When Onyx Path Publishing (OPP) announced the crowdfunding campaign to convert Calibre Comics’ Legendlore from four-color funny book to tabletop RPG, I was interested. Developer Steffie de Vaan reached out to talk about the project which resulted in this interview. Then, due to coronavirus, OPP decided to cancel the project. Steffie was gracious enough to answer a few follow up questions about how this pandemic impacted the game and how it will resurrect later this year.
EGG EMBRY (EGG): Steffie, thanks for talking with me. At EN World, we spoke about your work on Vampire: The Masquerade 5e: Fall of London from Modiphius Entertainment. Now we’re talking about the Legendlore RPG Kickstarter from Onyx Path Publishing. For those that are not familiar with this setting, what is Legendlore and The Realm?
STEFFIE DE VAAN (SDV): The Realm, and later Legendlore, is a comic initially published by Arrow Comics and later by Calibre Comics. They’re about a group of four friends who open an enchanted chest and find themselves teleported into the Realm, a fantasy world full of elves, dwarves, and at least one evil dragon in disguise. They go on adventures, some of them travel back to Earth, some don’t, and I think at least one dies.
EGG: We started this interview before the decision to cancel this crowdfunding campaign was made. What drove that decision?
SDV: It’s an uncertain time for everybody and the Kickstarter wasn’t getting the traffic we think it would normally do. We were on track to funding, but we felt Legendlore can and deserves to do better than it was. There’s also been people on our end understandably focused on other things and all in all we just felt it was better to postpone.
EGG: What inspired Onyx Path Publishing to pick this Caliber Comics series for conversion to tabletop?
SDV: The whole idea of “YOU travel to another world” is just so iconic. We see it time and again, in everything from Narnia to the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon. And Legendlore is such a rich setting with great nations, villains, and a couple unique takes on people and monsters.
EGG: Who is working on this project? What role are you taking? Are any of the creators from the original comics working on this?
SDV: I’m the developer. I read the comics front to back (most if not all writers did) to distill the essence of Legendlore into a pitch and then an outline. We have some amazing writers on this book, so I’ll just list them all. Elizabeth Chaipraditkul, Jacqueline Penny Hart, Travis Legge, Megan Mackie, Ashley May, Katriel Paige, Roman Trevisanut, Vera Vartanian, and Ashley Warren. The people from Calibre were involved in the pitch and outline, as well as final approvals, but not in the actual writing.
EGG: This RPG exists in a fantasy world and in “our” world. Will each player have two characters, one for “Earth” and one in the Realm? Will fantasy creatures be able to join the PCs back on our “Earth”?
SDV: You get one character who can move back and forth (assuming you find a Crossing, which is a portal connecting Earth to the Realm). Steffie the human writer becomes Steffie the pixie Bard. And when I go back, I probably (but ultimately it depends on the group) become human again. Both are me though—same experiences, background, and personality. As to whether or not creatures from the Realm can come back with them, that depends on the DM. It’s never happened in the comics, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen in your campaign.
EGG: What makes D&D 5e the right system for this setting?
SDV: I play D&D 5E and the system is just solid and easy to use. Given that Legendlore is a fantasy setting, it was a great fit.
EGG: For those 5e fans that are on the fence about backing this, what’s your pitch to them?
SDV: Remember that time when you statted yourself as a vampire, or an elf? (Because we ALL did it.) You can do that in Legendlore. In fact, the system is specifically designed to let you play fantasy you. We’ve got backgrounds for humans from activists to roleplaying fans. We also want everyone to feel at home in the Realm, Realmborn people come in all colors, genders, and orientations. Most importantly though, Legendlore gives you full player agency. You choose which parts of yourself you want to bring into the Realm, and which you want to drop. Seasonal allergies, anxiety, and glasses? Your choice whether those Cross with you, or if it’s magically changed. Same goes for any body dysphoria. Completely your choice.
EGG: Correct me if I’m wrong, but continental Europe’s native comic format is the large album instead of the American-style floppy comics, right? Were The Realm and Legendlore, being indie American comics, readily available in Europe? Were you familiar with the series?
SDV: We traditionally have big albums, yes. So, I am certain I’ve held a comic with the Legendlore letters/logo a solid two decades ago. But when I read the comics for this project the story was completely new to me. So either there are more fantasy comics using that lettering, or it’s been so long I don’t remember the content.
EGG: The Legendlore RPG is going to come back and when it does, are there any thoughts about expanding some of the preview options? For example, OPP is great about sharing access to the rough draft of the game via backer-only updates. Are there any thoughts about doing the same, but with digital versions of the comics? Or other approaches to help spread the word about this setting?
SDV: I am not sure we’re allowed to preview the comics themselves, because those are completely owned by our partners at Calibre. But we are planning actual plays of Legendlore which we expect will get people excited.
EGG: With DC Comics’ The Last God making the jump from comic to D&D 5e supplement and Legendlore coming from OPP, is now the right time for publishers to look at comics as inspiration for their tabletop games?
SDV: I love comics. If anyone wants to take a chance on hiring a new comic writer: contact me. The stories are so rich, and they’re such a good mix of show (with the visuals) and tell (with dialogue and captions). Plus most comics are serials so you have an entire background to pull from right there. But I also think we need to keep supporting new stories, as well as small companies that maybe don’t have the funds a DC Comics project does. So a bit of both, maybe.
EGG: During these trying times, tabletop RPGs are a great way to connect with others and escape (and easy to do via many online platforms). Beyond this project, what else are you working on?
SDV: I’m currently working on Exalted: Essence Edition and Scion: Saints and Monsters for Onyx Path Publishing, and Tiny Cthulhu for Gallant Knight Games. The Stargate RPG is coming to Kickstarter soon. Cat Evans and I are working on a Theros product for the DMs Guild, which is a lot of fun. And Liz (Elizabeth Chaipraditkul) and I are always writing new games for our Patreon.
EGG: Thanks for talking with me. Where can fans learn more about the campaign, OPP, and follow your work?
SDV: Here’s Legendlore and Onyx Path. And here’s me: Twitter, Wordpress, and Patreon.
Egg Embry is a freelance tabletop roleplaying game journalist writing for EN World, Knights of the Dinner Table, RPG News, d20 Radio, the Tessera Guild, the Open Gaming Network, the AetherCon Convention Magazine, GAMA’s Around the Table, and more. His areas of focus are RPG crowdfunding projects and RPG reviews as well as interviews with a range of gaming professionals from freelancers to CEOs. Beyond journalism, he dabbles in freelance writing and producing gaming zines for the roleplaying zine-aissance.
Picture Reference: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200664283/legendlore-rpg-setting-for-5th-edition-fantasy-roleplaying
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