Back in 2014, a new supers trpg hit the market: AMP: Year One. Taking a scifi lens to the superhero genre, AMP offered an interesting modern take on supers. Less about secret bases and costume crime fighting and more about trying to understand themselves and find a place in the world.
AMP: Year Two hit the shelves and established how things were going downhill. As AMPs became well-known, Saps, regular people, began to fight against a perceived threat to survival.
The world seems to only continue to fall into chaos with the new kickstarter from Third Eye Games: AMP: Year Three.
I’ve recently got a chance to sit down with its creator, Eloy Lasanta, and talk about his new kickstarter.
1. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Running a kickstarter has to be pretty busy. I’d like to take a moment to congratulate you on hitting your funding goal. Must always be tense before that point. Moving on, AMP has always tried to focus on how the world and the people within it would respond to the existence of super beings in the modern day. AMP: Year Three will be moving towards a war between the normals and the AMPs. This is a pretty big step-up from the more street level affairs of Year One. How do you plan accommodate for this bigger field of play in Year Three?
Thank you for having me, first off. And yeah, hitting my funding goal in short time is always a pro in this kind of atmosphere. February 9as well as October) are prime times for RPG creators to launch new Kickstarters, due to their correlation before and after GenCon. The idea of GenCon launching a second event, though, is going to be very interesting.
As for AMP and the escalation from street-level, it’s the kind of thing that you get as a designer. When AMP: Year One was designed, the tone and feel of the game was street level. New characters, recently discovering their powers and learning how to control them is pretty standard. However, there rules have always been there for you to do pretty outlandish stuff once you gained some experience with your powers and time passed. Specifically, in AMP: Year Two, we added in how even regular people (non-powered) could turn the tide. They didn’t have powers to back them up, but were just as competent as any AMP.
Now, going into AMP: Year Three, the stakes have been raised actually quite a bit. We’re adding in two new elements that really make the war real for the characters. One is the introduction of power armor as a new power for Saps (regular people). This was, of course, a reaction to the other new element to the game, Mutations, which are letting normal AMPs go beyond their normal limitations. It’s pretty awesome to develop this sort of thing, and of course, I know where it’s all leading to in the five-year plan. 🙂
2.Speaking of stepping up the field of play, metaplots have been rare recently. Not a lot of devs really advance their settings timelines anymore. From the start, you planned on taking this approach. What inspired that and why five years?
To be honest, I’m just big on trying things I’ve never done before. In all my years, I hadn’t tried a metaplot either. There is something to be said about crafting a world, but also having a continuity of some of the characters inside of it is a lot of work. Some designers and players feel that metaplot takes away character freedom. “Oh, if this thing happens, then it invalidates everything I’ve done in my own game!” But I’ve always looked at it like examples of the amazing stuff that you can do, and not like concrete things that people MUST obey in their home games. That would be silly.
As for five years, it just made sense. doing a gameline for five years (cause I’m also releasing them on a yearly basis) is an awesome run. And we’ll likely have more books after that to expand on the world, give new options, etc., but I think the story is done at that point.
3. Year Three is really shaking things up. AMPs mutating into monsters suggests a few things for both story and player character purposes. A corruption mechanic was hinted at in the kickstarter. What can players expect from this mechanic?
I don’t know how much I really want to give away, but I’ll say that taking on corruption will make your AMP way more powerful, in exchange for some terrible consequences. That’s the nature of mutations, after all. If they give in too much, they’ll also become a pure monster, which is what was happening in Year Two with Critter (for those who have read the last book). She was the canary, a foreshadow of things to come.
4. Continuing from my last question, what does corruption mean for the future of AMP-kind? Are all AMPs ticking time bombs for horrific mutation?
All AMPs have the potential to be corrupted. I hate, again, to give too much away for people who haven’t read the book, but it’s all part of the ongoing story. Certain things put into place by major character caused this to happen. So, yes, it is technically only AMPs who had interaction with this major characters that are subject to the mutation rules… but that accounts for a LOT of AMPs in the world. I will also say that there are new Affiliations that are built directly to deal with this new threat.
5. Speaking of new options and effects for player characters, a third player type is being introduced into Year Three: Twice Borns. Not much information was given on them on the kickstarter page. I’m sure I’m not the only one who is more than a bit curious from the name alone. Would it be too much of a spoiler to ask for more details on the Twice Born for the readers at home?
Everything will end up being spoiled eventually. Year Two introduced the return of the President, which was a fun twist no one saw coming. He is the first Twice Born, kind of a herald. They are dead already, so they can’t die, similar to The Crow or Solomon Grundy. They are pretty powerful, but their biggest asset is that they do not fear death. Exact mechanics are actually being developed right now, so I don’t have numbers to share, but rest assured they will make an amazing addition to the AMP universe.
6.With Resistor suits in play, Saps can be a threat to an AMP even without the numbers advantage. Do Resistor suits give Saps access to AMP-like powers or will there be a separate system for Saps in Resistor suits?
Resistor Suits have their own selection of Software or Component options, some that mimic powers, but others that don’t. One of the things we did with the design of powers was to have everything work the same way. Gadgeteering is a power, just as much as Shapeshifting it; it just depends on who is selecting it. So, Resistor Suits will use the established rules for how a character gains it, but it is also a fun kind of build-your-own suit aspect to it, so no two should really be alike.
7. You’ve already demoed two new powers planned for the book, but there is going to be more. Any power you really can’t wait to see on paper? The idea just burning a whole in your metaphorical pocket?
Grace and Bilocation were the two that really get me pumped, which is why I shared this first. We also have a power called Legion, which is all about accessing multiple personalities and using that to your advantage. It’s a Psych power too, which really opens up their selection of powers from that Strain. We’re going to have at least one new power per Strain, in addition to Corruption and Resistor Suits and any new powers backers at the Create-Your-Own-Power tier come up with. It’s an exciting time for AMP.
Note, too, that we’ve been releasing Affiliation Guides for the various groups that exist in the AMP world. Each of these has new adventures and new powers, so if you’re chomping at the bit for more, more, more and haven’t check those out, do yourself a favor. 🙂 The TRAC guide has a power called Arsenal, for all the Punisher fans, while the Changelings guide has a power called Sinuous, that allows tentacle-like extensions made of hair, blood or organs. Ew. Lots of creativity going on in the guides, though.
8. Pulling everything back, I’d like to start to end things off with questions relating to the beginning of AMP. AMP: Year One mentions a lot of inspirations, but what made you want to set out on this five book journey? Why did you want to tell this tale of a world adjusting to super beings over five years?
It was more of the type of game I was interested in playing, which is how I come up with a lot of my game ideas. There’s lots of games that say “All of this stuff happened and now supers are a thing, now you’re the next in line.” A lot of comics is about the handing down of mantles already created, but I wanted a new kind of experience. I wanted your characters to be the first… it’s easy to say “I want to be like Batman or look at Iron Man and how awesome he is,” but it’s harder for you to be the first forge those paths. That’s really what AMP: Year One is about… making hard choices and deciding how this new power fits into the grand scheme of your life and the world as we know it.
Again, five years is a good span of time to tell this kind of story. Too much longer and you’re beating a dead horse, imo. The story is growing organically and progressing toward a gratifying ending. Going beyond that is like trying to make a sequel as good as the first movie. It’s happened before, but they are few and far between.
9. Since we’re on the subject, what were your main mechanical inspirations for AMP? What games, game blogs, or etc. helped you put the rules together so that thousands of people could experience the world you were crafting?
I come up with the idea for the way the powers worked first and foremost. I’ve played enough supers games to know that’s where people go to first and where many of them stay, some just ignoring any established game worlds at all. But I went on to expand my feel for existing supers RPGs too, to make sure I wasn’t recreating the wheel. If someone had already done what I was planning on doing, then I’ll just play their game. Why duplicate effort, right? None of the game I played really influenced AMP: Year One in what I wrote for the game; instead it was more a feeling of what not to write.
I didn’t want toolkits, cause that’s a thing that other supers games do really well. I didn’t want it to be as crunchy as Mutants and Masterminds or Champion, but I didn’t want it to be as loose and freeform as ICONS. Looking at the other games on the market gave me a really good benchmark for where I wanted to be both in the mechanics spectrum, and for the approach to the game. AMP: Year One is really very different from other supers games out there, and it was very much on purpose. I’m very thankful that my ideas have found their way to so many game tables in the last two years since it’s initial release, and we hope to be bringing you even more in the future.
10. It’s almost becoming a cliche with me, but I love leaving the last question as an open response for interviewee. A moment to say anything you want to our readers about games, players, whatever you want.
I’m a bit of a rambler, so I think I’ll try to stay as concise as possible.
Go out and give AMP: Year One a try. The PDF is Pay-What-You-Want through DriveThruRPG during the kickstarter, so it’s really a no-lose situation for everyone. If you don’t like the game, then you’ve lost nothing, but if you really like it, there is a Kickstarter running right now for you to get even more content, support indie gaming and get early access as well (as the backers are the first to get their hands on the text).
I’d like to thank Mr.Lasanta again for agreeing to the interview. If anyone is interested in checking out AMP, AMP: Year One will be “pay what you want” on drivethrurpg until the end of the kickstarter. Even if you aren’t into the “evolution war” idea behind Year Two and Three, I suggest picking up One, if nothing else, as it is a great Supers title for street level play.
Eloy Lasanta is also the creator of many, many different and awesome games. As a fun fact, this interview was originally going to be about the excellent Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition. Great mechanics with an awesome setting that reminds me of the best of White Wolf. Eloy also made Apocalypse Prevention 2nd Edition: protect the world alongside the monsters, demons, and other such beings who call it home too.
It was actually kind of surprising to find out how many cool and different games all came from the same man.
This interview was done for the purposes of helping promote and advertise for the listed product/developer and should be regarded as such when making purchasing decisions.