Robert McCabe is the creator and author of Spy Racers, the latest release from Hex Games. Spy Racers, as you may have guessed from the title, is a game of espionage and race car driving, set in the same stylish version of the ‘60s as McCabe’s earlier Sex, Lies and Ultraspies. Spy Racers is, in the author’s words, “all about beating the clock, whether it’s crossing the finish line in first place or destroying the villainous mastermind’s doomsday weapon in the middle of an active volcano!” Robert McCabe is a busy man, but he graciously made time to answer a few questions for us.
1. Spy Racers is filled with background information about racing, especially as it existed in the 1960s. Is it safe to say that you’re a racing fan? If so, what kind do you like best?
I wouldn't say I'm a huge racing fan, but I definitely have been following it off and on throughout the years. I remember when I was young, my parents took me to a race in Wisconsin. It was called Can Am. There were these really cool looking cars with big engines. My mom was a big fan of Mario Andretti and he was there. I ended up rooting for a guy named Johnny Rutherford, who eventually won that race. I was definitely hooked after that! After the Can Am series went away, I started following Formula One and Indycar Racing. I even went to the Indy 500 once, although I haven't been to many races live. I end up watching it mostly on TV. I've never been much of a Nascar fan, although I do love the movie Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. "You were wrong Ricky Bobby...I watched the Highlander movie. It was sheeet!"
2. How did Spy Racers get its start?
You can blame it on too much television. My absolute favorite cartoon when I was young was Speed Racer. I thought Racer X was the most awesome character in that show. He wasn't just a race car driver (and Speed's older brother Rex), he was secret agent number 9 for Interpol. Because of this childhood obsession, I had always planned on Spy Racers being a follow up to Sex, Lies and Ultraspies. Spying and racing just seemed like a natural fit. When the vehicle rules got cut out of Sex, Lies and Ultraspies due to space considerations, that pretty much sealed the deal. Now, I had motivation to come up with substantial background material to go along with the vehicle and chase rules I had created.
3. Wasn’t that live-action Speed Racer movie great?
I actually paid to see it twice at the theater! Unfortunately, you and I are just about the only ones who feel that way (Rotten Tomatoes gives it a whooping 39%). I did discover my daughter (who is a high school senior) watching it with her boyfriend the other day. I suppose there are worse things than catching your daughter and her boyfriend enjoying your Speed Racer DVD.
4. You’ve been running Spy Racers games at cons for a few years. How has that experience been, and what have you learned from running the game?
I think I've been running Spy Racers for 7 or 8 years now. For the first few years, I was experimenting with different vehicle and racing systems. I also noticed that it was something of a hard sell at first, generally only getting a few players. Then I started writing the con blurbs under the Sex, Lies and Ultraspies title, and suddenly I had nearly full events. My best event to date was 2 years ago at GenCon, when we had a full table of 8 players and I was using pre-generated characters (the same ones that can be found in Spy Racers). Never underestimate the comedic value of a big, dumb, strong guy!
5. Is there anything in the book that turned out differently than you originally imagined? Any surprises along the way?
The main villain of the book took a darkly magical turn as I was working on it. I blame Hobomancer, Hex Games' excellent product from last year, which dealt with magical hobos protecting songlines. The adventure also turned into something a bit more involved than I expected, but I really like the overall flow of it.
6. What other supplements for Sex, Lies and Ultraspies do you have planned?
Something short, hopefully! I'm joking because I think I have a reputation with the Hex editors for producing volumes of text (and using passive voice far too much). I'm currently working on an adventure for Sex, Lies and Ultraspies called Hunter's Island. In addition to the adventure, there will be setting information, lots of enemies, a small bestiary, and even stats for the Queen of England. I keep thinking of cool things I want to include in it, but I definitely want to keep it under 40 pages.
Spy Racers and Sex, Lies and Ultraspies are on sale now at www.hexgames and a variety of fine PDF sales sites.