log in or register to remove this ad

 

Interview with JM about the Elemental RPG and Its Continual Free Support

Elemental is an easy to learn and use universal RPG by Gildor Games. JM is one of the driving forces behind the game. He was willing to answer some of my questions about the game, about traditional (versus kickstarter) indie publishing, and Gildor Games free PDF adventure support for the core rules.

EM1.png

JM has positive advice to other creators out there. His enthusiasm is also powerful. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. As a follow up to this interview, JM was kind enough to send me Elemental to review in a future article.

Charles Dunwoody (CD): Elemental is a universal TTRPG with easy to learn and easy to use at the table rules. What inspired you to help create Elemental and why a universal easy to learn and easy to run system?
JM:
Hi, Charles! Elemental started modestly as something we created for our home games. After a while, we started running it at conventions. It got playtested a lot and people liked it, so now we’re bringing it to the masses. It’s easy to learn and play because it covers everything with a small set of simple, intuitive mechanics. While not based on an existing system, it uses tried and true concepts familiar to every RPGer: attributes, skills, XP etc. In Elemental, the rules always work in the most straightforward and consistent way possible. Also, it’s easy to bring to the table: For GMs who like to write their own adventures, the core book covers the basics of fantasy, horror, sci-fi and superheroes with a lot of pre-statted content. We also released several weird and evocative creatures by the amazing Patrick Stuart, that can form the basis of entire campaigns or adventures. For GMs who want more support, Elemental has a growing and varied collection of adventures by talented designers like Greg Stolze, Michael Prescott and Will Doyle. All of them are well-crafted, low-prep and easy to use at the table.

CD: Elemental offers free adventures, dungeons, and monsters. What are some of your favorites and why offer these valuable extras for free?
JM:
Yes, there’s a growing library of free and pay-what-you-want content on the DriveThruRPG page. This is a core part of our strategy and offering, for several reasons:

First, it means that when people invest in the core book, they are effectively getting not just the book but the entire line, including all the future releases. So that initial investment delivers a lot of value immediately, and that value grows over time. As long as people keep buying the game, we’ll keep supporting it with quality free content.

Second, we believe that the adventures are the best possible advertising. By offering them for free, we make the adventures accessible to people who don’t currently play the game and offer great demonstrations of what Elemental can do.

Third, since the core book is “flavor-neutral” by design, the adventures and monsters bring flavor and excitement to the game. We want Elemental to help you create those special gaming moments you’ll talk about for years. Those moments don’t exist in a set of rules, they exist in the amazing characters and stories you’ll create together. The adventures give people a springboard to experience these amazing characters and moments.

What are some of my favorites? Geez…that’s like asking me to choose my favorite child, I like them all! But OK, I’ll give you a couple of examples: We have a dozen full-length scenarios available now. One of them is Continuity, an Elemental adaptation of the Eclipse Phase classic described as “an unholy alliance of Altered Carbon, Alien and The Thing.” We also have small dungeons and other adventure locations, including Temple of the Moon Priests, winner of the One Page Dungeon Contest and one of the most stunning and playable examples of the form. Among the weird and evocative monsters I mentioned there is the Predator Saint, an evil spirit that gradually turns a village into a cult dedicated to it by haunting people in dreams.

CD: Do you have any details to share on any upcoming releases either for PDF or print?
JM:
Yeah, there’s something I’m really excited about at the moment called The Watchers. It’s an old-school dungeon crawl that uses new-school technology to create an immersive experience for the players. Patrick Boulton created stunning YouTube videos of various dungeon environments using Unreal Engine. I can’t wait to share it with everyone! Beyond that, we’re looking to expand our scenarios into new genres (zombies, superheroes, post-apocalypse…). I don’t think we’ll ever run out of new stories to tell! Ultimately, we want Elemental to become a platform that supports the voices of many different designers and the unique visions they bring.

CD: Elemental has not been crowdfunded through Kickstarter or similar options. Why did you go a more traditional publishing route and is it working as planned?
JM:
We launched Elemental with no Kickstarter, no followers, no track record, no setting and no marketing budget. And guess what? As of today, the core book is a Gold seller on DriveThruRPG and the game continues to bring in new fans every month. We originally planned to run a Kickstarter, because it seemed like everyone was doing that. Literally days before the KS launch, we changed our minds and decided we could make a great game without asking people to advance the money. I’m proud of the fact that we’ve built a following based on real products, not promises, and we have more fun knowing that we don’t owe anything to anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I think crowdfunding has been a great thing for the industry. However, we and a few others are living proof that it’s not the only way to succeed at indie publishing. The advice I’d give people who want to follow our approach is: Have a great product (duh!), be a positive voice in the community, be ready to play the long game and show your customers that you’re dedicated to supporting your game over the long run. In the end, I hope we can be an example to other self-publishers out there. The more people create and share, the more we all benefit.

EM2.png

CD: How long have you been playing TTRPGs and what TTRPGs have you enjoyed most or have inspired you?
JM:
I’ve been a D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) nerd since it was called AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons). I think the game lost its way for a bit, but I like the “back to basics” approach it took with 5e and still enjoy playing it a lot. I’m always cheering for D&D to be successful, because it drives the whole industry. When I was introduced to Call of Cthulhu many years ago, it was a revelation. I was already a fan of the subject matter, but the elegance of the BRP (Basic Roleplaying) system and “fiction-first” style of gameplay really spoke to us at the time and certainly influenced the direction we took with Elemental. Many other games have inspired Elemental. Some of the concepts it uses, like exploding dice and success-at-a-cost, are clearly derived from modern games and bring more excitement to the proceedings than a simple pass/fail system. So yeah, Elemental shamelessly borrows tried and true concepts from the last 40+ years of game design. Our focus wasn’t to create the most original system, but to leverage what people already know and deliver a great experience at the table.

CD: What is the history behind your company, Gildor Games, and what part do you play in it?
JM:
Gildor Games started as a group of friends and gamers from the vicinity of Toronto, Canada. We played a weekly D&D game set in a world called…wait for it…Gildor. We also enjoyed other games and exploring different genres, settings and characters. We didn’t particularly enjoy learning a lot of rules or looking up rules during play. That was the first impetus to create Elemental. The second impetus was that eventually we all moved off to different cities and countries and started gaming over Skype. This was before VTTs, so we needed a game that played well in “theater of the mind” mode but also allowed us to use our maps and minis when we got back together once a year. We are a small team composed of people with different backgrounds in education, journalism, business and technical consulting, among other things. The quality of the writing and presentation owes much to the real-life skills each one of us brings to the table. That’s why many of our products are simply credited to “Gildor Games”, to reflect the friendship and collaborative spirit that exists in our group. I’m the public face of the company and I have a hand in everything we produce to ensure the consistency of quality and presentation, but the game would not exist without the contributions of many.

CD: Many readers of EN World are D&D and Pathfinder players. What would you say if they asked why they should try Elemental?
JM:
I know of D&D and Pathfinder groups who use Elemental as an “in-between” game when they want or need to take a break from the regular campaign. Just grab one of the adventures, hand out the pregens and you’ve got an excellent game you can play this evening if the regular DM isn’t available, or you’re just looking for a change of scenery. I also know of groups who are running long campaigns with Elemental. We designed the game to support epic stories, not just one-shots. To that end, the game includes a lot of options for players to customize and advance their characters. So I’d say that Elemental offers the best of both worlds: the quick-play potential of a light system and the long-term play potential of crunchier games like D&D, Pathfinder and Savage Worlds.

CD: Any final comments you’d like to share with the readers of EN World?
JM:
I mentioned earlier that Elemental would not exist without the contributions of many, and that includes the outstanding designers and artists who’ve given us their blessing to adapt their work. I’d like to take a moment to thank Stacey Allan, David Bezio, Kevin Crawford, Will Doyle, Posthuman Studios, Michael Prescott, Luke Pullen, Greg Stolze, Patrick Stuart and Chris Tregenza for their contributions. I am frankly overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we’ve received from this community. Finally, to the readers of EN World: Thanks for reading! For the next couple of days, you can grab the PDF of the core book for just $9.99 by following this discount link: discounted Elemental PDF
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody






J.M

Explorer
Happy to address that, as well as any other questions.
In a nutshell: Elemental uses opposed Attribute + Skill + 1d6 rolls that explode on a natural 6 (i.e. if you roll a "6", you get a second roll to add to the total).
  • If you roll higher than the opposing roll, you succeed.
  • If you roll lower than the opposing roll, you fail.
  • If the rolls are tied, the outcome is mixed or you succeed at a cost.
  • If both sides rolled a natural 6, it's a critical success for the winning side.
 
Last edited:

Ok, so another sales pitch that contains no information about the actual die mechanic the game uses...

This post is passive aggressive and offers no useful critiques or insightful questions.

The internet is not a free pass to post rude comments. Instead of making a snide post simply ask for more details. Or post a critique pointing out specific parts of the interview that were unclear, lacking in details, or that you want to know more about. Have a conversation with me. I welcome feedback that improves my writing and I like the back and forth exchange of ideas and information.

If a post is polite of course.
 
Last edited:

Happy to address that, as well as any other questions.
In a nutshell: Elemental uses opposed Attribute + Skill + 1d6 rolls that explode on a natural 6 (i.e. if you roll a "6", you get a second roll to add to the total).
  • If you roll higher than the opposing roll, you succeed.
  • If you roll lower than the opposing roll, you fail.
  • If the rolls are tied, the outcome is mixed or you succeed at a cost.
  • If both sides rolled a natural 6, it's a critical success for the winning side.

Thanks JM.

A review is on the way as well.
 

Related Articles

Visit Our Sponsor

Latest threads

Level Up!

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top