AMA with Bruce R Cordell (The Strange, D&D, Monte Cook Games)

Starting Tuesday March 1st, 2016, I will be holding an AMA right here on EN World! So, what would you guys like to talk about? I’ll be answering questions for 3 days, wrapping up at noon PST on Thursday, March 3rd.

Of interest to ENWorlders, I've been professionally designing games for 23 years, and have worked on D&D 2E, 3E, 4E and yes, even 5E. I’ve worked on Planescape, Dark Sun, Forgotten Realms, Gamma World, and tons of other games. I’ve written nine published novels, mostly set in the Forgotten Realms. I wrote the award-winning Return to the Tomb of Horrors and co-designed the ENnie-award winning The Strange with Monte Cook. I worked full time at TSR, Wizards of the Coast, and now at Monte Cook Games. In fact, On Feb 29th, MCG launched the Worlds of the Cypher System Kickstarter, which will feature one (or more?) RPG books written by me.

TL;DR Worked on a lot of games and some novels

(I do other stuff, but probably not of interest for most of you.)

Bring on the questions!

Bruce R Cordell
brucecordell.com
 
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GameDaddy

Visitor
First off, congratulations with your successful move over to Monte Cook Games, with working on The Strange, and additional Cypher System games, and all the fun stuff that goes with making your own RPG, and with throwing a few new surprises out there for players and GM's alike into the RPG world! It's always a pleasure to see innovative, and award winning New RPG Design. I have just three questions to getting this AMA going...

1) I noticed you all are about ready to start your new Worlds of the Cypher System Kickstarter. Are there any provisions with this for players to contribute to an Open Source World that is shared online for all GMs to use?

2) Also noticed you returned from Italy not to long ago from a gaming convention with a new award as well for Monte Cook Games! Is there anything you would like your American audience to know about this? Planning on returning to Europe anytime soon? Also what other languages are Cypher system games being published in these days?

3) So you have successfully flight tested your aerial drone. Have you had any additional fun with it, or conducted recon flights, or just had some fun with some X sports style moviemaking using the drone? Any good stories to tell with this?
 

Desh-Rae-Halra

Explorer
Hi Bruce,

1. How will first Tier characters in Gods of the Fall compare to first tier characters in The Strange (are they more powerful/use Power shifts?)
2. What fascinates you about Psionics?
3. If you had to pick another career, what would it be?
4. Do you have any professional activities outside of MCG?
5. Is it true your license plate is PSIONIC?
6. What other rpg's do you find innovative?
7. Ever study marital arts?
8. What is next for The Strange?
 

Desh-Rae-Halra

Explorer
Oh, and could you put in a good word over there at MCG and get Ari Marmell (our in house Mouseferatu) on deck as a Stretch Goal to write a setting book for the Cypher System for the current Kickstarter, maybe when you hit 100k?
 

dead

Visitor
One of my favourite things about 4E Realms was the world of Abeir. Was Abeir your creation? Was it very fleshed out as a world?

I would love to see an "Abeir campaign setting" but probably very unlikely. (Maybe someone will write one and put up on the Dungeon Masters Guild.)

Also, was the City of Stormport in the AD&D 2E Illithiad trilogy of modules based off anything? Was it a city in your own campaign world? Is there any city - real or fictional - that you think would be a good fit for Stormport?

Cheers
 

Dahak

Explorer
Hi Bruce!

What is your realistic dream stretch goal for the current Kickstarter? Yes, we'd all love a JJ Abrams production of The Strange as a TV show, but barring that. ;)
 

Aldarc

Adventurer
What are your favorite non-D&D/WotC (or MCG) TableTop RPG settings?

You worked on the Psionics Handbook for Wizard's 3rd Edition D&D as well as Mindscapes for Malhavoc Press. Do you plan on bringing a psionic campaign setting and expanded rules for the Cypher System? What might that setting look like?

What appeals to you most about the Cypher System as 1) a player, 2) a GM, and 3) a game designer?
 

DragonBelow

Explorer
Psionics and 5e - Cypher System

Hi Bruce,

1) With the OGL for 5e and the DM's guild available, are you planning in filling the psionic void of 5e?

2) I'm intrigued by the Cypher System, and there is a lot of support for Numenera and The Strange. Are there any short, introductory adventures available for the generic system as well, a learn the rules type of adventure?
 
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Aldarc

Adventurer
Hi Bruce,

2) I'm intrigued by the cypher system, and there is a lot of support for the Numenera and The Strange. Are there any short, introductory adventures available for the generic system as well, a learn the rules type of adventure?
I would like to second this suggestion.
 

Xethreau

Explorer
Hey Bruce!

I love the Numenera setting and the Cypher System. Are there any plans to release any of the system (even the barest bones) under the OGL or a similar licence?
 
First off, congratulations with your successful move over to Monte Cook Games, with working on The Strange, and additional Cypher System games, and all the fun stuff that goes with making your own RPG, and with throwing a few new surprises out there for players and GM's alike into the RPG world! It's always a pleasure to see innovative, and award winning New RPG Design. I have just three questions to getting this AMA going...

1) I noticed you all are about ready to start your new Worlds of the Cypher System Kickstarter. Are there any provisions with this for players to contribute to an Open Source World that is shared online for all GMs to use?

2) Also noticed you returned from Italy not to long ago from a gaming convention with a new award as well for Monte Cook Games! Is there anything you would like your American audience to know about this? Planning on returning to Europe anytime soon? Also what other languages are Cypher system games being published in these days?

3) So you have successfully flight tested your aerial drone. Have you had any additional fun with it, or conducted recon flights, or just had some fun with some X sports style moviemaking using the drone? Any good stories to tell with this?

Thank you! It's been fun.

1) As of yesterday, it's the Worlds of the Cypher System Kickstarter is off to a great start! Currently, we have a pretty generous fan use policy which allows people pretty wide latitude. And of course a limited license and and other options. The future might even provide more interesting possibilities, but nothing announced at this time.

2) I had a great time at LUCCA games a few months ago, you're right! Wyrd Edizioni won BEST RPG in Italy in 2015 for their translation of Numenera, and they were just releasing their translation of The Strange, which I was also on hand for. As far as travel to Europe goes, maybe ;). And wow, there are translations in several languages. Off the top of my head, I know Numenera and The Strange have been translated to Portuguese, Italian, and German. I know there are other efforts, too, like maybe Korean. I'll update with a firm list when I talk to others at MCG who know the list cold.

UPDATE! Languages: Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and Korean. There's also a German version of Numenera in the works, but isn't out yet.Charl


3) Truth to tell, I've gotten a bit freaked out flying my drone in my back yard since I heard a few stories of urban drone accidents. I've got my drone registered, and the next flight (after these Seattle rains let up and and I've time) will be in a wide open park where I plan to remove the altitude limiter--or at least increase it to the max :)
 
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Hey Bruce!

I love the Numenera setting and the Cypher System. Are there any plans to release any of the system (even the barest bones) under the OGL or a similar licence?
Thank you!

The future of course could offer other options, though right now we have a fan use policy that's pretty open that anyone can make use of, a limited license anyone can apply for, and other licensing options (for games like Shotguns & Sorcery, and Vert).
 
If it was up to you, what would be the composition of the adventuring party (race/class, etc...) for the next D&D movie?
Oh, nice question!

Well, you know to be totally self serving, it would be composed of the races and classes featured my last two FR novels Sword of the Gods and Spinner of Lies ;). Race wise, that includes humans and drow. PLUS throw in at least one deva as a surprise twist. As in SURPRISE, you're not actually dead, main character!

Class wise, I'd start out with wizard and thief/rogue. But instead of straight-up fighter, maybe throw in a little assassin action.
 

Janx

Adventurer
Thank you!

The future of course could offer other options, though right now we have a fan use policy that's pretty open that anyone can make use of, a limited license anyone can apply for, and other licensing options (for games like Shotguns & Sorcery, and Vert).
I've had 2 neighbors now who've lost their brand new drone on the first outing due to wind blowing. keep a very tight leash on your drone, getting higher may not be a good thing...
 

Janx

Adventurer
Here's a question:

What kind of game/RPG idea would you come up with that uses drones as part of the game play?

The sky or max altitude is the limit on this question :)
 
Hi Bruce,

1. How will first Tier characters in Gods of the Fall compare to first tier characters in The Strange (are they more powerful/use Power shifts?)
2. What fascinates you about Psionics?
3. If you had to pick another career, what would it be?
4. Do you have any professional activities outside of MCG?
5. Is it true your license plate is PSIONIC?
6. What other rpg's do you find innovative?
7. Ever study marital arts?
8. What is next for The Strange?
1) At first tier, GOTF characters will be pretty much the same as first tier 1 characters for The Strange or Numenera. However at 2nd tier, assuming at GOTF character has met a certain divine obligation and awakens his or her divine spark, the GOTF character begins to outpace a normal Cypher System character that isn't using something akin to power shifts

2) Maybe it was reading books like Many Colored Land (and the ones that followed) by Julian May, the Darkover novels by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and a book called Radix by A A Attanasio when I was young and impressionable ;).

3) Planetary science, computer science, or bio-science (I did that last one for awhile until I got lured away by RPGs)

4) I write short stories and novels on the side. Some of those happen to be published by MCG of late, but they're not part of my 'day job' :). For awhile I was an associate instructor for kickboxing and jujutsu, but that was taking up a little too much of my time, so I had to suspend that path.

5) PSIONIC, yep.

6) Most RPGs I pick up have something I find new or noteworthy, whether it's cool story element or a fun mechanic that's not too intrusive. (Cop out much, Bruce? Yes, yes I do ;) )

7) See 4 above

8) The Worlds of the Cypher System Kickstarter we're currently running presents new content The Strange, and maybe much more if enough stretch goals are reached!
 
Oh, and could you put in a good word over there at MCG and get Ari Marmell (our in house Mouseferatu) on deck as a Stretch Goal to write a setting book for the Cypher System for the current Kickstarter, maybe when you hit 100k?
Consider that good word received. I worked with Ari quite a bit when I was at Wizards. He was one of the two out of house go-to-guys I preferred to work with for core D&D products (the other being Schwalb, of course!). That said, we do all most all our RPG design in house. Our creative team includes me, Monte Cook, Shanna Germain, and now Dennis Detwiller of Delta Green fame.
 
One of my favourite things about 4E Realms was the world of Abeir. Was Abeir your creation? Was it very fleshed out as a world?

I would love to see an "Abeir campaign setting" but probably very unlikely. (Maybe someone will write one and put up on the Dungeon Masters Guild.)

Also, was the City of Stormport in the AD&D 2E Illithiad trilogy of modules based off anything? Was it a city in your own campaign world? Is there any city - real or fictional - that you think would be a good fit for Stormport?

Cheers
Why thank you, yes; Abeir was my conception as a separated world, a world that came partly back into play during the Spellplague. But Ed Greenwood was the one who fleshed it out as a seperarate continent in the 4E Realms Campaign Guide. Though I created Tymanther and Akanûl on the main continent of the Realms (Erin Evins has done a lot to flesh out Tymanther in her recent series of novels.)

I think only a single story was set directly in the continent of Abeir--a short story I wrote called Wandering Stones, which appears in the Realms of the Dead anthology. (I could be wrong--maybe others wrote stories I'm unaware of.)

Regarding Stormport that appeared in my 2E illithid trilogy: totally fictional. I think. It HAS been a few years since I wrote those modules :). Well, yes, it did show up in my TSR campaign, but only so far as the fact that I'd written it for the modules.
 
Hi Bruce!

What is your realistic dream stretch goal for the current Kickstarter? Yes, we'd all love a JJ Abrams production of The Strange as a TV show, but barring that. ;)
Damn, if you hadn't qualified that with 'realistic' I'd have said my DREAM stretch goal would be to be able to ACTUALLY be granted an opportunity to awaken a dominion and become God of Secrets :). But realistically, I think I'll be satisfied with the very next stretch goal that (I think) we are about to put up after the 70K stretch goal . . .
 

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