Our first interview episode! This time around, we are chatting with noted White Wolf figure Ian Lemke. After helping to develop the Mind’s Eye Theatre LARP system, he was tapped as an author and the first developer of Changeling: the Dreaming, which he steered through its formative years—note that the cantrip cards were not his idea. In this conversation, Josh and Pooka talk with Ian about his early involvement with White Wolf, some of the inspirations and conversations around the creation of Changeling, and what it was like to be involved in those halcyon days…
After parting ways with the company not long before Changeling was wound down prior to the rest of the World of Darkness, Ian worked in a few jobs before coming back to the TTRPG industry a few years ago, just in time to help out with Changeling’s 20th Anniversary Edition. Some of his other recent/upcoming projects include developing the Expanse RPG for Green Ronin, the Talisman Adventures RPG*, and Nevermore, an “American Gothic Horror” RPG from his own Nepenthe Games.
* side note from Pooka: if you never played the 80s Talisman game, also known as “no, the other game from Games Workshop,” this is the glorious chonky box from the 2nd edition, which sat on the games shelf in my childhood home:
It was one of those ultra-generic 80s fantasy games that you could just keep playing forever, for example if you and your siblings had nothing better to do before you had the internet and you’d run out of money for the game shop, so you just kept adding characters and circling the board, keeping each other from winning. It was like the Monopoly of fantasy board games. Weeks. Months, in one infamous case (well, in my house, anyway). Did we tire of the official game expansions to the point that we made our own? Yes, of course we did.
science and banality
This will almost certainly have to be an episode of its own at some point, especially since it’s one of the most contentious topics among fans, but it came up in our conversation, so—you heard it here, from the developer himself. Science does not have to be Banal. Ian makes the good point that what’s Banal is when people’s dreams of science, and technology for that matter, are crushed by the reality of doing the various forms of structural tedium that have been created around it. Grant applications, spreadsheets, and just gruntwork will all very quickly drain the wonder out of creating technological marvels or uncovering mysterious phenomena.
The same is true for many non-scientific pursuits as well, of course. And certainly there is Banal science, and science whose application has caused mostly problems for the world. But it seems like it gets a worse rap in early WoD than most of the other things for which we could raise this debate. Maybe it’s because as a set of disciplines, it tends to be seen as more inscrutable or more separated from the everyday public; people don’t always get to see the science itself or how it directly (and hopefully positively) impacts their lives, in the immediate, emotional way that the arts very intentionally try to showcase. Part of this is why things like science museums, public demonstrations, and The Magic School Bus are so important. Keep science alive, because science is great! It’s the greed and paperwork that has to go.
where to find ian
Herewith some links and things!
- Ian’s Twitter Page (https://twitter.com/theianlemke)!
- …and Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/ianlemke), where you can see and support several examples of the aforementioned RPG projects
- his own outlet, Nepenthe Games (https://nepenthegames.com/), where you can keep up on the latest Nevermore news
- …and the Nepenthe Twitter (https://twitter.com/NepentheGames)!
- Ian’s author page for Green Ronin (https://greenronin.com/blog/author/ianlemke/)
- a small collection of information about Talisman Adventures (https://www.talismanisland.com/category/talisman/rpg/rpg-rpg/)
Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled on the trods for him…
Josh Hillerup (he/him) was once spied emerging from the sewers under Parliament with a hatbox mysteriously similar to that reported purloined by the then-Premier.
Pooka G (any pronoun/they) walks the left-hand path of more pastries than any body should reasonably contain, and if it means damnation, then a sweet damnation it shall be.
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” —Edgar Allan Poe, “Eleonora”
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