Monday, June 16, 2014

[Interview #2] Neil Gow, Omnihedron Games

Neil Gow is the owner, game designer, and chief cook and bottle washer at Omnihedron Games.

Neil wrote the 2013 Golden Crown Award winning Napoleonic War RPG, Duty & Honour. It's the Sharpe's novels and movies in RPG form.

(I ran two campaigns of Duty & Honour and it is truly an excellent game. You can find Reviews and Actual Play info, including links to my game sessions, here.)

Omnihedron's second Napoleonic War RPG was Beat to Quarters, a game that emulates the naval adventures of Horatio Hornblower and the Aubrey-Maturin stories.

Neil is currently working on the second edition of Duty & Honour and I look forward to seeing how that turns out.

You can also find more about Neil's gaming on his blog, The Bottom of the Glass.

On to Interview #2!

Otyugh Talk: What's your third rule when designing a new game system?

Neil Gow: Ha! A clever question because in answering it you sort of have to think about what question #1 and #2 are and then be tempted to talk about say, 'writing games that I would want to play' and 'always refering (sic) to the base material' - but I'm not going to fall into that trap. Oh no siree! For me, my third rule is 'You cannot legislate for *****s (sic).'

What do I mean by this? Well, if someone is going to try to break your game, mess up the premise or generally do different things with your game there is NOTHING you can do in games design to stop that. So don't try. I'm of the opinion that a lot of systems could be a lot sleeker if you removed a lot of the safeguards against people being *****s (sic) that have been built into those systems.

OT: When a player comes to your game, what one thing should they bring with them?

NG: An extensive knowledge of the rules. I'm terrible at this - I simply cannot keep my eye on the story and the rules, so I ditch a lot of the rules stuff onto the players. You want to play that edge-case class with loads of variables and new systems? Excellent - here's the book; you keep me straight at the table. If you want to use the combat rules including all the fiddly bits, fine - but you'll make a cheat sheet for yourself and hopefully for everyone else too.

OT: How would you incorporate an Otyugh into your current campaign?

NG: As I am just about to start the first playtest for the second edition of Duty & Honour, I think I'd find it pretty damned hard to incorporate one. However, I have just been playing 13th Age and I reckon the Ogre Mage Lords who have rallied the 'Green Horde' to their banners might well have created a couple of them as evil arcane experiments to unleash into the midst of our heroes. Yeah, evil arcane experiments + teleport = chaos at court!

[Ed. You realize that now I've got to use teleporting Otyughs in my next game, right?]

Thanks, Neil, for taking the time to answer these questions. If you need any playtesters for Duty & Honour, 2nd Edition, let me know.

I've got a few more interviews in work, so stay tuned!    

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