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Pacesetter Chill RPG
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The Weirding Interviews Hyrum Savage of Otherworld Creations
We recently spoke to Otherworld Creations' Hyrum Savage - creator, designer, and writer of the new ChiLL 3.0.  Though yet to be released, the game has been making waves online, thanks to the many changes, which includes a new (and highly controversial) system.

We spoke to Hyrum about this, and many other things... when we could get him to stop talking about porn.

Hyrum Savage


The Weirding:  What was your first experience with ChiLL?

Hyrum Savage:  My first experience with ChiLL was back in the late '80s during High School. We'd moved on from D&D and were trying a lot of different games. One Friday night our GM asked if we'd be interested in playing CHiLL and our campaign took off. We must have played for 2-3 years straight.  We played in one long campaign - one long one in high school - and then on again, off again games after that. The two surviving characters, Kazu Matsubayashi (my character) and Siobhan O'Mahoney (my friend, Ralph's), will now be part of the canon as the Head Field Agent (Kazu) and Director of the LA Chapter (Siobhan) [of SAVE].

TW:  What were your first impressions and what sticks out most in your mind of those times?

HS:  I loved how creepy the game was. It wasn't until later that I saw the genius of the design, and how CM's were given a toolbox to creep players out.

TW:  What first drew you to ChiLL?

HS:  Originally it was because of nostalgia and a desire to bring it back. As we looked at it more and more, I was especially drawn to how much of an open book it is. You can run anything with CHiLL... well, anything with a horror theme.

The Weirding:  Were you really into horror?

Hyrum Savage:  I've loved horror since Jr. High or so.

TW:  Who were your favorite authors and what were your favorite games?

HS:  My favorite authors change from time to time. Right now I'd say that I'm a huge fan of John Scalzi, Steven Brust, and Glen Cook.

TW:  Were/are you a big Lovecraft fan?

HS:  Yep. Although he's not a "favorite" on the list right now.

TW:  Were you really into role-playing?

HS:  Yeah, I've been roleplaying since I was 9. Started with D&D and then moved on to various other games. I'm currently playing in a D&D game and a Mutants and Masterminds game, on top of playtesting.  I'm a big RPG goober.

The Weirding:  Yes, you are a fellow Nerd. Hail to thee, Nerd! What do you think of the new Call of Cthulhu incarnations, including the d20 version(s)?

Hyrum Savage:  I'm a huge fan of CoC d20. I think it gets a bad rap from hardcore BRP players. The sections on running Lovecraftian games are the best I've read from any incarnation.

The Weirding:  One of the things I liked most about Chill was that it allowed me more freedom to play in genres and sub-genres not directly related to the Cthullhoid Mythos.  While I love Lovecraft and the Mythos, the entire game is systematically designed to invoke a defeatist ambience and atmosphere.  It works perfectly for CoC games, but not so much for other horror games. Was this true for you or did you find other aspects more to your liking?

Hyrum Savage:  Basically the same. While I love CoC, it's hard to run other games using the system unless you go for straight Basic Roleplaying. In the end though it's all up to the GM. A good GM and a good group can play any system and have a great time. Systems matter though for most players and most GMs by giving them tools to work with.
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TW:  When SJG released GURPS, there was a surge for "universal" rules systems, even though many already existed.  I remember FUDGE and TWERPS, among others, and RoleMaster/I.C.E. even had their own thing going along these lines.  Mayfair's entire system of games had basically the same system.  What did you think of their system, the universal gaming theory in general, and was your decision to change the new rules at all affected by this?

HS:  I'm not a huge fan of universal systems although I do like "house" systems. (i.e.: having the same system from the company). I'm more interested in creating a good game with similar elements than trying to cram all genres into one ruleset.

TW:  As I mentioned, Chill 3.0 comes with some sweeping systematic changes.  Was there really a need for these?  What was the thought process behind this?

HS:  Our goal was to streamline the system and make it easier for casual gamers to play. The Pacesetter and Mayfair systems are very much a product of their time (the '80s) and we wanted to take the root of those systems and incorporate current game design theories. One of those was getting rid of the chart, which necessitated changing some of the core die mechanics. We also wanted to give players options, and ways to differentiate similar characters. That led to the change in the Student, Teacher, Master rules.
TW:  Were you looking to put the OtherWorld Creations' "stamp" on things, trying to separate yourself from the older systems, or something else?

HS:  There's an element of that. I think all creators and designers want to put their "stamp" on something they're working on. While we want to honor the past, we didn't want to be bound by it.

The Weirding:  Do you have expansions planned and will they only be online?  Does your model support both online and print publications?
 
Hyrum Savage:  We'll do both.  There are expansions planned, but we're keeping those close to the vest. Expect a more "toolkit" approach for print, and more flavor online.  I'm a huge fan of PDF publishing, mainly for how quickly you can get product ready for sale and the low cost. In the end though, not all gamers have internet access or even want electronic books so we'll be doing print as well. You might see individual PDF's collected into print books.

TW:  Will Chill expand into other markets, such as CCG, video games, comic books/graphic novels, cartoons, and the like?  I know Mayfair had a series of short story collections.

HS:  We're working on it. There was almost a ChiLL PS2 game a few years ago. Unfortunately it never got beyond the discussion phase. (It would have been cool though!)

The Weirding:  Yeah, Mayfair had a Cyber Chill book that was supposed to come out.  That would have been cool, too.

Hyrum Savage:  Well, the ChiLL corebook will focus on what we're calling the SAVE Campaign, which is classic ChiLL. Future books will drill down into other genres, giving CMs and players more options.

TW:  Were you a comics kid?  What were you into?

HS:  A huge comics fan. All of my paper route money went to comics.  I was mainly a Marvel Zombie until I started working at Upper Deck. Since we get free comics from DC, I've grown to really love the DC Universe. These days I'm definitely more of a DC guy. They're just telling better stories than Marvel.

The Weirding:  I once saw DC Comics smoking cigarettes and drinking Coca-Colas behind the local hang-out.  Look, I'm just saying.... which titles were your favorites and who were your favorite artists, writers, and creators?
 
Hyrum Savage:  I started off as a Claremont fanboy, and then got into Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. Currently I really like Greg Rucka and Geoff Johns. I also like Warren Ellis when he's writing something he cares about, and Gail Simone is doing some great work on Gen-13. Mike Carey is also a great writer.
 
I was a big fan of Mike Weiringo and it's sad that he's no longer with us. I also like Alan Davis, Alex Ross, and a couple of others. I get to see a lot of comic art because of my day job (Brand Manager for the Marvel and DC Trading Card Games), and I'm getting pickier.

TW:  How about TV?  What do you like and what do you look for?
 
HS:  We're big fans of TiVo at Casa de Savage. Currently we're watching: Heroes, Journeyman, Beauty and the Geek (love it!), Smallville, House, BSG, and my kids and I watch Star Trek every Saturday morning.
 
I'll watch anything at least once. I like strong characters and interesting storylines. While I love well-written shows, I can also turn off my brain and be entertained.
 
TW:  Did you dig Hex?
 
HS:  Unfortunately I never watched it.
 
TWBLASPHEMER!  I know you're a Supernatural fan.  How much do you think they cribbed from Chill?  I see a lot!
 
HS:  Yeah, there are a lot of similarities. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some of the people on the writing staff were/are gamers.

TW:  What are some of your favorite movies?
 
HS:  Too many to count. I'm a bit of a movie whore and much like TV, if I'm having fun, I like it.
 
TW:  Music?
 
HS:  Just about anything, although I'm in a Sarah McLachlan mood these days.
 
TW:  What do you often do for fun, aside from gaming?
 
HS:  I spend a lot of time with my family, especially my three kids. With two boys and a girl there's always something going on!

The Weirding:  Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us!  We look forward to the new Chill 3.0 from Otherworld Creations, as well as all your other projects.  Keep in touch and let us know how things are progressing!

Hyrum Savage:  Anytime. It was a lot of fun. :)