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Aberrant RPG - Kraig Blackwelder Interview


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Almost 2 years ago we conducted the following interview with Aberrant Developer Kraig Blackwelder. For reasons I will not explain, we never ran the interview. Below is the first half of the interview, and all that will be posted. It is a little dated now, as Aberrant had just been released when it was conducted, but I felt that old news was better than no news. <hr>

N! Prime: Name, age, rank?

Kraig Blackwelder: Name - Kraig Blackwelder Age - 31 Rank - Developer

N! Prime: What was your background before joining White Wolf?

KB: Prior to joining White Wolf I was an Assistant Editor with Prentice Hall doing an interactive online math textbook called Interactive Math. I was doing that for a few years and before I did that, I was finishing up a degree. I triple majored in poetry, fiction writing and psychology.

N! Prime: How did you get into the RPG business?

KB: I've been freelancing for WW for almost 2 years now. My first supplement was Bygone Beastiary. They needed somebody to pick up some of the beasties in there, so they talked to me and that was my first thing. My second supplement was the Kindred of the East Companion, which I did a chunk of. Then I did 1,000 Hells and then I also did develop some of it because the writer who did most of it was wretched, so Rich needed someone to rewrite it. Then I did the Aberrant Screen and Rob Hatch decided that I captured the tone of that universe so well that…well, essentially that's what I think got me the job. Then after that I did the Hunters screen.

N! Prime: Have you worked on any other games other than White Wolf's?

KB: Nope.

N! Prime: What's your history in the RPG community?

KB: I first played D&D when I was 12. I got into it bright and early. It was kind of cool. I wound up side-stepping a lot of trouble by inviting my mom to play with me. So, after that when people said, "Oooo…Dungeons & Dragons. That's evil," she was like, "No. Not really." So, that was kind of cool. I was into D&D pretty hardcore for 4-5 years. Then dropped it and got out of gaming completely for a very long time until I heard about a live-action Vampire game. I thought, "Ooo, that's kind of interesting." I had seen some of the White Wolf game books around and they always looked nice and everything, so I played and I was immediately hooked. I promptly got into Mage, tabletop Vampire, and Wraith pretty hardcore.

N! Prime: What are your favorite RPG's? WW or otherwise?

KB: After Aberrant, it's Mage. After Mage, it's Wraith. After Wraith, it's Vampire.

N! Prime: A lot of people were taken aback by you taking over the line before the game was even released. What's the official story of Rob's exodus from the line and your taking it over?

KB: He is our new Projects Coordinator. That's what he does. He develops new stuff and then hands it off. He came up with Kindred of the East and then he handed that off to Jess Heinig, and then that was later handed off to Rich Dansky. He came up with Aberrant now he's off working on another new game.

N! Prime: I've noticed that there is no mention of your name in the credits listing of the main rulebook as a contributor or a playtester. How difficult is it to be the line developer for a new game when you didn't participate in the creation of it?

KB: It feels a little bit weird, yeah. I've been working on the Aberrant since late December doing the Aberrant screen and I have seen a number of different manuscripts for it. Some of the stuff that's in the main book is actually stuff that I came up with. Rob took a look at the stuff that I did for the Aberrant screen and retrofitted the original book to include some of those things in the timeline and stuff.

N! Prime: So, technically, you did have something to do with the creating of the game. You just didn't get into the credits.

KB: Oh yeah, it was just little things here and there. It wasn't like 5,000 words or anything.

N! Prime: Did you or Rob decide the future supplement releases? I mean, was the Aberrant: Year X line your idea or Rob's?

KB: That was Rob's.

N! Prime: Other than the Storyteller's Screen, were there any others planned by you, or was it all pretty much decided by Rob and handed over to you?

KB: At this stage it is pretty much all me. I just got done with my first round of writing up outlines for books and contracting authors and that sort of thing. So up through, I guess, Year One it's been mostly Rob. I just finished developing the Project Utopia book. After Utopia comes Teragen and then after those, a whole bunch of stuff that's all mine. The concepts are mine. The outlines are mine. Mine, mine, mine.

N! Prime: Now I have a few questions for the gamer goob in all of us. I've grouped them together to make it a little less painful. They range from almost no goob, to the heights of gooberishness.

KB: Über Goob?

N! Prime: Of course.

KB: Alright.

N! Prime: How would you describe the mood of Aberrant?

KB: That's a hard one, because there isn't just one mood. One of the things that I like about Aberrant is that it's really flexible. You can make it into a sort of "cheesy mock heroic" sort of thing if you're playing Team Tomorrow. You can make it a "cloak and daggery" sort of thing. Most of it is just post-modern. It takes a little bit of this and a little bit of that. A little bit of real life, a little bit of art, a little bit of, you know, whatever, and just throws everything together and plays them off of each other…pretty well, actually.

N! Prime: So if you're playing Project Proteus, it going to be dark, secretive. If you're playing Team Tomorrow, it could be totally four-color. With Aberrant, it's very much a conspiracy theorist kind of thing. Of course, the thing that I like the most is the fact that it's very, very possible to play the "bad guys" (Teragen) and not really be "bad guys."

KB: I don't see them as bad guys.

N! Prime: Exactly. That's the whole point. A lot of people have described them as being a philosophical Magneto. They believe that they are the next step in evolution, the higher, superior race; but instead of trying to subvert the humans, they are trying to get "free" of their laws. There are, of course, psychotics out there. Of course, there are psychotics in Team Tomorrow, but you don't hear about them in the public very often.

KB: Funny how that works. <evil grin>

N! Prime: What is your favorite part of the game?

KB: Define part.

N! Prime: If you were a player, for instance, what would you like best about the game?

KB: Mega-attributes. Oh yeah. In a big, happy way.

N! Prime: What is your favorite Allegiance?

KB: <evil grin> Teragen.

N! Prime: How did I know that? I could see it in the gleam in your eyes.

KB: <laughter> I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to developing that book.

N! Prime: Who is your favorite character in the metaplot?

KB: Divis Mal.

N! Prime: Well, of course.

KB: <laughter> Although I also have a certain fondness for Tõtentanz. He's a badass.

--message truncated--

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Ok, I have nothing against the man himself 'cos I know nothing about him but someone involved in the Bygone Bestiary got to work in the RPG industry again!!!???? That was the greatest load of */%$%^# that I ever bought.

I have to say I like his taste in games though. Strange that he left out Trinity there...

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Interesting all right.

I have to agree with Ranger on the Bygone Bestiary, however in his favour I have to say that so far Aberrant has proved pretty cool. I also have to agree with his view on Totentanz, what a guy! Down with Divis Mal I say. Totantanz for leader of the Teragen!

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ok, I read it. I dunno how I feel about him. I've had time to relax and loose the mad on I had.

I guess from now on I'll read the book, decide if it's crap or has some redeaming quality and then choose whether it goes home with me or not.

I realized a while back I had all the books I'll ever really need to play the game, so if they come out with new ones, blow it off, or tell the fans to go screw a knothole wont matter to much to me. I'd buy what I like and leave the crap for some WW fan-sheep to buy.(Difference between fan-boy and fan-sheep? fan-boys aren't afraid to say when something sucks. - Sid book 2, verse 113.)

I'd still like to be a fly on the wall in the office though.

[This message has been edited by Sidious (edited 06-14-2001).]

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I have watched this thread for a few days now, waiting to get a feel for what all the interested parties wanted.

I don't want to censor your opinions on this site, but I do want to keep all the posts related to their forum. And I ultimately want to make sure that everyone that comes to N! Prime is happy.

In an effort to do that, I started a new forum and explained my reasoning in another thread in this forum. If you want to discuss any topic other than Kraig's interview, please take it to the proper thread.

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