Interview – Savage Mojo

Starting off with a more personal question, Savage Mojo has developed multiple products, including RPGs, novels, board games, and artwork related to the universe you’ve created – Suzerain. So what keeps you going? What keeps you enthusiastic about working in the RPG industry?

Miles Kantir: The fans! Pure and simple, if people stopped being interested in what we make, we’d stop making it. When we get an email or a Facebook post that tells us someone’s having a great time playing our games… that’s the best feeling in the world. Don’t get me wrong – we make stuff we love too, and that’s important. But there’s a buzz you get when you hand a book to someone who wasn’t involved in its development and they love it. I know everybody in the team feels that way.

Curtis Lyon: I’m just a big kid. Honestly, I’ve been into RPGs since I was in high school (which was a very long time ago), so working in the industry is like a dream come true. At my core, I’m a creative person, and having an outlet to express that creativity is what this type of thing is all about. Personally, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.

Jennifer Brozek: I love games and playing in games. I also love to write. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. Creating worlds for other people to play in is just my ideal job. It’s why I keep coming back to it.

Sarah Lyon: Actually, it’s that diversity, both in the multiple products and the multiple genres that Suzerain covers that keeps things interesting for me. Every project provides a new challenge.

Earlier this year, the fantastically titled Shanghai Vampocalypse was nominated for Best Electronic Book and won Silver. What did you think of the ENnies when you found out that you were nominated?

CL: Obviously I was pretty excited. To me, it was an acknowledgment that people out there liked something I’d had a hand in. Quite frankly, Sarah and I went around to everyone we knew and drove them crazy talking about it.

JB: For me, the ENnies were so far out of my league (I thought) that they were just this nebulous cool award. When they were announced, I looked them over but didn’t notice my book in there. It wasn’t until later, when Savage Mojo sent out an email, that I discovered it. Then I was over the moon.

SL: I thought that they were interesting, because it told me what people were “in to” in the Gaming industry. A lot of the time if something sounded interesting that won, I’d go see what it was about if I hadn’t heard of it before.

Did your nomination and win affect short-term sales? How about long-term sales?

CL: Since I’m not one of the people with those numbers, I’ll leave it to the more qualified to answer that one.

JB: No idea. Just the writer.

SL: You’d have to ask our marketing people for that one. 😉

What projects do you have on the schedule; anything you can talk about?

CL: Sarah and I have been given the honor of overseeing the development of the Savage Suzerain line (the side of Suzerain that runs on the Savage Worlds engine – this is the line that Shanghai Vampocalypse belongs to), so I can assure everyone that there are plenty of projects on the schedule.

I don’t want to spill too much too soon, but I feel safe in saying the next project we have due out is Covert Ops, which we have high hopes for since it is being functionally developed by the same team that put together Shanghai Vampocalypse. In this setting, the characters belong to a highly-secret government organization as ‘deniable assets’ used to fight against supernatural threats.

I’m also very excited about Caladon Alliance, the sequel setting book to Caladon Falls, which has been very well received. This one will pick up the story where Caladon Falls left off, and allow the heroes a chance at some serious payback.

Beyond that, let’s just say we’re getting ready to take our fans on many fantastic journeys through space and time. I, at any rate, am very much looking forward to every single one of our upcoming releases.

JB: Later this year or early next year is Covert Ops authored by me. This is an RPG supplement about James Bond like spies versus the supernatural menace… and humanity is losing. I believe it is the first of a three book series.

SL: For Savage Worlds we have Covert Ops in the works – a gritty setting where the characters are Agents fighting Paranormal threats in the modern world – as well as the sequel to Caladon Falls, Caladon Alliance, which will detail the Trader Imperium and deal with the second year of the War of the Wild. On the Suzerain Mojo side – Savage Mojo’s in-house system – Suzerain Adventurer is in the final stages of development, so with any luck we’ll see that on the shelves soon. 🙂

Now that we’ve been around for over a decade, what do the ENnies mean to you both personally and professionally?

CL: I’ve been a little disappointed to note some people in the industry seem to have a ‘sour grapes’ mentality toward the ENnies, and just blow them off. Personally, even before I was directly involved in the RPG industry, I tried to follow the ENnies – I always thought they were a good measure of what is out there and what people are responding to.

Since becoming involved in the industry, the ENnies have taken on an even deeper meaning to me: now they are a potential reflection of my own work. So while I still like to follow them to see who won what, now I also watch in the hopes some of my own projects will ‘make the cut’ and be deemed as popular choices.

JB: They are like the golden globes of the RPG industry. It really is an honor to be nominated but it is better to win.

SL: Professionally, they provide me a benchmark to measure how well we’re appealing to our audience, in terms of both content and marketing. They also show me what types of settings and genres are popular in a given year.

Personally, they allow me to sample the huge number of RPGs available and see what things I may want to invest in, since I have a limited budget. :p

Last question; if someone who had never heard of the ENnie Awards walked up to you today and asked, “So what are these ‘ENnies’ you keep talking about,” how would you answer them?

MK: They’re the people’s awards, like the MTV Awards. The hobby games industry has two main sets of awards – the others are the Origins Awards which are voted for by a group of industry peers rather than by the fans, so they’re more like the Oscars.

CL: Since I’ve had to field that one a few times since Shanghai Vampocalypse got its nomination, that’s an easy one: I tell them the ENnies are sort of like the EMmies, only for the roleplaying industry. Maybe they’re a little closer to the People’s Choice awards, but people usually get the idea.

JB: I get asked this a lot. I usually say something along the lines of, “The ENnies are one of the two most prestigious awards in the RPG industry.”

SL: I’d say that they’re the Roleplaying world’s equivalent to the “EMmies”.

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