Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jeff Dee and Jack Herman Interview

Over at Ain't It Cool News, there's a very interesting -- and lengthy -- interview with Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, creators of Villains & Vigilantes, where they talk about V&V, superhero gaming, their introduction to and involvement with the hobby, and more. There's some terrific stuff in there. Check it out.

Thanks to Christian de la Rosa for the tip.


  1. Designer interviews are always worth a read. It's like a glimpse of Olympus, a look into the minds of the gods.

  2. It's a very cool interview. I was aware of some of the legal wrangling around V&V, but not the complete extent of FGU's shenanigans.

    Incidentally, Jack and Jeff were the first "Gaming Pros" I ever met. It was rather shocking to learn they were only a year or so older than me.

  3. Other than the sad debacle between V&V's creator's and its former publisher, this is awesome!

    Particularly pertinent:

    JH:I think it is too unique and cool to ever really die. I don’t think anything will ever really replicate or replace the tabletop gaming experience.
    -Quoted for Truth. Maybe since a semi-important person said it, people will not dismiss it as 'retro', 'nostalgiac', or 'back-wards thinking'. Otherwise known as: "we got MMOs for that..."(No, we don't. Different play experience for varied reasons![And yes, I've played them... And so have plenty of gamers I know...])

    JD: What tabletop gaming really needs right now is a really solid, really accessible introductory role-playing game. The trend lately has been for older, simpler games to become increasingly complex – and then to transform into monstrous boxed sets full of plastic minis, special dice, pre-printed maps and cards selling for upwards of 50 bucks. That is no way to bring in new players. There’s a further problem in that the ‘older, simpler’ games also tended to be unplayable by anyone who didn’t already understand the hobby. There needs to be a simple tabletop RPG that can be played successfully as written by kids who aren’t used to ‘winging it’, for under 15 bucks, preferably tied into some big trendy license so kids will be interested. I’m certainly not saying that V&V is it, because it’s not. But I think somebody needs to do this.

    -The joy of recounting their old days, and the humility at the end is refreshing. Though I think they they could do something on that front.(They're very creative) Agree strongly with everything said save on the 'licensed property' idea. I mean, that's kinda iffy. Worth trying, but an intro RPG that stands on its own would be just as good, imo. How about both? :-D

    Pay attention to the price point: $15. Spot-on! There needs to be a low-cost entry into the hobby(not PDFs): $60(or more!) full color, glossy, foil, coffee-table hardbacks are not gonna cut it, people. Vanity projects look good, but don't get people playing. Softbacks with black and white illos are fine.(Palladium books seem to do ok...) How about digest books like T&T 5th Edition, or Dragon Warriors, not to mention more functional Box Sets. Get this in stores with a decent ad campaign, and people willing to assist in learning to play, and good things will follow, I'd say.

    V&V is back... Wow.(With Willingham! Awesome!) Best of luck to them! Though they mentioned they're coming out strong already.

    Thanx for the link!

  4. Oh, my. James, wouldn't you like to take this information back in time for the "BESM Space Opera" tussle?

  5. I am very fond of my copies of V&V 2.1 and eagerly await their pending release of V&V 3 later this year. I like V&V's OSR approach to the superhero rpg. Too many modern rpgs follow the "car wars/battletech" approach to building superheroes. It's nice to have a supers game that leaves room for the "rulings not rules" mentality in play.

    There is just something about that mentality that contributes to inspiring game design.

  6. "There needs to be a simple tabletop RPG that can be played successfully as written by kids who aren’t used to ‘winging it’, for under 15 bucks, preferably tied into some big trendy license so kids will be interested."

    Didn't d6 Star Wars meet those criteria?

  7. Does Scott Bizar have a bad reputation?

  8. @anarchist:
    Star Wars:(turns out my roommate has this)
    Yes. The 1987 Rulebook was 14.95.(144 pages, black and white, hardbound. Not bad.) Simple and easy to understand; it sold like crazy, 'cuz most everybody loved Star Wars back then. Is there a franchise with comparable appeal(i. e. almost universal) today? Lord of the Rings, maybe? But I kinda doubt it...(Its online variant hasn't fared well, there are just a few console entries, and of course, the Last Unicorn Games RPG seemed to just fizzle out.[Its predecessor Middle Earth Role Playing, by Iron Crown, was pretty popular, though.])

    Thanx for mentioning.

  9. Maybe White Wolf should buy the rights to make a Twilight game.

  10. anarchist said:
    Didn't d6 Star Wars meet those criteria?

    Good call. I'll point it out again, because the info seems to be slow in traveling, but the D6 system is OGL now. Quite a framework...I'd love to see some mass-market beauty come to life with it.

  11. I've read some people who say that licensed RPGs don't work, because the license tends to cost a lot, and they usually lose the license after a while.

  12. The most popular franchise nowdays would probably be Marvel superheroes, if you consider all the characters together, and look at all the different movies.

  13. Hey guys, I just stumbled across this thread. I have just a couple of comments:

    1) We ARE working on V&V 3.0, but we have not announced any release date yet.

    2) In retrospect, I agree with the comment that 'licensed RPGs don't work'. I guess I was engaging in a little bit of fantasy when I said that. In addition to the problem of losing the license, some license holders impose very severe restrictions on what you can do with a game based on their license. Marvel was mentioned; they have a big reputation for that. So I'll soften my suggestion from the interview, and just say that this hypothetical game should be based on a popular genre. Which is probably so obvious that it doesn't need saying :)

    -Jeff Dee
    Monkey House Games