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John G


** UPDATED! **
26th June 2009

If you cast your mind back to the beginning of the year, you will remember seeing the interview with John Goodenough posted here at Talisman Island. As part of the announcement made over at the Fantasy Flight forums, John kindly agreed to answer some more questions put to him by forum users.

It's been a while coming, due to work commitments and such like, but finally John has been able to put finger to keyboard and has sent answers to the first ten questions, which I can now present to you! Let's see if your question was one that was chosen!

Q 1: Will fate become more powerful in expansions? What will the light and dark sides of the fate token be used for?

A: Most expansions will feature at least a couple of cards with a fate theme. One of the upcoming expansions will take full advantage of the light and dark sides of the fate tokens by introducing new game rules. Dark fate will be easier to replenish but is more treacherous because other players may be able to use it against you. Light fate is more difficult to replenish but it may grant players additional benefits besides just rerolling a die. Like most expansion rules, the new spin on fate is modular so players can choose whether or not they use it in their games. The light and dark sides of fate are aimed at players who desire more interaction with other characters and want to use the tokens for more powerful effects. Just imagine being able to force a player to roll a 1 result at the Enchantress!

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 2: Talisman is at heart quite a simple game, do you intend to add further game mechanics or are you happy with its identity as it stands?

A: I would like to gradually introduce new game mechanics as long as they maintain the spirit of Talisman and are kept fairly simple. I feel that the best ideas enhance the core gaming experience instead of changing it, so I am hesitant on adding new mechanics that make the game more complicated.

However, Talisman is a very large world and has plenty of room to grow both in theme and game mechanics. Small box expansions such as The Reaper will introduce new cards that fall outside of the standard Adventure and Spell cards. Large box expansions such as The Dungeon will have the most dramatic shift in game play and may feature new ways to win the game. Of course players always have the freedom to play with any elements from expansions and exclude any cards or rules they wish.

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 3: Will we see a "Characters" set with just figures and character cards for those people who like to have a wide range of characters in their games?

A: Perhaps someday, but not in the near future. Expansions that feature a wider range of components tend to have a greater appeal. The Reaper expansion for example, appeals to players interested in more Adventure, Spell, and character cards, as well as a few new surprises. Producing an expansion that only features new characters will only appeal to players that want more characters. Then again, what Talisman fan wouldn’t want more characters!

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 4: I understand why some of the rules were changed in the updated edition but why did the rules wording also change? Combat and starting craft was used in the first editions why change it now?

A: The term “starting craft” implies that this is how much Craft a character starts the game with, which is not always the case.

The most popular alternative rule for faster play is to start the game with additional Strength and Craft. These counters do not count towards a character’s “starting craft” even though they are added to his Craft at the start of the game. Future expansions will also introduce cards that increase a character’s “starting craft”, which is counter-intuitive since the character did not actually start the game with these bonuses. I chose the term “Craft value” because it represents a number that may fluctuate during the game, and is not necessarily how much Craft you start the game with.

The wording for combat was changed to avoid overlapping terminology. Having the same word mean different things in different circumstances leads to confusion and rules lawyering. The main issue was having the term “combat” refer to both combat and psychic combat. For example, if an ability allowed to you add 1 to your attack score in combat does this mean combat only or does it also include psychic combat? If the intention is only in combat, then every instance would have to include additional text to clarify “but not in psychic combat.” While this may not sound like a big deal, it becomes problematic when you’re trying to fit text in a small card frame. To simplify and clarify this issue, I used the terminology from Talisman 3rd Edition and have attacks broken up into battles (using Strength) and psychic combat (using Craft).

With that said, I made an exception with the term “Object” which also refers to Magic Objects. Circumstances where the distinction between Objects and Magic Objects are so extremely rare that overlapping the term is simply a more elegant solution.

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 5: The Reaper set contains a lot of cards from old expansions, is this the model for future expansions or could you just not resist in adding some old favourites?

A: I would like every expansion to have a sense of nostalgia, but also introduce new surprises. About half of the cards in The Reaper expansion were based on previous Talisman sets but this ratio will be more conservative in future expansions since there is only a handful of classic cards left. Some expansions will even include cards from Bob Harris’s original prototype that were not published (Raging Bull is just the first example).

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 6: I was wondering if we can get more information regarding at least the next two expansions, you mentioned the 3rd is a Toad based theme?

A: I can’t get into any details yet, but here are some hints of things you’ll find in the next expansion, following the release of The Dungeon:

A new type of card will be introduced that has not yet been seen in any Talisman Revised 4th Edition expansion.

Some of the cards feature new ways of being turned into a slimy little toad, including a new Spell.

The last winter in Minnesota was bone-chilling and it even snowed a few times in April. This may have had some influence on certain cards.

One interesting thing to note about the miniatures is that it will feature the largest and smallest character in the game.

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 7: Being as Talisman and fantasy gaming in general seems to cater for a male audience I was wondering if the game will get characters and creatures orientated towards female players.

A: Most of the expansions will feature a balanced mix of female and male characters, as well as encounters in the Adventure deck. I think the best designed characters and creatures have a universal appeal to any gender. The Amazon character for example, will appeal to anyone who wants to play a proud and fierce warrior.

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 8: Will FFG ever release a strategy guide for Talisman, including detailed background information on characters, additional artwork, history of the game, detailed information about board squares etc.? Something players can buy that will share more of the talisman story, compared to another expansion.

A: I’m not sure that a strategy guide is the best format to develop a background setting because Talisman is not really a strategy game. We may post content on the FFG Talisman page but this really depends on how much time and resources are available. If players are interested in learning the history of the world of Talisman, the big box expansions feature a fair amount of flavour text and background stories. Of course fans are always welcome to invent their own stories and background for the land of Talisman!

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 9: When playing what is the card that you hate to draw? Love to get? Just plain think is hilarious when it comes out of the deck?

A: The Raiders from previous editions was probably the most dreaded card in the game, not because I was afraid of losing gold and Objects but because it tended to create balance issues. The most common scenario is when the Raiders hit a character who is struggling to keep up with the leader. The leader is the only character that is powerful enough to quickly reach the Middle Region by beating the Sentinel, and then proceeds to loot all the treasure sitting on the Oasis. This leads to a “rich get richer and poor get poorer” effect and results in a dramatic swing in power.

The ideal but less common scenario is when the Raiders help balance the game by knocking the most powerful character off his throne, allowing the weakest characters to catch up by taking his loot. This rarely happens because the odds of hitting a weaker character is so much higher than hitting the leader. For example, a four player game only has a one in four chance that the Raiders will hit the leader and a three in four chance that a character falling behind will be sent even further behind. This is main reason why the Raiders was changed in the Revised 4th Edition. While the revised Raiders only has one “raiding” effect, future expansions will introduce new Raider cards that can steal Followers, Objects, gold, and even Spells!

The card I love to draw is the Demigod. Gaining a Spell of your choice allows you to adapt to what you need at that moment. Most of they time I end up picking the classic Temporal Warp because extra turns is always useful. However, this may change with the release of the next expansion because some of the new Spells are just too good to pass up.

Pestilence has lead to many hilarious moments when it rears its ugly head out of the Adventure deck. I’ve seen players go down to one life left and still keep on pushing their luck. “Maybe you should go somewhere and heal” I say. “No problem, I have Armour” they say. Next round Pestilence is drawn and their character dies.

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Q 10: Will everything be made in-house, or would it be possible to create items/expansions/etc. that FFG would consider acquiring? If anything in the community reaches enough high popularity, would it be possible for FFG to approach the creator and start negotiating? Or could FFG just use it, no questions asked? Will FFG even consider items created by externals like GW once did for Talisman?

A: This is a very complicated question. The short answer is that FFG does not hire freelancers to design expansions. If you look at expansions from our other product lines, they are all created in-house or by the game’s original designer. It simply is not practical to do so otherwise. I wish I could elaborate on this more but it would be an entire article in itself.

Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate                Fate

Many thanks to John for taking the time to answer these questions so far, and thanks to everyone that joined in by asking some in the first place! There were a broad range of questions posted and a selection of what were thought to be the most interesting were chosen. I hope you agree!

Hopefully, the answers to the second lot of questions will be available in the next couple of weeks, so check back soon!

** UPDATE! **

John has now sent over the remaining answers to complete the feature, which I have added to a new page here.