Interview – Andy Hopp (Artist, Author, Game Designer)
Enrico Nardini, Play Unplugged, 6/11/13
Andy Hopp is the dementalist, danged wrangler, and hocus poker when it comes to all things Low Life: The Rise of the Lowly, the weird, whimsical, and wonderful (as well as other adjectives beginning with “w”) roleplaying game he has created for use in conjunction with the Savage Worlds rules. I cornered Andy smack dab in the middle of a Kickstarter for a new edition of Low-life in the hopes of learning more about this latest project.
Enrico Nardini (EN): First and foremost, why a new edition of Low Life? How does this new edition improve on the previous?
Andy Hopp (AH): That’s an extremely intelligent and handsome question, Enrico. It has been seven years since the original Low Life book was released. I feel my skills as a writer and illustrator have expanded considerably since that time, as has my vision for the lands and denizens of Mutha Oith.
The newly redredged edition of Low Life: The Rise of the Lowly contains all new art (in color!), all new writing, new rules, new magic, new items, new monsters, new arcane backgrounds, new adventures, rules for using Low Life miniatures in your game (for normal RPG play, skirmish fights, and large scale battles), LARP rules (for Playing Dirty, the Low Life Live Action RPG) and new everything else. The original book isn’t obsolete, it’s just getting a facelift and packing on a few pounds.
EN: You now have numerous successful Kickstarter projects under your belt. How has Kickstarter changed how you do business?
AH: Thanks to the generosity and support of my friends and backers I am now able to produce my games and products independently, without having to depend on another publisher. I’m able to focus on Low Life and my other projects full time, while in the past most of my time was spent doing freelance work for other people (Although I still do freelance work, in case anyone in interesting). I never had the startup capital to get my own publishing company going in the past. Now I do, thanks to all the wonderfully supportive peeps out there.
The way I look at it, when people back a project on Kickstarter they are basically preordering the product (and usually nabbing some sweet rewards as well). It lets me gauge how many to have printed and also helps build buzz before the actual release. It’s a good thing.
EN: How about the creative process? Does it have any effect on that?
AH: In many ways it does and in many other ways it does not. Yes and no. No and yes. Maybe. A little bit. In a manner of speaking. Possibly a bit.
What it does is it allows me to get feedback from my friends and fans before I actually print anything. This is very helpful. I also get a lot of great ideas just from talking with the backers and the peeps who visit the forums at Mutha Oith Creations. They offer some great tips and a lot of the names of peeps and critters come from them.
EN: What do you like most about Kickstarter?
AH: Well, bluntly, it gives me money so I can continue to do the things that make me happy. Without it I have no idea how I would even attempt to fund these projects.
The other thing, and really the most exciting to me, is the incredible sense of community it creates. I have made dozens of new friends, either by backing other projects or having them back mine. My circle of Oithlings (Low Life fans) is growing every day and that’s in thanks largely to the word of mouth spread by my backers and friends.
EN: What has been your greatest challenge using Kickstarter?
AH: It’s exhilarating, but it can also be extremely stressful. When someone pledges a large amount, it’s awesome. But then a few days later someone might cancel their pledge, which is a bummer. Of course I understand everyone has a budget to work within, but I’d hope they would consider that before pledging $700 and then cancelling it later on.
EN: Why Savage Worlds? What attracted you to the system?
AH: Low Life was originally made as an official Savage Setting for the Savage Worlds game. In that sense, Shane Hensley (Savage Worlds creator) came to me and asked me to make a setting for him, so it was Savage Worlds be default. I’m very fond of the system and I think it works very well. It’s easy to write for and very versatile.
As Stretch Goals in the current Kickstarter campaign, we are hoping to nab Pathfinder and Fate Core versions as well. The way the books are formatted makes conversion very easy, since all the rules are confined to the appendices.
EN: What excites you most about the world of Low Life?
AH: It’s completely different from any other setting I’ve ever seen, but what I dig most is the fact that everything in the world is completely ridiculous. The thing is, though, the peeps don’t know they’re ridiculous. To them, this is how the world is supposed to be. It’s all about attitude and perspective. The toilet jokes aren’t funny because they’re toilet jokes. They’re funny because of the context. Everything serves the narrative, even the absurdity.
EN: In a previous interview you said that if you could be any creature from Low Life, you would be a werm. Is that still the case, or have you changed your mind?
AH: Well, I think maybe I said I liked werms because they are the easiest to draw. My favorite character species is probably the tizn’t, which are badly cobbled amalgamations of extinct animals. They are a challenge to draw, since they have to actually look like animals people are already familiar with, but they are a blast to play and they’re very quirky.
EN: What Low Life creature would you least like to meet in a dark alley?
AH: There are a buttload of new beasties introduced in the new book. The dreaded squiggly mass is probably the most horrific. There’s a creature known as Zonkle who is introduced in The Whole Hole, he’s pretty terrifying too.
EN: Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists and creatives?
AH: Probably nothing they’ve never heard before, but I’ll give it a shot. Do your thing and keep doing it. The more you do it the easier it will become and the better you’ll get at it. Don’t limit yourself by the bounds of somebody else’s imagination. Be into what you’re into and don’t apologize for it (unless you’re a pedophile or a serial killer or someone who really digs having stinky feet).
EN: PLUG YOUR STUFF!!!
AH: We have some really fantastic pledge rewards and Stretch Goals happening right now in the newly redredged Low Life: The Rise of the Lowly core rulebook kickstarter. The Dementalism card game is tons of fun and will be in stores in October. The Whole Hole is a thing. Low Life miniatures! Art! Other Stuff! You can nab it all at Mutha Oith Creations.
Also, come see me in the art show at Origins and Gen Con this year. Get your shiny wazoo to Con on the Cob!
Please, please, please check out the kickstarter. There really is some fantastic jazz waiting for you there.
EN: Thank you for spending some time with us!
AH: The pleasure, I assure you, was mine.