At Gen Con 50, Jonathan M. Thompson said we should meet and I agreed with him in that airy way that is closer to if-it-happens-it-happens than it is to a firm commitment. I wasn’t trying to avoid him, just Gen Con is so much that it’s not about what you want to do, it’s about what you’re willing to miss because there were easily twenty things I wanted to do that I did not make it to. But, Jonathan asked and we finally connected as I was heading out the door for the trip back to Atlanta. Last minute yet it was one of the most important connections I made at the con. He bent my ear about something I’d never heard of before, Robert Asprin’s The Cold Cash War. Despite my ignorance, Jonathan’s passion for this property sold me and led to conversations and support and this interview.
EGG EMBRY – Thanks for speaking to us. You’re running a Kickstarter, Robert Asprin’s The Cold Cash War, can you tell us what the setting and game are about?
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – Cold Cash War is based on Robert Asprin’s first novel, The Cold Cash War. It is about corporations fighting each other the way that countries would do. They hire mercenary armies and pick a spot, usually in a third world country, and hash it out with weapons and troops. They use a thing called a killsuit that register kills and turns off the injured part of the body. This is the default setting for the game. A character doesn’t have to worry about being killed normally, but can be taken out of action. The other method of play has to deal with the time when corporations started taking out their rivals for real, via assassination. This level of play means characters can be killed and will get a little more than a slap on the wrist or jail time if caught by the rival corporation. Basically, you can treat the corporations like countries and you get the same kind of feel. The corporations are all megacorp conglomerates, and they all want the upper hand. The eventual goal is for only one corporation to exist, creating a worldwide monopoly.
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – Cepheus Engine is derived from open content released from Mongoose Publishing for their first edition of Traveller. It is an old school game, with an old school feel, which makes it perfect for Cold Cash War. I also believe that Savage Worlds, with its innate flexibility makes it an ideal choice for the setting.
EGG – As a fan, what would be the Cold Cash War adventure that you’d be the most excited to play?
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – I would love to play in a series of adventures dealing with espionage, corporate espionage in CCW is similar to what you would think about countries going to war with each other.
EGG – This book came out 40 years ago and looked at the near future; what did it accurately predict about today? Will the setting reflect the 1970s vision of today and the future?
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – It accurately predicted the rise of the corporation as a power, we are getting pretty close to that today…some would say we have reached that. The corporations in the book turn out to be more powerful than the governments, for the most part. The setting will be the “near now” as seen through the lens of 1977. Mostly the novel reflects the world as Asprin saw it in that time, and we are planning on keeping that as the way the reader sees it through the RPG. We have done this with other games, using a term I like to call “alternate future.” This way you get the idea of what they were thinking, the best we can without asking Robert Asprin himself.
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – There are. With a successful KS we will start working on source material, the big things we are looking at now is a series of books detailing each of the corporations and the governments…. including the illusive C-Bloc.
EGG – Tell us a little about you and what was the game that changed you into a gamer?
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – Like most people in my age group, that would have to be Dungeons and Dragons. I told this story recently, but when I was in elementary school, I lived in Singapore because my dad was assigned there and he worked for an oil company. So, I have always been a voracious reader, and I had pretty much read everything in the schools library. Every day after lunch I went to the library, in those days I read about a book a day (sometimes more) and I had just finished the Mystery section, having finished the Sci-fi/Fantasy section first. I had turned the corner (as the library was built in an L shape) and sitting at the conference table in the library were these guys playing this game. I sat down to watch, fascinated by what they were doing. The next day they invited me to play, giving me a character to play. A druid. None of us really knew what we were doing, but we had a blast doing it.
EGG – Why did you create your gaming company, Battlefield Press International?
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – I wanted to get those good designers, that may not get a chance with the big guys, a chance to be heard. My friend wanted to get his game published, and no one would take him. So I formed Battlefield Press and his was the first we did, but instead of using his original system we converted the entire thing to d20 (at the beginning of the d20 era). It did well, so BPI went on to other things, some doing great, some not, but all of that gave me confidence, strength and improved my ability as a designer.
EGG – As a Kickstarter veteran, what advice would you give others thinking about launching a gaming Kickstarter?
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – Just do it. There is nothing wrong with taking a chance. If you make it then the public agrees with your vision, if you don’t then you are still okay because you know that was not a project to invest your own time and energy into.
EGG – What projects are you currently developing?
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – There are many things, expanding our Gaslight Victorian Fantasy line, developing a Starfinder version of our Eldritch Skies setting. We also have the license for Atlas Games’ Northern Crown which is developed for Pathfinder, with some additional material coming. We have Sherwood the Legend of Robin Hood for Pathfinder, 5e, and the Swords & Wizardry system. Warren C. Norwood’s Double Spiral War for Savage Worlds is getting a new book next year. In additional to all our RPG material, we also publish Fiction. Our next fiction release is called Sisterhood of the Blade, which is about a trio of women in France during the time of the French Revolution (think 3 Musketeers, but women protecting the Queen), and we have also partnered up with Samurai Sheepdog (and Hall Greenberg) to publish their upcoming fiction in their Awakened line. That KS will launch in November.
EGG – Any parting thoughts? Where can we find out more about Battlefield Press International?
JONATHAN M. THOMPSON – We can be found on DTRPG and RPGNow, as well as the Paizo store. In addition we can be ordered through your FLGS. We have a website (www.battlefieldpress.com), but its out of date and needs a face lift.
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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:
- Sasquatch Game Studio’s Primeval Thule for 5e available at DriveThruRPG.com – Writer
- Ember Design Studios’ Yrisa’s Nightmare for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com – Writer
- Ember Design Studios’ Rats in the Street for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com – Writer & Artist
- Kobold Press’ Tome of Beasts for 5e available at KoboldPress.com – Playtester
- Kobold Press’ Deep Magic 9: Ring Magic (5e) available at KoboldPress.com – Playtester
- EN World’ Gaming at the Kids’ Table Column – Journalist
- Total Party Kill Games’ Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge – Writer
- Total Party Kill Games’ Fifth Edition Fighter Folio – Writer
- MidCity Comics’ Soon-to-be-Announced Comic Book Mini-Series – Writer