• Welcome to this new upgrade of the site. We are now on a totally different software platform. Many things will be different, and bugs are expected. Certain areas (like downloads and reviews) will take longer to import. As always, please use the Meta Forum for site queries or bug reports. Note that we (the mods and admins) are also learning the new software.
  • The RSS feed for the news page has changed. Use this link. The old one displays the forums, not the news.

Interview with Nelyhann (Shadows of Esteren) - Fateforge for 5e and Gaming in France

What happens when the creators behind Shadows of Esteren – an award-winning RPG with 4 ENnie Awards in 2013 and 2016 – get their hands on the Open Gaming License (OGL) and decide to make an RPG for Dungeons & Dragons 5e? I asked Nelyhann, one of the minds behind Studio Agate and Shadows of Esteren, about Fateforge (5e) on Kickstarter and gaming in France where Studio Agate is based.


EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for talking about gaming in France and Fateforge. What is Fateforge?
NELYHANN (NEL): Hello, Egg, and thanks for having me. Fateforge is our newest creation. The main author of this role-playing game series is Iris, who wrote the books Occultism and The Black Moon Handbook for our previous role-playing game, Shadows of Esteren. Fateforge is both an homage and a love letter to fantasy and sword & sorcery, and of course to the world’s most famous RPG, through which most of us were introduced to role-playing games and got interested in writing them. This is also why we decided to use the 5th Edition ruleset for our newest creation. Fateforge’s setting is Eana, a wholly original and colorful world where mortals can rise to godhood. Fateforge could be summed up as one of the oldest role-playing games revisited by the creative team behind Shadows of Esteren.

EGG: You’re giving away the Player’s Guide on DriveThruRPG for free. How’s the reception been? Can you share how many times it’s been downloaded?
NEL: The feedback has been excellent so far! Within a dozen days, the Player’s Guide has been downloaded 1,500 times.

EGG: What is the secret sauce for Fateforge? What makes it rise above other 5e settings?
NEL: I wouldn’t say it’s “above” other games. That would be very pretentious of us! As I previously said, Fateforge is first and foremost an homage to the universes that made us dream when we were teenagers… and which ended up being our job! What sets Fateforge apart is primarily its setting, Eana, which is introduced in the Player’s Guide. Its exoticism, its aesthetics, and the focus on the specific fate of each individual give the game a sword & sorcery bent. The Player’s Guide provides a good idea of this atmosphere, in particular the chapter on the titular Fateforge.
We also added many options, including the modular system. This game mechanic, taken from Shadows of Esteren, lets the game leader fine-tune the atmosphere and style of a game to the group’s tastes. The corruption system, which confronts the PCs to the threat of Canker, is also a specificity of Fateforge, just like the Awakening, which we’ve designed to make magic all the more unique and wondrous. The concept of Awakening is simple: to be able to use magic, knowing about the theory (the nature of spells and the ways to cast them) isn’t enough; one must also be Awakened. A character can be Awakened from their creation, or they can Awaken in the course of the campaign, making for intense and dramatic scenes.

EGG: You’re producing more than one book. Do you see starting with multiple books as more of a risk or an investment in the property?
NEL: We work slowly, and as with Shadows of Esteren, our projects are ambitious ones. Of course, this is a risk. Fateforge represents three years of work, and should the series be a failure, the studio will have to close its doors. But this has also been the case with Shadows of Esteren from the start: Dearg, the official Shadows of Esteren campaign that I’ve been writing, is the result of several years of work. We hope that in the long run, our uncompromising care for quality will pay off and will prove to be a wise investment.

EGG: You’re the driving force behind Shadows of Esteren. For gamers that are not familiar with SoE, can you share the pitch for it?
NEL: Shadows of Esteren is a medieval universe filled with romanticism and deadly beauties. It is a cruel world where horror often lies deep in the hearts of men. Esteren also puts emotions, love, and tragedy at the forefront. I used to describe it as part of the dark fantasy genre, but today, I would define it as being much closer to dark romanticism. Esteren is slow-paced and atmospheric, which makes it loved by those who enjoy in-depth role-playing, but also makes it unsuited to certain players.

EGG: Jumping from that to Dungeons & Dragons 5e is something of a sea change. What does 5e offer for this product?
NEL: It’s a big change indeed! Our work on Esteren has influenced Fateforge, particularly system-wise, but also artistically speaking. The publication of the OGL in 2016 was an opportunity that we immediately jumped at. Initially, out intent was to translate the SRD in French, at a time when no official translation was planned. But very quickly, ideas flowed for Eana and Fateforge was born!


EGG: SoE has outstanding art! It was one of those that, at Gen Con that first year I saw it, I kept coming back to look at the images. How will Fateforge compare artistically?
NEL: Thank you for that! As a matter of fact, most of the awards we’ve earned are art-related. Fateforge is designed by the same artistic team as Shadows of Esteren, and I am in charge of the project’s artistic direction as well. Iris helps me on that front and is a treasure trove of documentation and artistic references. I think the team has outdone themselves, but our audience will tell!

EGG: You attend Gen Con, correct? Do you have any special plans/offers for Gen Con 2019?
NEL: We will showcase Dearg at the next Gen Con. As for Fateforge, depending on the Kickstarter’s results, we may have a few copies for sale. In any case, backers will get to collect their pledge during the convention, just like in 2012, back when we introduced Shadows of Esteren. We will also present another project we have been working on: Vermin 2047. Our studio has supported its author in the creation of a new edition of his game. We are glad for it, as Vermin is among the French role-playing games of legend!

EGG: The ZWEIHÄNDER RPG sales its greatest number of copies in the US then the UK then Poland. Modiphius Entertainment does a tremendous percentage of their business across Europe. What are the top markets for your products?
NEL: The USA is ahead, mostly due to the Kickstarters, while France is in second position owing to retail sales. Then come other European countries. Today, our sales in English represent more than two thirds of our activity. So far, we haven’t really had the opportunity to work on networking with retailers for the English version of our games. This is a complex matter, which has led us to create SANA in the USA: Studio Agate North America, which will work under the Triquetra Entertainment label. The primary purpose of this company will be to make our creations more readily available for retailers in North America, and even through the entire world. We feel that there is a lot to be gained from this: Kickstarter is a wonderful tool to bring a project to life, but in the long run, nothing can replace a traditional network.

EGG: Let’s switch gears. You’re French gamer, correct? Let me ask some questions about gaming in France. How does tabletop RPG compare with boardgames, card games, and LARPs in France?
NEL: Role-playing games are still a niche media in France. Very few role-playing games sell more than 5.000 copies of their core book. This has been the case for Shadows of Esteren, which is all the more uncommon when you consider it’s an original French creation. However, role-playing games have been enjoying renewed popularity for the last few years, boosted by the crowdfunding phenomenon. This is a new period of plenty, with many creators producing games and translating a lot of foreign productions. Some describe it as a new golden age.

EGG: Is D&D a dominant force there? Pathfinder?
NEL: D&D has indeed returned to predominance since the release of the 5th Edition. It’s been very successful. The core book and supplements frequently sell out, an undeniable sign of popularity that tends to be a source of annoyance for players and retailers! Call of Cthulhu is also a very popular game in France and gathers one of the largest community to this day.

EGG: What original French games are most popular?
NEL: Last year, the new edition of Nephilim, a modern-day occult role-playing game, has met tremendous crowdfunding success, gathering more than €200 K. The new edition of Ecryme, a steampunk universe based on the novels of Mathieu Gaborit (the original author of Agone), has also been in the spotlight. I’d also mention SOMBRE by Johan Scipion, a noteworthy independent game of horror with a refined game design.

EGG: There’s a lot of discussion at the moment around the size of gaming conventions. France has one of the world’s largest comic book conventions, Angouleme International Comics Festival with over 200,000 attendees. Do you know what the largest French tabletop gaming convention?
NEL: Size-wise, Canne’s Festival International des Jeux (International Festival of Gaming), which takes place every year in February, is certainly the largest. It is mostly a family event with a strong emphasis on board games (with free admission and attendance by many children and families), but it also includes a role-playing area animated by an institution of the associative world in France: the GRAAL. Last year, the organizers announced that the festival had been visited by more than 100,000 attendees. There is also Ludinord in Lillle with about 10,000 attendees, and Paris est Ludique in the eponymous French capital with more than 15,000 attendees.

EGG: What’s the best thing about gaming in France?
NEL: I can’t really think about anything specific to France… Gaming is universal: through conventions, I got to meet wonderful people from all around the Earth!

EGG: Thanks for talking gaming! For those interested in learning more about you and your projects, where can they find you?
NEL: You can find us on our website and join us on our discord channel. Until next time!

Fateforge: a 5th Edition Roleplaying Game Kickstarter by Studio Agate
This Kickstarters ends on Wed, July 17 2019 8:00 PM EDT.

If you like what we do here at EN World (the Forums, Columns, News, etc) and would like to help support us to bring you MORE please consider supporting our Patreon. Even a single dollar helps! This article was contributed by Egg Embry as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. Please note that Egg is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG.
 
Egg Embry

Comments

Mercador

Explorer
EGG: What’s the best thing about gaming in France?

French people are more the sanguine personnality type so I guess gaming tables are more excited (can't find a better word in English).
 

imagineGod

Explorer
The Fateforge RPG seems tempting despite early remarks I made of a return to the 3rd Edition d20 glut era but this time with the 5th Edition SRD.
 
What I don't quite understand: in English we have the Player's Handbook that includes all the information on races, classes, game rules and spells in one handy book. The new Kickstarter splits that content into two books, while telling us not much about the world of Eana itself. Most of the information is reprint (or rather back translation from French to English) of content already available. For French readers I can understand that without a localisation of the rules that makes a lot of sense. For English-speaking readers it would have made a lot more sense to print an Eana book containing the additional information and telling the readers that it requires the D&D 5e rules.
 

Mercador

Explorer
What I don't quite understand: in English we have the Player's Handbook that includes all the information on races, classes, game rules and spells in one handy book. The new Kickstarter splits that content into two books, while telling us not much about the world of Eana itself. Most of the information is reprint (or rather back translation from French to English) of content already available. For French readers I can understand that without a localisation of the rules that makes a lot of sense. For English-speaking readers it would have made a lot more sense to print an Eana book containing the additional information and telling the readers that it requires the D&D 5e rules.
Not sure it's the case here but in French publication world, it's common to see a popular novel split in 2-3-4 parts, even if the original novel is under 400 pages.
 

Advertisement

Advertisement

Top