Follow Friday: Gallant Knight Games & Tiny Frontiers!

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?

Alan: I own over 500 unique books in hardcover form, and many more then that in PDF (thanks Bundle of Holding!). I wouldn’t say I’m known for it though…maybe pitied?

Top 5 is harder.
1.) Reserved for the Perfect RPG (that’ll never find, most likely)
2.) Pendragon 5.1
3.) Scion (I have a deep and unremitting love for it, despite the issues it has)
4.) Anything Savage Worlds
5.) Savage Worlds
*3 through 5 probably rotate on an hourly basis.*

Drew: Oh man! That was your opportunity to shamelessly plug Tiny Frontiers! Since we are heading down that path, let’s switch gears to the world of game design itself. When did you gain an interest in designing your own games (RPGs and other table top games)?

Alan: Hah, well Tiny Frontiers isn’t out yet 😉 Ask me when it’s out. I just was always doing it. My very first character I made for 2e [D&D] was a custom race I built (horribly broken and terribly unbalanced). And eventually it became more than a hobby. I was just never quite happy with the games I was playing, and I was always tweaking and adjusting them. I wrote my first RPG at age 15/16 (I still have it somewhere), but I started writing and play-testing games, and trying to get freelance work at age 20 or so in college.

Drew: So this is not a new “thing” for you. You’ve been at this for quite some time and turned your passion into a venture. That’s admirable for sure. So what game have you published or are in the process of publishing?

Alan: So, Gallant Knight Games also serves as a design studio (known as Gallant Knight Studios), and GKS works to create new mechanics, game systems and more, but doesn’t publish games. Our first major project was the Planet Mercenary RPG, set in the popular Schlock Mercenary universe. We were the 3rd highest funded KS of 2015, and one of the top 20 of all time (at least we were, there’s been some big ones lately). But we didn’t publish that, simply wrote all the rules. I say we, it was mostly me. Our first published game will be Tiny Frontiers, a minimalist science fiction RPG designed to leverage the imagination and creativity inherent in roleplaying without pages of rules or crunch.

Drew: Thank you for making the distinction for me – I appreciate the clarification. Shlock Mercenary: the RPG was a HUGE success. Congrats for writing a game of such high praise and response. So, I know you have dozens of game ideas floating around inside that marvelous brain of yours – what made you decide on Tiny Frontiers as GKG’s first published RPG?

Alan: It was the first one we had finished writing. As simple as that. As we licensed the base rules from Smoking Salamander, we had the least work to do. The unique nature of micro-settings, and the focus we could give to running the Kickstarter made it an easy choice.

Drew: Thank makes perfect sense. Since you brought them up, tell us a little about the micro-setting idea. How many come with Tiny Frontiers, and how can we get more?

Alan: Well currently we have 8 unlocked that will be in the main book.The rest are now dependent upon stretch goals, some of which were really close to achieving. We could have up to 15.

Drew: That is awesome. That means we backers would have up to 15 different settings of which to explore right in the core book. Let’s say Tiny Frontiers fully funds through all stretch goals. What three settings are you most excited to play a game in?

Alan: It is awesome! It’s a big book, full of awesome content. Well, Welcome to the Junk Yard, by Steve Diamond, Guardians of Forever by John Kennedy (He-Man!), and one I can’t say because it’s the only one we haven’t announced, but it’s EPIC! Each settings gets their own custom rule too (either a new monsters, trait, or something).

Drew: So, the Kickstarter looks to be going quite well so far and there are only 3 days left to go. Your backers have unlocked 8 micro-settings, GM screens, and other goodies. Can you tell us what’s left to be unlocked and any other juicy secrets?

Alan: At this point, just more micro-settings via stretch goals, really. We’ve made great progress.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the interview as much I did in holding it. Please consider going to and backing the Tiny Frontiers RPG on Kickstarter in the next few days before it is too late.

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Please, let me know what you think.

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