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Meet the Publisher: Raphael Falk

Updated: May 13, 2022

Rafael Falk is currently Kickstarting an interesting project for Zine Month. Lucid: Sea of Dreams is a rules-light rpg inspired by dreams, nightmares, and Jewish folklore. He was kind enough to answer some questions.

Question. The concept for this game is really interesting. "A hackable indie rpg inspired by dreams, nightmares, and Jewish folklore." It's a pretty unique concept in the rpg world, as far as I'm aware. Can you talk about what inspired this particular combination?

Answer. I drew inspiration from a lot of places! I had a few experiences with lucid dreaming as a child and still remember struggling to make the things I wanted to happen, happen. I feel that Jewish folklore/themes has a lot to offer and wanted to share. My work as an EFL teacher in South Korea also inspired me to keep things rules-lite and include a lot of emotional and psychological themes.

The main RPG inspiration I would say is Mage (WoD). I love the concepts of consensus reality and will working but wanted to make something significantly less crunchy.

Q: You mention on the Kickstarter that you are Jewish. Cultural appropriation is an issue that has started to attract the spotlight in gaming these days. Can you talk a little bit about how you are approaching this issue, and how you approached using your own culture to inspire the game, especially since so much of Judaism has been misinterpreted by the outside world? It's a difficult topic for me, largely because I'm a cis-het white male, a member of the group that is largely the one guilty of *doing* the appropriating, and I'm always interested in hearing the perspective of someone on the other side of the fence.

A: Absolutely, it was something I was concerned with when I started working on lucid a year ago. How much to draw on my Jewishness, how to properly represent things so that players and GMs won’t fall into the traps of stereotype. Ultimately my strategy has been to strive for accessibility for those unfamiliar with the folklore and critically not to play with things that are too sacred/sensitive. It’s not always easy as a creator navigating these lines. But I believe the world is richer with more stories and voices represented so I’m trying my best.

Q: The art you have posted on the Kickstarter page is quite striking [Note: I would like to use a piece of art in the blog post. Can you send me one that would be okay to use?], and I think the combination of the art style and choosing to do it in black and white will be fantastic. Can you talk a little bit about the artists, and how you collaborated with them? Are they Jewish, as well?

A: Doan Trang does amazing work! Her art style really caught my eye too! Originally, I had tried to work with a Jewish artist friend of mine but that fell through and faced with a time crunch I turned to Fiverr. She was great to work with, very professional. This has been my first time commissioning artwork so it really was a learning experience.

Q: Finally, would you mind talking a little bit about yourself: how you got into gaming, what your favorite games to play are, and what projects you have planned once this Kickstarter is over?

A: My first experience with roleplaying games was probably tagging along with some much older friends of the family to their LARP changeling games (I was probably around 10 at the time). Later I got into D&D 3.5 and this crunchy shadowrun-like game called Abantey.

I usually enjoy playing anything my friends are running, be it 5e, Troika, some type of OSR, Mage etc.

I have a half dozen or so one-shots for Lucid: Sea of Dreams I’ve been meaning to write up, but the next big project I’m excited about is a Lucid: Sea of Dreams setting guide for Chelm, a small Jewish town from Ashkenazi (Eastern European Jewish) folklore populated by fools who just have the most incredible logic.

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