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Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG: An Interview with Ilaria Gaia Russo

Coming from Italy, Here Be Dragons Games is converting Dungeons & Dragons 3e material by Monte Cook for use with Monte Cook’s Cypher System in the Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG Kickstarter. Christopher Robin Negelein, who I’ve spoken with at the Tessera Guild and reviewed here on EN World, connected me with Ilaria Gaia Russo of Here Be Dragons Games to discuss how this project came about and...

Coming from Italy, Here Be Dragons Games is converting Dungeons & Dragons 3e material by Monte Cook for use with Monte Cook’s Cypher System in the Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG Kickstarter. Christopher Robin Negelein, who I’ve spoken with at the Tessera Guild and reviewed here on EN World, connected me with Ilaria Gaia Russo of Here Be Dragons Games to discuss how this project came about and what the Kickstarter offers.
Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG.jpg
EGG EMBRY (EGG): Ilaria, thank you for taking the time to talk with me about this project. What is Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG? How did this project come about?
: It is my pleasure. Diamond Throne is our first international project in which we can put all our passion for GDRs*, but also all our experience accumulated over the years in this sector and on the Cypher System – as well on many other titles and systems. The idea for this project was born several years ago when our team met Monte Cook. The proposal to develop a version of Arcana Evolved for the Cypher System immediately appealed to him. From there, over the years we have developed it to become a real game line that will complement the wonderful products published by Monte Cook Games. Diamond Throne will be a complete fantasy game. The Diamond Throne setting isn’t just a unique, lavishly detailed fantasy world ruled by seafaring giants and populated with fascinating beings, like the leonine litorians and dragonkin dracha. It is also a world that grows, changes—evolves as your characters do through ritual and ceremony, runes, and the magic of crystals.

*GDR = Gioco Di Ruolo, Italian for 'roleplaying game'. Thanks to Davies for the catch.

EGG: This project reimagines the OGL D&D 3e books, Arcana Unearthed and Arcana Evolved, both by Monte Cook, using Monte Cook’s Cypher System. On the campaign page, you state, “this new beginning could not come about without [Monte Cook’s] support!” Is Monte Cook writing any new content for the books? What is the world like?
: Monte Cook and the whole MCG team is participating and supporting the project. Monte will be the eye that will watch over us all the time. That is particularly important because we are going to work on one of his original creation, developing it with new contents and ideas both for the setting and the rule systems. Even if it may seem a bit intimidating, Monte’s Eye for us (unlike Sauron’s Eye) is benevolent and is an incentive to give our best. Monte wants to write an introduction to this new edition, which for us is a guarantee of its approval. Then, who knows, the future always holds surprises…

EGG: I’m glad Monte is so involved. Why go with the Cypher System over Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition?
: One reality does not exclude the other, and the two systems are both extremely popular. But our first choice is the Cypher System, precisely because it is an original system created by Monte Cook Games and it seemed natural to us to propose this awesome setting with that. Furthermore, at the time the idea of resuming Arcana Evolved was born, the 5th edition had not yet come out! We believe that the Cypher is the right evolution for this setting - at least for now. This does not exclude that maybe in the future Diamond Throne could be adapted to 5th Edition. We would be delighted because we love this setting, and like us, we believe thousands of players love it too...

EGG: Let’s discuss the books. What will fans discover in Diamond Throne “Unearthed” Corebook 1?
: This volume introduces the people, cultures, and places of the land of the Diamond Throne, along with their history and special features that affect the background of Diamond Throne PCs. It covers the world’s cosmology, gods and religions, and the theoretically other planes of existence. It also includes material for adventure and campaign building, a plethora of unique creatures and monsters, adversaries and allies, and threats and dangers!

Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG 04.png

EGG: In the second book, Diamond Throne “Evolved” Corebook 2, what content should fans expect? What Cypher System extras will they find?
: This volume focuses on character creation, giving you all the types, descriptors, foci, background aspects, skills, and equipment you need. And it contains the complete Cypher System game rules, along with cyphers and artifacts. We will develop new systems of magic and ceremonies. Both will have their own rules and game effects. Spells for example will work in a different way as before, more like cyphers than special abilities. Ceremonies can be used to give characters a new advancement or other benefits. They can be temporary or permanent to change you character forever. You do not need to own the Cypher System Rulebook to play Diamond Throne. For both books, many extras have been unlocked during this campaign. For example. we have unlocked a section about animal companions, mounts and familiars which we would like to expand, and special locations to use as adventure starting points. In our team, we are designers and writers, but above all we have been playing for many years and have a number of good ideas from those experiences, with non-trivial features and interesting backgrounds, which is always very useful. We have other material to add, like more equipment, traditions, and magic school or dominion for all characters who want a faith or a philosophy.

EGG: You’re offering add-ons and have a stretch goal to add a GM Screen. What extras are you offering?
: We have a list of stretch goals we would like to reveal and unlock, if the backers trust us. We have unlocked our first campaign (three adventures books with a great description of the capital city of De-Shamod, and new monsters), useful accessories as the XP card deck, customized dice, a GM Screen, and a world map. Not so far away there is the character notebook, a new series of adventures that will explore other places in the setting, and perhaps advanced game options for players and GMs. And we want to enrich the books in order to make them even more beautiful both in both images and content.

EGG: My friend, Christopher Robin Negelein, talked to me about your Kickstarter and his role in it. What is Christopher slated to create for Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG?
: Christopher was an incredible addition to Diamond Throne. He immediately showed interest and participation in the project, so adding him to the team came naturally. Christopher will be engaged in the third part of the trilogy writing a complete adventure that will reveal one of the secrets of the city of De-Shamod and conclude the first trilogy. We are confident that he will amaze with the quality of his writing and the creativity that distinguish his editorial productions. But we know how to showcase his talent and we are sure that his contribution will be extended to other works.

EGG: You’re an international label out of Italy, what else have you published? What do you have coming after Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG?
: We have worked on a lot of projects, starting with Malhavoc Press and all Monte Cook Games product lines (Numenera, The Strange, Cypher System), and with Green Ronin, Free League, Schwalb Entertainment, and other international partners.

EGG: I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this project. For fans interested in covering the game and Kickstarter, where can they follow you at?
: You can go to our Facebook pages Here Be Dragons Games and Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG, our website, and follow also on Twitter and Instagram.

Monte Cook’s Diamond Throne RPG from Here Be Dragons Games
End Date: Thu, October 8 2020 5:30 PM EDT.

“We’re bringing back Monte Cook’s acclaimed Diamond Throne setting as its own RPG powered by the Cypher System.”

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Egg Embry

Egg Embry

Dire Bare

So true. And that is even talking about the most popular of the Cypher Systems being Numenera.

As for all the other Cypher Systems, nobody even knows they exist anymore after their Kickstarters end (though those usually fund pretty well).
D&D has always been the "big dog" in the RPG scene, Cypher is well received but doesn't hold a candle to D&D, no RPG does (not in terms of quality, just player base and sales).

But a lack of online interest doesn't mean that nobody is playing the Cypher System. MCG keeps pumping out books because there is an audience for the game, even if it is smaller than the audience for D&D. You don't need D&D-level sales numbers or player base to have a successful RPG these days.

This Kickstarter has already funded and is doing very well. MCG's own Cypher System Kickstarters regularly pull down millions in pledges. The team behind this didn't make a mistake going with the Cypher System, it's just the choice they went with.

Still, I'm hoping for an eventual conversion to D&D 5E . . . .

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Not saying every game must be D&D based, but just looking at the numbers here, and Diamond Throne for Cypher is not pulling the big crowds because Monte Cook himself is not the one running the show (the hundreds of thousands of US Dollars get pledged when Monte is present in person).

On the other hand, here is Stargate for 5th Edition D&D already topping 60,000 plus US Dollars (in one day).


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