A Kickstarter campaign recently caught our eye, and we decided to feature it here to help it get some more backers.
Bump in the Night, created by Casey Hayes, is a Roleplaying Game of Paranormal Investigation. Investigating mysteries in RPG form? I’m in! It has raised over $1,200 of it’s $3,500 goal with only 16 days left (end date: March 12. 2014). Check out the interview below, check out his campaign, and consider backing it. I’m definitely going to.
Project Fandom: Can you give us an overview of the game?
Casey Hayes: In Bump in the Night, you play as a group of people trying to become ghost hunters. You research leads, take on clients, and investigate hauntings, trying all the while to further your own goals and the goals of your group. I’m in the process of writing up an update now talking about how the Agency functions mechanically, but the short version is this; The players team up to form an Agency, which represents the organized efforts of the group. They choose an Agency Goal, which gives players something to aim for during investigation, and the GM information on what kind of game the players are looking for, (more science, more magic, more horror, etc.) As the players solve cases, gather evidence, and further their Agency Goal, their Agency gains Renown, which comes with benefits ranging from the simple (The group is looked at as experts, rather than some losers with a camcorder and too much free time) to the complex (The TV studio that sponsors the Agency’s TV show is willing to foot the bill to fly them out to some exotic locale to film an episode there.)
PF: You said you lessened the importance of random dice rolls that other pen and paper RPGs depend on. How did you do this?
Hayes: When working on the first drafts of the game, I wanted to make a system that married substance to simplicity; something that had enough crunch to make character building interesting and fun, while still remaining simple enough that people of any amount of experience with RPGs would find easy to get into. Part of that was working out what kind of dice to use for the game. After playing around with probabilities for about five or six separate dice setups, I decided on using 3d6. The 3d6 setup had multiple advantages, including a) easy to get and easily recognizable dice and b) a good, reliable bell curve to average rolls. While players can make exceptional rolls at times, the bell curve ensures that characters will reliably act within a certain range of their skill. Additionally, as characters become more competent in their chosen skills, they gain means of making those skills have a reliable, predictable outcome near their skill level. So far, playtesting has shown that players can usually predict how well a character will perform given a specific action, while still having a slight chance for random chance to prevent things from becoming monotonous.
PF: The game seems to ooze theme! If any, what were your influences/inspirations for the game? (Pop culture, movies, books, etc.)
Hayes: I would be remiss not to mention Supernatural as an influence, given the way the game was started. I was watching the show while IMing my friend Erika, and during the first Ghostfacers episode, they mentioned getting an RPG deal. The conversation went roughly like:
Me: “An RPG deal? How does that happen?”
Erika: “Just wait. And you know you’d play it.”
Me: “Hell, I’d write it! Wait a minute…”
In the weeks that followed, I ended up watching an embarrassingly large amount of ghost hunting TV shows as research, to the point that Netflix is still suggesting them to me constantly. Two in particular stand out, however. First was Destination Truth, for its fairly worldwide locations and the surprisingly refreshing guts to say “No. We didn’t find anything here. Here’s the science we used to prove there’s nothing here.” The other was The Dead Files, which worked well in helping me see the best way for spiritual characters like Mediums to interact with scientific characters like Researchers. In terms of fiction, I pulled a lot of inspiration from movies like The Exorcist and Paranormal Activity for the more horror-themed aspects of the game, and probably the most obscure thing on this list, the TV show Ghost Hunt for the more investigative aspects, as well as seeing how cases could still be made exciting and interesting when the characters are only doing research and investigation. Lastly, while there is a friendly nod or two towards Ghostbusters in the current version of the text, the game is steered mostly away from the group being the Ghostbusters, seeing as that game was already made 30 years ago. (That said, there’s nothing but a few difficult Engineering rolls and an extremely lenient GM stopping the players from going in that direction…)
PF: The sketches look great. Are you designing the artwork yourself?
Hayes: The art design is courtesy of Abby Assetto, who has done the drawings for the iconic character designs, the game logo, and the Team Badass logo. More of her work can be found here: (theabbyart.tumblr.com)
PF: What is your gaming background?
Hayes: I’ve been doing game design as a hobby since I was very young, and in college I joined Penn State’s Game Design Club, where I was treasurer for a year. I’ve also worked as Lead Content Creator for Roan Arts Publishing, mostly working on non-profit games there. Bump in the Night is my first big project, and I certainly hope not my last.
PF: If Bump in the Night is successful, do you plan on ever releasing miniatures?
Hayes: Miniatures never really came up during playtesting, honestly. Most of the time, the players only needed to keep track of what room in a building they were in. If we got really successful, however, and there was enough demand, I could definitely see looking into miniatures for characters, spirits, and important equipment like video camera setups.
PF: If Kickstarter doesn’t raise enough money, do you have alternate plans to get the game out?
Hayes: Bump is, admittedly, a fairly ambitious first project. In the week or so between “Ok, the beta is finished and I need to Kickstart now to give my artists time for an October release” and “All the registering and submitting is finished. Press ‘Launch’ to start your Kickstarter!” I started thinking about what I would do with the next few months if Bump didn’t get through. My current plan is to keep moving forward, working and releasing one of the other projects I’m working on, and to try again at releasing Bump once those have gotten through.
PF: How long did it take you to develop?
Hayes: The game started development back in fall 2012 during a conversation with a friend. The basic rules were finished around January of 2013, and then completely rewritten about two and a half times during playtesting, to the point where I think the only rules still remaining unchanged of the original draft were those on the skill system. From here, I’m predicting about 6 months to complete the art assets the game still needs, along with playtesting running up right until I have to get the game sent out for printing. By the end of the road, Bump in the Night will have taken about two years to develop.
PF: What are your favorite features of the game?
Hayes: I’m rather happy with the Perks part of the Skills system, honestly. Partially because it’s the aforementioned skill rules that have remained largely intact from the last year of testing. As players purchase higher ranks in the skills their characters possess, the characters receive new, unique abilities based on those skills. For instance, a character who has trained enough in the Arts skill is culturally savvy enough for their knowledge of Art to aid them when talking with people, while a character who has been training up Science will be harder to scare when a rational answer can still explain an unknown event.
On the other side of the spectrum, I’m quite happy with the rules for characters Auras. In the first few drafts, characters with supernatural powers, such as the Medium or the Exorcist, had an optional ability called Power that they could upgrade. Power was added as a bonus to a character’s supernatural abilities, as well as determining a Ritual’s base strength, but made the character more visible to spirits. This wound up causing more trouble than it was worth, given that these characters effectively had to dump experience into Power to keep their core abilities relevant. I ended up scrapping Power when I completely reworked the larger Trait system that it was part of, and made it an inherent quality for supernatural characters, then all characters. I started working around with the idea of Auras, and once the mechanics were hidden behind that particular piece of fluff, the whole system coalesced nicely into the system that it is now, making for a smoother and more cohesive ruleset.
PF: Who playtests your games?
Hayes: Right now, there are three playtest groups working out the kinks of the game. The first is my personal group, who were the first to try out the game. (Meadowglow and Clyde, who you’ve seen in the art previews, as well as the rest of the iconic characters coming on the game’s full release, come from that group.) The second group was handed off for one of my players to GM with his brother’s group, allowing me to get a secondhand look at how the game functions without my direct intervention. Finally, I have a third group setting up for bi-monthly games in Boston, MA, who are testing the game’s function completely removed from my influence.
There you have it, ProFans. Once again, if you are so inclined, head on over to Kickstarter and contribute to the Bump in the Night campaign.