David Hill on Farewell to Fear
David A. Hill, Jr. recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for his tabletop roleplaying game Farewell to Fear. It’s described as “Progressive Post-Fantasy” that aims to take sexism, classism, racism, instutional violence, and more out of fantasy and replace it with a game about revolution. A game where you take fantasy out of the dark ages. As the tagline goes:
Think punk rock meets fantasy. Bad religion meets Tolkien, boot to face.
Giant Fire Breathing Robot:What is the one coolest thing about Farewell to Fear? The thing that you’re most excited for
people to play with?
David Hill: Not fair! Honestly, I think the mechanics for Solutions are the biggest neat points. It’s like you take all the planning and preparation work that happens in a classic adventure game, and make it a huge focus of the game mechanics.
GFBR: When do you go to the dice in F2F? From what I can tell so far, it seems that it’s not simply “I roll dice when I try to take an action that’s uncertain,” but rather the dice are engaged when the players are having their characters experiment with things, or posit solutions to problems. Can you talk about how that works? What does rolling dice resolve in F2F?
David: Well. There are two layers of dice mechanics in F2F. You’ve got your basic adventuring mechanics. They’re dice-light. Most scenes, you’ll roll maybe once or twice and that resolves the entirety of the conflict. But then there’s the meta layer, which I call the Conflict/Solution rules. At the beginning of the game, the Director builds a pool of dice that represents the main conflict. Throughout the story, as you do things that build the solution to the final conflict, the players build a pool as well. At the beginning of the third act, the players roll their pool, and it destroys most of the conflict pool. This makes an insurmountable conflict much more manageable, through thinking, planning, and experimentation.
GFBR: Is there a GM in Farewell to Fear? If so, what does s/he do?
David: Indeed. Machine Age games have a Director. In Farewell to Fear, they will play NPCs. They’ll interpret the game module, and they’ll help keep the conflict in perspective.
GFBR: What do the other players do?
David: They’re each playing a character looking to change the world. They’re determining what they’re changing, how they’re changing it, and when their characters give up on their revolutions.
GFBR: What kind of “revolutions” do the characters engage in?
David: The divisions we’ve decided are Social, Political, Fantastical, Scientific, and Revealing the Truth. Those can mean any number of ways to change the world.
GFBR: Can you tell me a little bit about Arduise, your setting?
David: Sure. It’s a western-style fantasy setting, on the verge of becoming no longer a fantasy setting. The elves have all died off. Magic is only the purview of a select few. Imperialism is on its way out. The characters are there to push the setting toward enlightenment. There are four city states, which are each renowned or notorious for something or another. Each has its own approach to governance, and its own take on religion and magic.
GFBR: What does “pushing the setting toward enlightenment” mean? So the characters are movers and shakers, changing the world?
David: They shake the world, yeah. In fact, if you haven’t changed the world at the end of a game of Farewell to Fear, you’re doing it wrong.
GFBR: How did you build the setting for use in play? Did you go for a traditional approach (the GM and maybe the players read the setting material and bring it into the game on their own)? Or a different approach?
David: The setting material is almost all in-character. Since the game is about change, players have the option to confront biases and find the truth behind the subjective material.
GFBR: Could you talk a little more about this? What do you mean?
David: Think about it like this. Instead of giving you an out-of-character textbook of setting information, all the setting is fiction written in the fiction. By the characters. So there’s bias and edited history. The player characters can dig into that, and discover your truth. I don’t want to give too many concrete answers in the setting, because I want the audience to make it fit their needs. Like, there might be a war. There might be rumors as to why that war was fought. But I won’t say for certain, because that’s interesting to investigate.
GFBR: Can you tell us about the Kickstarter campaign and some of the rewards you offered? And what about after that; will F2F be in distribution to game stores? What’s your plan?
David: Well. We’re actually looking at distribution now. The response we’ve gotten so far has made it nearly viable. I think if we break a few thousand more [this interview took place before the Kickstarter campaign ended - ed.], that’ll absolutely be a realistic goal. I’ve got to look at the logistics, but I’d love to get it in game stores. Besides that, we always do direct sales, and we’re looking at distributing through Indie Press Revolution, and I sell at conventions.
As far as rewards… we’ve got a few lined up right now. As it stands, I’m doing alternate rules based on Apocalypse World for the game. We’re close to a Kindle version. If we hit $14,000, I’m doing Pathfinder rules for Farewell to Fear. At $16k, we’re more than doubling the classes included with the game. If we managed to hit $20k, all our backers would get a second game included with their orders. The second game is likely to be an adventure game aesthetically inspired by Final Fantasy 6.
GFBR: Thanks for talking to us, David!
The Farewell to Fear Kickstarter ended at $18,696, well in excess of its $4000 goal. As David mentioned, this means they are doing a version of the game with the Apocalypse World rules, one with the Pathfinder rules, and it will be available on Kindle. Look for Farewell to Fear on the the Machine Age Productions website.