Hey there and welcome to another TTRPG Community interview! These are low key, prewritten interviews which are available to fill out on this page. If you are a part of the TTRPG space in almost any way at all, there should be something for you!
Today, we’re hearing from Albyon Absey, a creator of fantastical locations!
Please introduce yourself and the content you create!
Albyon Absey – I create free, system-agnostic, strange & fantastical locations for fantasy ttrpg’s – available via Albyon Absey’s Geographical Almanac, an online resource housed upon our wondrous website : www.albyonabsey.com
How did you get started making TTRPG content? What motivated you to begin?
I was searching for a specific kind of content for my own home-games, and found myself frustrated in that search. Whatever it was that I was looking for – a certain tone, a certain style – it just didn’t appear to be out there. Or, if it was, I couldn’t seem to find. So, rather than grumble or gripe, I began to make it for myself.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Natural history, folklore, medieval literature, old bedside anthologies of local history, horror and fantasy movies from my childhood, long walks by the sea and in the hills.
I’m surrounded by books, new and old; guides and reference books, anthologies and instructions, tomes and encyclopaedias. There’s a book-shop somewhere in the world missing its proprietor, I’m almost sure of it!
What was the first thing you ever made? Are you still proud of it?
The first thing I ever made? Hmmm. A sort of cross section drawing of a haunted house. I remember the bath tub overflowing with bloodied arms and legs, and there was a werewolf peeking from a cupboard under the stairs. I must have been 8 or 9 years old, and I remember it so well, as apparently other children’s parents complained to the school after I brought it in one day, showing it around during break-time.
I suppose I’m a little proud to have the memory of it, but I’m sure the drawing was rather terrible! Most assuredly a product of my early love for Hammer horror films as a child.
As for more recent offerings, in terms of the Geographical Almanac, the first one “published” was Sternwater; a rather grim and filthy little hamlet riddled with foul therianthropy.
Am I proud of Sternwater? Yes! Very much so, as it was the little push I needed to embrace the Almanac and its many possibilities.
What’s your favourite TTRPG system to create content for?
The Almanac is very much a tool for fantasy TTRPG and, as such, I have no particular favourite. I merely hope that it’s useful across many systems, and allows a myriad of GMs a beacon of ideas and inspiration should ever they need such a thing.
What motivates you to create content for fantasy settings specifically?
There’s something about the “fantasy” genre that encompasses many of my own personal interests, and being able to write along this particular “avenue” allows me to explore and express a great deal of those interests.
AI has proved to have a huge impact on the TTRPG community. As succinctly as possible, what is your general opinion on the use of AI for writing/content creation?
I can’t think of any reason a person would reasonably wish to use it. Laziness? Lack of talent, willpower, or discipline? It certainly aids with those things, I’m sure! And why deprive yourself of the creative process? Of the joy of inspiration, and the pride in the work you pore your heart and soul into?
I know there are many people out there desperately trying to justify its use, but I’m yet to see a single argument that’s even remotely convincing.
That’s not to say that I’m entirely against AI, and a general concept – I think it has its uses, and it’s already inherent in many aspects of our society, and has been for a while.
Recently, for example, I was applying for a house rental, and most of that process was automated, and we were inputting our application via what was essentially a “chat-AI”.
Having worked for many years in Healthcare, I can foresee – for example – potential future applications for isolated communities or individuals to perhaps access fast diagnosis or general advice. Will the technology ever be able to deliver this? I have no idea. But the potential is interesting to me.
But for use in creative endeavours? No. Not for me. I don’t think it will ever replace the artist, or the creative mind. At least, not in my life-time.
Are you a part of the LGBTQIA2S+, BIPOC, AAPI, Disabled or any other marginalised community?
I am. But, if it’s alright with you all, I’ll just keep it to myself.
If yes, do you reflect this in the content you create? How important do you think it is for folks of all identities to feel recognised within the games they play?
I don’t think I do? At least, not in any conscious sort of way? I think that would be for others to say. I certainly don’t go out of my way to announce my community belonging, as I don’t ever want to be seen as just … one thing. If that makes sense? For the record, I’m proud of anyone who wears who they are proudly! I admire that immensely! It takes courage, truly! I simply have my own personal relationship with where I’m from, and what that means to me is bundled up with an entire beehive of … stuff!
I absolutely think it’s important for us all to see ourselves in the media we consume, however. It can help shape our sense of self, our sense of belonging, and encourage us to be the best versions of ourselves. Role-models and representation are vital, particularly for younger people (but for all of us, too, generally).
We live in such a rich and vibrant world. It makes our worlds, and our games, so much richer and more vibrant when we’re all reflected in them.
And we all create and shape this world in which we live. I hope that being able to see ourselves in media helps us feel we belong. Because we all do. We all belong.
What’s the next project people will see from you?
I’m still working hard on our Almanac’s A-Z, but it’s become obvious – of late – that this is merely Volume 1!
The next “big” project, though? We’d love to bring the A-Z onto people’s bookshelves! And some sort of crowd-funded hardcover is definitely a part of our plans.
Of all of the things you’ve created, which one is your personal favourite?
It’s always the most recent Location. Always. So, for now, it would be Jaittura (a wandering Titan, with a trading post in its hollow eye-socket). Ask again in a few weeks time, however, and it’ll be our next release, Imbruustafal.
Tell us about your process when creating. Do you have any tips or tricks for other creators in the same space as you?
Be passionate about what you’re creating, and work hard. Really, really hard. I really can’t stress that enough!
If you’re a writer, don’t release anything until you’ve edited it multiple times. If I told you how many edit-passes an Almanac Location gets, you wouldn’t believe me! Even then, after publication, you’ll see little mistakes in the text, and things you wish you’d done a little better. But don’t beat yourself up. Just keep working. And work really hard!
Shout out a fellow creator! Who in the TTRPG community inspires you? Why do you admire them/their work? Please provide a link to their website/social media.
The Artists on the Almanac Team! I won’t name them, as there are many of them! But do stop by the “Team” section of our website, and you’ll meet them!
Are you playing in any TTRPG campaigns at the moment? Tell us about your favourite character!
Not playing, sadly, but GM’ing for a wonderful group of friends!
My favourite character to play, however, is one Muckafilth Scratchgot. A filthy little twig-matted, red-haired druid girl, barefoot and catastrophically chaotic, with a pet millipede (Lady Scuttlescritch III) living in one of her nostrils.
What’s your favourite book, TV show, or film?
One favourite film : Delicatessen (1991).
One favourite TV show : The Young Ones (1982).
One favourite book : Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”.
Tell us a fact about yourself that others might struggle to believe.
I’ve dislocated every single finger on both my hands, but not from punching an Ostrich (which I’ve also done and, for the record, it thoroughly deserved it.)
Which subject do you wish you knew more about?
Cancers – specifically those affecting children.
What is your favourite smell?
If time, money and skill were no object, what would your ultimate cosplay/Halloween costume be?
Ellen Ripley, Aliens, in the P-5000 Powered Work Loader!
If you could listen to only one song for the next 7 days, which one would you choose?
Claude Debussy : Nocturnes, L.91: 1. Nuages. Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal, Charles Dutoit conducting.
Would you rather own a horse the size of a cat or a cat the size of a horse?
A horse the size of a cat. I would feed it tiny apples, and take it to market.
Please add anything extra that you’d like to share below.
A very special shout-out to the amazing Jack and Erika for their hard work and creative input on the Almanac, and a huge thank-you to the rest of the Team for their enthusiasm and commitment to the project! It simply wouldn’t exist without all of these wonderful, kind, incredible human beings!
I’d also like to say thankyou to all the people on social media who have enjoyed our work, shared it, commented on it, invited us to talk about it, and generally encouraged us. Every single piece of feedback, every single like or retweet or visit to our website means so very much, and I often return to the many wonderful messages when I’m in need of a boost! A thousand times, thankyou!
Where should folks go to find out more about you, and/or check out your content?
www.albyonabsey.com, or on most socials under the name Albyon Absey. Failing that, look for me wandering on the sea-shore, or in a misty woodland.
Disclaimer: The information and answers contained in the interview posted above represents the views and opinions of the interviewee only and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of myself (gothHoblin). The appearance of an interview on this website does not constitute an endorsement of the interviewee or their statements.