Graeme Davis interview is here
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Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 5:22 am 

I received this morning the answers of the Graeme Davis interview. I'd like to know if there was a website willing to host it... Anyway, here is the complete text

Graeme Davis is a well known figure among fans of roleplaying games, both vintage and current. He is one of the original designers of the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay game, one of the oldest and most successful RPGs (recently released in a very popular new version by Black Library), worked in the computer game industry; authored the first part of a new campaign for the ‘new' WFRP (Paths of the Damned) and recently an Eberron novel written by him,  Blood and Honor, was released by Wizards of the Coast. His curriculum vitae is so very impressive and we are pleased and honoured to interview him.

Q: Graeme, your CV is really striking and I suppose you are on of the most veteran game designers and authors still working in our field. Let's start with the most classical question of all: how did you discover adventure games and especially role playing games?

It was 1977, and I was a member of a local amateur theatre group. Some of our members had recently graduated from university, and I heard them talking about a game that was part wargame and part improvised theatre. I couldn't imagine such a thing, so I asked if I could try it. That's how I played my first game of D&D.

Q: were you involved in the British fanzine scene of the ‘80s or you started straight to work for Games Workshop in 1986?

I started writing adventures for my gaming group at university around 1980. I sent a few articles to White Dwarf, and they published my first piece in 1982. Better still, they sent me a cheque. So I guess I went straight into professional publications.

Q: before working for GW, did you do any work for TSR UK? You mentioned writing some articles for their Imagine magazine…

I wrote a number of articles for Imagine, but that was my only involvement with TSR UK. A lot of people confuse me with Graeme Morris, who as a staff writer at TSR UK along with Jim Bambra and Phil Gallagher. They moved to GW shortly after I started working there, but Graeme stayed behind. I think he eventually left the games industry.

Q: what were precisely your duties at the GW Design Studio?

I was hired to help develop Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There was already a first draft by Rick Priestley, Richard Halliwell and Bryan Ansell, but they were all specialists in miniatures wargames and knew the game needed some work by people who were more experienced with RPGs. As time went on, I became a general-purpose writer and editor, working on all kinds of titles from Warhammer 40,000 to Blood Royale, and writing articles for White Dwarf to showcase new miniatures and game products. I always maintained a strong link with WFRP, co-writing or editing everything GW published for the game. Before GW withdrew from RPG development, they set up a subsidiary called Flame Publications, which consisted of Tony Ackland (art), myself (editing and development) and Mike Brunton (editing and production). But even with such a small operation, GW decided that RPGs were not a market they wanted to pursue.

Q: how Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay was born?

Well, I wasn't there when WFRP was born, but as I understand it, the basic idea was to make a British fantasy roleplaying game which, with the full weight of GW behind it, could compete with AD&D, RuneQuest, and the other American imports. Basing the game on the setting that had already been established for the Warhammer miniatures game made sense, since it already had a fan base and a name that was known.

There was already an element of horror and dark humour in the Warhammer fantasy battle game, and at the time Call of Cthulhu was a new release, and the first horror roleplaying game to become a major hit. It was a major influence for Jim and Phil as well as me. We also shared a frustration with the simple monster-killing adventures of most fantasy roleplaying games, and longed to create something with a deeper story, as well as less moral certainty. GW indulged us, and the result was the Enemy Within campaign.

Q: what was the atmosphere at GW at the time? I have heard many not very positive things about the ‘regime change' between Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone and Bryan Ansell…

Once again, I joined the company after the regime change had taken place, so I can't comment on how things were under Ian and Steve. Bryan was the kind of person who let no-one forget who was in charge, and he had a very definite vision of the way he wanted GW to develop. Remember, he had founded Citadel Miniatures and published the first two editions of the Warhammer Fantasy Battle game before the merger with GW, and ever since then Warhammer (and Warhammer 40,000, which was first published about the same time as WFRP) have formed the basis of GW's business ever since.

Q: why did you leave Games Workshop in 1990?

Several reasons.

Firstly, I could see that GW was losing interest in roleplaying games, and I wanted to seek out possibilities elsewhere. For example, I had been introduced to someone called Mark Rein-Hagen, who had some intriguing ideas for a modern horror roleplaying game where all the player characters were vampires.

Secondly, I had a girlfriend living in the USA, and my phone bill was getting so high that it made more sense to spend the money on a plane ticket. I moved to Denver in October 1990, and we were married six months later.

Q: I see on your resume that after leaving GW you worked for many years in the computer game industry. What were your duties for the various publishers?

I have mostly worked as a writer and game designer, on many different types of games -- strategy, combat flight sims, action-adventure games, casual games, and others. Ironically, the one roleplaying game I worked on, an MMORPG called Lost Continents, was cancelled and never released.

In addition to designing game systems and writing on-screen text, character dialogue, and other documents, I have lent my voice to two games: one a wargame covering Napoleon's Waterloo campaign, and the other a console fantasy adventure.

Q: I read that in 1995 you moved from the UK to the US. Why?
Having become established in the US from October 1990, I moved back to the UK to take a job with Microprose UK. This job disappeared when the company was taken over and most internal development was cancelled by the new owners, putting many people out of work. Deciding that the move back to the UK had been a mistake, I moved back to the US in early 1995.

Q: did you attempt to work in the US pen and paper game industry, especially with TSR, in those years?
Yes, but exclusively as a freelancer. For a job, I was looking to the computer games industry, where salaries were not as low.

Q: from 1995 to 2004 you worked always in the computer game industry but I was told that you authored various books for other publishers, for example Steve Jackson Games and Green Ronin. What was your favourite project?
It's hard to pick just one. The second editions of GURPS Vikings and GURPS Middle Ages 1 were both fun to do, since I enjoy historical topics and it was very satisfying to return to an old book and make it better. I think my favourite, though, was Tales of Freeport for Green Ronin -- I love the Freeport setting, and GR just let me write what I wanted to. Not every adventure in the collection is a winner, but I like most of them.

Q: what did you think when TSR was virtually bankrupt and was purchased by Wizards of the Coast?
I found it hard to believe at first. Perhaps because I had had so little direct involvement with TSR in that period, I had always imagined that they were making so much money that they were invulnerable to being taken over. I knew that Wizards of the Coast had made a lot of money from Magic: the Gathering, but it was still a surprise.

Q: when Wizards of the Coast launched the OGL and the d20 system, what were your thoughts on it?
I thought it was an interesting idea. I had encountered the open-source philosophy in the computer game industry, especially with Linux, but it was a unique thing to do in tabletop roleplaying games.

Q: are you still in touch with some old and former GW staffers, for example Marc Gascoigne of Black Library (another True Old Guard Veteran for sure!)?
I'm still in touch with Marc occasionally, as well as Jervis Johnson and Aly and Trish Morrison. I've kept in touch with Mike Brunton throughout the years, and actually just started working alongside him at Creative Assembly in the UK.

Q: what are your current projects?
I'm afraid I can't say. My most recently released projects include a Dungeons & Dragons novel in the Eberron setting, titled Blood and Honor, which was published in September 2006, and a fantasy chess game for the PSP called Online Chess Kingdoms.

Q: what are your favourite games, both pen and paper and computer ones?
Call of Cthulhu will always be a favourite, for the sense of horror it can generate, and I always liked Bushido for its attention to the culture that one sees in Japanese samurai films. I still like to GM Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and even had the opportunity to write a little for the new edition developed by Green Ronin for Black Industries. As for electronic games, I like strategy titles, especially those with a historical setting -- which, I guess, is one reason why I worked as a freelancer for Creative Assembly, maker of the Total War series, and am now employed by them full time! I have tried some MMORPGs, but found them unsatisfying, lacking the feeling of being a group of adventurers making their way through a deep and immediate story. Perhaps when someone makes a multiplayer game like Silent Hill, or Fahrenheit, or one of the Japanese story games that occasionally cross the radar of Western gamers, I'll find what I'm looking for.

Q: do you still game?
Not very much, I'm afraid. Like most of my generation, I have married, bought a house, and been forced to confront the responsibilities of adulthood. That leaves little time for regular gaming, though I still paint miniatures now and again and I go to game conventions when I can.

Thanks for your time!

You're very welcome.


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Post Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 5:41 am 

Alexander1968 wrote:I'd like to know if there was a website willing to host it...

You just hosted it  :lol:

I just asked Rob if he wants me to put it up on Piper.

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