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Interview with Cam Banks at Margaret Weis Productions
Posted By Flames On June 1, 2010 @ 9:22 am In Features,Game Designers,Interviews | No Comments
Flames Rising recently had the chance to talk to Editor & Developer Cam Banks from Margaret Weis Productions about the Supernatural RPG, as well as upcoming games like Leverage and Smallville. Cam told us about some of the recent products like Supernatural’s Guide to the Hunted and we talked a little about some of the more interested elements of working on licensed properties as RPGs.
GTTH is packed with monsters and other threats that the hunters in any Supernatural game might run into. We tried to cover as much of the monsters and creatures from the show as possible, including a lot of named demons and ghosts, because the corebook only included a number of basic monster write ups.
We also added in lots of other creatures from folklore and urban legend, like the Jersey Devil and Mothman, neither of which have appeared on the show. Fans had been asking us for rules for playing monsters and rules for making their own monsters, so I made sure to include that in the book too.
Our next product, scheduled for late summer/early fall, is the Supernatural Road Atlas. This book does for spooky places and haunted houses what the Guide to the Hunted does for monsters. Every State in the Union is described in Supernatural terms, with maps and those location-style stat blocks like you see in the Supernatural core book. And as a bonus, the Roadhouse, with Ash, Jo, and Ellen, is included as an appendix.
Supernatural Adventures  is season-neutral, although it’s probably best to play it prior to Season 5’s apocalyptic events. The Guide to the Hunted  is specifically intended to cover up to Season 4, but it also includes a number of Season 5 spoilers. The Road Atlas is going to be current as of the end of Season 5, more or less.
There’s nothing you wouldn’t have seen or implied from the show. We try very hard to be consistent and canonical, and Warner Bros. are very good at helping us line it all up. This doesn’t mean we can’t add things like the Jersey Devil or Mothman to the Supernatural world, but we won’t be revealing anything the show hasn’t already revealed.
Leverage is a great show produced by Electric Entertainment and airing for 2 seasons on the TNT network. It stars Timothy Hutton as Nate Ford, a former insurance investigator whose son dies because the insurance company he works for refused to cover the medical fees. So, he recruits a bunch of criminals and con-artists, people he used to chase down, to get back at the corrupt CEO of this company.
Every week, they use their skills to out-bad guy the bad guys, and so it’s a perfect license for gaming. Show creator John Rogers is himself a gamer and threw his support in for us doing this game, which uses a version of the Cortex System tweaked to handle capers, cons, and flashbacks. It’s going to be really bad-ass.
The Leverage Design Crew that I’m heading up includes writer/designers Rob & Deborah Donoghue, Clark Valentine, and our recent addition Matt Forbeck. Editor Ryan Macklin and graphic designer/layout artist Fred Hicks round out the crew. Many of these folks worked on the upcoming Dresden Files RPG from Evil Hat, and I’ve known them all for many years. It’s a pleasure to work with such a talented group.
Obviously the most important thing is to make the game meet the expectations of the license and its fans. We are fortunate to have such passionate and discerning fans out there, and it makes us work hard to give them the sort of game they want. With Supernatural, our Cortex System was ideal, with only a few minor tweaks from its incarnation in the Cortex System RPG . Leverage and Smallville (our other new license for this year) both require some new and fresh takes on Cortex’s classic systems, and so I used the opportunity to do a little revision of Cortex at the same time. You can see a little of that in the Quickstart Job .
Ultimately, I love working on licensed projects. In some ways it’s like standing on the shoulders of giants, but the appeal is strong, and the chance to play characters in the worlds you love is always a good thing.
Right now, my official title at MWP is line developer. I wear a lot of hats, though: writer, designer, editor, representative, community liaison, and so on. I manage the Supernatural, Smallville, and Leverage product lines, and oversee our older lines like Serenity and Battlestar Galactica, although there’s no new product slated for those.
MWP is a small company, and relies a lot on freelancers, so in many ways my main job is keeping all of that in motion and making sure the fans get take care of, whether it’s with the release of new books or information in social media.
Fans of our games and the Cortex System can go to cortexsystemrpg.org  and find hundreds of discussions, house rules, downloads, and fellow fans, and I try to visit there regularly as well as RPG.net.
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URLs in this post:
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 Supernatural Adventures: http://flamesrising.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?products_id=65351&language=en
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 Head Shot! Zombie Apocalypse Action Roleplaying : http://www.flamesrising.com/head-shot-action-roleplaying/
 Margaret Weis Productions Cortex Plus Kickstarter and Community Content! : http://www.flamesrising.com/mwp-cortex-plus-ks-and-cc/
 Firefly Role-Playing Game Corebook Now Available! : http://www.flamesrising.com/firefly-rpg-now-available/
 Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide Kickstarter : http://www.flamesrising.com/cortex-plus-hackers-guide-kickstarter/
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