Far West

I sorta failed at the whole “reader request week” thing — didn’t get enough questions to quite fill up the week (mostly due to seconding, thirding and even fourthing of requests), and then WOTC decided that it was time to shake up the marketplace, leading to an explosion of work-related stuff taking up my time.

The most popular question, though, came from , who wrote: “I want to find out more about what you may or may not be doing with your western/wuxia setting…”

So, gather ’round the campfire, pardners — I am here to speak of:

A lot of folks have wondered what I would eventually decide to do with my western/wuxia mashup. (For those who are coming late to the party, you can read of its initial inspiration here, in a post from May of 2007.)

I started it as an RPG — using the FATE rules initially, but found through playtest that I wasn’t satisfied. I moved on to working on it as fiction — a novel, specifically — and, although I’ve like the stuff that I’ve done, this also failed to satisfy me. The work on the page was somehow incomplete to me — strangely flat. Not nearly as vibrant as it was in my head. So, that was shelved as well, as I thought about what was missing — my enthusiasm, mostly.

So, long story short: I’ve figured out the delivery method for Far West — and it not only manages to be a bit of a full circle, but also (as appropriate to the concept) is a mashup.

I’m going to do Far West as an animated web series AND a roleplaying game (and possibly more).

The web series idea is one of several I’ve been kicking around for the past six months or so, and certain developments have pushed it into the realm of possibility. Rather than doing it as a live-action series (cost prohibitive, and also lacking the forward-looking mix of format and presentation that I feel the property deserves), I’m doing it as an animation — but the animation will not be like anything you’ve seen before. Not anime, not 80s-toy-cartoon, not Bruce Timm, not CGI — but a true mashup, all of these and more besides, a mix of styles and media, shifting from something resembling sumi-e in one moment to a moving Spaghetti Western poster in the next. The presentation will be as much an amalgam as the setting itself. The mock-up cover that I once posted is a good shorthand of the sort of look I’ll be shooting for — of course, as a still, it lacks the shifting quality that I hope to hit you with.

The web series will be available for streaming viewing via its own site, as well as youtube and possibly a number of other sites (talks pending). We will also offer “season collections” in higher-resolution for sale as downloads, and as DVDs. We’ll also be offering memberships for access to special content (production blogs, behind the scenes podcasts and video, exclusive merchandise, etc.) — and a slate of Far West merchandise… which will include the roleplaying game.

I haven’t designed an RPG from the ground up in about 10 years (UnderWorld, for those keeping score). Since the release of 3rd Edition D&D in 2000 (and the resulting Open Gaming movement), I’ve been content to develop iterations of other people’s rules systems — D&D, d20 Modern, Mutants & Masterminds, Savage Worlds, etc. I enjoy that — but I’ve also got a ten-year itch to design something purely my own. That’s where Far West will come in.

I’ll be doing a completely new RPG, and I will be posting regular design updates here on my Livejournal (and echoed in the membership section of the web series site). The development of the game will be simultaneous with the development of the series. The finished RPG will be one of the merchandise items available at the site — but it will also be available as PDF download via OneBookShelf, and available in print via mail order… AND your local game stores.

So, there ya have it. Far West is a go.

Watch here for news.

Far West: Patronage?

A thought has been tickling at the back of my mind, so I figured I’d air it, and get a general gauge of interest — to determine if the thought is worth pursuing.

Yes, the Far West novel is still underway. This doesn’t change that. It’s more related to my previous thought about it as a possible 4E setting release.

What if I don’t do it as a full commercial release, but instead — taking a page from Wolfgang Baur’s Diana Jones Award-winning project — which is starting to be imitated by others in the industry — what if I do it as a patronage project?

Offer it exclusively to patrons. That’s it. No eventual PDF release, no “limited edition” vs “general release” — it only goes to the patrons, and nobody else. Offer several levels of patronage, each with its own perks, ranging from eventual format of product (softcover, hardcover), access to design commentary, access to private discussion, access to initial art designs, patronage credit in the book, book signed by author & artists, special additional exclusive content, etc.

I have to admit that I like this idea. A private pressing. A “members-only” game world. Still allowing me to explore the gaming potential of the property, without heavily entangling it in an ongoing commercial concern — yet still allowing me to demonstrate an existing fan demand for the concept, once I get around to pitching the novel.

The question is, of course, whether there *is* demand. Hence this post. Thoughts?

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FAR WEST: Am I Crazy?

So, longtime readers will be aware that I was working on a Western/Wuxia Mashup setting called FAR WEST (link goes to all tagged entries, including this one). The game, originally using FATE, didn’t quite gell for me, so I back-burnered the RPG project.

I’ve still been working on FAR WEST as a novel, and it’s going well, albeit slowly.

Today, though, a thought struck me, completely out of left field. Unexpected, odd….but, as they old saying goes…just crazy enough to work.

Could FAR WEST work as a 4E setting? The powers structure in 4E is already pretty wuxia-riffic, and wouldn’t take much tweaking to push over the edge into full-blown kung fu awesomeosity. Add rules for steamtech and firearms….come up with a collection of FAR WEST-appropriate classes….

I mean, sure — no non-human races or magic (beyond the wuxia stuff, which is pretty “magical” to western eyes)….but damn if it doesn’t strike me as do-able.

At this point, I’ll admit: I’m teetering on the fence here. Either way, I keep working on the novel. But would this work? Should I do this?

So I turn to you, Oh Devils and Angels on my virtual Shoulder. Whisper your Influence in my ear.