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INTERVIEW: How WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER came to be an RPG over Police Academy.

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Approved by WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER co-writer and director David Wain, WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER: FANTASY CAMP is an old school tabletop RPG that allows fans to play as a camper, counselor or staffer, such as Coop, Beth or Gene, and experience one insane day at Camp Firewood. Hump a fridge, end up at a secret pizza party, or save the camp from a renegade piece of Skylab, you know movie stuff!

Earlier this week, independent all-humor imprint The Devastator launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of WHAS: Fantasy Camp. We caught up with Geoffery Golden and Lee Keeler who have the fun fun job of writing all the nerd details that make up this RPG.

Note: With multiple interview opportunities and C2E2 business on the calendar we’re calling a skip week on ONE OR DONE Reviews this week. Also, I want this to get made!


COMICS BEAT: First question, why?

Geoffrey Golden: That’s what my dad keeps asking me!

CB: Not intending to be negative about this, as it looks like a very interesting concept. Typically, every role-playing game I’ve seen is based on some form of dragons, wizards, and medieval world. What made you want to use a cult classic film like this?

Geoffrey: We’re both big fans of Wet Hot American Summer, and we love role playing games. In the film, a D&D playing character saves the day with his 20 sided die, so there was a natural tie-in. Fantasy Camp combines classic RPG storytelling with mini-party games. You play as a camper, counselor or staffer at Camp Firewood with a Big Camp Dream you’re trying to achieve by the end of one insane day at camp.

Lee Keeler: These characters are so ridiculous and distinct that it just seemed like a perfect fit. When we were coming up with the idea, it just kind of dawned on us in a weird “eureka” moment. I mean, who wouldn’t want to run around and do crazy shit as Gene?

CB: Tell me a bit about how licensing for a project like this works. Where do you begin and were there any surprises along the way?

Lee: That’s a good question. I wasn’t entirely sure, myself! Basically I reached out to one of the creators of Wet Hot, David Wain, and he gave the green light and got us in touch with the licensing dude. The biggest surprise so far has been how cool their licensing guy is.

Geoffrey: Yeah. Shoutout to Jacob at Fremont Licensing, the unsung hero who has to send and receive many emails on our behalf. He definitely earned his Email Badge.

CB: Let’s talk about the game itself, usually this form of game takes several hours, which is exponentially more than sitting down to watch the movie. Who will we get to play as and how do the three story paths expand or unfold?

Geoffrey: A typical game session with five players lasts approximately 3-4 hours, or about half of what watching a Hobbit movie feels like.

Lee: One of the fundamental goals in the early game design was being able to play as one of the “classics”, alongside players who create their own camper or staffer. This means that you can pretty much dream up Coop’s evil cousin, Swoop, the kind of guy who would totally be macking on the ladies at every turn and has a sweet moustache.

Geoffrey: The module that comes with Fantasy Camp – “Last Day of Camp” – lets you play through one of three customizable stories based on the film: becoming a superstar at the talent show, saving the camp from getting destroyed, and gettin’ laid.

CB: Do you plan on incorporating some of the wackier things about the movie, like the can of mixed vegetables voiced in the film by H. Jon Benjamin?

Lee: Oh, we had to! We didn’t think ‘sucking your own dick’ would be a viable option for game play…

Geoffrey: Maybe in the expansion guide.

Lee: …but we’ve got plenty of sweet activities in arts and crafts, swimming hour and the talent show to keep players on their toes.

CB: How far along are you in the production of WHAS: Fantasy Camp? What’s it mean to you both to have David Wain contribute something to the project?

Geoffrey: Pretty darn far! The manual is written and we’ve play tested Fantasy Camp numerous times. We’re in the middle of layout and art design on the manual.

Lee: In terms of having David Wain involved, it’s one of the highest honors I can think of for this project. He’s one of my heroes, no question.

Geoffrey: I went from being too shy to talk to David Wain at Comic-Con years ago to adapting his film into an official role playing game. Ahh, it’s nuts!

CB: How would you translate this game to the typical role-playing game crowd who is accustomed to Dungeons & Dragons?

Lee: What’s great about Fantasy Camp is you can take as many mind-altering or liver-damaging substances as you want and not have to worry about the power rankings of your goblin mage while you play. Leave your binders at home. This is a storytelling game that involves special abilities and the luck of the dice, but is tailored for party play.

Geoffrey: Also, there’s an activity in Fantasy Camp where you can basically play a game of Dungeons & Dragons. So, D&D does live within Fantasy Camp. And if your characters in the D&D game found a Pathfinder manual – you can get lost in an infinite tabletop mirror universe.

CB: Are there other parts of pop culture you’d be interested in bringing to this world of gaming?

 Lee: Is Police Academy taken?

Geoffrey: There’s only one way to find out – bother Steve Guttenberg at home!


COMICS BEAT: I went into this not knowing why I needed it. I leave not knowing why I don’t have it in my hand right now !

While these guys get Mahoney to sign off on a Police Academy RPG, we should all go over to The Devastator’s KickStarter for Wet Hot American Summer: Fantasy Camp and back it at Di** Cream level and beyond.  

As of publishing this interview, the project is close to hitting its first goal with multiple stretch goals to be unlocked. Go Now!

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