9
Sep

Unhallowed Metropolis Rises Again! An Interview with writer Simon Berman

Today we bring to you an exclusive interview with Simon Berman, one of the writers from New Dark Age and he’s going to tell us all about their upcoming release of Unhallowed Metropolis Revised. What is this magnificent title all about you ask? Allow us to explain a bit before we jump into the interview!

* * * * * * *

It has been two hundred years since first the outbreak of the Plague, when the dead rose to feed on the flesh of the living. Countless millions perished in the chaos that followed. It was the dawn of a new dark age.

London, the capital of the Neo-Victorian Empire, is a vast, densely crowded city. Beneath the towering walls and crackling Tesla towers, where the fallout of a thousand crematoria darkens the streets, ten-million souls live in squalor. Predators, human and inhuman, stalk the slums and rookeries, preying on the unwary and the helpless.

Set two-hundred years after the advent of the zombie Plague, Unhallowed Metropolis™ is an apocalyptic Neo-Victorian dystopia written by Jason Soles and Nicole Vega. Inspired by the works of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, and Robert Louis Stevenson, and painstakingly researched by the authors, Unhallowed Metropolis provides a rich role-playing experience steeped in alchemy, mad science, and undeath.

Unhallowed Metropolis™, Revised features:

  • Newly revised and updated with new art and streamlined rules!
  • Point-based character creation and a fast-paced, deadly combat system.
  • An incredibly detailed and fully realized setting.
  • Exciting and varied character concepts to play, including Aristocrats, Criminals, Detectives, Deathwach Soldiers, Dhampiri Vampire Hunters, Doctors, Mourners, and Undertakers.
  • Amazing art, including a full-color cover by photo-sculptor George Higham with interior illustrations by Eliza Gauger, Chris Walton, Melissa Uran, Raven Mimura, Brian Snoddy, Robert Tritthardt, Aron Dittbrenner, Trent Thynes, and Samuel Araya.
  • A Foreword by Kenneth Hite, noted author of Trail of CthulhuThe Day After Ragnarok, and Tour de Lovecraft: The Tales.

* * * * * * *

Alright, now that you’ve got the low down, let’s jump into talking with Simon about Neo-Victorian goodness, crematoriums and Tesla coils!

So tell us about unhallowed met in two sentences or less (setting wise)

That’s easy! Unhallowed Metropolis is the gas-mask chic role-playing game of Neo-Victorian horror.

Now tell us about it in two sentences or less regarding game-play & mechanics!

Roll two d10, add a value from your character sheet and equal or exceed a target number to succeed in an action. Failure will likely result in a brutal and nightmarish outcome for your beloved character.

I see that Unhallowed Met is “revised” can you elaborate on that? When was the first version published?

Unhallowed Metropolis was originally printed in 2007 and premiered at Gen Con. The game saw a few supplements published but we had trouble finding a publishing partner that was a good fit and some of those supplements saw very limited release. Ultimately, we found a new publisher with Atomic Overmind Press. We’d been impressed with their treatment of The Day After Ragnarok and felt that AOP would be a great home for Unhallowed’. It seemed natural to us that with a new publisher it was time for a new edition. The revised edition is not a complete overhaul but a dramatic facelift that let us expand on some content, increase the amount of art, and basically polish the game into the Neo-Victorian nightmare we always wanted it to be…this time with an index.

How long have you been working on this project?

I’ve been involved since 2008. Although I had met co-creator Jason Soles the previous year, it was only when I started working at Privateer Press that I had the opportunity to pitch him some ideas I’d been kicking around. I’m pretty into Victorian era history and pitched him the idea of doing a campaign for Unhallowed’ based on some real world incidents in Borneo and so was born my campaign, Up the River. The campaign saw only limited release due to our publishing issues but I suspect it will be back in one form or another in the new, revised, edition.

What is your role in regards to creating the game?

I wear a lot of hats for Unhallowed’. Jason Soles and Nicole Vega are the co-creators and have been gracious enough to give me the opportunity to take a heavy hand in developing the revised edition. First and foremost I consider myself a writer and I’m extremely proud of some of my contributions to the new book, particularly the work I did to expand the world section including Austria, Eastern Europe, and points east. I also manage some smaller projects including our upcoming regular PDF scenarios and other content as well as doing my best to market the game to the as-yet-uncorrupted.

So, Steampunk and Zombies. What other elements does Unhallowed Met focus on?

The steampunk tag is an interesting conundrum for us. Unhallowed has a lot of elements that appeal broadly to steampunk enthusiasts; science-gone-wrong, the Victorian era, gasmasks, and even airships, although ours are purely military-use zeppelins of little use to pirates of any kind, but we never set out to design a “steampunk world.” It’s a paradox that may actually be true of most settings that really inspire and fuel the steampunk movement. Steampunk is an extremely evocative genre but I think that it is most compelling when found as an element within a greater context. I wouldn’t call Marc Caro’s “The City of Lost Children” a steampunk film, but it contains numerous aesthetic elements that immediately resonate as “steampunk” in the present day continuum of science fiction and fantasy.

 

As for zombies, well, we sure do have those but we don’t exactly think of Unhallowed’ as a “zombie game.” Zombies are just a fact of life in 2105 AD and society has evolved numerous functions to survive the fact that the dead routinely re-animate with a flesh for the living. Cremation is mandatory and the elite have found ways of keeping their needs for decorum and whole burial alive via the Mourner’s Guild. We’ve found that often the animate dead are a wonderful background item for game-play but don’t need to be the center. In fact, when I run games, I prefer to utilize zombies as an ever present but mostly off-state tension.

 

Unhallowed gives readers and players almost one hundred pages of painstakingly crafted setting. You could just as easily play a game about a serial killer hunting in the shadows of Whitechapel’s Tesla Towers as you could tell a harrowing tale political intrigue and illegal scientific creations by members of the House of Lords, or you could hunt and kill feral vampire for bounties offered by the Ministry of Urban Defense.

A game with so much history (alternate and factual) did this require a lot of research to pull off, or are you guys history buffs over at New Dark Age?

I think the answer is that there’s a lot of research because we’re history buffs. All of us approach our setting and world building as amateur historians and sociologists. With a few key exceptions, pointed out in the timeline found in the book, the game’s history mimics the real world’s until the Plague struck worldwide onDecember 9th, 1905. We researched the Victorian era meticulously before diverging from real history and then took pains to make sure that all factors were taken to logical conclusions given the introduction of an infectious zombie-creating contagion.

 

The game’s present-day is set in 2105, two hundred years after the Plague, and it’s our hope that it feels like a fully realized world, not just some slapdash zombies in gasmasks! We drew on a number of professional historians as well as our own personal reading in history, science, and sociology to get there. The bibliography at the back of Unhallowed Metropolis would make a pretty rad reading list for someone interested in the uglier side of the Victorian era.

When should we be looking forward to seeing it out there for purchase? Where can we get our hands on a copy and how much do they cost?

Unhallowed Metropolis, revised, will be available internationally through all game and book retailers on September 14th. We managed to keep and in many ways exceed our previous high standards while maintaining a suggested retailer’s price of $39.95. We’re really happy to be able to keep the new book’s price at the same point as the first edition price in 2007.

 

It’s also available right now as a PDF for $20 at RPGNow

 

Moving forward we’re really excited about the possibilities of PDF support. This week sees the release of the revised edition version of our introductory scenario, Sanctuary via www.atomicovermind.com . Next week we release Salvation; an all new scenario that will debut on the same date as the hardcover book’s release, September 9th.

 

Starting in October, we’ll begin releasing PDF content on a near-monthly basis. These supplements will be new scenarios or some content suitable for players to use that may include new Stunts, Qualities, and Impediments for characters.

 

You can follow us on Facebook too, stay informed about upcoming supplements, events, and parties. Our TempleCon party is notorious!

Before we leave, can we get some gaming pearls of wisdom from you? Anything, enlighten us!

Despite what people may tell you, there really is such a thing as too much absinthe.

Alright guys that’s it for the interview, why not take some time out to check out the game at RPGnow and peruse the preview materials. We’ve heard nothing but good stuff about Unhallowed Metropolis from our fellow Obsidian Portallers and are looking forward to release day! Also, stay tuned right here to the blog, where you’ll be able to win a copy of the game!

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