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Interviews: Tyranny Games

Interview by Joe G. Kushner

If you hunger for a D20 game that doesn't showcase the characters as larger than life, you need The End, a d20 setting published by Tyranny Games. Yes, that's right, the people who brought you the madness of Sack Armies and the joys Of Gods & Men are now in the D20 game and are doing it their own way. Joe managed to use our mascot Ogre to overcome a few fallen angels and interview the man behind Tyranny, Joseph E. Tierney IV, for our captive audience. (Don't worry, after the interview, the Ogre will untie you.)

How about some background on Tyranny Games? People are familiar with The End D20 version but Tyranny does more that that.

Tyranny Games started in 1999 as a group of guys who had made other games in the interested but had two major projects that they wanted to work together on- a tabletop battlegame and the resurrection of The End. We immediately re-released the non-d20 fantasy game system Of Gods & Men, more to get our feet wet than anything else. In 2001, we launched Sack Armies, a collectible fantasy based tabletop battlegame which featured a customizable battleground and unique rules for hexagonal movement and combat. SA did well in 2001, but due to poor management by our advertising and distribution partner, Precedence (may they bur—ahem-rest in peace), SA cooled off. Just in time for The End and its d20 product line.

Why do The End in D20 outside of the obvious reason of name recognition? It's not D&Disque in any way shape or form but does hold its own as an almost independent game system and handles the hit point issue rather well.

Well, you hit it on the head— industry acceptance. We were not originally going to do The End as a d20 product, but we were told in no uncertain terms by both distributors and retailers that they were not particularly interested in an RPG that was not d20. Resigned to our fate, we concentrated on tweaking d20 to make more "dangerous and deadly." By compacting the Hit Point system, adding Ennui, going with one base class, eliminating easy healing, and adding a brutal firearms system, we felt that we achieved that goal. However, d20 is certainly not required. The book is practically modular with the d20 material easily seperable from the source material. We have groups who play using Twilight 2000 rules, Kult rules, and others.

How was Gen Con this year? I saw at the booth that you still had some of the black cover The End copies. Those sold out now?

Actually, the limited edition Black Faux Leather Cover copies were sold out by Gen Con. I brought a couple to show off from my personal stash. The limited edition Maroon Faux Leather Cover are still available (for now). Most people really like the biblical look and feel of the books. The best comment I heard at Gen Con regarding the Maroon cover was "Oh the cover is the color of dried blood. How interesting." You know home must be a entertaining place for that person.

How is Gen Con moving going to effect Tyranny Games?

It will make attending Gen Con much harder (and more expensive). After all, being a Wauwatosa company, Gen Con was only 10 minutes away before.

Are there any authors you'd like to work with?

Plenty. We are working with Jason Blair, the author of "Little Fears." He is doing our Salvation's Tears supplement. I would love to work with Monte Cook some time simply because I admire his work in taking Second Edition to Third Edition, but also because he and his wife Sue are excellent people. I have great respect for Jim Ward and the clever folks at Fast Forward as well as Hal and the Mystic Eye Crew and Henry and the folks at Paradigm concepts. There are so many, I just cannot list them all here. Of course, if you think outside the gaming box, I would loved to have been able to work with CS Lewis or JRR himself, but then wouldn't we all.

Any chance of seeing an official "The End/Call of Cthulhu" adventure/sourcebook? The folks at Chaosium have done some crossover products before with Pinnacle for example, and this seems to be an almost natural fit.

We would love that! Some playing groups already do that. We know of two paths. One group just substited a Cthulhu apocalypse for the Book of Revelation apocalypse. The other simply places the Book of Revelation as one step along the timeline to rise of R'lyeh (sp?) and has the Cthulhu mythis slowly filling the void left by the departure of God. I like the second one better—much more creepy—can you imagine Shub Niggurath (sp) creeping through the decaying streets of Indianapolis driving the lost souls insane...

Any plans for meaty sourcebooks or are the future End books going to be a little smaller?

The future books will be smaller than the The End core book. The Boston Massacre is a little shy of 100 pages. Washington DC: The Dogs of War (late October) will be 120+. We will also stick with the 6 by 9 inch size. Our fans really seem to like it. Salavation's Tears, Thirty Pieces of Silver, the Dark Arts, and The Diggers Guide will probably all be around 100 pages.

Where's the fiction line? One of the funniest things happened when I was reading the book in that my mother thought it was a fiction line and snagged it from me. She kept looking for the end of the story.

All I can say is that we are working on it. We may even go the graphic comic book direction.

Any chance we'll see Cults & Conspiracies go D20? There were a lot of great organizations in there but the system was a little too much to convert without some experience with Of Gods & Men and D20.

Very likely. Next year, you may see it released as a downloadable .pdf or something similar. C & C is a great book with a solid following.

How are the conversion works going for the die-hard D20 haters?

We will post the old system as .pdf download, but we have no plans for a dual system book. Sorry, folks.

Are there any plans for a Monster Manual type book for the End Covering Angels and other left behind Outsiders?

There is not currently one in the production line, but we are open to submissions... Outsiders in The End are really trapped beings who are cut off from their power sources, but sill immensely powerful. You will also see them lurking in the background of a number of our supplements.

What do you think that the pen and paper rpg industry needs to do to stay competitive with X-Box, computer games, and other avenues of brain death?

Stay social. Face to face contact is a necessity for humanity (you would not want your Ennui score to get too high!). This is the only advantage pen and paper has. Ironically, on the flip side, pen and paper needs to embrace the computer in its games as well. A strange symbiosis, but a necessary one.

What's a typical day in the office like?

I get up about 6 and work for an hour at the home office answering fan emails and message board questions while cranking out advertising and source material. I head to the day job where I mix in both types of work. I head home, have dinner, put in another couple of hours on the game work. If I am lucky, I mix in some sports and spend time with my lovely wife and baby son. Rinse, repeat. Not to say it's boring. It is most certainly not, but it is repetitive. You will not get anywhere in life without hard, constant work. I am no different than the next guy. Being a game designer is hard work—which you have to love.

Any last words?

Yes, don't take yourself too seriously, read a lot, and try to learn something new everyday. Make the most of what God gave you.

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