(The audio of this interview is available at the bottom of this post!)
When I went to ConCarolinas this year I got a chance to sit down and talk to Joel Kinstle, VP of Pinnacle Entertainment Group, the makers of Deadlands and Savage Worlds. The interview was for one of the shows I do on War Pig Radio and we talked mostly about the Savage Worlds Showdown rules – and tapioca! Here’s the interview in full.
JK: Well hello, folks!
JR: Greetings, sir! And the specific thing that I wanted to talk about today is the Showdown rules, skirmish rules for Savage Worlds, because I don’t think that gets very much attention.
JK: Well that’s kind of sad. They’re actually very nice rules and, special bonus: they’re free!
JR: Yeah, that’s always the really awesome thing. You guys are giving things away left and right. It’s like, every time I go to the web site, they’re giving away more stuff and I’m like, “I hope they can stay in business!” (laughs)
JK: That’s because we love our fans so much and are such foolish business people that we’re desperate for milk for our children. All donations are welcome!
JR: (laughs) Awesome. Just for those who may not be familiar, how do the skirmish rules differ from the regular RPG rules in general?
JK: The skirmish rules differ from the regular RPG rules in general in that they focus pretty much on the mechanical aspects and tabletop use. All the Hindrances and most of the social Edges that you might run across tend to be washed out or transmuted into something that would apply on the tabletop. Some of the Edges that tend toward being social or like a quirk that may be in how you play a character get defined mechanically in a way that you can repeat on a tabletop setting. That doesn’t really make for a good role playing experience, but the role playing experience does not translate at all directly to a pure minis game.
JR: How many different Showdown settings do you have out right now?
JK: The Showdown rules, themselves, the 2.0 version, are somewhat recent. Probably out for about five months or so…?
JK: But, my brain’s something like tapioca, so you’re gonna have to take that with a… well, grain of tapioca.
JR: I know the feeling.
JK: (chuckles) But, what we have out right now for them is… we have a couple of scenarios that are not really so much setting-specific on the web. We have Raid on Fort 51, which is a Deadlands-specific scenario. It’s really more of a mini-campaign. It’s a series of engagements that things change for one engagement based on what happened in the prior engagement, and the force makes changes a little bit as the story unfolds and that’s a product for sale on the web site. We’ve got a Weird War II scenario that will be coming out on the web site hopefully soon. I’m not sure what will be the next piece out but it can be easily suited to any of the settings. If you could’ve played it in Savage Worlds, you can play it with Savage Showdown.
JR: That’s cool. Now, I remember Rippers started as a Showdown setting, didn’t it?
JK: Well, for the history of Showdown – for those folks who remember The Great Rail Wars, which was the minis version of Deadlands – Deadlands Classic – that was the game that’s kind of turned into the Savage Worlds game itself.
JK: And so, distilling it back down to minis only wasn’t so tough since a lot of that had really already been done. But with prior rules and trying to get everything balanced out there was still some work to do to it. So, the minis game that came of Deadlands Classic turned into Savage Worlds, which produced, of course, Deadlands: Reloaded. (chuckles) So really, it’s all very much related. There’s a lot of similarities amongst it all. Rippers: The Horror Wars was sort of a Great Rail Wars or Showdown-ification of the Rippers setting. There’s nothing out there right now for Showdown 2.0 that is in the Rippers setting, but that’s a setting that’s rife with stuff that can be turned into Showdown.
JR: Well, it seems to me that virtually any setting, because of how simple Savage Worlds is… and by simple I mean easy to play with!
JK: I know what you mean!
JR: (chuckles) It seems to me that any setting – any of your settings could easily be converted over to a Showdown setting.
JK: Oh, they really could. But what you don’t tend to have is a lot of the social, discussion, investigation. Because at that point you’ve turned it into a me-versus-you or us-versus-them fight game. Which I’m not about to say is a bad idea! There’s a lot to be said for sitting down and going, “You know, that boy needs to die.” And putting him down. There’s a LOT to be said.
JR: Well yeah, sometimes you’ve just gotta go bust some heads. But, er… I know that there was probably another question in there… floating around in my melon and I… have to now fish for it…
JK: You may borrow some of my tapioca. (chuckles)
JR: Ah, thank you! I appreciate it! Mmm… delicious Brain Tapioca… (chuckles)
JK: For the younger folks out there, tapioca used to be a form of pudding that only old people like me and my father ate.
JR: (laughs) I remember tapioca! We used to have that served to us in my grade school cafeteria, and that’s probably… I’m going to try to blame the fact that I can’t remember my next question on the fact that I was served tapioca as a child somehow…
JK: I will admit that I’m wandering very far afield here, but when I was in elementary school our lunch ladies tended to like to make homemade chocolate pudding, which was great! The pudding was excellent. But they really did make homemade-cooked pudding, so they would always end up with this not quite inch-thick layer of skin on the top that they would pull off, cut into squares and give to children who wanted it. And there were FIGHTS for that stuff, man.
JK: There is no accounting for the taste of children. But since I never had it, in full fairness I can’t claim it was horrible.
JR: (groans) I can’t imagine – just the… They get into fights over pudding skin in a school cafeteria… I think…
JK: I grew up in a rural area. (chuckles)
JR: Well, you know that actually… You’re talk about kids getting into fights in a school cafeteria over pudding skins. That… You may be coming up right now with a possible new Showdown setting.
JK: That could EASILY be a Showdown scenario! Special bonus points if you dunk the nerdy kid straight head-first into the pot.
JR: That would be great! (laughs) Well, let’s see… Is there anything that you can tell us that we might look for in the future at some point with respect to the Showdown rules?
JK: The Showdown rules are broad and kind of all-inclusive and occasionally when you try and use the building tools to simulate a specific setting very closely, you can run into a few points mismatches. You can produce something that just seems like, “X seems more powerful than Y, but really, shouldn’t Y cost less, I mean something’s wrong here…” They’re kind of rare, but when you’re trying to pin something down PRECISELY, if you’ve got that persnickety feel that you know exactly how that setting ought to go, it can go a little bit around it. And one of the things we’re considering doing is making setting-specific packages for Showdown. Like, perhaps – and this is pure speculation – perhaps repackaging an actual Great Rail Wars-specific set of Showdown bits.
JR: That would be cool!
JK: Or something like that for some of the other settings. I would say the ones most prone to having so much combat that you’d want to do that for would be Great Rail Wars and the Weird Wars lines. What I CAN promise, though, for sure, are more actual Showdown scenarios that’ll be up on the web site and maybe some more freebies for it as well.
JR: Awesome. Well, believe it or not – perhaps it was the ingestion of tapioca, I don’t know – but my brain has returned to me the question I wanted to ask.
JK: Oh, so we’re getting to the ambush part of the interview, is that it?
JR: Potentially, potentially.
JK: You can’t prove I was there, I tell you!
JR: Ah ha! I’d like you to look at these photos and tell me your immediate reaction…
JK: Never seen that girl before in my life.
JR: Wait… those are the wrong photos… never mind. (chuckles) ANYWAY. Well, one of the questions I wanted to ask is have you had a chance to play the skirmish rules at all at any point?
JK: A little bit. I’ve honestly not played a whole lot of them myself because when I have gamer buddies handy, they tend to be handy in big “we wanna role play” clumps. I don’t tend to have the occasional gamer buddy show up and just want to blow stuff up.
JK: If they’re mad, they just want to blow stuff up, they don’t come looking to me. (laughs) I’m not sure exactly what that says but it tends to be true.
JR: (laughs) Well, you know, yeah… I was gonna ask what you think your favorite setting might be for use with the Showdown rules?
JK: My favorite setting… One thing I’d really like to see done in Showdown rules which I think would be very nifty – and now that you’ve brought it up I think I may have to set somebody to it – is some material for Sticks and Stones. Sticks and Stones had come out as a minis game a long time ago and we’ve reproduced it in a different format. Last year it came out as a card game. The actual role playing game is in the works. So, yes, I’m sure somebody out there will have an “Ooga Booga” stat, but… (chuckles) or perhaps it’s a skill, I’m not quite sure. It’s not finished yet. But having some scenarios for Sticks and Stones I think would be a lot of fun.
JR: I’d love to see that. That would be great. If people want to come and find your products and they’re roving about online, where do they go?
JK: They would go to the Pinnacle home page, which is www.peginc.com.
JR: Thanks very much!
JK: Any time, happy to help.
Click below if you’d like to hear the interview: