When Venger asked me to review him I initially refused. “Not in a thousand lifetimes sir! I run a respectable family oriented blog about wholesome dungeoncrawling reviews that shall have no truck with your perverted, genre-mixing smut! No Za’akier shall darken this blogs doorstep and wrap its loathsome green tentacles about my daughter! Not even,” dramatic pause, “if you were to pull an elaborate masquerade in order to bamboozle me into interviewing you about your Science-fantasy Black Pyramid Megadungeon.”
After waking up to find the front door of my house blocked by a capsized purple truck filled with Alpha Blue and Elfgaming Like A Boss softcovers with a note pinned on it that said “Review Me Hoss,” I was understandably ruffled when I got to work. Upon my homecoming via my backyard I was surprised to find out my neighbors had moved out and indeed vanished entirely, with the house next door now due to be inhabited by a lovely couple with twelve kids apparently called the Kor’Thalises.
Ever a gracious neighbor, I walked up to the house to see if anyone was home, noticed the barking of hounds, flashes of green witchlight and unearthly stench, and tentatively knocked the door. A man in a pink wisconson badger sweatshirt answered the door. “How Do You Do?” asked I, bearing the traditional Dutch gifts of a hideous potted plant and a can that you are allowed to take a single cookie from before it is placed back on the shelf. “Review me Hoss,” said the bald green, bespactacled and mustachoed gentleman. “I am Benger Santanis.”
I squinted suspiciously at him. “You would not be in any way affiliated with the perfidious Venger Satanis who has gone on record making vile jokes and identifying as Za’akiers? I will have no truck with such devils and their evil peccadilloes, I run an upright elf blog and want no trouble with the Knightly Order of the Honourable OSR.”
“In no way whatsoever hoss,” said Benger, bolting the door. “Say, while we are discussing such weighty matters, why don’t you interview me about my awesome writing? I am doing a Kickstarter about a Black Pyramid megadungeon thing with lazers!”
“Goddammnit you are actually Venger Satanis, I have been tricked!” I sputtered, overcome with wounded outrage.
“Bwahahaha! Now I shall compel you to interview me about my Black Pyramid weird science-fantasy megadungeon Kickstarter Cha’alt.”
Alright, let’s get this bitch started. Let’s start with an introduction for people that don’t know you. Describe yourself in three words like Dwight Schrute in the Office (It’s okay if you use a little more, rulings not rules and all that). Who (or What) is Venger Satanis?
Three words? Hmm, that won’t be easy, but I’ll try. Let’s see… Alpha-Za’akier, Beyond ordinary understanding, Deep (that’s what she said), and Family za’akier because I am NOT a man, but a green humanoid alien entity with tentacles. Oh yeah, and Jackhammer!
It’s more immersive. Old school gaming feels less like a game and more like analog virtual reality – go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. I want to experience what it would be like to wander a lost city, alien ruins, or dank dungeon.
I mean, I can see the appeal of modern and even story-games. But if “smirk and get people to trust you like Han Solo” is written on your character sheet, it would to me feel like the immersion-work has been done for me. It takes the magic out. There are no surprises. It’s automatic… too easy, maybe. I want that cool shit to come from me because I imagined it for myself in that moment – not because it’s in the rule-book or on my character sheet.
Old school gives you the bare bones and you have to create something out of it. That’s what I love about roleplaying games.
That makes sense from what I’ve read from your work so far (don’t worry I’m sure I’ll do more). What OSR stuff really gave you that vibe, if any?
The early D&D stuff, originally. Dungeon exploration is kind of an enclosed sandbox when done right, so I’ve always loved the dungeoncrawl. I’ve purchased and ran a little bit of everything… adventures written for DCC, LotFP, S&W, and system-less scenarios. Reading about that kind of roleplaying on Grognardia fired up my imagination. My philosophy is that everything can be used or can be useful, you just have to remember that you’re the GM. Even a railroad can be partially deconstructed, mixed with a couple other things, and if the PCs decide to go off-track, you just follow their lead.
I can ask what your inspiration is but I think the list would encompass a significant portion of all science-fiction and fantasy from the 60s onward. Your work is an astonishing smorgasbord of dozens and dozens of elements of everything from H.P. Lovecraft to Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and Battlestar Galactica (which I love). What can we expect from Cha’alt? What brought it about (other then B4 the Lost City and what I fervently hope is William T. Hodginson’s the Night Land)?
Yes, my influences are many. Sort of the same thing as LotDS, going back to the well. I wanted to see if I could create a megadungeon that was super-focused on interaction, exploration, and Lost-like mystery. LotDS was fairly restrained compared to what Cha’alt will be. There are no holds barred with Cha’alt. I will be going in a thousand awesome directions, but it will always have that VS hyper-aesthetic that you can’t get anywhere else.
Is there any place you will not go with Cha’alt or any realm of the imagination that you hesitate to traverse? I’m not necessarily talking about your delicate moral sensibilities, some stuff appeals less so then others. A lot of people  I know don’t care for Science Fantasy for example.
So now that we know what is NOT Cha’alt, why is it of absolutely vital importance that we support your KICKSTARTER and help you realize Cha’alt? What is Cha’alt going to do to get us that exploration, interaction and Lost-like mystery that we can’t get anywhere else (other then the kickass art)?
Cha’alt literally means greatness by way of suffering. I thought that was a fitting motto for old school adventuring and, indeed, life in 2019.
[Bonus question] Are you one of Raven S. McRackens avatars and if so which one are you?
Yes, I am. Have you heard of Gozer the Gozerian?
[Bonus question] If I tell them to support your kickstarter, will you let me leave this house?
No leaving the house until the work is done. Spoiler alert: the work is never done. Never!
[Final Question] Is there anything you would like to add or something you would like to say to my audience?
You have an audience? Only kidding, hoss. Keep your shirt on. Seriously, keep it on. If you don’t have tentacles, I don’t want to see it.
A moment of deafening silence passed between us. For a moment he regarded the lower left corner of the room, his face expressionless like the jade visage of some cthonic, bald idol. He looked up.
“We are all Venger Satanis.”
And then he backflipped, touched his fore-finger and index-finger to his forehead and teleported in mid-air, leaving behind a cloud of green and purple glitters….
And that, as they say, is that. I don’t know what exactly 2019 will bring, for us, for our families and for the OSR. I just know it would be a lot emptier without 100ish pages of absolutely gonzo, kitchen-sink, batt-shit insane science-fantasy dungeoncrawling. The Cha’alt kickstarter still has 18 days to run. Check it out here!
 philistines, aesthetic lepers and australopithocenes of the imagination