This is an interview with Saker Tarsos of Tarsos Theorem. He was one of the first people in the OSR blogosphere I became friends with, and I've always been a big fan of his. He's bringing some really interesting ideas to tabletop RPGs, particularly through his use of coding tools and generators, but also through various other kinds of alternative mechanics (which in retrospect we did not discuss as much as I would have liked, but goblin's henchman has also discussed one of these). Also, we talked about some heavier and more personal topics in a few places, and I really appreciate Saker opening up to me and being willing to discuss these things for this interview.
Max: You and I started our blogs around the same time, I want to say around Spring or early Summer 2018. We've had conversations of this kind at various points, but for the sake of this interview, I'd be interested to know how you think the TTRPG scene has changed since we started blogging? And I guess as part of that, can you explain where you think the TTRPG scene was a couple years ago?
Saker: I think the TTRPG scene has constantly had to adapt. We arrived on the scene right before G+ went down, so we've never really been around in a long period of normalcy. We've had to find new social media homes. Social justice in our TTRPG circles has come a long way. Technology is being integrated into our TTRPGs due to social distancing. It's all very overwhelming to be honest. And, to be honest, it's hard for me to think back to how the scene was a couple years ago, I'm always so preoccupied with what's next.
Max: I hadn't necessarily thought of it that way before but you're right, I guess there's never really been much of a status quo for us.
Saker: It feels like right when we get settled down, something big happens that gets us up out of our seats again. And a lot of innovation and change comes out of it. This time it's the pandemic, and it's spurred an increased interest into online/socially distanced games.
Max: Are there any settings, or systems, or other aspects of TTRPGs, that you think have specifically become more prominent as a result of these changes (e.g. the pandemic, the increase in social justice and awareness of social issues)? Or less prominent, for that matter?
Saker: Gotta give Spwack credit here, the prototype of the Interdimensional Voyages character generator is based on his INCREDIBLE Die Trying character generator. It then metastatized through several evolutions to become the monstrosity it is today! On coding in TTRPGs: for me, it is definitely a convenience tool. I got into coding TTRPGs because I wanted to make tools that would allow me to continue to run TTRPGs as my free time and energy dwindled for various reasons. Me and my friends back home, who were my original audience, are very busy, and stressed, and don't always have physical spaces available for us to play games. Coding these tools is a means to try and make games more accessible to people who are short on time, energy, and space.