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Interview with Matt Forbeck

Posted on May 3, 2004 by Flames

How did you get into gaming?

The mother of the kids who lived across the street from me when I was growing up picked up the D&D blue book on a Blue Light Special from K-Mart and gave it to them for Christmas. They dragged me into the game when I was 12, and it’s been all downhill from there.

Where do you get your inspiration? How do you keep your ideas fresh?

I read novels, watch movies and TV, read the papers (both local and the New York Times), and listen to NPR. I try to stay an informed and involved citizen. A twisted imagination doesn’t hurt at all either.

What advice do you have for hopeful authors trying to get into the RPG industry?

Think before you leap. For a much longer answer, head over to the downloads section of my website and check out “The Freelancing Life.” While you’re at it, if you want to know how I got into the industry, download “What Was I Thinking?”

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

Growing our audience in the face of an ever-increasing number of entertainment options. It’s hard to grab someone’s attention when there are so many other cool things to do out there.

What should the RPG industry be doing to grow its audience?

At the GAMA Trade Show, Wizards finally announced its new D&D Basic Set, an introductory game designed to teach new players how to play. They also announced a DM-training initiative and a worldwide teach-D&D day. That’s the kind of stuff that brings in new blood, and it’s been a long time in coming. Only Wizards is in the right position to put out an acquisition product like that, and I’m thrilled to see it happen.

What has been your most rewarding work in the RPG industry?

Personally, Brave New World. Creatively, it was mine all the way. While it had some flaws (like an incomplete power creation system), I’m as proud of the source material as I am of anything I’ve written. The basic theme was “When terror strikes, what lines will you cross to feel safe?” That’s more poignant today than ever.

What has been your most challenging work in the RPG industry?

Designing Brave New World was the most work I’d done on a core RPG book, although helping Shane Hensley launch and guide the Deadlands line ranks right up there.

What did you like most about working on Deadlands? Why?

The people at Pinnacle. We had a great staff there, and I loved being able to come in to work with them every day. The game itself was a blast too, and we had some of the best fans around.

What can you tell us about Human Head Studios?

We rock! Seriously, Human Head Studios is a fantastic place to work, and the games we produce are just too cool. We just shipped Dead Man’s Hand, our first-person Western shooter, earlier this month, and we have more cool things in the works. For details on the computer game side of things, hit HumanHead.com.

I run the adventure game division at Human Head, which you can read about at HumanHeadGames.com. Last year, we produced The Redhurst Academy of Magic, which got rave reviews. This year, we have lots of cool things in the works, including Dracula’s Revenge, a horror-themed tactical combat boardgame that pits Dracula vs. Van Helsing. There’s lots more, too, which we should be able to announce in the next few weeks.

What RPGs are you currently playing? if any?

None. Between Human Head, my freelance projects (see Forbeck.com for more on those), and my
family life, I don’t have any time for a campaign. I do playtest games, both mine and others, but that’s about it. Any RPGs I play tend to be one-shots.

Do you have a favorite RPG? What is it and why?

I love them all. Seriously, I’ve played lots of games, and there’s something valuable in almost all of them. I have a warm spot in my heart for Boot Hill. I went to that from D&D, and the lethality of the combat system taught me more about actual roleplaying than anything else. It wasn’t worth fighting much in that game, since sooner or later you’d end up dead. That encouraged me to think in broader terms about how to solve problems.

What’s next for you?

I already mentioned the Dracula’s Revenge board game coming out in June. In April and May, you can pick up a two-issue comic book miniseries for Dracula’s Revenge too from IDW Publishing. I wrote the books and had a blast working on them.

I wrote a chapter of The Authority Role-Playing Game that’s due out from Guardians of Order in June too.

In August, Wizards of the Coast publishes my first mass-market novel, The Secret of the Spiritkeeper. It’s the first book in the Knights of the Silver Dragon series, and it helps launch the new Mirrorstone imprint of young adult fantasy fiction too. I’ve also signed on to write a trilogy of novels for Wizard’s new Eberron campaign setting. I’m working on the first book right now, and it should hit shelves next spring.

For more information on Matt Forbeck, visit his website at www.forbeck.com.

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