CAPERS Noir with Craig Campbell

Today I’m pleased to bring you another interview with the fantastic, personable Craig Campbell of Nerdburger Games. I’ve talked to Craig before when his awesome superheroes-and-gangsters game CAPERS was dropping and it has been really well received by gamers. It did well enough that he considered Kickstarting a supplement and it’s a good thing he did because it’s going wild!

The supplement, CAPERS Noir, is currently on Kickstarter and will be for another sixteen days at time of posting. It expands the world of CAPERS into the dark, seedy decade of the 1950s in a noir-soaked, whiskey-laden, revolver-carrying game of superheroes and the underworld. The project funded in an amazing 30 minutes so it’s definitely happening and the easiest way to get onboard, see previews, and ensure the product is as good as it can be is to back it! Not to mention helping to encourage even more supplements for CAPERS by really blowing this one up.

Still not convinced? Check out what Craig has to say on the subject and see if it’s up your alley.

Mephit James: What does CAPERS Noir offer that regular CAPERS doesn’t? 

Craig: CAPERS really just had one way to build a character. CAPERS Noir introduces some alternate methods of assigning trait scores and number of starting powers. There are also new powers that can help flesh out a game set in any of the CAPERS time periods. Additionally, CAPERS Noir builds out rules for running investigative scenarios as well as being corrupted by darkness.

MJ: On your site and in social media you talk a lot about the other games you are thinking about. Why come back to CAPERS instead of trying something new?

C: CAPERS has found a fan base and is selling well, even months after the Kickstarter fulfilled. I feel like it has the makings of a nice little game line. The mechanics are flexible, meaning I can try some different things with them for supplements. This allows me to explore subsystems without having to create a core system from the ground up. Given that I’ve created three RPGs, each with a different mechanical system, I’m kind of enjoying not having to deal with a new core system.

Truth be told, I am working on other stuff, too.

Image © Nerdburger Games

MJ: Exciting! What are some of your favorite parts of the setting as it’s been developing?

C: I’ve enjoyed exploring how we get from the Roaring Twenties to the 1940s in this world. And how society’s views of super-powered people are changing. That’s something that will get further explored in an upcoming supplement.

Once you get beyond the basics of the 1940s, a lot of the setting (cities, NPCs, and the like) were written by freelancers I brought on board, based on guidance I provided. They’ve come up with some really cool stuff and I’m enjoying discovering things they came up with that I might not have.

MJ: I know what you mean, I’m excited to sink my teeth in too! What are some cool new mechanical aspects that are part of this supplement?

C: The investigation rules are based on the standard trait check system, but failure doesn’t prevent you from finding a clue. Rather, failure puts obstacles in your way and makes future steps in the investigation more difficult or higher-risk. Successes give you more information on clues and allow you to ask the GM questions.

I’ve also tinkered a bit with how some powers work. Most of the powers in CAPERS Noir are decidedly more subtle than many found in the core game.

Image © Nerdburger Games

MJ: It seems like characters, between the corruption by darkness and the subtle powers, will be a little closer to death here. Not to mention the stretch goal of ghost and revenant characters! Is this on the horror edge of the superhero genre then or closer to something like Call of Cthulhu or World of Darkness?

C: As in CAPERS, it’s the player’s choice as to whether their character dies when they drop to 0 Hits. And there are rewards for choosing to have the character die. In CAPERS Noir, there is the possibility of coming back as a ghost or revenant, which is both a blessing and a curse. So it treads a line closer to death in that there are options, but it’s not mechanically more deadly.

I’d say CAPERS Noir rides the line of “spooky/creepy” horror for the most part. Though, there are elements presented in the book that can get a little darker and gory if you want. I guess it probably falls a little closer to World of Darkness in feel.

MJ: You had me at “choosing to have the character die.” What are some parts of the noir genre that you’re interested in showing off with CAPERS Noir?

C: I’ve always felt like CAPERS was, at its heart, a shoot-em-up gangster game with super-powers. (Though, you can certainly play it exploratory, political, social, espionage-based, etc.) CAPERS Noir is built more on mood and tone. The world is darker, characters are all in shades of gray. It’s cynical and fatalistic. There are twists and double-crosses. Things don’t necessarily turn out how you expect them to. And there’s a horror element to it that I feel really helps. Ghosts, revenants, other monsters, and an actual world of dead things help reinforce the bleakness of noir fiction.

Image © Nerdburger Games

MJ: This seems like an evolution of the game, then, but is it an evolution of the world as well? Is the setting of CAPERSNoir one where superpowers showed up in the 20s and now the world is grimmer or are powers a new thing in this game too? 

C: Powers first showed up just before the 20s. The world is grimmer because of World War II. People are becoming more aware of the darkness and monsters and they’re tying that into the emergence of super-powered people a generation earlier. Your character isn’t the tabloid curiosity they were in 1920. Society is more wary and even a bit fearful of what these people can do, given the stories they’ve heard about super-soldiers on the battlefields of WW2. How society views such people and how the government reacts to that will be explored further in a future supplement.

Well, now I’m beginning to see a whole gameline unfolding too! Thanks again to Craig Campbell for joining us again and keep an eye out for CAPERS Noir hitting a game supplier near you. If you have more questions for Craig, post them below and I’ll make sure he sees them.

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