From Funnel to Freebooters

Long time, no update. Busy busy busy, etc.

In the hours not consumed by my day job, I’ve been editing and laying out the main rulebook for Stonetop, Jeremy Strandberg’s bespoke Iron-Age fantasy RPG that ties adventuring to community-building. Currently, the main book clocks in at 250+ pages, and Jeremy is cranking away at the remaining few chapters. We’ll be kickstarting the whole thing once all of the content is in place and a substantial portion of the art has been commissioned.

Speaking of which, this past month Jeremy and I both got very excited because, after searching for an artist for over a year, we found the right person for the job. Her name is Lucie Arnoux, and here’s a spriggan-y taste of the work she’s starting to turn in:

I think my favorite part of the indie self-publishing thing is hiring artists, giving them fairly simple directions (“he’s a small mischievous humanoid of fae origin, I imagine him made of wicker”), and then being surprised and delighted by what they turn in. Lucie is doing a wonderful job, and Stonetop is going to look great thanks to her.

In other news, I’m sorry to report that Tales From the Sodden Reach, our online Freebooters campaign, has ended with a whimper. It didn’t really even end, it just dropped off into the ether, thanks to the (expected) challenges of coordinating the schedules of busy folks across different time zones. I’m actually quite sad, since I was  really looking forward to seeing if the PCs could safely escort a herd of crystal-encrusted cattle back to civilization, and there were a number of fun surprises waiting for them in the wings…

Farewell shaggy valuisa, we hardly knew ye. (drawing by Jan Burger)

The good news is that I just started a new campaign, which I’m calling From Funnel to Freebooters. We’re playtesting the new “funnel” rules for the 2nd edition of Freebooters on the Frontier, wherein a bunch of level-0 villagers get in over their heads, and the survivors (if any) go on to become full-fledged level-1 characters. Our first session was just villager and settlement generation, and you can see it here:

I’m super-excited to see how this turns out, and afraid for the villagers. I already care about them too much.

One thing we tried this first session was to draw a collaborative map using the Zoom whiteboard tools. They were a little wonky, but it worked out okay and got the job done. Here’s what we came up with in-game:

Of course that would not suffice for me in the long run, so during my prep time I translated our scribbles into this:

For those following along at home, I’m adapting the adventure Legends Are Made, Not Born, by Chris Doyle to give these villagers a run for their silver pieces. It’s got a classic feel, and like all Goodman Games adventures it has nice variety, good internal logic, and the potential to become very deadly. By asking a bunch of framing questions near the end of this first session, I was able to customize the content to suit these first steps of collaborative world-building. I had never done that before, and I think it worked quite well to make this pre-published adventure feel like a natural extension of our (vaguely Finnish) setting.

Finally, I won the Vermont Book Award this past weekend. Did not see that coming.