Rhys: How did you get into Tabletop RPGs?
Venger: I received the magenta box Tom Moldvay Basic edition of D&D as a gift from my aunt. My cousin got a similar present and combined we tried to play the game without knowing anything about roleplaying. What we attempted was not D&D or anything like it. But eventually I played with friends who actually knew what it was about. Those sessions inspired me to continue playing for another 36 years or so… until the present day.
Rhys: So I have seen allegations about you making rude jokes about a transgender woman back in the days of Google Plus. Is that why you started saying that you are a Za’akier? I was there in the Inglorious OSR group back at the end of G+ but I honestly can’t recall that much.
Venger: No, that’s a complete mischaracterization of what happened. My daughter had just made some piece of art that she was particularly proud of. I liked it, too. The thing was wild, colorful, and free. I posted something on g+ that said, “Did my 4-year old make this or Scrap Princess?” At worst, it was mild teasing from a fellow artist. Scrap Princess and I talked about it, after the post generated a lot of comments, and she didn’t find it offensive at all. Which was good, because I intended it to praise her childlike approach to art.
Rhys: What are your biggest inspirations whether it’s music, tv, movies, games or books when you run or create games?
Venger: The films from my youth, primarily. Stuff like Heavy Metal, Flash Gordon, Star Wars, Dune, Beast Master, Tron, Ice Pirates, Conan, etc. When creating something for a session, I draw from everything that I loved as a kid… and then combine them in weird ways. For instance, taking something from Clash of the Titans and something from The Call of Cthulhu. Perhaps the riddle needed to save the princess and lift the city from its curse is tied some hideous idol with tentacles… and the swamp is where those Cthulhu cultists dwell. Boom, adventure right there! And to top it off (I prefer to work in threes), there’s a strange high-tech security system in that swamp. A sphere that attracts people with pleasant illusions, drawing them in. Then, when they touch the sphere it’s save vs. death. Now, I’m drawing from Blake’s 7, the introduction to The Liberator starship. Perhaps only the cult’s High Priest has found a way to circumnavigate or even use the sphere to his advantage. That’s actually pretty decent. I’m going to use that in Cha’alt: Fuchsia Malaise… except the swamp might have to be swapped out for another location. What about a sand bog type of place? Like that area in Krull where people would sink down into it, desolate. Creatures would live in there, tentacles occasionally coming up, etc. Maybe the spawn of Cthulhu?
Rhys: Assuming your a fan of Highlander who is your favorite immortal Connor, Duncan or another immortal? Also is there any chance that you might do guidebooks about other places on Cha’alt?
Venger: I’ll go with Sean Connery… 1) because he’s awesome and 2) because of Zardoz. Individual guidebooks, probably not. But any time I go back to Cha’alt, I’ll focus on one or more places that have already been briefly described. I always love going to new places, so you can definitely count on new areas being explored.
Rhys: Do you think it’s possible to defeat some of the black pyramid’s rooms without combat?
Venger: Absolutely, yes. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible to do well in The Black Pyramid without exploration and social interaction. Combat will only get you 33% of the way.
Rhys: So I am a huge fan of Blood-Dark Thirst as I mentioned. Is there any chance you might make a supplement for that game?
Venger: I’ve actually tried a few times. The most I’ve gotten is a half-page… then it kind of tapers off, going nowhere, uninspired. I’m bummed about it. Perhaps it’s a lack of vision on my part or enthusiasm for the genre in roleplaying games, I don’t know. I love vampire movies. After Cha’alt: Fuchsia Malaise, I’ll give it another go, see what happens.
Rhys: If you could play a game with anyone alive, dead, real or imagined who would you pick? And what game would you play?
Venger: Hmm, good question… probably Gary Gygax. Just because I would have to know, I’d ask him to play the latest iteration of Crimson Dragon Slayer D20. If I wasn’t married, I’d play Alpha Blue with vintage pornstars from the 70s and 80s. Live action role playing!
Rhys: What do you see as your next best RPG product?
Venger: Currently, I’m hard at work on Cha’alt 2: Electric Boogaloo… actually, it’s called Cha’alt: Fuchsia Malaise. I’m hoping to outdo the original. Won’t be easy. I don’t know if there’ll be a third one. I’d like to do a trilogy, but we’ll see what shakes out. After that…? I don’t know. Even though I get to do more projects if they’re smaller, there’s something about bigger projects that I like. They’re more challenging, more involved, forcing me to work harder. Who knows if I’ll be playing D&D (in any form) in 2 or 3 years from now. Right now, the vast majority of my attention is on this really small dungeon called Fuchsia Flesh-Pit. That’ll be included in Cha’alt: Fuchsia Malaise.
Thank you for the interview Venger, and thank you all who read this blog for waiting.
You can find Venger on his blog here: https://vengersatanis.blogspot.com/