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Designing TTRPG Gaming in Arora with Phil Beckwith

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This article is part of the Super Backer Digi-Mag which is covered solely by the Soda and Telepaths editing team. Super Backer is a bi-monthly digital magazine which reports exclusively on Kickstarter Campaigns. You can subscribe to Super Backer by heading here.

Ghostfire Gaming’s Phil Beckwith talks about Game Design and Creating the Arora TTRPG

Earlier this week I caught up with Ghostfire Gaming General Manager, Phil Beckwith, to discuss their latest TTRPG (Table Top Roleplaying Game): Arora: Age of Desolation. During this interview we covered a lot of topics around Gaming, Game Design, Merchandise Allocation and the responsibility of Managing a Creative Team.


Tell me a bit about what you do in the world of Gaming and Game Design?

Phil Beckwith: At Ghostfire Gaming we are a premium TTRPG publisher known for our Grim Hollow setting, but also our partnerships with the Dungeon Dudes (Dungeons of Drakkenheim), and Runesmith (The Seeker’s Guide to Twisted Taverns). We create gorgeous, well developed, and high quality D&D (and TTRPG in general) products spanning across multiple product types such as core hardcover books, adventures, miniatures, dice, GM screens, and many other supporting products to help bring adventure to life for hundreds and thousands of gaming tables across the globe.

Ghostfire Gaming's Phil Beckweth talks about Game Design and Creating the Arora TTRPG
Ghostfire Gaming’s Phil Beckwith talks about Game Design and Creating the Arora TTRPG

How many people are involved in the development of the Arora TTRPG?

Phil Beckwith: For Arora we have a small army of kobolds at hand working diligently to bring the best dragon apocalypse-based setting possible! In truth the team consists of more than 15 team members, and even more freelance artists, writers, and editors on top of that.

There are many people who look at TTRPG’s with not a faint idea of how they work beyond the likes of Dungeons and Dragons and Warhammer. How would you differentiate the world of Arora from its contemporaries?

Phil Beckwith: Arora is a world rich in history and lore. Not only that, but it is also a post-apocalyptic setting set 500 years after an apocalypse caused by dragons. A world where survival and exploration are the focus of adventure. Gritty yet appealing, and a step aside from the typical vanilla high fantasy setting. This setting brings the Exploration pillar of play back to the forefront of the game, and has a robust system to support that style of game play.

Innovative Character Creation in Arora TTRPG
Innovative Character Creation in Arora TTRPG

Coming up with the rules of a game, the designing of the models, artwork etc is a vast task. What process do you follow in order to put together a game and a gaming world like Arora?

Phil Beckwith: The process begins with conception of the world, and quickly moves to what rules systems we feel we need to help support the strong themes and direction of the setting to really cement the concept in the game play of the setting. This starts at least a year before we intend to launch the Kickstarter, so by the time the campaign launches publicly, we already have the book written and nearing completion for production.

Part of this year long journey is the creation of products such as miniatures and artwork that are additional and outside of the core book product. Our design team works for months prior to the Kickstarter launch to get these products just right, so they not only truly represent the core themes, but are of top quality too.

I look at the Arora Kickstarter campaign and can’t help but notice the big f%^ off dragon. Tell me a bit about your relationship with fantasy and where it started?

Phil Beckwith: Personally for me it all started with Dragonlance novels, I am a Dragonlance tragic! Through these tales grew a passion for dragons and high fantasy with an edge of grit like backdrops of war, or surviving a world filled with these powerful creatures. Creating that big f%^ off dragon was a huge team effort, but something I fell in love with from first conception.

How do you strategise the tier pricing of your campaigns and what’s included when you’re dealing with so much physical merchandise?

Phil Beckwith: With the tier pricing, we try to offer something for everyone, giving options for all walks of life and types of gamers. We try to price our tiers at a point where we can offer great value, and truly great deals, yet still viable to allow us to keep producing top tier content for years to come. Really, our number 1 priority is keeping costs as low as possible for our supporters and backers.

The Five Realms of Arora: Gallaht, Khoor, Mogsturma, Prazzolar and Tievmer
The Five Realms of Arora: Gallaht, Khoor, Mogsturma, Prazzolar and Tievmer

What I love about RPGs are the back stories. Who wrote the lore and rules of Arora?

Phil Beckwith: The setting is the brainchild of the great Shawn Merwin, our Principal Designer. From there the setting evolved into what it is today. Many hands helped mould it into what it is along the way including a very talented team of freelance and internal Ghostfire Gaming designers that really fleshed out the setting to realize Shawn Merwin’s vision.

The list of (Arora) writing credits can go to Shawn Merwin, Greg Marks, Scott F Gray, Chris Sims, Sharang Biswas, Toni Brill, Joe Raso, JVC Parry, Alan Patrick, Andrew Bishkinskyi, Jeff Stevens, Benjamin Huffman, Elliott Randall, Tom Donovan, Micah Watt, Cody Faulk, and even a little bit myself.

Which tier would you recommend for a newcomer to the Arora game?

Phil Beckwith: For a newcomer to D&D or TTRPG in general, I would suggest the $55 Survivalist of the Five Realms tier to get the core book and a handy player journal which includes a few easy reference pages for players too.

What’s next for the Arora development team?

Phil Beckwith: Next up we have a very exciting Grim Hollow based book coming to Kickstarter this November 2022. The team are already working diligently on it as it nears writing completion right now (June 2022). We will release an announcement as to what exactly that project is all about in coming months, so watch this space… but I can already say, this is going to be BIG!

Which is the best way to support Arora and your company, Ghostfire Gaming?

Phil Beckwith: The best way to support (Arora and) Ghostfire Gaming is to back our Kickstarter projects, join our mailing list, and to become a subscriber to our monthly Fables adventure series which you can find here.

Have I convinced you to support the Arora TTRPG?

Check out Arora’s Kickstarter which offers the complete game and let me know what you thought of this interview with Phil Beckwith on social media.


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