I know I’ve told this story before, but just hear me out for a second, okay? I’m excited and you need to just be cool about this.
How did all this start?
A few years ago, my birthday was coming up. I told my kids and my wife they had to suck it up and play Dungeons & Dragons with me. And though I had no idea really how to play exactly, and didn’t have any materials to play it with, I was gonna figure that out as I went. Sounded fun to me.
Not so much for them.
I picked up a starter set and forced my wife, Lisa into the local gaming store to get some miniatures or whatever to try and keep everyone’s attention. I had some grand notions of the last Kraken egg and a countryside inn with mechanical walls closing in on us, some puzzles and whatnot. Was going to be amazing (which it, in fact, was though that’s a different story).
But I saw some guys playing something in back of the store – luscious green grassy hills modeled on a tabletop with steampunky robots charging across a hill in full-on battles. Some dudes were intently staring at the setup and commenting on spells and strategy. Dude at the register described their wargame as “like playing really complicated chess with robots” or something like that.
And as is typical of me, I dove deep into how to make my own terrain with foam and flocking, how to model lakes with resin, found Luke from Geek Gaming on Youtube (who’s hilarious), and generally found out about a ginormous world of wargaming with Games Workshop, Privateer Press, and Wyrd among countless others. And around that same time, I had this weird yet amazing dream of a months-long ongoing wargame set up on an antique gaming table downstairs in a mansion’s lower level, where I stepped down into a luxurious Victorian era game parlor. Basically, I was inspired. And that usually triggers me to do something creative with the new building blocks I’m piling up.
Didn’t Thomas Edison say all you need in order to invent is an imagination and a pile of junk?
Oh, Brian. What did you do?
Well, to begin with, I spent too much money buying cool stuff. Expensive hobby, that one. And I spent an inordinate amount of time scraping mold bits and learning you have to wash the miniatures before trying to glue them together…and I found that I not only suck at painting things, I don’t enjoy painting things. Also, the rules are too long and complex and hard to remember. And honestly, apart from just thinking somebody’s robots or whatever looked cool, it’s a bit fluffy to pick a side in all these battles.
It also struck me that the long, winding stories of many of these wargames on the market are hard to relate to. They seem cool in concept, but as you dig in and try to understand whether it would be fun or exciting to live in that world, at least for me the answer was often – no freaking way. Sounded miserable. I’m more into escapism than that.
And it struck me that trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, Keyforge, Doomtown and others make rules so easy to remember because they’re largely printed right there on the cards…unique and every-changing as you draw them in the game. I don’t care for the ongoing storylines of any of those properties either, mind you, as they’re just as dense and noisy in many cases as the wargames. But there was something about the idea of cards here…
So I built a game of my own.
I had to learn digital art including modeling, kitbashing, texturing, and lighting and composition. I had to learn Photoshop, Indesign, Substance Painter, and Blender. I had to learn about graphic design principles. I had to figure out Tabletop Simulator on Steam and how to draw interest from people in play-testing a made-up game either virtually or for those few blessed souls willing to print and play from your website. I had to beg my wife and son to play games on the living room table, and to be patient when some weird rules conflict happened that made nonsense occur. I had to interview people who’ve done this sort of thing, including artists and game designers and writers. I had to study countless exotic rulebooks and Youtube tutorials on existing games to see what works and what doesn’t, and spend time in gaming stores talking to people about what would be cool and seeing what looks great on the shelves and on the tabletops…especially to see what draws people into this sort of entertainment.
And it’s just about done, guys. We have a barcode now. Awesome.
A barcode on the completed cover always makes me feel like it’s getting real. Something huge is happening. The ISBN is official, ready on the Salt Mystic: Sourcebook And Core Rules. Fully formatted versions for both print and ebook are uploaded and under review for final processing. The website is laid out for the game, clear and with visuals that pop…even a viewer to scroll through the available cards. A free ebook for the core rules is prepared with an eye-popping cover. The aesthetics are turning out to be coherent and theme-appropriate, engaging. Some great feedback on that so far. And the cards are almost ready in final form.
I’m reaching out to one particular artist whose work blows me away to see if he’ll design the tuck boxes for the two decks we’re launching with Volume One. Cross your fingers – he’s great! That will pop like nothing I could hope to do. We’ll see how that goes.
So please just keep an eye out here and send positive thoughts our way. We could use the attention and interest. Any questions you have, or suggestions, let me know.
And just take a look at that barcode!
Anyway, till next time. Dreams are engines.