Interview Ed Carrie Rich

Interviews » Interview Ed Carrie Rich

Online Chat 2 (11/8/00)
This is a transcript of the online chat held on 11/8/00 with Rich Baker, Ed Stark, and Carrie Bebris. (The first bit refers to a discussion being held earlier).
This discussion was held just after the online release of Blood Spawn, but before 3rd Edition was released.
C = Carrie Bebris
E = Ed Stark
R = Rich Baker

Question 1: What does the cold rider look like anyway
C: the weather in Australia, from the sound of it :)
C: Dark mist, forming a shifting shape in the distance
wizo_durst: Welcome, Rich. Glad you could make it. Do you have any opening comments, or shall we get to Q&A
R: Other than grousing about my incompetence, no, no other comments. Please continue!
Question 2: So, how supported will BR be by WOTC?
R: Hmm, that sounds like a question for me. Carrie, if you don't mind, I'll take it.
C: Go for it, Rich :)
R: Shane, right now we're focusing on the new edition of the D&D game. We're not looking to keep a lot of product lines running at the same time.
Question 3 But BR is still "official?"
R: in the future, we may introduce "limited arc" game lines, lines where we go two-three products and call it quits. If we supported birthright in the future, it will be in that format. But right now we don't have any plans to produce new br material or to convert birthright into 3rd edition. There are just other things we have to do with our limited resources first.
That said, you'll see some br snippets in upcoming issues of drag mag. Specifically, I wrote a series or small journal entries in the "campaigning corner" column. So there's a trickle of br material coming out in the magazines in a couple of months, but no other plans.
Question 4 Rich, would you translate bloodline abilities into feats for 3E?
R: that's a good question, durst
R: ted, do you have any thoughts on that one?
E: I just got here Okay, I'll take a shot.
R: (Gotta Catch Ted off-balance
E: In 3E, we have some special abilities called Feats. They're things you can learn that give you special abilities. I would make some of the less magical blood abilities self-contained feats. Then, I would simply make a few of the more magical ones magical special abilities. I do think some would need to be retooled a little for balance purposes, but not heavily.
R: Ted, it also occurs to me that blooded scions might also be a prestige class you could stack onto other classes. Just a thought.
Question 5 What is the nature of the Serpent's divinity? Is he really a god? Or has he found another method to grant spells to his followers?
R: Carrie, do you want to take that one.
C: Ted, I think you've done the most with old snake eyes. But I'll take it if you'd rather pass.
E: Okay, I'll try again if you like.
E: I always thought that the serpent wasn't a god, but rather someone trying to become a god.
C: That's my take on him as well. Someone who believes his own PR too much.
E: I think that one of the evil gods and he might have make some sort of deal, and the Serpent's followers actually get their spells from them.
Question 6 I'm interested in the relationship between the Seelie and Unseelie courts in the SW, Carrie. At some points, it seems that the rivalry between the courts predates the sundering of the daylight and shadow worlds, while it also indicates that the Seelie are the SW counterparts of the elves. Is there a daylight counterpart of the Unseelie? Could you clarify when the split began?
C: big questions, here goes...
C: The elves are the daylight counterpart of the Seelie. Long ago, they were one race, the Sie. We haven't put a date on exactly when the cataclysmic event occurred that caused this rupture, but it was well before Deismaar, to my thinking even before human history. The faerie war between the Seelie and the Unseelie is more recent, but still an ancient war that's been going on longer than mortals can comprehend. It's a rivalry that exists solely in the SW, and the seeming messes with time there, so it's very hard to give an exact date.
E: Wow, Carrie really remembers a lot of what we'd thought up. That's a huge part of what makes the SW so scary for "normal" people and terrifying for elves.... it's just a dangerous, difficult place.
C: there isn't a daylight counterpart to the Unseelie as the Seelie/Unseelie split occurred after the sw/daylight world split. Does that cover your whole question?
yes it does, thanks I may follow up later.
E: sure. In general, the shadow world was supposed to have (as Carrie explained) an ancient link to the "world of light", but a schism occurred. I felt that to make "a" shadow realm, all you have to do was go back to a pivotal point in history (preferably one that has magical importance) and establish that schism. The important thing, however, is to be able to link the rules of the game to the history of the world. The SW mirrored Aebrynis in important ways and the rules for living and moving around in the SW had to do the same thing. It couldn't just be a reflection (can I beat this "mirror" image to death? ;-)
Question 7 Old Rock-Butts "Hand of Azrai" comes from the "Lands to the East", as did the Magian's troops when he arrived. Are they from the same place (where ever that is :-), or was the Voslands meant for the hand?
R: Well, we know there's a continent out to the southeast. Djapar -- the homeland of the Basarji. And there's the dragon isles, and the mysterious eastern lands somewhere beyond them.

E: That's where the ancestors of the Khinasi come from (Djapar), right?
C: As for the Magian, he claims to be "from the east" but actually he arrived on Cerilia from the SW..
R: Yep, I had a rough idea that the lands beyond the dragon isles might be a far eastern analogue, while Djapar might be Africa-like. But we never put that in print anywhere.
Question 8 The Magian was from the SW, so were the troops he arrived with from there too?
C: could be ;)
C: You're the DM -- do you WANT then to be?

C: We've left a lot of the SW lore deliberately vague, to let DMs run with it.
E: I always thought the Magian came from the SW to "the east" and recruited folks there. That way he wouldn't "blow his cover" in Cerilia.
E: But that's my OPINION, not anything firm.
C: I like that theory, Ted.
R: Seems reasonable to me!
Question 9 What's the real-world cultural inspiration for the Anuireans, particularly their personal and realm names?
C: Want this one Rich?
R: The Anuireans are actually the most made-up of all the human cultures. The other races deliberately feature strong real-world analogies, but the Anuireans are pretty much a made-up amalgamation of Gondor, the Roman Empire, and Medieval England.
R: The names are from a language that I made up for my first whack at a fantasy novel, a long time back.
R: Obviously, I didn't make up a whole language (unlike professor Tolkien), I just wanted consistent-sounding names.
E: I always felt it was very "Minas Tirith meets the Roman Empire" in some ways... thought there are a lot of unique elements. The language always felt Euro-Mediterranean to me. A nice mid of believability and fantasy.
R: But they looked good, and seemed to feel pretty fantastic, so I used them in Birthright.

E: I thought you did an excellent job with both the language and the history.
R: Thanks, kind of you to say so!
Question 10 and you did a very good job at it. I was convinced it had some strong analogue in real history like the other races!
E: ... and nobody changed all your place-names in editing, either (and I'm not referring to anything Carrie did here, either!)
Question 11? my questions about beast-men
R: (heh, heh, heh... I know what happened to 'em
C: Spill it, Rich
R: We were planning some product that would explore Aduria late in the products line's life, but we never got a chance to seriously work on it.
R: Still, we had some concept meetings, discussing what Aduria is like and what might be down there. In fact, I'm working on a Dragon article that would clean up some of those old notes and present them, maybe even for the Annual this year.
Anyway, I think the beastmen are a race native to Aduria, and I think they survived Deismaar (in small numbers). Their land is an extremely rugged and mountainous region in the heart of Aduria. They raid out from their mountain retreats, causing much distress to all their neighbors. Hadn't got much further than that, but there you go!
E: Are they friendly with the cat-centaurs?
C: the wemic?
E: Yep, I was looking forward to using them in Aduria
R: I figured that nobody liked the beast-men. But it aint' written yet, so whatever works better.
C: I was looking forward to the Djinn
E: Oh, yeah. The Djinn (cackling evilly)
Question 12 Would someone care to clarify the relationship between Ruornil (the god of the moon) and the shadow world. There is a conflict alluded to between the moon god and some of the forces of the SW? Which ones, and how active in Ruornil's opposition? It is a major part of larger goals? Can the moon be seen in the shadow world?
E: Who want's it?
R: I say Carrie!
C: I say Ted!
E: I'll take it, but chime in...
C: Seriously-- Ted, did you do anything thinking about the moon & Ruornil for Shadow Moon?
E: Yeah, Ruornil's a good guy and while the Shadow World isn't evil, it's been corrupted since the schism, and there's a lot of evil there. Ruornil and his hungers... fight the SW as it appears in Cerilia. In the SW, we figured out there were still strongholds of good (or at least neutrality), loosely called "havens." there places were areas where the seeming was controlled and the forces of evil and (especially) undead were kept at bay.
E: I expect that Ruornil would have some elements working for him in the SW (as would many of the other gods), but it was my thought that the true moon of Aebrynis would not shine in the shadow world until...
R: Presumably, those areas might not exist under Ruornil's aegis or protection in some way?
E: It was freed of the domination of evil. The "Shadow Moon" and the "Blood Moon" were reflections of the true moon -- mockeries of Ruornil and of the true light of the world. Hope that answers your question.
C: great answer, Ted!
R: Hey, I've got a question.
R: Anybody read the Falcon and the Wolf?
T: I did. A while ago ;-)
Question 13: Certainly. Very good.
R: Thanks, just wanted to know that someone had seen it and downloaded it!
C: Not yet, Rich, but I intend to soon! Shadowstone was soo good!
Question 14 Metaphysics Questions :-) The RAVENLOFT domain of Vorostokov has been 'retconned' into being Cerilian (Vos). What connection do you think it has with the Shadow World? Would it tie into the 'regular' SW, or would RL create its own SW for the domain?
R: Ted, didn't you play around with that back in Lake Geneva?
C: retconned?
R: Retroactive continuity
C: of course :)
E: Not really. Truth to tell, I never liked the Cerilia/RL connection...
R: Hmmm... beats me. I'd say it depends of whether you're playing a Ravenloft game or a Birthright game.
E: Not because I had anything against RL, but it always seemed a little forced. The SW and RL really aren't connected at all. I figured that the Shadow World was really closer akin to Aebrynis' border ethereal than the demiplane of shadow.
R: If you're playing in Ravenloft, then the Ravenloft mists trump the Shadow World. If you're playing Birthright, then vice-versa.
E: You have to go through it to enter or leave Aebrynis, unless you really know what you're doing.
C: In the absence of published SW info, many players turned to RL for inspiration, and there's much there to inspire. But our thinking about the SW took a different turn.
Question 15 What exactly happened to the two duchies that compose modern day Ghoere (those being the duchies of Bhalaene and Ghieste respectively? How did they become united into one? What became of their ducal families? When exactly did it occur? Any official rulings? How much of the imperial civil war was put down to paper?
C: I think this one's yours, Rich.
C: O Great Creator ;)
R: Boy, I had a short essay I did on that, but darned if I remember if it went into the back of the Falcon and the Wolf or the Shadowstone.
E: If it went into Shadowstone, it's now FR ... ;-)
R: If it went into F&W, it's there to read in the free PDF. If it was in Shadow Stone, we cut it, and I have no idea where that info is now.
R: I know that the two duchies --- Ghieste and Bhalaene, I think -- united pretty late in the history, maybe about 450 MR or so. In fact, that's the reason Ghoere jumped up as a big power late in history, kind of like the unification of Germany in the 1860s. I think that he (or his father) brought 'em together with a dynastic marriage.
R: The essay I'm referring to actually described most of the big Avan-Boeruine wars between Michael's death and the current date.
Question 16 The Birthright Novels were historical in nature, which is a nice chance from some other of the other world lines. Who made this decision, and what was their reasoning?
R: I think we all realized that we couldn?t have book characters mucking up the world in the current day.
E: Hear, Hear!
C: It certainly made things much easier for us, creatively.
R: More so than in other campaign worlds, a Birthright campaign could be really "thrown out of joint" by a really epic book storyline.
E: Your characters should be the most important to the campaign world, not ours.
R: At one point, the president of TSR was gong to make us tell the Eleanor of Aquitaine story in the Birthright setting... In fact, she insisted that the character be called Eleanor, and the kingdom had to be called Aquitaine.
E: ... a little too literally for my tastes.
E: ... ergh ...
R: Fortunately, the company experienced financial disaster before that came to pass...
E: ... talk about finding a silver lining....
R: Anyway, the big world-shaking events and a DM's birthright campaign don't mix, unless it's the DM's players who shake the world.
Question 17 Almost exactly five years ago, Rich, you and Colin and the BR team saw the first copies of Birthright's boxed set come into TSR from the printer. Any memories of your initial feelings on its release? And also, Carrie, what are you writing these days?
R: Hey, that's two questions!
R: Initial feelings? That's easy... Wow! Cool! How on Earth could we afford to stick all these goodies in one boxed set????
E: We couldn?t ;-)
R: Yes, I know, see 'Financial Disaster', above...
C: LOL, Ted! As for the second questions, I've got a novel coming out in November.... "Pool of Radiance: The Ruins of Myth Drannor." I've also been going a lot of nonfiction magazine writing.
E: I remember thinking "wow, this is an excellent use of color" and "boy, am I glad I came to TSR" from West End. I still am.
C: I was very excited to be part of the team associated with such a sharp-looking, well-written product.
E: Important tip: Read Carrie's Book. Circle November on your calendar. You won't be disappointed.
C: Thanks, Ted ;-)
R: Another important tip: When you're done with Carrie's book. Circle December on your calendar, and pick up City of Ravens!"
E: (I don't write books anymore. I have real work to do ;-)
C: Wouldn't miss a Rich Baker Book;)
R: LOL, Ted. Knocking out a novel is really not much tougher that spending three months in St. Thomas, drinking mai tais on the beach...

C: Speak for yourself Rich--I agonize over every word. Must be the editor in me.
Question 18 There has been discussion of Bloodlines outside of Cerilia on the newsgroup. Are there any bloodlines in the nations outside Cerilia that are not derivative of the Cerilian bloodlines (as in Bloodline of Roele, etc)? And if so, are they similar in strength and cultural significance to those in Cerilia?
E: Well, we'd discussed something like that for Aduria, but I really believe we'd decided that all bloodlines would derive from the Cerilian gods... who were also the Adurian gods. I could be wrong here, Rich? Carrie?
E: That doesn't mean there aren't more Aebynnian gods, btw, but if there are, they weren't involved in Deismaar.
C: That's how I remember it, Ted.
R: Nope, you're right, Ted. I guess Azrai might have had some cohorts or demigods that we just haven't read about yet, but for the most part, the bloodlines will stem from the gods killed at Deismaar.
C: There were only so many gods who blew up, after all.
E: But, remember, an explosion is spherical... bloodlines were created on both sides of the (former) isthmus.
R: Maybe all gods everywhere blew up when Deismaar when down. Maybe the universe had to wipe the cosmos clean and start from scratch.
Question 19 I don't mean the gods themselves, but rather are the peoples of foreign lands inhabited with bloodlines.
E: Not in my thinking.
C: We'd talked about the Anuireans colonizing other places during the height of the empire...
E: Not bloodlines derived from the gods at Deismaar anyway. I mean, somebody could have sailed back to Djapar after the battle.
E: Or Whatever.
R: In fact, my dragon pieces explore the north coast of Aduria, where several Anuirean colonies used to exist.
Question 20 But it's not on a culturally significant level like in Cerilia?
C: But, we thought most of the colonies would have been in Aduria. I suppose, however, that explorers could have bought bloodlines (a nicer alternative to smallpox) to other lands and races.
E: But, again, these are bloodlines derived from Cerilian gods... not any other gods.
R: We'd talked about the fact that Aduria's bloodlines might be more widespread, more dispersed, that Cerilia's in our initial concepting.
R: That's as far as we got, though.
E: Maybe even a little different in nature, but, Rich is right, we didn't get farther down that road.
C: I'm really looking forward to those Dragon articles, Rich.
Question 21 What were your plans for Cerilian dragons. Specifically, THE Dragon of Drachenward?
E: I think we have to get going fairly soon. I can handle the dragon question, though.
R: OK. If you don't mind, my wife just called up and asked when the ^@%!#$ I intended to come home tonight.
E: Dragons in Cerilia were all unique creatures, and there was a finite number. The Dragon of Drachenward, if my memory serves me right (I don't have my books here) was actually either a blooded person who perhaps had some sort of draconic ally or the ability to change into a dragon.
R: Goodnight, all!
C: Bye, Rich!
E: or perhaps even a "blooded dragon" who ruled a domain of his own. Now, The Dragon (g'nite Rich), if he were a dragon wouldn't need a bloodline to cast magic, because dragons of Cerilia can use true magic without that special connection. So it's hard to tell which rumor is true. I intentionally (when I wrote tribes) wanted to leave that up in the air. I hope that survived editing and worked out that way. Again I don't have a book handy to check.
WizO: Okay, end of Q&A. Ted, Carrie, any closing comments?
C: I just want to thank everyone for showing up a second time--glad we could reschedule. It was really nice to spend an evening talking about Birthright.
E: I'm also very happy people were able to come, and I'm glad you folks (and many others) are still playing BR and enjoying it. I hope you'll all upgrade to Third Edition and tell us how your campaigns transition. The BR world is a fun one, and a living one as long as people play it.. and Bye!

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