Friday, August 24, 2018

Five or So Questions on Entromancy

Hi all, today I have an interview with M.S. Farzan about Entromancy: A Cyberpunk Fantasy RPG, which is currently on Kickstarter! I hope you'll find something interesting in the responses below!

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An illustrated masculine appearing person with facial hair holding a gun


Tell me a little about Entromancy. What excites you about it?

I am super excited about Entromancy because it represents the realization of a dream: participating in a shared cyberpunk fantasy world with other fans of d20 tabletop games. When I wrote the first novel in the Entromancy series a couple of years ago, I was inspired by my experience playing and GMing for tabletop RPGs, and it's been an amazing process translating that enthusiasm from the novel back into a game that we can all play.

How did you translate the novel into a mechanical structure like a game without sacrificing the narrative or overcomplicating things?

Great question! Building the world for the novel was a four-year process of scribbling notes, creating characters, and revising systems, in much the same way that one would approach making a game. It was important to me to have, for example, a magic system that was not only internally consistent, but that would also be plausible within the framework of a roleplaying game. Creating the RPG from the novel hasn't exactly been "easy," but a lot of things have translated well into mechanics because of that early structural decision. The core concept of magic, for instance, still draws from the same resource, a renewable element called "ceridium," as in the book, but we've had to reconfigure most of the iconic spells that appear in the book (while building out a ton more) so that they make sense in a balanced, TTRPG imagining of the world.

character archetypes from the game in sketched illustration with bright colors overlaid

I love the idea of the Terramancer. What are they like in play? How do they function?

The Terramancer is based on Alina Hadzic, one of the main characters of the novel series and an all-around all-star. She's a former baseball relief pitcher with powerful earth magic to boot, and represents another area in which we've had to work to build mechanics that make sense for a game, rather than just a book.

Like all other character classes in Entromancy, the Terramancer has two archetypes to choose from, which are specific advancement paths for their talents or spells. When you play as a Terramancer, you can choose to be either an Arcane Pitcher or a Nature's Harbinger, and can add spells from your chosen archetype to suit your play style. The Arcane Pitcher is formidable at range and has spells to empower its returning projectile weapon, the ceridium orb, while the Nature's Harbinger can support the group with buff spells, healing, and the ability to summon beasts. Both archetypes benefit from a shared Terramancer feat list that allows you to further enhance your character's abilities and combat prowess.

a character dressed in heavy gear, carrying and reading a gadget shaped like a handheld system

What's magic like in the narrative, and how do you make it happen mechanically? Is either particularly explosive, or can it be sly?

In the 2020s, green researchers discovered the ability to synthesize ceridium, a renewable energy source that, over time, was found to also power burgeoning schools of magic. These schools are collectively known as "mancy," and ceridium, while stable, has been proven to expose a genetic mutation among certain populations. This mutation - the "underrace gene" - results in phenotypic variation among carriers of the gene, giving rise to new races of people known colloquially as "underraces" or "aurics."

It's posited that ceridium is a synthesization of "blue orichalcum," a once naturally-occurring element that was depleted by humankind centuries ago. The connection between ceridium and blue orichalcum is unproven, but would explain why most civilizations have a cultural memory of things like magic, spellcasting, and fantastic races and creatures.

In Entromancy, most spells are dependent upon the availability and use of ceridium, and range from the infiltration-focused shadowmancy of the NIGHT Agent to the utility-enhancing spells of the Technomancer.

a character dressed in a cowboy hat and longcoat

What does a d20 system bring to the table to make this specific setting and playstyle flourish?

We love 5th Edition, and find it to be a wonderful springboard for the type of game that we want to share with everyone. We've done a lot to streamline the game systems to place an emphasis on meaningful action and storytelling, while building out other systems to support a cyberpunk world that incorporates intrigue, espionage, hacking, and cybernetics. So anyone who's familiar with 5th Edition or other d20 systems will be instantly familiar with how the core mechanic works, and will also notice the areas in which Entromancy is different, in terms of character creation and progression, spellcasting, equipment, and more.

There are a lot of great game systems out there, and in fact, the first few iterations of Entromancy were based on a proprietary game system that we were developing. Early in the game's development, we decided instead to utilize 5th Edition as a framework as it felt a natural fit for the game that we wanted to make. Over time, Entromancy grew into the d20 core mechanic and, through development and playtesting, we have been able to identify more and more areas where we've been able to streamline, make adjustments, and create our own game that feels authentic to the original fiction.

the Entromancy logo of a neon colored outline of a structure an the text "Entromancy: A Cyberpunk Fantasy RPG" above the text "funded in the first two days" and "available now on Kickstarter

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Thank you to M.S. Farzan for the interview! I hope you all enjoyed the interview and that you'll check out Entromancy: A Cyberpunk Fantasy RPG on Kickstarter today!


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