This is the first in a series of 4 interviews with the writers of the scenarios for the new Perils of the Surface World book, which is currently up on Kickstarter.
Sean Gore is an ace gamemaster and a great writer, and here’s his take on a few issues ranging from the Miracle Stone of the Amazon scenario to the secret of happiness.
Interview with Sean Gore, writer of Miracle Stone of the Amazon
Who is Sean Gore when he isn’t writing two-fisted pulp adventures?
Sean: Sean Gore is a father of a wonderful, gifted, and intelligent daughter. Sean Gore is a dreamer. Sean Gore is a gamer with a rampant imagination, an avid fan of film, and someone who is in love with life. Sean Gore is also very uncomfortable talking about himself in the third person…it rattles his already tenuous grip on reality.
What were your inspirations for writing a scenario set in the Amazon rain forest?
Sean: You can find inspiration almost anywhere. I had been working on my own Hollow…well, “Earth” isn’t exactly accurate…Expedition campaign for nearly two years, much of which was going to take place in a primeval jungle, not that dissimilar to the Amazon.
To understand the jungle – its heat, vegetation, and overwhelming presence of life – I began simply enough with research. I read about existing jungles and their conditions. I read about the plants and animals found in them. I am, by no means, an expert on the jungle (I’d likely become infected with some terrible disease within a day of stepping into one), but I wanted any description I gave my players (or readers) to be as visceral as possible; I wanted them to feel like they were there.
After learning the basics of a jungle environment I gave long thought to how I wanted the jungle to actually play, since it was, essentially, a character itself. I gave this considerable thought and decided I wanted the jungle to fill the “classic Hollywood” perception – dark, mysterious, and as dangerous as it was beautiful, as that would be the most accessible imagery for my players (and, again, readers).
For that, I watched (and re-watched) the opening to Raiders of the Lost Arc, the outdoor sequences in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the Skull Island portion of King Kong (the Peter Jackson, 2005 version). I also re-read portions of Michael Crichton’s Congo, as well as the two classics, The Lost World (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and The Land That Time Forgot (by Edgar Rice Burroughs). Additionally, I paid close attention to, and took a lot of pictures of, the Animal Kingdom theme park in Disney World – the imagineers there produce some vivid and inspirational thematic sets. Utilizing all of those, I set about creating my jungle setting, and from this, a filtered Amazonian jungle.
What is your favorite part Miracle Stone?
Sean: Is “getting to write for Exile Games” a suitable answer? No, probably not. Therefore, I’ll say that four segments really stood out for me when writing them: 1) the rooftop chase sequence was a blast to design and tinker, likewise 2) the waterfall encounter was a lot of fun. 3) The ruins investigation sequence was a real challenge to not “overly complicate” (there were about four different versions that never even made it to submission: one was a trap-laden ruin, another was filled with foes, another was far too “dungeon” like, and another (the worst, in my opinion) was a combination of the three), and 4) the surprise when first meeting the Father.
What is your favorite dinosaur?
Sean: I can pick only one?! Well…I’m going to cheat. As a kid, I loved Tyrannosaurus Rex. That thing was just too cool. It was like the superhero of the dinosaur world – big, strong, powerful, top-dog. In the 90s, during the Jurassic Park heyday, I fell in love with Hollywood’s version of the velociraptor, but I have always had a soft spot for the slow, dim-witted, yet well-protected (and quite unique) stegosaurus. The back plates and tail spikes make it a very “alien” animal…a true monster.
One last question for you, Sean: what is the secret of happiness?
Sean: Choice. Happiness is a choice, not a condition. It is not something others should have power to determine if you are or are not. Happiness is something you have to decide for yourself. To put it simply: You have to live each day, so why not make each day a happy one?
Any last words? I mean as in: “to end the interview.” Not as in: “before I kill you.” I promise.
Sean: I want to thank Jeff, Sechin, Melissa, Katie, and everyone at Exile Games for taking a chance on me and giving me this fantastic opportunity. Writing the Miracle Stone of the Amazon was a splendid experience that I cherish and hope to repeat frequently.
Thanks, Sean! Be sure to help us hit our stretch goals on Kickstarter and help improve the book for everyone! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2085348754/perils-of-the-surface-world?ref=live