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Cam Banks
Works at Atlas Games
Attended University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
Lives in Saint Paul, MN
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Cam Banks

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Oh dear gods he's talking about SF RPGs again

Real talk now.

D&D comes back with a blockbuster new edition and Pathfinder is a powerhouse and other fantasy games are in the same orbit, doing really well, at least in RPG publishing terms.

Ostensibly these are all generic games, even those with built-in settings like Paizo's Golarion. We know this, we can make our own settings, we consider them RPGs before we consider them IP.

So what's the science-fiction RPG that does this? Where is Traveller in the market? Not very large, by any metric. SFRPG is dominated by intellectual property and licenses: Star Wars, Firefly, even Numenera. 

There are a lot of independent and small press sci-fi games but they don't appear to have the market or the publishing power that D&D and D&D-alikes have.

Also, I've tried a lot of them and I'm not happy with them, but then I'm picky.

So where is it? What could it look like? What kind of game is it? 

Is it really traditional with modular narrative bits? Is it something entirely new and original? Is it just Fate or Savage Worlds or GURPS or something with a setting handed over to play in? I think those don't solve the problem.

Is SF RPG just not a thing that can achieve the status that fantasy RPGs do?
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Lots of good thoughts already shared. My own:

I think part of the challenge with SF roleplaying, and part of the reason why games are usually linked to specific canon, is that SF games are often about exploration and discovery. That is, travel and non-combat experiences are a bigger part of the storytelling than they are in fantasy games, at least in my experience. 

Another is that we have a shared cultural understanding of "fantasy" that's strongly influenced by Tolkien, through D&D and World of Warcraft. There are a set of underlying assumptions that drive fantasy games - magic spells, elves, dwarves, magical items, dragons, and so on. Even games that subvert the tropes at some level (Runequest, for example) are still working within it. 

As noted already, we don't have a central SF trope set. We have several, and they don't fit well together. 

I'd love to play in an SF game. I think the world needs a new Traveller - and sadly, the 5th edition of Traveller wasn't what I wanted that to be. We need a game that puts exploration and discovery on the same level as combat. 

Cam, if you need playtesters, let me know. 

Cam Banks

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Netflix series Sense8 is amazing. It's intense, thrilling, sensual, it never lets up, it has gorgeous visuals & music, and the cast are all universally terrific. Fully embraces a global perspective, at least moreso than any other TV series I've seen. Great LGBT (and especially on the T) characters, diverse personalities & backgrounds. Many, many moments where we cheered & were outraged & were "just have to watch another episode" excited.

It has me so hopeful for serial stories, in the same way that True Detective did (only really different.) The Wachowskis know how to create indulgent art & JMS knows how to pace out a story to build - or reveal - a world, and I think this is one of the best things any of them have done.

Also totally has me thinking of RPG ideas, but not in a distracting way. Brain firing on all cylinders! I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
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Loved this show!  Totally agree.

Cam Banks

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Cam asks about sci-fi RPGs again

What's your favorite science fiction RPG?

Does it come packaged with a core premise or principle, a "hook" that gets players into the setting? If so, is that aspect of it part of it's appeal to you as your favorite sci-fi RPG?

If it has no core premise or principle, do you have to provide all of that yourself? If so, is that aspect part of its appeal?

I ask these questions because of an RPGnet thread about how sci-fi RPGs are hard to play/run. It has me thinking that without some core idea, sci-fi as a genre is rudderless. Am I wrong?
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+Mark Delsing Shock and Human Contact are trying to make the players think. I found that they are too open and require a different approach from traditional RPGs, that I had a hard time getting my group to play them or creating the experience I hoped for. They are worth playing, especially if you can find some who has played them before to guide the group. 

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I agree with Sophie - needs more fonts!

Cam Banks

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A Daily Show Quest

Many of you already know about my almost-thirteen-year-old son, who is smart and funny and generous and deals with many of the challenges of being an Aspie. But I bet many of you didn't know he had a Jon Stewart birthday party when he was 3.

We really want to be able to have him see Jon at the Daily Show in NYC before he departs. Seems like a tough challenge, but here, Jess talks about why:

http://profbanks.com/?p=1000
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My one year old dances with wild excitement every time the Daily Show theme starts up. It is his favorite thing ever. I support this goal!

Cam Banks

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Most game developers who hire me learn that I am an incredibly difficult person because I have issues with my own ability to do work despite having done enormous amounts of good work in the past. Fortunately they have kept most of their rants to themselves and allowed me to create things, but I have a feeling I need to stay on this side of the developer line more often in the future.

That said, I'm thrilled to be able to say that I wrote some of the upcoming "Out of the Abyss" adventure for D&D, with +Steve Kenson as the developer in question. Steve is one of the nicest guys I know and has likely put up with worse people than me, but I am deeply grateful that he didn't nuke me from orbit in the process.

Can't say anything else, because that's how this goes. But there were several other talented folks working on his team and so if you have plans to run D&D campaigns later this year, you can't really beat this one for blood, sweat, tears, demons, and all that you've come to expect from Green Ronin and Wizards of the Coast.
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Yeah, what Dave said.

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One of the most info-packed Dragonlance books we produced in the 3.5 D&D era was Races of Ansalon which was also fantastic because I once again got to work with +Clark Valentine (he wrote the elves chapter). It's now available once again on DriveThruRPG in PDF form, ideal for anyone planning to run a DL campaign in any edition (since there's a lot more to this book than stats.)

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/27946/Races-of-Ansalon-35?affiliate_id=407
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+Cam Banks  hope you do a 5e Dragonlance book!
Have him in circles
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Cam Banks

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Holy Orders of the Stars

This was such a great book to write and develop. Lots of material from a wide variety of contributors and an attempt to bring all of the divine and cosmological features of Krynn's universe together as a coherent setting. Gods don't have stats. Neutral gods actually make sense. More than just Paladine and Takhisis. And even Artha and Jiathuli get fresh coats of paint from their 2nd edition AD&D versions.

Plus if I'm not mistaken, a fair chunk of work on +Amanda Valentine's part to edit this beast into shape and +Clark Valentine's first professional work! 

http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/3239/Holy-Orders-of-the-Stars-35e?affiliate_id=407 
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Cam Banks

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A millionaire tells a dumb joke and nobody laughs — and that's proof we're all oppressed by social activists?
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+Vincent Holiday what are your thoughts? 

Cam Banks

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Dice Porn: Feng Shui 2 Edition

Boxes and boxes of dice arrived in the +Atlas Games offices today! These six-siders have "exploding" sixes and are rolled in pairs: one red (positive die), one white (negative die).

Kickstarter backers who backed the game at a certain level get 3 pairs of these dice as a set. Very schmancy. Thanks Q-Workshop!
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those are easy on the eyes!  

Cam Banks

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And here's the other other Sentinel Comics RPG announcement from the Critical-Hit Studios side of things.
 
In partnership with Greater Than Games, we here at Critical-Hits Studios, Inc. are pleased to announce that we are designing the official Sentinels of the Multiverse Roleplaying Game.
In partnership with Greater Than Games, we here at Critical-Hits Studios, Inc. are pleased to announce that we are designing the official Sentinels of the Multiverse Roleplaying Game.
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I hadn't yet heard who was designing the Sentinels of the Multiverse RPG, but this made me quite a bit more excited.

Cam Banks

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Everyone who has been saying that Mad Max: Fury Road is great is 100% correct.

Well done, Australian and South African movie creator types. And well done George Miller and Margaret Sixel for a spectacularly well edited & directed masterpiece of post-apocalyptic in-your-face middle-fingers to Men's Rights Activists and Red Pill assholes.

Plus Zoe Kravitz. 

5 stars.
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I'm going to see it again. So much of that movie happened at me. I didn't realize I was tensely clutching my own arms for minutes at a time without noticing. 
Cam's Collections
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Have him in circles
4,291 people
Lorant Dobos's profile photo
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Work
Occupation
Game designer, writer, editor
Employment
  • Atlas Games
    Brand Manager, 2013 - present
  • Margaret Weis Productions
    Creative Director, 2007 - 2013
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Saint Paul, MN
Previously
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin - Auckland, New Zealand - State College, PA - North Shore, New Zealand - Lawrence, KS
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Tagline
Ginger Kiwi Game Designer and Family Guy
Introduction
Born in the mythical antipodean utopia of New Zealand, wisely regarded by scholars as the fountainhead of cultural excellence and the only place on Earth capable of filling in for Middle Earth, Narnia, and Ancient Greece, Cam Banks was lured away by the siren call of a life with meaning and purpose. Cam now lives a quiet, pastoral existence in the Twin Cities of Minnesota with his beautiful wife, their two sons, and a cat. He pays the bills by writing and editing role-playing games. In his free time, Cam likes to read and write fantasy fiction, watch movies and television with his wife, play video games with his oldest son, and allow his youngest son to chip away at his sanity.

Cam’s work has appeared in almost every one of over a dozen Dragonlance game sourcebooks published by Sovereign Press and Margaret Weis Productions, and twice in Dragon Magazine.
His work on the Bestiary of Krynn earned a silver ENnie Award in 2004 for Best Monster Supplement.

Following his work on Dragonlance, Cam has been involved in the design and editing of licensed roleplaying games based on Universal's Serenity and Battlestar Galactica, Dead Gentlemen's Demon Hunters, The CW's Supernatural and Smallville, TNT's Leverage, and Marvel Comics.

Cam's first short story, “Chain of Fools,” appears in the Dragonlance anthology Dragons of Time; Tracy Hickman Presents the Anvil of Time: The Sellsword (April 2008) is his first published novel.
Education
  • University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
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Male
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Married