Dec 272011
 

So I’ve recently been pushing hard to make sure Evil Hat has enough plates spinning at once that we’ll have a pretty steady (if a bit irregular) slate of releases once the projects start reaching their conclusions. This means I have a spreadsheet with about a baker’s dozen projects listed in it, all in various states of development. And because Evil Hat is all about the transparency, I’m going to share some of what I’ve got in there — basically an outline for our nearish future in 2012 and beyond (sans release dates, because we don’t do that sort of thing).

It’s worth saying that some of these things aren’t surefire, definitely-happening projects — sometimes the project is figuring out if it’s a project — but most of them are capturing some amount of my attention on a regular basis, and I certainly want them to happen.

Do we have the money to make all of these projects happen at once, simultaneously? No. (We do have enough money to make sure the creative folks working on the projects get paid for their efforts — that’s my necessary minimum.) But they won’t be happening simultaneously, and in at least a few (or maybe even many) cases, we’ve got the option to throw a little Kickstarter juice at them. Our ambitions would be just a tad smaller if we didn’t have the option of crowdfunding in the mix. Thanks to Kickstarter, our ambitions are having a bit of a right time, right place quality to them, which is great.

Let’s get into the details.

Role-Playing Games

Don’t Rest Your Head

Don’t Hack This Game: Hopefully you’ve read the post about this already. Don’t Rest Your Head is over 5 years old at this point, and Ryan Macklin & I think there’s been a lot of great, creative play and hackery going on out there. Don’t Hack This Game will be a supplement for Don’t Rest Your Head where we collect some of the best ideas and give folks a roadmap for hacking the game to be what they want it to be. The system can be bent into all sorts of shapes, but that’s really only one piece of the puzzle.

Dresden Files

The Paranet Papers: This has been one of the “big dog” projects since the Dresden Files RPG launched. The Paranet Papers is part system update and setting catch-up (getting us mostly current into the beginning bits of Ghost Story), part campaign starter kit. That latter part is being addressed by us cracking up the city creation mold a bit and looking at six different “cities” that do it a little differently, all viewed in light of the fallout from Changes. Those locations: Las Vegas; the “Neverglades”; the open road (taking the Dresden Files in more of a Supernatural direction); the Russian Revolution; South America; and some of the “outlands” of the Nevernever.

DF Adventures: Fairly recently we got ink on a contract addendum that lets us do a handful of “for-pay” adventure arcs for the Dresden Files RPG. Previously we were only in the clear to do free web support type stuff, which is where our collection of one-shots for the Dresden Files (as well as a Fiasco scenario) came from. Now, we’re going to get to do some more ambitious stuff. We’ve got three such projects slated, and the option to do more. You’ll probably see these parcel out over the course of the next two years; at least one of them will include some new details about the Dresdenverse gathered straight from the Word of Jim.

Fate

Fate Core: This would be that new core Fate book that we’ve been promising folks since Spirit of the Century. We haven’t been burbling about this as much as we could over on FateRPG.com, but that doesn’t mean the project’s on hold. Lenny is in straight up nose to the grindstone mode with this one; we’re hoping to have the full text to an editorial squad by February.

Gumshoe

Bubblegumshoe: Evil Hat’s going to be exploring Pelgrane Press’s Gumshoe system a bit, with a focus on taking it in some more deeply “story-game” directions, in a pair of projects. The first of these is Bubblegumshoe, the teen detective roleplaying game. In essence, we’re looking for something that runs the gamut from Nancy Drew to Veronica Mars here — a mostly female-protagonist perspective, but with plenty of room for Hardy Boys and The Great Brain besides — with a focus on how our teen investigators interact with the authority figures and other relationships in their lives. This one’s got a trio of RPG experts working on it: Kenneth Hite, Emily Care Boss, and Lisa Steele.

Revengers: Evil Hat’s other Gumshoe system game will be penned by Will Hindmarch and features ghosts-as-cops who investigate murders for the recently dead and, when possible, get revenge for them. This one will be half whodunit, half let’s-get-’em, and Will and I have been talking about making several system decisions that put some real story-shaping power in the players’ hands, as well as building some unity between the game-space and the story-space. That’s a bit gearheaddy, so let me stress again: you’re dead cops solving murder mysteries and haunting the bejeezus out of the murderers. Badass.

Spirit of the Century

Strange Tales of the Century: A Spirit of the Century inflected tour of the mostly-real international pulps that existed in the first half of the 20th Century, with geek librarian superstar Jess Nevins as your tour guide.  This will be a must-have for fans of pulp who want to break outside of the often-common American-inflected mold. Strange Tales of the Century is one has been in the works for a while, but got spun into an editorial limbo a few years back. We’ve managed to breathe new life into it with an expanded editorial team and believe we’ll see this one out in 2012 for sure.

Board/Card Game

Race to Adventure: One of our two big forays into the board game arena. Race to Adventure!™ is an easy-to-learn family board game you can play in 20-30 minutes. It features heroes from the Spirit of the Century setting racing around the globe on a scavenger hunt, trying to be the first to get their passports stamped and return to the Century Club’s home base. Of course, they run into all sorts of complications from the villainous masterminds of the SOTC setting along the way. The game was designed by Evan Denbaum, Eric Lytle, and Chris Ruggiero, features card art by Spirit of the Century illustrator Christian N. St. Pierre, and graphic design by Daniel Solis.

Zeppelin Armada: The flipside of Race to Adventure, Zeppelin Armada is a fightin’ card game featuring the villainous masterminds of the Spirit of the Century setting. An artifact of ultimate power has been discovered — and EVERYONE wants it. So they gas up their zeppelins, and of course, all arrive at the site of the artifact at the same time. A nasty brawl ensues! Featuring rules designed by Jeff Tidball. This one’s going to end up coming up a little bit behind Race to Adventure in part because we’re using the same artist for both projects — there’s only so much he can draw at once!

Fiction

Don’t Read This Book: A fiction anthology set in the Don’t Rest Your Head setting, edited by Chuck Wendig. This features some incredible authors — I’m seriously agog we got the roster we did for this — but I can’t list all the names just yet. I can say that it will contain a new short story by one of my favorite authors, Harry Connolly, and that I have read it, and that it is fantastic.

Dinocalypse Now: A novel — possibly the start of a trilogy if it is well-received — set in the Spirit of the Century universe, as psychic dinosaurs from the distant past try to take over the present and rule the future. Chuck Wendig will be writing this one, with the pulp action and strange science dials cranked to eleven. Expect to see the heroes from Race to Adventure put in an appearance, including our game’s classic love triangle, Jet, Sally, and Mack.

Graphic Novel

ElectriCity: ElectriCity will be a stand-alone graphic novel written by longtime friend C. E. Murphy — a superhero story set in a new world, with the rivalry between Tesla and Edison as part of the backstory of it all. We’ve been having a lot of fun developing the script and are working on finishing that up and assembling the artistic team. More than any other project on our roster, we’ll be relying on Kickstarter to help us determine if this is just a lovely dream or something we can actually bring to the world. 🙂

Mystery Projects

We do have a couple of them — pipe dreams, or opportunities that haven’t gotten any momentum yet. In nearly all of these cases that adds up to shouldn’t or can’t when it comes to talking about them, so I’m going to simply put a footnote here at the bottom that what I have listed above is not necessarily the whole span of what we’re hoping to do. In most cases, though, if something’s not listed above, it’s a project more likely to happen in 2013 than 2012 — though any of the above projects could end up in 2013 as well simply due to scheduling and effort particulars.

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Jun 122011
 

It is perhaps somewhat misleading to refer to a process that takes five weeks to bang out a synopsis as “going great guns”, but given the workloads Fred and I are under (granted, most of mine’s self-imposed at this point, but nevermind that), I really think the storyline development for ElectriCity is going great guns.

Kit talks a bit more about our collaboration over the last five weeks over at her blog. Check it out.

And if you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about, make sure to check out the ElectriCity tag on this blog!

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May 312011
 

This is a companion post to Kit’s announcement over on her blog. You’ll want to read that, too, in either order.

My friend C. E. Murphy (another talented author — I’m lucky to know several — who’s behind the Urban Shaman/Walker Papers series, among others) and I go way back. We first met online back in the mid 1990’s, playing characters on an of all things X-Men MUSH. She called herself Kit there, so I always call her Kit. Or “Miz Kit,” as my rendition of Sabretooth preferred.

Kit’s an incredibly deep-geek fan of comics (whereas I’ve always been more of a dabbler) and a prolific writer to boot. So fiveish years back when I said:

Fred needs to put together a comics universe

Fred says, “With the major cities of DREAM CITY, CHARM CITY, and ELECTRIC CITY”

Fred says, “DREAM CITY is the Los Angeles analogue, CHARM CITY is your east-coast politics and crime thang, and ELECTRIC CITY is that sort of middle america big industrial near a giant hydroelectric dam”

Fred says, “DREAM CITY is home to The Stuff (ref: The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of), examining issues of responsibility, image, and fame. CHARM CITY has the title Charmed Life, blending supers with supernatural along with the gritty elements of washington politics and street-level crime. ELECTRIC CITY has the title ElectriCity, and is one of those post-modern Justice League/X-Men type things where the heroes have phenomenal powers but a lot of personal problems that are more interesting”

Fred says, “This bangs around in my head regularly.”

… I should’ve known that I was dangling fresh bloody meat in front of a hungry tiger. I didn’t, but I should’ve.

Kit pounced.

And then life happened. But we kept coming back to the idea of collaborating on something like this — me throwing my Big Picture Ideas at her, doing worldbuilding in the areas of my idea that excited me, but leaving it to her to make that world a complete, breathing thing with characters who laugh and love and fight and bleed and die. (Kit writer. Me publisher.) It was a dance that spanned years, punctuated by long bouts of having many other things to do.

Recently we had a chance to visit our dance again (I point you once more at Kit’s blog post, about that). It feels more alive than ever, more doable.

We’re going start by focusing on creating ElectriCity, a stand-alone graphic novel (not that we won’t have follow-up projects if this one succeeds — but we both like the idea of creating works that emerge as complete stories, here). Kit has already worked up part of a synopsis — a reflection on our dance — and it’s looking pretty hot. Plus, it’s got Tesla and Edison’s feud right there at the root of modern superheroes.

Over the course of the next several months (at least) I’ll be sharing details and tidbits of our plan. You’ll meet The Team, and learn a little about their problems. A few months out from now, hopefully, you’ll also see some of the concept art take form.

I’ll also be talking about the business side of trying to publish a single graphic novel. And I’ll tell you right now, that’s not liable to be pretty. The budget for even one of these things is prohibitive. Consider this: each page of a graphic novel has multiple artists working on it (penciler, inker, colorist, letterer, author), and each page is essentially a full-page, full-color piece of art.  It’s probably one of the most cost-dense forms of geek media you’ll find — a single 100-ish page graphic novel requires an art budget on the order of several Dresden Files RPGs.

To be honest, that’s not something we’ll be able to take on alone. A Kickstarter campaign with a not-at-all modest minimum target is almost certainly in the (non-immediate) future, after we’ve got enough material developed to give us a foundation for getting one going. (If Do was a kickstarter for a graphic novel, it would have just cleared the necessary amount a week or so shy of conclusion — and that’s with Evil Hat picking up about half of the tab.) If that campaign doesn’t succeed, we won’t have a strong enough foundation to get to the finish line.

But that’s putting the cart ahead of the electric horse. We first need to demonstrate to y’all that what we’re working on will be awesome. So that’s what the next few months will include (modulo Origins, modulo my second kid being born in July, all that), as we make our way through the work. We also need to put thought into what else we can do to tie into this thing, since transmedia is the word of the day. Short story collection? RPG tie-in? Both, and more, certainly possible, depending on whether and how much of a success we can chart for this thing.

The ride we’re on now may crash. We’re hoping it will soar. But it’ll be a crazy ride, and crazy fun. We hope you’ll come along with us.

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