Interview: Jim Pinto of Post World Games

Back in January I stumbled on Jim Pinto’s Kickstarter for A Gallery of Rogues: Solomon Guild from Post World Games (a review will be coming eventually) and was hooked immediately. My gaming style has always been less about the system and more about the setting, so I love perusing open-ended supplements for fantasy worlds. Each new supplement I find adds to the pool of ideas and inspiration I can pull from when I need it. Solomon Guild offers three dozen NPCs and a description of a fully-realized rogues’ gallery ready to commit crimes and mischief in many different ways. And any enterprising GM should be able to fit bits and pieces or even the whole thing and plop it into their campaign without a ton of trouble… Well… there will be trouble, but it will be IN the fantasy world and hopefully at their own gaming tables…

But I digress. As a backer of the Gallery, I just received my copy this past week and asked Jim if he’d mind answering a few questions for the site. Happily, he agreed, so here we go…

postworldgames-toolcardsQ: Can you introduce yourself and Post World Games?

No. No I cannot.

I’m really bad at talking about myself. If you want to know something specific, I’ll tell you. But where do I start?

Post World Games is my love-letter to gaming. But not the gaming industry. If that makes sense. I’m making stuff I love to write and play. I’m not looking for the next goblin Steampunk fad success story. I’m making the games I want people to remember me for.

Post World Games products belong along side Ultimate Toolbox, World’s Largest Dungeon, and GM’s Survival Guide to Rokugan. I’m not putting out junk. I’m putting out what I want to put out.

Q: How long have you been gaming? Can you talk a bit about your favorite (or least favorite) roleplaying games?

I’ve been gaming since 1981. Chipped my teeth on D&D, module B3, back in the 6th grade. But we moved around a lot in the ’80s, so I never had a regular gaming group. I missed a lot of cool stuff, but I did enjoy Squad Leader, Car Wars, Battletech, ChillGURPS, and my favorite Twilight: 2000 first edition. I recognize that game is a far cry from the story-focused games I write and play now, but it hits all the sweet spots for me. I actually own 8 copies of it. In boxes. When RPGs came in boxes.

Dark Ages: Vampire, Dogs in the Vineyard, Montsegur, Tribe 8, and Kult rank as some of my favorite RPGs as well.

As for least favorite, I think it’s a bit unfair for a professional to say anything negative about someone
else’s livelihood, unless a) that opinion won’t really hurt the product and b) that product isn’t around any more.

That said, I really don’t like Shadowrun. There. I said it. But least favorite of all time? Wow. I’m gonna get hate mail if I tell the truth, so let’s go with… Zensar.

gallery-of-roguesQ: What’s your experience in the gaming industry been like? When did you start?

I’ve been working in the industry since 1997. This September will be 16 years for me in some capacity or another. My rants on Facebook about the industry are infamous, so I’d say I have mixed feelings about certain people and companies. But I’m still here, doing what I love. That should account for something.

Q: Is it just you at Post World Games or do you have help?

It’s just me. I have a few helper monkeys who proofread and freelance writers and artists who join in. But, I’m the only shareholder. I’m ultimately responsible for the failure of what I produce.

Q: You have done four successful Kickstarter campaigns now (three past and one current which has already been funded)… King for a Day, A Gallery of Rogues, Toolcards: Fantasy, and now Six GMless Roleplaying Games (with X days left and already 200+% funded!). Congratulations! What’s the secret to your success?

No idea. Honestly. The first one was just something to do. I had no idea it was going to explode the way it did. And the second one was like pulling teeth to get funded. Now that it’s done (256 pages), and everyone is clamoring about how much they love it.

Where was this love six months ago? Ha.

Toolcards success was it’s own soundness. It was immediately recognizable as a good idea, I suppose. I didn’t complicate it with extraneous language. “This is not your typical PDF.” I think if I just shut up and let the product speak for itself the others might do better.

I expected the new one to be higher than it presently is. People unfamiliar with how I run a KS are complaining that the buy-in is too high for the new one. They might be right. But I’m not making throw-away products here, and maybe I need to be more clear about that.

dying-memoryesQ: Can you talk a bit about your latest Kickstarter and the origin of some of the games included?

I had all these game laying around. None of them were big enough to do as a Kickstarter all by themselves. And running them every other month for a year would have been a waste of time, waiting for a KS to finish and starting another one. But they were all GMless and I thought, why not 6 games in one.

And then I decided I didn’t want them all in the same book, so I built a prestige format KS where the only way to get printed copies was through this project. Later, it will PDF and softcover only. Even then, the cover for the later products will not be the same. I think KS projects should offer something exclusive beyond just “name in credits.” Especially to those people who put forth a significant value to the project.

George’s Children grew from a single conversation with Jon Hodgson one night about the state of the world and how everyone over the age of 12 should just disappear so we can start over. Next thing I knew, he was drawing pictures and I was writing rules. It first came out in 2007, but we didn’t market it well and I always wanted to clean it up for a nicer book. So, this is a relaunch for some and a new game for 99.9% of the world.

Dying Memoryes was born from the idea of starting with a blank character sheet and filling it up during the first game session. I don’t do a lot of science fiction, so I knew with this one I had a chance to do something new. It mixes dream states with hard science fiction morays with the value of perceptions. What you see going on in the game is not what the other players see. It’s a solid game, but without playing it people compare it to Paul Tevis’ “Penny for Your Thoughts.” They are nothing alike.

Forget-Me-Not might be the weirdest one in the pile. It plays weird. It feels weird. It’s not going to be everyone’s favorite. You really have to like things like Twin Peaks to enjoy this kind of game. But, that said, it’s purposely different and strange. If it played like Savage Worlds, it wouldn’t be an homage to David Lynch.

I intend to do a stretch goal of providing murder mystery rules in the PDF as well, so people can get rid of the weird and use it to actually solve a murder without a GM. Yep. I’m serious.

Death of Ulfstater was just a name that popped in my head after staring at a painting I’d finished. The game kind of wrote itself as I was talking to Steve Long online about it. The rules took shape in a matter of minutes. After that it was just playtesting and fine tuning. Easily the easiest game I’ve ever designed. Stars were right kind of thing.

Monogatari was designed about 4 years ago, though the idea has been in my head since 2005. I ran it about six times over the years and it worked from day one. The rules are simple, but the initial plot is so tense that it runs easily and perfectly without any help. The addition of a board that tracks the heaven’s view of the code of Bushido was after the first play through. I realized I needed something “meta” that forced the players to worry about external forces as well as internal (since 90% of the game is samurai courtly drama). I’m really excited about this one.

death-of-ulfstaterQ: With Solomon Guild wrapping up, Toolcards in full swing, and Six GMLess Roleplaying Games nearing the end of a funding run, and even more non-Kickstarter projects going, do you sleep? How do you juggle it all?

I do not sleep. This is only what has been announced. You should see what’s incomplete and on the batting circle for the next run. 2014 is going to murder me.

Q: What has been your favorite project so far (Kickstarter or otherwise) since Post World Games started? What’s been your biggest surprise so far?

King for a Day for both. The book ended at 312 page, plus another 60 pages of maps and handouts. I went in with the plan of structuring an adventure in a way that was never done before and in the end I created some stuff I’m really proud of. It’s not for everyone and people are welcome to judge it for not being a “by the nose” adventure. But I think it shows just why so many bad adventures get made… it’s a lot harder to do what I did with King for a Day.

Q: Any advice you can share with other self- or small RPG publishers? What’s the one piece of advice you wish you’d had before you started?

Don’t expect to make money. I’m serious. This pays less than any game company I’ve ever worked at. Whatever timetable you give yourself, add +1 month for hiccups and +1 month to ship all the little things. The more successful you are, the narrower your margins get. Giving away too much will cost you.

Q: With all you have going on already, what’s on the horizon for Post World Games?

In 2014, you’ll see a new game system from me. Not just a GMless system, but a real attempt to make a traditional system that gives players real impact on story. I use the term “Reliant Focus Play” a lot when talking about why I don’t play the old stuff anymore and this system forces me to put my money where my blathering is.

Q: What six people (living) would you invite to a dinner/murder mystery LARP?

Bill Murray, Camille Paglia, Christopher Walken, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Phyllis Diller, Vladimir Putin

——————————————-

A huge thank you goes out to Jim for answering all my questions and then some. :) I wish him and Post World Games all the best!

For more about Jim’s work at Post World Games…

 

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