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 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, 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.


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!


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.

Jun 302011

You only wish your experts were this awesome.

When it came time to figure out what the right name for Race to Adventure! should be, we knew we were going to be way off track if we tried to figure it out ourselves.

What we needed was an expert at playing games, but also had a perspective on what would appeal to kids and families, since we see Race as a way to introduce younger family members to the role selection genre of board games. We knew we had a leg up with basing the game in the Spirit of the Century universe — talking gorillas, jetpacks, and lightning guns all have plenty of kid appeal. Still, we needed that expert in what kids like and what they like to play.

So we went to the source.

Eight-year-old Ian Hanrahan is an amazing kid. He’s Chris Hanrahan’s younger son. He might not be your typical sample — he plays Ravenloft, D&D, Ticket to Ride, Qwirkle, and so forth. But we’re betting he’s not alone amongst the children of gamer families everywhere.

The thing is, I knew all this, and knew he’d be a great kid to check in with. What I hadn’t quite grasped was HOW great. So great, I think I owe this kid a consulting fee or something. So I invite you to listen in as this expert weighs in on the play of the game and, later, on our efforts to brand the game correctly with the right name:

Ian’s Playtest Comments (MP4)

Ian’s Brand Analysis (MP4)


Jun 192011

Come Tuesday, I will be bound for Origins 2011. I’m trying something radically new there this year.

I’m not going as a publisher.

That’s not strictly true, of course. I’m going to check out the Origins Awards and hope for (but not expect) a win, and that’s an undeniably publisherish thing for me to do. I’ll meet a few people for business purposes, and I’ll be carrying around my Zeppelin Armada prototype deck for playtesting (if you see me and I’m available, feel free to ask to play).

But when it comes down to it, in the last 5 years of gaming conventions — which is most of the span of time I’ve done gaming conventions outside of AmberCon Northwest — I’ve rarely gone just as a “civilian”. This will definitely be my first Big Convention without a booth concern. (You’ll find Evil Hat’s stuff represented at the Indie Press Revolution booth.)

I’d say I’ll hardly know what to do with myself, but that’s a lie. I intend to:

  • Eat at the many fine eateries of Columbus, Ohio
  • Try to restrain myself from eating my body weight in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
  • Talk with all those lovely people I haven’t seen in ages, and even some of those who I have: Rob Donoghue, Chris Hanrahan, Leonard Balsera, Amanda & Clark Valentine, Matt Gandy, Jeremy Keller, Cam Banks, and more (if I leave you off the list, it is for brevity, not lack of desire!)
  • Drink while doing so
  • Spend some serious time in the Board Room
  • Hit up the Games on Demand area (though at 5 tables only in Delaware A, that may get crowded!)

I’m approaching all this in a vigorously ad hoc fashion, but I also don’t want to get to the end of it with an “aw, damn, I really meant to talk to…” feeling. So please track me down, or holler in the comments here if you’re looking for a slice of my time!

May 162011

Jeff is going to be making enough changes following our first round of Zeppelin Armada playtesting that we’re going to want to do a second round in another couple weeks or so. For this, we need both our prior playtesters already on board, and a handful of fresh-blood folks who haven’t seen the first iteration.

So if you’re not already a playtester for us, and you think that sometime in late May/early June you’ll be able to do some multiple-session playtesting (2 to 4 sessions worth is probably 2 to 6 hours), I am interested in hearing from you. Volunteer with your credentials in the comments below, or you can email me at evilhat on the gmail.

Apr 122011

So, we’re going to be producing Do: The Book of Letters as the Do kickstarter runs its course. This will be a digest-ish sized booklet, hopefully around 32 black and white pages, containing additional letters and letter-writing advice for the game, adventure seeds, and so forth, which we’ll be making available in print only to folks who are contributing at the $40 level or higher. (Smaller-amount contributors will get the PDF of the Book of Letters, and we’ll likely be selling it as a PDF as well, but this will be the only way to get it in print for sure.)

So who’s going to write these letters? Well, we’ll write a few. But mostly: you are. We’d love to have your letter, and to give you a chance to be a part of Do with us. Interested?

We can’t promise we’ll accept every letter we get, but we will do our very best to get into trouble with it. Ideally we should have your letters in before the end of April. This will give us time to select the letters we’ll use, and get some editing and artwork done on the booklet. And even if we don’t use your letter, we’ll save it up and possibly share it on Daniel’s blog later on. No letter goes unheard by the pilgrims.

Here are your guidelines.

Avatar: the Last Airbender, The Little Prince, Kino’s Journey. Stories of young people traveling through the strange, often absurd world of adults.

There are hundreds small worlds orbiting a flying temple. Like islands, these small worlds often have strange cultures and unique problems. Whenever the people have a conflict that cannot be resolved on their own, they send letters to the temple requesting assistance. The temple sends young monks on a pilgrimage across the universe responding to a stack of letters one at a time. Their goal is to leave each world with less trouble than when they arrived.

Your Mission:

  • You’re a worldly citizen (that is, a citizen of one of the tiny worlds floating in the sky) with a weird problem. You’re writing to the pilgrims of the flying temple for help. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a letter to be included in the next supplement for Do.
  • Your letter should be around 150-500 words.
  • List key phrases from the letter, including character names, important locations, important objects, adjectives and verbs. Repeat them up to three times if they are very important. Depending on the difficulty level of your letter, the letter should have a list of 10 key phrases (Easy), 15 (Medium), or 20 (Hard)
  • Tag your letter with two or three of the symbols that describe the subject matter in the letter. These are described in this PDF. (There’s a sample letter in there too!)
  • Email your letters to Fred Hicks at evilhat [at] gmail [dot] com


Getting Inspired: To get started, what is your favorite episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Kino’s Journey, Star Trek or Stargate SG-1? Pretty much any show where the heroes go from place to place helping people and getting into trouble is a good place to start. Imagine you are one of the people who needs help from the heroes. First you may have to explain a little about the world you’re on, just to give the heroes some context for your problem. That also gives the players more hooks and inspiration to begin their adventure.

A Dose of Realism: You may find inspiration in stories of the real world as a way to start your letter, like natural disasters, historical conflicts, and even outright wars. But make sure you approach those subjects with sensitivity and respect. Do is by its nature a comedic game. Before you submit a letter “ripped from the headlines,” try to change the circumstances enough that the letter doesn’t seem like it’s just making light of a real-world tragedy.

Symbols: The trouble symbols are described in this PDF. Think about the subject matter of your letter. What makes a TREE+BOOK letter different than a SWORD+BOOK letter? What kind of troubles do you expect pilgrims to get into when they visit this world and meddle with people’s lives?

Difficulty: A good letter suggests a complicated situation with no clear solution. A great letter suggests several problems with several unfavorable solutions. Present a Gordian knot to the pilgrims and they’ll figure out the rest.

Age Appropriateness: Do is a game designed for players 12 and up, so adjust the tone of your letter appropriately. The editors reserve the right to revise or re-word your letter in order to make it more age appropriate, if necessary.