Natalya A. Faden Talks About Torn Armor – Interview Part 1

Torn Armor is a great-looking game with two awesome and unique factions, great miniatures and loads of innovative game-play features, currently looking for support on Kickstarter. The skirmish game of Torn Armor builds on and expands the fantasy world of Torn.

The Kickstarter campaign for Torn Armor has been running for a few days already.

It’s fast closing in on its goal!

Natalya Alyssa Faden, who created Torn World after years in the RPG industry, kindly agreed to answer my many questions. In the end, our talk become the longest interview on my blog yet.

It’s well worth it! Rarely have I met a person so enthusiastic and open to having her mind picked on everything to do with designing a game. If you haven’t heard of the Torn Armor at all, head over to the Torn Kickstarter now!

If you’re intrigued and want to know more, get yourself a drink, pull up a chair and read on!

Due the length of the interview, I decided to split it into two parts.

Torn Armor: Fantasy Wargaming in the Torn World

#1 – Building Fantasy Worlds

Zweischneid: Hi Natalya. Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

On it says that you basically grew up playing games of all kinds before making games your career. What excites you about designing games and fantasy worlds?

Natalya: I think it must be the stomping around like a god crushing puny ants under my feet.

No, seriously, I think it’s simply because my head is crammed full of places, races, people, cultures and historical events that belong to other worlds. Perhaps it is because I am so inspired by our own history … I am deeply, deeply fascinated by it … so when you are also inspired by the fantasy genre, you tend to put the two together in your own head. This causes me to want to make it “real” in some way: a book, a game, a character in a tabletop campaign I am running.

This in turn becomes very deeply satisfying. You effectively create and breathe life into something.

To those who share in your creation – whether it be through a story or a RPG game – they now get to see and experience whatever it is: an inn, a city, a castle, the people within it, a geographic location. At that point your imagination, your creation, is now sparking their own imaginations, and – hopefully – they are entertained!

You’ve just made this thing “real,” and that an incredible experience that becomes somewhat addictive and very rewarding.

#2 – The Origins of Torn World

Torn World Fantasy Roleplaying and Board Game

Zweischneid: If I read it correctly. Torn started life as a pen-and-paper-fantasy-roleplaying game?

Can you talk a bit about why you set out to make your own fantasy roleplaying game? What makes the Torn World RPG special and unique compared to other fantasy RPGs?

Natalya: The “why did you create your own world” goes back to the creator in me, and – honestly – the fact that I had my own vision for how I wanted the games to go. This meant that I didn’t reach for a hack-and-slash scenario, I wanted something that had a plot, purpose, NPCs with motivations and so on. I literally just started writing my own so I could tell the story that I wanted to tell.

Strictly speaking I can trace the Torn World back to a Bushido game I was running back in the early 80’s. It wasn’t “Torn” then, but a player’s action essentially ended the game in a cataclysmic way.

Literally, a total TPK with a demon running amok. The world was done for.

Years later it was back to me to run a game – this time for Dungeons & Dragons – and I had the notion to base it in the same world as the Bushido one years before: to pick up after the demon has been captured/destroyed, but the world itself was beaten up in the process, a little post-apocalyptic.

And this formed the basis for Torn. It is a world in which each Age of Man ends in a cataclysmic event: the fall of a god, the rise of a demon … SOMETHING profoundly world changing. And as the world recovers and enters into a new age, so it finds itself a little weaker than the age before. Technology is lower, magic is less, the understanding of the artifacts from the formers ages is a little lower than it was before.

I wrote and ran in this setting – each campaign advancing the timeline – for many, many years. After a while – when it was a couple of years out from me running again – I had grown a little jaded and wanted to do something drastically different. I developed a concept for a new world and really hammered on it (and to this day it’s really quite, quite unique), but I concluded that it was too alien for players to have fun in, it didn’t have enough of the familiar real world for players to feel grounded.

I concluded that they wouldn’t be able to play in it.So I abandoned the idea and went back to Torn.

But now I was full of god-like zeal and I still wanted to re-draw and reshape the old world somehow, breath some really fresh air into it. Which is when it struck me: I smashed my new – alien world – into Torn. They literally collided across a meta-physical level, spun Torn about its axis, and ripped up continents, smashing landmasses into each other. I literally redrew the entire northern hemisphere.

But the wonderful thing is that the two worlds came to rest touching each other in a physical and meta-physical way. There is a massive area in the world that is a permanent magical storm – this si where the worlds touch – and slowly but surely each world is coming apart.

Torn itself was wounded in the collision and there are areas about the world where planar energies seep through open (invisible) gashes and rifts. But also when the worlds hit each other, they exchanged material: country sized chunks of debris, artifacts AND creatures. Some creatures from Torn ended up in the alien world, some of the unusual creatures form the other world ended up in Torn. That’s literally where the anthropomorphic northern races come from, although they have no idea that they are interstellar refugees.

So I smashed the whole thing, wrote in a massive cataclysmic event (two worlds smashing into each other), and redrew all the part of the world that didn’t like. The modern Torn World in its current iteration was born. Literally.

The “other” world – the one I abandoned due to its alien nature – that has not gone away. The world that crashed into Torn will be visited one day, right?

#3 – Torn Armor the Miniatures Board Game

Torn Armor the Board Game

Zweischneid: Now, with your Kickstarter campaign, you are adding a “squad-based skirmish board game” – Torn Armor – to your Torn World setting. How did you get started on the idea of launching a miniatures game? How does it tie back to the RPG?

Natalya: So here I am, I have a world that has been 25 years in development, I have had a dozen different gaming groups from two different countries say “wow, you should release this!

One day I thought “Yeah, okay, let’s do it.”

But how? I could write a book, try to conjure up a computer game, or maybe jump straight into RPG materials. But in all truth I crunched the numbers on the RPG materials front and concluded that at best I’d probably get the attention of a few dozen people: we have a lot of quality choice out there when it comes to RPG settings, who is going to sit up and take notice of another one?

So I came up with a slightly different approach and took my love for boardgames and wargames. Instead of releasing RPG materials, create a skirmish game that features all of the same races, characters, heroes, anti-heroes and lore. You get to see the Sisk and their golems, the Felis (catfolk) races, the adorable mu (mice men), you get to understand why they are fighting, how they are fundamentally different on a cultural level.

But these are the same people and creatures: so if you have “Calain, the felis hero” in a Torn Armor skirmish game, it’s the same Calain that features as a hero in one of our future campaign settings. This is one reason why the minatures themselves have the same scale and are of the same high quality as traditional roleplaying game tabletop miniatures: we want them to be interchangeable.

The Torn Armor game will continue and expand to include the major factions of the world with lots of new units. But this in turn has actually created a lot of interest in the Torn setting in general and we will be creating a separate product line for the RPG materials later this year.

You can be just a Torn Armor player and that’s it, or be a tabletop RPGer and use the setting … but the two overlap, they’re ultimately in the same world, so you can end up doing BOTH.