Friday, April 6, 2018

Five or So Questions on Familiars of Terra

Hey all, I've got a great interview with Elizabeth Chaipraditkul on the new tabletop game Familiars of Terra, which is currently on Kickstarter! Liz got in touch and when I heard "familiars of Terra is a tabletop roleplay game set in a beautiful world where everyone has their own animal familiar" I knew many of you would be super amped to check it out. So here's the interview!

--
A dark skinned person with a beard, wearing a fancy shirt with a fur collar, with an animal that l can only describe as a poodle with wings. SO CUTE.
Tell me a little about Familiars of Terra. What excites you about it?

Familiars of Terra is a tabletop roleplay game set in Terra, a fantasy world in which every person has an animal familiar. As a heroic Seeker you travel the lands with your familiar healing the devastation of a war which left nations scared and people scattered. The game is all about exploration, adventure, and heroics. If you're a fan of the Golden Compass or Pokemon you'll probably enjoy our game.

What makes me most excited about Familiars of Terra is that it is a very positive game. Yes there was a war, yes your main job as a Seeker is to make sure something terrible like that never happens again, but behind all that is hope. Being a Seeker is about making the right choices when they matter most and when there are grey decisions - helping, healing, and thriving. I wanted to make a game that left people feeling good about themselves, that built them up, and also had a bunch of awesome animals in it. :)


What was the initial design and conception process like? If you just woke up one day and wrote it, what was the spark? If it took a longer road, how did you find your way?

After I finished WITCH I kinda needed a break from the dark. I love dark, dramatic games, but focusing so much on that type of world was really exhausting. You can't live in shadows forever it isn't healthy. So Familiars of Terra really came from a place of wanting to design something happy and uplifting. I wanted to write about heroes and cool animals. That's where the game really began. From there I started testing different mechanics with dice and then eventually with cards - once we had the base system it took off from there. Funnily enough, I had a really clear picture in my mind of what Terra looked like right from the start, so the mechanics was where I had to invest a lot of development time.
Left to right: a person with a beard and mustache, a necklace with a big shiny gem in it, and a fancy shirt and collar in blue and beige; a dark skinned person with round pigtails, in a cream colored midriff shirt and beautiful facial jewelry; a white person with red hair wearing a brown vest with a fluffy collar over a light blue dress; a dark skinned person with dreadlocks, wearing a purple-ish scarf and a long green vest; and an indigenous-appearing person wearing a strappy vest, with organic lines down their cheek in red, carrying a large stick on their back.
When you say grey decisions, what do you mean by that, and how does it tie to the heart of the Seeker-familiar relationship?

By grey decisions, I guess I mean very real decisions. Life is really difficult with out any supernatural threats and the choices we make as humans are tough. In Terra I wanted to tackle real problems, but then in a fantasy world. You basically play a modern day hero and that means the decisions you're faced with are realistically tough - we don't have many true villains in the game, but we do have a lot of people who think differently than one another. We have people who hurt people to help themselves (or their families) and Seekers are often faced with greed. However, as a Seeker you fight for the greater good - you're part of the generation that will heal the world. It's your job to make the tough calls and practice radical empathy and creative problem solving. You're faced with grey decisions, but you play hope :).

A person wearing flowing clothing with beautiful geometric patterns who has a red line across their cheeks and nose, carrying a harpoon-like weapon and standing beside a large deer with a saddle.
How do the mechanics tie in with your familiar and that relationship?

Actually, in Familiars of Terra you have one character sheet for two characters. Half your sheet is for your familiar and half your sheet is for yous Seeker. You can make checks with either and as a player it's basically like playing one soul in two bodies. Also, familiars are always the one to fight! Humans are weak compared to familiars, so in order to protect their companions, familiars are always the one to get into a scuffle. We have lots of cool Combat Powers for you to pick and customize how your familiar fights. Finally, each familiar gets a legacy which is both story and mechanics. By following a story you create to your familiar's epic destiny you earn cool new Traits which alter how your familiar looks, moves, and even fights.


How do players engage the mechanics to express empathy, and how do the familiars help with that?

A lot of our mechanics work by 'defining' things. You can buy Items and then in the moment when you want to use them - you define the item's history and how it is used. This encourages player's creativity and allows people to take different paths to problem solving. A lot of times you make a check and you're done - you succeed or fail and sometimes that's absolutely terrible when you're trying to do something kind or empathetic. When I was creating Familiars of Terra I really wanted to make sure doing something empathetic or creative (or anything really) relied on more than that. By having a mechanical work around your character can use one check isn't the end of empathy, it's a challenge and an encouragement to use the items you have at your disposal to still reach your desired outcome.

Familiar-wise, even though familiars can fight, they definitely don't have to. In fact, lots of familiar's traits are based around healing, comforting, and empathizing. For example, you can have a comforting familiar who can calm situations and make people feel better in their presence - much how 'mundane' therapy dogs do as well :). 

A red-haired person in a green jacket and yellow dress reaching their hands up to the sky where cats with wings are flying, with the text "Familiars of Terra" over the background of a seaside sunset.
--

Thanks to Liz for the great interview and for sharing Familiars of Terra with me and you all, my readers! I hope you enjoyed the interview and that you'll check out the Familiars of Terra Kickstarter and maybe help it reach its goal!  



P.S. - I tried to find out if it was okay to use "dark skinned" as a descriptor and I saw it used in some places where it seemed okay, but if it is not, please email contactbriecs at gmail and I will update the post as soon as possible. Thank you.






This post was supported by the community on patreon.com/briecs. Tell your friends!

To leave some cash in the tip jar, go to http://paypal.me/thoughty.

If you'd like to be interviewed for Thoughty, or have a project featured, email contactbriecs@gmail.com.