#AprilTTRPGMaker: Questions 1 through 6

Kira Magrann started a cool challenge for April, the 30-day tabletop role-playing game maker or #AprilTTRPGMaker challenge. Everyone who participates in creating RPGs is invited to chime in! Kira’s list of daily questions is included at the bottom of this post. They’re mostly short answers on Twitter and other social media, but I thought I would re-post them here in small groups, with better grammar and a few more characters.

Day 1: Who are you?

I’m Sophie Lagacé, a Canadian expatriate living in the San Francisco Bay, avid gamer, convention organizer, blogger, and game writer. I write and manage projects for Evil Hat Productions, and write freelance for Vigilance Press, Atlas Games, Generic Games, ZombieSmith, etc.

My career outside games has been as a civil and environmental engineer. 

Day 2: Where ya at?

As mentioned above, I’m living just south of San Francisco, California. I’m currently working on RPG books for Evil Hat Productions (Fate Infiltration Toolkit) and Vigilance Press (Tianxia Rules Companion), and I have a few shorter assignments in the hopper.

I’m from near Montreal, Canada but I’ve lived in Northern California, in Seattle, Washington, and in Vancouver, British Columbia. I miss my home and family, but I love the West Coast’s beauty and being near the ocean.

Day 3: How did you start creating TTRPGs?

There was a first earnest but failed attempt to write my own fantasy heartbreaker in the mid-80s, which subsided into equally earnest house-ruling and hacking habits whenever I game-mastered a new system. As soon as I got on the Internet in the mid-90s, I exchanged a lot with other gamers on RPG-related list servers, forums, social media, and blogs. During this whole time, I also did tabletop game convention organizing for many different events, and provided playtest feedback on many new games, made a lot of contacts, and had a chance to show that I was (relatively) organized and reliable.

Every once in a while I would timidly contact a publisher with an idea, but when I contacted Evil Hat in 2013, they knew me personally both online and in person, and were just looking for new writers. They didn’t go for my initial project proposal but I eventually reused a lot of my ideas for other projects! Instead they offered me this wacky setting of murderous Shakespearean muppets because I had written and shared similar hacks on my blog.

Incidentally, the ideas and hacks I post now get a much better reception since I started publishing. Before that, they got little traction in discussions, and gamer men largely ignored my contributions. Good times.

Day 4: Describe your work.

To date I have written for Unknown Armies 3rd edition, Fate Core-based games (War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus and the upcoming Tianxia Rules Companion), and games Powered by the Apocalypse, or PbtA (upcoming Monster of the Week supplement). I’m also project manager for the Fate line for Evil Hat, roughly ten books under way right now.

It must be my engineer side showing, but I’m best at polishing or extending mechanics created by others, thinking about the practical aspects of using a given system (“how do I do this?”) or setting (“what does it do in my game?), and extending the usefulness of a given toolkit.

Day 5: Favourite game you’ve worked on?

It’s hard because they are all such great games to be a part of, but I have to go with War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus because it was thrilling to be trusted with my first complete book and because it had such a great team to support a newbie: Sean Nittner as project manager, Karen Twelves as developmental editor, Mike Olson as system developer, and Dale Horstman as layout artist, plus all the other great Evil Hatters who provided reviews, comments, and other support.

Day 6: Favourite game mechanic?

I think I’ll go with the Weight mechanic in War of Ashes: Fate of Agaptus, which is used to simulate the importance of number and size of opponents on either side of a conflict, while making miniatures relevant to Fate Core. It wasn’t something that appeared to us as a big lightbulb over one person’s head, but something we worked at, playtested, reformulated, in multiple cycles with many smaller lightbulb moments.

What I loved was that with each iteration we dropped some complexity, until it became a simple thing to use, worthy of Fate’s streamlined mechanics, but it really popped in play and made it clear what having the advantage of number or size would do, and why you would want to move from one zone to another.

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