Categorized | Interviews

Writer & Developer CA Suleiman’s Interview

Posted on September 24, 2004 by Flames

How did you get into gaming?

Oh, the same way you and everyone else did, I’m sure: I was abducted at the tender age of five by a nefarious cult of deceivers who slowly indoctrinated me into a strange, new world of forbidden wonders.

Wait, no… that wasn’t gaming, that was Garbage Pail Kids. That’s right. Gaming followed shortly thereafter, when my older brother, quite the nefarious deceiver in his own right, sat me down in our living room and made me memorize every last table and chart in the 1st edition DMG. Strange guy, my brother.

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

If you see Justin Achilli coming, and he’s not doing a funny dance, run and hide. (Just kidding, Justin. You can turn the music back on, now.) In all or at least some seriousness, the only advice I’d have is that one take a good hard look at one’s self before deciding to head down this path. Writing is a difficult world in the best of circumstances, and the hobby games industry is a quantum leap from the best of circumstances. The material is rewarding, to be sure, and those who are truly inspired to do it should pursue their goals, by all means. But make sure it’s really for you. It’s like music, in a way: If you don’t really have anything to say or offer, just put the guitar back down. You’ll be happier.

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

An excellent question. I’ve been blessed with being a part of several projects I consider ground-breaking in their own way — Orpheus and Inquisitor spring to mind, as well as the Time of Judgment, of course — and I often think about the difficulties overcome during those projects and how those challenges are a big part of the overall reward for me. Unlike some folks, I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to my writing and game design; if the path you lay down for yourself is too easy or too familiar, it’s probably not worth doing again. So, the essential answer to your question is that I actively *try* to make every new project a challenge, at least in some way, or else it’s not fulfilling to me. ‘Tis madness, I know.

What’s it really like writing for Justin (Vampire) and Matt (Dark Ages)?

Well, what can you say about a guy who more or less gave you your start in the industry? (Uhh… aside from “run and hide if you see him coming,” I guess.) Justin’s what I’d call a stern proctor. He may do a funny dance, but all the while he’s dancing, he’s scrutinizing you and making sure that your stuff is as good as it can be. He has definite ideas about games and game material, about Vampire in particular, and isn’t afraid to express those ideas (often times in redlines that could likely make Torquemada wince). I’ve proposed several different book ideas to him — books for one of the most popular RPG lines in gaming history — and to his credit, he fought really hard for the ones he liked. While it’s true that Cairo by Night and Caine’s Chosen wouldn’t exist but for me, they *really* wouldn’t exist were it not for Justin.

As for Matt, I haven’t really worked with him all that closely, especially not lately. In fact, all but one of the Dark Ages books I’ve worked on were conceived, outlined and contracted by his predecessor, the mighty Phillipe Boulle. From my experience, he and Justin make quite the dynamic developing duo, though Matt is more a harsh mistress than a stern proctor.

What was your first reaction when you heard about the Time of Judgment storyline?

It’s about time. I, for one, never really understood all the hoot’nanny coming from the general direction of those fans who felt “betrayed” when they found out about it. Not only was this more or less promised 13 years ago, but Revised has been around for, what, five years now? It was just time. And as much as I was involved in it, I can assure you that there was little left to do for Vampire in Revised, anyway. Not only was I thrilled to hear about Gehenna, but now that it’s out, I’m thrilled at the end result. The hardback is excellent, and the novel (by Ari Marmell) is probably the single best Vampire novel White Wolf has ever produced. Vampire fans should definitely check it out, if they haven’t already.

Can you give us any hints about the Mummy section of Time of Judgment?

Nope. 🙂

Allright, allright… I’ll say this much: It follows the general approach of the other ToJ books, offering a number of different scenarios (four would be that number) for folks to run Armageddon in their Mummy chronicles. Given the abbreviated nature of the Time of Judgment book, the scenarios don’t have quite the depth of detail of those presented in the hardcovers for the three staple WoD lines, but they do present more than enough for a Storyteller to work with. Given the scope of the characters in the Mummy game, folks should be able to guess pretty quickly what format the four scenarios will take.

If you could have put out another Mummy book before ToJ, what would it have been?

Most definitely the Storytellers Handbook. In fact, I had already outlined the thing when I found out about the Time of Judgment. Phooey. For what it’s worth, it would have greatly expanded the game itself – almost as much as the Players Guide did – and would have included lots of fun bad guy stuff for Storytellers to launch at their undying protagonists. Sorry if that stings, fans. It stings for me, too.

What keeps you busy when you’re not gaming?

Well… writing, mostly. 🙂 Aside from that, I’m also a musician and songwriter, and so music plays a pretty big part of my life, as it always has (I’ve been playing music in some form or another since I can remember). Plus, I’ve got a little lady I adore, and between her and a rather steady stream of household headaches, I’m kept pretty busy most days.

What’s next for you?

Well, after doing the Time of Judgment and a bunch of work on the new WoD, I’m taking a bit of a breather from the Storyteller games. I’ve done quite a bit of D20 stuff recently — the latest is the Players Guide to Monks and Paladins, now in stores! — and have a number of irons currently cooking in the D20 fire. I just finished a massive ancient Egyptian setting of my own design for a leading D20 publisher, and am looking forward to seeing it in print this summer.

What RPGs are you currently playing (if any)?

I run a regular D&D game that’s been going for a couple of years, now, but I’m currently trying to finagle one of my players to run an Orpheus game soon. Unfortunately, he’s one of those guys who’s worried that he might not be able to properly run a game like that for one of the game’s writers. I keep telling him, “It doesn’t matter that much. Honest.” But we’ll see how it goes. I also plan to run a couple of games (including some demos of the new setting I referred to earlier) at GenCon Indy, if anyone cares.

For more information on C. A. Suleiman, visit Lion’s Den Press.

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