A Chat with Rick Hershey of Empty Room Studios
Empty Room Studios does more than just role-playing. While they are the guys behind PIG's Steampunk Musha (an alternate setting for Iron Gauntlets), they're also a full service art studio, with over 17 members. We talked with Rick Hershey about what they're up to and what's on the horizon.
GG: Tell us about your company. How did you get started, who's involved, how long have you been around?
RH: Empty Room Studios is a full service art studio providing illustration, cartography, logo design, layout, etc. We work mainly in the rpg and comicbook industries. I started ERS a little over a year and a half ago, but we really didn't start at our current level of productivity till around the start of 2006. We staff about 17 members, from writers to designers to colorists, all with a long history as freelancers. I handle most client discussion, business duties, and other responsibilities that come with being the boss. Jeremy Mohler is my art director and deals with keeping our quality high, overseeing work lists, and assigning duties to our staff. Overall, ERS works like a traditional in-house art studio.
GG: What is your main product/product lines?
RH: Steampunk Musha is our main product and published by Politically Incorrect Games as an alternate game setting for their Iron Gauntlets fantasy rpg. We are also working on a series of visual aids for gamers and publishers we hope to have out at the end of the year. Jeremy Mohler heads up www.baegtobar.com, our sister site, which is a collaboration of writers and artists creating content in a shared world. The ERS staff handles all the artwork there including illustration, logos, and webcomics.
GG: Who have you done work for?
RH: We've done work for a lot of the mid-tier companies and small press publishers. To name a few: Goodman Games, Green Ronin Publishing, Mongoose Publishing, Kenzer & Co. and many others.
GG: What's coming up soon? Any exciting things you're working on?
Well, not too much I can talk about. . . we are doing more design work for Mongoose (we did the front and back design for Runequest) and we also are doing a full book project for Silverthorne Games which is turning out to be a lot of fun.
GG: What are some of your favorite games and systems?
RH: Well, I was a long time D&D player, both 2nd edition and through to 3.5. Since those days I've played pretty much all the popular systems at least once. Currently, if I get a chance to play, I'm playing Steampunk Musha or Iron Gauntlets. I enjoy the system very much and it's quick and easy . . . plus it's nice to play your own game.
The world is on the cusp of great change. It is a time of colonization. It is a time in which the great artists have passed, and the great merchants have been born. It is a time of great musicians who can give or take life with a few simple notes. And it is a time in which the immortal Fae, in their unseen world, bicker over the fate of those who are capable of dying. Welcome to Baeg Tobar.
Baeg Tobar came into existence as a group of talented authors and artists strove to create a shared fantasy world that would have a real-world complexity and depth. This collective of authors and artists have come together to tell and illustrate some amazing stories, linking the written word with graphic art. Along with their tales, they provide a host of information on the Baeg Tobar website, from author and artist galleries to an encyclopedia of the entire world of Baeg Tobar.
The Baeg Tobar project currently has seven ongoing stories that have new content updated regularly with continuing chapters and new artwork. Aside from new story content, the encyclopedia is continuously expanding, and the creators are working on related projects, from upcoming RPGs set in the world of Baeg Tobar to comics.
So come on over and take a vacation from every day life. Wander beautiful old towns, go sailing, fight giant hounds, attend the opera, or explore a haunted mansion. All this is here, and more.
Welcome to Baeg Tobar.
Imagine an island, until recently cut off from the rest of the world, now quickly adapting to the new technologies brought to it by outsiders while it struggles to retain its history. This is the island of Rosuto-Shima, a place torn between honoring the old traditions and embracing new technology. Unlike traditional fantasy settings, Steampunk Musha draws on East Asian mythology and history and combines aspects of several cultural traditions with Victorian-era technology. The traditional Oriental setting is thrown into a roaring industrial age, where incredible new inventions contrast with ancient mysteries and restless spirits. High fantasy and science-fiction clash and combine in the middle of the conflict between old and new, father and son, mechanical and spiritual. It is a land of heroes, scoundrels, and ordinary people, all caught up in events beyond their control. It is a place of adventure.
The first exposure to the Steampunk Musha setting is available through Steampunk Musha RPG designed to correspond with the Iron Gauntlets system from Politically Incorrect Games. Steampunk Musha is a Steampunk setting with an Oriental flavor, and will expand into several genres in the coming years including comics, novels, and other entertainment media.