I first became aware of taichara years ago, when I first became interested in OSR games. I was trawling around the internet when I came across this OSR bestiary with the charming name of A Hamsterish Hoard of Monsters. I have collected a number of monster books over the years, and I can say that AHHoM is by far the best one. The monsters within are a delightful mix of creative, whimsical, and deadly (plus, the supplement is free!). taichara has been publishing other stuff, as well. You can find them on itch and Drivethru. Their new release, a Collection of Curious Characters, was featured in Monday's News Roundup. Taichara was kind enough to answer some of my questions.
Question: I first became aware of your work with the Hamsterish Hoard of Monsters. It is, no kidding, my all-time favorite bestiary. Can you talk a little about how that supplement came about?
Answer: In all honesty, calling it a "supplement" ascribes far more intent to the collection than its contents ever had while I was writing them. My first gaming blog was started on Blogspot on 2008, about when what would get called the OSR was gathering itself up and getting a name, and I was
posting BEMCI or general-BD&D spells, magic items, random small commentary and critters. Lots of critters. 2009 was the really lively year, but the latter part of it derailed me for personal reasons and through 2010-11 things had mostly petered out.
In 2011 Matthew Schmeer approached me and asked if he could collate the critters posted on my blog into a pdf, and I said sure (minus the Haro, an adaptation of the wee robot from the Gundam franchise); a few iterations and tweaks were passed back and forth, and the pdf went live in 2012.
Basically, the contents were things I wrote as the notions came to me and tossed onto a blog, but the credit for the idea of -- and the actual collection of -- the critters into a pdf should go to Matthew.
Q: You're the third person I've interviewed selling through itch. What has been your experience with using itch as a platform, as opposed to the more traditional Drivethru?
A: I use Itch because that's where the game jams are. When I wandered back to the rpg scene, it was to Twitter, and I was encouraged to use Itch; I didn't like it, because I was making basic things, and went back to blogging. But I like taking part in game jams, and those are on Itch, so back I went, and Itch is also convenient to give as a link to my other material. I don't have any personal attachment to, affection for or reason to encourage anyone else to use the platform aside from that.
I have two things on Drivethru, one of which started there and I later added to Itch; both versions had about the same results in their time. The second is my lone actual commercial publication, published through Lost Pages, and it's only on Drivethru and has done well. But by and large my output is PWYW or flat-out free and Itch makes a good central repository -- also, game jams, like
I said. If it weren't for those I'd probably be using Dropbox links or something by now.
Q: Your new release, a Collection of Curious Characters, is a short collection of NPCs (or PCs), presumably written for when a Referee needs an NPC for the players to interact with. Each entry is basically a paragraph in length, with three descriptors given at the end. Even though they're short, each entry provides plenty of information and hooks to bring the character to life and give the players something to interact with. Do you have any plans to produce more supplements in a similar vein?
A: No concrete plans, but I don't have many plans for anything in specific in the
future so that's not really an indicator *lol*. I wrote the Collection for the OZRjam after having written a d12 table of potential hireling NPCs for one of the Dicember prompts on my blog and getting the notion to do something similar for the jam. I've also put some short-paragraph example NPCs in a few of my other projects, sometimes as a table and sometimes not. So the possibility of another NPC collection is certainly on the table if I get the inspiration for it, but no current concrete
plans -- I do like writing the little descriptions, though, so inspiration may very well strike.
Other things in pocketmod format? You can be virtually guaranteed that more pocketmods will pop up, I'm quite fond of the wee format and I've used it before, though this was the first time with an NPC collection.
Q: Finally, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your gaming work? How long you've been gaming, how you got into gaming, what sort of games you like to play, etc.
A: I've been gaming since the early 90s and started on a 2e-with-1e-bits AD&D; I was prompted by art of the dragons by way of a friend of the family who noticed I like dragons and introduced the game. I still use 2e AD&D a lot. Various flavours of BD&D also. I've tinkered with 3e D&D/Pathfinder, and 5e. And then there's various flavours of retroclones, which I have a respectable collection of but by no means all of them, lol. OSE and The Black Hack and most of Sine Nomine's library are the big ones at the moment.
There was a time when I probably had more of the World Of Darkness sourcebooks than most if not all of the WoD players I knew, but aside from a bit of Werewolf I didn't actually play it much *lol* -- now, Exalted, I like Exalted. Shadowrun is/was a go-to, as long as its pre-5e. I like Anima Beyond Fantasy but I'll never wind up running or playing it -- I was interested in Troika for
a bit but that's considerably cooled. Cairn is nice. There's not a lot I really have to *say* about my own gaming output? I don't really think about it -- I just like to write, so I do, basically. Various
iterations on Basic D&D, or Black Hack-based notations; I did do a further-stripped take that sort of fused TBH 1e and some of the ideas(ish?) of the adventure games that Highland Paranormal Society writes, and a good bit of what I do can be jigsawed into one or more of these categories if its not system-agnostic (or written for a specific system for a game jam).