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Writer Q&A: Loved “Welcome To The Jungle?” Then you’re going to Love Tom Pugh

When we were just a little “businessling,” Tom Pugh believed in our Evil Plan. We gave him a shot with our “Welcome to The Jungle” mini-adventure that we published in the QuickStart Guide. He then stepped in to flesh out portions of our “Escape From New York” Cinematic Adventure. And we were pleased. Pleased enough to give him the prologue projects for Escape From New York and Rambo. Here is more about Tom.

1. Let’s start simple, who are you? How did you get into gaming as a hobby, and as a profession?

Hi! I’m Tom, and I hail from the rural backwater of Shropshire, England. I first got into gaming in my teens when I found a copy of Dungeoneer! The Advanced Fighting Fantasy book, in WHSmith’s. I was fascinated by the idea of tabletop roleplaying: it fed straight into my love of storytelling and fantasy worlds full of knights, dragons, and trolls. Unfortunately, all my friends looked at the book and said ‘nah, looks a bit geeky.’

Fast forward a few years and I found some less cool friends. I got into wargaming via them and then eventually back to roleplay games. Our gaming group tried out many different sets of rules but eventually found Fifth Edition suited our style best.

I have only recently started writing RPG content professionally. I am part of a team converting a series of well-known fantasy books to 5E rules (I don’t think I am allowed to say what setting yet), have written a Warlock Lair adventure for Kobold Press, and have put some of my own stuff out.

2. What drew you to Evil Genius Games, what about Everyday Heroes appeals to you, and your writing style?

When I saw the announcement for Everyday Heroes I was unreasonably excited. A conversion for modern settings to the fast-paced, streamlined 5E rules fits my interests to a T and wasn’t really something covered by anything else existing. The over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek, all-guns-blazing nature of the system suits the kind of games I like to play. On the off chance, I dropped an email to the guys at Evil Genius. I think the style of my writing clicked with the kind of thing they wanted to do. Before I knew it, I was writing the Quick Start adventure Welcome to the Jungle.

3. What do you think of the concept of Cinematic Adventures, why did you want to write for one?

I love it! There is something to be said for crafting your own gaming world from the bottom up. But crikey does it take some time? Ask someone if they want to play a Highlander adventure. Or Rambo. Or Universal Soldier. They know precisely what kind of game you are talking about. These are films we all grew up with. We know the tone, we know the setting, we know the characters. The films that have been selected for the Cinematic Adventures are so well-loved, that it’s as if we are stepping into a campaign we have already been playing for years.

4. Tell us about your thoughts on the properties you’re working on? When did you first encounter the property and what was your initial reaction to it?

I am in the enviable position of working on three different properties. Escape from New York is a classic, John Carpenter at his best. It is dark, grotesque, and engrossing.

Rambo is also excellent, but quite a different kettle of fish. For me, as a Brit, one of the attractions of this franchise is the pure unabashed Americanism of it. First Blood, especially, touches on the nature of war, the contrast between patriotism and being let down by the authorities with a surprisingly deft touch. Plus it has massive explosions. Universal Soldier has Jean-Claude Van Damme vs Dolph Lundgren, as unkillable super soldiers brought back from the dead, what’s not to love there? All three (plus many of the others chosen as Cinematic Adventures) are the kind of film that stays with you, they have become part of the vocabulary for my generation. They’ve influenced all kinds of media since, including many RPG adventures.

5. What are you excited about bringing to the lore of the properties you are working on?

All three films are ideal for exploring through tabletop RPGs. As I said before, they have already influenced all kinds of games, directly and indirectly, and this is a chance to go back to the source material. Escape from New York has a massively detailed setting that goes well beyond the plot of the original film. It is full of intriguing characters and locations, many of them only touched on in the film and ripe for exploring further. Rambo is iconic. Any player is going to love running around with a sweatband and a ruddy big gun, I can’t wait to dream up encounters that will give them something to blow up. Universal Soldier is the balls-to-the-wall action that Everyday Heroes was made to run. Plus it has a setting that just asking to be delved into: reanimating and genetically augmenting soldiers to do the government’s dirty work has a lot of potential.

6. What would you tell fans of the property to ensure that it’s in good hands?

I think one of my strengths as a writer, which should serve me well on these projects, is attention to detail. I’ve been reviewing all the source material, both the original films and the media that have already been spun off from them: it’s a hard job but somebodies got to do it! I’m not trying to reinvent anything here, I’m trying to get to the nub of what makes each of these properties great. All of them contain elements, be they locations, characters, or just themes and ideas, which can be expanded whilst still staying true to the original. If you have a fraction of the fun playing these adventures as I am having writing them, you won’t be disappointed.

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