Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Charles White is the owner and operator of Fabled Environments. Charles and I have run in some of the same circles in the past and continue to. We have conversed about game design and usability of his products and much more. I have the pleasure of calling him a friend and industry colleague.
Fabled Environments recently began promoting a new product line entitled Olympus, Inc. and it was very well received by the gaming public (so far as I could tell), but the project has been fraught with difficulties, yet perseveres! Charles will shed some light on the past and future Olympus, Inc. and so much more in the interview that follows. So, without further ado, Charles White.
RB: What sets Fabled Environments apart from other companies that produce similar types of products.
CW: Detail and creativity. The floor plans that we offer to gamers are accurate. What I mean by that is that they are crafted by an interior designer/drafter with over 10 years of experience. My wife crafts all of these. Since she isn’t a gamer, she approaches each and every one of our floorplans with the same precision as her real world projects. That means that each one is researched and has things like bathrooms. I think providing gamers high-quality, accurate modern floorplans really sets apart.
RB: What’s on the horizon for Fabled Environments?
CW: We are looking at releasing several more floorplans, the release of Olympus Inc in .PDF and print as well as a couple more setting books that are in their early stages. They are being written by some amazing writers who have crafted some pretty cool setting ideas. I am excited to see these come to life. In addition, we will be releasing various supplements for Olympus Inc that detail the Gods not covered in the base book and more stand-alone adventures.
RB: What is your “go to” RPG system and why?
CW: Savage Worlds-We are a licensee. However, it is much deeper for me. I have known Clint and Jodi Black for over 20 years and they introduced me to the system. It is because of them that I have played a ton of Savage Worlds. However, the system stands on its own two legs. It is a great system that is easy to write for and run.
RB: So Savage Worlds is your “go to” system, but there are scores of awesome RPGs out there and more coming to market each month. Do you run or play any other systems?
CW: The problem is that I don’t get to play that often. I have a tremendous amount of demands on my time. I tend to stick with Savage Worlds because it is quick. I have a ton of games that I’d love to run, like Corporia and Nefertiti Overdrive, but just don’t have the time.
RB: The initial public reaction to Olympus, Inc. was, it was well received. Will this project see the light of day? What does the future hold it?
Absolutely. We have put too much time, energy and soul into this project to let it die. We are nearly finished with the writing and the text will go off to our editor and then to layout. I just got some artwork in today and expect more pieces in the next few weeks. The one shift is that the artwork will primarily be Black & White vs the Full-Color book we originally wanted.
That being said, the artwork is still gorgeous! We have some amazing artists that are contributing to the book, so it will be a high-quality project!
RB: Can you give readers a little snippet of what Olympus, Inc. is? Where can readers stay up to date with the project and support it, spread the word, etc?
CW: In a world that appears identical to our own, the Titans of myth have deposed the upstart Olympians and now rule the heavens. But Zeus and the other gods of Olympus have found a new way to harvest the power of worship—through mankind’s love of money! Step into a world of shadowy politics, satyr cyber-raiders, demigods, and an ongoing clandestine war for control of the firmament. Think Greek myth meets the feel of cyberpunk.
Folks can keep up with us on G+ or Facebook. There is also a preview document for Olympus Inc available through DrivethruRPG or RPGNow.
RB: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask, who else is part of the Olympus, Inc. project and how are they involved?
CW: Gilbert Gallo is the co-author on this project. He has been an incredible partner to work with. We have art from Rick Hershey, Mirco Paganessi, Simon Bray, Simon Powell and more amazing artists! Aaron Huss is doing editing for the project and Krista White is doing layout. We have an amazing team!!
RB: You recently ran a Kickstarter campaign for Olympus, Inc. and the campaign was stopped before the scheduled end date. A second attempt to launch the campaign on Kickstarter was met with difficulties. Can you tell readers a little about what happened and what difficulties you encountered on the second campaign?
CW: As you know, the first campaign was suspended with only days left. I got the suspension notice at the same time that the rest of the backers did. It was a heartbreaking situation made worse by the fact that I was at my son’s first school dance. We poured our heart and soul into the campaign and the work prior to launching and the suspension hit all of us like a ton of bricks!
I have commented on the reasons for the suspension in other venues, so I won’t beat a dead horse. I will say that I was disappointed by Kickstarter’s lack of customer service. They never reached out to us prior to the suspension, nor did they give us an opportunity to respond to the suspension. However, their terms of service are quite clear and they don’t have to give us a warning or the opportunity to appeal/respond.
RB: I recently noted that you had vowed to never use Kickstarter again. Is there a particular reason as to why or was it a statement uttered in frustration to the Olympus, Inc. situation?
It points back to my disappointment with Kickstarter. At this point, I have questioned whether I will ever back another Kickstarter in addition to never launching on their platform again.
RB: Switching gears slightly lets chat about playtesting games. Do you run games strictly face-to-face when playtesting a new product or do you look for a broader playtester pool by running games online [VOIP]? If interested readers wanted to be part of your playtesting pool, what would they need to do be part of the process?
CW: I only run face-to-face. I haven’t really delved into the online arena yet. I think the big reason is because I like the feel of meeting around the table, the feel of the books in my hands and the sound of the dice as they hit the table. However, I am not opposed to jumping in and trying out an online environment.
We really don’t have a playtest pool. I have been lucky enough to have friends that have run some of our stuff or I have run some of our stuff as a playtest at cons or with local gaming groups. As we begin to craft more product, I anticipate the need for a stable of playtesters. When we get to that point, we will put a call out.
RB: How did you get your start in the RPG industry? What advice can you share with readers that may be interested in testing the waters and trying their hand at publishing?
CW: I got started because I loved modern RPGs and there weren’t any great floor plans out there at the time designed for RPGs. Luckily, my wife had expertise at this. Eventually, we were connected with the guys at 12 To Midnight and we became an imprint for them. When Pinnacle bought 12TM, we jumped out on our own and the rest is history. I can’t thank the guys at 12 To Midnight enough for giving us our shot!
What advice can I give? I’ll give the same that I got: If you jump into the gaming industry expecting fortune and fame, you will be very disappointed. I’d say that all of us gaming professionals do what we do first and foremost because we love the industry. Making money is a bonus. Most of us have primary careers outside of gaming. Only the lucky few in the industry call the gaming industry their primary career.
Beyond that, get fan products out. That draws the attention of publishers and might garner you a freelance gig. Also, reaching out to a publisher never hurts, especially for artists.
RB: What are your thoughts about online RPG gaming? Is it an format that you have embraced or is something you have yet to explore?
CW: I think that I answered this one earlier. I will say that I am amazed how far online RPG gaming has come in the past 10 years. Now, there are conventions completely comprised of online RPGs. That amazes me!
RB: Although you have not personally adopted online roleplaying, can you see yourself moving in that direction in the months ahead? If so, do you have any expectation that you hope would be met by the online experience?
CW: I might, but I doubt it. My house if far too busy for me to jump in front of a computer at home and play. I spend a tremendous amount of time on my computer. I really enjoy unplugging. That being said, online I could game with folks throughout the world, so that would be cool.
RB: What one Fabled Environments product is your personal favorite and why?
CW: That is a very difficult question. This is like asking which is my favorite child. 🙂
Since Olympus Inc hasn’t been released yet, I think that I have to say “Throwdown At The North Pole”. I say that because I always wanted to work with Clint Black on a project and this was our opportunity to do so. It was a blast and the chance to work on a project with so much quirky humor was great!
RB: I have noticed you have a relatively new presence on Google+. What are your thoughts on this social media platform? How do you see yourself using G+ in the future?
CW: Social media, in general, is a great way to connect with people, whether it is family and friends or fans. I think that there are positives and negatives to both platforms. I think that social media is a great way for fans to keep current on the projects of their favorite publishers, writers, and artists.
Not sure G+ in particular and social media in general. Right now social media is the best way for us to keep in contact with fans. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
RB: Will you be on the Summer/Fall convention circuit in 2016? If so, where can our readers potentially find you and maybe get a seat at one of your tables?
CW: As it stands now, it looks like the next time I will be at a convention will be MACE in North Carolina in November. I will also be at MoatCon in December. I am certainly open to attending more conventions and running demos from our catalog, but the work on Olympus Inc has been keeping us busy.
RB: Please tell our readers what three industry or hobby personalities you would love to see interviewed by Rolling Boxcars and why.
CW: Shanna Germain-She is a talented writer and designer who also seems like an incredibly interesting person. I’d love to hear her story.
Alyssa Faden-She is an incredible cartographer and Ancient Roman fanatic! Same Reason.
Stephen Hughes-He is trying to get his Dieselpunk setting for Savage Worlds to market. His tenacity is incredibly inspiring to me. He has written and adventure for us and is a force to be reckoned. 🙂
Fabled Environments, in my opinion, offers a great catalog of GM friendly products. Everything from great architectural style maps to Savage Worlds RPG modules. Check out their website to see everything they offer.
Here are the links to some previous reviews I have done for Fabled Environments’ products.
Product Review: Modern Floorplans: An Average Wild West Town
Double Feature Review: Brain Slugs from Planet X & Modern Floorplans – An Average Modern High School
Product Review: Modern Floorplans & An Average Modern High School