Saturday, July 19, 2014

3PP Interview: William Moomaw of Mór Games

Today I'm interviewing William Moomaw of Mór Games. Read on to learn more about the Imperiums Campaign setting, self-publishing, and more!

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’ve been playing roleplaying games since the early 80s when a friend of mine showed me a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons “red box” set. Since then I have been playing many different tabletop roleplaying games such as the old West End Games version of Star Wars, Star Frontiers, and Car Wars. Much of the early 90s was spent playing games from White Wolf while past few years I’ve spent trying systems such as Burning Wheel, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Numenera. I always seemed to find my way back to D&D and Pathfinder.

In undergrad I bounced around diverse majors including Music Performance and Chemistry before settling down and earning both a BA and a MA in Philosophy. I think that my academic history as well as my love of history and good storytelling comes out in both my gaming and game design. I draw inspiration from many academic disciplines whether I’m creating a character, putting together an adventure, or designing aspects of gameplay.

How did you get into RPG design and what kind of projects have you been working on? What have been your best experiences?

RPG design first grabbed my attention after I started trying new RPG systems. After seeing how different games handle different aspects of playing RPGs, I began to realize how much a game system informs its players as to what kind of stories can be told. Some systems are better at telling combat driven stories, others on interpersonal drama, etc.

I began thinking about RPG design when I saw that I was always trying to force the square peg of the stories I wanted to see into the round hole of the existing game systems. While no game system is perfect for every type of story, I would often think about how to make changes to systems to fit the stories people I played with liked to tell.

I’m not really different from most gamers in that respect. Many game groups begin to make house rules or ignore rules they don’t like in any system.

In your opinion, what makes a good Pathfinder RPG compatible product?

A good Pathfinder RPG compatible product is one that works seamlessly with the framework that Paizo has provided, yet it pushes beyond what has already been provided. I think a great product is able to walk the line of providing more depth (be it folklore, magic items, or optional rules) without limiting what players and GMs can do when telling their own stories. In short a great product will provide new material which will inspire everyone playing the game; be it with great art, compelling background material, or creative options that excite people so they can’t wait till the next time they can roll some dice.

When and how did Mór Games get started?

Mór Games came into being in the summer of 2013 with the idea of taking all the material generated over 15 years of play and putting it into a series of books. After talking with people the decision was made to bring the focus of the material onto a series of modules that explored a small portion of the world and put into play some of the rules which I had been wanting to incorporate into the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game as well. After a successful Kickstarter Campaign at the end of 2013, I was able to start taking the material that I already had and, with lots of assistance from great artists, editors, layout artists, and playtesters, polish it into products I was proud to have my name on. But without all the great people who backed the Kickstarter campaign, the project would likely have taken years before getting off the ground.
Cover - Feast Hall of Ash
What can you tell about the products of Mór Games?

Products from Mór Games take inspiration from historical real world examples of culture and folklore (such as the ancient Celts, Romans, and Norse), adds additional fantastical elements to those already present in folklore, and brings them into a coherent setting. This approach allows players and GMs to have a baseline feel for details about the cultures, but does so in a way that twists these more commonly known historical cultures in ways that will inspire both to tell stories they may not feel they have been able to tell with other products.

For instance, the first module in the series, Feast Hall of Ash, great care was taken to make the fae that make an appearance feel different than other creatures player might have run into in other games. A fae is different than a dragon in more ways than just what is shown in their stats. They interact with players differently, they have different motivations, even where they choose to reside all differs from other types of creatures. An internal logic is presented to help GMs run encounters that feel specific to the region they are in as well as the types of NPCs or creatures that they interact with.

This is not to say that the products are designed to historically accurate, but they springboard off of a pseudo-historical framework help create an exciting fantasy world.

I also strive to add a bit of grittiness and darkness of a noir style of storytelling to the pulp action style of play which the base Pathfinder RPG supports so well. The world is in a state of decline and players may find themselves having to navigate moral grey areas. While there is plenty of action to be had, sometimes hard decisions are presented in the modules.

Can you give us an exclusive teaser about a future product?

Recipes… Yes, recipes for actual food. There will be real recipes for a few dishes that are found in the Imperiums Campaign Setting which you can cook in your own kitchen. Keep your eye out for the Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha for tasty food you can make for your next game.

Cooking is another major hobby of mine and I could not help but mix cooking and gaming together.

What are the best things about the products of Mór Games and what type of players or GMs would you recommend it/them for?

Players and GMs who enjoy story driven games which options outside of combat will find much to their liking in these products. While combat is always a great draw for Pathfinder enthusiasts, the modules that Mór Games produces allows more options for players and GMs who also enjoy non-combative options for encounters.

Emergences are one of the mechanics designed for the Imperiums Campaign Setting to provide rules for more story driven rewards. These non-magical bonuses may be rewarded to players depending on choices they make in play. Just as players game choices and roleplaying allows them these advantages to be gained, they may also be lost based upon future roleplaying and in game choices they make.

Other “mini-games” such as the Storytelling Game and War of Words, give more opportunities for social characters to shine. These allow players to bring strategy, tactics and their own roleplaying creativity into social encounters. No longer will social encounters need to be determined by a single lucky or unlucky roll of the dice.

Many people who have read products from Mór Games also comment on how they appreciate that magic in the setting really feels like magic. I am glad when I hear this. It is so easy for magic to seem like a comic book superhero’s powers or science by another name. It’s a challenge I have taken on to provide magic that feels mystical and not reskinned technology.

What are the current goals for Mór Games? What are the biggest challenges?

Currently we are working on finishing the Plight of the Tuatha adventure path and associated Campaign Guide. As of this interview, the first two modules have been released and the Campaign Guide is in layout. As we are scheduled to have the final two modules that complete the second half of the Adventure path released by the end of the year, we certainly have our work cut out for us.
The biggest challenge that I have to face is to make sure that the work stays focused on the projects at hand and not working on ideas that arise out of the work on current projects. As I do 98% of the writing of the projects, I find that there isn’t time to explore these additional products. I end up just jotting down a few notes so that when the current adventure path is finished work can be done on developing these additional offerings. Having a large backlog of ideas for future products is not the worst place a self-publisher could find themselves, but I do see the allure of having a large team to work on multiple products simultaneously.

Is there anything else people should know about Mór Games or its products?

If you are interested in finding out more about the Imperiums Campaign Setting, you can check out the website at

If you are interested in being considered for some freelance work, feel free to send an email to While all the work for the Plight of the Tuatha series is well in hand, there are other products sitting in the wings which, if a freelancer who is a good fit is interested, are waiting to move forward into development.

In your opinion, what are the most important things to consider when starting self-publishing?

I think everything can be boiled down to one concept, professionalism. In every aspect professionalism should help guide you along the path. From setting up the business, to interactions with any artists or editors you are working with, striving towards a professional model will help keep everything organized as well as help you gain a reputation as someone who is good to work with.
Even if you only have plans to release a single supplement, approaching the process with a level of organization and professionalism shown by larger publishing houses will help you keep your vendors and customers happy as well as save some sanity. By being well organized and professional from the beginning, and putting together a business that can handle a much higher volume of production than you initially believe you may generate, you will save yourself a ton of headaches in the future.

What skills, tools or other resources do you consider to be the most important in self-publishing?

While not as exciting or glamorous as the artistic side of self-publishing, organizational skills are very important for a self-publisher to continue their success in the long run. Tracking finances closely, keeping all files and invoices we organized and filed, and making sure you respond to inquiries quickly will help you spend less time looking for items and instead be working on producing new content.

Others in the third party publishing community can be a great resource. Most publishers I have spoken with have been great about offering advice and tips. If you have had a question about how to do something, it’s very likely that someone in the community has run into that issue before and might have a few ideas about how to get solve it. As long as you are respectful and understand that 3PPs tend to be very busy working on projects, it’s likely that someone will be able to point you in the right direction.

Learning a bit about Photoshop and InDesign is also very helpful. Even if the majority of the work in these products is done by the artists working with you on your project, it can be helpful to know what is possible with the programs as well as the lingo associated with them so you can have more productive conversations with your freelancers.

What do you find most rewarding about self-publishing? What about least rewarding?

Working with other professionals has been greatly rewarding. I love seeing new art pieces come in from the talented Carolina Eade and Dean Spencer. It is exciting to see our visions blend into a final image that helps bring the Imperiums Campaign Setting to life. Working with insightful editors like Jason Kraus and Mario Podeschi helps stretch my ideas and the written portrayal of those ideas to higher levels of quality. Nathan Paoletta continually impresses me with the hard work he does laying everything out so that the texts are easy to understand and look great on the page. Collaborating with all these people to put together a finished product that people really enjoy using is an amazing experience and makes all the late nights well worth it.

Least rewarding? Well that is a bit more difficult to answer as all the work seems worth it when I see someone reading one of the products. I will say that while I’m actually organizing my work I often think, do I really need to keep things so organized? But when I have to locate a piece of art produced three months ago for the layout of a book, then the value of my organizing is plain to see.

Is there any further advice you would give to someone interested in self-publishing?

Don’t be afraid to start small. Even if you end up just writing something small that you print off at a local printer and pass around to your friends, exploring your passion is a worthwhile pursuit. Don’t worry if your first product is not as slick looking as other products you have seen, just make sure that your content is the best you can produce. With a little luck and a lot of work you might find that word will spread and you may be able to start producing products with a higher production value.

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