For this edition of Community Spotlight, we talk animated maps and tokens with Ben, the creator of Beneos Battlemaps and Beneos Tokens.
FHub: How did you get started with tabletop RPGs?
Ben: I was always fascinated with role playing games. As a kid I learned pen & paper games which feel like the spiritual parents of traditional RPG computer games like World of Warcraft, where everything that happens is decided by dice rolls. But knowing them and playing them are two different stories. It took me about 30 years to play (or should I say lead?) my first tabletop game. You could call me a noob, but I suffer from a heavy form of hyper-fixation and I consumed so much content (streams, rule systems, etc.), that I would consider myself considerably experience in terms of TTRPGs. Even though I started maybe three years ago I can talk about Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Blades in the Dark, Powered by the Apocalypse games like Dungeon World, as well as about The Dark Eye and Warhammer Fantasy.
FHub: You just launched a second Patreon (Beneos Tokens) and obviously have a lot going on. Do you still find time to game? If so, what are you currently playing?
Ben: Oh yeah absolutely! It is really important for me to see my content like my Patreons see it during their games. At this moment I run three groups and play in a fourth group as player. All of them in D&D 5E. Two Curse of Strahd groups and two homebrew campaigns. I love it and yeah…I never have enough time.
FHub: You are known for creating incredibly rich 3D environments paired with your animated battlemaps. How did you get into 3D modeling?
Ben: Early on, I never took 3D modeling or map design very seriously. I started during the early 2000s as a teenager with modding projects. I was part of a team that built a Resident Evil mod for Half Life 2 and the Source Engine. During that time I taught myself sound design, video editing, modeling, texturing and so on. After my modding time I did a lot YouTube stuff. I was pretty successful on YouTube in the early days and I also tried a startup. But in the end, I decided to toss these because I didn’t really warm up to the whole ‘influencer’ industry and the way they look at people. So I worked a more or less normal job as Data Scientist in a telecommunication company. As a DM I invested a lot of time to create cool assets like animated maps. A lot of people asked me to use my content so I was looking for a cheap way to distribute my content and found Patreon. I was fortunate that people really liked what I did. I was successful, and on a side note, I never expected that nor was that the final plan. By the time I noticed people like what I do and are willing to pay it, I decided to try to make it a full time job.
FHub: Integrating your maps and scenes with Foundry through modules (and now through Moulinette Cloud) provides a powerful service to the Foundry community. How did you get started with Foundry?
Ben: I played for about a year on Roll20 (like many GMs). In a random D&D stream I saw this interesting interface and this unfamiliar tool. I asked around and found out about Foundry. It wasn’t released yet but I really loved and still love the community, so I stuck with it! Yes, I am proud to be a very early adopter of FoundryVTT.
FHub: Your battle maps are known for offering a large selection of scenes from Curse of Strahd and you have a catalog of offerings from non-specific fantasy settings and even some sci-fi as well. What direction do you intend to take your creations in the future?
Ben: Beneos Battlemaps was always planned as a catalogue of everything a DM would need to create awesome stories and impress their players. So, after closing that chapter I would like to use the sheer endless possibilities of the Unreal Engine to bring stunning sceneries and maps you can’t create without a “Triple-A” engine. But since I have a uniquely realistic and dark-ish style, I also need to create basic maps like taverns, roads, ships and so on. With the power of Unreal Engine, I can promise even those will be next level.
FHub: Your animated tokens come pre-packaged with journal entries, stat blocks and multiple views (top-down/Iso) and feature some unique new monsters that will be highly distressing to most adventuring parties. How did you decide to launch your Patreon for animated tokens and where did you come up with these fantastic creatures?
Ben: Well frankly I started Beneos Tokens because I could :P. Don’t misunderstand: every time I created a battle map, I always saw all the cool assets I would never be able to use. I have hundreds of high-quality 3D models made by me or commercially licensed via the Unreal Engine Store. They are ready and awesome, so why not use them? I can offer more high-quality content, make some money to reach my goal of being able to make a living out of the best hobby in the whole universe and can use my own tokens in my games. And as a giant bonus I can work with my best friend Leon who creates those super cool stat blocks for every creature with unique abilities and a pretty straightforward design philosophy. He is also a great DM and way more creative than I am.
Just another skeleton?
I think not.
FHub: What’s the future hold for you as a content creator? Where do you see this going?
Ben: To be honest I don’t fully know. I listen really carefully to feedback and adapt things I consider valuable. There might be a time where I do something completely different or drop it completely like I did with my YouTube “career”, but this is unlikely because for the first time in my life I really love what I am doing. I’m convinced you can see that in my content as well and the way I treat my Patreons. I will try to push boundaries and prove my content is worth the support, and maybe one day I can make the leap to working 100% on Patreon content!