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Tales From the Tavern Interview with Mark Beren

NOTE: the opinions expressed in interviews are those of the guests, not necessarily those of

Today we talk with Mark Beren from Armoured Gaming. Mark is a TTRPG designer and teacher from Australia. Mark's latest Kickstarter is at
You can find Mark at:

Discord: and at X: @MarkBeren1

and at his web site:

and YouTube channel:

Let's hear from Mark!


How did you get started in RPGs?

Ever since I was a kid I loved fantasy books, and in the early days I got into CRPGs in the 90's. I somehow got quite a collection of them through mainly free sources or hand-me-down games and I played them obsessively. A few of those were based (directly) on TTRPGs, and I remember loving those the most. Growing up in rural Australia, there wasn't anyone I knew who played TTRPG or had any TTRPG stuff other than a dim memory of a much older kid trying to co-opt me into playing a thief-acrobat when I was about six, and neither of us understanding the situation at all. Anyway, I think my first exposure to the concept of a TTRPG was Baldur's Gate - most specifically the manual, which had a good amount of the rules for 2nd ed DnD in it and I think I even recall it mentioned playing the game in person. While easy access to the internet was around back then, before this I had no concept of even how to ask about it. Anyway a friend of mine was equally into BG and by then I had moved to a city - we found a little nerd store around 00 and purchased the Adventure Begins Here, a 3rd ed product. We immediately raced to McDonalds next door, found a hidden little cubicle at the back, and opened it up to start playing. I haven't stopped since!

How did you decide to go from playing games to designing games?

I became the main GM for our group fairly quickly, and like any teenager immediately created a grand and epic campaign with swords of power and all the big names of the Forgotten Realms showing up to do cool stuff. It was truly awful. What it did do - pretty immediately - is have me start tinkering with the system to make these magic swords for the players. I went to the internet - EN World iirc - and started reading up on all of the forum posts on how to be a better GM, GM theory of the time, and so on. I think anyone who GMs is a game designer to an extent - they design parts, additions, or changes to the rules, even if it's a slightly different variant of a monster or a new type of magic weapon. 

How I went to designing campaigns and such is a different beast, though. I want to thank a game called Ars Magica for that. For those who don't know it, the game is a fairly technical and extensive game about magic requiring a lot of rules knowledge and consideration of how the rules affect the world. To GM that requires a fine knowledge and willingness to push the rules and design new ideas and understand the ways others use the system. I played a huge campaign of it, and got quite good at mechanics and how to make them suit the theme.

Eventually I and my friends at that time were meeting up every Tuesday and playing a mix of board games and RPGs. I'd come up with a few ideas for rules for 'zero level' characters and a little campaign for them - it turned into the Pirates of the Sea of Swords campaign that I released on DrivethruRPG as well as the Zero Level Characters rules. From there is history.

You created the Knight RPG and describe it as a “storytelling and roleplaying game”. Can you describe it for us?

Certainly! Roleplaying is the tradition of the hobby - the GM runs the environment, the players take over (play the role of) the characters. Knight has this in the first phase of the game. In the second phase, Knight zooms out to tell stories about other things; players roll some dice to generate story ideas, pick a member of their family, and tell a story about it. As an example a player might roll Romance and terrible luck - they pick their cousin, Regin. The story they tell is about how Regin falls in love with a beautiful man who breaks Regin's heart and marries another. Regin then becomes hardened to the idea of love. When it comes time to get Regin married to have heirs, this story comes into play - Regin may refuse to marry, or marry only those that give exceptional political gain.

Your upcoming Kickstarter campaign is for Knight: Remastered. What can we expect from that?

Having gone through the wringer of a kickstarter before with the original version of Knight, I think this time will be smooth sailing. The book is done, the shipping and such is organised, the ducks are in a row. I'm at the stage now where I'm just gathering interest in the campaign prior to launch.

You created a solo version of Knight. What drew you to solo games and how is designing a solo RPG different from a game for a group?

I had a personal request for a solo version, so I gave it a bit of thought and read a number of solo games. While not a solo gamer myself, I tried out a few systems and was amazed at the effects that solo gaming can have - essentially, from my perspective, the improvisation of a legend. It's different because much of the standard version of Knight draws on the collaborative-yet-splintered effect of how the storytelling phase occurs, so I had to work out how to mimic that with a system of card draws and story seeds. It's a fun little side game! Come to think of it, it'd be quite easy to use it for a player who can't come to a session!

Aside from your own games, what is your favorite RPG?

So hard to pick one! Instead I'll pick three. I love Into the Odd (or it's variants) for things involving exploration. At the moment I am loving Slugblaster - not for its setting but for its evolution of the Forged in the Dark rules set, and FATE, which I think is one of the best systems to create cinematic universes.

How has your career path influenced your game designs?

I'm a teacher, so when I wrote my game I think carefully about how to teach the game. I took the sparse yet exceptionally clear approach from Into the Odd for the core rules, and used an extended play through section to show how the game is played. I've also got two youtube videos up explaining the concept and rules of Knight.

What other hobbies do you have other than RPGs?

Board games, fantasy writing. I've got a slowly healing injury, but I used to be in the martial arts and HEMA (European swordfighting) world.

What other things should we know that we haven’t asked about?

Oh, you can check out some podcasts and reviews of the original version of KNIGHT if you like! The best ones are

for a play through and review and

For a 10 minute page through 

for an in depth look.

thanks, Mark!

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