Saturday, October 11, 2014

Oldhammer Guest of Honor: Phil Gallagher Interview

As I announced earlier, we are going to be having Guests of Honor at the Oldhammer Weekend event. Our Second Guest of Honor is Phil Gallagher, Studio Design, Editor and WFRP guiding hand...along with the creator of the Emperor himself. Once again, Phil did a previous interview on Realm Of Chaos 80s, so check out Orylgg's interview here.

We are actually pretty lucky to have some special Warhammer/Oldhammer Celebrities here in North America, and I am really excited that they are going to be able to stop by. So bring your copies of WFRP, your questions, and any presents! Phil and Graeme also let me know that they will be there on Sunday, during the Golden Gobbo competition! So make sure you can be there on Sunday to meet them!

Phil was kind enough to answer a few questions that I sent him, I tried to not repeat questions from other sources, but remember you can get your questions answered on Sunday!

OITNW: In the realmsofchaos80s interview (see link above), you were confronted with a huge stack of already created material, and had to wrestle the beast to the ground. I’m sure it was a monumental task at that time, even deciding what to keep and cut. How many months did you work on this? You said it was mainly structure that you gave it, did that include the layout or just edited text?

Phil: It seems now, in hindsight, that Realm of Chaos took year and years to complete! In reality it was probably about a year, but the truth is, I can no longer remember. The lay-out was the team’s attempt to fulfill Bryan Ansell’s vision! We were lucky to have Ian Miller do all those fantastic illustrations, while Tony Ackland never seemed to tire of drawing weird, warped beasts of all types!

OITNW: But the end result is a beloved and treasured roleplaying game, one that many believe is there favorite of all time. Was the tension between your own ideas and that already created what made it excellent?

Phil: Hmm. It’s difficult to say. I think what’s made it a favorite with so many people is the sheer amount of creativity that went into it. Of course, I STILL think the mechanics were/are unnecessarily clunky – but, hey, that’s just my opinion, and the opinion of those that still play it is much more important.

OITNW: Was there a “battle” that you won, i.e. not including something or adding something in? Was there something that you would rather have been rid of, but were made to keep?

Phil: There were no battles. There was neither time nor opportunity to re-do the combat system, for example. Jim Bambra and I simply shoved in as much role-playing guidance as we could, and “cunningly” persuaded everyone (ourselves included) that we’d “fix” the magic system in “Realms of Sorcery”…

OITNW: I know it is the periphery for you now, but I was wondering on your general thoughts on the Oldhammer movement. Are you surprised by the passions that these things you helped create years ago are generating in otherwise respectable people?

Phil: I think it’s fantastic. I am surprised and humbled to discover that the thing lives on. Long may it continue. Perhaps I should have “Here Lies the father of Sigmar Heldenhammer” on my gravestone!

OITNW: One thing that most of us in Oldhammer love is the general humor and sheer explosion of creativity that the Design Studio created during those golden years. This tends to be lacking from current games and products. Was this a freedom that was allowed, or was it encouraged in the studio? Was it just something in the water….or beer? How much as editor for a lot of the materials decide how to cut it down, or did you go for a certain type of humor?

Phil: I think we had a certain youthful cynicism. Rick Priestley had set the ball rolling with the very first edition of WFB, and the rest of us just carried it on. Graeme “Undead” Davis has a fantastic dry, deadpan sense of humour, and I have terribly sad fondness for puns. Sometimes, slipping in a joke or two made me feel like I was being a little rebellious, in a quiet, understated kind of way. Other times, I just though it was funny. There were also times, of course, when we all experience that cliche of “you have to laugh… because if you don’t, you’ll cry.”

OITNW: I know that you currently act, and some of your photos have been amazing! The best roleplay group I ever had in college was a bunch of actors who also role-played. I was able to ask this question of James Earl Jones once after a presentation he did. So I will ask it of you as well: What is more important, truly incredible acting or wonderfully written lines?

Phil: Oh, good question! Wonderfully written lines make the acting easy, of course. Interpreting character, potraying genuine emotion, making the audience forget that they are in a theatre watching actors, moving them, making them laugh, these are all part of the reason I do what I do. Wonderful scripts can make the most wooden of performers look good. But the best acting I ever saw was watching Derek Jacobi walk across the stage, without saying a word, he aged 40 years as he moved from one scene to the next – absolutely amazing.

OITNW: Thanks so much for your time, I know some of these may get involved, but anything you feel comfortable answering would be great!

Phil: Glad to be of service. I hope my answers prove worth reading! As Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying, my aim is to “either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

Thanks, Phil! James Earl Jones's answer to my last questions was very cool. he leaned back, in that amazing voice of his said "Ohhhhh! That's a good question!" Then he said that of course as an actor, he believed that an incredible performance can improve and create something out of anything, and that incredible words or material, just make it easier to capture. Very similar to Phil's answer. He also said, that sometimes, brilliant material could "lock" certain choices an actor could make. Making it difficult to bring something new to the material. In some ways, to me that is the same with most things and one amazing bit I wonder at every children and their imaginations. I'm always thrilled when I find them making up stories and places, rather than saying, but Bilbo has to look like this....

Ok, so that is three great guests, all appearing on Sunday, October 26th at Dropzone Games! Hopefully you can all make it!

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