Interview with M. S. Arthadian
Creative Director | Game Designer | Podcaster
I’ve been really thrilled to interview such amazing people over the last few months. Today’s guest is someone I draw a lot of inspiration from. I’m consistently impressed by his drive, his talent, and his creations.
M. S. Arthadian is the Creative Director and Head Loremaster of Arthadian Anthologies. He has a 100+ episode podcast that dives into the New Expanding Universe he has developed, known as the CORE Realms. Along with the podcast is a Tabletop Roleplaying Game that is made to immerse players into the CORE!
Welcome, Matthew, you’ve done a lot of worldbuilding for your tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG), but what is your backstory?
Thank you, Winston, for the opportunity and privilege to be featured here on the Storyletter! And yes, a whole lot of worldbuilding. When it comes to my backstory, it all began when I was in elementary school. It was a difficult time for me and my older brother, Daniel, because we had just lost our mother to cancer. However, my first memories of storytelling were when Daniel and I would walk over to a friend's house after school because our dad was at work so there was no one to watch us. As we walked, we would make up our own superhero stories which influenced me tremendously.
At that point, the way I entertained myself was through playing with toys. I was in my imagination most of the time, so much so that I wasn't the best student. That caused my dad to hire a tutor to help me finish my homework (I never liked homework). There was one time where my tutor asked me what I liked to do for fun and I explained in elaborate detail the story behind all of my toys. You could compare me to Andy from Toy Story. I had Transformers, Legos, etc., all sharing this universe I came up with. And when my tutor saw all of it, she sought to focus my imagination with a piece of paper and a pencil. She set them in front of me and told me to write what popped in my head. After that, it was hard for her to get me to do my homework because all I wanted to do was write. And that’s what I did!
When did you realize that you wanted to create an ever-expanding universe, and how did that initial process come to fruition?
This actually ties into my 'backstory' in a way. After I finished writing my first little story in the 4th grade, I continued to play with my toys and was really into Transformers until Iron Man came out. Then I was all about Iron Man. And you can imagine how that grew from there. The MCU began growing and I was enthralled by the storytelling apparatus that was presented for me. However, it took me some time to formulate what I had in my head.
Once I got into high school, I began writing my first real series about a superhero named Ricochet. That was a 4-part novella that I never released. However, it did begin my writer splurge where I started (but never finished) multiple stories that began seeding concepts for me until I came up with a character that sparked my first multiverse.
That character was Zinnito Mussioci, and his story is what made me want to try making a full, expanded universe. I did self-publish the first two novellas of that series on Amazon, Il Grande Travesto & Il Grande Immortale. That is when I started merging all the concepts together and was an avid roleplayer on the Star Wars: Old Republic MMORPG. Then I was introduced to Dungeons & Dragons for the first time. What cemented it all was the Star Wars TTRPG, “Force & Destiny”.
I realized that I had an entire multiverse concept planned out, and I could use a TTRPG format to flesh it out further and immerse people into it. Now, the way I expand my universe is primarily through game sessions in Reborn in Power, the TTRPG I've developed.
You’ve been running a successful podcast for a while now, featuring guest creators and telling engaging stories through audio production. What led you to choosing a path of audio and how has it changed your approach to writing?
I've always wanted to write and immerse people into my universe. No matter the storytelling medium, I want to create within it all. That's why I began creating a Tabletop RPG in the first place. I had been interested in making a podcast since I started listening to long-form discussions back in 2017. I didn't know what I wanted to do, nor did I have the time since I was developing a game. However, I remember hearing someone say that starting a podcast requires 3 things; a recording device, the will to record, and an idea.
COVID hit and when I finished my first full campaign of Reborn in Power, I decided to write a weekly script to detail out and explain my universe. That all started in August of 2020, and I really enjoyed reading the things I wrote. Probably because of all my roleplaying, being able to act out the characters and narrate my universe gets me excited for what I have brewing in my mind. But now, I've become much better at describing lore through writing in multiple ways. Tying everything together into a nicely woven web makes me feel like I'm the God of my own universe, and that's exactly what I am.
I can imagine that you’re like me when it comes to experimenting with new ways of engaging with the audience. What is your favorite platform(s) for engagement and why?
I honestly don't think I have a favorite platform. I'm mostly active on the social media site Minds.com, but I have a problem with staying consistent with content promotion. Being mostly alone in podcast production, writing stories and blog posts, designing and editing my website, all along with developing a fully fleshed-out Tabletop RPG makes it difficult for me to stay consistent with posting on social media. I like using scheduling apps, which is why Minds is my go to since they allow for posts to be scheduled well in advance, but my problem is I feel like I have to post the same content over and over and I don't have enough to do so.
I've started to look into hiring a social media marketer/manager but unfortunately for me, the one I had my sights on pursued his dream career path (which I fully supported him in doing so). However, now I've pivoted a bit more when it comes to content promotion. Substack has started to grow on me and I have you to thank for that! I'm hoping to get on a better schedule and so far I'm ahead of schedule for what I'm producing. But as I said in one of your discussion posts, I can't become complacent just because I'm ahead of schedule. Gotta keep moving forward!
Could you explain in detail what your TTRPG is, why it’s unique, and how people can get involved?
Why yes I can! So my Tabletop Roleplaying Game is called Reborn in Power™ (RIP). I initially made it as a highly-customizable character creation/progression system where you can homebrew (make your own) content using the template guidelines to expand the universe more yourself. However, now I've pivoted more towards promoting the setting rather than the system itself (even though the system still is highly-customizable).
The setting being the CORE Realms, the Reborn in Power RPG is basically the physical/meta-physical laws of the CORE and any other existence that lives beyond it (those being other writer's creations). What makes it fun is that once you learn Reborn in Power, you have a general sense of how the CORE works and have deeper understanding behind what happens in the stories. And even though RIP is a more complex, some would say "crunchy" system, there are two major systems needed to know in it: Ranking & Leveling.
Ranking refers to anything going from Rank 1-5 and Leveling refers to Levels 1-12. Since this is a mostly digital TTRPG, having a calculator is handy in some cases. Basic level math is needed though in practically every Tabletop RPG you will come across.
How people can get involved is through following the links at the end of the interview. Start out by creating an account at ArthadianAnthologies.com and listen to the podcast. Readers can subscribe to my Substack & Minds to get updates and snippets of lore/worldbuilding that ties together with information found in the podcast. I've worked to build this expanding universe into one that fits together well enough to give a coherent over-arching storyline over the course of an anthology that is split by decades of time within the Universe. Hence the name Arthadian Anthologies! And people can immerse themselves by creating a Chosen using Reborn in Power.
What is your take on the current state of the publishing industry and are there aspects of it that you hope will improve?
From what I've seen, the publishing industry has become like practically every major industry in which politics has now ingrained itself into the culture. If certain quotas aren’t met, you're better off self-publishing than rewriting your story to fit those quotas. I would love to see more independent publishers follow what you've been doing. I do believe there is hope for this industry, as with many others, as there's been push back against these tactics that only stagnate and destroy our culture as writers.
I believe if indie authors are looking for a publisher, they should really consider this new type of publishing business, where they invest in a subscription to receive editing/marketing support on their stories. Obviously there would be contractual obligations to meet, but if a writer is paying instead of getting an advance, I feel they'd have a larger say in how their story unfolds. There could even be tiers in which the subscription supports the writer or publisher more. But in the end, I feel this could allow for smaller publishers to expand and the big corporate publishers would have to adjust themselves to the changing industry. It starts with us though! That's why as soon as I saw what you were doing, I wanted to support you! Thank you, Winston, for bringing this community together!
How do you effectively balance work, personal life, and the creative side hustle?
Now this is difficult for me. When it comes to having a day job to pay the bills, it needs to be something that doesn't require too much mental effort. For me, I'm constantly in my head when it comes to work so any stress from a job causes me to lose focus on what I'm planning in my head.
As for personal life, all my closest friends are players in my game. They are only somewhat aware of the story I'm brewing which makes it fun because being the Mastermind of an in-depth narrative that spans a 3-5 year timeline is quite difficult to maintain. Having their support though is nice, even if it's just them having fun being immersed into the CORE as a main character. But there are times where life throws me for a loop and pushes my plans back. At those points I have to remind myself to keep focused. Having a semi-strict schedule is nice, staying on it but allowing for some wiggle room.
The creative portion of my life is ever present though. I need it that way in order to stay sane, plus it's necessary with all that I have planned. Afterall, I have about 8-9 different stories that are converging with each other, taking place at separate times throughout the current timeline of the CORE. Making sure to have it all make sense is why I need to think about it all the time, to not let distractions get in the way.
If you could create full-time, what aspects of your work would the audience get more of?
Now this is an interesting question. If I could be a full-time creator, I'd probably have more Reborn in Power content out that allows for players to get started right away. I'd also begin working on ways to allow other creators to write their own worlds into the CORE, following the kind of publishing format the Storyletter adheres to (Subscription Based Investing Model) where freelance speculative writers can get paid to expand the CORE. This is stuff I have planned for either late 2023 or 2024, but I want to make sure not to spread myself too thin when it comes to content. I already have well over 40 episodes coming in Season 4 of Arthadian Anthologies, but having more time would allow me to expand on that as well and bring more Guests on. Plus, running game sessions online and doing contests, events and all that fun stuff would be amazing! There are so many things I could think of, but when it does happen, my main focus will be how I can give back to my community.
What are some of your favorite story franchises? In what ways have they influenced you as a creator?
My favorite story franchises tend to be more in the cinematography realm rather than the literary realm. I'm a very visual writer, which is where my podcast comes from. I began mostly on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but then grew into Star Wars. In particular, the Clone Wars TV show has influenced me a lot. I also loved Avatar: The Last Airbender when I was a kid and was influenced by it along with many Animes that I've binged over the years.
In fact, Anime inspires me to want to create an animated TV show in the future. They have some of the best storytelling, especially now more so than ever since everything has stagnated in modern Western culture. But what's interesting is I was influenced primarily by four major franchises; MCU, Star Wars, Mass Effect, and Assassins Creed.
I also took courses in Astronomy & Cosmology when I went to college which gave me some understanding of how the universe operates. I use my love for Science Fiction and pour in fantasy elements that I've pulled from all my years of enjoying movies, shows, and games. I also dabbled a little in philosophy for a period of time before I began my podcast, which allowed me to flesh out the deeper themes that are ingrained into the CORE itself. Ideas like how the realms are living beings, where all life inside them are their embodiments.
There is so much I could talk about, drawing parallels between each franchise. All I can really say is that I work to pay attention to everything that goes on in life to incorporate it into the stories that I create, and I feel that is the most important thing a writer can do.
Do you have any advice for early or independent writers?
For aspiring/independent writers, whatever story you have brewing in your mind, don't wait to jot it down somewhere. Even if you have a current WIP, you should always make sure to have every idea written. You could potentially incorporate it into your current work or even hint at it for potential crossovers later.
What have you learned about yourself over the course of your career?
I am very prone to distractions, so filling up my time with "productive" distractions is the best way for me to move forward with my goals. A productive distraction being writing out social posts for content rather than scrolling through social media for an hour. Anything that can keep me focused on my work keeps me pumped up!
Has writing affected how you see the world? Please explain.
Most definitely! It has made me realize that my stories aren't as insane as I thought. Specifically, the way I write my antagonists now are way smarter when it comes to corruption vs the real world corruption we see at the moment. And studying the atrocities going on has opened my eyes to how to make convincing conflicts.
How do you overcome the fear of public scrutiny?
The first thing I need to remember is that the content I'm producing is made because I want to make it. I wouldn’t have started if I'm trying to appease someone else. I know there are people out there who would love the content I'm producing, it's just a matter of finding them. But in no way am I going to stop because someone has a problem with the content I produce. I'm not trying to provoke or anything so I don't see any issues with what I'm producing.
How do you define success?
Success is about creating a journey for yourself to reach a point in which you are better off than where you began. Enjoying the process the whole way through!
That’s the end of our interview with M. S. Arthadian. We hope you enjoyed it. Please like and share this with friends and family. Let us know what you think about tabletop RPGs like Reborn in Power in the comments!
The Reborn in Power Livestream campaign will begin in mid-November, updates will be released in the weeks leading up to it. After which, Season 4 of the Arthadian Anthologies Podcast will begin releasing on a weekly basis. If you wish to prepare for this New Age, you can immerse yourself into the New Expanding Universe by joining the following links:
Reborn in Power:
Once again, a great interview.
GREAT interview and what an interesting guest, so talented and likable. I’m loving the pictures that you are inserting too. Keep ‘em coming. Thank you