[New RPG Jumpstart Release] Legacy of Lies for V20 Dark Ages

V20 Dark Ages | Jumpstart | Legacy of Lies

Two Princes. Bitter Rivals. And a Coterie Caught Between Them.

Marcus Verus, the vampiric Prince of Chester, secretly prepares to go into torpor. Should his plans be made public, the Prince knows the wolves — both real and imagined — would launch an attack, threatening all within his domain.

That’s where you come in.

Legacy of Lies is a jumpstart for the Vampire The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Dark Ages Edition corebook. This standalone jumpstart is a taste to whet your vampiric appetite. It includes:

• Basic rules for players and Storytellers
• Introduction to the V20: Dark Ages setting
• Introductory adventure
• Characters for players and Storytellers

About Legacy of Lies

Marcus Verus, Prince of Chester, is secretly preparing to go into torpor, and wants to ensure his house is in order. Verus does not wish to make his plans public, because he knows the minute he announces his desire to rest, the wolves will be at his door, and all would be threatened within his domain which was entrusted to him by his sire, Mithras, the King of the British Isles. Instead, Verus is assessing who will be worthy to take the reins of leadership once he leaves Chester by appointing a council of peers to rule in his stead. Of course, such a position carries a price: Whomever sits as the Baron of Chester will have to answer to Mithras, himself.

First, however, Marcus Verus needs to convince a group of vampires (the characters) to carry out a secret mission on his behalf. Verus, a seasoned warlord, is not a vampire of many words; he will test the characters by asking them to question an informant hiding in Rouen and take further actions if necessary. What the characters do not know, is that Verus is already aware of the secrets the informant possesses. He’s more curious to know what they’ll do next.

What secrets will your characters unravel? What dark decisions must they make? Whose favor will they win? Find out in Legacy of Lies!

[New Release] Court of Shadows for Shadowrun 5th Edition

Shadowrun Court of Shadows Cover Art

Today, I am pleased to announce that Court of Shadows, a brand new setting for Shadowrun 5th Edition, is now available in PDF. The print edition will be out in August, and there’s a possibility Catalyst Game Labs will have this supplement for the show. I co-designed the setting with Jason Hardy for this supplement, and contributed a huge chunk of the writing, too. I hope you enjoy this new and mysterious look into the realm of the fae!

The Falling Dream

You have seen it. You have felt it. The dream where you are falling, falling, and you cannot see the ground but you know it is there waiting. You may try to brace yourself, you may try to force yourself awake—you do anything to avoid the impact that keeps rushing toward you.

The Seelie Court is the realm of the hidden, the rumored, and the unknown. Fairies, spirits, and enchanted creatures mingle there, building alliances, plotting, scheming, toying with the realm of humans—and with each other. The Court has long held a distant attachment to the material plane, influencing it like a dream influences our waking hours. But now a new connection has emerged, allowing humans to infiltrate the courts and influence its proceedings. At a time when magical power is ever in the rise, the mix of human and fae could set both worlds into a calamitous plunge, and no one will want to be awake when they hit bottom.

Court of Shadows is an alternate setting for Shadowrun 5th Edition, emphasizing the magic and intrigue of the Seelie Court. With full setting, character, and plot details, as well as information on using SR5 characters in the Seelie Court, this book presents all-new ways to play Shadowrun and to live in the mystical intrigue of the planes of fairy, capturing the magic of the dream world—and seeing if they can prevent its fall.

Court of Shadows is for use with Shadowrun 5th Edition.

New Game Release: Gaming In The ‘Verse: Gen Con 2013 Exclusive and FAQ

gaming-in-the-verse

If you recall, we announced the pre-order for this convention rulebook back in April. Today, I am pleased to announce that we delivered Gaming in the ‘Verse: GenCon 2013 Exclusive, as promised, on Thursday, August 15th. This preview for the Firefly RPG line, both the corebook and Echoes of War, are now available at DriveThruRPG.com.

By now you should have a good idea what this rulebook is for, so let me address some questions we’ve received to help you understand more general information about the line I’m managing and designing.

1) What is the difference between the Serenity RPG and the Firefly RPG?

The Serenity RPG debuted in 2005 and employed a rule system which is now known as “Cortex Classic.” Based on the movie, this game was licensed through Universal Studios.

The Firefly RPG, which debuted in 2013, employs the Cortex Plus engine which has been the foundation for Leverage, Smallville, and Marvel. The game is based on the Fox television series. This is not a new edition of the Serenity RPG; these are two, separate games and play very differently.

This also means there are setting-related decisions we made to create a strong foundation at the beginning of the Crew’s story arc. As we show in the Exclusive, we’ll first reinforce the television series by providing all rules for secondary characters and dive into actual play examples for every Episode. We will start faithful to the show and will slowly expand into new canon — which we’ve already done by providing new ‘Verse-related locations, characters, ships, etc.

2) Shouldn’t River be more powered than she is? Why is Book presented as secretive? Wait… Where’s Miranda?

We provided rules for the main cast at the very beginning of their story arc. River is still extremely mysterious — no one knew she had combat-related powers until Kaylee witnessed her fighting skills at Niska’s skyplex in “War Stories,” which was the tenth episode in Firefly. Even then, Kaylee did not reveal her skills right away. This also means that we will not be diving into the origin of Reavers due to the boundaries of our licensing agreement. They will be the mysterious boogeymen who haunt the black in their modded ships.

There are marked differences for many of the characters at the beginning of the show versus what we know about them in the movie. So, the reason why you’re seeing that distinction, is because we intentionally provided their character descriptions and rules to line up with the TV series.

3) Do I have to run the Episodes as they are presented?

Our adventures were designed for folk who’ve never run Cortex Plus before and for GMs who prefer a ready-made scenario. The system is incredibly flexible and no two gaming groups are alike. For that reason, I would gauge your decisions (both as a player and as a GM) according to the needs of your table. I’m finding that larger groups (I ran this for a cast of nine Crewmembers) will focus on banter more than smaller teams who’ll emphasize setting.

Our role as a publisher is to provide as much material as possible so all types of GMs and players will get what they want out of these new stories. The sample Assets, Complications, and results table are just that — samples to help guide you as your Crew travels through the ‘Verse. For example, if you were to run Wedding Planners “as is” you’d get two to three sessions of play out of the scenario.

4) Is this the same rule system you’ll use in the corebook?

Yes, absolutely. What our systems team created is amazing and we have no intention of altering game play. I’ve instructed our new folk, led by Mark Diaz Truman, to be faithful to what’s been presented in the Exclusive. My role on the mechanics side is to continue reinforcing canon in the system-related context. So expect new Distinctions in the corebook, advancement, more rules clarifications, game play examples, sample Assets/Complications, and a few new aspects like what happens when you botch. (Hint: players earn a Complication without getting a Plot Point.)

We are going to take the Basic Rules chapter and split that up between player and GM so we can expand on certain points. These rules are the basis for Echoes of War adventures, so if you like Wedding Planners or Shooting Fish — I think you’re really going to dig the new Episodes we have in the pipe by some fabulous writers. Just fabulous.

5) What’s next? When’s the corebook coming out?

First up, we’re releasing the stand-alone editions of Wedding Planners, Serenity Crew, and Shooting Fish that debuted in the Exclusive on September 3rd. To be clear: this has much of the same content. (The Exclusive has more, which is related to the corebook.) We’re separating these out to match the publication schedule for the Echoes of War line, and to provide fans with different options. For example, we anticipated that fans who picked up the Wedding Planners Cortex Classic Set, may prefer not to buy the Exclusive and just try a stand-alone Episode.

Before I left for Gen Con, I finished the third Echoes of War adventure called “Friends in Low Places.”

***SPOILER ALERT*** Mouse over to read the synopsis! ***END SPOILERS***

We will continue to release Episodes in digital ahead of the corebook and this is next in line. Now that that’s over with, my attention is on the corebook and the other, unannounced products we’ve got coming up. I’m really, really excited about this.

If you have other questions, feel free to ask them here. We have already incorporated feedback into what we’re working on; though our time frame is short, we are listening. It’s tough because we have to balance comments with getting games out on time — and that’s something I am hyperfocused on.

Thanks for your interest in this shiny, new game!

Pre-Order Q&A, Firefly, and Me

gaming-in-the-verse

Last week, we launched a pre-order for a full-color, softcover edition of the Gaming in the ‘Verse: GenCon 2013 Exclusive in the Margaret Weis Productions online store. Today, we also offered a digital pre-order on DriveThruRPG.com.

This Exclusive will have playable material in the book and give you a good idea of the basic approach we’re using for the game. It will not be available in retail stores. Be sure to read the product description for more information! You can also drop by GeekNative for Andrew’s take on what we’re doing.

Gaming in the ‘Verse: GenCon 2013 Exclusive will include:

* Sample Art and Full-Color Map Previews
* Select Chapter Previews
* “Wedding Planners” a playable Echoes of War adventure written by Margaret Weis
* “Shooting Fish” a playable Echoes of War adventure written by Andrew Peregrine
* “Serenity Crew” a collection of stand-alone characters compatible with the Echoes of War line
* Chinese pronunciation guide
* …and more!

Here are some frequently asked questions and insights that have come up.

What’s your release schedule look like?

The Echoes of War line will be a series of stand-alone PDF adventures that *will* be fully playable. The Serenity Crew release, which is compatible with these adventures, will have stats for the main crew and [redacted] as well. Margaret’s adventure, “Wedding Planners,” and the “Serenity Crew” will be released in two systems: Cortex Classic and Cortex Plus. We are doing that to help older fans get acclimated to the new system. Nothing else is planned for a dual release; we have an introductory letter going into both products so you can see our approach.

The GenCon Exclusive, which will feature Margaret’s adventure as a Cortex Plus debut and Andrew’s, is available in print/PDF through the MWP website and as a PDF in digital. It will also clearly highlight the basic approach we’re taking with the line and offer lots of other easter eggs for fans.

After that? The corebook. My team doesn’t even know what’s debuting after the fact right now. We’re focused on launching Echoes of War and getting the Exclusive done. Then, we’ll hyper-focus on the corebook.

Who are some of the artists you’re hiring?

Daniel Solis, our Art Director, has dropped a few names on his blog when he talked about the pre-order. I am *giddy.*

Why Winter 2013?

We can’t set a target date because even when *our* portion is done, we still have to submit for Fox approval, and make changes after the fact. Q4 is our likely target for the game’s release. What’s more? This is not Serenity 2.0. This is a brand new game — NOT — an update.

How has the pipeline news (Marvel) affected Firefly?

Short answer? It hasn’t. I’ve been a consultant for Firefly since past November and, when the license was officially announced, I was already working behind-the-scenes to get fans playing in the ‘verse. The reason why I was hired was because the company’s goals shifted to ensure that releases came out in a more timely manner. I don’t know the history of the company and I don’t know the people very well. This is my first project with many of them and they’re getting used to my management style. We’ve all been nose-to-grindstone and I typically operate about six, eight months ahead of everybody else.

It’s an unhappy coincidence that fans are associating what happened with Marvel with this license. I understand what’s happening and there’s nothing I can do to change people’s minds. What’s more, Marvel has nothing to do with me at all. I can’t comment, because it’s not my line.

The only thing I can do is this: under-promise. Over-deliver.

Where can I find more info and keep up-to-date?

We are taking a more transparent approach with the line and I am available for questions. Once we get through this crunch period, I can open up the floor to other members of my team, too.

Follow my Margaret Weis Productions blog to stay up-to-date.

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




Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore and game store near you.

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