Welcome to another Tuesday night. The past seven days flew by for me, hopefully yours went by a little more slowly. I’m not complaining, however, it was a good seven days with some exciting updates on our upcoming Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology! So, I thought I’d give you an update on why I’m so excited. When I started thinking about what cool things to share in Part 2, I ended up coming up with an idea and then realized I’d already done it in the Monday Minutes, blog posts awhile back. This happened three times in a row today, so now I’m running out of time and wondering what I haven’t touched on yet, or haven’t gone into much depth on. Perhaps what might be an interesting diversion is to give a little background on why I’ve spent so many years designing games and yet our first product is going to be an anthology! Sound like a plan? Great. Let’s get started!
Part 1: Gearing up for Kickstarter
It’s been a long 4 months or so, spending a large portion of my days, every day, researching and preparing for our first Kickstarter. We’ve had many challenges along the way, but I’ve been doing my homework and thankfully have a great team I’m working with to make it happen (and a patient wife who is also a pro writer and editor to be my co-editor! Even so, I’m feeling crunch time approaching and there’s still much to do.
We have less than 2 months before launch: January 2, 2014. I’m very excited and pleased with each of the authors we have on board and their story concepts have been approved and look great. I’m also very pleased to have Jason Rainville returning to do the honors on our cover painting and we’ll be offering a special, limited edition cover variation and gallery-quality art prints to boot. I’ve already designed the book logo and cover matter and the Kickstarter page is nearing completion.
This week has been especially exciting and I have big news: One of our Stretch Goals is for a second anthology we have planned, called, Divine Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology, and I’m pleased to announce that Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend and Darrin Drader will be on board for that Stretch Goal. These are exciting times indeed!
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see our first, “What is Cosmothea?” video, I invite you to do so. It’s a fun video, and will give you a better sense of what Cosmothea is. And you’ll get to see a lot of great art we’ve put together over the years for the Cosmoverse, our official campaign setting created for the Cosmothea Blended-Genre Roleplaying Game. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback about that first video, so be sure to check it out! We’ll do another next chance we get, but right now, we need to focus our attention on finishing up the Kickstarter page, including filming and editing the Kickstarter video so we can get the page approved and finish prepping for launch.
I’ve spent a huge amount of time sorting out the rewards, researching manufacturing options, pricing, shipping, and spending time creating some of them. The rewards and Reward tiers are looking great, and Jason Rainville’s cover sketches give us every confidence that his art will be fantastic, as usual. We’ll be having a vote on the Kickstarter for choosing which sketch will become the book cover and have some very unusual Rewards I haven’t seen anyone do yet, so it should be an exciting campaign.
Speaking of the Stretch Goals, we intentionally set them up so as to not create problems for the campaign. See, several Kickstarters have gained media attention in the past couple years for responding to Stretch Goals by expanding the size of their project when they already have a promised due date and haven’t had time to analyze the impact such changes to their project would have, and so several have crashed and burned big time.
We are taking a different, safer route. Our first Stretch Goal is for interior art and will be easily fit into the production schedule (QT Games has worked with some great artists over the years and we look forward to working with them again). Our second is for Divine Synthesis, which will be a very manageable project, we’ve already got several great authors excited to dive in, and we’re keeping it very manageable. We are confident you are going to love these first two anthologies and the rewards. Now we just need to stand together and make it happen!
Part 2: Fated for Fiction
You already know that I’ve spent a bazillion hours crafting the various versions of Cosmothea (and I’m still fairly early on in development of Cosmothea 5.0 and the campaign expansion update), so I thought I’d explain why our first product is going to be fiction instead of either the RPG or setting. But first for a bit more background…
I was an avid reader of Norse mythology and Conan growing up — that and comics! I was a HUGE comic book reader, especially Marvel comics. I had never read science fiction, but Star Wars got me interested and finally in seventh grade, I checked out of the library my first scifi book. A year before, I wrote my first play, and produced it with some friends. People seemed to like it, but it wasn’t until 2001 that I got hooked on writing plays and skits and have written and produced (and acted in) numerous productions since.
But the crucial turning point for me was seventh grade. My English teacher had us keeping a journal and gave us all sorts of wild topics to write about every day. She also gave us longer writing projects. She graded the journals every day and I always got an A+. Until then, I had always considered myself an artist and assume I’d grow up to be an artist. All of my friends told me the same thing, and after many starter jobs, I finally did. I’ve worked professionally as an Illustrator and commercial artist for many years, but when I started writing those journals way back then, I fell in love. I couldn’t imagine not writing! I was hooked, and my teacher encouraged me to pursue a career as a writer. I took every English class I could find.
I think it was that first Summer after seventh grade that I went to visit my cousin in Virginia and he took me to a club where they played 1st Edition AD&D. I’d never even heard of it before. It was very complex and clunky, but I was in love. Roleplaying was so creative and I just ate it up, especially the notion of being a Dungeon Master and creating maps and worlds! I realized there was a career in game design because obviously some guys made the stuff, so now I was torn between art, writing and game design as future careers!
The AD&D Disneyland tour only lasted a few days and although I barely understood how to play (and my first few characters died in their first or second encounters), when I flew back home to Las Vegas, I knew I would have to hunt down those AD&D books. Well, that proved difficult. My game store didn’t have any of them, just some thin blue book called Basic D&D. I figured that was the little kids version. I began making up my own mini games in the library and played them with my friends over lunch. Many of my games were cartoony and I made little cartoon characters for them. They were always blended genre and pretty crazy and we had good times. I even wrote short stories about some of the characters. Ah, what fun memories!
I couldn’t find anyone who played AD&D at my school or in the neighborhood, but I went ahead and bought the “Blue Book” and began dreaming up my own worlds. I took the book to school every day, but forgot it one day in the library and when I went back for it, it was gone. So, I went back to making up my own games. That Christmas, I was given the 1st Edition AD&D Player’s Handbook and the Monster Manual. I saw no rules for combat, so I wrote a set of rules loosely based on the Blue Book and filled in the gaps with what I thought sounded good. And I made up scifi weapons and loads of other goodies for the game.
I don’t remember how anyone managed to play AD&D early on without all the books. In the Summer of 1979, I started creating the campaign setting for Cosmothea and when I flew to Virginia to spend the Summer, I advertised at a game store and ran adventures in Cosmothea. When I went back home, I spent several months playing by myself until I met some new friends and we began alternating between playing Cosmothea and D&D a couple times a week. I also started creating more advanced board games and card games, and over the next 3 decades, made over 2 dozen, some of which I still hope to pursue via QT Games one day if I can find the time.
I’ve enjoyed playing Cosmothea for several decades and writing about the gods and various worlds (even back then, I couldn’t be satisfied with just one world for some odd reason). I had so many ideas, but still played D&D for many years as I had friends that were regulars of it – and it was fun, of course. In those days, I’d been tinkering with a set of rules for running science fiction characters and superheroes too, so I polished those up and merged the setting with the RPG (I was still young, so it was all still clunky, but there were some solid mechanics in each version that I carried forward to the next).
By the time the 1st Edition DMG made it down to where I was on the waiting list, I’d nearly completed Cosmothea 1.0. A few of my friends played D&D, and like me, they weren’t entirely satisfied and there was so much more I wanted to do than D&D offered without rewriting everything.
I was experimenting with a lot of interesting game mechanics and dumped the concept of hit points almost right away. I knew then that I could never go back, and besides, I wanted one game that could handle all of Cosmothea (which was called Xanadu in the early days). I brought the term hit points back for awhile, but it meant something totally different and still use a variation on my original system from those early days, but far more polished.
I felt compelled to keep designing and improving Cosmothea and loved the process of writing about the various locations and creatures, and making up magical gear (I’d written a book just for gear. I think it was like 90 pages or something, again rough, but I was learning and growing as a game designer and writer).
Then I realized that’s how I could get my writing fix (Ok, maybe I was slow). I could write gaming material and stories about the worlds and creatures I was creating! And I could do art for it too! But writing — that was always my greatest passion, though I wasn’t sure how to start a career in that. I’ve had that dream since seventh grade to become a full time writer of fiction and that dream has never faded. It’s just continued to grow, and I’m grateful to that English teacher for encouraging me.
Now, I still plan to pursue the setting and RPG till I’m in the grave, but I figured what better way to introduce people to the setting and RPG than to write great stories about it! I’ve written box loads about the vast Cosmoverse for 34 years now and I’m just getting warmed up! But it’s time to start sharing those stories and to write new ones!
[Note: I posted it about Midnight, runnin’ late as usual. Finished some revisions for accuracy and clarity at 12:52 am, so if you happened to be awake to read it before then… well, it’s clearer now and more polished, but sorry if it wasn’t when you read it. Seriously, is anyone actually reading this blog at this hour? Is anyone reading it at all? Let me hear from you and let me know how I can improve it (aside from actually posting earlier on Tuesday, which isn’t going to happen unless I go back to writing it on Monday, heh.)
Got an idea for a future Cosmothea blog post? Something you’d like to know? I’d love feedback and questions if you’ve got ’em! Cheers!