Wednesday, April 1, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Games That Shaped Me (Part 6)

C J Carella's WitchCraft - Eden Studios (1999)

After ditching using White Wolf's World of Darkness to run my massive urban fantasy game of mages, werecreatures and vampires, I converted the whole game over to Kult. I must admit, I loved Kult, especially 2nd Edition with its cool black and white cover and bizarre typography, but something caught my eye on the game store shelves and had me intrigued...

C J Carella's WitchCraft was a smaller paperback than the other game books on the shelf (yes, paperback - the hardback came later). Flicking through it looked like it was just what I needed. It had magic users in different cabals, using different magical traditions, to fight of a rising threat of taint that could corrupt the world. 

I particularly liked the cover - simple, gorgeous and gothic. I picked up the main WitchCraft rulebook and the Mystery Codex (as it detailed vampires and spirits) and set to converting my Kult (formerly Mage) game over to Unisystem - the game system that powered WitchCraft.

One thing lead to another, and we relocated across the country, but I quickly found the local comic/game shop and discovered the new game they had - All Flesh Must Be Eaten. A game of zombie survival horror, using the Unisystem that had powered WitchCraft, and in the same, smaller, digest sized rulebooks that made transportation easier. 

While I only ran All Flesh Must Be Eaten once (for part of the Ottakar's RPG "book group", after we'd relocated back across the country to where we began), but I did love Unisytem.

A friend of ours, Jason, knew I was a massive fan of The X-Files and loaned me the rulebook for the RPG he'd been reading called Conspiracy X. I read it through and loved the setting - loved it so much that when I gave him the book back I bought my own copy from the local RPG shop - only to discover it was the same publisher (Eden Studios) who did WitchCraft and All Flesh Must Be Eaten. (Jason's older version was published by Eden's forerunners - New Millennium Entertainment).

My comic publishing efforts had come to a grinding halt, and I reached out to Eden Studios - so enamoured I was with the Conspiracy X setting - that I initially thought about writing and illustrating a comic set in the Conspiracy X world. But comic publishing wasn't going to be the way for me, and it all kinda fell apart.

BUT... I kept in touch with Eden. George and Alex were fantastic to chat to over the internet, and they were very encouraging. I asked if I could write game material for All Flesh Must Be Eaten, and they wanted a sample of my writing - so I got a bit carried away. I wrote a whole supplement for AFMBE that has never seen light of day, called Summercamp Stalkers And Unstoppable Evil. It was a twist on AFMBE that allowed you to switch the genre of the game from zombie survival horror to 80's slasher movie - just one "nemesis" who threatened you and seemed to be unstoppable. The Jason/Shape/Freddy that you'd expect from a good 80's slasher. 

And that was the door opener that got me writing stuff for Eden Studios. I just kept getting as involved as much as I could, helping out with All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Army of Darkness, Ghosts of Albion, and Terra Primate... before I finally asked the question that was a bit of an elephant in the room - why are all of Eden's games Unisystem except Conspiracy X? Which lead to me spending a couple of years completely immersed in files as I converted Conspiracy X's system over to Unisystem for Conspiracy X 2.0.  
But it all started with WitchCraft. It really did have a massive impact on my life, and without it I may never have gone back into trying to join the ranks of game writers and designers. I have very fond memories of helping out at one of the last couple of GenConUK conventions, working on Eden's stand while C J Carella was in the UK to promote the Buffy RPG. Shame I didn't get my books signed...  One day...

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