Lucky for me, and for you as well, my carnivorous cadavers, I was able to have a lovely chat with Tim Brannan with regards to Ghosts of Albion, gaming, some of his other projects, and, well, just some general life stuff.
I have decided that I like Tim, and as a gamer myself I appreciate his work. Plus, he likes witches. (As I am one, that's an instant "He's cool in my book.) Hmmm... No, "like" is too weak of a word. "LOVES witches" is more like it. You don't have to believe me - just visit his blog. There is a whole section devoted to Willow and Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I guess the folks at Eden Press picked the right guy when bringing in writers for their Buffy RPG book.
Tim happens to also be from one of my favourite cities in the world: Chicago. I do not love Chicago because of the hot dogs or the pizza (although I have to admit, I have been all over the world and nothing - I mean nothing - comes close to a Chicago style hot dog) but because the people are like none I have ever encountered, anywhere. Down to earth, sarcastic, tell it like it is even if it makes you cry, hard working, proud, Cubs fans to the death (even if they never win), "That's the Chicago way" kinda people. The kind of people you would like to have as friends and neighbours. People like Tim. I remember asking the Mr. after I spoke with Tim: "Why can't we have cool friends like Tim around here?" Oh, well - maybe I can make a person out of spare bits from my local morgue and then hijack Tim's brain.
Oops, did I just really say that? Where was I? Oh, yes, I was gushing about how cool Tim is.
Tim has been gaming forever, and his love of the hobby truly shows in the craftsmanship he has put into his work. It was through my love of gaming that I was introduced to the Ghosts of Albion. From my love of the world that was created I discovered the novels of the Ghosts of Albion as well as the BBC web series, and have come to love them just as much. People like Tim inspire gamers, and give them the opportunity to truly love the game they play because of the care and thoughtfulness they put into the crafting of the game itself.
Thank you, Tim, from those of us who seldom think about what it takes to create a great RPG book.
Gushing is over, now read the interview about Tim's involvement with the brilliant world that is Ghosts of Albion. After all, it is Ghost Month here at my Lair.
Lili's Lair: What were the turn of events that led you to write gaming books?
Tim: I have always written game stuff for my own use. Back in 1999 I self-published a book on witches. That lead me to Eden Studios where I did some work on their d20 line then that lead to working on Buffy.
Lili's Lair: How did you first get involved with Eden Studios?
Tim: Basically? I pestered them till they gave me a job! I first worked on "Liber Bestiarus" a d20 monster book. I then was asked to work on the Buffy RPG line. I wrote the first adventure for the game, The Dark Druid, focusing on my two favorite characters Willow and Tara.
Lili's Lair: When and how did you get involved with the Ghosts of Albion role-playing game?
Tim: Back in 2002 I was getting really burned out on Buffy. I didn't enjoy the show much anymore, but I loved the game system and wanted to do something new. I was working on a charity event that also included Chris Golden. I had approached him about taking one of his properties and making a game. He had also approached Eden at the same time to inquire about something similar. Ghosts of Albion was his newest thing and we, Chris, George Vasilakos (Eden #1 guy) and me decided that was the way to go. Which was fantastic for me since I knew I'd
get to work with Chris and Amber Benson.
Lili's Lair: What was your exact role in the development of Ghosts of Albion?
Tim: I was head writer and lead game designer. I wrote all the game material and designed all all the playable material. I worked with Chris and Amber very closely to make sure that what I thought needed to be in the game worked with their world view.
Lili's Lair: What was your experience collaborating with Amber Benson and Christopher Golden?
Tim: Awesome! I got to sit on phone calls with Chris and we talked about magic and horror and all sorts of great things. Then I got to meet up with Amber and we went out for her first ever Chicago style pizza. Through out the project we all worked together and they wrote the adventure, Almasti, that comes in the back of the book. Which is kinda cool if you think about it. I wrote the first Buffy adventure that feature Amber's character and Amber wrote the first adventure in the game I wrote.
Lili's Lair: What aspect of the creation process of Ghosts of Albion did you enjoy the most?
Tim: Creating new magical systems for the game was great. I loved coming with new material and helping Amber and Chris extend their world. I really grew to enjoy the Ghosts of Albion world much more than any other RPGs I had worked on before or since.
Lili's Lair: Were there any aspects of the creation of Ghosts of Albion that you found difficult?
Tim: A couple of things. First I have to give major kudos to Garner Johnson who helped me with first the playtests then the history chapter of the book. The playtesters were great, but they picked apart everything I did. As they should. But making them happy was sometimes difficult.
The other thing was translating into a playable form the things Amber and Chris wanted. That is not unique to them or this project, but I still spent some time going over somethings scratching my head and going "what did they want again?"
Lili's Lair: Is there a certain creative process you use when you write?
Tim: For Ghosts I wanted to really capture not just the feeling of the Victorian era, but of all the horror games I loved. So for me that meant a steady diet of Hammer Horror and Black Sabbath. I'd get motivated by watching an old horror movie, then I'd spend a couple of hours writing while listening to some Black Sabbath or something else English, metal and from the 70s. I'd review my notes, check in on the playtesters and then do some more edits before going off to teach at
Lili's Lair: Are you currently working on anything new that you can tell us about?
Tim: Yeah. I have been working on a new book on witches for the old Basic D&D game, the one that came out in 1981-82. There has been a resurgence in popularity in these "old school" games and I wanted to make my contribution to it all.
Also my son Liam and I will be working on a book of dragons for a bunch of different games. He loves dragons and I was looking to doing something a bit different. Plus it will be a good summer project for us both. The witch book is called simply "The Witch" and the dragon book will be called "...Here There Be Dragons".
Lili's Lair: What would you like the future to hold for you in the gaming world (or beyond)?
Tim: I am going to run some Ghosts of Albion games at Gen Con, "Obsession" and "Dinosauria!". I am going to keep on working on my books and putting out free stuff on my blog, The Other Side:
On the more personal side, just playing a lot of D&D games with my kids!