Eric Bloat has written a surprisingly large catalog of rpg books under the Bloat Games imprint. Most of his works are horror-adjacent, and he has written versions for his own "Survive This" system as well as other systems. He's currently Kickstarting an OSE version of Dark Places and Demogorgons, a Stranger Things inspired game.
Question: First off, I've been eagerly waiting for this to hit Kickstarter. I'm a big fan of OSE, and as it happens my 13-year old daughter is a huge Stranger Things fan, so I'm hoping this is a project that both of us can use. Can you talk a bit about Dark Places and Demogorgons? It already exists for Survive this and generic OSR systems. What are you changing in this OSE version?
Answer: Dark Places & Demogorgons was originally made for Bloat Games SURVIVE THIS!! game system. SURVIVE THIS!! is actually a heavily tweaked version of B/X D&D, mixed some 5e elements like Advantage and Disadvantage, Skills similar to 3e, Out of Action and Usage Die from The Black Hack, an additional attribute called Survival, which is rolled like every other attribute, but you can spend one Survival Point to re-roll any failed roll, but you must take the result as final, even if it's less advantageous than your original roll. In a game session, you can spend as many Survival Points as you have available, but you only get 1 point back each gaming session. So it takes a while to replenish spent points. The Experience points in SURVIVE THIS!! are much, much lower, where you usually earn 3-6 points per session, so there's a lot less math involved. And while SURVIVE THIS!! is an OSR/ D20-based system, some people just didn't want to have to learn a new system, and that's where Dark Places & Demogorgons for Old-School Essentials comes in.
With Dark Places & Demogorgons for old-school essentials, you're getting a 100% mechanically compatible game with Necrotic Gnomes Old-School Essentials game. We at Bloat Games are huge fans of Gavin Norman's revision, and reimagining of the B/X Ruleset. For us, it was just the perfect fit and next logical progression for DP&D. We're not changing any rules. We will offer some appendixes with optional rules, but at it's core, it will be 100% compatible. So instead of presenting new and revolutionary mechanics to the ruleset, we're instead of focusing on giving all new gameable material. New classes, Spells, Psionics, Modern Equipment, Monsters, Cryptids, Setting Info, all set in the 1980s. We are focused on not reusing any material from Necrotic Gnomes OSE, and instead packing our game with a lot of awesome stuff that will be new to players of OSE, and can be used to play a complete Dark Places & Demogorgons campaign, or cherry picked to add to their existing OSE campaigns.
Q: Tell us about your Survive This system? How did it evolve, and what do you think it does really well?
A: I got the inspiration for SURVIVE THIS!! Dark Places & Demogorgons literally 10 minutes into the first episode of Stranger Things. I thought, "this needs to be a roleplaying game!" Myself, and Josh Palmer, went about writing Dark Places & Demogorgons, which started as inspired by Stranger Things game, but quickly evolved into a love letter of the 80s horror movies of my youth, particularly the Teen horror movies by directors like Wes Craven, and John Carpenter.
We launched a Kickstarter for DP&D in 2016, which funded, bringing in nearly $9k. Since then, the game has continued to grow with over 10 sourcebooks, tons of new classes, and gameable material, and still is Bloat Games most popular game.
Q: . For the newcomer to your games, what is the ideal place to start with your products? Which book of yours do you think best exemplifies your desired play style and themes?
A: For newcomers to Bloat Games, start with our current Kickstarter Dark Places & Demogorgons for Old-School Essentials. With this game, you're getting kind of a "Greatest Hits" of our most popular gameline along with tons bonus material and unlocked stretch goals.
Q: I'm always so impressed when I see folks writing books with multiple versions for different systems. You seem to have really have gotten the process down. What advice can you give to people who may be looking to do the same? I can't, for instance, wrap my head around how to write an adventure for both, say, 5e and OSE, since they seem to have such different implied playstyles. What's your process for doing this?
A: Read, play, and understand the systems you're using. SURVIVE THIS!! and OSE, are both at their core B/X D&D based systems, so this wasn't that big of a stretch. It would be much difficult for me to do a Powered by the Apocalypse or Fate version of DP&D. However, I always recommend collaborating with experts. For this project I brought on Pete Spahn, and Jeff Scifert to assist me with the conversion. These guys know B/X through and through, and both have been valuable assets in making this conversion a reality!