RPG Industry Professional Interview: Filamena Young
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Filamena Young has worked extensively on various White Wolf Publishing (White Wolf) titles and lines as well as some more indie games.

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Filamena Young

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When asked to introduce herself, she said:

Filamena Young is a fiction writer, mom, and freelancer and micro press publisher, more or less in that order (sorry kids). She has published some short fiction at a few web ‘zines, as well as a few anthology of short fiction. Her work has appeared in a good number of pen and paper role playing game books showcasing her ability to blend creative and technical writing. She's worked with many of the major game publishers in that industry. She has been published at the Escapist, a large gamer magazine and has successfully started up an independent publishing company for the games she and her partner create, Machine Age Produc
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1. RPG Designer: Filamena Young
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Any other gamers in your family? How did you get into the hobby?

Growing up, my family played a lot of games, but I don’t know if I’d call them gamers. Trivial Pursuit, a lot of Electronic Jeopardy, my grandmother and her twin sister used to play cards, complicated card games, with their other old friends. So strategy and sitting around a table with friends drinking and playing games was a big part of my childhood. (Yeah, drinking, those old ladies knew how to party.) Later, my parents got me a Nintendo and Final Fantasy and I was addicted. My friend and I spent hours playing that game, studying the Nintendo Power guide to the game. Maybe a year or so later, (this must have been junior high) a friend mentioned to my dad that Dungeons & Dragons existed. They gave him a box set for me. It was missing the dice, we had no idea how to replace them, but it didn’t matter. I was in love. I could be an elf! My friend could be a dwarf! What else did I need in life? It quickly spiraled from there, when one of my gaming buddies told me there were NEW EDITIONS of these games. Oh, and there was a similar game only you play a vampire in a modern setting instead of an elf. That was it. I was a gamer.
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2. RPG Item: The Magic Box [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:2356]
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Did any of your previous jobs or education help you become a game designer?

I’ve done a lot of strange jobs since high school. I worked in an occult store for two years. I’ve written custom ordered naughty stories for money. I’ve been a barista, a waitress all over the place, a bartender, and about a million other blue collar or service jobs. Mostly, my other work has prepared me to be poor, which is a good thing to be ready for when you start out in game design. (That’s mostly a joke.) Having worked all over with all sorts of people really taught me two things:

1) Everyone needs to have fun sometimes, everyone.

2)There’s a good story in all corners all over the world, so don’t think narrowly when looking for new ideas.
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3. RPG Item: Night Horrors: The Unbidden [Average Rating:9.55 Unranked]
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What was the first project you worked on? What was that like?

I heard about an all-call for White Wolf through a friend of my partner. Matt McFarland was working on the Mage the Awakening supplement Unbidden, which was a sort of book full of monsters. He wanted to try out some new talent, so I jumped on it. I sent him something fast and was as professional about it as I could manage. He liked it enough that he took me on. It was probably the second most stressful assignment of my life so far, but so worth it in the end. I ended up doing a lot of work for White Wolf from that project, and I’m still grateful to Matt for reaching out to new talent like that. All-Calls, man, if you want to get started working, watch for them, and jump on them politely, professionally, and fast!
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4. RPG Item: Vampire: The Requiem Rulebook [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:618]
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What’s the most recent project you’ve worked on and what’s great about it?

Well, I just finished up work for a White Wolf Epub called Strange, Dead Love. It’s all about bringing urban fantasy and paranormal romance into Vampire and it was a blast to write. While it’s being developed by two fellas, (Eddy Webb and Russell Bailey,) what’s really cool is all the writing is being done by women. Myself, Monica Valentinelli, and Jess Hartley. I can’t think of any other books out there with such a strong woman presence, and I think it’s awesome that it’s coming from a pretty big publisher.

I’m also currently working on a sort of board game roleplaying game hybrid. It’s working title is Flatpack Future, and you’re playing young adventures in a post apocalyptic world. Only instead of just surviving, you’re in charge of rebuilding your community with these ‘flatpack building kits.’ Each player has a map, and the characters earn puzzle piece like buildings to put down on their shared map. The buildings add to the characters capability. Something like the old game Act Raiser, if you’ve ever played it. But, I’m developing it pretty openly on G+ as an experiment. ( https://plus.google.com/113439620543055736400/about I’ll have a post up there publically with a link to all my current posts about the game.) It’s been a lot of fun so far, and I think a game that’s not combat focused, and demands the players build community should be a neat change for a lot of people.
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5. RPG: Vampire: The Masquerade [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:70]
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What games influenced you?

Well, I’d say Dungeon and Dragons, but I moved over to Vampire so quickly and so totally, I’ve got to say it’s a big part of my core gaming experience. I played a lot of Rifts early on too, and it taught me a lot about world building. (It also taught me a lot of ‘what not to do.’ Inversely, it informed a lot of my tastes.) When we were all out of high school, I started to see more and more free form and independent games. When I saw the Fate 3.0 system, when I saw Amber, when I saw Primetime Adventures, I realized those were the games I wanted to play. Those were the style of games I wanted to write. I like Rifts, but I wanted to play and write the opposite and it turns out there’s a whole lot of designers out there who do the same.
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6. RPG: Leverage: The Roleplaying Game [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:174]
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What are you playing right now or most recently?

We’re playing some Leverage, we’re playing some Hunter the Vigil, and thanks to our buddy Travis Stout (another WW writer, and one of the writers for Fallout: New Vegas) we’re playing a lot more board games. We recently played Invasion from Outer Space and laughed the whole time. Next weekend we’re breaking out Mansions of Madness.
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Who is one of your favorite RPG Designers?

I have to pick one, huh? Well, I’m bucking the system. It’s a pretty even tie between two. Elizabeth Sampat is pretty much in my head right now since reading a design document from her for a game she’s currently developing. And Blowback is just a great amount of fun. Rob Donoghue is this really polite, thoughtful guy who work catches me off guard all the time and blows me away in the most pleasant way. Go Leverage!
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8. RPG: Rifts [Average Rating:5.53 Overall Rank:744]
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What RPG do you wish you had designed?

Have I mentioned my love-hate for Rifts? I think I hinted it. If I could go back and be the person who came up with a game, Rifts would be the one. I can’t even express how deeply I love that game and how deeply it wounds me.
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9. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:146] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
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What non-RPG (either card, board, or video) games do you play?

So I mentioned some board games played. My partner and I play some Magic: the Gathering when the kids are in bed. I LOVE Fallout New Vegas. I just got started playing this crazy MMO called Glitch. It’s a sort of platformer where you pet piggies and plant trees and a lot of the quests involve helping other players complete tasks. Aside from the strange beauty of it, the fact that one of the Katamari Damacy guys is involved, the community is so polite and helpful. Never in an online environment have I seen so much ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ floating around. I love it.
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10. RPG: Breaking the Ice [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:282]
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If you had to point someone to an overlooked RPG product, what would that be?

Other than my own? (lame, I know.) Oh! I know. Everything Emily Care Boss has done. Seriously, go look for Breaking the Ice. Please.
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11. RPG Item: The Too Much Coffee Role Playing System [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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*Bonus Question*
What are you drinking right *now*?

Coffee. In about twenty minutes I’ll start some freelancing work, and so it will be on to vodka with a hint of orange juice. It’s okay, it’s a family tradition!
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