Interview: Cobblepath Games

Text reads Interview with Cobblepath Games over a foggy forest

This year, my favorite pastime has been reading and playing content from small creators. Through a Discord chat, I met Jack Milton and learned about Cobblepath Games. Jack and Stephanie Williamson are a two person team who make up Cobblepath Games and developed a horror based RPG Locus.

From the Directors Guide of Locus “Locus is a tabletop roleplaying system with a focus on personal horror. It was created with the goal of exploring fear alongside tension and stress and aims to give players the experience of feeling scared through their characters, and to facilitate the experience of overcoming and combatting that fear to survive. We recommend it be played with anywhere between 2 and 8 people – and generally we have found 4 or 5 works best, with one person taking the mantle of Director, and the others, Players.”

For my Director’s Review: Locus, please CLICK HERE

For Variant J’s Player’s Review: Locus, please CLICK HERE

Cover Art for Locus. Greyscale picture shows a figure alone in a mangled wood

After experiencing Locus, I wanted to take the opportunity to talk with Jack and get to know more about Cobblepath Games and the process of creating Locus.

Berry (she/her): “Tell us a little about Cobblepath Games.”
Jack (he/him): “We’re a small team of two and we make tabletop RPGs.  We were founded about a year ago, as part of the version 0 release of our horror game Locus, but have been working together for years.  With the successful Kickstarter for Locus’ full release version we’re now mostly focused on refining and delivering that game, alongside building the foundations of our next project.”

“What was your team’s inspiration behind the project?”
“We have both been long time fans of Horror, particularly the more supernatural and psychological flavours. We felt that there was a gap for our particular interests in terms of tabletop rpgs. Part of this was about focusing on making something genuinely scary and building that through mechanics rather than just fluff and worldbuilding. We also wanted to offer something of a reasonable size that offered an alternative type of horror to the Lovecraftian flavour, which we feel is pretty pervasive in the TTRPG sphere.

We drew on much of our experience with Horror media, in particular Video Games and Films. Some notable examples of our major influences are The Forbidden Siren, Fatal Frame (Project Zero) and Silent Hill game series, alongside films such as Triangle, Event Horizon and Ju-On: The Grudge.

We pulled a number of elements from these examples and others but one of the most prevailing things we drew from our inspirations was the idea of personal horror for the characters. The stories we found the most affecting are those where the horror acts as a form of allegory for the character’s personal turmoil and this is something we tried to work into the fundamental fabric of Locus. The other major element that drew from a lot of our personal favourite horror stories was the idea of the location being the monster. We realised that this was a common element in a lot of our influences and gave us a good central concept to build around beyond the general concept of Horror.”

“What did you find the most surprising as you went through the process of developing the game?”
“Most surprising… thats an interesting one. We’d probably say the amount of information we found we’d internalized along the way. There was a lot of situation during the development where we didn’t realise that we had failed to codify a system, or explain a process because it seemed obvious to us, not just as the game creators but also as a result of our tapestry of roleplay experience and knowledge of the media we have consumed. We found ourselves having to add in quite a lot of information and sub-sections for information we had not realized we had not said or had foolishly assumed we didn’t need to say.”

“How does your team promote inclusivity and diversity within Locus?“
“We have tried in a range of ways to be as inclusive as possible – from the ground up acknowledging the history of the horror genre as having a lot of exclusive and white-focused tropes and doing what we can to not reinforce those tropes.  We have a deliberately diverse imaginary group featured in our examples which litter the book to illustrate how to play.  In the sample story in the book and the sample story No Glimmer Through the Night, we have made a point to not define any characters within the story, playable or otherwise, as any specific race or gender.  We have done this because we maintain that people’s enjoyment and right to feel included and represented is more important than “historical accuracy” in these games – we want to encourage diversity.  For future projects we are making a concerted effort to work with a more diverse range of collaborators.  We also have built into our budget for Locus a sensitivity reader which will be done by mustangsart of Combat Wheelchair fame. “

“How would you describe your experience with crowdfunding and marketing Locus?”
“In a word, exhausting.  Neither of us have experience prior to the Locus campaign in either of those fields.  We have learned a lot and there is a lot that we did not know that we did not know.  One of the hardest things for us was keeping up the constant media hype – neither of us are hugely comfortable shouting about how great our projects are, and neither of us are big social media users, so it didn’t come particularly naturally.  We have a newfound and deep appreciation for people who do crowdfunding and marketing as their day job.  To anyone looking to start up Kickstarter who hasn’t done so before, we would recommend getting a consultant to guide them through the process.  We were fortunate enough to come across TrinityKnotStudios who helped us immensely in our campaign.”

“What are the next steps for Locus and Cobblepath?”
“The main thing we are working on at the moment is fulfilling the Locus pledges.  We have received back the edits on the book and will be forwarding them to the graphic artist, looking to have them completed and printed in the new year.  One of the main things we are creating alongside this is the SciFi setting guide for Locus which was achieved as a stretch goal on the Kickstarter.  We have just signed a contract with an artist to produce art for our next game that we will be looking to put on Kickstarter early next year.  We can’t say much about it yet but it will be wildly different to Locus.  Keep an eye on our social media for information on it in the coming months.”

“Is there anything additional you would like people to know about Cobblepath or Locus?”
“Locus is scheduled for a full digital release on Itch.io and DriveThruRPG January 2021 and will be released with an open game license, meaning that anyone will be able to create supplemental content / hacks for Locus without owing us anything.  To go along with this we will be hosting a LocusJam next year (2021, exact date TBC) on Itch.io.  This will likely be a couple of months after its digital release.“

Foggy abandoned amusement park scene

Follow Cobblepath Games on social media for updates!
Twitter: cobblepath
Instagram: cobblepathgames
Facebook: cobblepathgames
Or visit cobblepathgames.co.uk

*Photo Credit: Cobblepath Game

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