Patreon Project

Going to try something new…

On March 15th, 2015, Jackson Trewes was found murdered (alongside two unidentified homeless men) in an abandoned house. Jackson’s death came as a shock to his family, but as of yet, the police have no reason to suspect foul play.

As of yet…

This project will explore the death of Jackson Trewes (a fictional character) and how his death impacts the city. It is an ongoing gaming story of Urban Horror. It will start innocently enough. Even if you don’t use it for gaming, you may find the way this story is told to be entertaining.

There are no game mechanics. No stats. Just story, motive, actions, reactions, and deeper mystery to explore. Ideal for Vampire or any modern supernatural game.

The Source of the Nile and the Cradle of Civilization

I’m a huge fan of Top Gear. I’ve watched every episode. Numerous times. It plays in the background while I work almost constantly. The long trips are especially entertaining for me. Vietnam. Myanmar. Botswana. Bolivia. The North Pole. All amazing.

I just watched (again) the Africa episode about searching for the source of the Nile. It is really good. You can probably find it on youtube or hulu.

48245887_bbcbus[Spoiler] At the very end, there’s this quasi-magical moment where James May puts his finger into a spring that they claim is the source of the Nile. For an anthropologist, this is awe-inspiring. For one, they claim the source of the Nile is in Tanzania, not far from Kenya, which we know is the true cradle of humanity… where hominids first started.

So? What’s the point, mr. game designer?

Take a moment to imagine what you’re role is as a game master. You’re officially ‘a god’ of sorts. You know the truth behind the metaphysics, sorcery, languages, histories, and peoples of your game worlds. (Assuming you’re not running someone else’s game world) You were there when the game world took life. You know who the first people were to step onto your world. You were there for it.

Imagine what that was like.

That first hominid stepping down from the trees to sip from the aquifer that would feed the largest, most important river int he world.

Now imagine it as a game master. Writing the stories of the first beings to step foot onto the world, drinking in the experiences that would shape the myths and realities of that world.

Don’t just write that Thor smashed the ice giants with a hammer forged by a fat-fitted dwarf. Imagine it. Retell. Examine it through a new lens. What was Thor really fighting against? And for? Why did he pick up that ROCK and smash open the head of some ugly person? Were they fighting over a woman? Food? Land? A spot of water?

How did that myth grow to be a hammer? And an ice giant? How did the history of your world change to accommodate that myth? And why was it constantly rewritten?

Imagine you are that god who steps into the well-springs and brings life to these worlds through organic means. Not just dwarves hate smelly orcs, but through the histories of two people rooted in a past YOU created.

Then imagine that every myth we live with today was born the same way. Do that and maybe you’ll understand just a little why I find that moment so magical. A man walks until a trickling stream in Tanzania, puts his finger into a spring, and touches a past he cannot possibly understand.
That’s myth.

The Why

A personal diatribe. Please indulge me.

I’ve been working since i was 15 years old. I’ve always worked. I started paying rent at the age of 17. I once owned a house, but that’s an old story.

When I entered the gaming industry, it was a fluke. I’d always done real, honest work. Lifting boxes. Sales. Customer service. Whatever. I’d never taken on a creative job before. And while I was creative, I never thought i’d do work in that manner. Call it a self-confidence thing. I don’t know.

Since 1997, i’ve been working in gaming. That’s nearly 20 years. People generally have a perception about themselves that they are hard workers. And lazy people generally don’t like to be called out on it, because they tend to believe and/or convince themselves that they work hard.

I could tell 100s of stories of seeing this in the industry, but I won’t.

In 20 years, I’ve taken maybe 6 real vacations. I’ve never been one of those people who could afford one, or thought I could take them time off.

Side note. I wrote/managed the world’s largest dungeon (840 pages, 1 million words), including doing the layout and typography for the book in 11 months. I even broke my hand half-way through the process and was down for six weeks.

And I still finished with a week to spare before my deadline.

I’m not bragging here. Just setting up a story. Bear with me.

In 2005, I thought I’d left the gaming industry for good. I went and got a job doing something else, because the stress of doing what I loved was making me not love it anymore. You’ve probably read some of my stories about the past, dealing with a particular company. Let’s try to forget that and move on.

In late 2007, I foolishly returned and by mid 2010 I was gone again. This time, however, I immediately started working on stuff I loved for myself. I started writing, planning, etc. I was in a funk for a long time, though. I really didn’t want to work. Which was weird for me. It has never happened before. I didn’t analyze it then, because I was stuck in it. Angry. Resentful. Exhausted. Resentful. Er. You get the point.

Then I finished King for a Day — probably the best thing I’ve ever written. In my opinion. My energy was back. I was working again. And I felt like I was really in love with it. By the end of 2014, I’d produced over 100 products, plus over a dozen for other companies. Not to mention graphics and so on.

But the end of 2014 was weird for me. I could feel my energy being sapped again. I knew what it was, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it or deal with it. It just didn’t feel like something I wanted to address. But something was dragging me down, the way the crap of 2005 was dragging me down.

I took two weeks off at the beginning of the year, but they really weren’t a break. I didn’t do anything with the time and in fact, I was angrier AFTERWARDS.

Work has been slow going during these first six weeks of 2015.

But something happened this weekend. I had an epiphany about all of it. And today, my energy is through the roof.

For starters, I realized I’ve probably spent thousands of hours making games, but I never really know if anyone is spending thousands of hours enjoying the games I make. I also never really took time to slow down and rest. I’ve literally allowed my health to suffer over the years, making game after game after game.

And i”m not a success story, so even with over 200 products to my name, I’m still not well-known or rich.

This past weekend, I attended a local game convention (150 people, so more like a gathering) in which I played non-stop for 3 days. I played Orleans three times, Dominare four times, Dice Crawl over a dozen times, Diamonds, Shadow Throne, Tragedy Looper. The list goes on. I cam home exhausted, but energized. I came up with ideas for making Dominare better. I got excited about the upcoming 100 A.D. that I’m making with Souljar games. I fixed a rules problem in Dice Crawl. When I got home I immediately made 105 new characters for Dominare (which only I will ever see). I made a prettier deck of cards for Diamonds (because I can). I cranked out some notes for future games and I started working on a new roleplaying game that hacks Apocalypse World.

It’s nearly 6pm on Monday and I’m still typing away with a fervor about what’s to come.

I can’t say I’ve married my personal life and game design as well as I would have hoped, but I light went off today.

Sometimes, it’s okay to take a break.

Thanks for following.

Game on.