occult tidbits I was able to pull out of the books to weave into my game. It was important that WITCH, was far enough removed from reality as to be its own thing, but still have recognizable elements. For example, we have rituals in the game, rituals are an important part of any type of occult game. Saying that, they are totally made up and I've tried to stay away from anything that is practiced. I did make sure though that there was enough symbol for them to feel real and give a good play experience.

I want to know, what happens when you create an Eternity Chasm - what can be the impact of this rip?

Pretty much anything that is end-game horrible. For example, you could open a hole into an alternate dimension filled with evil replicas of yourself who invade the world looking to kill you. It could also do something like write every trace of you out of existence. So you have to play through the moments of your life as they are erased one by one. When an Eternity Chasm happens, it normally means your character is going to die or become unplayable (it is almost impossible for one to happen unless you are insanely reckless). However, like with all things in WITCH, it should be an excuse to further the story. I feel huge events like this should never be an excuse to just kill a character. It needs to add drama and play to the game. Having a strong, player driven story is so important, especially in WITCH.

What kind of encounters could players find in WITCH?

Exploration and adventure are huge themes in our game. Sure, you sold your soul and it sucks, but your life isn't over. One huge trade-off is that you get to explore a magical world, which is pretty damn amazing. In our world there are different forces at work that Fated will meet. There is the Quiet, an all encompassing nothingness that is eating away parts of reality. As you get close to the Quiet you'll hear voices, voices asking you to follow them. There are also hunters to contend with. People who hate you for the simple fact that you have sold your soul. And much more! 

We also have a lot of adventures that players can stumble upon by mistake, opening the wrong door, or messing up with their magic. For example, in our Planar Guide you'll find a plane totally inhabited by puppets whose strings stretch high into the sky. Or you can visit a plane with no land and an ever expanding ocean. Dark finned figures lurk just below the surface of the water waiting for you to succumb to exhaustion.

How do you approach more sensitive topics in WITCH - do you have realistic, or possibly intimate, horrors?

There is a lot of different ways to represent horror in our game. In WITCH a lot of horror comes from the character realizing what they are capable of and willing to do for power. How they cope with the deals they make with their demon and how they (hopefully) triumph. Demons play a huge role in our game, because each Fated has so much interaction with theirs. While every demon is different there are some that take sincere delight in emotionally torturing their Fated, that is not for everyone.

What affects people is very personal to each person and group you are playing with. In WITCH we advise GMs, in the GM chapter, to speak to their players about what they are comfortable with before the game begins. I personally feel this makes playing fun and safe for all players.

In the text itself, while we do have a few grisly scenes, I have stayed away from sexual violence. I preferred to have intimacy and sex shown in a positive light. Likewise, we have some nudity in the book and our Devil's Deck. I feel being naked is pretty natural and normal, it doesn't have to mean sex (or violence).

Awesome! Thanks to Elizabeth for the excellent interview and for the gorgeous art to share! You can find find more about WITCH on Angry Hamster Publishing's WITCH page and preorder options in their shop.

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