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Veil of The Void: Designer Trever Archuleta On An RPG 16 Years In The Making

There’s more to the world of tabletop RPG’s than Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and Call of Cthulu. The community has long been a hotbed of invention and experimentation as players create their own worlds to play in that change, subvert, or totally create anew the rules of the tabletop. The internet has not only made it easier to find these new games, but also support and develop them as well. Just like board gaming, the world of tabletop has wholeheartedly embraced Kickstarter as a way to fund the development of new games in the genre.

One such new game is Veil of the Void, a science-fantasy tabletop game developed by Trever Archuleta and Noble Grant with art by Peter Balogh that recently successfully funded on Kickstarter, receiving $7,820 in pledges on a goal of $6,000 (including from Matt Mercer himself). With the Kickstarter wrapped and pre-orders begun, we sat down with Trever to get the scoop on the game, its 16-year development, and what the future might hold for Veil of the Void.

So just to start, congratulations on being fully funded! How’s it feel to have gotten this game off the ground and to see the support from the RPG community? I think you even got a bump from Matt Mercer?

Trever Archuleta: Thank you! It feels absolutely incredible to know that I finally get to finish the first edition of Veil of the Void. The support has been amazing and the game has received an incredible reception, so many people have already started building characters and ideas for the universe. We already have a small community growing and I am excited because now I get to start including them in the game. Yes, Matt Mercer bought one of the copies of our book and to be truthful that was an absolute moment of shock for me because Matt Mercer is my personal DM Hero. I am beyond grateful for his backing and for the critters that bought into the book once they learned about it.

So you’ve been working on this game for a while, around 15 years correct? What was the genesis of Veils?

TA: I’ve actually been working on the game for 16 years now, which is still crazy to think about, and VotV has changed so much since the first ideas I had for it when I was 10. I originally wanted it to be an MMORPG, oddly enough, one that was totally different than all of the other MMOs of that time. It was also originally going to be purely a fantasy-based game. As time progressed, however, it all shifted and changed to become what it is now. It still has some flavor from that original idea, but has grown to be something far better. Something I personally love.

Were there any games you looked at for inspiration when writing the game? Did you look elsewhere for inspiration, like books or movies?

TA: You know it’s odd, because for inspiration I didn’t really look into any other games for ideas at first; I had an idea that I thought of and it just grew. Now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t look at other games. I have read a lot of other TTRPGs (as many as I can get my hands on) to make sure that I was creating something unique and different from others, but also somewhat familiar. If I get stuck, though, I look at other things I enjoy and think, “How can I make it better and unique to my universe?” Then from there I start with a rough idea and make something new.

There’s a distinct visual style to the game, where did that come from?

TA: I looked far and wide for an artist when I was first getting the 2nd test prints for the game ready. After looking for a few months, I stumbled on one I really loved. His art style is absolutely incredible, and he already combines fantasy and sci-fi together on a regular basis. After looking over his portfolio, I knew I had to have his art style as it just perfectly matched my ideas! Since then, we have grown to be friends and have a lot planned for the future. His name is Peter Balogh, by the way and his amazing work can be found here: www.deviantart.com/peterprime (EN: Most of Peter’s work is SFW, but there is the odd bit of gore here and there)

The Protatype are one of the eight core races of Veil, techno-organic robots who can transfer their consciousness into new bodies.

 

How did you work to differentiate your world from preexisting science-fiction and fantasy worlds?

TA: It’s slightly funny, because when I was working on my universe there weren’t really a ton of other sci-fantasy universes out there. I always wondered why that was. Why couldn’t sci-fi and fantasy dance together to create something wonderful? So I set out to do just that. Along the way I stumbled into making a system with a unique sci-fantasy universe, but also an easy to use and manipulate rule-set.

What is flavor, the word you emphasize in both the demo and on the website. What is the “power” that this has?

TA: This is one of my favorite questions. “Flavor” is what I love about TTRPGs. Flavor is how you describe something, what it is to you, what its story is. Flavor is taking our rule-set and instead of being confined to just firing a gun or swinging a sword, you instead say that you’re flinging a magic wand or hitting something with a pool noodle! It’s a hard thing to fully describe until you play the game and learn just the amount of freedom this game gives you. All the while it gives you detailed rules to bend the system. Flavor then takes on a new form and it is your character’s story and it encourages you to dream big and build that idea you have always wanted to. GM’s have so many options to balance and create things on the fly and with ease. You see, when you give players and GMs a system that can literally do anything BUT also give the GM everything they need to create, break, and balance it…you feel powerful. Anything you can think of can be easily made, and most of the time all you have to do is reskin one of the current rules. Again, it’s hard to describe without diving into it but that is a good overall explanation.

How does the “living rule set” change the play of Veil when compared to other RPG’s?

TA: Oh boy the big question! So a living rule-set is something I have spent a long time on. I wanted something that actively encourages the narrative side of gameplay and combat. I wanted a rule-set that grows alongside the players, creating a rule-set directed towards the players as well as the GM’s universe. Your characters gain skill points and level their skills as they actively use them. Even when your character fails you have a chance to learn something. You can use any item in the game simply by using it and training with it for a number of sessions. Everyone gains Expertise as they play, both organically through leveling up as well as from the GM. Based on character choices that have happened, the GM will build custom Expertise tailored towards each player! It is so cool to see a player grow in their abilities based on their past actions. All of this works to make you feel like this is your story and that the rules are here to encourage it.

An example of Veil’s flavor from the Core Rulebook, helping to flesh out the tricky and defensive Mimic

There are many methods of rolling in RPG’s that differ from the standard d20 people expect. What led you to choose the d6 pool system?

TA: I actually wasn’t always the biggest fan of the D20 system, I cannot really explain why. I enjoyed rolling the D20 and feeling the die in my hands but I didn’t like how most D20 systems felt. I also discovered Warhammer one day and man it felt so good to roll 15+ D6 all at once. Such a glorious sound it made. So when I was designing Veil of the Void I went with a D6 system to both avoid the tons of other D20 systems out there…and because D6’s are fun to roll a lot of.

Where did the magic system of Veil come from? I’m particularly interested in the different realms of magic and the way energizing works with spellcasting.

 

TA: You’ve unleashed a can of worms with this question. First off, I love magic. I spent 13 years of the 16 development years working just on the magic system and how it works logically in the universe. I’ve always played mages in TTRPGs because I loved magic, but I always thought they were so limited until way later in the game (which my groups rarely got to). I always found it peculiar that a mage couldn’t build their own spells or were limited to learning spells just from their tree. So when developing magic for my universe, I wanted to make a very open magic system that still allows for balancing since spells can be unbalanced and hard to make in other games.

The Mechromancer is a minion-master who uses magic to get up in your grill with empowered melee attacks and mechanical friends

The way magic works in our is the caster is pulling magic from the Arcane Connection which is this powerful weave of energy that every realm exudes towards the central realm of existence. This energy builds up within the void which is an empty area of existence between planes that separates every realm. Magic uses pull from this stored energy when they cast and this affects the Energizing State. Now this state represents that limited amount of energy stored in the void. After casting eight spells, you start to use up all that stored energy, this makes casting more difficult but not limited.  Since a caster does not have mana,  instead using the magic of the universe, you can keep casting. However, once you reach the limit you have to pull from the realm itself, which is why it is more difficult to cast. There is so much more to it, but I don’t want to write a whole thesis here on it (laugh).

Magic also really feeds back into the living rule-set as mages can craft their own spells using the rules in the book and with the GM’s help. What is a mage after all if they cannot build their own unique spells tailored just to them? But be careful when testing spells! They are even more volatile until you get the runes just right (feeding back into proficiencies). Magic is such a wonderful thing in my game and I love making new spell trees. Oh! You are also not confined to one tree. As a mage in our game, you have access to all spells that are not unique. Meaning that you can take spells from the Mimic tree as a Mechromancer, or from the Thaumatech tree as a Naturalist, etc. Just be careful when you cast as magic is nasty if it backfires.

What is the world of Veil like? What sort of place will adventurers be getting themselves into, what dangers lurk among the stars?

TA: There are so many adventurous places to explore in the Veil. We have several core planets and examples in the Core Rulebook, but more will be on the way once we start releasing the expansions and lore. One of my personal favorite places is the realm of Order. It is a realm filled with an ocean of clouds and strange symmetrical monoliths that float in the sky. It is swarming with massive Sky Drakes, Archonaut Droids, and the occasional rebel Order Reaper. I’ll let you know a secret as well, we are going to be releasing one of our first “modules” set within this realm. It will dive deep into the Lore of the Great Monoliths and the strange beings that left them there. So much danger and glory rests ahead for those who would dare explore it!

The races really seem “out there” in their designs, from techno-organic robots to the exiled ghosts. How did you go about creating these races? Were there any inspirations? Do you have a favorite?

TA: I love the races, because they are designed just like the classes: to break molds.  I would look at races now from popular things like Lord of the Rings and say, “How can I break this?” For example, I asked what if Elves were instead barbaric, tall, muscular, and had the biggest army in the galaxy? What if humans weren’t the most populated group in the stars? What if a dwarf was directly connected to magic and had additional arms? What if a star became a race? And then I go from there. As far as a favorite I don’t have a personal one (which is why I still have no idea what I would play because I want to play them all!) but if I had to choose I would go with the Exiled. How crazy cool would it be to bring in an old character from another setting into this one!? I could bring some characters that I never got to finish playing into this setting simply by making them an Exiled! The possibilities are endless when you open that up as an option.

The Combat Medic, a favorite of co-author Noble Grant, does more than just heal. With power of lifeforce itself, they can kill as easily as they can save.

 

Can you give us a glimpse at some of the side projects you’re working on in the world of Veil?

TA: So many side projects! Where to begin. Well, other than the first expansion as well as 15 side releases for the RPG alone, I have been dedicating a lot of time to another project. All of our releases are lore based and set within the same universe. One of the first releases in the not too far future is the Collectible Card Miniature Game. A game that combines two of my other favorite games of A CCG and a Miniature war game. It has a ways to go but it’s a lot of fun AND will include a way for you to implement your own character made in the Veil of the Void TTRPG! But until then I have a lot to do on the book (laugh)

What’s the timetable on release of Veil of the Void? How soon can we pick up a copy if we missed the Kickstarter?

TA: For the timetable, I have Veil of the Void’ book mostly done. I needed the Kickstarter funds to finish up the art and editing. The pre-order shop is up now in case you missed the Kickstarter and want to get your Hardback or PDF copy (available here: https://veilofthevoid.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders). After that, the books should be sent out by July 31st and the book distribution will be set up by then so you can find it on places like Amazon and in your local game store. I want it to be as accessible as possible as I love this universe so much and I want to get it out to everyone to see what stories they make with it.

You can keep up with Trever and all things Veil of the Void on Twitter and Facebook, and keep an eye on the Fandomentals on all the latest on the biggest, newest, and weirdest things in the world of Tabletop!

Images courtesy of SDG Creatives

Dan Arndt
Written By

Fiction writer, board game fanatic, DM Currently working towards an MFA. If you have a dog, I'd very much like to pet it. Operating out of Wichita and Indianapolis.

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