Writer and freelancer Giles Pritchard has written on and off in a semi-professional capacity for a number of years. He wrote the old newsletter for the board game publisher Z-Man Games, worked with Spartan Games on a range of their miniature game lines, and freelanced with Modiphius creating the amazing module “Trouble on Omned III”.
Giles has a huge amount of work, much of which can be previewed at his website, caradocgames.com.
I love stepping into the brain of such prolific and passionate people, so I was doubly pleased when Giles agreed to this interview.
Michael: How did you get involved with working on the Star Trek Adventures game
Giles: I had been working with Modiphius for a little while, mostly writing for the Infinity Role Playing Game. When they announced a Star Trek game I was excited and keen to be involved!
How much creative freedom were you given when you were commissioned to work on the project?
I wrote some background pieces for the rules book, which obviously had to evoke key aspects of the universe. But I was given a significant amount of freedom in choosing the topics. From memory I wrote down a collection of ideas, and some of these were crossed off, some greenlit, and some modified. That process was a discussion though, and I felt like I had a lot of creative control over what I was putting together.
For the adventure “Trouble on Omned III” I submitted a pitch to Jim, which was accepted. I had a whole universe of ideas to draw from and was inspired particularly by the Writer’s Guide I was given by Jim, which talked about Star Trek as being relevant to the stories, worries, fears, and contexts of today, but always held hope for the future. I loved that idea, it is so much of what makes Star Trek a wonderful universe, and science fiction, in general, such a relevant and important genre.
What was your favorite part of doing a gaming module for Star Trek Adventures? How many have you done so far?
So far I have written one module for Star Trek Adventures – “Trouble on Omned III.” I loved the experience, particularly coming up with an idea that I felt played with themes that were relevant to today and exploring them through a role-playing game. I have been busy with the Infinity RPG, and haven’t had a chance to come back to STA yet – hopefully soon!
I would appreciate your insights into the module you wrote. My group is just launching the adventure so maybe your answers will help move the story in the right direction. How did you come up with the concept for Trouble on Omned III? Was there any particular geopolitical situation you were referencing?
Yes. With the encouragement to look at our world for inspiration, I thought about some of the issues we face as a society. One of those, that I felt, and still feel is a significant issue, is the rise of anti-intellectualism, an undermining of expert knowledge in favor of opinions; of false equivalencies between strongly felt opinion and scientific fact that plague discussion and action on serious issues.
Most relevant today is climate change. But for Trouble on Omned III I drew themes from the rise of the anti-vaccination movement and coupled it with a fictional society led by people who had an inherent distrust of ‘the science’. I tried to bring out the self-destructive nature of this problem, something we are seeing in our own world at the moment, and which in Star Trek Adventures, the Shean, without the help of a plucky Federation crew, would bring upon themselves.
When did your passion for Star Trek first develop? What was your first exposure to Star Trek?
When I was a kid I remember turning on the TV and watching Captain Picard, and later Captain Janeway, in this wonderful, strange, and compelling television series. My first exposure randomly turning on the telly, but pretty soon I was hooked.
Do you get to play STA on the regular?
Unfortunately, I don’t at the moment. As a freelancer, I try to play the systems I am working on, and at the moment that means focusing on Infinity, Devil’s Run, and some games of my own devising! It is something I hope to come back to, however!
What have you noticed about public reaction to the game? Why are people digging the game?
I think STA is a powerful game because of how it captures the themes of the setting. The characters are not traditional RPG fare, they are usually trying to leave the world a better place, and deal with problems through intelligence and ingenuity as much as with strength. These are the themes I love about Star Trek, it’s one of the reasons I think STA is such an excellent game, and it’s why, I think, it has captured the hearts of so many players around the world.
Who is your favorite character in Stark Trek? Why?
Captain Janeway, for her strength of conviction, intelligence and compassion. Captain Picard for all the same reasons. Both are intelligent, respect culture and knowledge, and seek alternative solutions to problems in the hope that tomorrow is left better than today.
What is your favorite part of the Star Trek canon? (TV, movies, book) Which series do you like the best?
Voyager is the first series I watched regularly. But both TNG and Voyager are close to my heart.
What advice would you give someone eager to start writing RPG modules?
Write. Whether you plan in detail beforehand or not at all, write. The more you do it the more naturally and easily it will come. Don’t wait for inspiration—write. It’s okay to take breaks if you are feeling worn out, tired, or not up to it. But writing regularly is important, and that sometimes means when you don’t feel like it or don’t feel inspired. I always loved the quote “you can’t edit a blank page”. And I often think about (and I can’t recall where I heard this), that if you go back to your writing a month later, you can’t tell which parts you wrote when you were inspired and which parts you wrote when fighting those words onto the page felt like a struggle. Generally, I find this to be true.
I always loved the quote “you can’t edit a blank page”.
I like to write to an outline. Usually, I write at night. At the end of a writing session, I will plan out the things I want to write the next night. This might mean making a big list of bullet points to explore—some images, scenes, or whatever. Generally, though, I create an outline. Every night I write a little bit more. Everyone has their own process, whether it is the time of day, the length of the writing session, whether you have to listen to music for half an hour before starting, make that coffee, flick through twitter or whatever to settle in. Work out what works for you. Try and build a habit around writing. Just as importantly, though it is contradictory advice, don’t beat yourself up over those nights (or days) when you just can’t. Sometimes we need a break!
If you’re interested in writing for TTRPGs, get onto whatever social media platform you use. Tap into other creatives. I’ve found generally that people within the industry are supportive and encouraging. Look for those who exemplify that. Read what they write. Pick games and topics that inspire you and write them. If you think you have a great idea for STA (or any game), contact the company and ask whether they are accepting submissions and what the process is. The worst they can say is ‘no thanks’, and that’s fine. STA has a wonderful community. So whether you write and publish on a blog, stream your games, create a podcast, or aim to have your work published as a part of the STA line, there is a place for you!
Great words of encouragement, sir. Lastly, what would our readers find you doing if it isn’t writing/playing RPGs?
I have a wonderful wife and three energetic kids that keep me busy. I love spending time with them. I also love playing games, particularly RPGs and board games. I love to read and have a telescope I try to take into my backyard on a relatively regular basis. I also blog and work on my own games. If anyone is interested you can find them at www.caradocgames.com
You bet we are interested, Giles. You are a volcano of ideas! Keep that creative lava flowing, sir. And, please, please find more time to play Star Trek Adventures. You have three children (PCs) after all sitting right in your house!