22 February 2012

Q&A with Uncle Mike's (32 questions and answers!)

Received the Q&A document today from Uncle Mike's Worldwide, 32 questions answered! Big thanks to Mike for taking the time, especially since he became a dad just a couple of days ago!

Here is the full Q&A, I hope you guys enjoy it :-)
Useful related links at the very end of this post.


Background/backstory

Q: Tell us a little about your background and how you ended up in the miniature wargaming hobby?

A: 
I guess that I started painting models around 12 years old, was a drama/art kid all through school, worked lots of production jobs and am just a generally ‘artsy’ person. Spent a few years learning to mold and cast in the film production and prop industry and always liked gaming. It was a natural progression to where I am now.

Q: What's your earliest miniature wargaming related memory?

A:
I was the ‘weird’ kid in junior high school and me and my loser buddies just sort of ended up playing Dungeons and Dragons in my basement most weekends ‘cause we had nowhere else to go. Painting models was already a hobby of mine and soon we were embroiled in a full on miniature campaign resplendent with ‘upturned Dixie cup towers’ and the old ‘stack of books under a green tablecloth hills’. A fantastic land where badly painted heroes fought valiantly against badly painted monsters.

Q: What led you to starting your own business and ultimately creating your own game?

A:
I am a game addict. I have played and probably own most any miniature game on the market from the early ‘80s until now. While the industry is full of cool games nothing was exactly what I wanted. I’ve never been great with authority and my social worker thought it would be good for my rehabilitation if I were my own boss.

Q: What was the inspiration for Strange Aeons, did you have any other ideas for a game or was it always your goal to make a story based Lovecraftian wargame?

A: This is a case of all the things I am interested in coalescing in my subconscious mind and forming into a concept. I’ve been writing games…or changing existing ones to my taste for as long as I’ve been a nerd.  For me it was a logical progression to make a horror themed game. You should see my basement; it’s like a horror museum. I love this stuff!

Q:  Why do you think the setting of Lovecraftian mythos and the madness inducing horrors is so appealing to people?

A:
The concept of ‘cosmic horror’, and this is doubly true in a miniature game, is that it works exactly opposite to the way a hero epic does. That is to say the good guys don’t simply overcome the problems…there are ramifications and complications. The good guys don’t do very well in the whole scope of things. They fight and they suffer for it and I think that is more believable and more fun in the end than humanity triumphing because we are inherently good or brave or whatever.


Manufacturing/production

Q: So why do you guys use resin while most other small manufacturers seem to stick to white metal?

A:
Price, familiarity and availability. In today’s economy resin is simply cheaper than metal, I spent a great deal of time casting props in resin and I had a good relationship with the distributor from working with him for so long.

Q: I know many people out there are wondering about the expansion books, Shocking Tales of Madness and Mayhem. Could you share some info on why they are sold out and if (and if so how) they will make reappearance in the future?

A:
We are a small company and as such tend to do things on a smaller scale. This includes printing books. Big print runs cost more actual money to produce and to be frank we weren’t quite expecting such a strong response. We will be doubling the size of the print runs in the future for all Strange Aeons stuff and this will help to make them available for longer…but not forever.

Q: Will Shocking Tales 1-3 (out of print) be reprinted into a new unholy expansion book? It seems there was some good stuff there and a shame to miss it. (Styx)

A:
The books will see at least two print runs each and may be available later in a P.D.F. version. Eventually all Shocking Tales content will make its way into the Second Edition of Strange Aeons…but that is a while off yet.

Q: How did you guys end up with the spiral bound core rulebook? It's the only rulebook that I have come across that uses this sort of binding. It's excellent, as it does not wear on the book or the pages as much as regular bindings do.

A:
Another side effect of being a super-nerd; most game books I own are beaten from overuse. Either duct taped together or home coil bound so the poor things can still be used. The thought was to produce a functional rulebook for the players.

Q: Are there any legal restrictions as to what you can write and print? I'm just curious as to how extensive copyright restrictions of Lovecraft's work among others remain. Are you allowed to use names of creatures from the novels and such freely?

A:
Most of the monsters in Strange Aeons aren’t directly named in the stories they are based on. I try to avoid or re-name the ones that are. I would never want to steal anyone’s idea but I do think that a great idea deserves immortalization in our game!

Q: What do you have in mind for the next few "special edition" models? (Styx)

A:
That would be telling…you will just have to wait and see!

Q:  Do you have plans to bring in bigger monster miniatures, and in so case, any particular kind? (Andreas)

A:
Bigger monsters will feature in Strange Aeons and V.U.K. The first is up for release later this year in the form of the Dark Puppeteer. We also have several projects in various stages of completion around the shop. 

Q: Will any of the prior special edition models be available to buy? Perhaps as a Cult members only special offer for those that miss it? (Styx)

A:
It is possible but may take some time. Many of the special edition molds are burned out and must be re-molded before this is possible. 

Q: Any plans for UK based stockists of the rules any figures? (Amren)

A:
Tell your local game store to contact us and we will work together to get Strange Aeons to your area.

Q: Any plans for an Australian stockist? (Paul)

A:
Same answer as above. Get that local store interested and have them contact us.


Rules of Strange Aeons

Q: To me it seems like the core rules of Strange Aeons are very universal, you could essentially play Strange Aeons with a French Indian War or Viking setting if you like. Was it something you strove towards during the game design or is it just a lucky coincidence?

A:
When writing Strange Aeons we tried to make a fast paced, balanced game…I guess that always helps to make a universal framework where pretty much any time period can be represented.

Q: Were you inspired by any other miniature wargames when writing the Strange Aeons rules? 

A:Absolutely yes.

Q:  There is a magazine out there called “Strange Aeons”. Among weird stories and comics it also features occasional rules for the Strange Aeons game. Do you foresee the release of those rules in a future expansion or a official PDF document or will those rules remain magazine exclusive?

A:
For the moment these rules will only be available through the Strange Aeons magazine. They will however see re-print in the Second Edition Strange Aeons rulebook.

Q: At this point Strange Aeons seems to be a game that takes place out in the open or rather outdoors. Are there any plans for indoor locations and special rules for such gameplay? I'm almost thinking about rules that would add some kind of exploration mechanism based on a skill or character trait.

A:
It has been discussed but for now is a back burner project.

Q: Are we going to see rules for vehicles in the future? The playing area for this game is rather compact, but with a slightly larger table I think people would love to add both civilian vehicles and interwar era crazy stuff such as armored cars playing out federal raids and such. Any ideas for such a thing?

A:
We already have rules for several types of vehicles around the playtest table but will not be releasing them for some time as we are just in the playtest stages and would like the rules to be as balanced as possible with the main rules. I can say with great certainty that nothing is quite as satisfying as a drive by shooting from a canoe…

Q: I would like to know what might be coming up to include larger vehicles or contraptions into games - such as an armoured car, or perhaps a riverboat with some improvised weapons etc. Some cultists may have come into possession of surplus WW1 equipment after all, or the Govt may need to stage a large raid (such as Lovecraft's Shadow over Innsmouth). (Paul)

A:
Most likely around Shocking Tales 4 or 5 you can expect a Black Dossier that focuses on the Government raid of Innsmouth. Bigger beasties and Armoured Cars will feature in the story.


Future projects

Q: There are two rather big projects in the works from what I have read on the LAF forum. Let's start with the upcoming scenario book for Strange Aeons. Care to tell us a little about what we can expect from the content and when it might be released?

A: Morbid Adventures is a scenario book for Strange Aeons featuring a new and expanded Basic Scenario Table along with variants of you favorite games, plenty of new Quest Scenarios, the Necronomicon, and solo and multi-player game modes. As well as some great new art, a comprehensive Lurker listing and in a few places minor corrections and updates to bring all the content up to date. We will be taking pre-orders very soon…

Q: And the other project which seem to have been in the works for a while is the “Kulten” rulebook. It takes place in the Strange Aeons universe but focus seems to be on cults only? What is the idea of Kulten and how will it be different from regular Strange Aeons?

A:
Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten is very much more like the standard ‘my faction vs. your faction’ wargame. The cults take center stage and Threshold is virtually non-existent. The game is much more vicious and the humor is decidedly evil. This is the game for those people who want the joy of running and managing their own cult.

Q: The expansion to runs cults will be great too - I would love to be able to utilize horrors and monsters in my cult to fight others or take out agents. Will that be included? (Paul)

A:
Oh Yes! We are currently working on a pantheon of eldritch gods and various new Daemons and such…Kulten will be decidedly more adult orientated.

Q: A related question, which is bound to be asked, will any of these two books be a limited run or will they be readily available like the Strange Aeons core rules?

A:
As previously stated all print runs will be increased to meet demand. Hopefully they will be available for some time.

Q: A large portion of the fun in this game, I think, comes from the campaign system mode. Threshold teams “levels up” and also have members killed, injured or driven insane. The sense of a purpose and an ultimate goal for the Threshold team was also provided in the Shocking Tales vol.2 book where players have to find the paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope in this “Forgotten land” environment. Do you foresee any other similar campaign stories in the future?

A:
Yes. In fact Shocking Tales #3 (which we are working on currently) will have three unique Black Dossier settings: Return To Dunwich, The Strange Case Of Howard Philips Lovecraft and Incident At Test Island 3.

Q: Is it possible that there will be some kind of campaign or expansion with a more direct connection to specific Lovecraft novels such as A Shadow of Innsmouth, Whisperer in the Dark, Dunwich Horror or Mountains of Madness?

A:
All the stories you have mentioned have their own manila folder in the playtest vault. Whether they all see the light of day remains at this time a mystery…


A few quick and short questions

Q: Your favorite side to play, Lurkers or Threshold?
A:Threshold: not because I do particularly well…quite the opposite. I must be the most luckless person to roll on the Major Injury Table. It make for interesting, if a little short lived, campaigns.

Q: Favorite movie?
A:Tough question. I’m quite a movie buff so this is hard. Probably ‘The Collector’ or ‘Night Of The Hunter’ or ‘Quatermass And The Pit’ or ‘The Face Behind The Mask’.  I love those four more than any others at the moment.

Q: Favorite boardgame?
A:The Destruction Of Pompeii’ or ‘Unspeakable words’.

Q:  What other miniature wargames do you play?
A:Man o War, Epic, Mordheim, Necromunda, Gangs Of Mega City 1, Helldorado, Heroquest, Heroica…I’m sure there are more, these are the most favorite.

Q: Why did Cthulhu cross the road? (Styx)
A:Obvious answer: Because the stars were right!

Last question

Q: Is there anything else you might want to tell the readers out there that have not already been asked or mentioned?

A:
Yes…but I dare not! Even now, grotesque ideas are given form in the workshop! Beware, many new ideas! Horrible ideas!!! Ia! Ia!


Big thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and satisfying our curiosity!


The "Strange Aeons" subforum over at "Lead Adventure"  where you can find Mike lurking around if you want to learn more about the game, ask more questions or check other people's Strange Aeons gaming experiences : http://www.lead-adventure.de/index.php?board=45.0


Review of Strange Aeons and Shocking Tales of Madness and Mayhem Vol 1

Review of Shocking Tales of Madness and Mayhem Vol 2

Strange Aeons gameplay review
 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks very much for arranging this Anatoli, and for Mike for participating. I really enjoyed this.

    What a great bunch of info - it has me wanting to go out to the Man cave and start painting up some more Cultists!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yea, great stuff! I am looking forward to my package in the mail that I ordered from Uncle (Daddy) Mike

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's a lot of fun that Mike took time to answer all of these questions. I'll keep an eye out and see if Strange Aeons gets a broader release.

    ReplyDelete

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