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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > Issue Eleven > SWORDS, SEX & SCI-FI


Father-son design team Mike and Cody Pondsmith reveal the future of iconic RPG Cyberpunk and discuss swapping pixels for paper as they bring video game series The Witcher to the tabletop

Your publishing label, R. Talsorian, has been around for more than three decades now. Could you quickly run us through the company’s history?

Mike Pondsmith: About ‘84 I started a company called R. Talsorian Games, mostly by mistake. I had written a game called Mekton which was the first giant Japanese robot game. We started a game company on $500 and it proceeded to grow. We did Mekton, we did three diTherent versions of that. We moved onto Teenagers from Outer Space and several other games – including the one we known for mostly, which is a game called Cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk has been published in nine diTherent languages now. Turned out, one of the languages it was published in was Polish. This was back during the Iron Curtain days, so I just couldn’t imagine anybody being able to even read Cyberpunk in an Iron Curtain country. But as our friends over at CD Projekt Red [the Polish video game studio behind the Witcher series now developing Cyberpunk 2077, based on the RPG] like to say, ‘We had communism and Cyberpunk‘, so I guess that’s what we gave them.

From there we went on to do Castle Falkenstein and Bubblegum Crisis and a lot of anime games including Dragonball Z, VOTOMS – just basically tons and tons of stuff. At this point it’s kind of a blur.

People don’t necessarily associate you with anime roleplaying games, as much of the attention is focused on Cyberpunk. What do you find so appealing about the anime genre?

MP: We got into it because basically we did Mekton and the Japanese fans liked Mekton so they got in touch with us and we loved the shows. I stumbled onto everything from Gundam to Shirley in-between. So basically it was sort of a natural extension an since we were doing stuff with Japanese companies we ended up doing a lot of Japanese-based games. That’s just basically the proclivity – my wife and I like anime and were big fans at the time. It just kind of meshed in.

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About Tabletop Gaming

Cover feature: Starfinder: We have an exclusive chat with creative director James Sutter about the huge sci-fi sequel to massively popular fantasy RPG Pathfinder. Featuring exclusive artwork from the upcoming game. Awe of the Ring: As Middle-earth prepares to turn 80, we speak to influential and renowned creators of board games based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. UK Games Expo 2017: Picture Special: The unmissable sights and games from the UK’s biggest gaming show. Swords, Sex & Sci-fi: Legendary RPG designer and R. Talsorian founder Mike Pondsmith and his son Cody speak exclusively to us about the legacy of revolutionary game Cyberpunk and their upcoming tabletop adaptation of lauded fantasy video game The Witcher. What War Is Good For: Fans and publishers of miniature wargaming titles tell us how battling on the tabletop has fostered a strong sense of community. Playing With Yourself: Creators of single-player-only games tell us why gaming alone can be just as rewarding. How Analogue Gaming Went Digital: We take a close look at the rise of digital apps in the tabletop world. Rediscovering the Disc: In celebration of next year’s 20th anniversary of Discworld, the creators look back on one of the more unique entries in the genre. The Making of: Hunt a Killer, which uses a subscription box-like format to deliver a mystery game to players over the course of several months. Painting guide: We tackle the eighth edition of Warhammer 40,000. Ten of the Best: Word Games (That aren’t Scrabble). Introduction to: Forbidden Island and its sequel, Forbidden Desert – the kid-friendly Pandemic follow-up. Columns: With Bruno Faidutti, Jeff Tidball, Holly Gramazio and Doctors Paul Wake and Sam Illingworth Played: The latest reviews and exclusive interviews including: Starfinder, Sub Terra and Warhammer 40,000.