A World of Dew is a brand new Samurai Noir role-playing game, and a sequel to John Wick’s Blood & Honor. In the original Blood & Honor you played samurai who were members of a clan. In World of Dew you can now play everyone else: perceptive geisha, weary ronin, gargantuan sumo, greedy yakuza, and even gaijin. Instead of being members of a clan, A World of Dew includes a slick city design system in which players build a vibrant living city with deep connections to both the characters and the rules. The author of the game, Ben Woerner, was so kind to answer a number of questions for this A World of Dew interview.
RPGames – Let’s start with a small introduction of yourself.
#AWOD Ben – I’m Ben Woerner, author of A World of Dew Roleplaying, and owner of WunderWerks Games.
RPGames – How and when were you introduced to roleplaying games ? Was there an immediate interest in oriental settings or did that develop later on?
#AWOD Ben – When I was eleven my Dad bought me the Battletech boxed set for my birthday. The Kurita were a faction in the game. My love for Asia and the people came from watching Akira Kurosawa movies and various Kung Fu movies when I was a bit older.
#AWOD Ben – Because everyone already has done rules for samurai a million times. No one is making games for the Geisha, Yakuza, Gaijin, or Sumo. These characters are unexplored and fresh.
RPGames – Seeing how John Wick’s name pops up a lot, I’m assuming you’re a Legend of the Five Rings and Blood and Honor fan as well. What’s it like working with someone like John?
#AWOD Ben – Great! He’s forgotten more about RPGs than I’ll ever know, and he’s been super helpful and kind. He’s been a great mentor.
RPGames – What made you choose the historical approach for A World of Dew both in setting and artwork compared to a more „fantasy” approach in games like L5R?
#AWOD Ben – Because I think truth can be stranger (and more interesting) than fiction. Historical fiction has always been a favorite of mine, and even if the games of A World of Dew are set in a historical setting the stories told by players are all fictional. That Tokugawa Era is endlessly fascinating to me, SO MUCH happened in Japan during that time and there was so much change both good and bad. And besides the very basic stories of guys with swords I find the specifics interesting and if my game can help more people learn about this time and place all the better.
Finally, with the art, it’s some of my favorite art, and knowing that I could use a lot of it in my book was a no-brainer. It’s so gorgeous and amazing. To be able to share that with other people is lovely.
RPGames – At the time of this writing, the kickstarter is at a funding level of 800+ % and was funded in about 2 hours. Were you surprised that there’s apparently such a demand for a samurai game, which is kind of a niche area in the already niche area of roleplaying games? To what do you credit its immediate succes?
#AWOD Ben – Planning and the Kickstarter page design are why I think people backed. A lot of that has to do with Mark Diaz-Truman’s hard work helping me get it looking the way it needed to look. I think what got them interested was the art and the stories that you can tell. It really is a niche, but one that hasn’t been explored deeply in English language RPGs.
RPGames – A big part of the kickstarter is the companion book The Sound of Water which provides more and more options and content as the kickstarter progresses. What’s it like working with so many artists and authors each giving their own twists and additions to A World of Dew?
#AWOD Ben – It’s awesome! I’m a big fan of all of them and to see them put their own personal spin on the game is really great. I’m excited to see what their final pieces will be like.
RPGames – What was the deciding factor making all those chapters available in a separate companion book instead of adding them to the main A World of Dew book?
#AWOD Ben – Production time and the nature of Kickstarter. I’ve backed a number of KS Projects with Stretch goals where they try and cram all the extra writing into the main book. This causes delays and I want the main book out to backers and then the general public as soon as possible.
RPGames – The chapters for the sound of water are currently on horror, yakuza, ninja, geisha, smugglers and pirates, and powerful swords. Will you be adding more content to this book, or is it strictly the unlocked stretch goal chapters?
#AWOD Ben – It’s currently the unlocked stretch goal chapters. Ryan Macklin and jim pinto are the final two Stretch Goals for the book. Ryan will do a full Fate conversion and jim will be creating a Protocol game for A World of Dew. There might be something extra from me in the book, but if there is it’s a surprise.
RPGames – A World of Dew uses the wager system where a player can set aside a number of dice with which they’ll be able to describe their action with a successful roll. This gives a lot of control over the story to the players. How has this been received in play testing?
#AWOD Ben – Beautifully! Once people realize how much they can do the game really starts cooking. It also takes a lot of the least fun work off the shoulders of the Narrator. The players can directly take actions to move the story forward.
RPGames – A World of Dew includes black and white stones signifying honor and desire. Could you give an example of how the mechanics of this work in the game?
#AWOD Ben – The Honor mechanic is a shared pool that characters get as a group when they act honorable. Desire stones are a personal pool characters get when they act to fulfill their personal desires. Both stones can be spent to active specific actions in various Locations in the City Mechanic system. They can also be spent to give bonus dice to your dice pool before taking a Risk and also when you’re not taking a Risk they can be spent to add a single important detail to the story.
RPGames – After character creation, the storyteller and players then create a city which will serve as the setting for your game. During this proces players have build points with which they can add specific buildings that they’d like in the city which again gives a lot of control to the players. By connecting the characters to the city in this fashion, stories will pop up on their own rather quickly. How will this influence possible further supplements? Could you see a supplement detailing a complete city in the vein of the Otosan Uchi boxed set for L5R?
#AWOD Ben – A boxed set would be awesome! Otosan Uchi and the Ryoko Owari boxed sets are some of my favorite L5R supplements. I don’t think I’d release an actual box set. They’re expensive and the economics don’t work at all for a small time producer like myself. But if I WERE to release such a thing it might be a surprise in say another supplement.
RPGames – Do you see adventure modules as a possible supplement and how would you set out to create those seeing how tightly the characters are linked to the city and you have no control over which locations exist in the created setting?
#AWOD Ben – No, the very nature of the game design makes adventure modules sort of obsolete. Adventure Seeds where you set up a basic story idea, “Kachiko was murdered,” or, “Hotori was just arrested,” are great ways to start a game of A World of Dew, but the very nature makes anything more than that less than useful for the Narrator and Players. From running the game a LOT in playtests I used the exact same starting scenario virtually every time and EVERY game ended up radically different from each other.
RPGames – The kickstarter is now in its final days. What has the kickstarter experience been like so far? And how valuable is having someone like Mark Truman in your corner?
#AWOD Ben – So valuable. Mark and John have been immensely helpful in every aspect of the Kickstarter. I really can’t thank them enough or sing their praises. Mark especially, is such an expert when it comes to Kickstarter. He’s run a ton of excellent Kickstarters both from the front end and quietly on the backend. At conventions during panels about Kickstarter he’s the guru the other game designers turn to when specific questions regarding numbers and design come up. He really knows his stuff.
The experience for me has been a crazy rollercoaster. That’s the best description, all this building anticipation and then a huge rush with lots of twists and turns. It’s crazy and exhilarating. I won’t be running another KS for awhile, which is nice, life will go back to normal for me. Right before I launched John messaged me something to the effect of, “Hold onto your hat.” I chuckled, but he wasn’t joking.
RPGames – Thank you very much for this interview Ben. Any final comments/shout outs/remarks?
#AWOD Ben – I’d like to thank all my Backers. Without you folk I wouldn’t be doing this and it’s super great to have such a huge positive response to my little game. Thank You, you all rock.