Interviewing Megan Bennett-Burks, Co-creator of “A Far Off Land” RPG

Recently, I became aware of Megan Bennett-Burks and her newest project that also recently launched on Kickstarter. Doing my research, I have come to learn that Megan is rather talented and that I’m kind of bummed that I had not come across her or her work earlier. Now that I have become of aware of her work, it became time to dig a little deeper into who Megan the creator is and what her most recent Kickstarter is all about. To that end, what follows is my recent interview with her.

You can find “A Far Off Land” Kickstarter here and game’s website here. Don’t be shy, go ahead and check them out. I am sure you’ll be as excited as I was to discover a cool new RPG. If you’re a FATE gamer, all the better. If you aren’t, you should really explore FATE.

So, without further ado, I give you the interview with Megan.

RB: I would like readers to get an understanding of who Megan is. When did you begin playing RPGs and how active are you in the hobby as a whole?

MBB: I began playing RPGs in high school during lunch.  Rifts was the first tabletop RPG I ever played, after that, I played a bit of 2e D&D, and after that, I started playing a few World of Darkness games, and I kept branching out.  Even before that I was playing video games and loved to come up with my own ideas for games, and I also grew up on Choose Your Own Adventure books which have a certain RPG-like aspect to them.

I’ve been on and off with roleplaying, there were some years I just couldn’t find any groups to game with, but, for the past 5-6 years or so (I’ve started actually losing count) things have picked up, and I’ve consistently had a group to run or play RPGs with, which has been great.  I run a game nearly every week.

RB: What are some of your all-time favorite RPGs and why do they resonate with you?

MBB: Planescape!  I love multiverse oriented games, and this one has just such a cool and different take on D&D. I love the exploration of how belief and perception impact reality, and the gods, angels, demons and other strange creatures, and just that the setting just has so much of its own distinct quirky personality.

RB: You and your co-author, Jacob, already have a couple of RPG projects under your belt; how do you feel those past experiences have prepared you for this specific project?

MBB: Naturally, experience helps, practice makes perfect.  I learned a lot about organizing a game and laying out the book itself so it is user-friendly, and a lot about writing rules for Fate.  I also did a ton of playtesting with my first book, I mean, a TON, and learned a lot about how to interpret and handle player feedback and ideas.  But, that said, this is a learning process that I doubt is ever really done.

RB: The thematic concept of “A Far Off Land” is very distinctive and imaginative; what was your inspiration?

MBB: Naturally, Jacob will have had different inspirations than I, but, my inspirations came from a host of mythological sources, Alice in Wonderland, and I’m sure the influence of past games (like Planescape) have snuck in. Certainly, the focus on organization/faction oriented gameplay and the idea of multiple worlds is there though in forms that are distinct from the other multi-world-spanning and faction based games I’ve played. There’s a lot of ways these same inspirations can be taken and turn out very very different games, of that I am sure.

Wonderland Fated by Gennifer Bone

RB: Are there any classic tropes in “A Far Off Land” that interested players can latch onto?

MBB: Oh, yeah, look up Liminal Being on the TV Tropes website, and that is certainly part of what the Fated are. The Fated also fit The Chosen One trope (though they are really a whole breed of chosen ones), but, read through to the GM section and you’ll see they also are not in fact what they (or most beings aware of their existence) believe themselves to be.

There’s plenty of other tropes the game really lends itself well to exploring: bringing hope in the darkest hour, power corrupts, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, those are ones that immediately come to mind.

RB: WFATE is a very adaptable game system, that said, why did you choose to use FATE over other systems such as PbtA, D20 OGL, etc?

MBB: A big part of it is because Fate is so very adaptable.  Fate’s Stunts and Aspects lend themselves perfectly to representing the abilities of the characters without changing the core of how they function too much.  Fate is also great for the larger than life even super-heroic sort of characters that the Fated are.

PbtA will be great for this setting too but it might take a little more work than Fate. Using D20 would have taken a huge amount of work and for better or worse probably would have ended up pretty different than the D20 people are used to. Plus Jacob and I are both very familiar with Fate, and sometimes it’s really good to work with making something different out of what you are most familiar with.

RB: Apocalypse World has a propensity to have some rather touchy or edgy subjects arise in gameplay; are there any difficult or taboo topics native to “A Far Off Land” that could arise during gameplay?

MBB: A Far Off Land doesn’t have anything that I’d say would land it in the mature section of DriveThruRPG, we’ve certainly tried to steer clear of that risk. That said, certainly, you could take the setting and infuse it with more “taboo” or controversial elements when you run it if you want, it would be very easy to infuse however much of those elements you desire into the Eldritch Courts and even the magic system.

Fate does have some audience crossover with PbtA but it also has some audience differences. PbtA tends to lean more towards mature and controversial topics while Fate tends to steer clear of those.  This does mean that we could certainly consider exploring some things differently in a PbtA version… but, chances are I’ll leave that for my next PbtA game.


Hatters Court Member by Tanyaporn Sangsnit

RB: What’s your favorite character type or aspect of the game and why?

MBB: My favorite element of the game is the contrast between the familiar and the fantastic, that’s something I love to have in games, and theme that I try to play within different ways frequently.  The Far Off Land which is a high fantasy world full of eldritch creatures and other things right out of mythology and folklore is very different than “The Cage” which is (on the surface) identical to the real world.  To me, it’s very fun to be able to explore those both in one game and have them be able to interact.

RB: Let’s switch gears to the Kickstarter campaign itself, assuming the Kickstarter funds, which I suspect will not be a problem, what does the future look like for “A Far Off Land”? Do you have other material you plan to publish?

MBB: We do have some stretch goals for additional material for A Far Off Land, including an expansion of the magic system (which is already partly written as well), a supplement dealing with mortal organizations and how ordinary humans interact with the Fated, Eldritch Courts, and other magical things. We have the PbtA stretch goal as well which would be a lot of fun to do.

As far as other projects, I’ve got some other things in the works, but, mostly either on the backburner or just in the research stage, since, I need to really give this my focus for the time being.  But I do have plans for another PbtA game, and I hope to dive into doing something for OSR eventually as well.

RB: With a delivery date one year away, how confident are you that the project can deliver early? If not early, on time then?

MBB: I’m pretty confident we can, we’ve got a lot of the text complete.  The main things left to do with the text is to take into account any trends we notice with player feedback, incorporate the funder custom content, and then get it edited.  We’ll add some other goodies too before it’s done, but, I think that it mostly is going to come down to how long art takes to get when the book will come out, and even some of the art is complete already which should help.

RB: With the summer convention season over and the winter season ramping up, do you have any plans to showcase “A Far Off Land” at any upcoming conventions? If so, which ones?

MBB: I’ve had a hard time making it to conventions so far, though I do plan to run it at a smaller local convention next year called RyanCon, and if I can manage it, I’ll go to the next BigBadCon, but, that’s almost a whole year away now, I just missed this year’s.

My hope is that you take away from this interview that Megan Bennett-Burk is a talented content creator and all around neat person. If you get the chance to meet her on the con scene in 2018, I’m sure you’ll be pleased with what she brings to the hobby. It was a pleasure and honor to interview such a creative spirit. I also hope that you will head over to Kickstarter to explore the A Far Off Land Kickstarter.

~ Modoc

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