Sunday, May 15, 2016

Kasimir Urbanski (aka RPG Pundit): Game Designer, Writer, Blogger, and RPGsite Owner.

Unlike everyone else I've interviewed so far for this blog, I didn't really know much about Kasimir. Sure, he's a prolific, high profile RPG Blogger. Yes, he has authored several volumes of RPG material, most notably, Dark Albion, which was coauthored with Dominique Cruzet. But, I didn't even know his real name until I started writing this introduction. I didn't know he is the owner of RPGsite before writing this introduction. I did know he was a controversial figure within our community, but not to what extent. Really, the only two things I knew about him, besides his blog and books, are: 1) He has publicized his involvement in Ritual Magick on his blog; a subject that I have a strong interest in, and 2) through his blog and his comments and posts on G+ and forums, Kasimir mixes his political and social views with his game author presence and because of that, (and because I'm guilty of political posts in my game feed too), he and I have butted heads online numerous times. I don't support his politics or social views and I don't believe that many folks within my circles share his opinions either. I realized that this may be a problem for some of my readers, and after a google search for this introduction, I'm even more keenly aware of this now.

So, if that's the case, if I find Kasimir's online persona to be abrasive (as he probably finds mine), why would I chose to interview him? Well, for the same reasons I'm conducting and sharing all of the other interviews I'm doing. I'm interested in the early developmental common ground between the people who contribute to, share with, and play in this hobby. I want to explore the person and their play style before they began interacting with the social world of adults and developing beliefs and personal ideologies, even though I realize that reminiscing about childhood is still influenced to some degree by our adult mindset. Hopefully, the spirit of these interviews is what you, my readers, will focus on. 

I thank Kasimir for participating in this interview. Due to our previous exchanges I honestly thought he would not respond to me. But, instead, Kasimir now holds the title for the quickest return rate for an Appendix N Happy Meal interview completion so far. 

Favorite Toys

What were your favorite toys during child hood? Like, the TOP 3 TOYS of all time and pick your favorite of these toys. What is it about any of these toys you most identified with? What made this so special? How did you play/enjoy this toy? (shared or solo play).

Kasimir: Hard to say in terms of one specific thing, but probably from the age of around 7 onward it would be Star Wars actions figures. I had all the collections as each movie came out. And of course for a young boy playing with action figures is a kind of proto-roleplaying.  I would later also add GIJoes and DC Super Heroes to that collection (as well as a couple of random outliers; anything that was that same size, basically), and there was a lot of cross-story weirdness going on in my play.  With friends or by myself, I could play for hours.
I'll note that I pretty well stopped playing with action figures cold-turkey when I discovered RPGs.  It was an instant transition. Unlike a lot of geeks, I have never kept on collecting these or any other sorts of toys. 

Favorite Films and TV

What were your favorite films or TV during childhood and what age were you for each favorite? What did you identify with about these shows? Do you think these shows had an influence on the adult you? 

Kasimir: I think, looking at it from today, Battlestar and V are very cheesy, Star Trek has a few moments of greatness (STII & STVI, mostly) but are otherwise pretty vapid from a literary perspective, and only Star Wars has a real quality as high literature (that is, as Myth, on par with Arthurian Legends or the like).  So fortunately, unlike a lot of my fellow gamers, I grew out of the erroneous idea that science-fiction is really super smart and much more intellectually worthy as a pursuit than westerns or spy novels or harlequin romances.  I was somehow (lucky mix of natural perception, and good education) spared from an adulthood of reading hundreds of c-grade Trek or Forgotten Realms or most of the rest of fantasy or sci-fi fiction of today, which is absolute garbage. But Star Trek & TNG I think taught me optimism and some fairly high 'classical liberal' ideals, and as a kid Spock taught me to admire logic (though, like many geeks, probably a little too much for my own good; I grew out of that, a lot of other geeks haven't). V I think helped teach me a lesson about not taking people at their words or falling for things that look good, and to distrust promises of utopia coming from smiling assholes with guns (which is to say, government).  Han Solo and Starbuck were clearly enormous influences on me as a model for masculinity: not so much Starbuck's womanizing, but the idea of being your own person, of not taking orders from anyone involuntarily, of being irreverent to 'proper' behavior, but ready to fight for things that matter. And having a sense of humor. 
Finally, the Force was probably one of the very early influences on my eventual forays into the occult.  This idea that there was this thing, around you and in you, that with training you can use to do awesome things, it kind of stuck with me.  At some level, even though I always liked Han much more than Luke, I guess I wanted to be a Jedi.  Maybe that's why I didn't like Luke, he always seemed to do it so badly!

Imaginary Worlds

Think about playtime, did you create games or imaginary worlds as a child? If so, please describe an important original game or play world you enjoyed.

Kasimir: Yes, I created elaborate and ongoing worlds over hours and days of play with action figures, for myself and with friends. Likewise, in schoolyard play; I don't know how much of that kids still do but obviously since I was a schoolboy just as Star Wars was coming out, recess in those early grades seemed to always consist of what could only be called a massive ongoing LARP. I seem to recall having created some original characters and all (it's pretty hazy, as some really serious amount of investigative drug use in my grad-studies years leaves things kind of a blur), but for the most part we played canon characters.  I tended to be Solo when we played star wars, & Spock when we played star trek.

Play Community

As a child how did you feel about how you fit in with the rest of the world or community or friends? Like, were you very social or did you prefer spending time alone? Your environment, was it rural or urban? Were siblings a big part of your playtime? Did adults interact with you in game play, and if so was it structured play (sports, scouting, clubs, etc.) or free form? 

Kasimir: I grew up with a mix of world travelling and period of relative stability.  My childhood up to around adolescence was fairly social, in part because of moving and how that required either becoming a complete loner or being able to make new friends. Because of language and culture barriers at times I guess there were parts where I felt like an outsider because I literally was one. So I think I learned how to interact both in groups and on my own.  I don't remember in that period of childhood being particularly lonely, and I had a lot of friends, but I was also equally content playing alone.  I generally lived in large cities, but there was a brief period of living in a smaller town, which instilled in me a lifelong love of large cities. After around age 11 I spent the rest of my basic education in the same place, when the more complex world of puberty started coming along I ran into some problems with socializing for the typical nerd reason: I thought INT was the most important ability score and CHA was a worthless dump stat.  It took me several years to figure that out and stop being a fucking nerd, and learn proper (mature) social interaction. I think that maybe having traveled and having experienced different cultures let me figure that out though, rather than get stuck as an outsider like so many other nerds.
I had (eventually) three younger siblings, but there was an over 10-year age range among us, and the only one remotely close to my age (3.5 years younger) was a girl, and not particularly interesting to play with. Not because she was a girl, I did have some friends who were girls, but because she was very much a girly-girl and not into boy stuff.  There wasn't really very much adult interaction in terms of game play; I didn't belong to any sport teams or scouting.

Playtime Impact on Adult Games

Do you have any thoughts about any aspects of your childhood playtime that might have influenced your passion for RPGs? Have you ever intentionally incorporated memories of childhood playtime into game work you have created as an adult?

Kasimir: I certainly haven't consciously integrated any childhood experiences into my RPG design, though I'm sure that there's some incidentals involved.  Certainly, all my RPG play and design is 'deep-immersion' and that was very much how I remember doing my make believe/action figures as a child too.  So I've been into Immersion my whole life, I guess. 

Desert Island Media

What are the top 10 things you would want to have on a deserted island - music recordings - films - books - TV shows - comics - games - or toys? 

Kasimir: Not one book I would want to have on a desert Island would be an RPG book. At least not if 10 was all I had to choose from. And that's even assuming that "survival books" or "how to build a raft and/or radio to get the fuck off this island" manuals don't count. Nor do I think even one of them would be a fantasy or sci-fi book. If it was movies (what would I even watch them with?!) I think Star Trek II might just make the cut.
I think geek culture is way too self-important, and thinks too much of its own media.

Kasimir's Blog:
Kasimir's Books on Lulu:
Dark Albion:


  1. Star Wars as literature was hilarious. Got any more jokes like that?

    1. Literature plays a large role in Star Wars, especially tropes from adventure stories. Your lack of experience is not a basis for criticism.

  2. I like this interview format. Very interesting!

  3. Good Q&A, giving a rare glimpse into the lives of individual gamers.