Interview with We Hate Bards
By Paul Jones
At nearly every gaming convention (and some fancons) in Michigan, there is a group of people enthralling tables full of people with storytelling, adventure, comedy, and intrigue. That group is not-so-lovingly called “We Hate Bards”. This collection of tabletop RPG gamers has come together to gather people in celebration of their common “hobby”. Dedicated to changing the face of gaming the world sees, they have entertained and enthralled hundreds with the games they run. Continuum 2017 will see WHB joining us to provide a quality gaming experience. I interviewed two of the Bards (Matthew Neymeiyer and Cristopher Frank) so we can get a glimpse into what they have in store for us.
PJ: So, what is We Hate Bards?
MN: The blurb I put out on internet things is, “We Hate Bards is West Michigan’s premier pen and paper RPG gaming group and podcast. Our players and gm’s bring unmatched levels of ingenuity, passion, and experience to every table. New and old players will always find a welcoming group of adventurers. Want to catch up before joing any of our games or experience a new system? Then check out our multitude of podcasts with more launched every week!”
PJ: Why do you guys hate bards?
CF: Well, that goes back to an old campaign we ran years and years ago. Our DM wanted to play a play by post game almost like a play by mail game. We became impatient and began driving the story forward without the DM. In that we were in a bar just hanging out, as dungeons and dragons characters do, and the DM said there was a halfling bard singing to the crowd. Immediately we decided that we hated him and my necromancer paid another character who was an assassin 10 silver to murder him. Then we promised him work out by the cemetery where Hack Payne shot him the back with a crossbow and then l being the discrete necromancer, disposed of the body. Then back at the bar we spend the rest of the session bad mouthing the bard about how much we did not like him and glad that he went to “another town” so we would never have to see him again.
When we were trying to suggest names for our group someone, I cannot remember who, mentioned the story and suggested We Hate Bards as the name.
MN: We are playing off the old trope of of bards being obnoxious and annoying. We also all experienced discrimination towards players who wanted to be bards. The name really stands to explain the sense of humor prevalent in our games as well.
PJ: As difficult as this question is to answer, what is your favorite aspect of gaming?
CF: As a GM it is the storytelling aspect. Like running a Call of Cthulhu and having everyone at the table on the edge of their seats with genuine terror because they are so invested in the story and their characters.
MN: For me its the comradely. I’ll never forget the best description I ever heard. My ex gf was making fun of my friends for playing dnd while we were out, Justin pointed out that he had just spent the previous 4 hours laughing and having a great time with his friends while we were bored listening to our acquaintances drone on about their lives.
PJ: So, it seems tabletop games in general have seen a sort of Cambrian explosion in recent years. There’s a lot out there on the market. Using Pathfinder as the BC/AD crossover, what is your overall favorite system to play and favorite system to run? Pre-Pathfinder and after?
CF: Pre Pathfinder: Always had a soft spot for d20 Modern, was my first big campaign I ran a Fallout hack for. Loved running it. As for being a player I loved playing Vampire the Masquerade. Which might be because I got to play a Malkavian.
MN: Pre play – Runequest or BRP. It’s a good blend of lethality with a world setting I love. Run, d20 modern or 3.5. They are so easy to run and play, they are also versatile enough to cover any scenario. Post Pathfinder Play – Netherstorm, as I’ve developed as a gm/player, flexibility is more important to me than anything. With a non-specific skill set and universal magic system it delivers everything I need to have fun. Post Run – Tough, because I don’t run much new, I’d say 5th for the same reason as 3.5.
CF: Post Pathfinder: I love running Call of Cthulhu. It does what it has to so simply and it is easy to get players involved. As a player I love customization in characters to be what I want, so Netherstorm and an out of the way game called In Dark Alleys come to mind.
PJ: What is the future of WHB? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
MN: In an ideal world, 5 years from now WHB is 2 parts, it’s a successful multimedia and marketing company, and its also the largest gaming group in the world. Our idea of “Gaming Professionally” sets the standard for coming throughout the entire industry. At home, it means that Cris and I will most likely have nothing to do with the gaming side except to play and have fun. Our culture will be so strong that new GM’s/Players are constantly trying new scenarios and systems. Gaming companies will succeed or fail based on whether they hold up to our standards or not. All in all, when you think of a gamer, instead of thinking of some basement dwelling sweatbomb, you’ll think of average Joe, who’s spending his free time doing what he loves with his friends, rolling dice and telling his character’s story.
PJ: I know you guys switch out material fairly regularly. What can we expect from the Bards in this upcoming con season?
CF: Again, we’re bringing a diverse set of games to the table. We’ve got some traditional horror games, Dungeons and Dragons, small press releases with Netherstorm and Realms of Fantasy, Swashbuckling 7th Sea adventures, traditional dungeon crawling, storytelling rpg’s and a lot more!
MN: We Hate Bards, myself in particular, is taking a much more aggressive stance towards drawing in old and new players. We are also aggressively seeking sponsors and other partnerships to grow our community. We also intend to deliver WHB material. We also plan to deliver significantly higher quality podcasts in the future, including episodic podcasts.
PJ: Nice. Looking forward to seeing it firsthand. Final question. Have any of you called out the irony of calling yourselves We Hate Bards, while in fact being a group of storytellers… aka bards?
MN: Every single day!
CF: Ha! We are self-hating!