First: Today we released Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle, Vampire: The Requiem‘s new core Chronicle book, as a PDF on DTRPG: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/123898/Blood-and-Smoke-the-Strix-Chronicle This all-in-one book evolves the VtR we released almost a decade ago with tweaks and additions to the clans, covenants, and disciplines, along the same lines as we did with the rules in WoD: The God Machine Chronicle. In fact, Blood and Smoke already includes the changes to the nWoD rules first delivered by God Machine. As we have with our latest projects, we’re releasing Blood and Smoke as a PDF first, gathering errata on our forums, and incorporating that errata before we do the PoD files. Anybody who grabs it in PDF form now, but wants to go with the PDF+PoD combo after the PoD version goes live, will get a coupon for a discount thanks to DTRPG.
Next: Holidays. As we at Onyx Path are crunching through the projects that are starting to be ready to get out to all you lovely folks, we won’t be taking official days off so much as taking time for various holiday events and such. But since CCP will be off for the last week of the year, and our shippers and printers are all taking a week or two off, there will be some projects that will be affected. So expect the forums and our social media sites to still have us around, but not everybody all the time. I’ll blog next week after meeting with Eddy, but I’ll have to see whether an end of year blog is doable.
After Next: Some folks in our community have expressed dismay over CCP’s recent layoffs last week (which, to be fair, was the topic of most of my talk with Eddy this week). Without getting at all into the whys and wherefores of the situation, I just want to be sure everyone understands that we at Onyx Path have not been affected by these changes as licensees, our approvals from CCP did not slow down last week, and Eddy is still at CCP and still our point-of-contact guy.
Next, Who: As promised last week, this week I’d like to explain a bit as to why Eddy and I spent so much time critiquing the whole Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Experience. To begin with, we’re both interested in projects that exist in a shared universe but which are presented in different media. In the old days of WW, we called it making synchronous projects, like the VtM tabletop RPG, Mind’s Eye Theatre LARPing set, VtM fiction, VTES card game, licensed video games like Bloodlines and Redemption, and the Kindred the Embraced TV show. Each shared the VtM world, but presented it (more or less) via the necessary methods of the media it was. Years later, Eddy and I would explore this “Transmedia” concept with a few projects we accomplished for CCP, and we honed our definition of Transmedia as projects that share the same setting, but are designed to really take advantage of the media they are being presented in. Because what makes an excellent novel isn’t necessarily what makes a great tabletop RPG, etc.
In discussion, we realized that the Doctor Who 50th Experience contained an excellent episode of Doctor Who, but also included much smaller and tighter lead-in webisodes that filled in various gaps between other parts of the series like what happened to the 8th Doctor, and non-series based shows that took us into the real world of creating the show. One was historical and gave us a sense of the changes in our world in 50 years, and the other was comedic, and with that comedy also communicated important real world ideas about how Doctor Who has affected the lives of those who performed in it and its fans. This in addition to Twitter contests, fiction and DVD releases, media reveals, and the kind of overt hoopla you’d expect over a golden anniversary. Each part was very well done and stood on it’s own for what it was, but also touched on and revealed pieces that connected with other parts.
Onyx Path is currently the caretaker of several 10-20+ year old media properties with cWoD, nWoD, Exalted, the Trinity Continuum, Scarred Lands, and to a lesser extent in terms of the time-span, Scion. I certainly have every intention of seeing what sort of Transmedia experiences we can create for these game worlds. We’ve started with the various fiction anthologies and novels that you’ll see more of in the coming year, but we also have Condition Cards for the nWoD games, and an Exalted Music Suite, a historical Exalted book of essays, the EX3 comic, etc. that have come out of the EX3 Kickstarter. Even the Kickstarters are a different sort of experience for backers than we’ve seen before, and have enabled us to create these additional projects to further the reach of their respective settings. (Of course, adapting to the demands of the KS process has been a big but necessary challenge these last two years and has pushed back some of the Transmedia projects I’d like us to be creating, but we’ll get to them.)
Then, the other thing that we have looked at is the idea of a long term media property and how something like this survives and goes through cycles during it’s continuing lifetime. Doctor Who has survived 50 years, but how? For example, let’s assume that any property that has survived several years has had it’s variations of quality but has core sets of ideas and characters that are sufficiently appealing to create a dedicated fan base. After that given, there has to be a degree of flexibility so that the property is recognizable to old fans but presents well for newcomers. Doctor Who takes this needed flexibility and bakes change into it’s integral concept. Periodically, The Doctor regenerates into a different looking and acting version of himself. Once it is accepted and expected that the main character will change, that opens the door to all sorts of allowable changes such as tone, the visuals, the other cast members. Not all these changes worked at the time, but all of them had their fans and functioned to expand the tapestry that is the overall story of Doctor Who. (Well, except Adric.) And it also opens the doors to fans adopting a devotion to one version of The Doctor that excludes any other versions.
It’s therefore in Onyx Path‘s best interest to examine an example like building in change and see if our settings, primarily our tabletop RPGs, have similar baked-in expected and accepted concepts within them. My first thought is that New Editions are the regeneration trope in our RPGs. There will be changes precisely because there is a new edition. We know some things will get shaken up. Go too far, and we’ll have “edition wars” in the same way that Doctor Who faces new Doctor hatred. Don’t make enough of a change and you’re telling the same stories, cleaving too close to the old, with commensurate loss of excitement and reader/viewer fatigue with the whole thing.
And that’s just one avenue of inquiry- one way to parse through Doctor Who to see what we can glean that can help us. There’s a whole other avenue that we could look at about how to balance an appreciation for the fans and their interests with the needs of creators to try and create new elements and approaches to these properties. The “hands-off” approach of many years of White Wolf, and many, many years of the hierarchy of Doctor Who, that was radiated by the creators to the fans has been replaced by an appreciation for the incredible loyalty and love that our respective communities have for these worlds. And there are more things we can look at past these couple of examples, and will, but that’s kind of the point. This is an ongoing analysis as to how to best present the amazing settings, worlds, and games, and no single other media property is ging to have all the answers. But it’s fun looking!
Updates for the Very Games We Were Talking About:
– Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle (VtR) The PDF is available on sale on DTRPG as mentioned above! Please give it a look and feel free to comment on our forums.
– Mummy the Curse – The MtC Ready Made Characters Pack PDF tweaks are in layout. Cursed Necropolis DC writing is being developer-passed.
– Exalted 3rd Edition: While John hunkers down to rewrite the Charms chapter he is also changing some of the ways he’s been doing these to enable more to get finished, the rest of the team is working on a couple of EX3 chapters that continue to be finalized for Editing: Sorcery is being hammered now to get it towards Editing. Lore has been tabled to allow focus on completing the Social charms- starting with Socialize. Playtesting continues with combat being run again and again for clarity rather than because they aren’t working. The map is almost done, Jared is working on a few tweaks I sent back to him.
Zub’s EX3 Comic has been sketched out, and both EX3 novels are being worked on. Exploration of a theme continues for the EX3 Music Suites– the music team is thinking of putting up their own video diaries documenting the creation of the EX3 Suites. Links when I have them.
– V20 Hunters Hunted 2: Shipping out continues. HH2 Fiction Anthology is in second editor review.
– V20 Anarchs Unbound is in layout and we are still putting the pieces together for its KS- I’m looking to submit its KS over Christmas holidays and wait until January to actually start it.
– Deluxe Werewolf 20th Anniversary Edition: Shipping continues this week. The Heavy Metal Deluxe W20 prototype was approved and they are slowly assembling and binding the books by hand. Mike Lee has a new batch of chapters of the W20 “Houses of the Moon” novel for Bill to review. W20 Anthology PDF is with backers now, and we are looking to get the PoD files ready ASAP. Jess Hartley has submitted the White Howlers Tribe Book is in red-lining, and the W20 Cookbook first proof was reviewed and final proofing is getting done.
– Deluxe Mage the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition has Phil is wrapping up the last sections of the book. Reviewing full pages in b&w first from Mike Kaluta. Two pieces of the Traditions two-page spread art have been approved by CCP. Looking to do it’s Kickstarter after Anarchs Unbound‘s.
– W20 Changing Breeds PoD files are in for approval with the PoD printer and Deluxe book files are almost done being prepared. The Changing Breeds Fiction Anthology is being contracted by developer Jess Hartley.
– W20 Rage Across the World: In to CCP for approval, which we hope to get this week. The PDF will go to Deluxe W20 backers first as an appreciative gift for their patience, and then up on DTRPG.
– W20 Book of the Wyrm is in layout. A couple of additional art pieces needed to be art directed.
– V20 Rites of the Blood: is ready for layout, but layout is not yet ready for it, art finals rolling in.
– Under the Darkening Sky (classic Dark Ages): In layout. Art getting approved.
– Trinity Continuum: New System ideas continue being hammered out. John Snead, Aeon developer and writer has already started sending material to Ian for review. T’aint it the truth.
– Scion: New Systems discussion continue.
– Demon: The Descent: Files at indexing. The Demon: the Descent Kickstarter campaign is over and thanks to all of you who made it our third largest and most backed KS.
– Hunter: Mortal Remains: Totally in editing.
– Book of the Deceived (MtC): First drafts are coming in to CAS, who is red-lining away. Red-lining is the stage where the developer makes notes in the writer’s text for changes (called red lining because a red pen was used originally to mark up the paper manuscripts).
– nWoD: Dark Eras: Writers are writing.
– V20 Dark Ages: Scribes are scribing. Check out the discussion on the WW Forums and these very blogs. Talking to a pretty famous artist about this project- only still talking yet, though.
– DtD Players Guide: Flowers Of Hell?: Shhhhhhh. Go back to sleep. Touch my face….
– V20: Ghouls: Writing continues.
– V20 Red List: Still in final draft stage.
– The Making of the Art of Children of the Revolution: Going out to backers who pledged for it and then as PDF on DTRPG.
Reason to Drink: To get the constantly repeated Christmas “classics” out of my head.