I was able to speak to Mike Penny of the Orin Rakatha project ahead of this Kickstarter launch and used it to ask some questions about the campaign. As usual, given the busy Kickstarter marketplace, I was keen to discover some of the details and why gamers might pick Orin Rakatha ahead of any other project.
Orin Rakatha is your LARP so what’s the Kickstarter for?
Fundamentally we are putting this Kickstarter together to purchase two key elements, firstly and most importantly we need art; cover art, maps and internal art to make the content sing out. Whilst we are not short of stories we have no artwork and we really want the art to reflect the great story-lines and character concepts we have. Next we need to fund the digital type-setting of the written work so its ready to go to the printers; with up 260+ pages in the initial goals this is something that really needs to go to a professional. One of the great dualities of Kickstarter is that backers really want ‘product’ and so a large part of funding is also likely to get swallowed up by physical printing and postage costs.
Why go system neutral? Surely you had some/one system in mind when you imagine the game being played as a tabletop RPG?
Of course we started out playing Dungeons & Dragons (1st edition mind!) and that’s where we imagined the content being played out on the table top; it’s what inspired us to move into LARP in the first place. But we also recognise that time has moved on and there are a very broad range of systems out there that are popular. Whilst we are writing Orin Rakatha from a system neutral basis, from what we would call a story-tellers perspective, we will also be including stats for Pathfinder, the OGL content and we would also love to include FATE and Savage Worlds (more on these in later updates of the Kickstarter Campaign)
Are LARPers going to get to see their characters in print?
Yes very much so, both those that played characters and those that were the crew (the monsters or the bad-guys); what’s really great about this is that the characters are seen through the eyes of many people, lots of people have stories to tell about meeting them or their accomplishments or acts of greatness (or infamy) This gives the key protagonists depth and history that would only normally come from a massive novel. We are also offering pledges that allow those characters to be immortalised not only in print but also in artwork and even in 3d (via mini-figs)
There’s no shortage of Kickstarters for tabletop players. What makes Orin Rakatha stand out as a project worth backing?
How difficult it is to sing your own praises! We really think what we have is unique, we have one of the UK’s if not the worlds longest running live action roleplaying campaign that has remained within the same world for 27 years, this has created a unique story. The great number of people that have over the years contributed in some way is massive, and maximum credit to them all! The world itself is ‘different’ mainly because we went out of our way in the beginning to write a world that was able to challenge a concept called ‘suspension of dis-belief’; that is during a live action play you want to minimise the number of things the player has to ‘avoid seeing because they aren’t real’ So things like horses don’t exist on Orin Rakatha (as none of our LARPers ever turned up to an event riding one) so we created a concept of travel in the world that allowed journeys to be flexible and not necessarily need methods of rapid transportation. We also couldn’t persuade 5000 friends to come along and play an army of orcs (although we would have liked to) so we wrote a ‘law’ of the land that prevented groups of more than 20 travelling together; and whilst this means that your characters won’t take part in an ‘epic battle with 1000’s of combatants’ it does mean that the actions of adventurers really make a difference on the socio-economic landscape of Orin Rakatha. It means that a standard sized party of table top adventurers ARE an army on Orin Rakatha.
The Kickstarter talks about a semi-sentient land? How does that work?
So without giving away too much; the whole land is created and in some way managed by what are called ‘mystics’ they provide shelter on the land in towers and control the cleansing mists, which clear the land of the fallen and manage the flora and fauna. To live on Orin Rakatha you must adhere to the laws of the lands. The physical land, and the magic that underpins it are all linked and the power of the people that walk across it influences what they meet on the land, paths are changed and routes divided to manage the balance. Have you ever wondered why when you are part of a low-level group of adventurers that you don’t constantly get over-run by much more powerful monsters? On Orin Rakatha the land manages its resources to ensure that it meets what it considers to be a threat (the players) with its best matched resource – so the wandering monsters and groups of protagonists are directed by the land itself. Why the Mystics do this is unknown ;0)
What are your favourite parts of Orin Rakatha?
For me it has to be the lands and towers around an area called the Ikarthian Triangle, this is made of of 3 towers; one was destroyed long ago (and some of its history is revealed in our first module Burning Night) and remains haunted by its once inhabitants the Ikarthian people; who were all tragically slain in the same moment (the whole tower of 1000’s of people all at the same time), and of the other two I really love the Labyrinth of Xenos a tower of enchanters that create golems and clockwork constructs to carry out their will and whom are all linked to a single consciousness. This triangle of towers is one of the few places on Orin Rakatha where the open land is protected from the mists and it is also therefore a hub for the undesirables that have now tower sanctuary to call their home.
Who are the most scary bad guys?
Scary bad guys on Orin Rakatha come very much in two forms, scary stats and just scary! I think that’s what’s great about them, sure there are some bad guys who have awesome stats that even the highest level parties will be afraid of; but the really scary ones are the ones that don’t need to use their stats to be scary, their previous deeds, influence and knowledge is what makes them really scary! But if I were to pick out some names I’d say; Xelios the Hive Mind – High Enchanter of the Labryinthe of Xenos, Helm Brighthand – Judge Knight of Shadowsmeet, Kerni Oakrot – Druid of the Forest of Unshed Tears and The Oppawang – are the ones that have put the frighteners up me in the past!
Where are the most dangerous areas of the land?
Anywhere close to the central island, surrounded by Rainbow Lake; which is where the Mystics are reputed to live and every year the leaders of each tower must make a journey across the lake to pledge their status (the combined power of their adventuring people) to prove to the Mystics that they are worthy to retain their tower. This perimeter is patrolled by the Shadowsfall; the Mystics enforcers of the laws of Orin Rakatha – best not get in their bad books. Also the mountains around the outside of Orin Rakatha whilst largely impregnable have one or two passes; one famous for danger is the Pass of Jade at whose base lies the tower of the Knights of Halmadons Heights; questing knights who use Orin Rakatha as their base to explore other worlds. The Pass of Jade is said to be one of the only places you can leave Orin Rakatha on foot, other routes require some form of magical transportation.
How can you cull, cut and trim 27 years of gameplay into just one book?
So the short answer is we’re not; the initial release of books will give people a wide understanding of the lands themselves, the people, the creatures the locations from both a GM’s and Players perspective and also the first module. The source books will have plenty of material if you want to write your own campaign within the world and we will release modules as the demand comes for them (we have a few lined up for the Kickstarter stretch goals and many more for the future). The GM’s Guide and Players Handbook are based around 5 years into our campaign; now from that point GM’s could just ‘go their own way’ (and frankly that would be great!) but we also hope they will continue supporting our products as release them and we aim to do this rapidly enough to keep up with GM’s and players demand.
sadly the books have never materialized despite exceeding their funding targets – Perhaps you should interview the creators and find out why?