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Cam Banks
Works at Atlas Games
Attended University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand
Lives in Saint Paul, MN
Have him in circles
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Game designer, writer, editor
  • Atlas Games
    RPG Director, 2013 - present
    Oversee & manage role playing game lines, including development & production.
  • 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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Cam Banks

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I am really proud of my friends +Fred Hicks & +Rob Donoghue & the many headed gaming beast they have created with so many talented people. We go back over twenty years and I've always felt they have leveraged great ideas with even greater people.

Now as Evil Hat undergoes another marvelous transformation in its business status, I feel that it's a useful thing for everyone involved in the complicated & interweaving tabletop gaming spheres to read this post & reflect on how we can all grow and foster our collective potential.
Evil Hat has gone through a number of changes over the years. We're going through a new one now. But to talk about that, perhaps we need some context. We—Rob Donoghue and I—established the company late in 2005, right on the heels of getting an offer from an old friend of mine to do an RPG based ...
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Cam Banks

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I just want to throw out a quick note to say that +Dyson Logos is a really great guy from what I have seen of his work (cool maps!) and his conduct online and in geek spaces. My feed here on G+ is better for having his posts in it. Check him out!
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Dyson is good peeps. Truth.

Cam Banks

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Renaming Pillar of Fire Concepts

As an update, here's what I'm currently working with in terms of the Pilar of Fire houses (the ten clans/orgs/castes in society that the game starts you off in):

House of Atoms (Scientists)
House of Balances (Judges)
House of Chains (Agitators)
House of Coins (Merchants)
House of Crowns (Rulers, eliminated by the House of Chains uprising)
House of Cups (Counselors)
House of Hammers (Creators)
House of Masks (Whisperers)
House of Rods (Saviors)
House of Swords (Warbringers)
House of Trumpets (Speakers)

The Hospitaller archetype has been renamed the Savior, and the Revach soul (or void soul) has been renamed the Raqu soul, which is an Akkadian word for emptiness or void.

Now that I've made these changes the symbology is a lot more obvious and there's even a kind of Tarot sense to them, which retains the Hermetic flavor I wanted without being so appropriative.

(I may still play around with some of these - they're not final).
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These are all huge improvements, +Cam Banks.

Cam Banks

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Pillar of Fire: Archetypes Quandary

In Pillar of Fire, there are ten archetypes to choose for your character. Every Seraph (PC) has two of them: one's their dominant set of conditioning, and dictates which House they belong to, and the other's their recessive or secondary set of conditioning and indicates what skills their House chose to supplement them with when they were developing.

This means there are 90 different combinations of archetype pairs, since you can't take the same archetype twice. For the sessions I ran this year at conventions, I've been using ten "iconics" as pre-gens, each of whom belongs to a different House and therefore each of whom has a different archetype as their dominant one.

Something I have observed after about a dozen or more sessions is that somebody always picks the Counselor or the Whisperer (whisperers of House Chokmah are the spies/ninjas/whatever of the setting). However, almost nobody ever chooses the Hospitaller.

The Hospitaller archetype of House Chesed covers medics, doctors, emergency services, people whose skills allow them to treat, heal, and prevent physical injuries and trauma rather than mental or emotional (which is what the Counselors do). In a sense, if you're thinking of the game as a "traditional" RPG, the Hospitaller is the cleric.

But this isn't really a traditional RPG and the Hospitaller is more than that. They shelter society's broken and lost, tend to the sick, step in when disaster strikes. Their drive is Loyalty, and their attributes are Precision and Resolve. Hospitallers are Pillar of Fire's first responders and custodians and caretakers.

It may just be the nature of the game, or the choice of archetype name, but I'm left wondering what this means. It's a no-brainer to choose the Scientist, the Merchant, the Warbringer, even the Creator, but the Hospitaller isn't doing it for these groups so far.
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About job names: maybe there is room to push into weird hybrid job names, that reflect the weird jobs of the post-human future? Something I tried (with mixed success) in a Starjump draft was to have jobs like:

Mechweaver, Wayfinder, Skyranger, Quantumist

These are jobs that have some implication but little real meaning, and are ideally orthogonal to roles like "engineer, pilot, etc". Caveat though: then people need to learn those roles.

(I always play cleric in dungeon games, so I don't see what the problem is though!)

Cam Banks

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Pillar of Fire Logo and Landing Page

Pillar of Fire is an upcoming epic science fiction tabletop game about genetically engineered demigods changing the fate of humanity in the far future. • • •. As Seraphs, players form a covenant with one another and confront challenges to society in a time of exile and sweeping social change.
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Cam Banks

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Pendragon in the Old West

* Art Pendrake, sharpshooter, US marshal, then sheriff and landowner, heir to Utah Pendrake
* Gwen Grant, his wife, daughter of wealthy landowner Leo Grant
* Lance Lake, his best friend and peerless shootist
* Guy Wayne, his protégé, leads the Roundtable Riders once Art settles down
* Gal Hadley, the perfect gunfighter
* Old Man Merle, Art’s advisor
* Percy Vale, always a searcher
* Morgan Faye, Art’s half-sister and bitter enemy
* Mortimer Dread, Art’s bastard son

Use Pendragon rules, including personality traits and passions. Replace “father’s class” tables etc with backgrounds, such as lawman, outlaw, cowboy, messenger, etc. Sub out combat skills for the following:


Change Glory to Reputation. Among other things, Reputation adds +1 per 1000 points to efforts to sway groups of people, avoid duels, win over local authorities, and stay alive.

Damage: Knife 3d6, Revolver & Saber 4d6, Shotgun & Rifle 5d6. Crit double damage.
Guns vs DEX, or if a gunfight use gun skill vs gun skill.
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This is such fertile ground. Pursue it.
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Cam Banks

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Hey Unknown Armies 3 Backers in my Circles

Just a reminder to go and answer your BackerKit surveys. I sent out another update this AM but some folks might not be getting the emails.



Thank you!
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I missed the Kickstarter. 

Cam Banks

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Setting Idea: Bloodgate!

Hundreds of years ago, the True King died, leaving behind no heirs - or so the scholars believed! After centuries of ruin and war, lands lost to evil and darkness, the blood of the True King has once again been awakened!

Gathering in the remote holdfast, priests of the lost gods cast a forbidden ritual that has stirred great powers of dominion and sovereignty in those who can now claim descent from the True King. Their challenge: take back the dominions, one at a time, on the other side of the mysterious Bloodgates that surround the holdfast.

Strike out against evil with supernatural and metahuman abilities! Form alliances with your cousins - or unseat petty tyrants who share your blood! Seize ancient artifacts of power to deliver justice for your people, or glory for yourself.

Draws on such influences as Earthdawn, Nine Princes of Amber, Highlander, Birthright, Stargate, and Destiny!

(Written by me and whoever else wants to take a shot)
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+Stras Acimovic Of course!

Cam Banks

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Skyship's almost there, folks. Please reshare and let's push this one over the funding line! Only $1500 to get GLOOM DIGITAL to your computer experience (PC & MacOS and then onward to other platforms one hopes!)
In Gloom your goal is sad, but simple: Make your freakish family suffer the greatest tragedies possible.

Cam Banks

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...but it won't get there unless it funds! The Kickstarter has 4 days to go and needs to reach $75K. Here at Atlas Games we would be thrilled to see this project reach its goal and unlock a whole new digital entry for us. Please consider backing and sharing this link!
In Gloom your goal is sad, but simple: Make your freakish family suffer the greatest tragedies possible.
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How does gloom work electronically. Without the storytelling aspect the actual game is kinda weak. 

Cam Banks

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My Big Pillar Of Fire Reading List

Over on my side table (and elsewhere) is the following stack of books to read for inspiration and information while working on #PillarOfFire . This should give you a hint of the overall aesthetic or themes, but there's a lot more going on, too.

* Roadside Picnic, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
* Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
* Ancillary Justice (read), Ancillary Sword, Ancillary Mercy, Ann Beckie
* Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K LeGuin
* Afrofuturism, Yatasha L Womack
* Who Fears Death (read), Book of Phoenix, Nnedi Okorafor
* Lilith's Brood, Seed to Harvest, Octavia Butler
* Central Station, Lavie Tidhar (thanks +Jessica Hammer)
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I'd be happy to, but be warned that I may be kind of a hardass about Jewish representation.

Cam Banks

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I love this piece by one of my best friends, +Amanda Valentine, not just because it mentions me a bunch (ha ha) but because it shows how persistence and consistency in your desired goals can bring rewards, especially when you take the risk to kick in a few doors along the way.

I think it's a few years old, now. Amanda's done even more things since. You can check out her work practically everywhere in the game publishing business. 
I broke down the door by offering my help. I broke down the door by working hard to make other people’s work better. I broke down the door by not stopping at what they asked me to do. I broke … Continue reading →
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That's a good read. What a legendary gaming group.
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