6SI Double-Barrel Blast: Jeff Combos of Exile Game Studio


Today we introduce a follow-up series called, Double-Barrel Blast. These posts will serve as extras to our Six Shot Interviews. That said, not every interview will require or even demand a follow-up, but occasionally one will. Such as today’s…
Last December I had the privilege to conduct a 6SI with Jeff Combos, President & Creative Director of Exile Game Studio. It was a fantastic interview concerning his award winning tabletop role-playing game, Hollow Earth Expedition, and the Ubiquity rule-set that powers it. Currently Exile is running a successful Kickstarter for their latest product in the HEX line – PERILS OF MARS – a collection of four sword and planet-style adventures.

On Kickstarter now through April 1, 2016

On Kickstarter now through April 1, 2016.

With the Kickstarter currently underway and blasting through stretch goals it felt right to approach Jeff with two additional questions. Thankfully he was gracious enough to once again step aside from his busy schedule and engage with the WPGL.

Jeff Combos, President & Creative Director of Exile Game Studio

Jeff Combos, President & Creative Director of Exile Game Studio

In Perils of Mars Game Masters will find four scenarios to run their players through. I understand the they were originally intended as stretch goals for the Revelations of Mars Kickstarter, but only two of the four were ever unlocked. That said, I gather that Perils is not necessarily a four-part adventure campaign. Was making them stand alone scenarios and not a blatant campaign always the intention from the start?

I knew back when I was working on Revelations that I wanted to do Perils of Mars, but instead of having one big stretch goal for the entire book, it made sense to break them up into smaller chunks. Since it was possible for one, two, or in this case, three of them to get unlocked without a fourth it wouldn’t make sense to create a campaign since you could be left hanging. On top of that, we set a precedent with Perils of the Surface World that I wanted to follow, which is that each adventure needs to do two things: expand the setting and give the GM more tools to use. We’re following that model with Perils of Mars, and each adventure will shine a light on something we only hinted at or mentioned briefly in Revelations and will give you some extra rules or crunchy bits too, like some simplified mass combat for crew-on-crew sky ship battles.

With that being said, I’m looking at shifting the way we do Perils adventures in the future, since people do request connected campaigns. The idea I have in mind would be to release smaller adventures more frequently, with us returning to develop the ones that people like the best. I know there are one or two existing Perils adventures I’d like to do a sequel to…

New scenarios are always great additions, especially for the Game Master who doesn’t have the time to craft one from scratch. If I’m not mistaken including Perils of Mars there are now eighteen official published scenarios for the HEX line. Don’t get me wrong that’s a healthy set of adventure right there and perhaps more than enough. However, the Perils line has got me wondering… we’ve had Perils of the Surface World and now Perils of Mars, so will we ever see a Perils of the Hollow Earth scenario book?

That’s right, there are eighteen official scenarios out there, but there are several fan-made ones available for free on ExileGames.com, so depending on how you count, the number may be higher. Like you said, Game Masters don’t always have the time to create scenarios, and sometimes people just want to sit down to play, so I wanted to put out adventures that could be picked up and run.

At the same time, Hollow Earth Expedition is a huge setting, with three connected worlds to play in: surface world, Hollow Earth, and Mars. There are countless adventures to be had in any one of those worlds, so I knew we wouldn’t be able to cover them all with a single sourcebook for each one. Hence, I wanted the Perils adventures to serve dual purposes. The only problem is that it makes Perils adventures bigger and takes more time and effort to create them, and really, one of the strengths of the Ubiquity system is how quickly people can pick it up and play. That’s why I think it may be a better fit for the game and system to shift the format to shorter scenarios released more frequently.

As for Perils of the Hollow Earth, I know what those adventures would be about, and have even talked to some writers about working on them, but there are some challenges to doing so. For example, the hardcover Mysteries of the Hollow Earth books are getting close to being sold out, so if we did a Kickstarter for Perils of the Hollow Earth, it would likely need to include the cost of printing more or creating a softcover version, which makes the entire undertaking more expensive and harder to reach its goal. Consequently, I’m planning to focus on Perils of Mars for now and hold off on the Hollow Earth for the moment.

Once again I’d like to extend my gratitude to Jeff Combos for giving of his time to engage with me about both the Kickstarter campaign and the future of the HEX line. As of the writing of this post the Perils of Mars Kickstarter campaign has unlocked three stretch goals and is on its way to opening up the fourth. Congratulations to Jeff Combos, and Exile Game Studio, for another successful campaign.

If you missed out on the Revelations of Mars campaign like I did you have time to jump aboard. Additionally, if you pledge at the IMPERIAL NOBLE (or above) level you will score some of the exclusive Revelations goodies such as the Revelations Dice, Revelations Style Chips, and even the Martian Princess miniature.


Have any HEX / Ubiquity specific questions for Jeff Combos?

Post your comments and/or questions below.

WPGL can’t promise Jeff Combos will respond to potential questions. However, he will be made aware of them.

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About Friar Jay

Pipesmoking-Gaming-Monastic-Methodist-Whovian who happens to loves audio dramas and cryptozoology. Oh, and I'm the founder of this crazy place. T: @eckSermonator.