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Modiphius Call to Arms Interview

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Various
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Pre-release interview conducted by Benefactor with Modiphius, the developers of Call to Arms.

Benefactor:
What is the general process that goes into creating the art and miniatures? Are you in close contact with Bethesda at all stages of development?
 
Gavin Dady: 
We have access to the Bethesda art library, and we lean on that as much as possible. For miniatures, we will start with a theme for the particular Chapter we are working on, and then divide that into logical factions. Some Chapters may introduce new factions and there are some factions – like adventurers – that we expect to see in each Chapter. Once we have the theme down we’ll prepare individual briefs for each figure. These include reference images of clothes, weapons, equipment, spell effects and so on as well as pose and basing references. We will often take a photo of someone in the pose we want, which makes for some odd days in the office. The sculptors then do their magic. We have some of the best 3d artists in the industry, in my opinion, and the work they do is outstanding. We’ll go through various iterations of the figure and feedback to the artist. Sometimes a pose just won’t work out, or we have to change it based on experience from the casting process. Eventually we will get to a stage where we are happy and at that point we submit to Bethesda for approval. Once approved, or amended based on their feedback, it goes to the manufacturing stage.
 
Benefactor:
What was the most difficult part of bringing Skyrim to the tabletop?
 
Mark Latham: 
Games designers really like neat, manageable systems with as few variables as possible. The big challenge with Skyrim (and, indeed, the entire Elder Scrolls universe) is the sheer scope of it all. All of those races, abilities, skills, spells, dragon shouts, weapons in a variety of materials, with enchantments, without enchantments… the list goes on. And don’t get me started on the wealth of background lore, quests, monsters, treasure, and so on. From all that, the big challenge was to work out what were the essential elements we simply had to port across to the tabletop, and what were the things we could abstract, or simply leave out altogether in order to streamline the gaming experience. We were really fortunate that Bethesda were very upfront in saying ‘You don’t have to do everything’. I think getting that balance right was tricky, but what we’ve ended up with is a very playable game that absolutely oozes Skyrim.
 
Benefactor:
You currently have planned several chapters planned for Skyrim. Are all of these campaigns adaptions of current stories or are you allowed to take liberties to craft your own?
 
Gavin Dady: 
We have to stay within the established boundaries, so we couldn’t create a new continent to explore, or a new Daedric Prince to menace the world. Likewise we can’t establish canon in our products – so we can fight battles in the Civil War in Skyrim, for instance, but we can’t say that the Imperials or Stormcloaks were the ultimate victors. That’s a player choice that we don’t want to remove. 
 
Benefactor:
In the Bleakfalls barrow starter pack the dragonborn is female what made you decide to go with a female dragonborn?
 
Gavin Dady: 
We sculpted male and female versions of the Nord Dragonborn initially. In fact, there were three different Dragonborn sculpts with the Dragonborn Triumphant pre-release figure as well. With DBT already available, it made complete sense that our next Dragonborn would be a woman. Skyrim is an incredibly egalitarian game, with women and men holding equal positions of power all over Skyrim. Many of the Jarls and Generals that you follow – including the formidable Rikke – are women, and the forces of both factions feature women amongst all ranks. There are even several female Draugr. 
 
Benefactor:
I have to say it's great to see strong female characters being represented. Are there any others that you are considering bringing to the game?
 
Gavin Dady: 
Lots. The aforementioned Rikke will be making an appearance, plus a number of fan favourite followers and companions, some of whom are already sworn to carry our burdens. We recently posted a picture of some of the forthcoming women in our Facebook page.
 
Benefactor:
Is it possible we could see figures from the lore that have never before appeared in a game make an appearance? For instance Pelinal or Alessia?
 
Gavin Dady: 
It’s not impossible, although we are bound by the need to not create new content or confirm existing mysteries. There is also the question of suitability for our type of game. Alessia, whilst fascinating as a character, may not make a good unit for the battlefield. The Elder Scrolls: Call To Arms is a narrative adventure game, concentrating on the smaller scale adventures, rather than a game of epic mass combat where such over the top characters find their best home. Well, that’s what it is for now, anyway.
 
Benefactor:
The civil war could works really well in pvp scenarios. What side of the civil war would you say each member of your team prefers?
 
Gavin Dady: 
We have something of a mix, and I think some peoples allegiances have changed after researching the war in more depth ;-) We also have one or two of the team who are completely mercenary and focus on which units they think make the best tactical combinations, with the politics of the situation coming second. We also really enjoy building Adventurer bands to go delving with. 
 
Benefactor:
While in the initial starter bundle there are no dragons can we expect to see them show up in the future?
 
Gavin Dady: 
Dragons? Well, it would seem like something of a missed opportunity if we didn’t. Chris (Birch) has already let the cat out of the bag and revealed that we are well on the way to mastering our first Dragon “miniature”.
 
Benefactor:
While you are starting with Skyrim the world of the Elder Scrolls is vast. What are some of the ideas you have regarding future Campaigns?
 
Gavin Dady: 
We’ve divided our major schedule divisions into Ages, so currently we are in the Skyrim Age that will take us through to mid-late 2021. After that, we’ll move into a different age. Within each Age we have a Chapters, each themed around a major plot event of one kind or another, or a major questline. Our first, Civil War, is obvious. Our second, starting late 2020, is Steam and Shadow, which will introduce new factions, adventurers and enemies. We then have Chapters 3, 4 and 5 planned out and I am just starting the briefing process for Chapter 3.
 
Benefactor:
Is there any chance of us seeing a campaign that expands upon previous games? Like with the Eye of Argonia and Cyrus?
 
Gavin Dady: 
Eye of Argonia, as an unreleased game, isn’t in our core remit, but we could certainly be looking at other parts of the Elder Scrolls lore. We already have sculpts done for a few iconic Elder Scrolls Online characters that might be cropping up at some time.