Preparing To Launch A New Game

In my creative projects, I wear many hats: philosopher, researcher, novelist, musician, game designer. About two years ago, I tried to launch a tabletop RPG based on The Hidden Houses, my urban fantasy novels, using to pay for editors and illustrators. Back then, it failed. But I remained determined. I’m now gearing up to try again. And this time, I’m laying the groundwork a little more carefully.

For instance, I’m recruiting some help much sooner in the process. Last time, I wrote to almost a dozen artists I knew, and asked them to let me use work they had already created, with the promise that if the campaign succeeded I’d work with them to make project-specific illustration. This time, I commissioned my friend Susanne Iles to create some project-specific illustrations right away. (And I’ll pay her out of pocket, whether or not the campaign succeeds.) I saw one of her rough sketches this morning; it’s going to be great. I also have informal agreements with two other artists to work on the project after the campaign is over.

Because, here’s an image I made 20 years ago, which at the time I wanted to use as the front cover of a different game I made back then:

Two of my old D&D characters, punting on a creepy river

Two of my old D&D characters, punting on a creepy river

And here’s a sketch of “Old Hobb”, one of the characters from my novels, which I made about a month ago:

Old Hobb speaks without speaking. Know what I mean?

Old Hobb speaks without speaking. Know what I mean?

I still like these images, but I’m nowhere near good enough to illustrate an entire 250-page RPG book all by myself.

I’ve also recruited “beta-testers”. There’s about a dozen people now, some friends of mine and some friends-of-friends, who are already playing the game. I’ve asked them to tell me their thoughts about the workability of the engine, the clarity of the world building info, and so on. (And, I’m asking them to help promote the heck out of the fundraising campaign, when it goes live.) In return, they’ll get a copy of the finished product, and an honorarium, of an amount to be determined based on the success of the fundraising campaign.

Add to that, the nonfiction book I’ve been researching and writing since the spring (traveling all the way to Bohemia, Czech Republic, to do so!) and all the responsibilities I’ve taken on as a new homeowner, and it looks like 2016 will be very creative for me.

(Also very expensive.)

By the way: if you are a fan of games like Dungeons & Dragons, White Wolf’s Vampire / Werewolf / Changeling series, and the like, let me know. If you think you and your friends will enjoy a tabletop RPG which is part political thriller, part fairy tale, and part philosophical salon, let me know. Yes, I really can make a game that’s all three of those things. Join the beta-testing team to find out how I did it. 🙂

Besides, I will need the help of a small army of people to plug the Kickstarter campaign when it gets underway.

This game will probably not be a “legacy” project for me; it’s not what I expect future generations to remember me for, if they remember me at all. I certainly don’t expect that the game will make me rich. But it will be fun. And that’s a good enough reason to try again.

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