SFRPG.com: So you wrote the Players Guide huh?
Andrew J Lucas: Sure did. It was my second solo project. The first was a Cyberpunk 2020 adventure for Atlas Games.
SFRPG.com: Follow up question, why do you hate Street Fighter?
Andrew J Lucas: Oh I don’t hate Street Fighter, I love it. Chun Li was always my favourite character and I spent many many many hours playing the game. A roleplaying game is an excellent avenue to marry my arcade experience and my budding interest in writing for RPGs. And for White Wolf Games no less!
SFRPG.com: Is it the Players you hate then?
Andrew J Lucas: Well, um I don’t hate the players per se. Though there was this one guy, Darren in my gaming group, but we settled his hash in one on one challenges. Each player dressed as a masked nun and challenged him to one on one combat. He could never figure out why this one anonymous nun was out to get him or why she had a different fighting style each time they met. But I guess that didn’t answer your question did it. I actually have a lot of respect for the SF players. To take such a strange RPG and run with it says a lot about the amount of fun these players have. At the time White Wolf was all angst and political plots. Street Fighter was all about adventure.
SFRPG.com: That’s pretty progressive, I have never LARPed Street Fighter before, much less actually fought another player.
I guess if this was a serious book and wasn’t supposed to be revenge on someone I’ll have to ask you questions about the it now. Let’s start at the beginning.
In chapter one you introduce magical shoes. Were these inspired by the MC Hammer Saturday morning cartoon?
Andrew J Lucas: Oh I suppose you could LARP the game after all White Wolf has a long history of producing LARP rules. In fact I played a Lasombra saboteur in a game in Vancouver. Made some wonderful friend in the game, staked a couple of them but they walked it off… But this book wasn’t designed for LARPing some critics would say parts of it are unplayable.
Magic shoes… pretty much sure you are talking about the hardened leather shoes a savate practitioner would wear, those are pretty underpowered and are included more to encourage roleplaying than any significant tactical advantage. Its been a few years but I’m pretty much sure that chapter one is a short piece of fiction written by Nigel Findley. He was very much my mentor, I miss him.
SFRPG.com: How did you aquire a mentor? Was he your general mentor or just on this project?
I have to be my own mentor :-(
Andrew J Lucas: I met Nigel at a World con in Vancouver in I think 89? I’d been playing games for year, writing poetry and short stories and such but didn’t know much about the RPG industry. I went to a seminar on something to do with publishing and sat next to him and Jeff Ranger. Jeff asked if I knew who Nigel Findley was and I replied ‘Who the hell was that?’ Nigel thought that was hilarious. We then all when to a massive con sponsored cyberpunk event run by ‘the’ Steve Jackson. Something like 30+ players organized in 3 teams (corp, punk and terrorists). Great fun!
Anyways a couple of year later I moved to to Vancouver and reconnected with Jeff and Nigel’s very solid gaming group. We played a number of campaigns for a good 10 or so years. We also met once a week at a local bar and just chewed the fat. It was a very creative time in my life and Nigel was an invaluable support and guide. Published my first and arguably my best work during this time. The turning point was when Nigel convinced me to go to Gen con in Milwaukee and I schmoozed my way into a couple of writing projects.
He also was there to support me when I decided to get married. If not for him I probably wouldn’t have proposed to my wife. It was devastating to us all when year later he suddenly died. In fact one of his last written pieces was the intro fiction in the Street Fighters Players Guide.
If it wasn’t for Nigel I wouldn’t have written the Street Fighter’s Player’s Guide. How so you may ask…
At one of our Thursday night bar/writer’s group get-togethers Nigel pulled out this manila envelope he’d received from White Wolf. Inside was a pre production copy of the SF rules and an offer from White Wolf for Nigel to write for them. At this time Nigel had a few novels written and even had a movie script out there. I think he’d just finished a source book for Vampire; The Masquerade on Vancouver (that was a fun book). He was a little offended that White Wolf was asking him to write for a video game RPG, thought it was beneath him.
So he asked what I thought, would I write for this? I said, “Fuck yah! In a heartbeat.” So he handed over the package and I put together a proposal for what would become the Players Guide and emailed it in. Apparently Nigel was contacted by White Wolf and he vetted me and then It was on!
SFRPG.com: Kirk or Picard?
Andrew J Lucas: While Picard is the grand elder statesman of the Federation, there is no way he would have the balls to roundhouse a Gorn. So Kirk, always Kirk!
SFRPG.com: Were you busy watching Star Trek instead of playtesting for balance when you wrote the Players Guide?
Andrew J Lucas: It was a different era back then. Betamax was king and my manuscript was due in 30 days. Regrettably the lack of playtesting did result in some unbalanced actions which looked good on paper but were rife for abuse. Elemental, cyborg ninja cartwheel kick anyone?
Now the sample team rankings were set to promote roll-playing over team balance and I think most experienced world of darkness gamemasters understood that. But a beginning team set against Chimu Nihon WOULD get their clocks cleaned, but also should make allies for life.
SFRPG.com: Yeah time constraints have been mentioned by some other authors as well. It sounds like everything was rushed at White Wolf around this time.
Since I have you here I have to ask for some clarification/errata even though it was like 100 years ago and you might not even remember the system.
- The French guy with the magic shoes has “Riposte” as a maneuver on his sheet (pg 16) but that is not a thing anywhere in this game. It has been theorized that it was possibly supposed to be Deflecting Punch due to the actual definition of the word Riposte. WTF?
- There is no Speed listed at all for the maneuver Spontaneous Combustion (pg 99). WTF?
- Displacement (pg 88) is available to a bunch of styles which its prerequisite move of Esquives (pg 89) is not available to. WTF?
- Cartwheel Kick (pg85) does enough damage to destroy an entire roleplaying game. WTF? Steve Wieck suggested an alternative version here (link), do you agree or is he your nemesis now?
- Animal Hybrids and Cyborgs: Too powerful? WTF?
You’ve had a long time since it was published to agonize over these so I assume it’s ready to go, all written up and formatted.
Andrew J Lucas: At the time White Wolf was growing and I think the publishing schedule was a little tight. Perhaps they were more comfortable with sourcebooks which were predominately fluff material with only some rules. SF is very rules oriented and playtesting rigorously would make the gameplay stronger. In many ways SF is the game Heroclix became. I used to play Heroclix, ran tournaments in Kelowna as an envoy for a couple of years. While fun its not a roleplaying game like SF.
Okay rules. Its been over 20 years since I wrote this and most of the research I did using library books between calls as a directory operator for BC Tel, then typed up on my PC,then mailed floppy discs to Mike Tinney. Yeah it was a whole different era.
- Deflecting Punch is exactly what I was going for. Works as well as any other mechanic.
- I think –2 speed works well with this power.
- I think I intended a number of martial arts to be able to use this ability. removing that prerequisite is best.
- I love Steve! Always will. I came across this version a few years ago, and it works. Lucas endorsed!
- It was really tough making a mechanic to create a Blanka as well as cyborgs. but damned if I didn’t want to be able to field a Felicia or Kano. I don’t think they are too powerful as they are, but once you start mix and matching then my god the rules get abused. A good fix for that is to allow only GM characters to mix backgrounds that way. Then you can get the synthetic humans that became end bosses in SF Alpha. the GM shoudl always treat these as the abominations they are and strive to bring out fear and disgust in the players when they encounter them. Like that clam based fighter in Contenders
SFRPG.com: Just to clarify on the Esquives/Displacement thing, you mean remove the prerequisite of “Esquives” from Displacement?
Andrew J Lucas: Yeah
SFRPG.com: Hey thanks for the clarifications, and you managed not to say “free dots” even once!
Since you brought up the tight schedule, was there anything you really wanted to add but didn’t have time to write?
Noticeably absent from all the source books are rules for Blind Fighting and Animal Companions for example. Seems like they would be right up your ally since you have Ninjitsu and Animal Hybrids in the Players Guide.
Andrew J Lucas: FREE DOTS!
Andrew J Lucas: The book was pretty tight and right on the word count, wasn’t much room to add anything else. I did propose a couple of follow up books. An adventure that later found its way into Adventures Unlimited magazine and a book on coliseums which would set fighting stages across the world and elaborate weapons using rules. Never really thought about animal companions seemed a bit schmatzy to me. :-)
I always had this image of Chun Li with a Chinese sword (with tassels on the pommel) running up the length of a gladiators trident to strike him.
SFRPG.com: Yeah, like maybe if you bought background points in Coliseum you could start with a bunch of free attribute dots that made you more powerful than any other starting character. I can dig it.
So your adventure that came out in Adventure Unlimited features some big ass robots, much like the Players Guide.
Is it safe to assume you are a huge fan of big ass robots?
Follow up question: were you trying to break that too?
Andrew J Lucas: I do enjoy me some big ass robots. Palladium’s Robotech was a campaign I ran for some years and i did lots of work for Dream Pod Nine’s Heavy Gear.
I tried my best to break Adventures Unlimited, alas slow and non paying advertisers did that for us.
SFRPG.com: I never really cared for Palladium but I have all the Robotech sourcebooks anyway, and the novels, and a bunch of comics and toys, and I may have written a strategy guide for Battlecry on gamefaqs, and my son’s named Maximilian.
Andrew J Lucas: Max Sterling was my fav in the series.
SFRPG.com: Great, now I have to change my kids name…
Were you pretty stoked when Street Fighter IV came out and you saw that they made the end boss Seth using your Cyborg rules for big ass robots?
Andrew J Lucas: I took a stab at the Street Fighter World Tournament RPG a few years ago and while the source material i wrote was never published I wrote some background material which was pretty out there. Yeah Seth would be a pretty cool build using Street Fighter rules. Broken Boss though…
SFRPG.com: Just a few more questions I have written down here that I didn’t want to forget, then we’ll wrap up:
Who do you think you are?
Andrew J Lucas: Andrew J Lucas has contributed to books published by Fasa, Dream Pod Nine, White Wolf Games and Atlas Games among others. His creative output is often blunted by his day job and the enthusiasm of his young daughter in distracting him, he does manage to produce a few projects each year. Recently he has successfully sold stories magazines such as Nebula Rift, The Argosy and Thinkerbeat.
He has three stories out in anthologies this year, A Bleak New World, Tales of Unseen Terror and Slumbering Horrors, Game Fiction Vol II and Within Stranger Aeons and has his first novel, Hellmaw: Eyes of the Beholden due out in 2018
He is also line producing an array of Miniature wargames and RPG products for Rebel Minis, including a Savage Worlds compatable setting book called Dark Hold and a couple of surprise projects in the works.
He lives in Langley BC Canada likes cats but has none.
SFRPG.com: What gives you the right?
Andrew J Lucas: 6 classes of Shotokan Karate and a year of grade 8 wrestling. and I’m 50% scottish so there is that.
SFRPG.com: How dare you?
Andrew J Lucas: “As an artist, I feel that we must try many things – but above all we must dare to fail.” – John Cassavetes
Anderson Gomes says
Real cool. I imagine the problems doing these stuff, back then. But again, as no one is perfect, every time a GM see something awkward he may change it with common sense.
I still hate the players guide…
Cyborgs are Storyteller characters at my table only. Animal Hybrids are banned, and no Blanka isn’t one if the players ask.
I even got rid of the elementals, why? Because nowadays after the “Avatar: The Last Airbender” people won’t stop comparing it to it.
I am currently considering to rewrite the elemental rules for experienced PCs though. Like a Prestige-Class in other RPGs, when you unlock the full potential of your Ki you can develop these elemental based powers, based upon how the character is played. Is he a hothead? Fire. Is he grounded and silent? Earth and so on…
Eric "Musashi" Souza says
Cool interview! Sad about the books never released.
andrew j lucas says
sooo much fun doing this interview.