Exploring “The Star on the Shore” – An Interview with Ben Burns of Dark Cult Games

As a huge fan of Call of Cthulhu, I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s new and exciting in the world of the Mythos. Ben Burns’ newest Kickstarter project garnered some buzz in late November when he mentioned it in a Call of Cthulhu Facebook group I belong to. The project will be going live on 2 January and with that Ben has graciously allowed me a sneak peak at the Kickstarter and I am super excited to see this thing go live! I also got the chance to throw some questions at Ben that I hope fans of Dark Cult Games and Call of Cthulhu will appreciate.

Ben Burns is the CEO and Chief Bottle Washer of Dark Cult Games. In fact, Ben is the designer of all the products that Dark Cult Games sells. Talk about a one man operation!

Here’s a little excerpt from “The Star on the Shore”.

“A strange figure rises out of the sea. It reminds you of the statue that was stolen from the chapel. Tentacles flailing, black wings stretch as it launches into the air, soaring over the sea. It approaches the two lighthouses on the island, a mere mile from where you slumber. The lighthouses swing their great lights at the beast, but it evades the beams and swoops close between the two towers. A great claw reaches out and smashes through uppermost portion of one of the lighthouses, crumpling through the roof and shattering the light. Smoke rises from the beast’s claw as it tears back into the darkness.”  The Star on the Shore

RB: The initial reaction to your announcement about a forthcoming Call of Cthulhu book in at least one Facebook community seemed to be well received. What sets “The Star on the Shore” apart from other scenario books? Can you give readers a short sales pitch?

BB: This adventure has something for everyone. Whether you are into solving riddles, and puzzles, doing investigations, questioning people, into combat, or finding that clue no one else has ever found, this module has it all.

RB: Having had the pleasure of checking out the Kickstarter preview, you hint that the scenario is based, in part, on some very real history. Can you elaborate on the historical foundation without given too much away?

BB: The city this module is based on, has a fascinating history with iconic landmarks and historical stories. I’ve woven this city’s history into the mythos of this adventure seamlessly. I try to do this with most of my Cthulhu adventures.

RB: Is “The Star on the Shore” one massive sandbox scenario or is a collection of smaller scenarios?

BB: It is one massive module. But there is so much going on, you can feel like you have solved several missions before you complete the main mission.

RB: You currently have five other completed Kickstarter campaigns under your belt, have all been delivered on time? Can backers of “The Star on the Shore” really expect a July 2017 delivery of physical products?

BB: In all of my Kickstarter I have begun deliveries on time. I had a couple that were so big that things did stretch into the next month. But I have always delivered. Making my customers happy has always been my #1 goal. I will be using a new printing company this time, so there is a new bit of risk, but I still expect to begin deliveries on time.

RB: Your funding goal is rather small ($4000) compared to many other RPG projects that launch on Kickstarter; I would assume your financial planning is accurate. Can you put backers minds at ease that product will be able to be produced with this small goal?

BB: I usually set my goals low and have never failed to complete a project and get it delivered. I hope my track record as a successful Kickstarter creator will be enough to set people at ease.

RB: Inevitably, one of your backers will ask, so it might as well be me, how many pages will “The Star on the Shore” be when it is printed? Do any of the unrevealed stretch goals include additional content?

BB: I have an idea on page count, but I don’t want to put a number on paper. I will say my usual fantasy adventures are 40 pages long and I already have about double the material I am used to working with. One of the revealed stretch goals is more artwork, which always adds pages. And it is very possible one of the unrevealed stretch goals is more content or even some small side missions.

RB: What does the future of your new Call of Cthulhu product line look like keepers and players alike?

BB: In addition to ‘The Star on the Shore,” I have two major projects for Call of Cthulhu planned for 2017. The first I can’t really talk about yet, as I’ll be writing some source material for another producer. The second I’ve started working on will be a large sandbox area with several modules in it. It is still in the layout stage with the working title “The Devil’s Triangle.”

RB: Every content creator has one or more “go to” RPG systems that they know intimately. Is Call of Cthulhu one of those systems for you? If so, how long have you been playing and running scenarios?

BB: I have several RPG systems I play and Call of Cthulhu has become one of my favorites. I’ve been running RPG games and writing scenarios for over 30 years. I have only been running Call of Cthulhu games for about 10 years, but have been running horror and mystery RPG games for nearly 30 years.

RB: Changing gears for a moment, what is take on online (Voice over IP) gaming? Where do you see your scenarios (now and future) fitting into this continually adapting play environment?

BB: I haven’t delved into that format yet, but I see this becoming a large part of RPG gaming in the future, so I’m sure I’ll get involved with this at some point.

RB: If any of our readers wanted to connect with you at conventions in 2017, where might they find you? Is Dark Cult Games an active vendor in the convention circuit? Do you run your own scenarios are conventions?

BB: Dark Cult Games is new to the con circuit. We only made two conventions in 2016, but hopefully, we will make a few more in 2017. We will be attending North Texas RPG Con for sure in June 2017, and I always run a Call of Cthulhu adventure while I am there. If you want to play in it, you better be there to sign up as soon as it is open.  I believe it sold out in less than 2 minutes last year.

I don’t know about you, but this project really does excite me. I have a group of players and each likes something a little different from the others and this project, as pitched by Ben, will appeal to all of them in some way. As someone who regularly monitors Kickstarter, I am confident that based on the performance of his other completed projects Ben will begin shipping when he says he will.  Anyways, I am appreciative of Ben’s time and that he has allowed me to bring readers a little sneak peak of this upcoming project.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter or G+! We’ll be blogging about this project again in the very near future.

~ Modoc

Follow Modoc on G+ or on Twitter

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