Morgan Davie is one of the writers of a|state, and has popped in to tell us little about the new edition, and about the brand new primer, ‘Nicely, Done’, now available from DriveThruRPG.
Hi Morgue, and we’re very pleased to talk you, here at Handiwork Games!
Can you tell us a little about the cult RPG hit a|state? Is it fantasy or SF, utopia or dystopia?
I recently described a|state to a friend as “electro-punk anti-Thatcher dirty humanist SF” which demonstrates the futility of assigning it a simple label! It presents a dystopian science fiction vision, but more grimy than grim, sad and angry and loaded with black humour.
What is The City, and why is it a good place to start?
The City isn’t just a good place to start, it’s the only place you can possibly be, for it is cut off from the rest of the world. Residents can see the stars when the fog clears at night, and they can send out machines to collect raw materials from the world around them, but none of them can leave. Everyone is trapped in The City, desperately trying to find enough security to sleep easy. That’s where the characters come in: their corner of The City is under threat, and it’s up to them to stand up and fight back!
Who are some of your favourite characters/NPCs?
A|state doesn’t strongly emphasise pre-established characters. Each group will populate their own corner of The City with unique characters and there’s nothing more important than that! However, if I had to pick a favourite it would be Janus Kripitsch, the Lostfinder of Mire End, a generous soul determined to help those in need in return for a hot meal or two. (Janus is also a pre-generated character in Nicely, Done, the a|state Primer adventure!)
What kind of PCs would suit the environment? Are there character classes, as such, or can a player build something of their own?
Characters in a|state are built around seven archetypes called “playbooks”, but it’s easy to tilt any of them into whatever form you like. The archetypes are useful starting points, not straitjackets! The seven playbook options are: a community stalwart (e.g. an activist), a technical expert (e.g. a creator of clockwork computers), a warrior (e.g. a deadly ghostfighter), a wayfarer and explorer (e.g. a lostfinder), a smooth operator (e.g. a fixer), a wastrel (e.g. a thief), or a master persuaded (e.g. a journalist).
There are many different types and styles of RPG. Would you describe this one as adventure-based, story-based, or something else?
This game is all about a situation. The characters are known troublemakers, working together to keep the local community safe from outside forces. There are plenty of adventurous missions, where the characters take incredible risks as they take the fight directly to the dangerous powers arrayed against them. These are interspersed with periods of downtime where the characters pursue their personal goals, mix with local NPCs, and try to burn off the great stress of their shared purpose.
Would you need previous RPG experience to be able to play the game/primer?
a|state is a Forged in the Dark game, complete in the book. Anyone can pick it up and work out how to play, no prior RPG experience needed.
The primer, however, is just a taster and assumes the person running the game knows how Forged in the Dark games work.
And finally, tell us what your very favourite thing is about a|state! What are you proudest of?
It’s just exciting to be working on a|state! The original vision of The City presented by its creators Malcolm Craig and Paul Bourne took my breath away back in 2004. It feels great that we can return to it now, and make it come alive more vividly than ever!
Thank you very much for stopping to talk to us!
You can find out all about our a|state primer – here!