Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pheaturing Randy Blackwell From Lamplight Media

Hello, welcome to a special Sunday entry of the Phile. So, today was my 23rd anniversary working at Walt Disney World. Twenty-three years! That's like two decades and three years. Congrats to rookie Trevor Bayne for winning the Daytona 500 this afternoon. If you are from overseas and don't know what the Daytona 500 is... it's a bunch of rednecks turning left. A computer beat the humans on “Jeopardy!” Experts say they haven’t seen two humans beaten this badly since yesterday’s “Jerry Springer.” Never before has man been defeated by technology on a game show except for the time backstage on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” when Regis got his hand stuck in the soda machine. You have to be smart to win on “Jeopardy!” It’s not like “Wheel of Fortune.” Those contestants could be beaten by an electric razor. The computer may be smart, but will a machine ever be able to smell a flower or experience joy? And when I say Joy, I mean Joy Behar. President Obama was in San Francisco meeting with technology executives including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The goal was to create new jobs to replace all the jobs lost as a result of everyone spending time at work on Facebook. Obama also wants Zuckerberg to show him how to make Bo, the White House dog, his Facebook profile picture. Are you guys fans of "Jersey Shore"? I have never watched it, but if you are I have some sad news. There may be only two more seasons of “Jersey Shore.” After that, I guess Snooki will go back to being an ottoman. Paris Hilton revealed that she’s releasing a new album in a few months. Man, I can wait to hear that. Maybe I can get her on the Phile. A man in Colorado dropped an engagement ring down a sewer drain while proposing to his girlfriend. Up until then, his romantic proposal atop a sewer was going so well. A company in Japan is holding the world’s first marathon for robots. My money is on the robot from Kenya winning. So, I mentioned the Daytona 500 a few seconds ago... did you see the inspirational posters they were selling there?

Okay, it's Sunday, so I thought I would show you a church sign.

And now a reminder about the...

This is the 14th book to be pheatured in the P.P.B.C....

One of the authors, Toby Hadoke will be a guest on the Phile some time in March.

Okay, this is a little bit different then the unusual guests and interviews I have here on the Phile. Today's guest is the CEO of Lamplight Media and the creator of a new Christian based role playing game called "Soterion". Please welcome to the Phile to explain everything... Randy Blackwell.
Me: Hello, Randy, welcome to the Phile. How are you, sir?

Randy: I'm great, excited to talk to you.

Me: I have to admit this is a different interview then normal for me. Before we start, tell the readers what Lamplight Media is about.

Randy: We are a Christian Media company. We want to bring good clean entertainment for all ages to the market. I want to quote Ralph Winter. He is the producer for some of the Star Trek movies, X-Men movies, Fantastic Four, and even Left Behind. I've found what he said in an interview with the "700 Club" very inspiring: "Well, how come we, as Christians, don’t tell stories that we’re so fascinated by? “It’s got to have a happy ending; it can’t be dark. It’s got to be happy. And I’m not sure what the subtext is. It’s got to be obvious.” I don’t think we know our audience. Well, Jesus’ stories resonates with everyone whether you’re a Christian or not. We have to learn about telling original and interesting stories." Lamplight Media is here to tell fascinating stories inspired by our Christian faith. Alot of the messages in our content is parabolic in nature, drawing from the same kind of symbolism that the Lord used in his parables and teaching the same kinds of principles. But most importantly, they are captivating stories. That is one reason that I chose to tell our first stories in a fantasy setting. Years ago C. S. Lewis was wise to chose to do so.

Me: Did you start up Lamplight? How long has it been around?

Randy: It all started with a dice based game that I created ran for the youth group of Calvary Chapel of Oklahoma City while I was in the Air Force. They loved it and asked me to make it into a video game. Eventually it evolved into a business by 2007 with the help of George Kyle Clark (VP). I had some help from Ralph Bagley and some mentoship from him and Jeff Dotson. Ralph made a Christian video game (Catechumen) and got it to the shelves. Jeff Dotson was a 3d modeler for Age of Empires and started his own company making the Christian animated show and game "Charlie the Church Mouse". God has put alot of people in my path and without Him we would not even still be pushing forward. Now, Soterion (the fantasy world) is huge and larger than I could have ever imagined.

Me: How long have you been into role playing games and creating them?

Randy: I played/ran some pretty dark games back in the day... from 1998 to 2003. In 2003, when I came to the realization that I had missed Christ's love, that being a Christian was about actually living your life for Christ, and that I needed to be saved (from myself) I got saved. After that, I just couldnt bring myself to play those same games or run them.

Me: Randy, where are you from? Is your family into role playing games as well?

Randy: I grew up in Columbia, SC and now live in Greenville, SC. No one in my family is into roleplaying games. I have 4 girls that are young and they have expressed interest in someday playing "Soterion".

Me: I must admit, I was never that much into role playing growing up. I tried to play a few times, but made up my own rules. Too many rules with that crazy dice. Is role playing still the same as it was 30 years ago when "Dungeons & Dragons" first came out?

Randy: In our game we dont use different number sided dice. We only use eight sided dice under a dice system called Aces and Eights. Roleplaying, I would say on many levels, is darker and more pagan based/oriented. I have played and run games that dew some alternate history from the Bible but it was always twisted in some way and dark. That is one of the reasons I was led to create Soterion. Ive been told that years ago RPGs were more simple and less about darkness and paganism. Did you know that Vin Diesel played them back in the day? Here is a link: .

Me: "D & D" was the very first, right?

Randy: I believe the first role playing game was called "Chainmail" and was created in 1970 or 1971.

Me: How is playing role playing games on-line different then with books and maps and dice, Randy?

Randy: It's very different. With a game that exists on a console or a computer there are always parameters defined by the makers of the game. With the other type, the person running the game decides the limitations and some even make up their own rule just using the book as a guide. I think there is more imagination involved with pencil/paper/dice games.

Me: Your games are all based in "Soterion", right? Where did that name come from?

Randy: I have actually written up games based in other world, some more sci-fi. We are just focusing on one major project at a time which right now is "Soterion". The name comes from the Greek word "soteria" which means "salvation". Soterion is a Greek derivative of the word meaning the same thing. It just fit well for a name.

Me: How long has "Soterion" been around, and is it hard to play?

Randy: "Soterion" started as a single plotline with loads of symbolism. Since 2006 it has grown into a fantasy world with a 2k year history, 13+ races, 7 Kingdoms, and dozens of well defined plot driving characters (NPCs) with detailed backgrounds.

Me: Your games are different then normal, they are all Christian based. How are they Christian based, Randy?

Randy: The symbolism, content, and purpose of the game is what makes it Christian. You see, a roleplaying game can be like a living parable acted out and giving the characters in it choices to make and lessons to learn from those choices. I will give you an example of some of the rich symbolism. There is a race on Soterion called the Showrad. In the ancient tongue of Soterion it was Showradam. Showr is hebrew for bull and Adam is hebrew for man. These bull men have a supernatural ability to "make their last stand" in battle. When in battle the player must turn to the narrator of the game and say, "Im declairing my last stand." The players character then offers his life as a living sacrifice for the lives of everyone in his party. In other words he becomes a one man army until all the others escape (and they must flee for it to work). Once all the others are safe the character dies in battle for the lives of his comrades. This is controled and moderated by the narrator and can not be abused in the game. In other words, its needs to be genuine and in-character for the players character to do something like that. But this ability is a symbol. The sacrificial bull was a symbol of Christ's sacrifice for us. He took on and felt all of our sins on the cross as He died for our salvation.

Me: Are your games available only on-line or do they come in book form as well?

Randy: Our RPG Books can be bought here:,,
The video game takes 2 years to make with the investment we need to make it. Without the investment it will take much much longer without the tools and staff we would need. We are working on a video game demo right now.

Me: You are also working on a novel based on Soterion, right? When is that book coming out, and does it have a name yet?

Randy: George K. Clark has already finished a novel and I am writing one but it will take me quite some time to finish. The novel I am writting is called "The Secret of the Magi" and it contains loads of secrets about Soterion, other worlds, and the Magi (scientists who use slight of hand to do fantastic things). Kyles book is "Keep Solstice" and we have yet to have a bad review on it. Its really great and its in those links I mentioned above.

Me: Will it be available in book shops such as Barnes and Noble?

Randy: I believe is can be order via ISBN through those facilities.

Me: Apart from role playing games, Randy, you also worked on movies, is that right?

Randy: No, I haven't worked on movies. I have several contacts in Hollywood and there is a professional turning one of our stories into a screenplay in the hopes that we can make it into a movie someday.

Me: And explain this, you worked on PR between the Air Force and the makes of The Transformers? Did you get to meet and talk to Michael Bay? How did this come about?

I had several jobs with the Air Force at that time. One was to get incentive rides on the AWACS jets. The film crew watned to feature actual military in combat mode in the air. That required the approval of the General. Aquiring that approval was my job. So I worked with them to get it approved. There is about 5 seconds in the movie where you see my old comander from the 965th AACS and his crew ordering a strike on a scorpion creature attacking the main characters below. It was really cool that they involved the Air Force. I saw that they did the same thing with my old squadron in the 2nd movie too.

Me: You also did some work for the Pentagon as well, is that right?

Randy: I made a media presentation of a foreign international exercise that I was on for a Lt. Col who is in the Pentagon. I took all the pictures so he chose me for it. It was my first time out of the states with the Air Force. A very cultural experience. We were in Canada. I met foreign military from all over the world. We even hiked a glacier on one of the weekends there.

Me: So, what's next for you, Randy?

Randy: I tend to push really hard to make things happen and I NEVER give up when Ive got ahold of something great. I think thats why God gave me this idea, BUT this year I am getting back to what matters most to me: Vanessa my wife and my four girls Ariana, Mary-Kate, Elise, and Adelynn. I have sacrificed my family time too much in the past in being the CEO, CFO, CMO, Project Manager, Art Director, Writer, and Web Master for this company and I have forgotten the most important things to me in the world. I am sliding away from most of those roles and bringing people in. Moses was known for being a great deligator and it is my prayer that God bestows on me the ability to trust people with what He has put in my hands. I have hired a VP as Art Director. His name is Jin Kim ( He currently works for Sony Entertainment and has decided to join this vision and help us push the quality of our art to the limit. Lee Reynolds is a programmer who I have made VP of Research and Development and he will be our webmaster. Im looking to find even more partners so that this project can continue to move forward. We have over 4k followers on Myspace, 1,500 followers on Facebook, and 1,200 followers on Twitter. I think that's a pretty good start for a start up company but I definately need people to help me get the word out.

Me: I am sure I will have a lot of readers who want to check the game out, sir. Go ahead and give the website and anything else they might need to know.

Randy: Ok! The website is Please forgive any broken links, it's why I brought on a webmaster recently... Website layout and navigation.
Map of charted Soterion
Concept art
Sample from the novel "Soterion: Keep Solstice"
Sample from novel in progress "The Secret of the Magi"
Sample Character sheet from the RPG Book
Larger samples of RPG Book content
At the bottom of this page is a 5 paragraph summary of Soterion's History
If you want to read up on Lamplight Media (my company) and how everything got started you can go here:
Here are some turntables of 3d models that have been developed for the video game:

Me: Man, I'm hyperlinked out. Randy, thanks so much for being on the Phile. I think your idea is pretty cool. You should try to set up booths in various comic book conventions if you haven't already.

Randy: Each year I hope to make it to DragonCon in Atlanta, GA. So far we haven't had the funding to buy a table (pretty costly). We may go anyway this year. Im glad you think the idea is cool. Join us on Facebook and Myspace to show support!!! My email is for anyone with more questions!

Me: Good luck, and come back anytime to the Phile, okay?

Thank you so much for your time! And we are going to have more come out so I will keep you updated.

There you have it, another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Randy Blackwell for taking time out to talk about his game "Soterion". The Phile will be back on Wednesday with hip-hop artist Hum.V. In last week's entry I said it was Hum.Ve but there's no 'e' at the end. Until then, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.


Ben said...

This guy, Randy, is sending out craigslist ads asking people to do the artwork for his new game, but is not going to pay them until after it makes a profit.

He wants "the best" artists to work for free on the non-contractual promise of some amount of compensation that may come some time in the future if enough people buy his product.

I'm sorry, but that is an immoral business ethic, and certainly not a Christian one.

Here is the craigslist posting:

Anonymous said...

I fail to see why this is immoral. The job: being an artist. The pay: when it sells. If you don't agree to the pay, don't do the job. He is asking for essentially an investment in his company. Don't try and bring down his work because there is risk involved. Last time I checked Christian businesses exist. Some profit and some fail. But a contract between a employer and employee, are not of anyone's concerns but their own. Don't make it sound like he's soliciting, he posted an ad on Craigslist, like anyone can do. Welcome to America.

Michael said...

I would totally agree with Ben on this one. The job ads are asking a whole lot for nothing in return, just a vague promise of 150$ per piece. In illustration, the size, medium, and color/non color matter greatly. Hey if he is asking for a graphic artist, then fine, But just throwing an illustrator from superman and others out there with no names and such is dubious. I also happen to know there are people (myself and others) who can blow away many people with degrees in art. Some of the worst work I've seen is done by those people. This is a major scam if I ever saw it, and it violates the graphic artists guild code of ethics as well.

Randy said...

For the record. All artists signed a contract with lamplight Media legally binding the company to pay upon profit of the RPG Game or Video Game. A legally binding contract is not a vague promise, Michael. Your statement about a non-contractual promise, Ben, is false and slanderous. It is unfortunate but there are several artists who applied for this project that were turned down, hence the "He wants the best artists for free" comment. I am sorry that you were turned down for the project, Ben but we are trying to produce a top notch product. Also, contracts state the Lamplight Media will not see any profits from the RPG Book until the artist is paid. This means that Lamplight Media is working for free creating the world content in the hopes of profit after as well as the artists.