Behind the Artist – Interview with Alex Lugo


As we go through this month with the In Our Dreams Awake Kickstarter going on (don’t forget to check it out), I wanted to spotlight some of the people who helped bring these crazy ideas to life. This brings us to the letterer and the person who is going to make sure the comic actually is formatted correctly to get printed: Alex Lugo.



How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I have been creating and working on comics since about the late nineties and early 2000’s part-time, mostly in the independent comics scene. So, for about the last 25 years as time allows.


What made you want to work on comics?

I’ve loved comics since I was about 4 years old and it’s been a dream that I have been fortunate enough to be able to accomplish.  The magic of the stories, the great characters, and being around creative people are what keep me coming back to comics.


Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

My favorite creators of all time are Jack Kirby and Frank Frazetta.  Those two guys are juggernauts in the comics/fantasy fields.  For me, it wasn’t even about their incredible output, but their amazing creativity that brought forth so many amazing characters and art pieces.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

It’s definitely my 10pm to 2am work.  In the daytime, I have a full-time job, and I am also a full-time dad and husband as well.  But when everyone goes to sleep, I become my alter ego and jump into the comics fray.


How would you describe your creative process when it comes to making comics?

I think my process of making comics comes from learning about some of the great 60’s creators: Kirby, Ditko, Lee, etc…I try to do whatever it takes to get the job done. I don’t sit around waiting for inspiration, I go get it and dive into the project. Comics is a commercial art medium, so it needs to keep moving forward, so my process has come from that position.  I do research, interview my collaborators, come up with mock-ups, etc…anything I have to do to keep the process going.


Making comics often requires collaboration with others. How do you foster relationships and approach the collaboration process?

Well, I try to touch base with my collaborators/clients and really get into what they are thinking or what they need me to do.  I try to capture their vision if I can or offer them something they haven’t thought about to help and improve their story. I think of us as partners who rely on each other to make the best comic that we can. In order to break the ice, I like to get them on the phone, hear their voices, and let them hear mine.  This way we know we are real people, not just words in an email so that the project becomes as real as possible and we all have a stake in it.


What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?

Really my biggest obstacles are time and daily life.  I don’t have a lot of time to create, and the daily routine of life threatens to derail the creative endeavors.  It’s tough just to have one job, but I have several jobs at one time.  So once everyone goes to sleep, it’s really morning for me again.  I grab a cup of coffee, play something in the background, and hit the computer or drawing board or whatever to get things moving.

How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love the indie comics community! It’s filled with some of the most talented people I have ever met.  They are some of the bravest people I have met as well.  They have chosen to deviate from mainstream comics to put out their own books and show the world their artistic soul.  That takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there like that.  There is no hiding behind known characters or big companies.


What advice can you give for people who want to start making comics?

I would say (1) make sure it’s your passion and you love it, and (2) make sure that you have a plan for financial return, or if you don’t, you’re ok with that.  Comics can be a lot of fun, but they can also be tough.


Are there themes and/or subjects/genres you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

Not really, I think my go to will always be superheroes, but I have done fantasy, sci-fi, new age, etc..


If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Listen with open ears and an open heart to critics, but don’t let their words discourage you from working in comics.  Don’t let the person reviewing your work destroy your soul.  If they are good at what they do, they will enlighten and encourage you to keep going. Also, learn when to walk away from things and start fresh instead of beating dead horses.

Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I am working on a couple of projects through my comic company 10 Worlds Studio, one superhero, and one paranormal, but nothing to announce just yet.  I did letter a comic series that was picked up by Heavy Metal called Mark of Kings, so I am excited about that for sure.  I also love Lord of the Rings, and I am a huge fan of Golden Age comics characters.


Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your works?

You can visit my Instagram page at alexanderlugo_10ws or my website,


Alex Lugo is a first-generation Cuban-American artist hailing from Portland, Or, growing up in Inglewood, CA, and now residing in the outer reaches of Los Angeles County. He has worked in the fields of comics, storyboards, and design.  After reading All Star Comics 58 in a Portland barbershop, he was pretty much hooked on comic books and continues to work on them, and dream about them to this day.  Besides working on comics, Alex loves spending time with his family, traveling, studying the paranormal, and watching films with his son.  His work has been featured on TV, films, comics, and other mediums.


I want to thank Alex Lugo for taking the time to answer my questions. And I really appreciate his contributions in bringing In Our Dreams Awake to life. And don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter!



John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Behind the Artist – Interview with Rolands Kalnins

Check out John McGuire’s In Our Dreams Awake Issue #1 on Kickstarter!

As we go through this month with the In Our Dreams Awake Kickstarter going on (don’t forget to check it out), I wanted to spotlight some of the people who helped bring these crazy ideas to life. This brings us to the artist and colorist on the Cyberpunk portion of the comic book: Rolands Kalniņš.



How long have you been creating/working in comics?

I’ve been working in the comics industry since I was 16 years old. And full-time since I was 20.

I’m 26 now.


What made you want to work on comics?

As a kid growing up in a post-Soviet country we got our entertainment(films, books, comics) much later than the rest of Europe. So I was lucky to grow up watching original TMNT, Star Wars, Spider-man and the X-men animated series, Power Rangers, Adam West Batman, Tim Burton’s Batman, Pokemon, Digimon…

These shows and films made me love these characters, and later on, I found out that many of them were based on comic books. Unfortunately, the only comics we could buy in Latvia were based on Disney and Hanna-Barbera characters aimed towards very young kids.

So I spent a lot of time drawing and creating my own comics. And when I was living in the UK at the age of 15, I had the chance to buy a lot of Marvel comics. And that moment when I first held a comic book in my hands was simply magical.

And that truly made me take the path to become an artist in the comic industry.

Variant Cyberpunk Cover by Rolands Kalniņš

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

Personally, I have so many favourites/inspirations. Tho the most influential artists on me were/are: Dave Rapoza, Sean Gordon Murphy, Nick Dragotta, Junji Ito, and many others…


How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

My daily routine used to be different. But for the last few years, I’m also a full-time Tattoo Artist at 2 private studios that I own. So my day-to-day is divided.

Most days I work from 8:30-11:00 on comics and tattoo designs. From 12:00-16:00, I work at my tattoo studio. 17:00-19:00 session at the gym (usually 4-5 times a week), and 19:00-24:00 more work on comics/family time.


How would you describe your creative process when it comes to making comics?

My process is quite simple. I read the script, gather references and inspirational images, and then I draw the pages, usually coloring them right after.


Making comics often requires collaboration with others. How do you foster relationships and approach the collaboration process?

Creative relationships for me are really different with each writer and or company. On some projects, I get complete creative freedom and just create the artwork.

On others, the process is more involved and created on a step-by-step basis. With a lot more back and forth. Visuals changing as the story evolves.

And these things are different on each project depending on my involvement as well. Am I just the artist, or am I the colorist?

In some cases, I design the whole book, spine and all.

For me, the most important thing is to do the best work I can for the client.

Jason Byron makes his way through the flooded streets. By Rolands Kalniņš

What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to making art? How do you overcome them?

Hmm, for hurdles in creating work…

The hardest thing for me is creating art in bulk for my personal projects. Client work comes much more easily for me because it has certain direction-script, or just a description of a piece.


How has your experience been with the indie comics community?

I love working on indie comics.

Of course, a dream of mine is to do a Batman book, but for the most part I’m most comfortable doing creative horror books in the indie scene.

The thing I like the most is the “out there” ideas and that there’s no limit to the craziness of the stories I could visualize…


What advice can you give for people who want to start making comics?

Best advice is to learn the basics first.

And that doesn’t mean human figure, faces, etc… It means drawing straight lines, perfect circles, cubes… and only then applying those skills to draw objects, and characters.

And of course, drawing non-stop, but doing illustrations, pages, and panels, not just studies for study’s sake.

Applying knowledge and learning on the go is key. Many things I learned over the years I learned on the job doing the actual work.

And of course, finishing things. Many up-and-comers tend to sketch a lot and never do finished work, which grows into a boatload of bad habits.


Are there themes and/or subjects/genres you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

My favourite genres to create for are usually pulp-fiction, neo-noir, cyberpunk, and horror type of work.

But I love doing most genres.

But dark fiction and psychological mind-bending work suits my style best in my opinion.

Jason Byron and Fem’A Lin kiss. By Rolands Kalniņš

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

Hmm, I would probably say to myself to never stop drawing and don’t give up. Things will go your way eventually…

And don’t let anyone talk you out of anything career-related.


Do you have any upcoming projects? Anything you’d like to promote? Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?

I have many upcoming books and personal projects, but I can’t really talk about any of them due to NDA’s. Only thing I can say is that “The Pandora Window” a book I’m co-creating with Ray Chambers is finally announced and being drawn as we speak. And many other projects with Adam Barnhardt of Sh*tshow fame. Hopefully, soon they’ll be announced.

For hobbies, I tend to have many, but the most important ones are Powerlifting and reading. For me, it’s a way to clear my head. And of course, a healthy mind and body are key with this type of profession.

I personally believe you’ll go crazy quite fast if the only thing you do 24/7 is draw. It can become more of a detriment than a strategy to become successful.


Where’s the best place to find out more about you and your works?

I’m most active on my website(portfolio), Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.

Jason Byron’s intense stare. By Rolands Kalniņš

Do you have a Bio that I can post at the bottom of the article?

My name is Rolands Kalniņš

I’m an illustrator, concept artist/designer, colorist from Latvia.

I’ve worked on many projects for different publishers and kickstarters.

Scout comics: Red Winter.

Fracture Press: Tales of Fractured Mind, Tales of Fractured Worlds, Soul of The Sea, The Burning Memory

Tpub: Transdimensional.

Source Point Press: Sirius

Frank Martin’s Pipe Creepers

Scapegoat Press Inc: Pcycho Path, Aeonian.

Roy Burdine’s Reapers.

VMComics: Hotel Hell

Musicians: Varien, Hellhills, Manic, Toracha, Cream of Cthulhu, and many more.


I want to thank Rolands Kalniņš for taking the time to answer my questions. And I really appreciate his contributions in bringing In Our Dreams Awake to life. And don’t forget to check out the Kickstarter!



John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at


New Interview Up At MS Wordsmith!

I’ve obviously done my fair share of interviews on this site, but it’s always a bit crazy to find myself being interviewed by someone else. I never know if I’m saying enough or not enough or if the interviewee is going to need to take a hacksaw to whatever my answers are just to get it into a form that someone might be able to not only read but perhaps even glean some information about me.

Then of course there is always the whole “imposter syndrome” bit. Why would anyone bother wanting to interview me followed quickly by why would anyone ever want to read such an interview? I have to remind myself that little voice in the back of my head doesn’t always know what the hell it is talking about (maybe). I have to tell myself that you want to have people read these because then they might actually learn about your books.

So I want to thank Mariëlle Smith over at M.S. Wordsmith for taking the time to talk to me and ask me questions about some of my books and my writing process. I truly appreciate it.

You can find the interview here!!


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Chat and Spin – Radio Interview

I never know what it is I’m doing in this whole marketing of oneself. It is a labyrinth of trying various things that mostly seem not to entirely work. Or you half fall into an opportunity and it works out better than you could have thought. Which, I guess, means that you must keep yourself open to any and all opportunities as they come along… without knowing where they may or may not lead.

As it so happens, I had the opportunity present itself this past Friday night via the good folks over at Chat and Spin Radio. From their website:

“We are a 24 hour, not for profit Internet radio station broadcasting over 7 years, covering the UK National & International audience. Giving you MORE MUSIC and MORE VARIETY. 

We Broadcast National, throughout the UK & Internationally to many listeners per week. We interview Book Authors / Bands / Singers / Charities / Businesses / Groups. If you would like FREE PUBLICITY and to come on our station for an interview, then please contact us for more information.”

I found out about them through a somewhat random posting in one of the many Facebook groups I’m a part of where they said they were looking for authors to interview, an email back and forth, and before I knew it I was scheduled for last Friday.

Prior to the actual live interview, they had me come on via Skype and I chatted with Ron Clark (Station Owner). He walked me through the interview and basically prescreened the questions on me, which I believe helped as once we actually got on air, I felt pretty comfortable in doing it. Afterward, I spoke a bit more with both Ron and Ian Johnson (co-owner and advertising manager). And potentially, I should be able to get back on for another interview sometime in January.

So while I don’t know what will come out of the chat, I am grateful for any and all opportunities that may come my way.


If you’d like to take a listen to the interview, it’s about 6 or 7 minutes beginning around the 47-minute mark at the following link: Chat and Spin


And if you are an author, artist, or any other type of creative, reach out to the guys over at Chat and Spin for a potential interview yourself!


John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at


Interview with Richard A Knaak

I’ve written about Richard A. Knaak a couple of years ago when his Rex Draconis novels had a RPG Kickstarter running. In it, I talked about Knaak being one of those authors whose work really pulled me in and fleshed out worlds I’d either already invested in (Dragonlance) or he invented (The Dragonrealm series). Well, he has a new Kickstarter going on right now to help fund his newest work/world: Rogues Gallery.

I read in an interview with you that you initially broke into writing by driving up to TSR and just asking to speak to an editor. Which kind of blew my mind. That seems like a very big step to take. What made you think that approach might work for you?

I was young, naive, and very stubborn. It was only around an hour and a half away, but I thought I’d give it a try. Wouldn’t work these days, but I caught them at just the right moment. In a sense, though, it goes with what I often say.  You usually have to make your own breaks.

Before that trip, had you been pursuing more of a  traditional path prior to that? Submitting to agents and editors and crossing your fingers?

Yes, although mostly I submitted to publishers on my own since it’s often hard to get a GOOD agent without a sale. I’d almost sold a book on my own but could not get the ending to the satisfaction of the editor. Sadly, that novel was lost later. with both the paper copies and disks accidentally thrown out during a move.

What’s a typical writing day for you? Do you strive for a certain number of words or hours? Do you have any habits or techniques that allow you to juggle the various projects your working on?

I tend to have multiple writing sessions, most often in the afternoon and evening. I don’t have a set amount of words, but I seem fairly consistent. No real techniques, although a temporary change of scenery between writing sessions is helpful.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work?

Writing is my life.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

I’ll take notes and I likely have a very rough outlines, but nothing is written in stone. I’ll try to write a short paragraph or two about a chapter unless I’ve gotten to the point where I know what must happen. I generally know the basic climax. There is some flying by the seat of my pants, too.

Are there subjects or themes you find yourself coming back to again and again in your writing?

Redemption is a big one. Many of my characters have something in their background that confronts them in the present. It can be a really big problem, too. Also, characters who don’t start out to be a hero, but just do what must be done regardless of the consequences to themselves.

You’ve just launched a new Kickstarter for your next series. What is Rogues Gallery about?

Rogues Gallery concerns an alternate Chicago around 1930, where the sort of costumed adventurers and villains of the pulp era abound. However, the city’s protector, the Legionary, is missing. When it becomes clear that he is not likely returning soon, chaos overwhelms Chicago as various villains act. The police try their best but are failing. However, as the turmoil grows, conflict arises among the various rogues as their differing reasons for becoming who they are come into play. In fact, those reasons may be the only hope that the city has as the thus-far fruitless search for the Legionary continues.

We’ll also explore some of those reasons behind the rogues emerging in general, such as the aftermath of the Great War.

It seems that Rogues Gallery allows you to write in a genre that you haven’t dealt with much with your other novels (other than the Black City Saint series). What about the idea of that pulp era made you want to write this novel?

Well, in addition to having grown up in the Chicago area where Prohibition was something I heard about a lot, I’m a big fan of the Shadow, among other pulp characters.

Have you found it Is easier or harder to write a book that is somewhat set in the real world?

Well, there’s more research, but I enjoy it because it helps make the story feel more real while still giving you an adventure.

What is the plan with Rogues Gallery? Is this a standalone book, or do you have plans to release sequels down the road? How much do you already have mapped out?

This is designed to stand on its own, but I have ideas beyond it and, if the Kickstarter goes well, one of the stretch goals would likely lead toward a sequel. I know where I would go with the story if that happens.

You’re obviously a very successful writer, with many novels to your name over the years, so why go the Kickstarter route? Is there something specific about it that caused you to go this way?

This is a novel that is a little harder for publishers to pin down, as I learned even from Black City Saint. It also allows me to schedule it in a different way so that I can get it done as it needs to be. I will be doing the audiobook in concert with Hydra Publications, so, one aspect will be more traditional.

Your world of Rex Draconis was featured in a Kickstarter last year allowing backers to play in the world you’d devised. Is there any chance of being able to play an RPG set in the Rogues Gallery world?

Actually, the novels were a combination of an independent support setup and later publication through Hydra. The RPG material went through a very successful Kickstarter. I’ve actually had someone ask me about doing something with Rogues Gallery, so, yes, there may be some RPG alongside it. We’ll see.

Where can someone find out more about you?

I have a website, but I haven’t had the patience for it due to personal matters. I’ll get it up and running again soon. The best place to find me is on Facebook on my pro page at:


I want to thank Richard for taking the time to talk to me and answer my questions. Make sure to check out Rogues Gallery on Kickstarter!


Also, just a reminder that my newest book, The Echo Effect is newly released and only $2.99 for the remainder of October! Check it out here!

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Interview with Wishful Thinking’s Jack Raines

A little while back I ran across a comic on Kickstarter that just spoke to me: Wishful Thinking. The story was about a ex-Genie who becomes a wish consultant. That Kickstarter went on to fund, and now Wishful Thinking is back with their second issue on Kickstarter.

Jack was kind enough to take a few minutes and let me pester him with questions.

At what point did you sit down and think “I want to be a comic writer?”?
When I was a senior in high school I finally got my license. It was during the same year I learned my small southern town had a comic shop! I hadn’t read a comic in years, at the time I was more interested in manga just cause it was more available online at the time. So when I stepped into my LCS for the first time I was greeted with a wealth of cape comics (superhero comics are my FAVORITE), most notably Mark Waid’s Daredevil, Scott Snyders Batman, and Matt Fractions Hawkeye. Their ability to weave imagery with narrative made it hard to put those books down. When I learned Scott Snyder would be in Charolette for HeroesCon I just had to go.
There I met so many creators both professional and independent that were more welcoming than I could believe. Everyone was so down to Earth and there to showcase/talk about what they loved. It was then I learned that anyone could be in this business, and that’s when I started practicing turning my story ideas into comic form.
I’m a big fan of all those comics, too! And Mark Waid’s run on The Flash is by far and away my favorite run on the character. Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite writer/artist or creator?
Scott Snyder has been both my favorite creator and biggest inspiration. Everything connects in these wild stories he puts out in such a complete way, all while being a total class act with his readers!
How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?
It’s hard, especially now that I’ve started working 3rd shift and going to school. My biggest key to success is writing down a list of things to do each day. I try to go for 4 things max, and plan my week accordingly. I have a white board next to my desk for this purpose. If it’s been written down I get a sense of satisfaction from crossing it out, and it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. Doubt I could do what I do without a calendar of some sorts!
I do much the same thing with my to do tasks, but sadly the thing that probably is the hardest to figure out is promotion. It’s often difficult to get word out about independent comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?
Social media is tough for me. I’m moreso a lurker than anything else so it’s been a challenge getting myself out there. So far my biggest success social media-wise has been on Instagram, but even then it’s hard to fight against the algorithm to get the word out there. My mailing list has been the best and my most favorite way to connect with readers. It feels more personal which allows me to write more about what these projects mean to me as well as what I’m up to.
What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?
Little of column A and a little of column B. Often my story can change depending on how the pages look. I like leaving character appearance to the artist’s discretion. I’ll write about their personality and demeanor, then it’ll be up to Trigo to handle the rest. When seeing how he frames each panel and designs these characters I find new avenues to take the story. So even if I am a few issues ahead I usually end up rewriting it by the time we get there.  The collaboration between my crew (Carlos, Ester, and Justin) makes writing fresh and exciting!

Wishful Thinking Issue 2, Page 1

I love the idea of Wishful Thinking! What inspired you to write Wishful Thinking?
Thank you! I was introduced to urban fantasy through The Dresden Files. It’s really fun to think of how fantasy creatures would interact with our society. I knew that I wanted my story to be under the same genre, but didn’t know the specifics.
I then began thinking about what I wanted to write about. What kind of feeling did I want to convey? During the time of Wishful Thinkings’ inception, I was around 23, working as a custodian, and not having a solid idea of how I wanted to tackle my goals. I didn’t have much of a grasp on myself either, so the thing I wanted to write about most was identity. It was something everyone struggles with, and I wanted to personify that conflict through comic form.
Around that time I caught wind of a 6-page story contest. The top 3 would get looked at by an editor from some indie publisher (it’s been too long I can’t remember!). I’m not entirely sure what I was looking at when I came up with this, but I remember thinking of how if a djinn was a human it’d be Jim. Why would a genie need a human name? Well, I guess if he wasn’t a genie anymore. What would he do if he wasn’t a genie? Probably the only thing he knows how to do, help with wishes. When I told my buddy this he gave me the name for Jim’s business, Wishful Thinking, and the rest was history.
What’s been the reaction to the book?
So far I’ve heard nothing but compliments!  This project has been in development for 3 years, and seeing that work pay off in the form of satisfied readers has been a blessing. It makes all the stress worth it lemme tell ya! This issue dives more into the fantasy side of things and is a bit of a bigger story than the first one. Very curious on how it’ll be received!
Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?
Definitely identity, as it’s still something I’m figuring out.  It’s a thing everyone must go through on their own, and can only be found with complete honesty of one’s self. I think Wishful Thinking and my webcomic, Spectre Protector (illustrated by Sarah Burgess) talk of different methods of searching for that identity.
You ran your first Kickstarter for issue #1 and funded. I’m interested in the idea that you weren’t using the Kickstarter to fund the comic but instead used it to “introduce” yourself to the greater comic community. Do you feel like you succeeded in that goal?
Yes, I believe it did a good job. It definitely exceeded my expectations for my first Kickstarter! I tried to play it as safe as possible so that I can just get used to running a campaign.
I intend to carry that energy through future Kickstarters. In my opinion, it’s only to fair to fund as much of the book myself before going to Kickstarter. I want you to know this is a story I believe is worth telling! It also helps speed up the fulfillment process which is a plus.

Wishful Thinking Issue 2, Page 2

I’ve found that the difference between having the book done or still waiting on the book to finish after the Kickstarter can be stressful, so I’m going to try and have any future issues done before then. Now that you’ve just launched your second issue on Kickstarter, what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? Something that afterward you “wished” you knew?
The biggest thing I learned was the process of shipping these books out. I haven’t heard any complaints about damages or packages that never showed up so I’m glad all was well on that front. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but now that I’ve done it once I feel more comfortable with all that’s involved in shipping, and now that I know all the steps I can better plan out how to go about them without any need for stressful crunch time.
What’s the overall plan with Wishful Thinking? Do you have an overall target for the number of issues?
I’m shooting for 7 issues, each one being roughly 32-36 pages long. I have other stories to tell in this world, and if it continues to gain support I wouldn’t mind diving into that. For now though 7 issues is the plan!
Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about working with Carlos Trigo, the artist on Wishful Thinking.
He’s been amazing throughout the whole process! I tend to give my artists a lot of space in the design department (the only character I’ve been picky on is Jim), and he’s given new light to each character he touches. For instance, the bank teller in this story doesn’t have a name. I just refer to her as Teller given that she’s just a side character. Actually, she used to be a he until Carlos suggested otherwise. After seeing what he’s done with the teller and how her personality comes alive in the panels I was inspired to write her a bigger role in the next issue! His experience has helped greatly when it came to refining how I structure my panels. I feel with each new issue I grow a bit more as a writer thanks to his, Ester, and Justins collaborative efforts.
If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?
Honestly, I don’t have anything to tell 16-year-old Jack. Maybe ask if we can switch places? All he had to do was play video games and go to school. No bills no nothin…lucky dog.
Anything else that you’d like people to know about you (Hobbies? Passions? Favorite TV Show)?
Unfortunately, I don’t have much time for them now, but I do really love fighting games. That community has the same vibe as comics. I ran an online tournament with a friend called Bapmasters and met so many cool people! That lead me to go to Chicago to see a tournament live, it was an amazing experience. I’m not too good at them (yet) but I love figuring them out.
Other than that I’m into the gym and hiking. Both are great ways to clear my head. I would recommend either of them to anyone going through a tough time right now. I promise getting your body moving will provide some excellent mental results! Especially when you see physical improvements.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Where’s the best place to find out more about Wishful Thinking and maybe any other projects you have in the pipeline?
The best place would be my email list! During campaign times I try to post once a week. Non-campaign times every other week. That’s if you want to see progress on my work. If you just want to chat with me feel free to find me on twitter @mysticmike8 or instagram @zach_brains.
I have a webcomic that’s free to read titled Spectre Protector. It’s about a ghost named Vera accidentally becoming the superpowers to a high schooler named Liam. Link is below!
Jack Raines is a comic book writer based in Greenville SC. When he’s not writing stories such as Wishful Thinking or Spectre Protector, you can find him writing mile-long notes trying to understand networking.
Thanks again, Jack! You can check out Jack Raines latest Kickstarter for Wishful Thinking #2 right here!

Variant Cover by artists Ted Brandt (@ten_bandits) and Ro Stein(RoStein404)

Also, just a reminder that my newest book, The Echo Effect is newly released and only $0.99 for the first week! Check it out here!

John McGuire is writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

The Dead Hand Podcast feat. J Edward Neill & Andrew Hall

Hello everyone.

Photographer and podcast wizard Andrew Hall recently reached out to J Edward Neill about appearing on a Dead Hand Radio podcast.

They originally planned to discuss the Cold War and its history, but quickly derailed themselves.

Instead of a history discussion, they talked at length about J Edward’s art, books, life, and influences.


If you want to learn entirely too much about J Edward 🙂 …here’s your chance.

Click the link below and enjoy.

Genefunk 2090 – An Interview with James Armstrong (CRISPR Monkey Studios)

When I ran the What RPG Kickstarters Excite Creators? column, Genefunk 2090 was a regular recommendation (here, here, here, and here). As such, when Genefunk 2090, a sci-fi setting using a variation of the Dungeons & Dragons 5e ruleset, came out, I was glad to take with James Armstrong of CRISPR Monkey Studios about the project.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project? 

JAMES ARMSTRONG (JA): Biopunk 5e! There’s been an open niche for biopunk RPGs, especially near-future ones, and I wanted to address that, and see where I could take it. Eclipse Phase has some of the elements I wanted to capture, but it’s more far-future sci-fi. I wanted something not too far around the corner. Endogenous DNA computers, genetic enhancement, mind-hacking, transgenic beasts, and anything else I could think of!

EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game? JA: I’m using the 5e ruleset because it is a combat and skill-check based system, which suits the playstyle of a group of biopunk mercenaries well. I also chose that system because I want the game to be accessible to a widest possible group of people: you can enter GeneFunk 2090 ready to play if you have experience with D&D.

EGG: What makes the setting for GeneFunk 2090 different than other sci-fi RPGs? JA: The heavy lean into biopunk elements, and having brain-computers as a ubiquitous feature!

I love biology, and the implications genetic engineering.  I actually have an M.Sc. in molecular biology, partially because I was interested in understanding the science behind genetic modification. It’s now apparent that a great deal of human enhancement will be at the genetic level, not necessarily grafted-on chrome arms and robot bodies. I want to show how the world might look if that genetic enhancement started before birth, and how biologically specializing humans might affect society.  An informal genetic caste system that emerges from a global market economy.

I also baked in brain-computers as a feature all characters get, not just as an option for hackers. When you look around and see complete market saturation of smart phones, it’s a fair assumption that brain-computers will be equally prolific once they become normalized. This opened the door for really digging into mind-hacking as a core feature, a sci-fi basis for psychic awareness with hep from psychic reading online experts. You can choose to play as someone without a brain-computer, but you lose a lot of abilities to gain the benefit of being immune to mind-hacks.

EGG: Tell me about some of the MVPs on your creative team? JA: For art, William Liberto, Dean Spencer, and Enmanuel Martinez Lima did most of the heavy lifting!  The core InDesign expertise was courtesy of Simeon Cogswell, and the editing by J Boone Dryden. Each of these people really elevated the final book!

EGG: What other projects have you worked on? 

JA: This is my first one! 🙂 Unless you mean it more broadly, then sequencing and mapping the mitochondrial genome of the bed bug would count. 🙂 I may have included an Easter egg of this in the book somewhere, hahaha.


EGG: What’s after GeneFunk 2090? 

JA: I’ll be doing a setting book for this world, Shadows of Korea, which is set to be completed in March of 2020. It will be a sandbox book, outlining major NPCs, factions, and locations (with battle maps) in Korea, primarily centered in the city of Busan. Players can look forward to more genetic enhancements, cybernetic upgrades, genomes, class archetypes, hacks, and other mechanical goodies as well!

EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project? 

JA: The DriveThruRPG page, Kickstarter page, or check out this preview PDF:


NOTE: This article includes affiliate links to DriveThruRPG. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Praedormitium – An Interview with Joie Martin of Drowning Moon Studios

On Facebook, one of my friends shared a link to Praedormitium, an RPG about lucid dreaming by Joie Martin. The RPG is in the form of a zine. And it’s available now. It is everything I wished I completed already with POWERED by the DREAMR (and will complete sooner than later). Anyways, I thought I’d interview Joie in the hope that everything-I-wish-I-had-completed-that-she-has would rub off! 😉
EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for Praedormitium?  
JOIE MARTIN (JM): Named for the transition of wakefulness to sleep, Praedormitium is a tabletop roleplaying game inspired by the experience of lucid dreaming. Players portray Hypnopomps, characters born with the natural ability to manipulate dreams, while adventuring in the Realms of Dream. It uses a deck of tarot cards as the basis of its resolution system, cooperative play, and collaborative storytelling to build a cohesive narrative experience.
EGG: Why a zine edition instead of a full release?
JM: Honestly, because a lot of the spirit of the game is rooted in the changeable nature of dreams, and I felt adding dozens upon dozens of pages of lore went against that core concept. The more you define it, the less dynamic it becomes, and the less players and DMs–they’re called Dream Masters in Praedormitium–have the ability to shape the game into something uniquely their own. If you do something like make a map of the Realms of Dream, and say, “Okay, here’s the castle where the Prince of Nightmares lives,” or “This type of Phantasma only exists in the dreams of people experiencing chronic illness,” many people who play games have a tendency to accept that as verbatim, which doesn’t allow for the type of whole-cloth flexibility the game requires. The way Praedormitium is designed, players can do literally _anything_ in the Realms of Dream, the results of their actions are just colored by the tarot deck the game uses as a resolution system.
EGG: Will you do a full release?
JM: I’d like to do a nicer version with better artwork, a character sheet and some examples of gameplay, so possibly. I’d also like to release several stand alone modules created by other writers, so players can get an idea of the types of  adventures that can be run in the Realms of Dream, but both of those things will largely depend on funding.
EGG: Tell us about the system for this game?  
JM: Praedormitium uses a tarot deck as the basis for its resolution system. The deck is divided into its individual suits: wands, coins, cups and swords, as well as the major arcana. The players and DM draw from one of the suits when they’re attempting to accomplish a mundane physical, mental, or social action, and the major arcana when they’re attempting to manipulate the Realms of Dream. The card they draw determines their level of success and, particularly for the major arcana, influences how they succeed or fail.
EGG: How does the game address nightmares as opposed to happier dreams?
JM: There are a few different ways nightmares come up in Praedormitium. The first is tied directly into character creation, where each character has a particular nightmare effect that will manifest if they make too many unsuccessful attempts to manipulate the Realms of Dream during a scene. Another, more common one is that capital-N Nightmares are a type of Phantasma, which is a naturally-occurring denizen of the Realms of Dream. They’re part of dream-ecology, in that they’re predators in the dream ecosystem, and are often primary antagonists for players in adventures. Beyond that, it’s pretty loosely defined, because players and DMs are able to incorporate them into their games in whatever way they want.
EGG: What inspired you to use Tarot for this?
JM: I started with the major arcana, because the meaning of the cards could vary depending upon who was doing the reading. I thought that was an interesting thing to incorporate into a resolution system and it seemed to fit well with the idea of trying to do something in a dream, and then something you didn’t quite expect happens instead of, or maybe because of what you tried to do.
EGG: Since this is a game about dreams, was there a specific dream that you wanted to be able to recreate in your game?
JM: Not one specific dream, but I wanted to try to recreate the experience of lucid dreaming, at least from my perspective, as best I could. I’ve been able to control my dreams for almost as long as I can remember (and was really surprised to discover other people couldn’t!), but the way I’ve always done it is oddly cinematic. It’s like watching a movie. If I don’t like how something is playing out, I can pause, rewind, and play it again. I can just leave a dream if I’m bored with it. Or change things like I’m directing people on a set. If I’m in danger of being hurt by something, I can just say “nope” and they can no longer hurt me. But it only works about 80% of the time. So, I guess I was trying to recreate the experience of how I, personally, dream, with the understanding that it definitely doesn’t work that way for everyone else.

EGG: What other projects have you worked on?  
JM: Prior to this I wrote mostly LARPs. A lot of my older work has been non-credited for campaign games, but I published my first independent system, Covenant, back in 2000. Most recently, I’ve been writing freeform LARPs, which require less overhead to run and minimal mechanics, thus have a lower barrier to entry. I wrote one a month in 2018, and released a collection of ten short freeform LARPs called Mixtape in July of that year. Putting out that much content in twelve months left me feeling a bit burnt out, so I decided to take it a little slower this year and switch my focus to tabletop games.
EGG:  What upcoming projects do you have planned?
JM: I’m currently playtesting two games. One, called Follow Me Down, is a Powered by the Apocalypse hack for two players, based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice as they travel through the underworld. It’s GMless, so the thing I’m currently concentrating on is making sure the game is accessible and easy to understand. I want someone who has never played a tabletop game before to be able to pick up the book and be able to play it straight through without any confusion. It’s pretty close to completion, so most likely that will be the next one I publish, though it’s definitely too big to be a zine.
I also have another game called Wayfaring Strange which is about hidden highways, urban legends, strange magic, and traveling through liminal America. It’s an original diceless system and I got a chance to test it at Gen Con a few months ago. That one’s not quite as far along as Follow Me Down, but I think it will definitely be ready for publication in 2020.
EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project?  
JM: I intermittently keep a blog on the Drowning Moon Studios website (, so that’s the best place if you want specific information about the games and their development. I tend to rattle on more frequently on Twitter at
– Website
– DriveThruRPG page or
– Social media 

RPG Monsters: A to Z Kickstarter – An Interview with Jeshields

In the market for stock art for your tabletop RPG? Jeshields offers a great selection at DriveThruRPG, and, through December 20th, he’s offering RPG Monsters: A to Z on Kickstarter. On EN World, I try to cover as many RPG-related crowdfunding projects as I can, but I missed this one. So, to help shine a spotlight on Jeshields’ work, I asked him a few questions about the project.

This image is an example “of art quality. All art created for this project will be new illustrations.”

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project? 
JESHIELDS (JES): I’m creating a stock art library of 26 creatures and monsters, one for each letter of the alphabet. This library will be a mix of recreating classic creatures, makeovers of ‘failed’ monster ideas, and designing brand new creations.


EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game? 
JES: None. These images are for game products that use any system.

This image is an example “of art quality. All art created for this project will be new illustrations.”

EGG: What is the reward that is the best value? 
JES: “$75 – Monsters in Digital”. You get .PSD files and vector illustrations so you can edit, resize, and recolor all the monsters. It includes line art .PNG files, color .PNG files, and .PSD files of all the monsters, plus a license to use them in commercial products.


EGG: Assuming there are stretch goals, which one are you most excited about? 
JES: Although I am entertaining a few ideas, there are no current stretch goals for this project.

This image is an example “of art quality. All art created for this project will be new illustrations.”

EGG: What other projects have you worked on? 
JES: I have been commissioned for freelance work with independent companies such as Barrel Rider Games, Blackfall Press, Dread Unicorn Games, EN World, Rogue Comet, Steve Jackson Games, among many others. Other Kickstarter projects include a Fantasy Stock Art & RPG Minis plus a Choose Your Own: Sci-Fi Stock Art project. I also run where I create bundles of various stock illustrations each month.


EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project? 
JES: Fans can connect with me on Facebook, MeWe, or Twitter where I share my work on a regular basis.

This image is an example “of art quality. All art created for this project will be new illustrations.”

RPG Monsters: A to Z by Jeshields

END DATE: Fri, December 20 2019 3:00 PM EST.

“A library of monster stock art for fantasy, sci-fi and stranger things.”


NOTE: This article includes affiliate links to DriveThruRPG. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Lightning War Kickstarter – An Interview with Ben Sandfelder

Need high fantasy WWII at your table? Try the Lightning War! Why am I sharing this game? Because I’m in a gaming group with its creator, Ben Sandfelder, and I’ve playtested this RPG, I know it’s a solid concept and it deserves to be shared with the world. It’s on Kickstarter right now and we did a short interview about the Lightning War RPG.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project?

BEN SANDFELDER (BEN): Lightning War is a lightweight, tactical tabletop RPG about stopping fascists in a high fantasy world’s World War II. Think tabletop X-COM with roleplaying.


EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game?

BEN: Lightning War uses an original system. I love designing my own systems because it lets me build rules from the ground up that facilitate the kind of gameplay I want to see. Combat in Lightning War has been carefully designed to emulate the quick, back-and-forth cuts of a shootout in a war movie.

EGG: Why multiple characters?

BEN: A squad of soldiers typically has 10 to 12 members, but a gaming group usually only has 4 to 6 players, so it just made sense from a story perspective. Plus, it opened a lot of interesting doors mechanically. For those who haven’t read the Kickstarter page yet, every player controls a Specialist (your character) and two grunts. The grunts provide some pretty powerful perks while they’re alive, but their main use is taking hits for your Specialist. Grunts die if they take any amount of damage, but you can use the “Flashback” mechanic to save them. Pretty much, once per session per character, you reveal some backstory, then prevent all damage that would be dealt to that character. In playtests, players would come up with the most ridiculous things to keep their grunts alive, and it’s great, because it got them emotionally invested. I love it, because it keeps players from treating them like expendable pawns.


EGG: What is the reward that is the best value?

BEN: I gotta say the “Squad Collection.” You get four of everything for the price of three. Whether I’m running a game or playing, I love to have extra books handy. The Squad Collection gets yourself a copy, and you have three more to share with your regular gaming group. It’s just in time for the holidays, too, so if you need a gift for a geeky friend…

EGG: Assuming there are stretch goals, which one are you most excited about?

BEN: There are stretch goals, but they’re secret. I’m not announcing them until the previous stretch goal gets reached. That being said, I definitely have a favorite. It’s the fourth and final one.


EGG: What other projects are you working on?

BEN: Oof, so for every professional project I’m working on, I’ve got at least two or three semi-professional things I’m just doing for fun and practice. I’ve gotten back into digital game development – I’m tinkering with an idea in Unreal 4. I hacked Dungeon Crawl Classics to use some 5E rules for my home campaign, but I don’t think I can publish that one legally. I came up with a really cool dice system for a TTRPG, but I can’t decide what kind of game I want to make with it. And, of course, NaNoWriMo. Shouldn’t be too hard balancing THAT with a Kickstarter, right?


EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project?

BEN: You can check out my website, but the best place to keep up with me is on Twitter. I’m @BenSandfelder.

Thanks again for the help!

Lightning War by Ben Sandfelder

END DATE: Thu, December 5 2019 9:00 PM EST.

“A tabletop “Skirmish RPG” set in a fantasy world’s World War II.”




NOTE: This article includes affiliate links to DriveThruRPG. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sometimes schedules keep me from performing in-depth interviews with RPG creators. When I can’t do a proper interview, I still like to give space for creators to share their projects. To that end, I conduct boilerplate interviews, short and generic but still an outlet for creators. If you have a product you would be interested in participating in a boilerplate interview, reach out here.

Mystery at Millwarren – An Interview with Scott Fitzgerald Gray (Insane Angel Studios)

In early 2018, I interviewed Scott Fitzgerald Gray about The Hidden Halls of Hazakor from Insane Angel Studios on the Open Gaming Network (here). Now he has a new project on Kickstarter, Mystery at Millwarren, and we did a short interview about it. 

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your new project, Mystery at Millwarren?  

SCOTT FITZGERALD GRAY (SFG): Mystery at Millwarren is a 5th-level D&D adventure for new, young DMs (age 12 and up or so), and a standalone sequel to last year’s young-DM starter adventure, The Hidden Halls of Hazakor. Written by me; illustrated by the amazing Jackie Musto.


EGGWhat system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game?  
SFG: Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, because it’s an especially good gateway RPG for young players.

EGGWhat is the reward that is the best value?  
SFG: The All-Around Adventurer (combo PDF/print book) is a good deal; but for people whose budget it fits, getting original art from Jackie Musto as part of the Eternal Hero tier is pretty sweet. (And those sold out pretty quickly last time…)


EGGAssuming there are stretch goals, which one are you most excited about?  
SFG: All of the one-shot adventures will be pretty cool, because I have some awesome writers lined up if we reach that level.


EGGWhat other projects have you worked on?  

SFG: In addition to The Hidden Halls of Hazakor, Ive been privileged to have been working on D&D as a freelancer for Wizards of the Coast for over 15 years now, from the three core rulebooks to the Acquisitions Incorporated book, to a bunch of stuff people will hear about in coming months that I cant talk about yet. 


EGGWhere can fans learn more about you and your project?  

Mystery at Millwarren from Insane Angel Studios

End Date: Fri, November 29 2019 12:00 PM EST.

“An RPG adventure for new Dungeon Masters and 5th-level characters — Written for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons




NOTE: This article includes affiliate links to DriveThruRPG. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sometimes schedules keep me from performing in-depth interviews with RPG creators. When I can’t do a proper interview, I still like to give space for creators to share their projects. To that end, I conduct boilerplate interviews, short and generic but still an outlet for creators. If you have a product you would be interested in participating in a boilerplate interview, reach out here.

Survival of the Able – An Interview with Jacob Wood (Accessible Games)

Jacob Wood of Accessible Games reached out to share the press release for his RPG crowdfunding project, Survival of the Able. We talked briefly which led to this short interview about the project.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project?

JACOB WOOD (JW): You’re a person with a disability living in a Medieval almshouse when the Black Death comes to your village. People who are dying of the plague are rising again, and they’re hungry for flesh. It’s up to a handful of you to make your way out of town and away to safety.

You may not be the biggest, the strongest, or the fittest, but you’re determined to survive.

At its core, Survival of the Able is a game about empathy. You’ll play as someone with a disability tasked with surviving a zombie plague, but the real villains of the game are injustice, inaccessibility, and ableism. You won’t have modern protections like the Americans with Disabilities Act to offer you protection against discrimination, and you won’t have modern technology to make your life easier. You will have your wits, your guts, and your determination.

Our hope is that by putting yourself in your character’s shoes, you’ll start to feel angered and incensed at the way they are treated. You’ll see the injustices that still impact people with disabilities to this day. You’ll also feel a great sense of accomplishment when you overcome the odds and survive grueling challenges despite the setbacks you face. Finally, you’ll recognize how to translate this experience to the real world.

EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game?

JW: Survival of the Able is built on the bones of the Fudge System, but it was 100% written from the ground up to include only the elements which are essential to the experience.

I’ve written in the past about how Fudge is inherently one of the most accessible RPGs in terms of game mechanics. Fudge Dice are tactile and easily read by blind players, the Trait Ladder is great for people who are math-minded and people who aren’t, and the system as a whole is simple enough for newcomers to understand with little difficulty.

Fudge is also customizable to an incredible degree. I have used it for crunchier cyberpunk games (such as Psi-punk), print-and-play board games (Monster Kart Mayhem), and now a survival horror game. Mechanics can be picked up, set aside, and altered to taste. Using it has allowed me to build precisely the experience I wanted for the game without sacrificing anything that makes the system familiar to so many players.

EGG: What is the reward that is the best value?

JW: The $50 tier gets you a PDF, a code to purchase the print-on-demand book at-cost, and an online game session with me. After that game session, I’ll stick around for a Q&A to help players and GMs learn how to run the game for their own groups. That’s 4 to 5 hours of my time plus the game for a pretty reasonable price.

The other great value is the $60 accessibility consulting tier for other developers. It’s the $20 print-on-demand tier and two hours of my time as a consultant for your project. Typically I charge $25 to $30 per hour, but through this tier it’s effectively $20/hour.

EGG: Assuming there are stretch goals, which one are you most excited about?

JW: I’m excited about the opportunity to deliver the game in an audiobook format. I know it isn’t the best way for a lot of people to learn a new game, but for some people having that audio transcription of the book will be invaluable. It’ll also be handy for people who want to learn while commuting to work or a gaming convention.

[Author’s Note: Here’s the description of the audiobook format from the campaign.

Audiobook: We’ll partner with Russel Collins of Robot Claw Entertainment to develop an audiobook format for the game. This accessible audio file will be completely DRM-free, so you can copy it to as many devices as you need. It’s great if you have trouble reading printed material or like to listen to books in the car.”]



EGG: What other projects have you worked on?

JW: My first release was Psi-punk, a Fudge cyberpunk RPG, in 2013. Since then I have worked on many other games for myself and others.

I’m most proud of my work on Infestation, an RPG of Bugs and Heroes (by Third Eye Games) and Baby Bestiary 1 and 2 (by Metal Weave Games). These were ENnie-nominated and ENnie-winning titles, respectively.

I’m also currently contributing to A Kid’s Guide to Monster Hunting (Third Eye Games), and I can’t wait until it’s out. This game is going to be stellar.

EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project?

JW: If you back the Kickstarter, you’ll get updates delivered straight to your inbox. There’s no better way than that.

You can also follow along on my website, Twitter, or Facebook. The website is a great resource for links to our other interviews, podcast appearances, videos, etc.


[Author’s Note: I did not ask Jacob about himself so I decided to paper over my laziness by quoting some of his Kickstarter bio:

“I began losing my sight in my mid teens and had difficulty adapting. Accessible computer software wasn’t the norm at the time, and as my condition worsened it seemed like I would never get to achieve my life goals. All I had left, it seemed, was tabletop gaming. As more of my time became consumed with games, I realized I was spending a lot of time adapting them for low vision play or struggling with inaccessible PDFs. One day my vision became clear: I would make it my life’s work to design and promote accessible games.”]

Survival of the Able by Accessible Games

End Date: Mon, November 18 2019 10:00 PM EST.

“A Survival Horror RPG about People with Disabilities”

Want to try before you buy? Try out Survival of the Able Beta from Accessible Games for free at DriveThruRPG.




NOTE: This article includes affiliate links to DriveThruRPG. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sometimes schedules keep me from performing in-depth interviews with RPG creators. When I can’t do a proper interview, I still like to give space for creators to share their projects. To that end, I conduct boilerplate interviews, short and generic but still an outlet for creators. If you have a product you would be interested in participating in a boilerplate interview, reach out here.

Play Manga d20 – An Interview with Kevin Glusing (Samurai Sheepdog)

Instead of looking at a crowdfunding campaign, I interview Kevin Glusing of Samurai Sheepdog about his latest project (available now), Play Manga d20.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project?

KEVIN GLUSING (KG): Play Manga d20 is an anime roleplaying option for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st edition. It includes ways to play point-based characters, as well as new options for Pathfinder races, classes, feats, and equipment. With over 100 attributes and defects, you have an almost endless number of options to build an over-the-top character for an anime-style game.


EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game?

KG: The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st edition. We based this book on ideas portrayed in another supplement that came out years ago for D&D 3e, and with Pathfinder being an extension of that system, it only felt right to grow into it.
Also, this was a great opportunity to show off our point-based balance system for Pathfinder classes. We did the math (behind the scenes) for every Pathfinder class that has been released. Using that, we were able to point out how every class, as presented is worth 300 points (taking into account updated options in Pathfinder Unchained).

EGG: Manga consists of every genre under the sun and several that are not staples in America. What genres within manga work best with Play Manga d20?

KG: This first offering casts a wide net on the idea of anime and manga, with options for giant robots, mech pilots, pet monster trainers, students, and magical heroes, to name a few. We also have several races that fit common anime tropes, such as cat people, rabbitfolk, and ratfolk. Plus, we came up with a slime race for those who enjoy that particular show/story.
We’re already working on our first expansion to this, which closes its focus up some to just Fantasy anime and manga. It will include the remaining base classes, as well as the swashbuckler. Angels, demons, ogres, and monsters will also appear as races. If the content remains popular, we also have plans to expand into sci-fi, converting content from Starfinder backwards and balancing it to the system as well.


EGG: What are some of the mangas that inspired this project?

KG: Trigun, Hellsing, Dragon Ball (etc), That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Fairy Tale, Full Metal Alchemist, Power Rangers, Voltron, and so on.

EGG: What other projects have you worked on?

KG: Our primary line of content at the moment is The Book of Many Things, which is now on Volume 3. We also recently released our 5-year anniversary edition of Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters. As for open projects, we’re finishing up The Awakened RPG for ourselves, and Lands of Theia, which is another collaboration with our Names’ Games TM initiative and an up-and-coming designer friend.


EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project?

KG: We post regular updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I try to update our website with new information at least once every month or so.


DriveThruRPG page (and Play Manga d20), Open Gaming Store page, and Paizo page

Facebook: Samurai Sheepdog

Facebook: Book of Many Things




NOTE: This article includes affiliate links to DriveThruRPG. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Sometimes schedules keep me from performing in-depth interviews with RPG creators. When I can’t do a proper interview, I still like to give space for creators to share their projects. To that end, I conduct boilerplate interviews, short and generic but still an outlet for creators. If you have a product you would be interested in participating in a boilerplate interview, reach out here.

The Wolves of Steadwick Kickstarter – Interview with Richard Davis (Explorer’s Guild Publishing)

More quick interviews. This week, Richard Davis of Explorer’s Guild Publishing talks about his D&D 5e, Pathfinder, and PF2e Kickstarter, The Wolves of Steadwick.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project?

RICHARD DAVIS (RD): This module is an RP-heavy in-depth mystery with horror elements. It allows players to complete the majority of the adventure in an open map taking whatever route they wish.


EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game?

RD: Dungeons and Dragons 5e as well as Pathfinder and Pathfinder 2e. They’re systems I’m familiar with and provide extreme flexibility.

EGG: What is the reward that is the best value?

RD: Either the $9 tier or the $24 tier. $9 Gets you the adventure in the system of your choice and $24 gets you the adventure in all it’s forms as well as a paperback copy in your preferred system.


EGG: Assuming there are stretch goals, which one are you most excited about?

RD: As for how unique it is, I’m excited the $1,750 stretch goal. As a mystery, the first time is normally the best experience. When this goal is met, there will be different endings the DM/GM will choose from the beginning to change the ending of the mystery, culprits, and experience.

EGG: What other projects have you worked on?

RD: I’ve made an introduction to D&D/Pathfinder adventure called Hawkwood Hideout available on DrivethruRPG. It’s available on a pay-what-you-want basis on that site. As for other Kickstarter projects, this is my first! I’m very excited for how well it’s gone thus far.


EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project?

RD: I post updates on the Kickstarter quite often, but the twitter and Facebook links above also have their own updates.


EGG: Let’s get some links to Richard’s work:

Crowdfunding project



DriveThruRPG page


The Wolves of Steadwick by Explorer’s Guild Publishing

END DATE: Thu, October 24 2019 4:19 PM EDT.

“A mystery-horror D&D/Pathfinder module.”




NOTE: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.


Sometimes schedules keep me from performing in-depth interviews with RPG Kickstarter creators. When I can’t do a proper interview, I still like to give space for creators to share their projects. To that end, I conduct boilerplate interviews, short and generic but still an outlet for creators. If you have an upcoming or active RPG crowdfunding campaign and would be interested in participating in a boilerplate interview, reach out here.

Interviewing Martin Lloyd about The Big Book of Amazing Tales Kickstarter

Martin Lloyd of Amazing Tales has a new Kickstarter expanding his all-ages tabletop RPG. For an article I did for GAMA’s upcoming magazine, Around the Table, Martin offer his thoughts as an all-ages RPG publisher. As such, when he announced his The Big Book of Amazing Tales, I knew I wanted to capture a few words about this campaign.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project?

MARTIN LLOYD (ML)The Big Book of Amazing Tales is a collection of four campaigns, especially written to introduce young families to the wonders of role-playing games. It will feature epic, kid friendly adventures and extra advice for anyone who wants to use RPGs in the classroom, or to support children with additional needs.


EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game?

MLAmazing Tales is an RPG especially written for kids aged four and up to play with their parents. Flexible enough to cope with anything your kids can come up with, and simple enough that a four year old can explain the rules, I think it’s the perfect tool to introduce kids to role-playing games.

EGG: What is the reward that is the best value?

ML: Any reward that includes a hard copy of the core Amazing Tales rulebook is effectively giving you $5 off the regular DriveThruRPG price. And Amazing Tales is pretty good value to begin with!


EGG: Assuming there are stretch goals, which one are you most excited about?

ML: I think I’m most excited about Time Mission Critical, a time travel setting from Josh Fox and Becky Annisson of the Black Armada. It’ll be the first Amazing Tales material written by someone who’s not me. I’m promised there will be dinosaurs. I think the goal the community will be most excited about is superheroes. A superhero setting is the one that’s been most requested since Amazing Tales came out, so if we make it, it will be exciting to deliver that.

EGG: What other projects have you worked on?

ML: I haven’t done much beyond Amazing Tales. I did write a scenario for Zweihander called Bad Debt which has been the hottest selling title in the Grim and Perilous library for five months now. It’s set in a debtors prison and very much not for kids. I also put together some popular form fillable character sheets for Zweihander and WFRP, and as a side project I’m working on a game called Dark Nation. Again that’s not for kids, it’s about ordinary people struggling for justice under a totalitarian state. But that’s on the back burner until the Kickstarter is out of the way.


EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project?

ML: You can learn all about the Big Book of Amazing Tales at the Kickstarter page. But if you check out the Amazing Tales website you’ll find a weblog with loads of extra ideas and information about gaming with kids.


The Big Book of Amazing Tales by Martin Lloyd

END DATE: Sat, November 9 2019 8:01 AM EST.

“A collection of adventures for the Amazing Tales RPG. Aimed at kids aged 4 and up.”





Sometimes schedules keep me from performing in-depth interviews with RPG Kickstarter creators. When I can’t do a proper interview, I still like to give space for creators to share their projects. To that end, I conduct boilerplate interviews, short and generic but still an outlet for creators. If you have an upcoming or active RPG crowdfunding campaign and would be interested in participating in a boilerplate interview, reach out here.

Gods and Masters Kickstarter – Interview with JC Thompson of Twitchy Butcher Studios LLC

JC Thompson of Twitchy Butcher Studios has a crowdfunding campaign going for Gods and Masters for Savage Worlds. We did a quick interview discussing it.

EGG EMBRY (EGG): What’s the pitch for your project?

JC THOMPSON (JC): Gods and Masters is a guerrilla fantasy setting that takes place in a single city. Player groups choose one of three factions, and gain a host of faction-specific Edges, Hindrances, gear, and Arcane Backgrounds, which they use to wage covert war on the other powers in the city.


EGG: What system are you using, and why is it the right one for this game?

JC: I’m using Savage Worlds, because it is generic and balanced enough to offer a large number of approaches for PCs to solve problems, but still crunchy enough to allow for tactical play, and quick, bloody combat.


EGG: Any examples of the game to share?

JC: Gods and Masters: Jumpstart at DriveThruRPG. That’s my free JumpStart with pregens, for anyone who wants a playable preview.


EGG: What is the reward that is the best value?

JC: If you want a print-on-demand hard copy, get the Hero level for $25. If you want a PDF only, get the Warrior level for $20.


EGG: Where can fans learn more about you and your project?

JC: Twitchy Butcher Studios LLC’s website and Facebook


Gods and Masters by Twitchy Butcher Studios LLC

END DATE: Thu, October 24 2019 8:01 AM EDT.

“An urban guerrilla fantasy RPG for the Savage Worlds rule system.”

Find it on Kickstarter here.





Sometimes schedules keep me from performing in-depth interviews with RPG Kickstarter creators. When I can’t do a proper interview, I still like to give space for creators to share their projects. To that end, I conduct boilerplate interviews, short and generic but still an outlet for creators. If you have an upcoming or active RPG crowdfunding campaign and would be interested in participating in a boilerplate interview, reach out here.




Kim Frandsen: The Cleric of Keeping It Classy

I’ve interviewed Kim Frandsen, my former editor at the Open Gaming Network, about his DMsGuild book – Keeping It Classy: The Barbarian and Keeping It Classy: The Bard – as they were coming out. To build this tradition, I’m talking to him about his latest project, Keeping It Classy: The Cleric.

[“Talking Classy Barbarians with Kim Frandsen” and “Kim Frandsen: The Bard of Keeping It Classy“]


EGG EMBRY (EGG): Kim, this is our third “Keeping in Classy” interview (Barbarians and Bards, so far). To that end, pitch me your classy clerics!

KIM FRANDSEN (KIM): One of the things that always bothered me about clerics in 5e is a certain lack of choice. They’re only so many domains in the core books (and not exactly a lot more if you expand to other books), but when you look at the rich mythology of our world, as well as that of the various gaming worlds, then you can’t really just narrow it down to the 11 domains that are currently in the official WoTC releases. Things like the Trickery domain applying to both Mask (the god of thieves), Beshaba (the goddess of misfortune), Tymora (the goddess of luck) AND Shar (the goddess of darkness and secrets) just feels wrong. So I aimed to expand that as much as I reasonable could.

So in this, you want to play a Cleric of the Norns (from Norse mythology), there’s a Fate Domain. You want to play a noble cleric of Torm? There’s a Valor domain. You want to play a fallen Cleric of Gond? Well then you take the Creation domain, and add on the Heretic Background. How about a reincarnated cleric of Talona? Yep, that’s the Disease domain, coupled with the Reborn background.

EGG: Will these will be setting-neutral clerics, or are you creating a mythology for them?

KIM: These are all setting-neutral clerics. I did toy with the idea of adding in a “make-your-own-pantheon” idea, but I realized that while that would be interesting, it’s not for this book. This book is for players, i.e. it has class options, race options, background and equipment. Something like a “build a pantheon” deserves its own treatment to do it justice. It’s also a matter of scope. If I added that in, the book would likely be twice as long as it is now, and it’s already bigger than the other two Keeping it Classy books. 😛


EGG: Does creating clerics without a specific world in mind make this easier or more challenging?

KIM: It makes it more challenging without a doubt. I tried to tie in the domains and backgrounds to all our classic tropes, stories and campaign worlds out there. So, for the majority of the domains, there are examples from both the campaign worlds and our own world, of which deities would typically offer these. That said, I do recommend that a DM takes a moment to think about the various domains that a player wants to access, to choose which deities it applies to, and to think outside the box. There is no reason why a domain shouldn’t apply both ways in the alignment scale, if given a bit of thought. For example, the Disease domain is skewed towards evil, i.e. the inflicting of diseases. But I’ve made sure to include a few curatives, to give people that option. After all, there are people out there CURING disease too, and they could have that domain. (Also, even evil clerics sometimes want to help their allies, and a plague IS a bit unhelpful).

EGG: With this book, you’ve onto three related pieces. Are there any Easter Eggs or crossover between them?

KIM: Direct crossovers, no. But there are some synergies between some of them. They’re not requirements, but they would work together well. The one that stood out in my mind was two of the backgrounds. The Barbarian had a background called “Out of Time” – where essentially, they were a time traveler from an age long past. The Cleric book has one called Reborn – and it is literally that. Someone given a second chance from the afterlife, either by a good or spells like reincarnate. I think it would be a fun party to DM – two friends from another time, come back together, through different paths.


EGG: Did you write all of this one?

KIM: As usual, yes. It’s all mine, and new content to boot. 😊


EGG: Any new clerical spells?

KIM: No, there are no new spells in this one. Again, it’s a matter of scope and space. I could have added them, but the book would be enormous if I did. I wanted to give people room to play with what is already available, add customization without muddying the waters with more spells.

EGG: Any new monsters or PC races to play?

KIM: There is, the Kornfar. A race of ex-humans that were exiled thousands of years ago to Limbo, and who have now come back. They’re extremely orderly, as that’s what kept them alive, and all of them believe in SOMETHING. They’re a very religious (if not fanatical) race, but they don’t stick to one religion. The religion of each individual is their choice (though the rest of them might not necessarily agree). I’d been planning on giving them masks – sort of  the idea that their actions should speak for them, not whether they have a pretty face – and Dean Spencer happened to put out a piece of art while I was writing the book that was PERFECT for them.


EGG: You’ve done memes before, what memes are you doing for this campaign?

KIM: I haven’t actually had time to come up with any for this one! I am planning to though. The book is about to enter the editing stage – so I’m going to put a few out there. I did do one that you can see here.

EGG: How did your first and second book do, sales-wise? Where do you think your current book will land among them?

KIM: The Barbarian book did really well. It performed far beyond my expectations. The Bard book, not so much. At this time, it’s only just broken even – i.e. I’ve not earned anything on it, so all it has cost me is time and effort. I have no idea why that is, but maybe people don’t play bards as much as barbarians. 😛 – Obviously, I’m hoping that The Cleric book will do as well as The Barbarian book, but I’d be happy if it lands somewhere between the two. 🙂


EGG: Where can fans find more about your books and this one that’s coming out?

KIM: I try to keep active on all the social media, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – but I’m not quite as active on Instagram as I probably could be. That said, at the moment, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s going on, as I’ve got two more books in the making. They’re not Keeping It Classy, but they’re one of those “from the heart” projects. A domain book for Ravenloft for Souragne and a spiritual (and actual) sequel to an old adventure in that domain: Night of the Walking Dead. The images you can see here are the work-in-progress shots for the covers, so they’ll likely see some changes.

As for a release date: it’ll depend on the editing process by now. I’m guessing end of September, start of October, so watch this space. 😊

Interview with Jonny Ree of Bouncyrock Entertainment about TaleSpire

Who wants to achieve a tabletop RPG experience online? Bouncyrock is kickstarting a project to combine these two platforms in a new way. To help out with this, I asked one of my more tech-savy friends, Wolf, to help me with the questions as I talk to Bouncyrock about TaleSpire 

EGG EMBRY and WOLF (EGG/WOLF): Thanks for talking with us. For those individuals that are not familiar with Bouncyrock Entertainment, what does your company do? 

JONNY REE (JR): We started as a group making mods for Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2 back in 2005. Since its conception, we’ve worked together on a lot of prototypes and game jams in our spare time. About 3-4 years ago we started working on TaleSpire as a part-time project, and it recently moved into a full-time endeavor.  


EGG/WOLF: What is TaleSpire? 

JRTaleSpire is a different way to play pen and paper roleplaying games online, one which focuses on delivering a visual and tactile experience for players and game masters alike.  As a GM, you can create campaigns, build a world, either by yourself or collaborating with others real-time. Then you can invite players to bring their characters into a game of your favorite P&P roleplaying system.  

The game focuses on build and play being seamless, so GMs can quickly respond to the will of the players, while still keeping control over the flow of the narrative.  

As a player, you can tint and name your characters before bringing them into the game. Then interact with objects, roll dice, or emote to express yourself.  

UI [User Interface] is kept simple and out of the way as much as possible, to keep the focus on the presentation and interaction.   

It aims to bring that little extra to your P&P games. 

EGG/WOLF: Through your combination of digital miniatures and cinema effects, how do you see this improving the “tabletop” experience?  

JR: How this improves the “tabletop” experience is most likely entirely subjective. People have different things they look for when playing P&P, therefore to which degree TaleSpire will improve that is a variable. There are certain things we want to achieve and feel we’ve been able to do for our own games with TaleSpire.  The obvious one would be to bring miniatures to people who wants them for their P&P sessions but are unable to for various reasons such as cost or time. A more personal experience is a different type of immersion. There is something special that happens when interacting with the world close up and personal. Similar to how video games put you in a zone. We also found space awareness changes a bit from traditional 2D maps; moving and thinking vertically becomes more natural as you see the relationships between floors.  

Finally, we’ve seen some examples of people who have been on the fence about playing P&P roleplaying, now wanting to jump in. 

We’re not looking to replace the table experience or the “theatre of the mind”. But we do hope we’ll be able to help the process. 


EGG/WOLF: “TaleSpire is not tied to a specific game or ruleset; if it’s role-playing on a square grid we have your back.” For TTRPG there are a number of different mechanics, such as drawing cards rather than rolling dice. What’s your approach to supporting so many different systems? 

JR: Currently, we assume that players and dungeon master handle these offline. We’re not trying to do what Tabletop Simulator has already achieved. We do want the tools to be more focused on the visual aspects of playing. We might have to re-evaluate some of those things once the game goes into Early Access, as we’ll be working with the community on where to take TaleSpire going forward. 

EGG/WOLF: Your digital miniatures and terrain pieces featured on your Kickstarter are of a medieval-fantasy flavor and one of the stretch goals mentions a cyberpunk theme. Do you have other themes planned such as sci-fi, Lovecraftian horror, or super hero? 

JR: We don’t have any additional themes planned (except for Cyberpunk, if we reach that stretch goal), but we would love to cover multiple ones. There is quite a large set of assets required to cover a single theme fully, so we’ll be focusing on medieval style fantasy initially. Once we feel we have decent coverage we’d look to the community to see which settings would make the most sense. There are also options of teaming up with others to get some of these other settings to TaleSpire. And finally, there is modding. 


EGG/WOLF: While you have an alpha with plans to reach beta in six months and eight months to early access, your timetable is a tight for such an ambitious project. How clean is the alpha version? What buttons and whistles are planned for the beta? 

JR: The Early Alpha version as we’ve been calling it is probably closer to the Early Access version than one would expect from an Alpha. Most of the key features already exist in some form, even if we’ll be redoing them based on feedback or general performance. These rewrites are by no means trivial, but we do have a good picture of what is needed. Making those changes as well as focusing on making the core experience feel great is our priority until our Early Access release, which is the timeline mentioned. 

EGG/WOLF: Your Kickstarter highlights the ability to mod the system using the TaleWeaver toolset and, if the respective stretch goals are reached, the Hero Crafting System as well as the customizable rule system. How intuitive will those options, and their integration with TaleSpire, be for casual GMs?  

JR: The Taleweaver toolset will be for people who already have some modding experience, or at least have time to start getting into it. This will initially be for artists who want to expand the tiles, characters, and creatures in game. Or for designers who want to make variations of existing tiles by combining models into new ones. We do aim to make Taleweaver easy to use, but it will require some knowledge of the Unity Game Engine as well as some game development terms. 

The Hero Crafting System is meant for in-game integration. This would be what players are faced with when creating miniatures to take into a game itself, but also gives the GM some options for creating unique NPCs. 

Finally, the “customizable rules system”. The stretch goal in this case also includes a lot of R&D, so exact implementation is still not set. What we hope to achieve is a system to encode rules so that it will be made available contextually, based on what the players want to do. Helping the GM to make the correct calls in these situations, while keeping UI clean is the goal.  


EGG/WOLF: Of all of the elements and stretch goals planned for this system, which one are you most excited about?  

JR:  Wow, that is a tricky question. We’re quite excited about the game in general, so seeing how others interact with TaleSpire would probably be on top of the excitement list. We’ve already seen some fantastic examples of this in our Early Alpha run.  


EGG/WOLF: Which distribution platforms and digital stores do you plan to release on? Mac, Linux, ChomeOS, iOS, Android, etc.? Of particular interest given recent announcements, will Bouncyrock be releasing a Nintendo Switch port? 

JR: For the Early Access we’re concentrating on a Windows release for Steam. Once the Early Access is out, we’ll start looking at MacOS and other distribution platforms.  

EGG/WOLF: Are there plans for a store where fans/modders can sell their creations?  

JR: This is something we would love to do in the future, but needs a lot more discussion internally. Something we’ll be looking into after the Early Access run.  


EGG/WOLF: Thank you for talking with us. For those interested in learning more about Bouncyrock and TaleSpire, where can they learn more about you? 

JR: Thank you for the questions! 

We have a website at which will take you to the project as well as the social media where we are reachable. The most complete description of TaleSpire can be found on our Kickstarter page 

I’d also mention the Discord channel which is linked on the website. This is where the community is most active, and we can be found answering questions as well. 


TaleSpire by Bouncyrock 

TaleSpire: Pen & Paper RPGs Resculpted Online 

END DATEThu, August 8 2019 3:01 AM EDT. 


All opinions expressed here are strictly those of the individual authors.

Kim Frandsen: The Bard of Keeping It Classy

My former editor on the Open Gaming Network, fellow journalist on d20 Radio, and RPG pal, Kim Frandsen, did a book for the DMsGuildKeeping it Classy: The Barbarian, that flew off the digital shelf. We did an interview about it if you’re interested. Now he’s back with Keeping It Classy: The Bard so I caught up with him to talk about his newest book.  

EGG EMBRY (EGG)Kim, we talked before about your prior project, Keeping it Classy: The Barbarian, just a few months ago. You’re back with the next in your Dungeons & Dragons 5e series, Keeping It Classy: The BardCan you pitch me the book 

KIM FRANDSEN (KIM): Well, the answer really is simple. If you like bards, but you find that the colleges of Lore and Valor are a bit too limited, then this book is for you. Like with the Barbarian, the tradition of the Bard comes from rich folklore and stories that go back centuries, and some of the experience of those traditions is lost. I wanted to expand on that, and take inspiration from those. You want to play something like the Pied Piper of Hamelin? There’s a college for you. You want to play Alan-a-Dale from Robin Hood, there’s a college for you. You want to be Cacofonix (the Bard from Asterix) – yep, there’s a college for you. 


EGG: Why bards?  

KIMI always found bards to get the short end of the stick, and a bit of a bad reputation. Sure, some of them will seduce anything with a pulse (and a lot of things without one), but it really is playing into the stereotype. They’re a face and support style character – they don’t have the flamboyance of a raging Barbarian or a fireball-throwing Wizard, but they have a very distinct “feel” when you play them as something other than a seduction-machine. It’s not the most popular class in the world either. Apart from myself, I only actually know a single person who’s played a bard – or at least only one who’s ever told me. 

EGG: Of your new Bard Colleges, what are the top 3? 

KIMI wouldn’t say there’s a Top 3 as such, but the 3 that stand out to me are the College of Life – as it enables you to play a more effective healer than you would normally as a bard. It takes the idea of the “old wise village dweller” to the logical conclusion. Then there’s the College of Death – it allows you to create a type of assassin. When I was writing that one, I kept getting Milady de Winter from the Three Musketeers popping into my head – seductive, persuasive and undeniably deadly. Finally, there’s the College of the Silver Voice – my version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. You want to convince someone to do something: That college is your best bet. 😊 


EGGAny new monsters? Or a new race to play 

KIMNo – Not unless you count the college of discord. The tunes that thing can turn out ARE monstrous. 

There is a new race for this book as well, just like I expect there will be for the other books. 🙂 The windsingers in this book were inspired in part by actual birds (from a walk I had in my local forest, where it sounded like the birds were having a conversation [well, argument really]), and the avariel elves (if you don’t know them – look them up. Winged elves) – and also by the fact that there only seems to be one flying race. So I combined the idea of this ability to fly and the love of music into a race – one well suited for the bard class. 🙂 

EGG: Are all of these your words or is anyone helping you on this one?  

KIMThese are all my own. I had a single archetype in the Barbarian book by Rodney Sloan, but this time around all of it is mine. And it is all new. 😊 


EGG: What “new” memes did you create for this one?  

KIMThere were a few.


EGG: So, dropped it on July 5th, the day after America’s Independence Day, did ya? How’d the holiday impact your roll out?  

KIMYes I did. And in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have. Noted down as a lesson learned. Since I don’t live in the US, I completely forgot about it. To me it was a normal Friday, but it seems like a lot of the US had the day off. Whether it’s due to the Bard being less popular than the Barbarian or not, I don’t know, but the response has been a lot slower in coming. 


EGG: Keeping it Classy: The Barbarian did some great numbers. How has it performed?  

KIMIt has hit GOLD on the DMsGuild – and it did so in about a month. I couldn’t be happier with that. 😊 

EGG: Are you planning to keep every 5e class classy?  

KIMShort answer: Yep. 😊 Long answer: Yes, but each book does take time to write. Now I have ideas for all of them, but I don’t accept just anything into them. Each book takes about a month to research and write (and rewrite) and another month for editing, layout and cover to come together. So next up is cleric, and I’m 90% or so through the brainstorm for it. For those curious, next up is Cleric. (I like to keep things alphabetical. 😛 ) 


EGG: Where can fans find out more about you and your books?  

KIMWell, I do a blog on the d20 Radio network every Friday. That admittedly is mostly Pathfinder, at least currently, but lately I’ve been working on locations and encounters based off Magic cards, and they can be used for any system. People looking to find my books can find them on DriveThruRPG and DMsGuild. 


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GMing for Tips

Giga-Bites Tabletop Gaming Café, an award-winning (2018 Power Retail Award – Outstanding Organized Play Program and 2019 GAMA Power Retail Award – Outstanding Marketing) tabletop gaming store in Marietta, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta) posted a job opening “for a part time position of Dungeon/Game Master to run one shot RPGs weekly.” I shared this on Facebook and Kenny Mahan responded with: “I used to pull 80-100 in tips each game I ran at my local store.” Making a hundred a game was worth a conversation.  


  • The Giga-Bites Café job is not presented as a tipped position.
  • Kenny Mahan did not work for Giga-Bites Café when he was GMing for tips.]

EGG EMBRY (EGG)Thanks for answering my questions about your time as a tipped GM. Let’s lead with the basics, where and when.  

KENNY MAHAN (KM): Albuquerque, New MexicoFriday and Saturday evenings for most of 2018. 


EGGWhat games did you run? 

KM: Primarily Dungeons and Dragons 5E, but I also ran a short campaign of East Texas University.  

[WRITER’S NOTE: East Texas University is a Savage Worlds setting. “East Texas University promises prestigious leadership, connected alumnae, the fantastic Southern climate of Pinebox, Texas…and annoying roommates, professors that try to kill you (literally), and things that go bump in the night. Enroll at your own risk.”] 


EGG: How many players normally joined in 

KM: On average I had about 6 players. The ETU game normally had four. At times I ran for 8 players with D&D. 


EGG: How long was the typical game? 

KM: Most games were a single day for the adventure. Most of the D&D games were Adventurers League. I would run linked adventures to help encourage the same players to come back to my table each week, and I also ran two of the hard backs from Wizards of the Coast – Curse of Strahd and WaterdeepDragonheist. The ETU game I ran started as a one-shot using an adventure I wrote and use as my hook for ETU. The campaign then moved to the Degrees of Horror plot-point campaign in the main books. 

Stock art coins by Rick Hershey (Fat Goblin Games).

EGG: How did you pitch tips to the players? Were there any in-game rewards?  

KM: The tips for running wasn’t pitched by me. The game store asks players at the store to tip their game masters. They host RPG nights and use volunteer GMs. The tips collected are collected by the store and are given back to GMs as store credit.  I can’t testify for all the other running games, but I never gave anything extra to my players ingame. The expectation for the tips was that I would run the best game that I could. 


EGGIn your experience, what led to the best tips?  

KM: The times I was tipped the best were when I had regular players week to week. As the sessions progressed, I made better tips. I also prepared for each week. I didn’t simply show up and run, I put in the work that all DMs wanting to run a strong game do. I read the mods, created maps, brought miniatures, used terrain when I could, and ran the best game that I could each week.  

EGGWhat brought it to an end?  

KM: I stopped running each week due to a couple factors. First, the store had no real organization in place to sign-in GMs or players during their regular play nights. The scheduled events were first come first served for everyone which meant it could be hard for a GM to get a table if they weren’t super early. This also caused issues for the players as each week they wouldn’t know if their GM would be there (unless they had contact information for them) and didn’t know which tables would be full. This also led to players not always knowing what level of character to bring since most of these games part Wizards of the Coasts Adventurers League, which has strict guidelines about character level and such for their modules.  This became a headache and hassle that really started to impact my enjoyment of running.  

Secondly, my schedule got very busy with work commitments and I had to cancel quite a few sessions. So, I would call the store and let them know I wasn’t showing up, but I didn’t have full contact info for all of my players so they would show up expecting me to run and I wouldn’t be there. This was a very unfair situation to put them in and after needing to miss a few sessions I stepped away until things could calm down.  


EGGIf someone approached you asking for advice on making this a worthwhile part-time job, what would you give them? 

KM: If you are running games on a regular basis as a volunteer for a store you need to understand you are also now a representative of the store even if you aren’t tipped or paid for running. This means you are very much a doorman for these hobbies and it’s your responsibility to do your best to make sure your players feel welcome and have a good experience. If this is a paid position set up by the store, this all becomes a professional responsibility as well, treat it as such and you’ll be rewarded. 

EGGAre you working on anything gaming-related?  

KM:  I am currently adding to and modifying some articles I wrote for Ed Greenwood’s company to be put up on DMsGuild and working on getting a blog back up and going. 


EGGThank you for sharing your experiences! Is there a good place for fans to check out your work? 

KMDMsGuild has the two things I have out there (Familiars Found and Favor for Gond: A piece of Lantan found), and I was published in the Savage Worlds Explorer 4. I think the things I did for Greenwood are no longer up to buy, but I’d have to check. 




Publisher’s Choice -Equipment: Coins credited to “Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

RPG Freelancing Corner with Andrew J Lucas

Recently, EN World shared James M. Wards’ article, “The Making and Breaking of Deities & Demigods”, discussing the behind-the-scenes dispute surrounding the famous first printing of Deities & Demigods for D&D 1e. I’ve never owned a first printing, so when I shared that fact on my Facebook all of my friends commented that they did and, more so, they bought theirs in 1981 from dear ol’ Gar himself when he was going door-to-door selling D&D like it was Encyclopedia Britannic but with a free demo gaming session. [WRITER’S NOTE 2019-05-30: Completely fictionalized made-up untruth. Save for the part where every gamer but me has a 1st printing of Deities & DemigodsI’m not bitter at all about that fact. At all. To be continued below.]

Among the folks I spoke with was Andrew J Lucas, which led to talk about what he’s freelancing on that was worth doing a write up about 

EGG EMBRY (EGG): Hey, Andrew. What are you working on at the moment? 🙂 

ANDREW J LUCAS (AJL)At the moment, I’m finishing off two adventures, one for TALOC: MAYAN and one for Endless Realms. Then some fiction. Always got something on the go. 🙂 


EGG: Excellent! It’s good to see that publishers know the value of your work. Is the fiction for specific projects? 

AJL: Yeah, it’s a dinosaur anthology coming out next year, and I have an Endless Realms story that needs finishing. Kirsty was disappointed in how the Endless Realms: Tome of Spirits performed on Kickstarter. I think next on tap is the Brimtide location I wrote. THAT will be fun. 

Oh right, Rebel Minis is relaunching the Dark Hold Goblins line that I’m in charge of. We’re starting with a short adventure then a large compilation book with all 4 books in it.  

EGG: In-charge? Wow! That’s AWESOME! Congratulations!  

AJL: Mike and I have been so busy it feels like Dark Hold has been neglected but looking back we are actually still producing steadily. 


EGGI’m glad it’s been steady progress. That’s better than mine (fits and starts). 

AJL: Yeah, but any motion forward is good. For Dark Hold, we are planning to have two version for the compilation book. One SWADE [Savage Worlds] and one 5E [D&D]. 


EGG: Wow! SW and D&DThat’s ambitious and a good call. With that wide a net, it will find its home. 😀 

AJL: That was our plan. Cut our teeth on a user-friendly system (SW) then move to where the money is. 🙂  

But we will continue with SW with the new system.  

EGGThat’s a good call! I have one one-sheet adventure published for SW. I appreciate my editors for fixing up my lack of understanding on the new system. 

Let’s jump over to how the Endless Realms: Tome of Spirits Kickstarter went. When I spoke with her last, Kirsty Garbe of Lunar Games had greater hopes for ToS. I hate that the Kickstarter did not reach the levels it should have because the books look great. 

AJL: The Tome of Spirits is great. But I think many people might have thought it was too focused. We’ve talked and I think we need some adventures and locations out there. 


EGG: You may be right about Endless Realms. Adventures and locations will help, it’ll move copies of Spirits and the core rulebook as the gamers become aware of the system/world. I know it’ll find its audience. 🙂 

AJL: It will be a big step forward for us. Brimtide is filled with locations and plot hooks and 4 full adventures, so I think that will help. 


EGG: When you say full adventures, how long is each (are they one-shots or campaigns)? Do they interconnect? 

AJL: In Brimtide, each adventure is about 10 pages, with enough encounters to last 2-3 game sessions. 

EGG: With Brimtidethat’s a good length. 4 adventures, so a 40ish page book? That should be easy to fund and get out there. Any idea around the timeframe you’re thinking on? 

AJL: Without the adventures the main text is 34K+. That has no NPC stat blocks yet. 


EGG: 34k without blocks, that’s a nice project! I think it’s a good call. 😀 

AJL: All locations, NPCs, history and such. The map is beautiful. I expect the entire book will be closer to 90 pages. 


EGG: Ok, 90 pages is good! Who did the map? Is it a world map or more focused? 

AJL: There will be lots of maps. A provincial map of the area, which can be used for the adventures which feature some of the locations on it: A full city map with, I think, 30 fleshed out locations, and 5 building maps including a tavern, a lighthouse and maybe a ship (as a stretch goal). 

EGG: A lighthouse? I want to see that! It all sounds good! I’m eager to see this come out! 😀 Any idea on the date? 

AJL: I think we talked about a Kickstarter launch in August. 

KIRSTY GARBE: I doubt we can launch the Brimtide adventure in August simply because Kickstarter could pull the project since I would have yet to fulfill the physical rewards for the Tome of Spirits Kickstarter. 


EGG: Very cool! I wish Lunar Games and you luck! I will be happy to cover it. 😀 

AJL: Oh, I’m writing a spirit adventure too. Dilema at DedburnI’m considering making it a dual plane adventure where you flip into the spirit realm and the DM flips the book. 


EGG: That sounds cool. Is D@D for Endless Realms or another system? 

AJLEndless Realms. 


EGG: Thanks for all you’ve shared. 😀 

AJLYou’re welcome. None of that is secret. 🙂 

EGG: Thanks, again. For fans interested in learning more about your work, where can they find out more about you? 

AJL: Mostly on Facebook. I use Twitter rarely, mostly because I’m too busy. I’ve been freelancing since the late 80’s but never really got around to making a Blogspot or website.  My writing shows up all over the place, usually because I’m attracted to a neat project and my day job is secure enough that I can play around in plenty of sandboxes.  Wait until you see the two adventures I wrote for Carbon 2185, I really brought a Bladerunner vibe to the adventures that I think will get all the fans jazzed. 

This year I’m especially excited as you can tell with my contributions to Endless Realms, but I also have comics coming with Cornerstone Studios and each year I have short fiction appearing in two or three anthologies.   

[WRITER’S NOTE: One of my roleplaying group received their Carbon 2185 playtest copy, so I’m looking forward to playing that!]


EGG: Interested in trying out Endless Realms? They have products at DriveThruRPG (here) or you can join the Endless Realms: Tome of Spirits Kickstarter Pledge Manager (for late pledges). 


[WRITER’S NOTE 2019-06-05: Out of the clear blue, Andrew J Lucas sent me a 1st printing of Deities & Demigods for D&D 1e. That was totally unexpected and an amazing gift! I’m still stunned that this book that was my 1e Holy Grail arrived in the mail. Gaming and gamers make me happy! Thank you, Andrew J Lucas!] 

Books, Tattoos, & More Books

Hey you.

Like sci-fi, dystopian books, tipsy memoirs, or books illustrated by eight-year old kids?

I knew it.

Watch this.


Then go HERE. 

Talking Classy Barbarians with Kim Frandsen

The Open Gaming Network’s newsletter had an offer to write for them. That’s how I met Kim Frandsen, my editor at the Open Gaming Network. As with every editor I’ve had, he helped me to hone my craft, introduced me to a number of people in the industry, and is someone I count as a friend. So, when Kim shared one of his projects with me, I knew I wanted to repay his kindness and talk to him about The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy

[UPDATE: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is live. Find it here.]

EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for talking with me. Currently, you’re finishing up a project (really several). Can you share some The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy details? 

KIM FRANDSEN (KF)Sure thing, Egg. So, this is basically an experiment, and something that was born out of my own annoyance. I have a liking, as a player, for having multiple options in a single book. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it just seems right to me. But a lot of the time, when I see a new subclass or something of that sort revealed, it seems to be just that single subclass included in the book. And to me, that seems wrong, as I like choice – I like a LOT of choice. So, I set about the book as an experiment of trying out the DMsGuild for the first time and providing the kind of book I like. I took a good look at all the tropes, stereotypes and references to the barbarian that I could think of, and then I tried to turn them into something that players can use in their games. 

That originally started as just an idea of 10 new paths for the Barbarian, but by the end of it, there was 14 of paths, a new race, 5 backgrounds and a bunch of equipment. It got a bit bigger than I’d originally intended, but that’s how many of these projects run😊 


EGG: This project is all you, correct? Every word from your keyboard?  

KF: Everything in the book is mine. EXCEPT the path called Path of the Slayer. That came from the mind of a good friend of mine called Rodney Sloan, who does 5e and Pathfinder as well, and who worked as my copy editor on the OGN. We saw an opportunity as one of his paths fit perfectly into my book, and one of my paths (the Path of the Northman) has made an appearance in his book as well, and was released just a few days ago in the Undersea Sourcebook: Race and Class Guide. 

EGG: Who’s providing the art?  

KF: The cover and some of the larger pieces of internal art is Dean Spencer. I have a real love for his work, so I wanted to showcase some of it. Incidentally, he came out with a piece of art, just as I was writing the new race for the book (redscale lizardfolk), and I just HAD to include that one in the book. The other pieces of internal art are all in the public domain, and was sorted by Bob Greyvenstein, who also did the general layout (and who did a fantastic job, I think). 


EGG: Where will it be available? When (roughly) will The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy drop? 

KF: It’s only going to be available on the DMsGuild. I’m hoping this weekend. But it might be delayed (on purpose) till next Thursday/Friday. It really depends on when the layout is finished. 

[UPDATE: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is live. Find it here.]

EGG: Why the DMsGuild as opposed to a “standard” release?  

KF: Well, that’s part of the experiment that I mentioned earlier. I’ve had a number of books released on DriveThruRPG, and there are certain advantages to releasing there, such as easier access to putting your book out as Print-on-Demand. However, I think the 5e audience mainly uses the DMsGuild, at least for their D&D purchases, and I want the book to be available to as many people as possible. And it’ll be interesting to see if I’m right. 😉 


EGG: Can you share the details of a few classes from the book?  

KFCertainly. I already mentioned the redscale lizardfolk earlier, so I’ll start with them. They’re a new player character race, created from normal lizardfolk stock, by a red dragon looking to make slave creatures. They’re strong and wise, good swimmers and have a bite attack and the ability to deal fire damage with their weapons by coating them in blood. 

I’ll cover just 2 of the paths as well. First is the “Path of the Immortal” – which is inspired by the stories of Achilles. This gives you a bit of the legendary abilities of his, like an improved armor class, extra damage against creatures that wound you, and decreased damage from non-magical weapons, beyond the normal resistance.  

The other one is the Path of the Skinchanger, and it’s inspired by He-Man. I wanted a Barbarian that transformed when he raged, so I have a class that’s thematically tied to his gear, transforming and gaining abilities as long as you have your weapon/armor/shield (your choice) on you, gaining superhuman strength eventually. After writing it, I realized that a quick re-skin would allow you to do Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde and the Hulk as well, which is an added bonus😊 

EGG: You’ve done a small meme campaign to get the word out about this. How has the reaction been? 

KFA lot of laughs. Hopefully not just mine😊 – No, the reception has been good from what I can see, but it’s definitely an acquired taste, and not for everyone. I just wanted something a little different to posting my stuff in every single group imaginable. I know that’s probably imposter syndrome talking, since we all see it, but I really dislike doing it. So, I’d rather have something fun. And yes, I do have one more planned for when the book releases. – One that I think incapsulates every author ever when a new book comes out. 😛 

EGGThe Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is not your only project. What else can you share?  

KF: I always have multiple projects on the go (at any given time, there’s at least 5 on the backburner with a few more active), but the 3 that are currently going on are 2 Starfinder ones (That I cannot talk about due to NDAs), and another 5e one that I CAN talk about. 😊 We’re doing a follow-up to two books that I did together with Ishmael Alvarez called Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue and Aurora’s Whole Realms Autumn Catalogue. Spiritual successors to the old Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalogue, based in the Forgotten Realms, and full of new equipment. 😊 


EGG: For those not familiar with you, what other projects have you participated in?  

KFThat is WAY too long a list to put it all in here. But my work has probably been seen by most people in Paizo’s Pathfinder Player CompanionWilderness Origins – But I have more than 40 books behind me as an author or co-author and another 20 as editor, plus some 100+ blog posts. Anyone interested can find the full list here: 

EGG: On to some sadder news (for me), you’re no longer my editor at the Open Gaming Network as you’re moving on to greener pastures. Can you share a few highlights from your years there? 

KFWell obviously working with a bunch of talented authors has been interesting to say the least. I’ve learned a lot, hopefully taught even more and often thought to myself “herding cats is easier”😊 – In all seriousness though, I’m grateful to have worked with so many talented people, and singling anyone out would do them a disservice. I will say though, that the most INTERESTING thing we did was to host the DesignFinder Contest. While I wasn’t among the judges, I was the person that the winner had to work with afterwards, and I was the only one, apart from the judges, who saw all the entries. And there are some talented people out there, who simply need to polish their skills, and they could REALLY make an impact. 


EGG: For fans interested in learning more about your and The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy, where can they find out more?  

KFI’m relatively active on social media – though I’m new to Twitter. People can follow me here:
Facebook Page: 

Twitter Page:

Instagram Page:


I met Craig Campbell of Nerdburger Games at the Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo. He was at a table with pre-ENnie Award winner, Derek Kamal (of Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse fame). We chatted for a minute and he pitched me on two of his projects, CAPERS RPG and Die Laughing. I bought the CAPERS Quickstart and, later on, did an interview with Craig about CAPERS (here). At AndoCon, I ran into Craig again and he invited me to try out Die Laughing. That was an excellent time! Let me quote the quick pitch for Die Laughing:

“The zero-prep, horror-comedy RPG that puts the laughter in slaughter. […] Everyone’s going to die. It’s just a matter of when and how funny you can make it. Even after your character is gone, there are multiple ways for you to remain involved and influence the story right up until the bloody end.”

With the Kickstarter is running until November 21st, I wanted to talk with Craig about CAPERS, Die Laughing, and highlight the fact that the game is just $10 so price is kept low so it’s not a barrier!

EGG EMBRY (EGG): Craig, thanks for talking RPGs with me. Let’s start with your Kickstarter for Die Laughing. I played the preview version of Die Laughing at AndoCon. I don’t know whether I did good or bad, but I survived the game, so I never got to play as a producer. How does the producer role impact player engagement compared to an RPG where your character dies and you spend the rest of the night rolling up a new one?

CC: In Die Laughing, when your character dies, and most of them do, you take on the role of producer for the rest of the game (in addition to a few other things). You have producer points that you can spend once per scene to do something to affect the scene, such as lowering the effects budget or introducing positive test scores for a character, forcing them into the scene because the test audience likes them.

While you don’t necessarily spend a point every scene, I’ve had players remark that they remain very engaged with the story, plotting for the perfect time to mess with the story. Producers play a little mind game by themselves (and sometimes with other producers), seeking out a chance to really impact what’s going on in the movie you’re all creating at the table.

EGG: This game is mostly done, correct? How quickly do you hope to deliver the finished product to backers?

CC: Everything is written and playtested. I’ve added a few things that will need an editing pass. Much of the artwork is done, with a few illustrations left to go. The basic layout template is complete and much of it is laid out.

I MIGHT release a “first cut” of the game with whatever’s done, just as a PDF, right after the Kickstarter ends. This will be a playable game but won’t have all the alternate rules and additional monsters/characters that still need illustration and layout. We’ll finish all of that up and release a “final cut” of the game, hopefully within 2-3 months. But that will depend on how fast we can get a print proof turned around. November and December are notoriously slow months for ordering physical books from Darn those holidays and all that wonderful gift-giving!

EGG: Despite being largely in the can, this game has some options to be expanded. In your wildest dreams [nightmares], what are you aiming for with this project?

CC: The hope is 24 characters, 24 monsters, a bunch of alternate rules and play aids, along with the core rules. I think it’ll come in around 100 or so pages. That would be the “Director’s Cut” of the game, so to speak. The biggest and best version of the game.

EGG: The number of backer rewards is ballooning quickly! 😛 This started with one option – Die Laughing for $10. What else have you decided to offer?

CC: That’s the “Victim” level. There are three “Survivor” levels that also get you the PDF for one or both of my previous RPGs (Murders & Acquisitions and CAPERS). Essentially, each adds an additional $10 to your pledge (while the PDFs are normally a $15 value). The Survivor levels have proven to be pretty popular.

EGG: You recently fulfilled your last Kickstarter, CAPERS RPG. What is CAPERS about? How has the reaction been?

CC: CAPERS is a super-powered game of gangsters in the Roaring Twenties. Players portray criminals using their powers to create their empire OR members of law enforcement using their powers to bring those criminals to justice. The Kickstarter for CAPERS went very well and well over 500 people are enjoying their Kickstarter rewards (which included not just the game book but also all sorts of PDF support materials and play aids).

The reaction has been incredibly positive. I’ve started to see a nice little community growing on the NerdBurger Games Discord. People are talking about hacking/houseruling the game. Questions are asked and answered. People are being friendly and talking about other geeky stuff. Every time a new person starts talking on the Discord or sends me a photo of their just-received CAPERS book on social media, I get a little more joy and feel a little more proud of CAPERS.

EGG: You run Nerdburger Games and do a podcast. Creator, publisher, advertiser, and local game organizer [NOTE: Craig and I are building an Atlanta-based indy RPG group. In Atlanta and want to game? Ping one of us]. Why wear all the hats instead of letting another company publish your work or the like?

CC: It all sort of happened by accident. I created Murders & Acquisitions and decided to Kickstart it myself. That went well and while I was wrapping it up, I started on CAPERS. Once I had M&A in the bag, it only seemed natural to just forge ahead as NerdBurger Games and continue self-publishing my games.

Doing it all myself has downsides. It’s a LOT of work, but I don’t mind it. Creating RPG stuff is something I would do anyway. I’m able to create these little, niche games that I love and that I can make exactly how I want them to be. That affords me the ability to NOT have to answer to others in what the games should be. It’s incredibly liberating to share my creative vision on my own terms.

And that’s a BIG upside that far outweighs the downsides of having to do all the work myself. Though, truth be told, I don’t do it all myself. I have enlisted a wide variety of very capable and talented freelancers to do the things I can’t and have found a nice little cadre of fans who love playtesting my games. It’s a group effort, for sure.

EGG: What is your podcast? What do you cover on it?

CC: I’ve been doing the NerdBurger Podcast for well over five years now with my good friend Mike (who has also contributed his art and layout talents to my games). The podcast is a weekly, hour-long potpourri of nerdy/geeky discussion on all manner of topics, all slathered over with a healthy dose of humor and camaraderie.

We have a rotating panel of regular guests and bring in special guests as well. We keep things very conversational. Over five years of a new episode every single Wednesday.

EGG: What else are you working on right now?

CC: As CAPERS finishes out its fulfillment and Die Laughing wraps up, the next big thing is CAPERS Noir. This supplement to the CAPERS game progresses the game from the 1920s to the 1940s. Gone is Prohibition era gangster action. CAPERS Noir is a crime noir game. You need the CAPERS core game to play it, but CAPERS Noir will be filled with 50 or so pages of new character options, new rules (including investigation rules), new powers, an L.A. backdrop, and some other surprises. It just went into playtesting.

If CAPERS Noir is well-received, I have plans for two more supplements. CAPERS Covert will take things to the 1960s in Las Vegas and be a crime/law story pastiche built around old-school, James Bond style agents and villains. CAPERS Offworld will tie all three eras together and bring CAPERS to outer space with Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon style interstellar crime fun in an old-school ray-gun and alien style.

EGG: For fans interested in your Kickstarter, where can they find it and you?

CC: The Die Laughing Kickstarter ends on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. As an indie creator, I strive to be as accessible and transparent as possible. My fans mean the world to me.

If you dig my games, swing on by the NerdBurger Games website. I blog fairly regularly and love sharing what I’m working on at the moment.

And I’m on a bunch of social media where I love chatting with folks.



This Kickstarter end on Wed, November 21 2018 9:00 PM EST. Click here to check it out.

* * * * * *



Disclosures: This article contains affiliate links.

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
Freelancer for EN WorldKnights of the Dinner TableOpen Gaming Network, and the Tessera Guild.
Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Want to share news? Press releases? Rumors? Sneak peeks? Deals? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

8 Questions with Ed Jowett (Shades of Vengeance) about Era: The Chosen

I’ve interviewed Ed Jowett of Shades of Vengeance four times before, each one about one of his games – Era: Balam, Era: The Consortium, and Era: The Empowered on the Tessera Guild as well as Battlecruiser Alamo RPG (Powered by Era d10) on the Open Gaming Network, so it only makes sense to talk to Ed about his latest RPG on Kickstarter, Era: The Chosen. As you can see from the title of games, they are rooted in the same system, yet cover a lot of ground because Ed is one of the hardest working folks in RPG.

That said, Ed will challenge you (in a good way) at, and away from, the gaming table. When I sent him the questions for this interview, I had a note that said I’d write the introduction to the article later. I get the answers back and Ed’s one-upped me by telling the world I explained the game in an “excellent introduction.” Now I have to figure out what Era: The Chosen is?! The horror!!! 😛 So…

Era: The Chosen is a horror tabletop RPG that pits humanity against an inhuman enemy that has the upper hand in every situation. For the Chosen that can perceive these monsters, the stakes are all or nothing. It’s not about survival, it’s win or our dimension is doomed.

[So, how’d I do, Ed?]


EGG EMBRY – Ed, over the years we’ve talked a good deal and always about your Era d10 games. Before we get into the latest one, let’s catch everyone up. What are the Era games, and how are they related, and not related?

ED JOWETT – Firstly, for anyone who hasn’t seen one of these interviews before, welcome! It is always a pleasure to talk about the games I create and I hope you find this interesting!
The Era games fall into two distinct categories: ones with “Era” in the title and ones “Powered by Era d10“. The latter sort (such as Battlecruiser Alamo!) are not settings created by me, but games made in other universes which other people created and then worked with me to bring to life through the Era d10 Rule Set. As a result, they are not linked to any of the other games in terms of story – the Triplanetary Confederation Universe (Battlecruiser Alamo RPG), for example, is linked to a series of novels by Richard Tongue. I took the feel of his universe and created mechanics which supported that style of gameplay to make this game, and worked with him to write the setting material.
The settings which have “Era” in the name (there are 8 so far – Era: The Consortium, Era: Lyres, Era: The Empowered, Era: Survival, Era: Silence, Era: Hitman, Era: Balam and now Era: The Chosen) are a slightly different story. These settings were created by me and have a common thread which connects them, if you look relatively carefully. I have not publicly revealed yet what it is, but I am certain some people have picked up on it from various hints I have dropped over the years in Kickstarter updates, panels and interviews.
Era: The Chosen, actually, builds on this quite heavily, and is the biggest clue I have given to how these settings link up since Era: Survival.
Ignoring the links, each game explores a genre thoroughly:
Era: The Consortium offers the chance to play any sub-genre of Sci-Fi you can think of with its 500 years of playable history – you just jump into the time period which suits the style of your game and then, when that story is complete, you choose the next one and have the chance to play ancestors or descendents of previous characters as well as brand new ones!
Era: Lyres offers players the chance to tell literally any story they want in the low-fantasy setting it offers. The GM plays as an audience who will assess their story while they attempt to earn the gold and glory due to adventurers. But, as they don’t really have experiences, they have to be careful of inconsistencies! This game lets the players really express their creativity and provides endless opportunity for stories (as well as giving the GM a rest!)
Era: The Empowered, similar to Era: The Consortium, offers every sub-genre of superhero story within its timeline. Choose whether you want to be a newly-emerging individual, finding your powers for the first time, or work as part of a large, world-spanning team, or stand against invasions by the Old Gods or Atlantis, or joining the “Empowered Department” in their attempts to police supervillains in a co-ordinated, government-led way.
Era: Survival offers a post-apocalyptic setting – a hundred years after the cataclysm – where the last days of Humanity are approaching fast. Unsure how to survive, the people of Gaia have splintered into 14 different factions… and each has their own alliances and enemies. I am sure you can imagine that this provides a difficult world to step into. Will You Survive?
Era: Silence is based on an island which is a High Fantasy testing ground. Entering a portal to the mythical Isle of Silence, you will have to earn your name if you expect to escape… by completing challenges and working together. The catch here is that no person is able to speak on the Isle of Silence and, being barbarians, you cannot read or write very well. So, how do you work together when you cannot communicate so easily?
Era: Hitman is based in modern times, and allows you to step into the role of a team of assassins. The twist here is that many of the assassins in this world have superpowers! These are fast-burning and reduce in effectiveness as you use them, so you will have to be extremely careful about when you activate them. And, of course, your target might have powers as well! You never quite know what is around the next corner in this game, so you have to plan carefully!
Era: Balam asks you to step into the role of a fighter pilot. No pilot is truly complete without their craft and this game is based around that duality: without your fighter (which is highly customisable), you are not a complete character and could be easily killed by the alien hordes which roam HX-7371. As a small squadron, you will have to adapt your fighters and work as a team if you hope to save Humanity from this threat and protect Earth…
And Era: The Chosen you already know something about, thanks to Egg’s excellent introduction above… and I will be talking more about it below.
The link between the settings of these games is perhaps more evident than another important aspect: the rules are module and can be combined. I am going to talk more about that in a later question, so read on to know more!

Our world is not safe. It is besieged by creatures from another dimension...

EGG Era: The Chosen is a move into straight-up tabletop horror roleplaying. You did Era: Survival before, which had horrific elements. What made you decide to go full horror?

ED JOWETTEra: Survival has a different focus to Era: The Chosen. Era: Survival is about a zombie apocalypse and a divided humanity, which doesn’t know or believe in itself or each other any more – to a high degree, no-one trusts the people they meet on Gaia. Humanity is, in reality, its own worst enemy and the truth is that they could probably survive if they worked together.
Era: The Chosen is quite different. It is a game about the horrors of war when fighting against enemies you cannot understand. Humanity is united against this threat – those that perceive it, anyway!
But that doesn’t make it less terrifying. The Anonassi are biologically superior, intelligent and tactical… and know more about Humanity than you would like them to… especially when it comes to the fact that they enjoy eating us.
This game is about fighting a descent into madness and loss of control as you fight the Anonassi to protect our dimension. The horror aspect is much more psychological than in Era: Survival, making it a very different kind of fear to “when will I run out of ammo”, or “is a zombie waiting for me around the corner?”.
What made me do this was really a long love of two franchises: Dr Who – specifically the brand of horror where the primary reason you are scared is that you don’t understand – and the Turok games on the N64! I have long felt that the two would combine into an excellent setting (with numerous tweaks, obviously!).
Finally, it is something I haven’t done before! I am sure you can imagine that there are a lot more things I want to create and I am working through them. This brand of horror is something I can now tick off my list from a “setting” sense, and focus on expanding that universe!


EGG – How compatible are the different games?

ED JOWETT – They are very compatible – the aspects of the rules which are unique to each game (for example, Specialities, Karma, Implants and Party Confidence) are modular and can be carried across between games.
For example, if you want to play Sci-Fi Survival Horror, you can combine Era: The Consortium and Era: Survival’s rules to make a “Dead Space” type of game (we actually did this in a published book, Era: The Consortium – Revival!). If you wanted to tell stories of your exploits to con people out of cash in Era: Hitman, you could integrate the Era: Lyres rules… and if you were feeling very ambitious, you could combine all of them to make a “super game”!

The power of games running on the same rule sets is obvious – you don’t need to learn a new rule set each time. But when you can combine aspects of the rules and the system supports it? I think that makes something quite special, though I admit I may be biased!

"Creepy alien starfish... why did it have to be creepy alien starfish?" - Kevin Kutlesa

EGG – Some of the settings for your games have expansive timelines. Tell us about the timeline for the game, and what makes that span appealing in Era: The Chosen?

ED JOWETTEra: The Chosen offers 3 time periods to play in, and the attraction here is that the experience varies quite a bit depending on which you choose.
Perhaps you like the idea of fighting huge, terrifying monsters with pikes and flintlocks. If that is the case, then the “First Era” is for you! In this time, people aren’t sure what the Anonassi are, mostly assuming they are demons of some sort or, in some cases, fallen angels (a name which sticks as a descriptor!). If you like supernatural horror settings where not everything can be explained, this is allowed for here, along with the slightly more light-hearted, “swashbuckly” feel where you have to rescue the princess and save the day, but overcome your fear to do so.
Or maybe you like the sort of horror which you get from Victorian era literature – Frankenstein, for example. In the “Second Era”, you have technology advancing faster than humans learn how to control it. What if you could bring people back to life, just by integrating a technological device which you found lying around in the Lost Lands? Would you find it morally acceptable? Would everyone else? This period also brings in some of the more monstrous Anonassi for the first time; as they are driven back by superior weapons, they begin to deploy larger and more terrifying creatures.
In the Third Era, weapons are at modern levels and the war is being won. At this point, the Anonassi begin to deploy new, more sinister, tactics – swarms of insects which can devour flesh to the bones of either Anonassi or Human in seconds, and Ethereals who can possess Humans and even pass into our dimension safely for long periods of time. How do you fight when you don’t know that all who stand beside you are still the people you trained with? Who do you trust?
I think that the timeline setting was the only way for me to offer all of these types of play in the same game and playtested have very much encouraged this variety!
And, of course, when you consider that different things are horrifying to different generations, there is even more scope for differences in experience…


EGG – For some of your games, there’s been a standout mechanic or setup (Balam’s fighter craft and Battlecruiser Alamo’s duel characters). Will there be any new mechanics for the system?

ED JOWETT – Yes, there are!
Terror is the result of your experiences in the fight. Perhaps you got eaten by an Anonassi and had to blast your way out… if you were to be threatened with being eaten again, you could understandably have a severe psychological reaction to that.
This is covered by the Terror system in Era: The Chosen. As you begin to experience the Lost Lands, you will build Triggers (such as “being eaten”!). When they occur, you will have the opportunity to roll a check… but if you fail, you gain Terror. Each Terror brings with it more Triggers, so the result is a decline in your ability to cope with the Lost Lands. If your Terror bar fills, you will collapse and have to be returned home for treatment… and will probably never set foot in the Lost Lands again.
Trophies are almost the opposite. When you overcome a particularly difficult challenge – floor a giant, brutish Anonassi in the middle of it charging you, for example – you may gain a Trophy. In this example, you might gain a Trophy in the form of the Anonassi tooth. It would remind you that you can take down an Anonassi when it is charging you, so you might no longer be able to be Triggered by that event!
There are also numerous special rules for the Clans, particularly the Chike, who can transform into half-Anonassi forms. If you want to know.more about that, I recommend checking out our actual play session on Kickstarter:

Chike - “Understanding is the key to survival, and not accepting preset biological limits is the key to victory.”

EGG – The $5 reward on this Kickstarter is for the digital Player’s Guide. That’s an incredible price! What will the Player’s Guide include?

ED JOWETT – I feel it is a good price, yes! The Player’s Guide includes the complete Rules (word for word the same as the Core Rulebook so there is no confusion!), an introduction to the setting for each era, full character creation and the vast majority of equipment (some stuff is so rare that it can be excluded to keep the page count a little lower and be communicated by the GM if it is used!).
What it doesn’t include is the full story of the setting or, more importantly, the Bestiary of Anonassi you might meet…!


EGG – For someone that has never played an Era d10 game, what would you say is the secret sauce that makes this a standout system that they should jump into?

ED JOWETT – It is easy and quick, it is representative without being painful and, if you are a brawler, the grapple rules are 2 pages and/or a flow chart which explains the same content!
It also gives huge flexibility for the GM to counter things like min-maxing (or not, if you prefer!), as well as the opportunity to leap into any of these genres while learning only a few extra rules.
The games are well-supported as well, through our Patreon and period campaign module releases, so if you are someone who likes grenade modules, we have you covered there too!

EGG – For those that want to check out the Kickstarter, where can they find it at?

ED JOWETT – You can join us right here:

Thank you very much for reading and I hope you will consider supporting Era: The Chosen!

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Ends on Fri, September 14 2018 2:00 PM EDT.

Disclaimer: I am a creator on this project.
“Contributing authors James Ward, Lenard Lakofka and more share some of their pro tips on how to create your first fantasy RPG adventure”
Looking for advice on how to create your tabletop RPG along with stock art to get you going? Learn from ” industry greats and legends James M. Ward, Lenard Lakofka, as well as exceptional talents such as Johnn Four, Rick Hershey, Lucus Palosaari, Kevin Watson, Bobby Nash and Egg Embry.” I’m excited to be a part of this project and offer my insights into the world of crowdfunding!

You can see examples of their work at DriveThruRPG here or at the OpenGamingStore here.

You can support this Kickstarter campaign here.


* * * * * *


Disclosures: This article contains affiliate links.

Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™
Freelancer for EN WorldKnights of the Dinner TableOpen Gaming Network, and the Tessera Guild.
Want your RPG Kickstarter reviewed? Want to share news? Press releases? Rumors? Sneak peeks? Deals? Have some RPG wanna-lancer thoughts to share? Contact me here or on Facebook (Egg Embry) or on Google Plus (+Egg Embry).

Steampunk Friday – Interview with the creators of The Invention of E.J. Whitaker

In scouring the web for Steampunk comics sometimes you hit upon one that you are interested in, but have completely missed the Kickstarter for. Even so, I felt compelled to give it a Kickstart the Comic treatment. At the same time, I reached out to the women behind the comic for an interview and with the official release of the comic today, it seems like a great time to catch up with Shawnee´Gibbs and Shawnelle Gibbs.


How long have you been creating/working in comics?

SHAWNEE´: Shawnelle and I have been working in comics since 2011 when we started writing our comedic sci-fi series “Fashion Forward.” We’d been working in independent animation before that and comic books just felt like a natural step, since we loved telling stories through art. In addition to the “Fashion Forward” series, we’ve written short stories for anthologies, including several for Graham Cracker Comic’s Ladies Night Anthology, a great women in comics organization based out of Chicago. 

At what point did you sit down to become writers? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?

SHAWNEE´: When we were kids in elementary school, we’d staple together lined paper and create our own little homemade comics to sell to kids for a quarter. I remember those stories being about cartoon characters, not unlike the animated shows we were seeing on tv at the time. Imagining fictional worlds and writing about them was something that began early for us. It was an awesome way of entertaining ourselves and our friends and a surprisingly great way to make candy money. 

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

SHAWNELLE: We are inspired heavily by our mother, who set us on this path with her eternal love of illustration and stories and our strong desire not to bring shame upon her head (laughs). Octavia Butler who we discovered in our youth, and whose stories spoke to our souls, and the work and careers of a host of writers and artists such as Vera Brogosol, Nnedi Okorafor, Sonny Liew, Vashti Harrison, and the list goes on and on. In terms of our own work, Shawnee and I are forever inspired by life itself, history and the human condition. We’re constantly getting hit with shocks of inspiration, our notes applications in our phones are a laundry list of thoughts and ideas for stories and projects.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

SHAWNELLE: We’re still working on it, actually. I think it’s a lifelong process. Shawnee and I don’t have families of our own at the moment, but it’s something we constantly think about, carving out time to stop and smell the roses and spend time with our partners, friends, and families. We both make our living in creative and demanding jobs, and write and produce our own content independent of that. It helps to have the resources to take trips and take breaks when we can, it’s just a matter of taking breaks. We both have incorporated sacred time for meditation and stillness that has been really helpful to how we approach the days and weeks. Having a partner to help get the check-off list of things to do helps tremendously as well. So that when we need to tap out for a day or two, there’s someone there to carry the torch.

Working with your sister has to be both amazing and bring an entirely different set of challenges. What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

SHAWNELLE: Having some level of organization and a plan when it comes to writing has always been a big part of our process. But when we first started writing together, we’d outline together and then try and sit down at one computer and write together as a team….and….it was difficult, to say the least, and SLOW. We’d spend more time debating about dialogue than actually getting it on the page (laughs). But over the years, we definitely have found our groove in respect to writing and most things. These days we’ve learned to work more remotely, and we’ll come up with an outline that we both are excited about, split it in a way that makes sense, and have at it separately. That way we can swap pages, make scene and dialogue punches without getting into long western-movie-style stare-downs (laughs).

What inspired you to create The Invention of E.J. Whitaker?

SHAWNEE´: While working on the story for “Fashion Forward,” which is a time travel adventure that jumps time between present day New York and a New York twenty five years in the future. We were also writing a screenplay about an African American entertainer who lived during the early 1900s. 

So we were simultaneously looking at historic photos of African Americans from the early part of the 20th century, while also perusing designs and concept art of what the world would look like in the near future. And an idea started to emerge about a young black woman of the Victorian Era who had dreams of becoming an inventor. Once we started fleshing out the details and knew there’d be flying machines and robots and fanciful gadgets involved, we thought comics would be the perfect medium for it. 

Was this a case of coming up with the story first and then the setting or vice versa?

SHAWNEE´: I think as the story started to take shape, the setting pretty quickly followed. As a historical fiction piece, we wanted to anchor The Invention of E.J. Whitaker in an America that actually really existed. Since our heroine, Ada, is an inventing phenom, we thought placing her on the campus of Tuskegee University, where legendary inventor George Washington Carver taught and lived would be the perfect place for her. 

We also knew that one of the most challenging places to be black and a woman at the time was the Deep South. So having our adventure get underway in both Alabama and Texas gave the story real palpable tension and danger. 

What’s been the reaction to the book?

SHAWNELLE: We’re really thrilled that our readers are enjoying the beginning of the series, and the steampunk community has also embraced it as well. In our early reviews, they’ve been really positive and it helps as we’re digging into the second book to have that level of reaction. It’s very validating.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

SHAWNELLE: Science Fiction, Adventure, and History are recurring themes in our work, and there’s always some level of comedy sprinkled in somehow, someway. For some reason, orphans are a recurring part of our narrative universe, probably because we grew up in a single-parent family and were “half-orphans” (as we’ve phrased it) ourselves. We’d need to get a psychologist in to help answer this one (laughs). Women overcoming obstacles to find their way/place in the world is always part of the undertone to our stories, I believe, because essentially that is a big part of our own journeys.

After running a successful Kickstarter for The Invention of E.J. Whitaker, what have you learned about the process of Kickstarter? What do you think has contributed to hitting your goals on The Invention of E.J. Whitaker? Do you view the platform as a testing ground for the concepts?

SHAWNEE´:  It is an incredible tool for testing concepts and finding people who may be interested in what you do. But I’ve gotta admit, Kickstarter can be a terrifying platform—I think both our knees were probably trembling a little as we hit that “Launch” buttonBeing as organized and as prepared as you can for crowdfunding, and researching firsthand accounts of both successes (and failures) was key for us. There will be unexpected bumps in the road on your journey, but staying committed and never being deterred by hiccups will help you reach your goals and cross the finish line.

We are super thankful to our Kickstarter supporters for believing in an unconventional story about one young woman’s courage to dream big despite the cultural and societal limitations surrounding her. We were floored that so many people believed in our little steampunk tale enough to help over fund it by $10,000.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium, and it looks like you’ve managed to gather a talented team of co-creators around you. Tell me a little about working with the pencillers, inkers, colorists, and designers.

SHAWNELLE: Independent comics allow us to realize the worlds and stories of our dreams with a small team of people. On The Invention of E.J. Whitaker, we were able to call upon a couple of incredible artist/friends we’ve worked with in the past. That’s Mark Hernandez (Penciller) Hasani McIntosh (Colors), Earl Womack (short story) that we knew and worked with beforehand. Mark and Hasani we worked with on a beautiful, animated project some years ago, and we met Earl “amazing artist/kindred spirit” Womack at Long Beach Comic Con about five years ago, and have been looking for ways to work together since.  We met Shanna Lim (Inker) June Park (Graphics) and were lucky to work with ladies from the LNA anthology series we’ve contributed to in the past —Lauren Burke (Copy Editor) and Emi Rosen (Letterer). We truly became a small comics publishing house with this one.

The process went pretty much like this — After finishing up all of our concept art and character sheets with Mark and Hasani, it continued with the script that we workshopped with Mark to get ready for Shanna for inks, and finally Hasani for colors. Over several months, we had a rotation of pages of art with each artist/“department” if you will, until it was finally ready. And we love our team, because like us, everyone was working full time jobs, heading families, having life happen, etc., and their time, commitment, and care with it continues to warm our hearts. It took a little longer than we initially anticipated to finish it, but the team rallied (shoutout to Mark and Hasani who divided the lions share of it!). We are so proud of what we were able to to do together and what’s possible for the future.

Where’s the best place to find out more about The Invention of E.J. Whitaker and the rest of your works?

SHAWNEE´: You can find out more about The Invention of E.J. Whitaker at and find the rest of our work at


The Gibbs Sisters are an award-winning hybrid team with credits in writing, producing, and animation. The twin sisters and collaborators have created a brand of quirky, fun projects that have entertained audiences across the globe. They are the creators of the popular online animated series’ Adopted by Aliens and Old Ladies Driving, and the YA time-travel comic book series, Fashion Forward. Their comic book adventure series, The Invention of E.J. Whitaker, a diverse re-imagining of the early 20th century, makes its comic book debut March 30th, 2018 published by BopSee Books. 

 The Gibbs Sisters are members of Writers Guild of America, West, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and the Organization of Black Screenwriters. Their combined credits included Producing for Emmy-Award winning series’ Top Chef and Project Runway, and popular television series’ X-FactorThe Ultimate Fighter, Food Network’s  Holiday Baking ChampionshipCupcake Wars, Discovery Network’s Shark Week and National Geographic’s Wicked Tuna, as well as contributions to Disney’s Emmy winning sitcom, Wizards of Waverly Place.

 The pair are also alumni of the renowned USC Guy Hanks & Marvin Miller Screenwriters Fellowship.


The Invention of E.J. Whitaker: Issue #1

Written By: Shawnee´Gibbs, Shawnelle Gibbs

Pencils by: Mark Hernandez

Colors by: Hasani McIntosh

Inks by: Shanna Lim

Short Story Art by: Earl Womack

Letters by: Emi Roze

Cover Art by: Mark Hernandez, June Park, Sharifa Patrick

Copy Editor: Lauren Burke

Published by: BopSee Books

Release Date: Friday, March 30th, 2018


I want to thank Shawnee’ and Shawnelle Gibbs for their time in answering these questions. Be sure to check out the first issue of The Invention of E.J. Whitaker today!


John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

Steampunk Fridays – Looking Forward Back


I started doing this series of blog posts at the beginning of July. My thinking was two-fold:

1 – Check out who might be producing Steampunk comics.

Obviously, I write a Steampunk comic (The Gilded Age), so I’m already interested in the genre. However, aside from the DC covers they did that one month or something else random to come out which might mimic the ascetics, I really didn’t know what other indy creators might be doing within the genre.

2 – Help potentially spread the word for those creators.

Comics should be this thing where we are always helping each other up. And if I like something why wouldn’t I try to get another person to like it?

3 – Content for the blog.

Some weeks are easier than others to figure out a topic. This really gave me a direction that the Wednesday blog sometimes doesn’t have (which I like the free-form, but this is focused – or as focused as I’m going to get).

4 – See what was successful for other Kickstarters (especially those in the Steampunk realm).

As I was pretty sure I’d be kicking off a Kickstarter sometime in the Fall, this was an excuse to start to drill down and see what might be working and what wasn’t. Looking at the pages for how they were laid out, the various Reward levels, and just the level of artwork on the page. I took notes of what I liked and what I didn’t like.

So if you missed any of the weeks, here’s a handy recap of 2017!


Interview with Ken Reynolds

Ken Reynolds is the creator of the comic Cognition: a comic where the lead characters are a clockwork and an evil rat who stop supernatural entities.

And if your brain didn’t begin dripping from your ears, you need to check this out.

Seriously, the comic is all sorts of cool.

Interview with the Creators of Arcane Sally & Mr Steam

The team over at the Arcane Sally & Mr. Steam comic are clearly doing something with their Steampunk… Ghost Story… Victorian supernatural action-adventure… Love Story?

Interview with the Creator of Hinges

What I wrote in the introduction still holds true:

There are moments when you start reading a comic and you just know there is something about it which speaks to you. And maybe you don’t understand every little thing which has been set out in front of you… maybe those are the things you’ll figure out on a reread. But when you lock in, that’s all it takes.

When I sat down to check out some Steampunkish comics a couple of weeks ago and came across Hinges by Meredith McClaren, I thought I’d read a few pages and move on with my life.Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Bauble and Orio had other plans for me.

Interview with the Creator of The Legend of Everett Forge

Everett Forge is in the mold of many of those same Westerns. He’s clearly a man on a mission to destroy Omega’s entire livelihood. He’s a myth, a ghost story the Robots tell each other at night – make sure you lube all your joints of Everett Forge will get you.

Interview with the Creator of Boston Metaphysical Society

Take the X-Files, set it in an alternate history of Boston, and force the characters to have to deal with a different set of social mores and expectation than we deal with today. BMS has run a handful of successful Kickstarters (and have 6 issues collected in their trade), so you are going to get your full story.

The Gilded Age Interviews

As part of my month-long Gilded Age Kickstarter campaign, I collected the various interviews I’d conducted with much of the team over the previous year. There are still a couple of people left to talk to… it’s on the to do list.

Interview with the Creator of Monstrous

Monstrous stems from a lifelong fascination with monster movies and their misunderstood heroes.  Even when they’re completing evil, monsters are always the most compelling thing about the stories they occupy.  I’ve always loved the Universal Studios monsters and Ghostbusters and the Hammer Studios movies.  I threw all of those influences together with plots from John Wayne westerns in this strange steampunk hybrid. Monstrous is like all of these things I’ve loved for years having a party together.

Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

The Jekyll Island Chronicles is a graphic novel adventure series blending historical fact with heavy doses of alternate history and adventure. Book One, The Machine Age War, opens the story in the days following The Great War – a time when a brief glimmer of peace and hope quickly fades as a cryptic organization moves to threaten fragile governments and their people with a campaign of chaos and terror. 



Kickstart the Comic

Word Smith

This was the first of the series, focusing on Victoria who crafts words. Through the use of this magic, she is able to affect the world around her. This Kickstarter ended up funding, and I have my digital copy!

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poer #1 KS Exclusive

Edgar Allan Poe has lost everyone he ever loved and now he is losing his mind. Haunted by his wife’s ghost and his many literary failures, the poet tumbles into a fantastical world created by his genius…and his madness. This world called Terra Somnium is a nightmare region that merges his macabre literary creations and mythological gods and monsters of old, all hell-bent on stopping him from escaping the land of dreams.

This Kickstarter funded and I believe the second issue was funded as well, so if you missed them, keep an eye out for issue 3.

The Invention of EJ. Whitaker

This was a case where the Kickstarter was long over, but I still wanted to shine a little light on the project. In fact, I need to reach out to the creators about an interview I’ve been promised!

When Ada Turner, a young Inventor’s apprentice, creates a flying machine in 1901, she’s introduced to the dangerous side of the Industrial Age.

Blood & Dust Volume 2

The Old West is really that last bastion before the industrial revolution kicks into high gear. But there is plenty of bleed between the two areas, the same as Steampunk and Weird West style stories. That Gothic Horror feel of monsters being in a place where, by all rights, they should not be. And whether it is a Steampowered invention needing to put the darkness back in its place or the sidearm of a cowboy – it feels all connected even if it isn’t a 100% match of genres all the time.

The Death Defying #1

Arthur Conan Doyle & Harry Houdini.

The writer and the magician.

They were once the best of Friends.

When their friendship went to hell, 

The world wasn’t very far behind.

Stoker and Wells – The Graphic Novel

In 1894 London, a 20-something H.G. Wells and a 40-something Bram Stoker meet and have a very unexpected 48-hour adventure that leads to the creative inspiration for both writer’s first great success – THE TIME MACHINE for Wells and DRACULA for Stoker.  It is not only a thrilling, scary, fun, and beautifully drawn adventure tale, but also a story about putting aside fear and insecurity and stepping into your true identity.

Kickstart the Game

1879 London Adventure and Sourcebook

1879 is FASA’s steamweird roleplaying game, that takes the place of Shadowrun in our cosmology. Due to a weird science experiment that opens a stable wormhole, Earth’s magic cycle gets jumpstarted in the late Victorian era, leading to a Gilded Age with elves, dwarves, snarks, and trolls. As the world adjusts to its new races, technological progress races forward, as the Age of Steam begins to give way to the Age of Electricity. Clockwork computers exchange data over telegraph wires, steam-powered airships chug through the sky, and industrial applications of magic churn out new wonders daily.

Westbound: Revolvers and Rituals

Westbound is a game of adventure on the frontier. You’ll explore the magical wild west, encounter other frontiersmen, fight strange new creatures, and strike gold or die trying. Robbing trains, shooting up saloons, and rescuing damsels is all apart of a days work for a Westbounder.

When the soil’s turned sour,

And the well all dried up.

When men in suits put a gun in your hand

And send you to war.

When there’s nothing left of your home,

But ash and regret.

It’s time to turn Westbound.

Game Reviews

Space: 1889

As I said in the breakdown of the RPG Quickstart rules: Take the best parts of John Carter, Warlord of Mars, a mix of the crazy-fun science fiction of Jules Verne and HG Wells, and top it off with some of the pulp stories from the 30’s and 40’s about adventures on other planets (before pesky real science ruined it for everyone). The Imperial nations of Europe decided to look to the stars to appease their appetites for materials for Queen and Country (or Kaiser and Country as the case may be).


5 Steampunk Movies You Should Watch

As I was coming up with this list of 5 Steampunk movies, I had to admit that there aren’t as many as you might think there are considering the number of costumes I see posted all over the web (or at conventions like Dragon Con). The following aren’t necessarily the best, but these are ones who contribute in their own way to the genre.

Short Film – Eye of the Storm

This is a music video. This is a short film. This is amazing looking.

The story centers around a sky captain making his way across the sky, making peace with what came before and steadying himself on what may come next. Accompanied by a large dog-sized dragon, he sees the green glow just past an oncoming storm and must make his decision on how to deal with it. Whether he should avoid it or push through to the other side.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight

With the trailer for the animated movie debuting, I thought it was more than time to give a little focus on a Batman related Steampunk story… that I have not read as of yet. Share in the story of my failure…

Gears and Cogs

A few of the things that had caught my eye over that week: Draw with Jazza, They are Billions (video game), and Brass Empire (card game).


I’m looking forward to even more this next year!


John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at


Steampunk Fridays – Interview with one of the Creators of The Jekyll Island Chronicles

When I was younger, my grandparents would drive to Jekyll Island (on the coast of Georgia) to go fishing. They’d wake up before the crack of dawn, somehow get my smaller frame from the bed to the back of the car, and drive the forty-five minutes to the beach where we’d spend much of the day fishing and learning about various fish worth eating and not worth eating.

So when I saw that there was a steampunk related comic called The Jekyll Island Chronicles… I had to reach out.


How long have you been creating/working in comics?

There are three of us in this endeavor and we all have been either reading or making comics since we were kids.  I (Steve) used to sit in my room and draw my own versions of Spider-man and the Fantastic Four.  Our actual jobs are all doing different things, so becoming graphic novel authors became a side hobby for us later in life.  We actually started working on The Jekyll Island Chronicles in January of 2013.

At what point did you sit down to become a writer/artist? Do you remember the first thing you drew/wrote?

I think I am the one with the most graphic arts background.  My dad worked in a factory during the day and would come home at night and paint portraits for friends and family members, to make extra spending money.  He taught me how to draw when I was old enough to hold a pencil.  I remember a book of Disney characters that I drew when I was a kid.  I remember him sitting at the kitchen table with me and building dinosaur models.  I have since graduated to more extensive and difficult kits, and scratch built a bunch of my own.   Creating art has a wonderful, calming effect on me.

All three of us have been heavily involved in writing projects of our own in the past as well.  Ed wrote another book several years back and Jack and I have been writing plays and sketch comedy for our church for many years.

Who inspires you? Or do you have a favorite artist or creator?

Jack loves experiences:  he is a Disneyphile through and through.  He would build a scale (and highly detailed) model of Disneyland in his house if he could.  Ed is a voracious reader and plows through novels constantly.  He loves sci/fi, mysteries, and westerns.  And I get inspirations everywhere, no place in particular.  Sometimes, I just like to walk through a retail shopping center and look for things that inspire me.

How do you manage your daily/family life with your creative work? Is this your 9 to 5 or is this your 10 to 2?

Hah!  We all have really demanding jobs.  This is our hobby.  Nights, weekends, while watching tv or sports at night.  I am usually sitting drawing thumbnails on my ipad to make life easier for our artists.  We try to meet periodically to line up on story and plot development (maybe once or twice a month).  We tell our spouses we don’t play golf (at least not well), so this is our club membership.

It’s often difficult to get word out about independent/small press comics. What do you do to market and promote your books? Anything work really well or really poorly?

It’s been an eye-opening experience.  I have an author friend at work who told me that marketing of books has changed over the years—authors are really much more responsible for this and publishers are, well, publishers.  I have found this to be generally true.  Not bad.  Just generally true.

Our publisher at Top Shelf, Chris Staros, told us pretty much the same thing after we signed our book deal.  They publish the books, invite us to the Cons where they are present, put the books out in the proper channels, but we do the heavy lifting on the marketing (Facebook & websites, blogging, boosting posts, local book signings, reaching out to newspapers and magazines, etc etc etc).  We had to learn how to do a bunch of stuff, from a literary marketing standpoint, that we have never done before.  But Chris is a great sounding board for us and happily answers any questions we have.  It’s so good to have his knowledge and experience base in our corner when we need it (which is A LOT!)  We are working with a PR firm on putting together proposals for the release of Book Two.  So, we are hoping to have more firepower in that area.

What’s your process look like when you’re writing? Do you go with the full outline? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants type?

We have to have an outline.  We use the classic three-act story structure, but because we are a series, we have to layer that structure over each book as well as the entire series.  I guess that’s why trilogies make sense.  For Book One, I had a lot of the basic story arc in my head, and Jack and Ed helped me fill in a bunch–like the whole Jekyll Island connection.  Book Two was more of a blank page than Book One, so it was harder.  We use note cards with plot points and move things around constantly in the beginning.  When we get the arc locked down, we divide and conquer the writing duties, usually giving one person an act to tackle.  We come back, read together, edit together, and make suggestions.  The key is to hold your writing loosely.  You can’t be so dogmatic to “have it your way”.  If that happens, you frustrate everyone and it flies in the face of collaboration and making each other better.  We are long-time friends, so that makes it easier.  But even then, every once in a while, we have to work through things.  It really is a lot of give and take.

I currently live just north of Atlanta, in Suwanee, Georgia, but I’ve been to Jekyll Island dozens of times when I was younger. So it was very cool to even see that this book existed. What inspired you to create Jekyll Island Chronicles?

Ed was instrumental in coming up with the idea to place much of the story at Jekyll.  When I explained the original idea to him, he asked if I had ever been to Jekyll.  I had been in Atlanta for 25 years and had never gone there, and only just heard of it but never really knew about its history.  So, my wife and I took a weekend, went to down to the island, toured it and my brain exploded.  It was the PERFECT set up for the characters and the scenarios, which were all post-WWI and at the height of the gilded age at Jekyll.  It is a Georgia treasure and our hope is that people, especially Georgians, will become a little more knowledgeable about their own history.

What’s been the reaction to the book?

It’s been extremely positive.  Of course, our family and friends have been our biggest cheerleaders.  We’ve gotten good reviews on Amazon (especially) and Good Reads.  Every once in a while we get someone who “doesn’t get it” or takes issue with the alt history portions of it.  We even had one guy who reviewed it and got the plot/character points wrong, so did he even read it??  But then again we were named one of the Top 10 Books Every Young Georgian Should Read for 2017 (all graphic novels go in that category)—so that was a nice feather in our cap.  We already had a second printing.  We had a line of people waiting to sign the book at the NY Comic Con, so that was pretty cool.  We’ve gotten a lot of interest from podcasters, bloggers and people wanting to do interviews.  This is our first rodeo, but so far, so good.

Are there themes and/or subjects you find yourself drawn to again and again in your work?

We started this whole process with themes.  We wrote down the things/principles we believed and wanted to be true for our story.  First, we saw a lot of cynicism with heroes—dark heroes, conflicted heroes—and we wanted to do something different.  Maybe even classic.  My grandfather fought in the US Cavalry in WWI to gain his citizenship.  He was a regular, simple man of principle.  He knew right from wrong.  He wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t constantly dark and conflicted.  We wanted a return to classic heroism.  We wanted people who were willing to work together in spite of their differences.  Our country is torn down the middle today and we are all saddened and sick of it.  At least we have a built a world where people can come together for the greater good.

Also, we wanted to have a world where it wasn’t evil to have resources.  Andrew Carnegie gave away like $300 million dollars.  He built a system of libraries all across the country.  Not all people with wealth are robber barons, you know?  Jack and I worked for one for decades.  There is good and evil is ALL people–not just one group, one type, or one party.  We hoped that the book would force people to actually look for the good in all of our heroes.  Finally, we wanted a story where the veterans were the biggest heroes.  We owe SO MUCH to them.  It’s no surprise that our original heroes are the broken WWI vets that get “rebuilt” to fight the atrocities of the early 20th century anarchists.

Your first graphic novel was released by Top Shelf & IDW Publishing. How did that relationship come about?

We actually sponsored a class at SCAD in Savannah to help us create a pitch packet for publishers/production companies that might be interested in our idea.  Once we got the packet done, we approached Chris Staros with Top Shelf.  He was Georgia-based, actually Marietta-based, which was right around the corner from all of us.  We called him, took him to lunch one day, introduced ourselves, and handed him the pitch packet.  He said he would take a look at it and give us comments.  The next day he called me and said he thought it was good—really good—and if we finished it, he would like to keep the whole thing in Georgia and publish for us.  WOW.  I know that this is NOT how it is supposed to work.  But, it happened for us and we were, and still are, very grateful to Chris and his confidence.  When Top Shelf got acquired by IDW, that confidence transferred over to them.  They have been huge supporters of ours and they now have us in their catalog that they send to production companies for tv/film.

You currently have 1 graphic novel out there with a second one due out next year. What’s the overall plan with Jekyll Island Chronicles?

The plan is to keep making books until we get too tired and stop (or someone tells us to stop).  At least we want 3.  But the larger goal is 6. The story arc of the original Jekyll Island Club ends in WWII.  We would love to take it that far.

I see on your website that there are teaching materials based on the comic. Can you talk a little about how you came to that idea as well as your goals with the program?

Well, the story has a TON of facts in it.  The alt history component actually has a lot of HISTORY.  We always loved the idea of using the book to teach history and have students weave through the narrative of what is true and what is not.  So we approached Glen Downey (an author who is an expert in this area) and he agreed to put together teaching materials for us.  They are all available for free on our website.  We have a public high school in the Jekyll area that is using it in both the US and world history class, and a private school here in Cobb County that is doing the same thing.  Ideally, this is a great way for creative teachers to introduce their students not just to history but also to the medium of the graphic novel.  We think this is a big idea.

Comics is an amazing collaborative medium. Tell me a little about the artists on the books.

We met both of our artists in our SCAD class.  They were students who, at the time, were finishing up their studies.  Moses Nester is our illustrator/inker and SJ Miller is our colorist.  One is in ATL and one is in Vegas.  Everything is done digitally.  I take the script, gather reference photos, drop them into an app for my ipad called Strip Designer and create tight comps/thumbnails, send them electronically to Moses who inks, sends to SJ for coloring and sound effects and then back to me for final approval.  It seems to work pretty well.  Our artists are very gifted individuals with a bright career in front of them!  We are just so happy that we have access to them at this time of their lives—and we hope this is given them so good experience to bounce off of for the future.

If you could go back in time ten years, what advice might you have for your younger self? Something you wish you knew?

I wish I knew that I was really responsible for my creative outlets in life.  I mean, I have always been creative, but sometimes at work, I was waiting for that itch to be scratched there.  And at times, that didn’t happen.  I wish I had been more aware of the idea to create instead of consume, and now I hope that our creative endeavor helps others to do the same.  Bottom line, if opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door (with credit to Milton Berle for that fine axiom).

Where’s the best place to find out more about Jekyll Island Chronicles and the rest of your works?

Like us on facebook

or go to our website

Steampunkers are welcome to check out our website, where we have a link for selling the book, pre-ordering book two and buying other merch. And the book is available in bookstores and on line everywhere.

STEVE NEDVIDEK has worked in film, radio, and television and received his Masters Degree in Theater from Wake Forest University, where he completed his thesis in make-up design. He is an avid cartoonist, model maker, writer, and movie watcher, and resides in the Atlanta suburbs with his wife, kids, and dog.

ED CROWELL holds advanced degrees in political science and international affairs. He is an executive at a non-profit and a writer with dozens of published articles. A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, he and his wife have two children who went off to college, but left Ed and Cynthia with two cats, a fish, and a dog.

JACK LOWE is a student of film making and themed entertainment. A passionate storyteller with a bent toward immersive, multi-sensory experiences, Jack and his wife, three children, two dogs, and two cats live in the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain in Atlanta.

Ed is on the left, Steve in center, Jack on right


I want to thank Steve for taking the time to answer my questions!


John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. Want to read the first issue for free? Click here! Already read it and eager for more?

Click here to join John’s mailing list.

His prose appears in The Dark That FollowsTheft & TherapyThere’s Something About MacHollow EmpireBeyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at