Carbon 2185 | Legacy Rising 5e: An Interview with Robert Marriner-Dodds (Dragon Turtle Games)

With the Carbon 2185 | Legacy Rising 5e live on Kickstarter, I wanted to talk to Carbon 2185 creator Robert Marriner-Dodds about this project. In this discussion we dig into his decision to let another studio create official Carbon 2185 content, how the OGL crisis impacted his cyberpunk 5e RPG, and some of the recent news with Dragon Turtle Games.

Carbon 2185  Legacy Rising 5e.jpg

EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for talking with me. You have a new project on Kickstarter. What can you share about the pitch for Carbon 2185 | Legacy Rising 5e?
: Legacy Rising is a series of four new missions for Carbon 2185. Each mission will be released as two separate versions for different characters levels so there is a much higher chance of finding something appropriate for your players. Just an aside, I'm not actually working on this campaign or project! It's produced and crowdfunded by Dead Channel Studios, who I've licensed to create official Carbon 2185 content. This being the first of hopefully many products produced under that license by the great team at DCS! I'm simply here today in the role of a brand ambassador for Carbon 2185.

EGG: For those that don’t know about the core game, what is the premise and engine for Carbon 2185?
: Carbon 2185 is a streamlined, action heavy and easy to run cyberpunk TTRPG first released in 2019. It is built on the d20 D&D 5e ruleset with all the magic and fantasy elements stripped away and replaced with cybernetic augmentations and deadly firearms.

EGG: There are four missions in Legacy Rising. What can you share about the hooks for each? Are there any new mechanics included with the book?
: The campaign sees the player characters take on jobs for the mysterious Fragmented Legacy. A group run by sentient A.I. holograms with unknown goals. The four missions in the campaign are The Unhackable; a high octane adventure where the players must retrieve a very valuable dossier from some very bad people. Fire Fist, in which the players are tasked with infiltrating an underground fight club to find a missing fighter. Dealers of the Sun, where a simple supply mission goes wrong in a very explosive way, and finally Transcendent Nouveau will feature the players acting as bodyguards for a radical pro Augmentation theorist while he is hunted by humanity centric extremists. There aren't any new mechanics in these missions, but the structure of having two different versions of the same mission for different levels is something we haven't really done before in any major way.


EGG: For these next questions, let me setup the Carbon 2185 projects to-date. The first Carbon 2185 campaign reached 3,194 backers that pledged £143,738 during February 2019 on Kickstarter. It created a book that’s a Platinum Bestseller at DriveThruRPG. There’s the Interlinked | A Carbon 2185 Mission Book, which is a Electrum Bestseller at DriveThruRPG. The next campaign was for Carbon 2185 | Terminal Overdrive, which reached 3,116 backers that pledged £182,198 during November 2020 on Kickstarter to produce a Silver Bestseller at DriveThruRPG. You’ve had some nice success. What inspired you to create a 5e cyberpunk RPG?
: I always wanted to play a cyberpunk RPG that was streamlined to run and didn't get bogged down in mechanics, but also felt in depth and gritty. I searched for years, asking on forums and Facebook groups but always got the reply "Play A/B but change X, Y, and Z.". I realized that if I wanted a cyberpunk RPG anyone can pick up and play without modifying it, then so did other people.

EGG: One more piece of setup, Legacy Rising is PDF only, correct? Why not print as well as PDF versions?
: That's right! Legacy Rising is a digital only campaign. Dead Channel Studios have plenty of experience delivering physical rewards are evident by their eight previous campaigns. However, they wanted to guarantee that Legacy Rising wouldn't face any unexpected delays hitting printing and shipping. Something they have seen previous Carbon 2185 stumble at.

EGG: Piggybacking on your answer, you ran the Terminal Overdrive campaign during the pandemic. You’ve delivered the PDFs for the Carbon 2185 | Terminal Overdrive Kickstarter, correct? Despite being over the deadline, the print books are coming. What can you share about the roadblocks that have delayed their arrival?
: I am very sorry for the delays that backers have had to experience in this campaign, and I appreciate their continued kindness and support. The first mistake we made when we launched the campaign was thinking that the pandemic was over. We did not realize that it had only just begun. Like many other indie publishers, Dragon Turtle Games at the time was tiny. Only a handful of people were working on the project, and when members of the team got sick with Covid-19, it caused big delays each time. There was a period of time where two thirds of our team on the project were off work. I myself became unwell with a recurring issue that left me unable to work for many months at a time. When the team leader is out of action for months, that's a huge blow. One of our writers got seriously sick with Covid-19 and Long Covid. Other people got sick as well, but I'm not going to go into their exact issues over the campaign as they haven't shared them publicly. The simple truth is that we got really unlucky in terms of the health of the team. These issues caused long delays during production as you obviously can't stop paying people just because someone on the team is sick and or otherwise holding up production. We still managed to get the digital versions done and out to backers. Ultimately the delays and staff costs led to us exhausting all of the funds raised by the campaign. Luckily, we had other sources of revenue and enough money in the bank from other projects to plug the gap. Or so we thought. When it came time to print and ship, the budget that we had originally allocated to that wasn't enough to cut it anymore. Brexit, the shipping crisis, and a myriad of other world events caused the estimated cost to print and ship the books to more than double since the time we collected pledges. At the moment we are exploring many different avenues to now pay for these even higher printing and shipping costs. We are fully committed to getting these books out to people at no additional cost.

EGG: Dragonmeet 2021. What can you share about the unfortunate incident that happened there?
: I want to start by thanking Dragonmeet for their response to this. They handled the situation perfectly and I couldn't ask for a more professional response. To answer your question, an independent trader carrying some Carbon 2185 stock was verbally abused by some very aggressive people who identified themselves as Kickstarter backers. This is totally unacceptable behavior, and something we take a very hard stance on. We at Dragon Turtle Games have a zero tolerance policy for any kind of verbal harassment or abuse. We spoke with Dragonmeet about this as soon as we were made aware and they were fantastic, offering support and guidance and a very satisfying resolution.

Legacy Rising Cover.png

EGG: Turning away from those incidents, lets talk about your partner for this campaign. For Legacy Rising 5e, you’re partnering with Dead Channel Studios, a subject you shared some details on recently. What brought you together? Why is Dead Channel the right partner for this?
: Dead Channel Studios was founded in 2020 by Lewis Scott Fraser, an alum of Dragon Turtle Games and someone who I considered a protégé. Lewis has now become a very accomplished designer in his own right over the past few years. Lewis has worked on more Carbon 2185 content than perhaps anyone else in the world and knows the game and world inside and out. Not only this, but he has proven his track record on Kickstarter with his own previous eight campaigns under his belt. There is nobody else on this planet in a better position to make third party Carbon content than Lewis and the team at Dead Channel Studios.

EGG: Switching gears, let’s talk about the OGL crisis. Carbon 2185 uses a modified version of the Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition engine. What was your reaction to the entire OGL controversy and end result? Will it have any impacts on Carbon 2185?
: As a publisher and game designer who primarily works on OGL content, I would be lying if I said I hadn't lost sleep over it. I'm very happy with the end result, but the journey to get here isn't one that I want to experience again any time soon.

EGG: Beyond this campaign, what else is coming up for Carbon 2185?
: In the near future you should expect more missions, some really cool merch designs, STL files for 3d printed miniatures, more rulebooks, and a short story or two.

EGG: Where can fans learn more about Dragon Turtle Games and Dead Channel Studios?
: Head over to [Dead Channel Studios website] and [Dragon Turtle Games website] to get to know more about the teams!

Carbon 2185 | Legacy Rising 5e from Dead Channel Studios and Dragon Turtle Games
  • End Date: Sun, February 26 2023 1:59 PM EST.
  • “Become cyberpunks and help the Fragmented Legacy as they work in the shadows to keep the balance of power in a dystopian San Francisco”
Egg Embry participates in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, Noble Knight Games’ Affiliate Program, and is an Amazon Associate. These programs provide advertising fees by linking to DriveThruRPG, Noble Knight Games, and Amazon.

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