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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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Cam and the Old School Revival Vibe

What I would kind of like to see is more of the freewheeling gonzo contributions of fandom that is evident in the sharing and hacking in the OSR community but without the OSR rules base.

Mostly because as much as I try I can never get back into that sort of game again. I tried Stars Without Number and I tried B/X again and I've read ACKS and Swords & Wizardry and Into the ODD (which is really neat) and so forth, and man, I just don't want to run those games. I moved on from those many years ago.

I like Runequest and even Rolemaster. I like Apocalypse World and I like Pendragon. I like the Cortex Plus games I wrote but I sort of need not to do anything with those now, part of my process of distancing myself from that to preserve my creative self. And so forth. I like the new D&D but it's not my favorite game in the world. I think I like 13th Age more.

So, maybe this is already happening in the various corners and circles that I roll in. Seeing +Anna Kreider do stuff with +Ben Lehman's  Polaris is awesome. Seeing so many people playing around with +Vincent Baker & +John Harper's creations is awesome.

Probably what I would like to do is throw games into that same mix and see what people do with them, but without the limitations that currently exist on games I already created. So I guess I'm going to create more stuff and open it up that way, and maybe it will get bites.

Though I wonder - is the OSR just not interested in anything but iterations of those old D&D rules and clones of same? Would they be as keen to create adventures and settings and hacks of other games in the same way? 
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+Viktor Haag​, thanks for the response and analysis. Don't take my moaning too seriously- my comment was just some thoughts as to why the OSR interests me, and how most games aren't a perfect fit.

Don't get me wrong though- there's enough that I like that I've dabbled in OSR writing myself, and have further plans to do so.

More generally, on the advancement thing, I like advancement in games lasting more than 2 or 3 sessions (I have tried without and it didn't work for me) but the typical (and yes, I can and do hack) D&Dish advancement curve is a bit too drastic for my tastes.

Cam Banks

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Cam asks you about Quickstarts

Thinking back to quickstart products for RPGs in the past, I invite you to share your feedback to the following questions:

* What are the elements of a successful quickstart?
* What have quickstarts failed to do in the past?
* What quickstarts stand out as interesting, trendsetting, or offering a new approach to the idea of introducing RPGs?

My thought is that a quickstart should be a means of introducing a new RPG to an audience, and provide a meaningful demo experience as a result. I would love to hear your thoughts if they differ from mine, or if you think quickstarts are unnecessary or otherwise wrongly conceived.
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I have downloaded many, many quick-starts. Only 2 have ever made me go, "Hey I want to run this" and/or "I can't wait to pay for this game." Those were Blades in the Dark (which I already paid for, hooray!) and the free PDF release for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (which makes me eager to pay money for a PDF of the player's handbook, once that exists).

Thinking on it now, I realize that the relevant factors that those two PDFs have in common are:

1. They are actually kind of long! They have the whole rules for running a game, not just a loose approximation of those rules. I don't have to buy more, but the first taste is so great that I want to.

2. They have recognizable genre hooks that I know would make my friends excited to play them.

Every other quick-start I've ever downloaded has ended up in a generally neglected folder of quick-starts and betas. This includes quick-starts for games that I have played and loved, but only after reading the full rules.

Cam Banks

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I ran Blades in the Dark last night for my Thursday night game group and despite feeling woefully unprepared it was a lot of fun. I love how many hooks and details are everywhere, letting GM and players throw in setting elements without having to rely on a huge sourcebook or campaign setting. Names, places, gear, etc all add spice without choking the rules text.

We had a Whisper, a Cutter, and a Hound. I ran the Quickstart's initial situation, with the Crew taking on a mission for the Lampblacks and using their Elite Shadows to pull of a heist while they distracted the leader of the Red Sashes. We only had enough time to do the one mission and then manage advancement and downtime, but it felt satisfactory to me, at least.

Thanks again +John Harper for such a bloody good game. I look forward to the final book and the opportunity to start messing around with settings of my own.
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I NEED to buy this. Any idea when it will have a street date? PDF preferred.

Wow. Great idea for a game!

Cam Banks

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It is with much fanfare and collegiate pride that I share this announcement of game designer, two-fisted anthropologist, and Rachel Maddow lookalike +Marissa Kelly's Kickstarter for playing baby dragons in the magical, perilous world of Epyllion.

You should back this project, because Marissa is terrific and her team of writers and designers and artists is top-notch. Plus, stretch goals!
Marissa Kelly is raising funds for Epyllion, a Dragon Epic RPG on Kickstarter! Play as a clutch of young drakes who must use the power of friendship to protect their homeland from an ever-growing Darkness.
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Cam Banks

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Feng Shui 2 Archetype Throwdown

There are 36 Chambers of Shaolin, and there are 36 archetypes in Feng Shui 2. Lifted from the iconic action movie characters you all know and love, each is ready to play so you can kick butt right out of the gate. Just give them a melodramatic hook and a name, and you'll be fu fighting and gunslinging before you can say 被打败 !!

So tell me which of these 36 archetypes is your favorite. The most popular and most awesome get to shine in convention demos this summer. The others... humbled, defeated, they return to the temple to reload, retrain, and bounce back stronger than ever before.

Big Bruiser
Bounty Hunter
Everyday Hero
Ex-Special Forces
Exorcist Monk
Full Metal Nutball
Gene Freak
Highway Ronin
Karate Cop
Magic Cop
Martial Artist
Masked Avenger
Maverick Cop
Old Master
Private Investigator
Redeemed Pirate
Scrappy Kid
Supernatural Creature
Sword Master
Transformed Crab
Transformed Dragon
Two-Fisted Archaeologist
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Ninja, Everyday Hero

Cam Banks

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Our newest card game at Atlas Games is truly masterful.
Three Cheers for Master is a new card game about your terrible plan to keep Master's violent, self-absorbed, dimwitted minions in line until he returns. It's coming in March from Atlas Games (Gloom, Once Upon a Time). Sign up now for updates about the game, a warning when Master's arrival is imminent, and something special when the game's released:
Master Has Been Blue, Lately… It's just not the same now that all lands known to evil have been conquered. When Master's blue, it's the minions who suffer. As a lieutenant in Master's army — a foreminion — it falls to you to cheer him up. Not the easiest task, even in the best of times.
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Cam Banks

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Post-Secret Wars X-Men?

This wasn't posted today, so I'm glad it has none of the April Fools nonsense. But imagine what a separate Marvel shared world in the X-books would be like. Okay, well, it would be like what the X-books were like prior to Bendis and New Avengers in the 2000s, but even more so.

It's interesting to note that the All-New, All-Different Avengers lineup of Spider-Man, Nova, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Vision, and Ms Marvel includes no mutants. And it's interesting that the whole Fox debacle re: X-movies has lead Marvel to effectively replace mutants in their movies with Inhumans.
Marvel Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso says that the X-MEN titles will have their own "shared universe" after SECRET WARS.
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I like the X-Men in a separate universe as a concept from the ground up, but at this point, in the main 616U, I can't help thinking they belong there. I also can't shake the cynical thought that this might be an attempt to sideline the X-Men because Marvel don't own the movie rights and they don't want to be giving Fox free publicity...
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Cam Banks

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It's Cortex Plus, not Cortex+.

Yes, I know Cortex+ is shorter. Also, like Google+, or programming language C+, and social media has limited characters, and so forth.

But I came up with the name! That was me. It was always spelled out.

Thank you.

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I thought it was Cortex Gif.
"Which RPG system for the new Daredevil show on Netflix?"

Still Marvel Heroic. Yes, I know. 
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Meanwhile, on Earth-Cam...

Cam Banks

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More Dragonlance in PDF

This title was my first cover credit. I co-wrote it with my talented colleague +André La Roche (who is also contributing to the Epyllion RPG by +Marissa Kelly) when he was just a youthful nascent Lex Luthor  in training. Truthfully, I don't think I had nearly as much fun on some of the other books, if only because we just shot for the moon with the Bestiary and included all kinds of crazy monsters simply because we were allowed to.
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Those were the days. :-)

Cam Banks

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One week left and still time to throw your support in for Mecha West!
We got one week to go... Its not over over until Saturday.. I still believe in the project and I know there are fans out there who just haven't been able to pledge...A HUGE Tank you to all the people who have backed this project. It means a ton to know that we have so many awesome fans...
Mark Reed is raising funds for Mecha West on Kickstarter! The Mecha RPG of Steam engines! Smoke stacks! Shoulder mounted cannons and cavalry sabers bigger than barns!
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Cam Banks

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Just in case you thought it was just a big April Fools joke written by social justice warriors.
The actual deal with Katanas & Trenchcoats, revealed. Thanks to +Ryan Macklin for letting me help. ‪#yolf
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(Okay, it totally does.)
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Game designer, writer, editor
  • Atlas Games
    Brand Manager, 2013 - present
  • Margaret Weis Productions
    Creative Director, 2007 - 2013
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Saint Paul, MN
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin - Auckland, New Zealand - State College, PA - North Shore, New Zealand - Lawrence, KS
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Ginger Kiwi Game Designer and Family Guy
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.
  • University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
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