Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Introducing JürgenWerks

This past Sunday, I released the second edition of Doomed Slayers on DriveThruRPG.

Doomed Slayers is my exploration of how typical fantasy RPG "adventurers" might fit into a typical pseduo-medieval society - why they are tolerated by the rest of society and even needed, and how they interact with rulers and commoners alike. In this setting, I postulate a distinct social class of adventurers - here called "Slayers" - whose primary task is to seek down and slay dangerous monsters before they threaten society. In exchange for this duty and its implications, they are also allowed a number of privileges - like freedom of movement and freedom of taxation - and this mixture of duties and privileges allows them to co-exist in an uneasy status quo with other people.

You can find some reviews for the first edition of Doomed Slayers here, here, here, and here. But Doomed Slayers is only the start - it is the first release of JürgenWerks, my new publishing imprint. And thus it seems appropriate that I should discuss my future publishing plans.

First of all some discussion of how I create the products (at least, this is how I did it for the new edition of Doomed Slayers, and I plan to follow this model for future publications). I create the initial outline and manuscript as Google Docs, since I travel a lot and this allows me to add new material wherever I have an Internet connection. Once I am reasonably satisfied with this manuscript, I convert it into a LaTeX file, a document preparation system which was originally developed for scientific papers and which I am familiar with (plus, it is free). In particular, I use the Tufte Layout, which uses a wide "main text" column and a smaller side column with space for margin notes, references, and smaller illustrations. I read through the manuscript again a few times, and write appropriate margin notes expanding on the main text.

Next comes a "playtest" phase where I ask others to read the compiled manuscript and give me feedback. For the second edition of Doomed Slayers I tried a public playtest, but feedback was minimal. Therefore, in the future, I will do a private playtest where the playtest files will only be made available to those who specifically volunteered.

Then, after getting the feedback and adjusting the manuscript accordingly, I add the art. For the second edition of Doomed Slayers, I largely used illustrations I had purchased the rights for when I wrote the first edition. However, since then I have developed my own artistic aspirations (as well as bought a Cintiq Companion Hybrid), so I will do most illustrations on my own for future products (for this product, I've only created the cover design and a map).

All my products will be free of any kind of copyright protections - no watermarks, no disabling of text copying. Furthermore, at DriveThruRPG I plan use the "Pay What You Want" option for all my products - while there is a "suggested price", customers will be able to set any price they want. Yes, that also includes the option of getting the product for free. I am fine with this - I still remember when I had a lot less disposable income than what I have now. However, if you do get one of my products for free, I would appreciate it if you reviewed it - at DriveThruRPG or elsewhere - or otherwise spread the word about it. (Another option, if you want to "try before you buy", is to first get it for free and then buy it again, at whatever price you see fit).

So, what further products are in the pipeline for JürgenWerks?

First, there are two products which I definitely want to release during this year:

Doomed Slayers: Order of the Silver Hart is the first supplement for Doomed Slayers. Slayers are expected to stay out of politics - but how "non-political" can an organization of Slayers get which only accepts former nobles into their ranks, and which frequently rejoin the nobility right after mustering out of the Order? The manuscript for this product is about 75% complete

Urbis Player's Guide is the introductory product for my longest-running fantasy world: Urbis - A World of Cities. It will contain everything a player needs to know to create and play a character (using the Pathfinder RPG) in a world where magic and industry, commerce and science met and gave rise to vast and powerful city-states balanced between utopia and dystopia, freedom and oppression. The manuscript for this product is in development, but still in its early stages.

I have also ideas for further products, but their schedule and format is still rather tentative:
  • Doomed Slayers: The Vanguard - basically, Doomed Slayers meets XCOM.
  • City sourcebooks for Urbis (likely starting with Dartmouth, followed by Nimdenthal and Bodenwald).
  • Assorted smaller sourcebooks on various Urbis-related topics - various organizations, different planets or planes of existence, regional sourcebooks, and so forth.
  • A proper writeup of my Cold Frontier campaign, for Urbis/Pathfinder.
  • Some Pathfinder-related products describing aspects of German folklore (such as creatures, unique entities, or phenomena described in my German Folklore for Gamers series).
  • A setting sourcebook based on my After Victory campaign idea.

As you can see, I have lots of ideas - but I will need to prioritize. So, what are your thoughts? Which of these ideas excites you the most?