The following is an interview with Lee Keeler (Ryan Bartoski’s Emotionally Relative Trading Card Guide, Sad Bastard) and Geoffrey Golden (Dream It! Screw It!, Frankenstein’s Girlfriend), writers of the new Wet Hot American Summer: Fantasy Camp roleplaying game being released by Devastator Press. Keeler, Golden, and Devastator Press have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the officially licensed role playing game (RPG) based on the classic comedy film, WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Keeler and Golden about their love of the original film, what players can anticipate from the board setup and gameplay, the awesome backer rewards available through the Kickstarter campaign, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Devastator Press, known for publishing critically acclaimed comedy books, graphic novels, and zines, recently announced its most exciting endeavor to date: a Kickstarter campaign for a fully licensed RPG based on the cult favorite, Wet Hot American Summer. What inspired the creation of this new roleplaying game, and what can you tell us about the premise of the gameplay?
Lee Keeler: Oh man, we just both kind of grew up on Wet Hot. I feel like if you’re a comedy nerd from our time period, you’re kind of raised on Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show, and Wet Hot. That’s the holy trifecta. The characters from the Wet Hot universe seemed like such a natural choice for an RPG, because they’re all so distinct and ridiculous. In terms of gameplay, as it came together – and Geoffrey is a master at these kinds of mechanics – it became more and more evident that this had to incorporate elements of a party or board game in addition to being an RPG.
Geoffrey Golden: Fantasy Camp is an old-school, tabletop role-playing game with party game twists. You play a camper, counselor, or staffer at Camp Firewood trying to achieve their “Big Camp Dream,” which might be losing your virginity or winning the Firewood equivalent of a Purple Heart. Along the way, your Camp Director (the DM) will throw story obstacles in your way, and there will be activities where you put down the dice to sing, draw, or pretend to ride a jet ski around your apartment. Whoever achieves their Big Camp Dream gets to come back next summer as a leveled-up character.
BD: For die-hard fans of the film who are eager to garner their copy of the game, what will the standard model of the game consist of (by way of the board or other materials)?
Geoffrey: All you need to play is the Fantasy Camp manual, some dice, and maybe order everyone a pizza?
Lee: Beer is also a very good idea.
Geoffrey: The cheapest beer you can find! But yeah, the game manual has basically everything you need. No need to worry about tokens getting lost or a board that gets creased wrong from being folded incorrectly, Mom.
BD: What can you tell us about your shared creative process in writing the game and rulebook, and what can you share about your collaboration with Wet Hot American Summer co-writer and director David Wain?
Lee: I’ve basically been a fan of David Wain since I’ve seen his work in The State, and that fandom just built momentum over time. I managed to get his contact information during a time in my life when it just meant writing fan overtures to the guy. By the time Fantasy Camp was conceived, getting his approval was huge for us.
Geoffrey: In terms of the gameplay, I had previously created a parody role playing game called Wizards of Cockblock Forest – the official late-night RPG of San Diego Comic-Con! – and we both knew that would be a good engine to build the Wet Hot game on. We’d get together at coffee shops and annoy people who were trying to write their screenplays.
Lee: Oh, how they were annoyed! It’s because we were actually, like, smiling. Especially after we playtested this for the first time and started to formulate breakthroughs with game play.
Geoffrey: There was a lot of divide and conquer. Is there a game called Divide and Conquer?
Lee: Of course there is.
BD: Having launched the Kickstarter campaign, what are some of the fun backer rewards that are available to those who contribute? (We can only hope that it includes bottles of dick cream!)
Geoffrey: You want a bottle of dick cream? We will hook you up with an exclusive bottle of Wet Hot American Summer dick cream!
Lee: Oh, for sure! We’ll also have some other camp goodies that will be rolled out as the campaign grows. The neatest perk is getting your own character that will be put in the book, meaning you’ll be immortalized as part of this little corner of Wet Hot-iverse.
BD: What makes Devastator the perfect home for this new RPG?
Lee: Dude, this was just so organic. Geoffrey and Amanda have been living this comedy publishing thing – day in, day out – for years. And, as Geoffrey said, they had already designed some RPGs.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working that you are able to share with our readers?
Lee: I’m wrapping up prep on a comedy fest in my home state of Iowa called Green Gravel; this year it’s gonna be a charity for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. I’m bringing Tony Clifton to Iowa City and hoping we don’t get arrested.
Geoffrey: The Devastator has an exciting, hilarious slate of funny books and zines coming out this year. One I think Fanbase readers will love is A Field Guide to the Aliens of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which is a Star Trek fan guide written by an 11-year-old boy in the ’90s. It’s a hilarious, often poignant look at fandom actually written by Zachary Auburn (How to Teach Your Cat About Gun Safety), coming to bookstores everywhere this Fall.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Wet Hot American Summer: Fantasy Camp?
Lee: Get thee to our Kickstarter page! No, seriously. There are a bunch of goodies for hardcore fans and new campers-to-be.
Geoffrey: All your questions will be answered on the Kickstarter. Even questions unrelated to Fantasy Camp, like “What can I do to spice things up in the bedroom?” and “What is photosynthesis?”
Lee: Is there any kind of Easter Egg about the kid who got caught jerking off in the infirmary?
Geoffrey: We’ve gotta get that tape!