Writer's Q&A: This Geek & Sundry Veteran Lends His Twisted Brain to The Crow
Updated: Dec 24, 2022
When we first saw Rick's writing system, we said to ourselves "this guy is really sick and twisted. And then we were faced with finding a writer with the Crow. We needed a writer obsessed with death and the afterlife. Immediately, we thought of Rick. When we presented his adventure ideas to the studio, they said "This story is crazy. We love it." That is when we knew that we had our person.
Let’s start with a simple question. Who are you? How did you get into gaming as a hobby and as a profession?
Does avoiding the day star and trying to incinerate every alien arachnid that enters within one-hundred feet of me count as an identity? If so hi! I’m Rick Heinz. An electrician by day, writer by night. I started gaming once I realized the activity also included air-conditioning (plus I was always grounded). I began storytelling for Wraith: The Oblivion, the very first game I ever played, which ultimately ended up with me running epic full immersion LARPs in short order (and just about every other system from Deadlands to Cyberpunk)
Switching over to a professional writer took until 2017. I’d written my first novel The Seventh Age: Dawn and won the Nerdist award for Best Sci-Fi Fantasy. I transitioned into a full freelance writer for Geek & Sundry and found myself writing the GM Tips series after Matt Mercer. During this time, I kept writing novels and did freelance game writing for smaller projects until I designed and wrote my first behemoth—The Red Opera: Last Days of the Warlock.
… And that brings me here! I’m the person who writes sarcastic stuff about the end of the world. Nice to digitally meet you. If you want to meet in person—I’m almost always running panels at conventions.
What drew you to Evil Genius Games, what about Everyday Heroes™ appeals to you and your writing style?
It was 100% the I.P. of the Crow. I had just finished work on a huge manuscript (Sirens: Battle of the Bards), and was plugging away on my novel listening to the Crow soundtrack. Apparently google spybots figured I clearly needed to see the Everyday Heroes Kickstarter and Crow RPG. Honestly, I’d never heard of Evil Genius Games, even in my time covering Kickstarters for Geek & Sundry—so I blindly clicked on everything I could find about the company.
Ultimately, I came across a post about them needing to hire writers… so, I submitted my stuff. I’m very glad that the mindset of only wanting Paizo or WoTC writers was lifted and the Evil Genius team gave my submission a chance. I feel my style is very narrative-driven, which I think is perfect for modern RPGs. I mean hell, I write urban fantasy novels as means to support my desire for quality caffeine.
What do you think of the concept of Cinematic Adventures? Why did you want to write one?
Tricky… and I like that. On one hand, you want to get the appropriate amount of fan service and a nod to the original content. On the other hand, adventures aren’t movies or novels—players have free reign. So, when I saw the titles within the season pass of Cinematic Adventures, my game designer brain went into overdrive. A veritable mental jigsaw puzzle of designing a campaign with full player agency in mind and not have it be a retelling of the original movie slowly unfolded. An added bonus for enticement was designing it so both players and storytellers would experience the same concepts that made the cinematic adventure epic originally is a nice bullseye to aim for.
Tell us about your thoughts on The Crow. When did you first encounter the property and what was your initial reaction?
For me, the original Crow comic by James O’Barr is a definitive work of art. I suppose I came into it like most kids in the nineties did—we picked up a copy at the same time the movie came out. Every now and then, we each encounter properties that check every box for us, and given my personal life, The Crow was it for me. I ate up the lore, fell further into urban legends, researched more into mythology, and became less afraid of death, which at the time surrounded me completely.
The fact I got to sign my novel one table over from James O’Barr signing his comics at a convention still completely floors me. That weekend, I was constantly having a low, internal fan scream, humming in my brain until I built up the courage to get my old comics autographed.
Of course, we all know not every Crow property resonated the same, but many of the comics and novels continued to deliver over the years. So, when I saw the RPG, I’ll be fully honest: I panicked! How do you tell a Crow RPG when it’s a definitive tale of love and tragedy? What about safety tools given how vicious the source material can be? How do you even have more than ONE Reborn in the adventure…
Then my brain got to working. Comics were referenced. Gears turned. Worlds died! (Okay, maybe not, but it felt epic when my ideas snapped into place).
What excites you the most about bringing this movie franchise to life through a tabletop roleplaying game?
The themes of love, revenge, and redemption. Every comic, and many of the novels for the Crow, are brutal with their tragedies. The Crow: Curare is a short comic series that is gut-wrenching for many in the events that transpire for Carrie. Yet finding a way to allow players to set their own tragedies in ways they are comfortable with, and then mete out delicious revenge is something I’m very excited about. The shock that evil people have when facing righteous revenge is an experience, I’ve delivered for players using Wraith: The Oblivion for years.
Of course… once someone shows they have power… that power can always be taken. With Dread and Ten Candles being two of my favorite storytelling systems, any story I craft will always increase in tension as the players covet their threads of hope.
What would you tell fans of The Crow to ensure them that the movie property is in good hands?
If the movies, novels, and comics are my references for tying a cinematic adventure that features player agency, consequence, and reason to return from the dead—then I am equipped for this campaign. My innocence has long been shed, and as a great villain once said: childhood is over the day you know that you’re going to die. From the Skull Cowboy to Club Trash, I aim to highlight areas that aren’t as well-known, restore some nostalgia from the ‘94 movie, and weave in an entirely unique tale with the blessing of the studio and writers who built the IP.
The Crow Cinematic Adventure is available now. You can pick up this Cinematic Adventure and more on our store.