For Season 2 of “Voices at play” we’ll be focusing on a game called Familiars of Terra (more on this tomorrow!), The designer of this game Liz, was gracious enough to spare some of her time to answer some questions and let us get to know her a bit better! The interview follows below;
Hi Liz! As you know, we’ve been playing Familiars of Terra. When you set out to write this game, what sort of stories did you envision people telling together?
I wanted people to tell epic stories about heroism, recovering from war, and healing through understanding. When we talk about ‘epic’ stories they are usually these long sagas where you eventually defeat the Lich King and liberate the kingdom – while that is definitely possible in Familiars of Terra, I wanted to focus the game around the people within Terra and Seekers being heroes for those people. Playing through an epic story could be as much about rescuing a lost child as it is about defeating the super-computer ruling over the Plinth.
As a designer, do your games have any returning themes?
My games are always very focused on the PCs stories and how they interact with the game. In WITCH
the game is all about players trying to find redemption (or at least peace within themselves) after selling their soul and the tension between needing to bargain with your demon for more power – while also wanting to be free. In Familiars of Terra it is all about growing your legend as a Seeker, adding to your titles, and you & your fellow Seekers literally being the ones to heal the world. And in our newest game Afterlife: Wandering Souls
the games’ focus is all on players regaining memories of their past lives.
Familiars of Terra’s world lore is incredibly rich and paints a detailed but troubled world. Were there any particular motivations behind writing this game into a post-war world?
When I first imagined Terra it was an idyllic place free from a lot of the struggles that people struggle with today – race, gender, etc. – and it still is. However, I also wanted to create a game about heroes performing epic deeds and that is difficult to write when there is no strife in a setting. The idea of a setting where a great war took place based seemed like a good way to go after that. The reason the setting is post-war is because Familiars of Terra, at its core, isn’t about fighting (not to say you can’t have a good game set in war time without fighting). It is about healing the scars of war, so post-war seemed like the perfect setting.
When people think of TTRPGs, they typically think of rolling dice. What made you decide on the card drawing system?
One of the inspirations for this game were all the animal/pet-based trading card games. The physical sensation you get with slamming down a handful of cards and lining up awesome combos can’t be replicated with dice – so I decided to use cards instead. The choice was a tactile one that would just be missing if you used dice.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who’s just about to play their first game of Familiars of Terra, what would it be?
Have fun and give yourself the permission to be good! A lot of times we create characters with a dark story or a grudge against something – that’s awesome and it builds depth. However, frame that character you made as a big-gosh-darn-hero, how do they push past what they’re struggling with and make the right decision? What keeps them going? Why are they going to make the right choice in this situation – even if it is difficult?