Setting Search Closes In on Finalists
Toomey, Fantasy Setting Search Finalist; Anthony Valterra, Category
Manager for Tabletop Roleplaying Games; Peter Archer, Editorial Director
of Book Publishing; and Nathan's giant, $10,000 check.
How long have you been playing RPGs, and how long have you been playing
Because my first experience playing RPGs was with D&D, the
answer is the same for both: since I was twelve. I have played continuously
since then until the last couple of years when I moved away from my gaming
group to begin my graduate studies. Now I play [Neverwinter Nights]
online with my old gaming group as we all now live in different parts
of the country. My grad studies have kept me too busy to find a new local
group with which to play tabletop.
What first interested you in gaming and D&D?
I had just begun reading J.R.R. Tolkien at the time that I first played,
and the games similarity to that world, i.e. the fantasy genre,
really engaged my imagination. The fact that the game was open-ended,
without boundaries, and really freed ones imagination to explore
was the most important aspects of the game. Also, the fact that the games
and adventures took place in a medieval-like world also greatly excited
me. From an even earlier age, I had been fascinated with the middle ages,
knights, castles, swords, etc.
What are your favorite games/settings, and why do you like them?
Dark Sun, because the land is so inhospitable. That had a lot of
original and clever things in it. What DM does not secretly like the idea
of running a party through a harsh world in which the players have to
scrape and struggle for every scrap of equipment, treasure, and survival
Realms -- This was and still is the quintessential gaming world.
It is generous with its creative landscapes, cultures, and history. It
would be hard to not find a place for your own campaign story in this
huge and wonderful place.
-- Though I never really got to venture far into this setting, this is
the one setting in which I wanted to play the most. The art, the vision,
the sheer, horrifying complexity and alien hugeness of Planescape
is all just wonderful stuff, truly wonderful stuff.
Do you have a particular experience or situation from gaming that
stands out in your memory? Something funny, or exciting, or weird?
Here is one experience that exemplifies how badly things can go wrong.
Our party was exploring the ruins of an ancient city when Grath --
our aspiring but not yet achieved paladin -- became annoyed
by how long Daggo -- our intrepid dwarf fighter-thief -- was
taking to search for traps. In his impatience, Grath decided to kick open
a door at random, breaking a warded circle that contained a demon. After
stomping on our party for a while, the demon grew bored when we withdrew
into a holy sanctuary. His taste for death not near sated, the demon left
the ruins for the surface to begin his career of world destruction. Battered,
bruised, humbled, and thinking ourselves trapped in the sanctuary, we
looked for another way to get back into the ruins besides opening the
only door we thought was guarded by the demon. We found a secret passage
leading to a section of the ruins we had not yet explored. Upon entering
this passage our dwarven thief set off a ward of pain that afflicted most
of the party. Wracked with pain, Daggo pleaded with Spiro, the partys
only mage, to dispel the effect. Having spent most of his arcane power
on the demon, Spiro remembered a recently acquired scroll of dispel
magic. Excited and feeling useful, Spiro hurriedly whipped out the
scroll and read the runes scribed thereon. Instead of releasing the pain
and agony of his comrades, he released a 10d6 fireball, which not only
almost finished off the party, but also destroyed over half the partys
magic items. Hunkered over the crispy remains of the unrolled scroll,
only sputtering smoke coming out of his mouth when he tried to speak,
Spiro dared not return the blank stares of his party members. Moreover,
the ward of pain was still in effect.
Do you have a favorite designer? If so, who?
This is truly cruel limiting me to just one, but if you insist, then I
must say Tracy and Laura Hickman for the original Ravenloft module.
That was such a wonderful and visionary module at that time. I still have
wonderful memories of DMing that game, several times.
What got you interested in fantasy as a genre?
That would have to be the master of fantasy himself, J.R.R. Tolkien. But
perhaps even before him, my interest in mythology and fairytales probably
led to my love of the fantasy genre. Some other important writers that
got me interested in the genre were Michael Moorcock and Fritz Liebers
Fafhrd and Gray Mouser books.
Who's your favorite fantasy author, and what's your favorite fantasy
novel or series of fantasy novels?
Again, J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings. I hate to be so predictable.
Of Wizards/TSR's authors or books, who/what's your favorite?
I hate to admit that I have never read any Wizards/TSR books, but this
is more because by the time they were hitting the big time, I was too
engrossed in school and had very little time to read anything that my
professors didnt tell me to read.
What interested you in submitting to the fantasy setting search?
The primary reason is the chance to contribute something to a gaming community
that has meant so much to me, inspired me, sparked my creativity, given
me so much enjoyment, and introduced me to my best friends. And, I would
be dishonest if I did not admit to liking the proposition of getting to
work with Wizards for either a short or long time period. Oh, and the
monetary size of the reward was not just an afterthought.
Is your setting one that you've been working on for some time, or
did you devise it just for the fantasy setting search?
The setting as a whole was created for the Fantasy Setting Search, though
it is comprised of pieces, themes, and storylines that I have either DMed
myself or have had kicking around in the back of my head for some time.
Without revealing too many specific details, do you work on your setting
alone, or are you part of a team?
The original idea was my own, and I developed the framework in isolation.
Since being notified of my acceptance into the final round, however, I
have employed the help of two of my best friends and long-time gaming
buddies, whose imagination, knowledge of history and human civilization,
writing ability, and knowledge of the gaming and fantasy fiction genres
are a tremendous benefit.
How did you feel when you found out that your setting was chosen as
one of the 11 best out of almost 11,000 submissions? What about being
chosen as one of the 3 best out of those 11?
I was very amazed and excited when I discovered that I had made it to
the second round. For one thing, I was stunned that my submission had
even been found among the 11,000 received by Wizards. On the day that
they notified me of the good news, I left for a short vacation not knowing
anything. By the time that I got back home and checked my email, I had
almost missed the deadline to respond.
extremely anxious after I sent off my submission for the second round.
Leaving class one night almost exactly two weeks later, my phone alerted
me that I had voice mail. There it was, a message from Peter Archer telling
me that he had some news that would interest me. I could have died. "News
that would interest me" had to be good, so I was bubbling over with
excitement feeling fairly confident that I knew what it meant. The next
day, when I did finally reach him and he confirmed my suspicions, it felt
like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I had done it!
What do you currently do for a living?
I am in the last semester of my graduate school program in national security
studies. I have been employed in this career field for the last two years
while getting my masters degree. Since May of this year I have been employed
as a contractor to the Air Force Nuclear Weapons and Counterproliferation
Agency at the Pentagon.
What do you plan to do if your setting is chosen and you receive the
Take a vacation to Italy.
to the D&D
main news page for more articles and
news about the new D&D or
check out the D&D
boards for a lively discussion of all
aspects of the D&D game.