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Interview with Derek Stoelting

Posted on January 2, 2005 by Flames

How did you get into gaming?

A buddy of mine got me to play a one on one D&D game. That went well. I think it was around 1981 or 1982. We didn’t play again for a year and it went real well again. This continued for another year or two and then stopped by 9th grade.

A few years later, my father bought a boxed set called “Worlds of Wonder.” I think Chaosium put it out. It contained three settings in it: fantasy, science fiction, and superhero. I don’t think he explained the concept of it to my younger brother and I too well. I hated the game and left it alone.

Years after that, I got involved with the SCA and met folks my age who played. I became involved with a D&D group. It would eventually bore me and I moved on to a group that played Vampire: The Masquerade and Call of Cthulhu. They also played Rolemaster, but I had no love for fantasy. Since then (approx. 1992), I’ve run/played an average of 1.5 games a week.

What can you tell us about your work on All Flesh Must Be Eaten?

My work with AFMBE began with playtesting for Pulp Zombies and Fistfull O’ Zombies. I would go so far as to do some of the stat blocks in FFoZ. Both games were great fun to playtest. I think I had more fun with FFoZ, because it was a bigger challenge. In my group at the time, I had a 50-50 split of who liked “western” material and who didn’t. However, I made true believers out of them. I made them use decks of cards, instead of dice. I incorprated material from the old “Wild, Wild West” and “Brisco County, Junior” tv shows and slapped some zombies on it all. Great fun was had!

Since then, I’ve been in on the playtesting of all products AFMBE related.

My largest involvement with AFMBE was the two Book of Archetypes. I headed up the final process with the first book and manhandled the second one with help from Alex Jurkat. I wrote one archetype in the first book and more than a dozen in the second. Outside of that, I was responsible for editing and maintaining contacts with the authors.

What can you tell us about Eden Studios Presents?

ESP grew out of my work on the Garden of Eden website. The GoE was Eden Studios’ official fansite. All of the material is contributed by fans, with at best, light editing from me.

With the success of the GoE website, George Vasilakos and Alex Jurkat approached me about taking it a step further. They were interested in seeing the material in print. I was all for it! We started planning for a monthly, then quarterly, and finally settling on a bimonthly project. We haven’t hit that mark, but if we can get the speed up and continue receiving well written submissions, we’ll do it.

The material in each volume of ESP expands upon the core books for the different Eden Studios lines. ESP allows us to go places we’re not able to go otherwise. Things like alternate settings (check out the Court of Chimera setting serialization that begins in volume 3), expanded rules for vampires in all of the game lines (volume 2), new monsters, new organizations (volume 5 perhaps?), and more! This project is simply that simple – yet, the width of it all is huge! I love it!

You go to a lot of Conventions, what makes for a good Con experience and what makes you groan?

I love a great convention. The best conventions for me are those that are well organized, well planned out, and have friendly people running them. If you want that, I highly recommend the Gamefest Series of conventions. But that’s not to say I haven’t had great times elsewhere!

My first real con was Origins. Alex contacted me and wanted to know if I could fill in for a guy that had to cancel his appearance to help. I stepped in and I haven’t left the convention circuit since then. I now attend both Origins and GenCon Indy. I provided advice and assistance with GameCon (South Bend, IN). I’ve hit teeny tiny cons like GallowsCon (Valporaiso, IN) and I’m hoping to hit some other mid-size cons in the midwest here in the future. I’d also love to expand out and hit other markets, like horror movie conventions. However, past experiences with attending comic conventions makes me a little slow to do so. Some time in the future, perhaps.

Now, not all cons are great fun. Sometimes, you get a con where your help no call – no shows. I had three folks cancel on me the week before GenCon Indy last year. Somehow, I was able to get other folks to drop what they were doing and come to the show to help out!

Other times, the conventioneers weren’t expecting you for some reason, and there isn’t enough room for you.

But, the worst for me is a slow con. Granted, at a slow con you won’t make a lot of money. Okay, that’s fine, maybe we’re getting good exposure. If so, that’s always a bonus. However, when the booth is slow, I get bored. I hate standing behind a booth and having no customers to talk to. I hate that! I absolutely love it when I have a booth wherein customers are clammering over each other for product. I love it when there are just a few too many customers for me to help. It keeps me frosty and it makes the whole experience fun for me!

I’ve even discovered that I love helping at the booth more than running games. At the big cons like Origins and GenConIndy, this is a bonus for Eden Studios. It means George and Alex can leave the booth to check out the competition, line up authors and artists, or just spend some time relaxing. We all put in a 40+ hour week when we’re not at cons. It’s good to have some downtime.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing the gaming community today?

Updating to a modern market. The rpg industry is filled with grognards who don’t want to change their ways. They know what works for them and they don’t want to change. They also don’t want you doing anything new that could cut them out of potential profits. But, like any other industry, the young and the brave will always find a way to innovate the industry. This carries over to many different problems. It isn’t something the average roleplayer will see – which is wonderful! It allows the industry to work behind the scenes to keep fans – and customers – happy.

What makes for a good night of Horror gaming?

I love seeing players’ cringe with fear. I love knowing that when they go to the bathroom and look in the mirror, they’ll be afraid of what they’ll see. It’s not what happens at the table that makes a good horror game, it’s what you take home with you.

For me, it’s not about scaring the characters, it’s about scaring the players. And there are many ways to do that.

What’s next for you?

I just wrapped up my part in the upcoming short film “Confederate Zombie Massacre” with DeviantPix. I start filming on “Dork of the Rings” this month. I’ll be choreographing one of the fights, a stunt person in another fight, and helping to choreograph another of the fights.

I’ll be turning the reins of “official Eden Studios fansite” over to Ed Spader of www.unisystemfans.com. He’s got the time and energy that I’m lacking at the moment.

I’m thinking of doing more Book of Archetypes projects for Eden Studios…and not just for the AFMBE game line.

I’ve begun working on a project I’m tenatively calling Kunichiwa Zombie – the convention series. No real details yet, but the author I’m working with and I should have material by next year.

As I was leaving GenConIndy, Alex informed me that we may need more demonstration cons than ever before for next year’s con season. We have 3 planned core book releases, many supplements, and a few tricks up our sleeve that we’re working on. Next year will be a big year for Eden Studios!

Check out Derek’s Website, The Village.

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