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Interview – Natalya Alyssa Faden
Say ‘Hi!’ to Natalya Alyssa Faden, the brains behind ‘Torn World’, a ‘unique vision of the genre where sword and sorcery collides with gritty ruin in a cataclysmic world left broken and bleeding by her gods.’ As of the publication of this interview there’s currently a Kickstarter running.
Welcome. Perhaps you’d like to tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure! So I’m Natalya Alyssa Faden. I’ve been going by “Alyssa” on Facebook, because when I joined it I did not trust it with my actual name – go figure. One thing lead to another, I ended up with over a 1,000 awesome friends, and now everyone knows me as Alyssa.I’m originally from England. I was born – and raised – in a city called “Chester.” For those who do not know, Chester was built by the Romans. It has an amphitheatre, bathhouse, complete Roman walls. How crazy is that? Can you imagine growing up in a place with 2,000 years of history and pubs built in the 1700’s? You develop a special mentality, believe me. Is it any wonder that I got into Dungeons & Dragons when I was in my early teens.
I wasn’t that popular at school in the first place: computers and chess do not make for a cool chick, so jumping headlong into Napoleonic wargaming and Dungeons & Dragons made all kinds of sense. In for a penny, in for a pound, right?
Of course, when you have the tabletop-RPG bug, it stays with you for life. So here I am, decades later (*shush* tell no one) still playing games. And you know what? The world has moved on. It’s cool now. Fez’s are cool. Urk! I mean, games are cool! Nerds and Geeks are cool. I wear my Nerddom and Geekhood with a huge amount of pride.
Tell us about your gaming history – what got you into the wonderful world of tabletop?
Ahha, I tend to do that – ramble on and hit the next question before it has been honest. But I can be more specific here.
Napoleonic wargaming got me into the world of gaming in general. Thousands of Airfix painted miniatures, summer holidays spent setting up massive battles and playing them out for days on end with my friends. That and the computer game M.U.L.E. Man how we used to play the ehck out of that!
Wargaming in general got me into a wargame club, that had me sitting board at a table one day while the guys spent 3hrs per move on a WWII game, and in the corner there was a small little group laughing their asses off. I remember it like it was yesterday. They were cheering, hollering, throwing down dice, and shouting out things like “You just killed my shadow with a +1 dagger!” Seriously, that’s what he said, I remember it so well. So I’m sitting there – bored – and they’re clearly having a lot of fun. I had to find out what they were playing. It was, of course, Basic D&D.
The next day I owned the game. Within a week I was introducing it to my school. Fun times.
What is it about tabletop gaming that attracts you? What do you enjoy most when playing a game?
Seriously? Utter escapism. I mean, the whole world melts away doesn’t it? I can talk about how much I laugh with good friends, the memories of adventures and characters burned indelibly on my mind for all of time, but really – honestly – it’s because we get to visit other worlds, we get to live the lives of heroes – and anti heroes. We fight dread beasts, we slay dragons. And it’s “real” … you’re there. I would not trade that for the world.
While gaming … maaaaaann … from fantasy through to science fiction … Cthulhu horror … a cyberpunk dystopian future …. Seriously … you get to be there. You recreate yourself, you do things anew, put yourselves into very different shoes. WOW. Anyone that does not game is so missing out.
What’s your favourite game? What games that are out there at the moment float your boat?
Oooooh, big, big question. There have been so many great games: Traveller, Rune Quest, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun. If I truly had to take one game with me to a desert island … *thinks* … I am not sure why, but I’d take Call of Cthulhu I think. I play d20 derivatives all of the time, and my group loves them (current Pathfinder), but I have a soft-spot for Call of Cthulhu.
Do you still get time to play? What are you playing at the moment?
We play every other week. I mean, I play boardgames when I can, I play computer games a lot (less now, but it’s a huge passion). So I’m playing Xcom (on the back of Farcry 3) on the PC an hour or so every 2-3 days, and I am running a Pathfinder table-top game every other Saturday. If we do not game, we replace it with a board game session, which is always fun.
The tabletop hobby has been through a lot changes over the years and it seems that its death-knell is always sounded when newer hobbies come along, such as collectible card games and online computer games. It still seems to be able to hold it’s own, though – what do you see happening to the hobby in the future? What changes, if any, do you think will have to be made to ensure its survival?
Big question. I honestly think that a new era has been ushered in. It’s almost like the industry evolved in order to survive, you know? Just look at Monte Cook and the latest news that his Numenera could provide the next iteration of Planescape. Talk about overlapping genres. I also think that gaming as a whole has become way more “cool.” Sure, some people do not get it, but look how many people play boardgames, computer games and the such … but what has happened is there is an increasing overlap, players of one type of game are intrigued by others. I think this trend will continue, I can’t see “card gaming” doing away with table-top, to be honest.
In fact, I’ll use my own Torn Armor as an example. I have a fantasy world I would like to introduce to people. I could go straight into RPG products, or maybe try my hand at a computer game, or a book … but I’ve chosen a boardgame. It’s a good medium. The game has not even been released yet and people are asking if there will be RPG supplements. That’s just awesome to me. I think that will continue: the strength of other gaming mediums will provide an influx of new blood into the RPG crowd.
Out of all your projects, what are you most proud of?
Torn Armor. Without a doubt. It has not been released yet, but the artwork, the caliber of the team involved, and the miniatures coming out of this thing – they’re unreal.
The Kickstarter you’ve got running at the moment is to help with the production of 28mm miniatures for the Torn World RPG setting. Can you tell us more about this world, what your inspirations were and how you came up with this nightmarish place?
Strictly speaking I can trace the Torn World back to a Bushido game I was running back in the early 80’s. It wasn’t “Torn” then, but a player’s action essentially ended the game in a cataclysmic way.
I picked up with a D&D game a little while later and decided to place it in the same world, this time post-apocalypse, and from this the seeds of the Torn World were formed.
After many years of writing and running games for various groups, all in Torn, I grew somewhat jaded and really wanted to branch out into something very new and very unique. I developed a concept for a world and really hammered on it, only to conclude that it was too alien for players to have fun in, so I abandoned the idea and went back to Torn.
But now I was full of god-like zeal and so I smashed the whole thing, wrote in a massive cataclysmic event (two worlds smashing into each other), and redrew all the part of the world that didn’t like. The modern Torn World in its current iteration was born.
So Torn has been the product of many decades, two countries, half a dozen different gaming groups, and multiple gaming system!
The “other” world – the one I abandoned due to its alien nature – that has not gone away. The world that crashed into Torn will be visited one day, right?
The nightmarish twist was Jack, my partner. He is all about “The Hills have Eyes” and “House of a Thousand Corpses,” that type of stuff. We overlap on “Hellraiser,” but seriously his imagination can go into incredible places. So when we met he wanted to run a game, I offered Torn as an option and he took it on. That right there introduced somewhat of a “twisted fairy tale” or “horror” aspect to some elements of the world.
What are you working on at the moment?
Well we have the Center Stage Miniatures Kickstarter that is running. This is our debut of Torn World’s characters, heroes, anti-heroes, and vile creatures brought to life in a lead-free metal, so we’re very proud of the workd CSM are doing over there:
Aside from that, it’s all about Torn Armor. Torn armor is a Fantasy squad-based skirmish board game based in the World of Torn. 39 richly detailed miniatures, full color rule book, scenario book, spell cards, magical equipment cards, 4 double-sided battle posters …it’s going to be one hell of a package even with the core set alone. All of my time is spent on that right now.