Recently I had a chance to chat with Richard August, developer of Steamforged Games’ Epic Encounters, boxed set encounters compatible with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition.
So let’s start of with you telling everyone who you are and a bit about yourself.
Okay, well, I’m Richard August, I started gaming with the orange starter box for 3e Dungeons & Dragons and quickly moved through WFRP, Call of Cthulhu, and then into ever stranger and more esoteric areas of gaming!
I started freelancing about 5 years or so ago, and contributed extensively to Modiphius’ Conan line (I think I wrote on 10-11 books for that), plus several other of their game lines. I’ve freelanced all over the place, including for Chaosium, Cubicle 7, EN Publishing, and a fair few others.
About two years ago, I was interviewed for a boardgame dev role at SFG. I didn’t get that job, but I was lucky – Mat Hart (SFG’s presiding genius and killer GM) had long wanted to move into RPGs. I was asked to come and have a chat with him, and fortunately, I passed my Charisma (Persuade) check!
So tell us a bit about Epic Encounters
EE was inspired by two things Mat thought the RPG market was missing, and that he wanted to be able to use himself. The first was something that he could get to the table in minutes with no prep. There are modules designed to be easy to play, but they often don’t have everything you need to get right on with it.
The second was something that kind of… guided newer GMs. It can take a few years to really get good at GMing, and it’s a common sight these days to see newer players bemoaning the fact that they’re not Matt Mercer. We wanted to write encounters that gave you a really step by step process when it came to running the toughest bits of GMing – big boss battles.
So I can be Matt Mercer now? Do I get his hair?
No person on earth has that much money
A single lock of Mercer’s hair is enough to power a small town for a year
It powers Critical Role, so I believe it. Can you give us a run-through of an encounter?
We give you starting points, plot hooks, a series of new abilities, and then a turn by turn breakdown of how to deploy those abilities, the kind of behavior you might see from a boss monster, how they react to your behaviors. We give you ways the players can affect and interact with the terrain, or utilize things they find in the lair.
To experienced players and GMs, some of this might seem obvious- but if you’re new, we wanted to give you permission to be creative, to really embrace the thrill of ‘oh I can do ANYTHING’ which I think is the big epiphany the first time you play a TTRPG.
I love the “out of the box” look of EE. Combined with SFG’s minis, I can see this being a real treat for DMs
The out-of-the-box is definitely something we wanted to achieve; open it, and go
As little prep time as we could possibly achieve
How many sets have been planned?
We’ve no firm idea on how many. Currently, there is 3 boss and 3 minion sets available at retail or from our Webstore. We have another set that’s going to be available for preorder soon, and two additional sets in various stages of development. We also have several really cool ideas for both new sets, and different ways to expand the line
I’ve got my eye on the Kobold Queen set. I love Kobolds. So let’s talk about your favorite!
Hmmm… that’s a really tough one. I think the Hydra mini we’ve just released is absolutely amazing
And the encounter to go with it is really cool.
That is an impressive mini. What was the biggest challenge in creating these Epic Encounters?
The biggest challenge… probably paring the scale of an adventure or an encounter back, without compromising on the amount of stuff for the players to do and engage with. The kind of standard dungeon adventure is 5 rooms. EE is working with 1 or 2 maximum. Using that space intelligently, building in puzzles and different challenges, can be tough.
What was the best part about working on it? What really got the creative juices flowing?
There really is nothing quite like coming up with a cool concept for a set, and then firing the brief over to the sculpting team. They are a bunch of sexy geniuses, and once you see the minis, it’s impossible NOT to be excited
As a writer, myself, I’ve always loved seeing something I’ve written come to love in an artistic manner. It’s a great feeling.
Russ, Tom, Ben, Holly… they really always find the most amazing angles on an idea
So when do you get a life-sized Hydra for your place?
Not soon enough. And my attempts to breed one using newts have been a disaster
I’m sure Petco has banned you from their stores already.
In their defense, I’d have banned me too
Any plans on different types of 5e companion items? Sets based around puzzles, or non-combat oriented scenarios? I could imagine an amazing set of minis based around a masquerade party and the politics involved.
… have you been in our meetings?
Maybe I have. I have eyes everywhere.
I can’t say ANYTHING on that or my life would not be worth living
But there may be some very cool announcements in the not-too-distant future
I’d rather see you get more work done than die by the hands of SFG’s Guildball players
It is certainly a preferable fate!
Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Nothing save thanks for the interview, and I hope you get a chance to try out the Kobolds on the tabletop soon. Mother Krangor is a pretty tough boss!
Awesome. Thanks so much for chatting. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to do this again in the future!
Media personality Rob “Devar-TTY” Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of Devar-TTY’s Pawns Perspective, Dev now focuses mostly on video games and TTRPGs. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.