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An interview with Philippe Tessier -- writer of the post-apocolyptic RPG Polaris

Picture provided by Laura Hoffman of Black Book Games

Zombie Mondays

Could you tell us about the publication history of the game and the development of the English language edition?

Polaris was born in January 1997 with the first edition edited by Halloween concept. In 1998, a second edition was released with the firsts supplements. The first novels were also published: La directive Exeter (The Extere’s directive), Opération Nemrod (Operation Nemrod) et Les soldats du crepuscule (The Twilight’s soldiers), Redemption. But sadly, the first editor ceased its activity. In 2008, Black Book Editions released the third edition of the game which included the supplement Equinoxe. They also published revised editions of the first supplements, grouping them together in a compendium called Univers. In 2013, BBE launched a crowdfunding campaign to publish new supplements for Polaris and successfully funded a Tech Guide, supplements on some of the nations (Mediterranean Union, Coral Republic, Amazonia…) and the Black Book but also started to translate the game into English. The first English release was in 2016 with Polaris 3.1 thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

What is the premise to the game? I understand that it maintains a particular style and mood.

Polaris is a dark and harsh world. The humanity is dying and people live in a very hostile environment. Great nations and small communities are reflecting this reality. Under water all is dark and mysterious and the adventurers are trying to survive in a world where all is rusted and where any mistake can be deadly. It’s also a universe of contrast between the very high technology needed to live underwater, and the mysteries of the Geneticians as well as the old and rusty equipment of daily life. The stations are damp and cracking because of the pressure and dangers lurking in every dark corner (underwater or in the communities). The surface, ravaged by radiations, diseases, poisonous atmosphere, monstrous cyclones and tempests is a hellish nightmare with mutated animals and plants. And there is also the Flux and the horrors that live in this mysterious dimension.

In Polaris, we can play a wide variety of adventures like exploring a haunted ship, battling awful monsters in dark and forgotten stations and fighting pirates. Or players might be confronted with the political intrigues of the great nations.

Who is the creative team behind the game?

The game was created by Philippe Tessier who is writing the vast majority of the supplements and all the novels. But, because he is more focused on the background, for the third edition, he got support from François Menneteau, who was in charge of all technical aspects of the game and Raphaël Bombayl, who was tasked to write the rules of the game.. A lot of designers have contributed to the game. The first one was Joël Mouclier who gave at this universe a very dark and rusted atmosphere. We can also named great artists like Aleksi Briclo, Pierre Courtial, Jean-Baptiste Reynaud, Swal, Goeffroy Thoorens or Stéphane Derriennic for his maps and more recently Simon Labrousse, Yoann Boissonnet, Lorenzo Mastroiani, Dorian Collet, Stephanie Bohm, Franck Drevon, Grégoire Veauléger and Jérémy Bouzerna.

Are you developing supplements?

Translation for the Creatures supplement is currently ongoing with a release planned for 2018. Philippe Tessier is actually writing a new version of Hegemony, Red league, Surface and Pirates for the version 3.1. We are planning some adventures as well and new supplements like Trident, Orbital Alliance and a guide to under water’s community. These products will be available in French and in English. We are also translating the main supplements into English.

Why in your opinion is there an interest in the post-apocalyptic genre and what does your game bring to it?

Post-apocalyptic worlds have always been fascinating settings because they are environments where adventurers must survive and where there are a lot of opportunity to discover mysteries and strange things. It’s far, far away of our daily life and dangers lurk everywhere in a wide variety of forms. Polaris is a post-apocalyptic world but it’s also a world of very- high technology where new powers are emerging to rebuild a civilization. It’s a game that is based on many of the interesting aspects of a post-apocalyptic world (the very hostile environment of the underwater world and the surface, the lack of equipments, the mysterious monsters and entities, the ruthless villains, etc.) but also with the technological wonders of a more classical science-fiction universe and strong political intrigues. But the key element here, it is certainly the underwater setting which is the most hostile environment out there and one of the most interesting because under water, nothing is the same.

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