Interview: Emmy Allen On Engineering Esoteric Enterprises

If you asked me to do an elevator pitch for Esoteric Enterprises, it’d be “Unknown Armies gets the Kevin Crawford treatment”. Which is a shame, because that’d be almost entirely inaccurate. Yes, the game’s based around a party of player characters getting into shady shit as a result of their entanglement with the occult underground, but the cosmos of the game doesn’t have all that much directly in common with Unknown Armies beyond a “modern day setting, grimy magic” aesthetic. Yes, the game does have an extensive suite of refereeing tools and random tables and uses early editions of D&D as its main system inspiration, like Stars Without Number and its ilk, but it’s not actually a Kevin Crawford design – it’s by Emmy Allen, AKA cavegirl, whose Dying Stylishly Games products have paved the way for this, her most ambitious RPG release yet.

Luckily, I know Emmy in real life and she was nice enough to give me an interview, so maybe she can help me out here. Emmy, what would be your elevator pitch for the game?

This is a world basically like our own, except magic is real, and dangerous, and wildly illegal. Of course, plenty of things are dangerous and illegal – such as drugs and organ-legging and bank robberies – so the worlds of organised crime and the supernatural have become inexorably linked. Things are only like our familiar world on the surface; beneath every city there is a literal underworld, where strange things hide from scrutiny, and the reckless or desperate traffic in things humans really shouldn’t be meddling with.

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Interview: Minerva McJanda Takes Us To the Heart of the Void

As I mentioned in my Kickstopper article on Legacy: Life Among the Ruins and its associated Kickstarters, I happen to know lead designer Minerva McJanda in real life, so when I heard she’d developed a new game inspired by the Persona CRPGs and was planning to do a Kickstarter for it I decided I wanted to get in touch and see if she wanted to do an interview. Luckily enough, she did!

The new game, Voidheart Symphony, you can actually check out now in a rough early draft which, to my eye, seems to capture the intended style extremely well. It’s a standalone sequel to Rhapsody of Blood, a Legacy supplement that focused on hereditary bloodlines sworn to protect the world against the machinations of a decidedly vania-like Castle – the sort of place which would be the abode of loners who consider human beings miserable piles of secrets, perhaps – but with the hereditary angle taken out (since Legacy‘s focus on campaigns unfolding over multiple generations of PCs don’t quite fit here) and set in a version of the modern day where the Castle and its agents lurk behind the scenes of everyday existence.

As a big Persona/Shin Megami Tensei fan, I personally think it’s another great UFO Press product which showcases Minerva’s ability to find new ways to interestingly adapt and alter the Powered By The Apocalypse system. But why take my word for it? Scroll on down and let’s start the interview…

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