Chris Birch Interview
Please welcome Chris Birch, the founder and publisher of Modiphius. I spoke to Chris about a year ago about the wonderful Mutant Chronicles RPG and this time around I’ve got a few questions about something I’m incredibly excited about; the pending Conan game!
Well – you’ve got your hands on the Conan licence and you’re bringing the Hyborian Age back to the gaming table. Exciting times! How great did it feel to get hold of such a thing?
It took a long year of negotiation but it was great to finally sign. Conan has such enormous untapped potential in the RPG field. I believe it can be one of the major choices in sword & sorcery gaming. We had to hold of announcing for various reasons so it was fantastic to finally unveil our team!
Conan has been through a lot of different incarnations since Robert E Howard unleashed him on the world, from the interpretations of other writers to movies to comics to games, all of varying quality and accuracy. What will you be using as source material and inspiration?
We will only be using the original authentic Howard stories for the books. We have Howard scholar Jeffrey Shanks on board to help guide the team and approve the content. Of course RPG’s need campaigns and fleshed out material, so where we need to create new content, Jeff will be helping ensure it’s written in the same vein as Howard and that it stays true to how he would have written it.
Will you be bringing anything new into the mix, or are you sticking close to what has come before?
Well previous games have delved in to the pastiche material whilst we will be solely focused on the authentic writings. It actually simplifies things as we don’t have vast amounts of sometimes conflicting material (by other writers not Howard), to sift through and make sense of the world.
The list of writers and artists you’ve bought on board is impressive and promises much. Just how big do you intend the initial rulebook to be? Huge on rules and setting?
The core book will be around 350 pages – about 150 of setting to get you going, and 150-200 rules. The supplements will properly expand the setting though not in super detailed form, more a slice of life, plots, mysteries and so on during that particular time of Conan.
You’re using the 2D20 rules, which we’ve already seen put to good use in the Mutant Chronicles 3rd Edition game. Those rules are suited for cinematic action so are you looking for something similar for the Conan RPG or are you taking it another direction?
The rules will help us deliver the truly pulp adventure of Howard’s Conan stories. We will be making melee combat more intense and magic will be much more dangerous and costly for those who want to tread it’s path, (though many sorcerers were also just good at convincing others they could cast a spell!)
You say that Kickstarter will be used to fund to ‘a larger range of roleplaying supplements, campaigns, and accessories to follow the core book’. What can we expect see?
there will be supplements offering a slice of drama and action from the regions that Conan visited and tied in to specific experiences – themed around Conan the Thief, the Reaver, the King and so on. There will be big campaigns including following the adventures of Conan and his friends and we’ll be offering pre-gens of all the major characters. You can expect cool gaming tiles to use with the various Conan miniatures, custom dice and much more!
You’re also working in conjunction with Monolith Board Games (of the Conan boardgame) and Funcom (of the Age of Conan MMO). That sounds interesting – what have you got planned, and how will the three gaming styles fit together?
We’re planning cross-overs with both – an Age of Conan supplement offering the creatures, places and stories from the video game, and a campaign book that incorporate both RPG adventures and boardgame scenarios alongside each other so you can use both games to tell the full story.
Give us a quick lowdown on what’s happening with Modiphius at the moment; what’s out and what’s coming.
Well the Thunderbirds Kickstarter is currently going insane raising over £120,000 in just four days, and we’re also in the middle of the playtest for the INFINITY sci-fi RPG.
Of course we’re in the final stage of completing the two main campaigns Assault on the Mountains of Madness and Shadows of Atlantis for Achtung! Cthulhu and we’re about to unveil the final Mutant Chronicles core book, whilst DUST Adventures goes to print soon. We’re lucky to be to surrounded by so many talented and passionate people that love their games as much as we do so that we can have all these projects being developed.