Friday, October 17, 2014

Interview with a Designer: Wendall Roy

Here's the last of the Here Be Monsters interviews: Wendall Roy, whose entry was the taniwha, a creature from the Maori mythology.

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I'm a freelance writer and game designer in the Twin Cities. Been gaming for about 30 years, been actively submitting Pathfinder-related material for publication for 4-ish years. 

Have you designed a lot of monsters before? 

For publication and formal contests, not a lot. I tend to focus on world- and personality-building, and working on unique character play experiences such as the In the Company series from Rite Publishing that provide players a comprehensive 1-20 lvl play as various creatures/monsters. For home campaign use and intellectual exercise, quite a bit. Monster design is something I use as often as item design for creative exercise, but I don't have much in the way of creature material in print.

Why did you choose the taniwha and what thinking went into your design? 

I jumped at the chance to do something from Maori myth when I saw it on the Bestiary 5 wish list. It's a rich mythology that hasn't been plumbed much for gaming inspiration.

For my design, I wanted to take a limited and specific range of thematic elements from taniwha myths and weave them into something unique. I wanted the mythological inspirations for the creature to be apparent to anyone familiar with Maori mythology, but at the same time wanted to avoid it seeming derivative or a condescending cultural appropriation. It's something designers should always be careful of when working with a living mythology. Hopefully people enjoy my creation and it comes off as respectful to its inspiration. 

In your opinion, what makes a good monster? 

A good monster provides an enjoyable encounter for the players and GM. It is balanced to its CR and challenging to players face in combat and/or social roleplay. Its mechanics do not give GMs headaches and its tactics are understandable for the GM to run. 

What are your favorite monsters in the Pathfinder RPG (including monsters in 3rd-party products), and why? 

I'm not a fan of "bests" or "favorites" and have fond memories of many monsters. If there is a memorable time where my friends were enjoying that encounter, it's on my list. If I had to choose... the first one that pops in to my head is the hound archon. There was a summoned hound archon that had my players in stitches the way I RPd him for some reason, so he made several appearances in our game. I got so fond of the little bugger that I eventually played him as a PC for a while when another GM took over the campaign.

1 comment :

  1. The In the Company series sounds interesting—I'll check it out. I really like the taniwha. It was very creative entry with great descriptive text. I admit I cast my vote for my own monster, but if I hadn't, I would have voted for the taniwha.


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