We recently sat down for an interview with Jonathan Snodgrass, mastermind behind third-party DCC/MCC hit Star Crawl and other titles published through Tuesday Night Fiend Club.
Who are you and what makes you a member of the DCC/MCC Community?
I’m a longtime gamer, with about 30 years of RPG experience, and an enthusiastic fan of Dungeon Crawl Classics since I first played it around 9 years ago. I’ve attended GaryCon since 2013, and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people in the DCC community there.
I’ve been an active Road Crew judge locally and online for several years and in 2018, I became an independent publisher, producing game books under the Tuesday Night Fiend Club name.
Star Crawl has been a huge success as a third-party release, making the top seller list for us since it came out. How do you feel about its reception?
I’m still awed by the response- it is the fulfilment of a dream. I’m not a great writer, I’m a barely passable artist, and it’s obvious I suck at editing and layout, but I put everything I had into making something I’d want as a gamer: a book that captured some of the magic of my home game while being, above all, accessible and playable.
In the end, I’m really proud I was able to make something that has enriched other players’ games. The feedback I’ve gotten from folks in the DCC community and at conventions has been great and really encourages me to keep putting out material.
All of the releases in the Star Crawl line are listed as being for both DCC RPG and MCC RPG. Do you feel it is more strongly associated with one game over the other?
Star Crawl fits wherever the table needs it. I very deliberately kept the rules light to allow it to be used as a tool in any campaign, whether DCC, MCC, Xcrawl, or any other games with the general ruleset. If you want to take your party to space, it’s easy to pick up Star Crawl and jump into an adventure. You don’t need to know history of the galaxy or some overarching metaplot. I slip in a little flavor of my home campaign into adventures here and there, but nothing that would fence in a Judge. Much better writers in the community have produced games with deep narratives — Star Crawl is made to work with all those settings and more.
With that being said, the sci-fi setting meshes really well with the technology of MCC, but more than any other fantasy game, I think DCC just screams “SPACE WIZARDS!” My home Star Crawl campaign started with DCC characters taking to the stars and I still think of Star Crawl as an extension of DCC. I’ve been working on a few adventures to bridge that gap, with fantasy characters thrust into space to find their fates among the stars.
I don’t want to ignore Vehicle Mayhem. There’s a cool Mad Max/Car Wars kind of vibe to it and was your first release for DCC RPG. How did it affect your publishing and design approach?
Thank you; I’m still really proud of Vehicle Mayhem. That was the seed for everything else I’ve published, both literally and figuratively. After I wrote the Vehicle Mayhem rules for a home session, my group encouraged me to publish it as a zine. It was tough making that leap — I really wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in what I had to offer. But it’s a really fun set of rules with a little of that wild DCC chaos.
The experience showed me that if you put the work in making a fun book, people will respond. And I made enough from VM to pay for the initial print run of Star Crawl. That pattern has allowed me to avoid crowdfunding and keep making books I want at my own pace.
How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect your personal gaming and professional publishing?
I’m very lucky to have a great home group with some of the finest people I’ve ever known. We’ve kept our weekly game going online through COVID (it took about a year, but we’re almost through the entire Original Adventures Reincarnated version of The Lost City!). It seems like we weren’t the only ones, as online gaming blew up: our local DCC Road Crew (DCC RPG Pittsburgh) moved online and ran events monthly, with as many as four tables running simultaneously on Sunday afternoons. I’ve been able to spend time with incredible players I usually only get to see at convention tables, and with an expanded audience I’ve been able to playtest adventures far more extensively.
Then there were Cyclops Con, Virtual GaryCon, Bride of Cyclops Con– despite everything else, 2020 was a great year for gaming. When we have other options again, I think online gaming will be stronger overall and remain a great way to keep connected. But as we’re into year two with little opportunity to safely circle a table, it seems like folks have gotten fatigued: it’s hard to get as excited for online sessions when you’re just desperate to see your friends and recapture the magic of gaming in person.
What’s in the future for Tuesday Night Fiend Club?
My main focus is continuing to support Star Crawl. I’ve got a few projects in various states of completion, including a supplement detailing a fantastic crystal planet, a hex crawl through a prison mining colony, and an anthology of short encounters. Plus, Dave 8cylinder, author of “The Cybernetic Underbelly” from Beyond the Flesh, is writing a new adventure that should be ready to playtest soon. I’m hoping to get one or two of those into print within the next year.
Beyond that, I’d like to put to paper some of the stuff from that original Star Crawl campaign, like “The Gladiator Moons of Chardon”, rules for interdimensional travel, and a monster adventure I call The Deicide Trilogy.
Thanks for taking some time out and speaking with us. We can’t wait to see what’s in store!
It’s my pleasure, and thank you for the opportunity to spread the word on Star Crawl!
Be sure to check out Star Crawl and Vehicle Mayhem from Jon’s Tuesday Night Fiend Club publishing over in the Online Store.