Praise for Twisted Tales Events

'In the past few years Twisted Tales has become a major force in the promotion and appreciation of horror fiction. As well as putting on author readings and signings at bookshops it has expanded into organising larger events, bringing authors and critics together for discussions of the field. I've been involved in quite a few of both and have found them hugely enjoyable and stimulating - I believe the audiences did as well. May Twisted Tales continue to grow and prosper! If you love the field, support them! I do.' - Ramsey Campbell

‘Twisted Tales consistently produce well-organised events for writers and readers of horror. What really distinguishes Twisted Tales for me is the intelligent themes and investigations they pursue, and the high quality of the discussions they always stimulate. As an author I've been invited to three of their events and have been pleasantly startled, to near shocked, by the attendance levels - two out of three were even sold out. I salute anyone who contributes so much to the literary and cultural life of horror fiction.’- Adam Nevill

'Twisted Tales events are wonderful... a great way of promoting 21st century horror fiction. Supported by Waterstone's Liverpool One and really well organised, Twisted Tales brings together established names in the genre as well as new voices and of course readers. Looking forward to much more to come...' - Alison J. Littlewood

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan interviewed by David McWilliam

Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is a writer and game designer. He wrote the Darkening of Mirkwood for Cubicle 7's The One Ring: Adventures in Middle-Earth, the Laundry Files Roleplaying Game, new editions of Paranoia and Traveller, and Fear Itself 2nd Edition and Eyes of the Stone Thief among other projects for Pelgrane Press. He co-wrote the epic Dracula Dossier, voted Product of the Year in the 2016 Ennie Awards. Find him on twitter @mytholder

This interview focuses on the new Trail of Cthulhu supplement, which can be purchased here.

DM: Can you tell me about how the idea for Cthulhu City first came to you?
GR-H: It originated as an outgrowth from a scene in another Trail of Cthulhu adventure I wrote a few years ago, ‘Return to Red Hook’ in the Arkham Detective Tales anthology. There’s a sequence in there where the investigators travel to this bizarre alien city that’s impinging or overlapping on New York. I recall describing this fantastical procession wending its way between basalt skyscrapers, and thinking ‘hey, I could do more with this’.

In some ways, it’s not so much an idea as a cross-section – if you took all of Lovecraft’s cities, Arkham and Innsmouth and Boston, but also R’lyeh and the City of the Elder Things and Carcosa and the marvellous sunset city, mashed them up, and then took a slice of the resulting urban cacophony, that’s Cthulhu City.

DM: You have mentioned both Alex Proyas’s Dark City (1998) and Jeff VanderMeer’s Finch (2009) as influences for Cthulhu City. How would a familiarity with either prepare players and GMs for engaging with this setting?
GR-H: Dark City is the elevator pitch reference. ‘Take Dark City, chop off the dark bit, stick Cthulhu on instead – that’s the game’. It’s a shorthand, and it gets the mood of the place across quickly: ‘You’re trapped in this bizarre city that looks normal on the surface, but is in the thrall of sinister forces, it’s all a bit noir, and your memory may be unreliable’.

Finch – and all of VanderMeer’s work – does wonders with the idea of infection and oblique horrors. His characters are always fumbling around the edges of something too vast and terrible for their minds and perceptions to wholly encompass, and in their fumbling, they touch something abhorrent and invidious that infects them, drawing them inwards towards that inhuman revelation. Finch deals with a city that’s been occupied by the alien fungoid gray caps; similarly, Cthulhu City is about a city that’s been occupied by the Mythos.

It’s closer to Dark City than Finch, though, in that most people are unaware of the occupation. Usually, they’re wilfully unaware – the Mythos isn’t so much hidden as so all-pervasive that you can avoid acknowledging it, because it touches everything. There’s no comforting rationality to retreat to, except in your own delusions, so most people delude themselves into thinking everything’s normal.

DM: What else has inspired you while writing Cthulhu City?
GR-H: Various books on the Stasi and surveillance states. Real-world American history – there’s a thinly disguised riff on Tammany Hall, for example, only it’s full of Deep Ones. The suppression of the Armitage Inquiry took inspiration from J. Edgar Hoover’s efforts against Communism. Also, and I suppose this was inevitable, current events pushed their way in. Politics is full of fear and madness and rumours of strange cults right now.

Musically, I had VNV Nation albums on repeat for months.

More than anything else, it’s a paean to Lovecraft and the Mythos. Or possibly an exorcism. 

DM: How do you think noir can inform a horror RPG? Are there tips in the book for evoking a noir sensibility?
GR-H: Noir is about people trying to defy - or work within, or getting crushed by – a corrupt and oppressive system. Its protagonists are often detectives, or police officers, or ordinary people trying to solve a mystery, and uncovering horrible truths. The big difference between noir and most horror RPGs is that noir’s a very human genre – the villains do what they do because of their human passions and failings and desires, not because they’re inhuman monsters.

Cthulhu City bridges that gap – the city is secretly ruled by inhuman horrors, but their servants are humans, and not the crazed cultists of, say, The Call of Cthulhu. It’s the city councillors, the wealthy industrialists, the police chiefs, the priests and bankers who are in league with monsters.

One of the tools added in Cthulhu City is that every NPC has a clue that can be leveraged. Everyone’s got some dirty little secret that you can use to blackmail or manipulate them. It adds to the feeling of sordid betrayal and intrigue.

DM: What narrative and gaming possibilities do you think Cthulhu City will offer to Trail of Cthulhu GMs?
GR-H: It’s a setting that flips a lot of the assumptions of classic Cthulhu play. The cultists aren’t the ones who have to keep their schemes hidden – it’s the investigators who need to hide from the authorities. It’s a setting where clinging to normality is a form of madness. It’s one where the Great Old Ones aren’t slumbering beneath the seas – they’re here, now, at your throat.

It also addresses one of the long-standing bugbears of this sort of game. If the default investigator is ‘an ordinary person who encounters the Mythos’, that works great for a one-shot, but is less convincing in a campaign. If my mild-mannered antiquarian rescued his friends from Deep Ones one week, it’s jarring to have him battle Mi-Go the next. Making the Mythos omnipresent makes the conceit of the heroes being ordinary people absurd. The two traditional solutions are either making campaigns a linked series of investigations into the same phenomenon – playing a whole campaign about Deep Ones – or saying that the player characters are part of an organisation that investigates the Mythos, like Delta Green.

Cthulhu City offers a third approach – the player characters are surrounded by the Mythos, so they can be ‘ordinary people’ while encountering many different manifestations and facets of horror. You can run into Deep Ones in one adventure and Yithians in the next without losing cohesion.

DM: Cthulhu City seems to be part of a wider trend at the moment to play in the End Times, when the Old Ones are ascendant (such as Cthulhu Wars and Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones). Why do you think there is a growing interest in either playing as the Mythos entities or in a world that has already fallen to them?
GR-H: I’m not sure if that’s a trend in itself, or just part of the general expansion of the Mythos into every possible genre and style of play. You could equally point at historical Cthulhu, or espionage plus Cthulhu, or sci-fi plus Cthulhu. Cthulhu plus Apocalypse might be just another hideous miscegenation of genre, so to speak.

One possible attraction is the feeling that one doesn’t need to put your toys back in the box afterwards. In most settings with Mythos elements, the Mythos has to remain hidden for the setting to make sense. You can’t go back to quaint, sleepy Arkham if there are mi-go openly roaming the streets; everything has to be kept in the shadows, or banished before the newspapers arrive. But if preserving human society is no longer a consideration for your setting, you’ve got a freer hand.

DM: What else are you working on right now? Is Cthulhu City likely to be a standalone source book, or can you foresee the possibility of expanding on it with future supplements?
GR-H: Cthulhu City’s standalone, just like Bookhounds or Dreamhounds, although we’ll continue to support it through our Page XX magazine and other channels. I’ve got some adventures, for example, that will see the light of day in some form.

Right now, I’m working on an anthology of adventures for Night’s Black Agents called the Persephone Operation, revolving around bioterrorism, Greek myth, and the horrors of immortality. I’ve got some 13th Age supplements on the to-do list too. I should really write something light and fluffy one of these days…

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Ghost Stories at Keele Hall

Join us for the second Ghost Stories at Keele Hall in the atmospheric surroundings of the Senior Common Room. This will feature unsettling readings from Robert Shearman (writer for Dr Who, and author of Remember Why You Fear Me, the World Fantasy Award-winning Tiny Deaths, and the Shirley Jackson Award-, the British Fantasy Award-, and the Edge Hill Short Story Reader’s Prize-winning Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical), V.H. Leslie (author of World Fantasy Award-, and the British Fantasy Award-nominated Skein and Bone, and Bodies of Water), and D.P. Watt (author of Almost Insentient, Almost Divine, and The Phantasmagorical Imperative: and Other Fabrications). There will then be a panel discussion and audience Q&A.

When: 7:30-9:30pm on Monday 6th November 2017

Where: Senior Common Room, Keele Hall, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG

Book tickets here

Monday, 19 December 2016

Audio from Ghost Stories at Keele Hall 2016

Here is the audio from Ghost Stories at Keele Hall, which took place on Monday 21st November 2016. Part 1 features readings from Timothy Jarvis (author of William Hope Hodgson-inspired novel The Wanderer), Helen Marshall (author of the World Fantasy Award- and Shirley Jackson Award-winning collection Gifts for the One Who Comes After), and Stephen Volk (BAFTA-winning writer of Ghostwatch, Afterlife, and The Awakening and author of the award-nominated novella Whitstable), while Part 2 consists of the panel discussion and audience Q&A, chaired by David McWilliam. Thanks to Pawas Bisht, Lecturer in Media, Communications, & Culture at Keele, for recording the event.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

An Evening of Ghost Stories at Keele Hall

In the tradition of M.R. James, Twisted Tales has gathered three of the finest horror authors in the UK for an evening of ghost stories at Keele Hall. They are Stephen Volk (BAFTA-winning writer of Ghostwatch, Afterlife, and The Awakening and author of the award-nominated novella Whitstable), Helen Marshall (author of the World Fantasy Award- and Shirley Jackson Award-winning collection Gifts for the One Who Comes After) and Timothy Jarvis (author of William Hope Hodgson-inspired novel The Wanderer). They will each give a reading, followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A.

When: 7:30-9:30pm on Monday 21st November 2016
Senior Common Room, Keele Hall, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG

Tickets are FREE, but you must register for them here

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Twisted Tales of the North

Andrew Michael Hurley in conversation with Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes (Chaired by Dr David McWilliam)

When: 6-8pm Friday 21st October 2016

Where: The John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH

Tickets are FREE but you must register here.

Following the success of his first novel, The Loney, which won the Costa First Novel Award 2015 and has secured a film deal, Andrew Michael Hurley will take part in this popular annual event in conversation with Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes.

Andrew completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School in 2007.

Hurley’s debut novel captures the desolate surroundings of the Lancashire coastline in a story of 1970s remembrance. The narrator explores his lost teenage years during a Catholic pilgrimage. The story draws from the longstanding tradition of the Gothic. Hurley inflects his text with an unseen and inescapable horror that never truly manifests but lurks carefully beneath each sentence: 'terror exists in your imagination' he explains.

Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes is Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Film at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has taught widely in the areas of Gothic studies, contemporary literature, film theory, critical theory, modernist literature, and has also co-convened or co-designed specialised units on the Gothic and on British culture and society 1800-2000. His areas of expertise are Gothic Studies, horror film and fiction, and contemporary literature.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Can Oral interviewed by David McWilliam about 'Stygian'

Can Oral is the Lead Designer and Creative Director on Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones for Cultic Games. Cultic Games is a newly-established independent game development company from Istanbul. Team Cultic is comprised of multi-disciplinarian members from the video game, film, and music industries. Cultic Games is very aware of its role in the coming apocalypse and is crafting Stygian with the utmost care.

Prior to taking on this role, Can was a film director by trade. He has written and directed several award-winning short and medium length films along with commercials and music videos for the last twelve years. Can has been interested in video game design since the days of C64 and was considered for various roles in companies such as Bioware and worked in Riot Games as a director.
Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones is currently on Kickstarter.

DM: What is your pitch for Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones? Why have you taken it to Kickstarter?
CO: Stygian is a highly thematic, narrative computer role-playing game which takes place in the nightmare worlds of H.P. Lovecraft. We are developing a multiple-choice role-playing game which not only serves the themes of Lovecraft in storytelling and presentation but also in game systems and other design approaches. I am an avid role-player myself and I can say that I came across very few interesting settings in computer RPGs in the last decade or so. With Stygian, we also ask are we condemned to settings like sword and sorcery or space opera in CRPGs? Do we have to take a part in the war between good and evil eternally? Can't we choose fragile and flawed beings as player characters instead of heroes?

This is a pitch which may look a little risky from the perspective of a publisher. With Kickstarter, we opened our imaginations, visions, and our prototype directly to the players. Now it's up to them to continue the dream (or the nightmare) we've formed.

DM: Are there CRPGs that you particularly admire and take inspiration from? Or do you draw more from the imaginative worlds created for pen and paper RPGs?
CO: I can say that we draw from both worlds. At the CRPG side, we have been analyzing titles of the early 90s like Dark Sun and Ultima Martian Dreams to the more contemporary CRPGs like Pillars of Eternity and Shadowrun. We aim to create a unique experience with Stygian but we are very interested in how other teams crafted their worlds, created a sense of progress, approached their systems, etc.

I believe if you know where to look and have some patience, you can unearth incredible mechanics, approaches, and solutions from the history of CRPGs. On the other hand; tabletop role-playing, with its endless variety and freedom, is also an equally productive exploration field for Team Cultic. I can easily name settings like Ravenloft, Planescape, Dark Sun, WoD, Nephilim, Call of Cthulhu, and such among my pen and paper inspirations for Stygian.

DM: The cell-shaded art for Stygian is highly distinctive. Why did you opt for this approach?
CO: Lovecraftian horror takes its strength from the unknown. We are developing a turn-based, axonometric game, so we are risking showing all these strange, vague entities to the player. This was a challenge from the beginning. I decided to go for an authentic art style which is reminiscent of book illustrations instead of an approach which tries to duplicate reality. This way, I aimed to create a reflection of the indescribable nightmare actuality the player is facing, thus leaving space for your imagination while honouring the illustrations of the pioneering pulp magazines such as Weird Tales. Also, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for outlines!

DM: Although the game begins in Arkham, it has been transplanted into a much more hostile, alien environment. How does this build on H.P. Lovecraft's stories and distinguish the game as its own entity?
CO: H.P. Lovecraft emphasized humanity's fragility in the face of a cosmic threat and our inescapable demise when the Great Old Ones awaken, but he never described the actual apocalypse. Our aim is to create a supernatural post-apocalyptic anti-utopia which is being ruled hand in hand by the Mob and the Cult in the absence of the proper institutions after the fall of society in Arkham. We wanted to isolate the iconic town of Arkham in a limbo between dimensions to be able to create a pocket plane, which we intend on filling densely with figures and entities of terror. We take our inspiration from the social reality of the period in which Lovecraft wrote as well as his work to create the devilish status quo of our Arkham. So I can say that we are interpreting a lot while respecting the actual canon.

DM: This is a very unusual take on post-apocalyptic settings and reminds me somewhat of Curst in Carceri from Planescape: Torment. However, it feels as though there is more of a sense of slow-burning dread than a frenetic fight to save the town. How have you approached pacing in Stygian?
CO: A very true observation. Stygian's human characters have already accepted their doom. The surviving folk in Arkham lost any hope of seeing the sunlight or their loved ones again long ago. Most of them also lost their minds while trying to face this unbearable truth. Others struggle to hold on to their miserable existences by going to the extremes, whether in belief, in pleasure, or in power... The pacing of Stygian will come from the player character's urgent need to reach the mysterious Dismal Man before losing his tracks forever.

DM: Without wanting to spoil too much of the story, can you hint as to who the Dismal Man may be and how he is linked to the fate of Arkham?
CO: This may mean giving major spoilers David, but let's analyze the data we have at hand together. In his/her prologue, the player character meets this peculiar fellow called the Dismal Man and he says one thing: “Find me beyond Arkham after the Black Day”. This means he was aware of the coming events like the awakening of the Old Ones and the isolation of Arkham from our dead world. Is he a mere watcher of the events, or an actor in this scenario of cosmic dread? You will find the answers in Stygian.

DM: The combat system is very reminiscent of the Heroes of Might and Magic series. What are your reasons for making this choice and how large a role will combat play in Stygian?
CO: It was the perfect choice for our combat system considering Stygian's miniature-like perspective. Also we are all HoMM 3 fans here in Cultic Games and were very eager to add elements like action points, cover mechanics, and sight to the already proven, addictive Heroes formula. I personally spent probably thousands of hours playing the Heroes series.

DM: Stygian is described as a game of horror, madness, and loss. How do you explore these themes while allowing the player to make progress?
CO: We like to emphasize that Stygian is not about winning, but about “enduring” in terms of progression. From the beginning, we wanted our players to feel the sense of progression in continuing the journey somehow, rather than owning the game's meta. If you are alive, not completely insane, and still going, that is progress in Stygian. I believe there is a survivalist (and maybe a bit masochistic) satisfaction in that kind of design and balancing approach.

DM: Now that Stygian has funded, can you elaborate on the upcoming stretch goals? If the campaign picks up lots more backers in the final few days, do you have any really major additions that you would like to make to the game?
CO: We are very excited about the possibilities. Our first major stretch goal is the Dreamlands. It will add a unique questline to the game along with a bizarre, surreal landscape, which you will be able to enter only by resting. In this vague and blurry quest-line, you will try to reach the memories of your ancestors in the strange realm of dreams, thus witnessing their sins and struggling to redeem them. The Dreamlands will add adventure game mechanics to Stygian while giving an edge to the familiar “progress-rest-progress” formula.

Thanks a lot for your thoughtful questions, David! It was a pleasure!

Monday, 13 June 2016

Bryan C.P. Steele interviewed by David McWilliam about 'Dark Age'

From the early age of seven, Bryan can remember always keeping gaming as a big part of his life, and now it is just that. Moving from playtesting and demo-staffing to his first paper publication with Warmachine: Prime in 2003, he has leapt into the gaming industry with both feet. Working on award-winning projects with a number of different companies over the years, he has had input on several fan favorite games such as Iron Kingdoms, Traveller, Shadowrun, and RuneQuest. Bryan has also been fortunate enough to work with such fantastic settings as Conan, Babylon 5, Starship Troopers, and Judge Dredd over the years.

Branching out into professional miniature painting and sculpting, Bryan has done his best to try his hand at every aspect of the industry. Writing, designing, collaborating, marketing, and managing; if it has something to do with the enjoyment of gamers, Bryan has shown that he happily will be a part of it! Currently a game developer and writer over at Cool Mini or Not, Bryan spends his days in his home studio fleshing out, designing, and spit-shining games like Dark Age, Wrath of Kings, and even has had some hand in the company’s popular board games like Rum & Bones: Second Tide and Massive Darkness.

For more information on Dark Age, visit

DM: How and why did you become a tabletop games designer?
BS: I’ve been a gamer for over thirty years. It seemed to be the only thing, aside from comic books, that I stuck with. Every other hobby or talent came, left its mark, then vanished. As I grew as a gamer, I moved into writing house rules, adjusting what I thought was wrong with existing games, and eventually official playtesting for companies that would have me.

It was during that era that I decided I wanted to try and be a part of the ownership circle in a local comic book shop. The current owner of the shop took me to a retailer-only convention where I ended up playing lots of games of a little game that was not finished yet set in this RPG universe called the Iron Kingdoms. By the end of the show I was handing these guys my gamer creds because I wanted to demo their game when it came out. I wanted to help them make this thing happen. As fate would have it, they saw that I had done some writing for games at the exact moment one of their staff writers left the project. They asked if I could do a test piece, the test piece led to a contract that in turn became the original Warmachine: Prime. We won a few Origins Awards the following summer, and that basically set me on my path. I never looked back; gaming was going to be my career. Here we are, fourteen years later, and I’m still going strong.

DM: With Mark 3 of Warmachine out this summer, the game is getting lots of coverage. What do you consider to be its greatest strengths and have they influenced your subsequent game design?
BS: Yeah, I am very proud to have been a part of what got that game started in the first place… now it is a juggernaut, no pun intended. Greatest strength, though? Probably the simplicity of its core system. This plus this, roll dice, hit, roll damage. Easy as that. It doesn’t take too long to understand, but it takes a lot of time to “master.” As for whether or not it has influenced my work later on… maybe? 95% of what I did for Privateer Press was just narrative design, so the rules and stuff was on someone else’s plate. But I will say this, I learned a lot about the “process” of creating good, memorable characters that people actually want to read about and play. Hopefully the fans agree.

DM: What is your pitch when describing Dark Age to new gamers?
BS: It is a true sci-fi skirmish game set in a world ravaged not by one apocalypse… but several. Aliens, humans, monsters, and robots all fighting each other for domination of a broken world that no one else wants. It’s a dangerous game where technology isn’t necessarily going to work, probably will kill you, but you’re damned if you don’t try to use it anyway.

DM: Are there any post-apocalyptic worlds that you draw inspiration from?
BS: I watch a *lot* of movies and international television series on Netflix, Hulu, and HBO, so my inspirations can come from the most random of places. As for specific sources that kind of fit, it depends on what I’m thinking about at the time. With the Forsaken, I can watch Kingdom of Heaven or possibly some Game of Thrones. Outcasts get Mad Max. Skarrd actually get Ghosts of Mars, Mutant Chronicles, etc. The CORE get VIRUS, Terminator, First Contact. But recently, with the impending new releases for the Kukulkani, I watched Apocalypto again. Now that I’m working so heavily on the upcoming Dragyri book, Predator movies have been in the rotation. Next year, when we do the Brood, it will be sci-fi monster movies from Species to Aliens. As for the world itself, I turn to anything Riddick has to deal with.

DM: Can you give an overview of where Dark Age began and where it is today?
BS: Dark Age was the first miniature game property of Cool Mini or Not. Dark Age, way back in 2003, began as a heavily narrative miniature game that almost felt like a roleplaying game. Low model count, heavy story factors, lots of in-game effects; that sort of thing. The game has evolved a great deal, and the current version is brutal magic, in my opinion.

DM: What do you consider to be some of the most effective and affective narrative elements that convey the horror of Dark Age to players?
BS: In the narrative itself, Dark Age is set on Samaria, a planet that was used, abused, and eventually abandoned by the collective corporate scum of the United Worlds conglomerated government. The humans, collectively falling into the religious fanatics of the Forsaken and the Darwinian survivalists called Outcasts, do everything they can to eke out a normal existence amidst honor-bound aliens, genetic monsters, sacrifice-happy space invaders, meat-powered robot monsters, and mutant cannibals. It is a rough place, and if they could stop their own Machiavellian schemes they might be able to thrive.

In the game’s rules, we represent the world’s situation in two real ways – the constant use of models’ “psyche” for fear and panic purposes, and the presence of a Malfunction number on most attack types that include anything more advanced than an edge or heavy weight. In Dark Age, pulling the trigger on your favorite sidearm might just backfire and cost you your hand! Sometimes, especially if an important model is already wounded, you choose the lesser attack with a smaller chance for Malfunction instead of a potentially more lethal one.

DM: There is a real focus on body horror within the setting, from grafting, mutations, cannibalism, and more. Is David Cronenberg an influence on the game?
BS: An influence on the game? Probably not. On me personally? Absolutely. I’m a *huge* horror movie fan, and if I said that some of the things I have let my eyes feast upon haven’t influenced the way I see Dark Age… I’d be a liar for sure. I love Cronenberg, but Carpenter and Craven are where much of my personal tastes lie.

DM: Can you give a sense of each of the main factions and what you consider to be their most interesting aspects?
BS: Sure! The Forsaken (and the Prevailers) are a theocracy battling amongst themselves politically while trying to survive against the world around them. The Forsaken have a great strength in their adaptability, because as a faction they definitely have the greatest number of units to look at.

The Outcasts, whether talking about the core survivalists, the Slavers of Chains Barrow, or the Salt Flat Nomads, are all about making a living outside the comforts of reliable technology. They cobble together what they can. Make use of it, and try to get by. Like the Forsaken, they have a lot to choose from, but they bring a ton of interesting skills and special abilities to the table.

The Skarrd – mutant cannibal cults bent on the evolution of mankind through hardship. True monsters made by forbidden science, psychic powers, and the harsh environments of Samaria, maybe with a touch of evil madness tossed in. They are offense, offense, offense; give them the opening and they will tear you to pieces… and eat them!

The Dragyri, who are getting a big update and a brand new sub-faction before the end of the year, are a race of aliens that have actually been on the planet for longer than humans, oddly enough. They are powerful close combatants that use either swarms of pathetic slaves or hulking Trueborn brutes along with some powerful “magic” to crush their foes. Dragyri armies have some of the most durable individual models at a mid-level point cost the game has to offer.

The Brood are genetic beasties born in a lab and eventually left to their own devices in the Blackmire Swamp. They are part animal, part science project, and the only faction built around the idea of regenerating wounds. They take a licking and keep on coming.

The CORE are self-replicating robots that run on scavenged or aggressively claimed organic matter. They are a force of somewhat mindless drones that never give up led by higher programmed AIs that can hold their own against nearly any enemy. The draw to the CORE is a collection of unit-changing Upgrades that certain models can choose, allowing certain models to play different roles to the army each time you play.

Lastly we have the Kukulkani- a race of Aztec/Mayan-themed alien invaders from space that (if you ask some of the other Dark Age staff) might have had a hand in the possible destruction of humans on Terra (maybe in 2012?). They live on the biological energies taken from living things through advanced technomancy, using science to create magical effects. On the tabletop they have a resource they gain from some of their units or killing others called Bio-Energy, which they spend to cast powerful rituals or enhance some of their units in spectacular ways.

I think that about covers it.

DM: Every faction seems to be getting a book of their own at the moment (those for the Forsaken and Outcasts are already available, with the Dragyri one due out later this year). What is the idea behind this and how are the books allowing you to build Dark Age?
BS: We are going forward with Dark Age in new ways, starting with an official “Web Update” for the Kukulkani coming very soon. We will be using our website downloads section a lot more to update factions, repair card typos, adjust for balance mistakes (we all make them, unfortunately), and such, but when we have BIG releases or faction/story-wide events that need more pomp and circumstance, we will put together a faction book. Eventually, we will release a compilation of the Web Update stuff, too… but only when we have enough to make it worth the customers’ while – no tiny splat book syndrome here! So, things like the emergence of the Dragyri Shadow Caste or a new evolution within the Brood, those require a published product.

In all of our books and web updates we will write narratives and further the overall story of Dark Age, but it is a matter of scope. In a Web Update, we will focus on the changes to the faction involved, maybe getting a little bit into the overall story, whereas a fully published book will have a heavy narrative element that will talk about all the factions – and more. Effectively we want to grow our world in small steps, space out the changes we make, and even the game as we go. A fair game is what we want; at least fair between players – the models themselves are pretty much screwed from Jump Street!

DM: Where do you see Dark Age going in the near future? What are your long-term hopes for the game?
BS: Well, in the near future we have the update and new releases for the Kukulkani, the long-awaited reveal of the Shadow Caste in the Dragyri book shortly thereafter, and then an update to the expansive CORE robotic hordes. That’s the rules and models part of it, as for the narrative… well, that is another story (pun definitely intended that time).

The Shadow Caste coming out to play is like breaking every rule of Fight Club all at once, and Samaria is about to get a heaping helping of violent interaction. The spidery Dragyri had a ton of little threads wrapped around their talons, and now that they are up and out of hiding – a lot of those puppets are about to dance.

As for the long term, the number one thing that I would like to see out of the game is a driving force of games being played all over the world for people trying to become "Immortalized" as a model in our annual Immortals tournament and March To Immortality event circuit. The “MTI” (as it is commonly phrased) is about to get a little shift in how it happens, beginning with this 2017 Circuit, and I really think that people are going to enjoy climbing toward our Immortals event in Atlanta, Georgia at the Cool Mini or Not Expo next spring. Basically, I want the game to be as popular as other skirmish games like Malifaux, Infinity, and eventually my old alma mater, Warmachine. Once people get to playing it, reading our stories, and seeing all the fantastic new sculpts and re-sculpts in the Dark Age line, it will be an easy sell, so to speak.

DM: For people who are entirely new to Dark Age, how would you advise them to get started? What resources are there for them to draw on?

BS: For beginners that aren’t getting to play in starter games at a convention or an official Legion (our demo team) store event, I’d say the first place to stop would be to peruse the factions, the gallery of models, and maybe download the basic rules. Also, hopping to our Facebook page (or the very popular fan group on Facebook, Dark Age: Samaria Reborn) and asking questions is always a good way to find out what’s what. For a game about everything being thrown to hell in a proverbial handbasket, we have a very tight and friendly community that is growing every week. I hope it continues to do so as we move forward. A good community is the foundation to a successful game, that is my belief.