Kozumikku Sandā - Interview #4 | Kritfayle

Please introduce yourself to Kozumikku Sandā readers

Emily: Hi! My name is Emily and I’m a member of Kritfayle.

Ghost: Greetings and salutations. I am Ghost and I am a member of Kritfayle.

What’s your origin story?

Emily: Well it all started many years ago when a prophecy foretold…nah, just kidding. I was visiting a local game store and ended up joining a game of Starfinder run by Ghost. Then I was invited to a Star Wars game, a D&D game, Shadowrun, and from there I ended up being in every single Kritfayle game. I am eternally grateful for the string of random events that led to me being part of something so cool!

Ghost: I started with Red Box D&D in High School and played through them and moved to AD&D later on. It was just something we played. It wasn’t until West End Games released Star Wars that I got really hooked and looked on RPGs as a storytelling device. Kritfayle formed in 2015 more like a garage band. It wasn’t until 2020 that the troupe of crazies we have now came together and we were able to really try and be serious about it. It's really the people that matter as without them nothing would happen.

Obviously you draw inspiration from classics like Star Trek, 7th Sea, Alien etc. I was wondering if there was any modern SpaceOpera that has left an indelible impression on you?

Emily: I guess it depends how modern is modern and how strict the definition of space opera we’re using! Two shows that are definite standouts in my mind (and that Wikipedia lists as examples of space opera haha) would be Firefly and Cowboy Bebop. I enjoyed both immensely and find them both to be good examples of the tone to aim for while playing games like Star Wars or others that need that space opera feel.

There’s a balance of humour and seriousness, storylines that feel significant without becoming too heavy. It’s a difficult balance to achieve and something we’ve struggled with in the past in some games!

Ghost: I think sci-fi has changed a bit. The world feels more angry, bitter and cynical. This seems to be reflected in many shows. Two that I really enjoyed were Season 1 of Westworld and Altered Carbon. Though both are very cynical and do not paint a good future for us. I would consider The Expanse but it can also have a cynical view.

If I had to pick one that is I think true Space Opera I would pick Valerian and the city of a thousand planets. It is spectacular in its effects and has a lot of things built around wonder. Something I think the Human race has been sadly lacking. The two agents are not the most charismatic on screen. But there is a journey of not caring through to doing the right thing and making a difference and believing in change. There is good character growth in a positive direction and overall the movie doesn’t have a cynical view but a more hopeful one of the future.

How do you develop ideas for your podcast?

Emily: A lot of ideas for storylines, etc. develop through playing. We used to jokingly dread the sound of chalk, because if a player said something that Ghost thought could be added later it would go on the chalk wall and usually it was us making things harder for ourselves.

We brainstorm things as a group too, a lot of things are collaborative whether it’s brainstorming ideas for an adventure, naming episodes or NPCs or coordinating overlapping backstory.

Ghost: For us it's more improv acting with rules and dice than it is a game. I am always looking for the players to be center in most everything. There are still enough surprises for them, but a lot of what happens is shaped by the group. I might have a bought adventure but I always change them to suit my style. But the group always comes up with things. An entire plotline for Shadowrun came from a semi-joke Becca’s character made. But really the group is the driving force on where a story idea goes. Shadowrun became a slice of life in a dystopian future because that is how the group played it rather than a far more combat oriented setting like the book expects. I have to be flexible and always listen.

What are common traps for aspiring podcasters?

Emily: I think giving up when things don’t take off right away! Sure there’s always the chance you’ll become super popular in a short period of time but for most people it’s going to be a long slow climb at the start. Or putting in less than you want to get back. If you want to make a go of it you have to be willing to put in a lot of work. As long as you love the project you’ll still have fun throughout but there are always going to be parts that are just hard and not enjoyable but still necessary.

Ghost: I think getting over the realization that it won’t be fast and that overall no one is invested in you at the start. There are a lot of creators. We all need the same thing. Support, fans, a community that loves what we do. Just because that's what we need and think our stuff is very cool doesn’t make the process any easier. It's not a hill you're climbing but a mountain. There is a lot of hard work and that hard work is not automatically transferred into lots of twitter followers or Patreon supporters. There aren't always useful ways to figure out why something isn’t getting reach or traction and staring at the analytics will just make people depressed. It's hard work and I have some dark days with it all, but the people around me are what makes this worthwhile. Gaming with them, having someone comment about a podcast and talking about something that happened in it, to get a donation or someone to support you. There are so many things they could do but they chose you for their Patreon support. You have to take those moments of light as they really do matter.

In your Twitter bio you refer to ‘RPG podcasts in the inspiration of old style radio plays’ but I reckon that some people might not have a good understanding of what you mean. Elaborate please.

Emily: While (with a few exceptions) what we record isn’t scripted, we add in music and sound effects and remove a lot of the mechanical stuff (going over rules, rolling dice) to give it more of an audio drama feel! We want to present it as a more cohesive storyline, take out what’s going to distract from that (mostly us getting off topic haha) and add sound effects that enhance the listener’s experience.

Ghost: What Emily said :) Back in the days before TV when radio was the main form of entertainment there used to be radio plays. A decent amount in the U.S. but very big in Britain. The BBC would produce these audio plays with music and soundFX some were recorded live as a theater play would have been. There were all sorts of ones done, comedy ones like the Goon Show, mysteries like Sherlock Holmes and adaptations of novels as well as original content and later on things like Doctor Who. Without visuals the voice of the actors was so important. As was the music and soundFX. I grew up with my English Grandparents and they listened to them. My appreciation started there and how I picture things when I am writing and creating is a mix of radio drama and stage theater which is still my favourite medium to watch.

There are gorgeous minis on your Twitter feed. Just a hobby or more of a lifestyle?

Emily: Take it away Ghost!

Ghost: When I was in school I did a lot of traditional art and was considering art college, but I ended up heading in a different direction. I started painting mini’s as an adult mainly as a way to destress. I enjoyed working on a three dimensional object. I was working at a charity at the time and started to run a program to paint minis there. I still paint mainly for fun but have won a couple of medals at different shows and sold some commissions to D&D gamers who wanted work done. It's a little hard to balance editing and painting as both are time consuming.

For people who are not well versed in the RPG lingo, what are good resources to visit to gain insight?

Emily: There are tons of introductory videos on YouTube that can help introduce different dice systems, mechanics, walk you through creating a character for a game, etc. I definitely found those very helpful when I was first figuring out what I was doing!

Ghost: YouTube is your friend for sure. That is probably the easiest place to find things though they can sometimes be aimed at gamers already. We are finding that a portion of our audience do not play any RP games and never have. So we are starting to work on intro vids with the aim of explaining what we do. But for anyone who is starting out in the hobby then YouTube. I am also a fan of Fantasy Grounds which is a virtual tabletop and Roll20 is also popular and not a bad place to check out.

Do you think there is a future for RPG in our quickly expanding universe?

Emily: Absolutely. RPGs are a great way to bring people together, make friends, and connect people across the world! We have two people in Australia and while the rest of us are in Canada, besides the time difference (it’s always too late or too early for someone haha) the distance doesn’t prevent us from playing together in any way. Joining a game is a great way to meet people whether you’ve moved to a new area or just want to expand your social circle. Our universe may be expanding but RPGs are definitely something I think helps keep people connected!

Ghost: I think so. There are so many ways to play RPGs. The key is to find the table that wants what you do. Love nothing but combat and want no RP. There are games like that. You want to have a laugh after work. There are tables that are all about that. I am extremely lucky to have finally found the right people that I love to game with. RPGs can be high rules to nearly no rules. From no RP to all RP. I have always thought RPGs could be a great medium for telling stories, as well as being a great way to connect to other human beings. That need for connection is fundamental to human nature and I don’t think RPG’s will disappear. They have evolved in so many ways and there are now so many storytelling games that have shifted away from being combat focused.

What’s something people seem to misunderstand about the field you operate in?

Emily: When it comes to podcasting, I think a lot of people don’t necessarily get the level of work that goes into it. Planning and prep, the actual recording, editing and then some more editing on top of that, figuring out a release schedule and where to release, trying to promote yourself, there’s a lot that goes into it beyond just pressing record, having a chat and uploading it.

When it comes to the subject matter of the podcast itself, well my family and coworkers have no idea what I’m doing mostly, but any of them that are aware of tabletop roleplaying had only really ever heard of D&D. I have found myself explaining that there are a myriad of different RPGs and there is absolutely something for everyone!

Ghost: I think the sheer amount of work involved. It's not uncommon for me to do 50hrs a week with most of that being on the non-game side of things. Editing is a massive job. The writing, planning and trying to find effective and ethical ways to promote ourselves. To try and get some notice and support. The level of planning needed on the production side is more than a lot of people that speak to me about it seem to realize.

We are a crazy troupe and not a one Ghost show so everyone tends to be talking to each other a lot. Ideas are often going back and forth, scenes they want to do. As well as the week's schedule and release schedule. A lot of people think it's turn up and have a laugh but there is a surprising amount of work involved. One of my friends said we belong in an old Victorian playhouse rather than a game store and there might be something to that.

Off the top of your head, who would you give a shout out to?

@DMSCreations makes cool stuff you can use on Roll20

@cansdale_e is a cool indie math rock maker

@EwanMartin16 was generous when there was nothing in it for him. Integrity matters and he has that.

@AelyryaPayne super cool community artist and very talented

Are you on social media and where can your fans interact with you?

We are on twitter and instagram! Twitter is @sithgod and instagram is @kritfayle!

So… what’s next for you in 2020?

Emily: Play more games! We record 3 nights a week and honestly I wish it was 7 haha. We have a lot of games on our to-do list and many to return to as well for a second season.

Ghost: On the business side we want to grow. So it's a lot of work on trying to get some more support to help cover the associated costs. Promotion and all that fun stuff. We also want to grow the troupe a little to give us some more flexibility with what we can do.

Game wise Star Trek season 1 has finished recording and we have started Tales from the Loop. There will be some Legends of the five Rings, more 7th Sea, More Alien and Raven has been working hard on The One Ring campaign. So no shortage of things happening.