This week I am posting an exception. I don’t usually post game reviews or promote things other than my own writing (does that make me sound self-serving?), but I have to make an exception today. One of my best friends, Alan Bahr, is in the final few days of his first independent Kickstarter campaign. Alan, as part of Gallant Knight Games, has created Tiny Frontiers, a minimalist sci-fi RPG, based on the Tiny Dungeon rules by Smoking Salamander. Alan is, by far, the most knowledgeable person I’ve encountered when it comes to RPGs (and many other topics). He has hundreds in his collection, and reads them constantly. He has introduced me to over a dozen new RPGs that I’ve never encountered before, and they have all been a blast to play.
So I decided to boost Alan’s bandwidth a bit and do a Q&A with him about Tiny Frontiers and the value it brings to new and experienced gamers alike. Please consider supporting Alan’s efforts to make great games that are accessible to everyone.
Drew: To get things started, Alan, tell me a bit about yourself. What should people know about you as a sentient humanoid?
Alan: Uh, sure. I’m Alan. *waves* I make games. I like games. I’m also pretty uninteresting outside of games. Big reader. Not so much a video game. I mostly play RPGs, dead CCGs (Buffy, Highlander, L5R), and board games.
Drew: So, you mentioned games about a billion times right there. I know you, and I know how much you love playing and collecting games. What was it that originally got you into gaming? And, for the purposes of this conversation, specifically, what got you into role-playing games?
Alan: Yah know, it’s faded so far into the murky depths of memory it’s hard to say. I played my first D&D game at 11 at a scout camp. Loved it. I’ve devoured D&D fiction, Star Trek fiction, all kinds of books. And eventually just…sorta got into my gaming habit. I think primarily, as a kid, and now as an adult, I loved the social aspect of tabletop gaming, and imagination. Didn’t have video games growing up, and RPGs I could buy on my own, and play forever once I owned them.
Drew: It sounds like your adventure began much like so many of ours – with D&D and tons of RPG fiction. I know that you devour RPGs and fiction than the average bear. How have your tastes and gaming preference evolved since playing your first game at age 11?
Alan: Well, all I really knew til college was D&D (2nd and 3rd). I vaguely knew other RPGs existed, but it was the dungeon crawl I was most familiar with. World of Darkness was my next experience, and it sort of spiraled from there. I’ve moved to a more narrative, rules light approach to what I like in my RPGs. But there is a significant love for the “crunch”, as it were. My tastes have grown from a love of the large campaign, to a love of a variety of experiences.
Drew: I promise, we are going to get to Tiny Frontiers. In fact, maybe this next question will get us there. You are known for owning a ludicrous amount of RPGs. Can you tell me how many RPGs you own (print and PDF) currently? Also, what are your Top 5 favorite RPGs and why?