Wow. It’s been a pretty crazy week.
So let’s get the big news out of the way first: Weirdwood launched on Kickstarter as part of ZineQuest 3 on February 1 and hit its funding goal in a little more than 24 hours.
Since this was my first time launching a Kickstarter, it was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. I spent most of Monday glued to my phone and constantly updating the browser, hoping to see that funding total inch closer to the goal. The game shot out of the gate a bit better than I expected, but as the day wore on, I started getting nervous. I did the very thing you’re NOT supposed to do when you’re running a Kickstarter, which is watching higher profile projects hit their funding goals and start to worry that you’re going to be the one who falls short.
Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too much longer. Weirdwood hit its funding goal the next morning and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Of course, that relief didn’t last for too long because I immediately started watching to see if the game would hit its stretch goal. That milestone took a bit longer, but it crossed the threshold Thursday morning. As of right now, Weirdwood is almost exactly 50% over its funding goal, which has already exceeded my expectations, so I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Great, Weirdwood Funded…Now What?
Luckily, all of the work for the game itself is already done. The book is written, laid out, and ready to go to the printer. I may give it another editing pass or two, but I don’t expect anything to really change between now and the time copies are shipped out to backers.
The big challenge for the time being is the stretch goal soundtrack.
Weirdwood’s soundtrack is going to be created by Morana’s Breath, but that’s a bit complicated for me because, well, I also happen to be Morana’s Breath. This will be the second time I’ve tied Morana’s Breath in with another creative project in a big way, the first one being the soundtrack for my recent novel, Blackspire. It’s a fun process, but making an album of any kind is always intimidating. Once I get started, things tend to move pretty quickly, though. I don’t want to commit to a hard deadline, but I anticipate that the album will likely be completed sometime in March, which will hopefully be around the same time that backers are receiving physical copies of Weirdwood.
I have a Spotify playlist devoted to Weirdwood that I listen to whenever I’m working on the game, but I’m not entirely sure how closely it will reflect the “official” soundtrack. Most Morana’s Breath tracks are purely electronic and don’t feature any vocals. While there may be an exception or two, I don’t anticipate putting any vocals on these tracks. At the same time, I don’t think a wholly electronic aesthetic is entirely right for Weirdwood, so there may be quite a lot of physical instrumentation. This is all speculation at the moment, though. I expect I’ll start working on the album sometime next week, so I’ll have a better idea of what it will sound like at that point.
More About Weirdwood
I’ve had a couple people ask me if I’m going to share more information about Weirdwood leading up to the release. While I’m not going to be doing a preview or anything like that, I can definitely take a few moments to talk about how the game actually works.
The actual rules system was inspired by the dice pool system used in John Harper’s Lady Blackbird. When a character takes an action, they start with one die and then add more dice for various aspects about the character that may be applicable. They can also add dice from a separate table pool for situational benefits.
Where the game departs from Lady Blackbird is with the opposed GM roll. The GM begins with one die and can add dice to their pool based on situational modifiers. Once the dice pools are created, both sides roll, and tally up even results as successes to determine who gets to narrate the outcome.
A big wrinkle, however, is that another player gets to be involved in this process. The player to the acting player’s left not only gets to define what will happen if the action fails, they can also add dice to the GM’s dice pool to make the task more difficult for the acting player. Why would they do this? Because when you succeed on a test, all of the dice you rolled go into the table pool. By adding dice to the GM’s roll, the player can get those dice back, adding them to their own pool.
Players are incentivized to add interesting complications to every situation they encounter, which can pull the narrative in all sorts of unexpected directions. There are a few other wrinkles in the form of specialized tokens, but they generally allow the player to regain dice or take control of the narrative in some way.
Creating Your Weirdwood
One of the big draws of the game is the ability to create your own version of the Weirdwood. The game provides very little detail about how the Weirdwood operates apart from a few basic qualities. Before the game begins, players will build the Weirdwood at the same time they build their characters. By answering a series of prompts, they will flesh out the local wood’s characteristics, how its magic works, a few important locations, notable NPCs in the area, and how people can enter the forest. After recording this information, the GM has a ready-made setting to begin a campaign (along with a few adventure prompts if they need help getting started).
I’ve always liked the idea that players could create a unique version of the Weirdwood and then share it with other players. While I don’t have a firm plan for how to facilitate this at the moment, I definitely want to make it possible for people to do this. This might end up taking the form of a Discord server or something similar where players can share the sheets they created during their Weirdwood creation.
Beyond the Weirdwood
Once Weirdwood is out the door and delivered to backers, I’m going to be working on a few more projects. I’ve already teased bits and pieces of Simulacrum, a game inspired by The Matrix and Dark City where you play as independent agents trying to free human minds from a computer simulation. That game is actually quite far along, but needs a bit of playtesting to sort out potential kinks.
I’ve also teased Wyld Sea quite a bit (you can still check out the Sneak Peek pdf), but that game probably won’t be ready for release until late 2021 at the earliest. Unlike the other games I’ve done, I think that one will require me to commission artwork. I’ve been pretty fortunate so far with public domain and free usage artwork and photos, but Wyld Sea has a pretty unique look that will be hard to capture.
There may be another game or two sprinkled in there if an idea catches my attention and I throw it together in a furious weekend of writing and editing. That’s part of the fun of working in this medium. For now, though, my primary focus is going to be on the Weirdwood soundtrack (and finishing the final installment to the Chronicle of Rostogov trilogy, but that’s another blog post for another website!).
I want to give a big thanks to everyone who has believed in and supported Weirdwood during ZineQuest 3. It’s been a truly humbling and inspiring experience, and I feel so fortunate that I’m going to be able to share this game with all of you.