Normally, Third Party People speaks with the publishers of third party material for the Pathfinder RPG about their Pathfinder RPG material. Not this time. This time, Stan! of Rogue Genius Games tells us all about Gingerbread Kaiju, the edible miniatures game (now available)!
Private Companion (PC): Gingerbread Kaiju is out now! First of all, thank you. Second of all, why?
Stan! (S!): Well … because … GINGERBREAD KAIJU!!! I mean, some ideas just HAVE to be seen through to completion!
Actually, the truth is just about that simple. In the middle of a planning/brainstorming call, Owen told me that one of the gamers in his Pathfinder group had thrown out the name “Gingerbread Kaiju” and everyone agreed that there SHOULD be a game with that name. And something just clicked in my brain. I yelled out, “I KNOW what that game should be!” and I did. In that moment I had the basic concept of what the game was and how it would work, pretty much just like that.
Of course, it was still a bit of WORK to put it all down on paper and make sure that it actually was playable … but the game ended up more or less just like I’d imagined in that first moment.
PC: We’ve been excited about Gingerbread Kaiju since fellow genius Owen KC Stephens told us about it in Know Direction 73. How has reception been overall?
S!: Reception has been GREAT! It’s one of those games that most people know IMMEDIATELY upon reading the title whether or not they’re interested. And it helps that my goofy cartooning style totally SUITS the concept and the game play.
It’s funny, but even being a novelty kind of game, it’s one of the quickest-selling out of the gate of any product we’ve done at Rogue Genius or Super Genius Games. Like I say, I think people just recognize that they want it … there’s no hemming or hawing.
Plus there’s a cookie recipe … and everyone can use that during the holidays!
PC: I appreciate that the PDF includes a recipe for gingerbread cookies. Is this an old family recipe?
S!: Well, you’d have to ask Lj Stephens … she’s our official Pastry Chef. I’ve had her gingerbread in holiday seasons past, but sadly I didn’t get to eat any of the gingerbread kaiju she baked. That’s the problem with these modern, work-from-home companies … you can’t travel 2,000 miles for a bake-off.
PC: I also appreciate the suggestions for a healthier version of Gingerbread Kaiju. Was this inspired by a bad post-game experience?
S!: No, I just realized that there are some people who might like the game but DIDN’T want to eat all that sugar. In point of fact, I generally keep to a low-carb diet these days, so I’M one of those people.
Really, I thought about adding that bit in when I realized that the game itself was turning out to be something worthwhile. It wasn’t JUST an excuse to nom on cookies and candy, it was a fun activity. So I figured it would be a good idea to at least mention other ways that you could enjoy it.
PC: Let me see if I follow the game’s plot: Kaiju want to destroy Tokyo because duh, but they instinctively prioritize fighting one another. Tokyo’s various militaries counterattack with tanks, jets, battleships, psychics, nukes, and whatever experimental equipment they find lying around because there are giant monsters in their city again and by now they’re prepared. Then aliens?
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. I’m a big fan of kaiju eiga (Japanese giant monster movies), and I wanted this to feel true to that genre … I squeezed in many of the tropes you’ll find in classic Godzilla films. But the MOST important thing was that the game was wahoo fun where you—the player—get to eat what your monster destroys.
PC: This is a departure from what your customers came to expect from Rogue Genius Games’ predecessor, Super Genius Games. What other departures like this can we expect?
S!: I wouldn’t see this as a major new direction. I mean, MOST of what Rogue Genius puts out is going to be the same kind of high-quality, forward-thinking Pathfinder support products that you saw from Super Genius. We’ll be continuing with the Genius Guides and, in particular, the “Talented” class books that we started earlier this year.
That having been said, one reason we put the word “rogue” in our name is because there are some off-beat products we want to do, too. We’re ready to throw some curveballs into the mix, y’know, just because they’re fun. And if people like them, we’ll certainly follow up with more support.
I know that we’re planning to start publishing some more adventures, which is something we didn’t do a lot of at SGG. I’d like to get back to writing some more material for Call of Cthulhu. And, maybe most of all, I want to do more products where my kind of cartoony illustration style fits in. I’m considering doing some stock art … or maybe counter/standee collections. And I know that Owen has some fun stuff up his sleeve, too.
PC: It feels like as I bite enemy kaiju, I get to rip off their limbs and eat them, but there’s always a chance a kaiju gets nuked and mutates regenerating limbs. When exactly do I get to eat my opponents?
S!: I say, chow down right away. If your opponent gets to Mutate, he or she can use some decorative frosting to attach a new limb—maybe a chocolate chip cookie or a piece of shortbread. This is a game of gingerbread monsters … don’t let reality hold you back!
PC: Gingerbread is a traditional holiday dessert. Did that play into the game’s default assumption of what the kaiju would be made of?
S!: I’m sure that discussion of the holiday season is how the phrase came to be under discussion. By the time it came to me, it was already definitely “Gingerbread Kaiju.” We actually has a brief discussion about giving it a more year-round name … something like “Cookie-Cutter Kaiju.” But it didn’t have the same visceral appeal.
PC: Expanding on that, gingerbread houses are popular this time of year for a combination of the building, destroying, and eating involved. And yet, the buildings in Gingerbread Kaiju are abstracted. Oversight? Missed opportunity? Food for an expansion?
S!: Maybe next year we can re-do the game at a bigger scale! Or sell Gingerbread Meiju Shrine kits!
PC: The game uses a standard deck of playing cards with an index. Why go this route?
S!: Simplicity, mostly. Honestly, if I’d thought up this game over the summer, we might have gone so far as to design card images you could print out (or maybe even a print on demand deck you could order online), but it all came together so quickly that using items that folks will have on-hand during the holidays seemed best.
Of course, that’s items GAMERS would have on-hand (most non-gamer households don’t have terribly many d12s hanging around).
From a more game-designy perspective, the cards are what make sure the game is fun, light-hearted, and over the top. You can’t play this like a deeply strategic board or minis game … the cards keep it swingy and in the proper mood.
PC: How much playtesting was involved?
S!: A little. Enough to make sure the game worked (and that the cookie cutter shapes worked, too). We were up against a pretty hard deadline in the holiday season.
PC: This feels like the perfect game to demo. Are there any upcoming conventions where we might get a taste of Gingerbread Kaiju?
S!: Unfortunately, I don’t have any convention plans until February. But if anyone wants to run Gingerbread Kaiju at a local holiday game day, I’m all for it. (Just make sure you know and adhere to any local ordinances about food prep and distribution.) In fact, we’d love to hear about it!
If reaction to the game remains strong, I might try to do something at conventions during 2014. Can you imagine a Gingerbread Kaiju tournament at Gen Con? THAT would be something!
PC: See what I did there?
S!: You’re as clever as you are handsome, sir.
PC: At a glance, it feels like Globbulon has a huge advantage over the other kaiju. Why not take the monster with damage reduction and the fewest limbs?
S!: Actually, having fewer limbs is a DISADVANTAGE because every time you lose a limb it STOPS the damage from that attack. Globbulon gets a bit of damage reduction, but he has no safety brakes. When he loses his body, he’s out of the game.
That was a part of the design where we did the most typical focusing on balance and game mechanics (and where the lack of extensive playtesting may show up). We’re pretty sure most of the monsters are balanced against one another … but it’s possible that we have some broken cookies in there.
PC: If players want to design their own kaiju, say an octopus-headed giant, how would they balance it out against the other kaiju?
S!: That’s an interesting question! We’re actually looking at putting together rules for that. But basically, all monsters have 20 hit points among their body parts, and the average monster has five body parts. If you increase the number of body parts, you should decrease the overall power of the Special Abilities, and vice versa. Use the Special Powers on the monster templates, and those in the rules for Mutating as guidelines in developing new powers.
Again, if people DO build their own monster templates, I’d LOVE to see them!
PC: Besides magic rituals involving the tears of the fairies in my shed, what would it take to see Gingerbread Kaiju in print? What about Gingerbread Kaiju cookie cutters?
S!: Funny you should ask that. I had lunch with another former Wizards-of-the-Coaster this week, and he worked in the production department. He was very excited about the possibility of making a physical copy of the game and volunteered to research what it would take to get cookie cutters made. When he comes back with that information, it would just be a matter of pricing out the rest of the product … well, and then raising the money. A Kickstarter campaign is by no means out of the question … but no sooner than sometime in the spring.
PC: The credits credit Marcum Curlee and Melanie Lyon as the conceptualizers. Where does the Curlee-Lyon contribution end and the Stan! contribution begin?
S!: Marc and Melanie are the ones who began using the phrase “Gingerbread Kaiju,” and Marc went so far as to ask if we thought it would be POSSIBLE to make a game with that name.
Turns out, the answer is YES!!!!
PC: How about that new Godzilla trailer?
Seriously, I watched it about twenty times on Tuesday … and about that many times again in the days since.
PC: Chocolate Chip Jaeger. Go.
S!: Okay … first we need a simple die mechanic for getting and staying into the Drift…