On Hunter the Vigil 2nd Edition Open Development

Following my announcement from last year that I am the developer for Hunter the Vigil 2nd Edition which features the Slasher Chronicle, I uploaded my first OpenDevelopment post titled: Hunter 2E OpenDev and Ashwood Abbey and the second one which is Tier Two Compacts and Globalization.

There are a lot of approaches to development, and managing this line will be very, very different from the Firefly RPG for the simple reason that the licensing and setting restrictions aren’t based on a TV show. Hunter: the Vigil was (and is) a widely popular game where you play a human hunter–for all the good, bad, and ugly that entails–fighting the supernatural. The line, which has had continued support since the corebook’s debut eight or nine years ago, will be getting a new edition and this is why I’m on board. In a way, I’m very lucky because I’m focused on enhancements as opposed to creating something from scratch. Since other second edition books for the Chronicles of Darkness have already been released, I have a lot of pre-existing material and systems to draw from to create a new edition–which is great. However, there’s a lot of tweaks I want to make, but to help me make better decisions I am using Open Development as a way to get feedback prior to writing the outline for the corebook.

This, too, is a huge departure from Firefly, as setting restrictions for Hunter aren’t overly specific, nor are they related to the show so I have more flexibility to start with within the conceit of hunting monsters. Here, I’m building a new edition off a hugely strong foundation, and I get the opportunity to have fan feedback because of the relationship between Onyx Path Publishing and Paradox Entertainment. This is a pretty big deal to me, because though as a developer I have to weigh decisions for all kinds of players (meaning I need to avoid one-true-way-isms and focus more on the toolkit approach that Hunter originated with), I can hear from fans what their reasoning is behind what they like about the game. And, most importantly, how certain decisions impact play at their tables as opposed to what they’re gleaning from reading the text itself.

It’ll be interesting to see how OpenDev shakes out, once I get to the rules portion of the conversation, but for now I’m tightly focused on clarifying what those enhancements might be (e.g. tiered play, slashers, etc.) to set some bones down before proceeding. This will also enable me to see where the holes are before proceeding with an open call for writers, especially since I’m keen on lifting the game to a truly global level.

If you’re interested in reading OpenDev, I’ll link to them in my project updates or you can follow along by visiting the Onyx Path website at www.theonyxpath.com.

A Review of Things Don’t Go Smooth

TDGS Cover

Our friends at The Black Campbell reviewed Things Don’t Go Smooth, a 238 page GM-facing supplement for the Firefly Role Playing Game. The review is available here and this supplement is now available!

Now Available: Things Don’t Go Smooth

TDGS Cover

Our first supplement of new material to use at your table is now available in digital. What’s more, we just sent THINGS DON’T GO SMOOTH off to the printer. Want to know more about it? Read on!

Life’s not easy. Don’t matter whether you’re flying a leaky boat along the Rim or dodging Alliance cruisers in the Core, there’s always something or somebody getting in the way of a Crew’s honest day’s work.

THINGS DON’T GO SMOOTH presents a baker’s dozen of shady crews, crime bosses, megalomaniacs, and unexplainable phenomena designed to get in the way of your Crew. Each includes a wealth of story hooks, supporting characters, locations, ships, and background material to help you bring the ‘Verse to your table. GM’s will also find over 50 new Distinctions and Signature Assets, new enemy boats, rules for scene Traits and triggers, plus the Episodes “Merciless” and “Thieves in Heaven” to bring these characters to life! The Firefly RPG corebook is required to use this supplement.

We think you’ll appreciate the following:

  • Find 4 types of Antagonists ranging from crime bosses to the unexplained.
  • Offers advice on how to handle Reavers using Cortex Plus.
  • New rules introduce scene Triggers—giving GMs more dice to roll!
  • Use our fancy Episode Generator. Never get stuck for ideas again!

THINGS DON’T GO SMOOTH is a softcover supplement for the FIREFLY RPG and uses a freewheelin’ version of the award-winning Cortex Plus System. You can pre-order the print edition directly from Margaret Weis Productions or buy it in PDF via DriveThruRPG.com.

Go Read Dread Names Red List Chapter One!

Did you know I was writing again for Vampire the Masquerade? Well, now you do! Matt M McElroy is developing this book, and he recently announced that:

Originally this book was going to be a small stretch goal PDF featuring a bit of an update and some fresh new material regarding the Red List, sort of an homage to the classic Kindred Most Wanted from 1st edition Vampire. It has greatly expanded in scope and depth as to the content and its place in the V20 line since its inception. This first chapter alone eats up almost half of the originally planned word count. SOURCE: Dread Names, Red List Chapter One

Let me give you a teeny tiny hint. Per my usual M.O., there are easter eggs for long-time Vampire fans scattered throughout this chapter. Plus, there will be more. So don’t be afraid to comment!

You can find Dread Names, Red List Chapter One on the Onyx Path website.

So What Goes Into A Firefly Game Anyway?

Firefly Avatar

Fans are excited and I’ve had non-stop questions about when the game is coming out. I mentioned this earlier, but I tend to err on the conservative side of announcing releases because, in my experiences, there IS such a thing as marketing/publicizing too early. This is also why we’ve been more transparent about what’s happening and when. Fan expectations are high and that means better (more) communication as this process continues. See also: talk is cheap and doesn’t get the words down or the game/album/story/novel/comic/etc. out the door!

Or, to put it a little more blunt: you really don’t want us to rush and put out a crappy game — do you?

Still, I realize there’s probably a ton of folks who have no idea what goes into game design and production. Hence, the reason for my post today. I thought I’d take a minute and show you what goes into this process. Mind you, these are very common components that relate to a lot of games and this one happens to be a little more complex because we have to get approval from our friends at Fox television studios. (This doesn’t include any of the other business-related elements like marketing, putting the game into distribution, convention planning, etc.) We’re not creating the game in a bubble, you see. They’re very much involved in what we’re doing.

Oh! Almost forgot! If any of my friends out there in RPG-land on the publishing side spot a missing piece or want to chime in to offer links or more visibility, feel free. Without further adieu…

  • Personnel – Who’s working on the game? What talents do they have? When will they be available?
  • Time And Resources – How much time do folks have to work on this? What’s the budget? How do different roles overlap/complement each other?
  • Scheduling – Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. So far, we’ve coordinated them for almost a dozen people. Without them, nothing for this the game would ever come out in a reasonable timeframe.
  • Brainstorming – What is the definition of a Firefly Role-Playing Game? What do players do at the table? What’s the mechanic going to be? What characters will they play? What releases do we want to make?
  • Setting Bible – Where the heck is this game being played? What’s the timeframe? What can we/can’t we do?
  • Development/Management – A developer works with the writers and knows the system to shape the game according to the overall vision of what we’re trying to do. We have a developer on Echoes of War and, in many ways, multiple developmental roles for the Firefly RPG. That’s partly what a Brand Manager (e.g. me) does in addition to people wrangling, outlines, etc. This is a step-up from brainstorming, because once the vision is clear, it has to be honed and sharpened for multiple people.
  • Writing – There are layers to writing the Firefly RPG because of the voice we use. First, we need good content. Then, it needs to be spruced up. Content here comes in multiple pieces and it all needs to fit together seamlessly. Now, here’s the thing. Right now, the estimated word count of the Firefly RPG is likely going to be 150 to 200K words. The Echoes of War adventures we announced will likely be between 20 to 30K a piece. The corebook may change pending game development; right now all we have are estimates. This does not include revisions; for every draft, there will likely be changes to fit the larger context.
  • Designing – Game mechanics don’t just grow on trees. The rules are important and that’s where the design team comes in. Even with a base system, everything has to tie together and that’s why we have a systems team in place. Remember, we’re making a Firefly Role-Playing Game. While there will be worldbuilding for fans to draw from, everything we do is in the context of a game — even the episodes.
  • Playtesting – The best games have been playtested and played a number of times before they’re released. We’re doing the same thing, but with closed groups. Playtesters have to be managed for feedback and the larger the number of groups, the more time it takes to wrangle the communication.
  • Editing – Our editors are QC – Quality Control. If something isn’t written clearly, they’ll revise it. If a paragraph has typos, they’ll fix it. But, they need a reasonable amount of time to review existing text. Yes, even text that is perfectly acceptable needs to be edited. A good editor (and we have two) is crucial to production. You can see how important it is to ensure the writing is sharp — especially for a game like this!
  • Art/Layout – Art can take anywhere from a month to three months to receive, or longer depending. There are layers to that process, too, and I think folks sometimes forget that art doesn’t just pop out of nowhere. After the final text and art is done, the layout artist needs to put together the book for whatever formats (e.g. print versus digital) it’ll be available in. This does not count time spent for revisions. And I didn’t even mention the indexing!
  • Approvals – Whether you work for your own company or not, the game has to be approved before it gets released. In our case, we have internal approvals and our friends at Fox. So, even when the game is finished, it still has to go to Fox before we can release it. If there’s changes, then the release is delayed.

I’m pretty sure I forgot something in this list… Hopefully, even with what I have written here, you can see why games are a lot more complex and time-consuming to create than you might have thought. Back to it then!

    Mood: WRITE. REVISE. RINSE. REPEAT.
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Too many!
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: There was a hill. And I beated it.
    In My Ears: The screaming cries of my thoughts.
    Game Last Played: Final Fantasy IX
    Movie Last Viewed: Ted
    Latest Artistic Project: *Still* need to take pictures…
    Latest Release: “The Button” We Are Dust anthology
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