In, ahem, the tradition of posting our Monday Minutes on Tuesday, I bring you another (hopefully) exciting post! With this “Two for Tuesday” (hm… there might be something to that!), I have two things for you: A cool pic from the Cosmothea RPG and a sober, behind the scenes look at the game and setting over the past 3+ decades.
Still with me? Great! Since it’s been awhile, I’m going to give you a blog reader’s advantage of seeing some more art long before the game is released.
Part 1: Vehicles in Cosmothea
This one’s a vehicle painted by Simon Buckroyd called simply a Walker.
There are two major compartments in a Walker: The “cab” connected to the body by a short hall, and then a war room/living room/bedroom – whatever you want to use it for, behind the cab. I had Simon paint it with some different window coverings even, for protection or better visibility for sightseeing, heh!
Each major vehicle in the game will come with a floor plan, so players can call dibs on their seat or even their bedrooms, if the thing is big enough for such, or at least their spot on the floor. They can build in shelving, partitions, whatever. We’ve always found vehicles a ton of fun, so I’ll be including plenty in the game.
Players with enough money can either buy or build a small vehicle or big, mobile fortress, mech or other structure (depending on the world and tech level), and then head off on their next grand adventure! Some vehicles can only carry 1 person, such as the smaller, floating battle platforms (I showed you a Battle Barge commanded by a female orc shaper in an earlier post – also painted by Simon). There are some steam and clockwork mechs on the ring world, Cathor, that are big enough to haul around an entire town or small army. One day, if you are especially nice, or if the game/setting comes out on the market, you will get to see the God Ship! Vehicles have always been a lot of fun in our games (though they have not been a feature in every adventure, of course).
When I was young, I read a lot of comics, so I saw and fell in love with vehicles like this:
And as Cosmothea was inspired by such over-the-top, epic and fun creative works, you can rest assured that I won’t let hard science get in the way of a good time! That’s one of the reasons why the timeline is at 3057 AD, so we have a lot of room creative answers to fun vehicle questions!
Cosmothea will indeed include as many fun vehicles as I can squeeze in, but if your vehicle breaks down, you darn well better hope one of the characters in the party is a mechanic or has engineering skills! (Yep, you can create a mechanic for top notch performance, or at least have someone with engineering skills in the party).
There are also ancient vehicles in the game that can be found as treasure or as part of an adventure (exploring a colossal, wrecked city mech), some that still have fuel or power in them, or machines that work, and others that would be great vehicles if someone can figure out how to charge them back up again, or dig them out of the ruins, etc.. There’s even organic “living” vehicles which come with their own issues (needing food and if depressed, an encouraging word! So, there’s all sorts of vehicular fun to be had! Since I mentioned comics and my youth, let’s now spring forward, shall we?
Part 2: Looking Back, Then On Till Dawn
Awhile back I was reading a thread on a non-QT Games forum and ran across a discussion in which a game designer mentioned that he’d been working on his RPG for about 11 years (or thereabouts). It didn’t seem to me like he was bragging so much as giving back-story, but regardless, one poster immediately attacked him and then another egged on by the first. The guy said something like, “Obviously you don’t know what you’re doing, “ followed by other questionable comments. That got me thinking.
I felt bad for that poor guy. I could tell they were crushing his spirit. Now, it may be that the designer didn’t know what he was doing, I dunno, but maybe there was something else going on. Since I’ve now been designing Cosmothea for over 34 years, I thought I’d take a sober look at my own work and share a bit more about what’s been going on during those 34 years or so. I won’t go into tons of detail or we’ll have a novella on our hands, but I’ll touch on a few things I hope you’ll find interesting. If not, well at least you got a free peek at one of our paintings. J
I’d just like to clarify that I have NOT spent the past 34 years trying to finish a single roleplaying game! My life has been filled with many wonderful activities, including building a family and career, writing piles of stories and growing as an artist; I’ve designed over two dozen board and card games and outlined ideas for other stories and games during that same timeframe.
Cosmothea has been but one of my many projects, though the one I keep returning to as I am still very passionate about it. Even after all these years and all of the RPG’s to come down the pike, it still fills a niche that is not remotely filled, IMO. It still provides interesting and creative game play experiences I’m not seeing elsewhere, so my enthusiasm remains, though the playing field is more crowded.
Yeah, I’ve spent thousands of hours and thousands of dollars on one version or another of the game. I’ve also written a large number of plays and skits, formed The Drama Guild and have hosted workshops, produced, directed and performed in many of our productions and enjoy watching movies and spending time playing games, so it hasn’t been a matter of not knowing what I’m doing. If anything, it’s that I keep maturing as a designer and am a bit of a perfectionist. It’s also been simply a lack of significant resources, since I insist upon high quality and high production values.
With the exception of micro roleplaying games, most RPG’s take years to create. And just as D&D has always been developed by a team, and one team or another have spent over 40 years developing D&D, but not all of that time on a single edition of the game, I have spent the past 34 years working on 5 major incarnations of Cosmothea (most on the previous 4 and on several rules-lite versions, including one that allowed me to do an easy conversion to use monster cards from the D&D minis game).
So, I’ve been working on a lot of different projects, but realistically, you can never finish designing a whole universe and all its dimensions, so I freely admit I have, off and on, spent the better part of the past 34 years developing the campaign setting, which is why when I say it’s vast and lush, you can bet it really is, though I’ve never pursued publishing just setting content or novels. And yet I could spend the rest of my lifetime fleshing out the setting and never finish telling the stories that could be told, nor exploring all of its corners, but I have written much and will write much more before my days are done.
In 1979, Cosmothea was a percentile-based game focusing more on science fiction and superheroes than on fantasy, though that was present too. I explored a lot of concepts, brainstormed to death and Cosmothea kept evolving and improving, maturing as I matured as a game designer and person.
Cosmothea 2.0 which was called Stargate (until the Stargate movie came out, stealing my thunder and I changed the name to avoid confusion – I too had a full blown gate system built into the game and main storyline), included rules for all the classic races in addition to many more that featured in my stories. It also had a “build your own class” type system of character creation, that was very solid, and the magic system was and still is Cosmothea’s strongest feature.
The game was rough around the edges in other ways, just like every iteration of D&D, Champions, etc and Cosmothea 5.0 is also rough around the edges though I feel strongly it has a lot of potential. Even so, my finances still aren’t where they need to be to tackle producing the game, which is why our first product will be Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology based on the Cosmothea setting.
The makers of D&D have taken over 40 years building and rebuilding and polishing their game (and also ruining their game in some ways and improving it in others), drawing upon whole teams and piles of money to do it. Their game has been playable the whole time. And they’ve made lots of money off of it (and also had severe financial problems that almost saw the end of D&D more than once).
I’ve spent the past 34 years working on various iterations of Cosmothea, trying to build a great game, and while it has been more or less playable the whole time, without piles of money and a team (I’ve only had a team for a few months total over all these years), the game’s not going anywhere. I can’t afford the time commitment to work on it for long hours, and can’t afford to put it on the market. Because of all these various factors (day job, family, lack of money, other projects, limited time…) it will sit on a shelf. Oh, we’ll play it and I’ll keep working on it as a side project for now.
Until my finances heal and we get a large enough body of fans to support a product line, my focus will be on Arcane Synthesis and other Cosmothea setting projects. I’m not giving up on Cosmothea by any stretch, but I wanted to explain where we’ve been, where we’re at and why we haven’t been in a hurry to publish the game. Now back to preparing for our upcoming Arcane Synthesis Kicktarter campaign!