Like our interview with Sean, we got this interview ready for the WARS 10th Anniversary, only to delay it for the same reasons. But now, for the 15th anniversary, we're proud to bring you this interview with Bryan K. Borgman from the WARS RPG!
Bryan is a game designer, musician, and man with many other talents who we're excited to have talked with! We're really grateful he gave us some of his time.
You can find more about him at:
Hello. My name is Bryan Borgman, aka Stratos. When WARS came out, I was working as Mongoose's demo team coordinator. I booked and tracked all organized play events for all Mongoose properties worldwide. I was also a freelance musician who had released several RPG soundtracks. I began my time with Mongoose as a volunteer for their demo team before working my way up through the ranks to running the program. By the time I left Mongoose, I was also assisting in concept development for new projects including WARS.
How did you get involved in WARS?
WARS landed in my lap for several reasons. I was a fan of the card game. I had a friendly relationship with Mark and Dawn at Decipher. I was running the Mongoose Infantry Demo Team that was also used to playtest new products. And, I really wanted to work on WARS because I was a fan of the art, Michael's stories, the factions, and Yanners soundtrack. I championed for the liaison position between Decipher and Mongoose and ultimately got it.
Was getting the RPG Greenlighted difficult?
Getting the greenlight for the RPG was fairly straightforward and at the time, Mongoose was hot on licensing. The company had licenses to Starship Troopers, Judge Dredd, Babylon 5, Conan, Paranoia, and others. Obtaining a license from another game company was a new venture but it was promising... At least until Decipher and WARS went on hiatus.
Why was D20 chosen for the RPG system?
Mongoose used the d20 system because it was extremely popular at the time and because WARS fit well with the mechanics. Operating under the Open Gaming License, Mongoose just needed to adapt the weapons, gear, and ideas created by Decipher to the rules created by Wizards of the Coast. This also gave players the most flexibility in game play. If a game master wanted to borrow something from Star Wars or D&D, it was an easy conversion. And, almost all RPGs coming out from Mongoose at the time were using the d20 OGL SRD.
Decipher had been developing its own RPG system, the Coda System, which it used for the Lord of the Rings RPG and Star Trek RPG. Why didn't the WARS RPG use that system?
Why was the RPG made at Mongoose instead of Decipher?
I honestly don't know why Decipher decided to license out WARS to Mongoose and then go ahead and produce their own RPGs of licensed titles unless it was purely economics. At the time, Mongoose had [bought] their own printing press to try and offset overseas shipping costs and keep more things under roof. Over time, they moved away from this but it may be that WARS was intended to be part of this cost saving process.
The WARS RPG was released after WARS was put on Hiatus by Decipher, how did this affect the game, and those working on it? Do you know anything about further plans for the RPG that didn't get finished when WARS wen't on Hiatus?
I was working on two scenarios (game modules) that were play tested but never produced due to the hiatus of the property. A hardcopy of both is still sitting on my shelf, sandwiched between the books.
Due to the hiatus, the WARS RPG was not successful and within a year, copies of all three books could be found at inventory liquidation booths at Origins and Gen con.
By that time, I had already left Mongoose to join the creative team at Aberrant.
Is there anything you'd like to say to fans on this 10th Anniversary of WARS?
It's amazing that it has been 10 years since WARS came onto the seen. I still have my binders full of cards, hard copies of all the short stories and music, and of course each RPG book. It was a fun ride while it lasted, even though the trip was short. I'm glad there is still this fan base - keep it going!
Thank you so much for talking with us Bryan!