Martin Lloyd is the Amazing Tales designer and that makes him the talent behind an Adamantine best-selling family RPG. Amazing Tales may be the most recommend family-friendly, intended for kids, RPG out there but it’s a traditional fantasy game.
Now Martin is building on that simple but hugely successful ruleset to offer up Amazing Heroes so young boys and girls can play as the supers they see on screen. The Kickstarter has funded, and there are still four weeks to join in.
The reward tiers couldn’t be more straightforward. If you promise €1 or more, you get an official thank you in the book, and for €10 or more you get a PDF copy and a print-on-demand discount coupon.
I had a chance to speak to Martin and discovered that superheroes are the top request he’s had from people.
Why do superheroes now?
Since Amazing Tales launched I’ve had more requests for a superhero setting than anything else. I’d originally planned to include them in the Big Book of Amazing Tales, but that stretch goal didn’t fund. So I decided to wrap them up with the other thing people have regularly asked for – a more advanced set of rules that would turn Amazing Tales into something that would work for a table of adults, or a family with older kids. So it went from being what might have been a 16-page stretch goal to a whole book.
I’d also realised that between shows like the Flash, the Avengers movies and cartoon series like Young Justice my own kids were absolutely wrapped up in Superhero stuff. So I felt there would probably be a market out there for them.
What tips do you have for parents running superhero RPGs for their kids?
Before you start you need to be clear about what kind of adventure your kids want. There’s a lot of different ways to approach superhero games, you could be rescuing people from burning buildings, battling evil villains or trying to solve your relationship problems while dealing with a mob boss. That last one doesn’t really apply to kids – but you get the idea.
Saying yes to their character ideas is important too. Like Amazing Tales, Amazing Heroes has few rules, so there’s a lot of stress on the players and the GM talking together upfront to agree on how things are going to work. If someone wants super strength you just need to check-in and as ‘Are we talking about lifting up buses or battleships here?’ and scale the rest of the game accordingly. You don’t want to be saying ‘oh your hero is strong, but he can’t be that strong.’ With older kids of adult tables, you’ll want to have that discussion with the whole group in session zero, so everyone understands the power level of the game and characters feel consistent. Although if your group is up for it, why not let someone have Doc Manhattan level powers while everyone else tries to work out what that means for them?
The next thing is to keep the pace high and let things escalate. By the end of the session, you want to be dealing with something significantly bigger than the threat you started with. So you could go from investigating stolen cars to defusing a bomb in the mayor’s office, or from thwarting a jewel heist to facing down monsters rampaging through the streets, or from strange things in the woods to an alien invasion. The important thing is that everything keeps getting more dramatic, especially with kids this isn’t a genre for subtlety.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
From a purely financial side, it’s been pretty good. Lots of people being stuck at home looking for something to entertain their kids and themselves led to a lot of sales for Amazing Tales, including quite a few to people who were new to gaming.
Of course, I also knew that the people who needed that kind of distraction the most might be the ones least able to afford it, so I put together a quickstart version of the game and made that available for free. It was popular, and to go with it, and partly to get me through lockdown I set out to write a set of one-page adventures. I wrote one a day for 28 days and put them up on DriveThru, and they’ve been a huge hit. They’re still available for free, but I’ve also collated them into a single PDF along with the quickstart which is available for about 4 euro – all the profits on that go to charity.
One thing I couldn’t do last year, which I’d really been looking forward to, was attending some gaming conventions. I’d been hoping to run some demos, meet some people, sign some books and talk to both retailers and potential translators. There is a Spanish edition of Amazing Tales coming now, to add to the Polish, Italian and Brazilian Portuguese ones though, so there was a bit of progress on that front.
What’s launching a Kickstarter during Zine Quest like?
To be honest I’d been completely oblivious to Zinequest until about a week before it started and then the hashtag was everywhere. Now I’m just loving taking some time to read up on all the great stuff people are doing. The breadth and diversity that’s out there now in the RPG scene are stunning. I think the most interesting work in the whole space is being done ‘away from the dungeon’ so to speak, and I’m sure we’ll see some of the ideas from these experimental games turning up in bigger titles soon.
I don’t think you can pick and choose the timing of your Kickstarter based on what else is going on. For a bunch of reasons I need to be doing Amazing Heroes now, so I can get to other projects later in the year. As it turned out I launched two hours after The One Ring went live. I like to think I gave them a run for their money though…
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