Here’s a transcription of an interview Jason Campbell and GamerMomLuna recorded on 12/12/2022 with Austin Ramsay of Austin Ramsay Games, author of Beam Saber, creator of CalazCon – a Beam Saber Mega Game Actual Play
Interview has been transcribed and edited for clarity, content, and length. This is the second of two parts, with the first published last week.
Jason: So one of the questions I wanted to ask you because I noticed on the site, there are other authors that have written supplements. Is the whole game open license to take and create on their own? Do you have a structure for that?
Austin Ramsay: Well the Beam Saber supply drop license is available for free on my Itch page that does allow creators to make any kind of supplement for Beam Saber. The only restriction that I can recall offhand is that the supplement cannot replace any of the rules in the Beam Saber rulebook. So you need to have a copy of the Core Rulebook to use the supply drop. The other thing is to credit myself and Beam Saber as part of the document. But other than that, it’s pretty free flowing.
J: So adjacent to that, if there are any developers out there, or even proofreaders or editors, are you looking for any help with your upcoming project?
AR: Not at this time. I usually have a list of artists that I keep an eye on from Twitter or Tumblr or wherever I see artists who I think have a style that would be good for one of my games or another, because you don’t always need the same style. But if there are artists who are potentially interested in working with me, they can email me at email@example.com. I can’t promise that I will have work for you, but I’m always happy to expand my list of artists who are interested in working with me.
J: So getting back to CalazCon, because it seems so different, a very basic question: I assume this is an actual play stream and or podcast?
AR: Yeah, we’re going to do it pre-recorded, it’s not going to be a livestream. It’s going to be a pre-recorded video which, if things go as planned, will also be available as a podcast. We’ll do weekly releases of both video and podcast, potentially even to like weekly watch parties for the video aspect.
J: So you actually have to run six separate sessions a week, right? Are you going to try to edit them into one video?
AR: No. That’s actually the trick. I’m not going to be GMing anything. There’s going to be separate GMs for every single group. Each group will have its own group of players.. There’s not going to be any overlap of players or of pilot playbooks or squad playbooks. Every single group is going to be unique.My role is going to be purely project management. I’ll probably end up doing some editing in some capacity. The only on-screen presence I have is that one of the groups is going to be playing a far more experimental version of Beam Saber than the others because of the nature of CalazCon, so I will be facilitating those sessions. That experimental version is that all these groups are joined together under a single faction, a single democratic faction in this conflict, and each squad will have a legislative representative. Those representatives will get together after every squad has gone through a cycle of missions and downtime, and they will all vote to decide what the direction of the next cycle is. They’ll be able to assign a general strategy for each squad to pursue and then also vote on specific tasks for specific squads. So if a squad is assigned a particular task, they’ll need to follow the strategy at large. There’s theoretically going to be a lot of wheeling and dealing by the legislators as they try and pursue their own personal goals, as well as the goals of their squad and the goals of the faction at large – and trade resources and votes and favors and so forth. That’s part of the reason that I’m overseeing that section of the game, because it’s not as “well-tried” as the rest of Beam Saber is.
Luna: So have you tried streaming or recording any actual plays of Beam Saber in the past?
AR: Yes, actually. I think it was in 2018-2019, I ran an actual play Twitch stream called Beam Saber: The Cenotaph which lasted about 32 sessions all told and that was a really good time. It was a very useful for both playtesting Beam Saber as well as providing a place to point people who are curious about what the game looks like in action.
I’ve also done another actual play live stream for part of You Don’t Meet in an Inn where we played Fantasy Craft, and that was a series called The Last City. Both of those series’ are available on the You Don’t Meet in an Inn YouTube for posterity if you want to watch them.
J: CalazCon has an Indigogo that you’ve set up. Could you describe a little bit about how that works? What do your supporters get when they back your project?
AR: Being an actual play series, there is a limited amount of things we can provide to people who back us. A lot of it is admittedly going to be for people who believe in the project, in our interest, in seeing it develop. But we are offering sponsorships for people who back. You can sponsor a single episode, all the episodes for a single squad. There are levels where you will receive copies of Beam Saber PDF and The Growing Conflict in PDF. And you can also provide the opportunity to provide names for NPCs to be used as part of the campaign at some time. There’s no promises.
L: Viewers love that kind of thing!
J: Oh yeah, some of the actual plays out there have tons of patrons who submit names. Although you might regret it, getting names like “Mechy McMechface.”
AR: Well, there is a note that if a name is being used inappropriately, it won’t be used. The Mech genre does have have some unusual names out there though.
J: Okay, so one thing we haven’t asked: What haven’t we asked you that you want everyone else to know?
AR: About the setting of CalazCon! If the Megagame actual play concept doesn’t interest people, I think some people will be drawn by the setting. So CalazCon is a convention in the universe. It’s a convention for fictional media franchises. Which is of a massive scale that’s been going on for decades in the universe, somewhat modeled after Gundam in the sense that Gundam has been around since 1979 and is currently still airing, and has been on and off. But also, Dr. Who is in that same sort of boat, and so is Star Trek, and you know there’s plenty of pieces of media that fall in that format. So this convention is effectively a nomadic war group, because it’s an examination of the absurdity and wonder and strangeness of obsessive fandoms so this convention crashes headlong into an active war zone where the Democratic federated systems is currently in the process of “trying to liberate” the citizens of The Jovangellian Empire planet. The player characters will all be part of the DFS military as they try and deal with both the CalazCon attendees who are heavily armed zealots deeply invested in their particular aspects of the media franchise that they so love and the citizens of the Jovangellian Empire City where the convention is taking place, to put it lightly. They just want to get their homes back but they’ve been displaced by this convention and are also under siege by this military. So, it’s a very strange mix of these things going on in this setting that I think will create a very interesting story.
J: You have one group playing the different “experimental game.” Will that get released as a supplement?
AR: It might get released as an additional supplemental expansion because as I mentioned earlier these experimental sessions are going to be drawing on the faction management system in the growing conflict supplement. That faction management system has different rules for how the players might take control of the different faction types. In Beam Saber were’ going to be focusing on the democratic side of things where the tier of a squad determines how many votes they get in Parliament, but there’s also rules for if you’re part of an autocracy, where a single person controls everything, and everyone else is vying for their favor. Or a Corporateocracy where individual squads bid on, effectively, contracts to control the direction of the greater conflict.
J: So remind us again, where can people find CalazCon, and where can people pick up Beam Saber?
AR: CalazCon you can find at Indigogo.com if you just search for CalazCon, you should be able to find it. Or a shorter, quicker way is to go to tinyurl.com/calazcon. And that will take you right to the Indiegogo page.
Beam Saber can be found at austin-ramsay.itch.io, or even just go to itch and search Beam Saber, or even just Google that, I locked into some pretty great SEO with that!
One last detail is that because of the number of players across the groups, there’s going to be 20 standard Beam Saber player characters. In the core rule book and in the Growing Conflict supplement there are a total of 20 pilot playbooks, so each player will be playing a different playbook from anyone else. So there’s only going to be one soldier in the whole series, there’s only going to be one ace, and so forth. I think people will probably find the entire series to be something to be interested in. They might choose a single squad that they really like the vibes of and just watch their episodes alone and be able to follow their side of things.