Behind the Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #2


We are less than a month out from the launch of In Our Dreams Awake #2 on Kickstarter. Make sure to sign up to the Prelaunch Page here:





As a comic book writer, we are doing the best we can to take the thoughts and images in our head and describe it in a way where the artist can have some idea of what we originally meant to show up on the page. The amazing thing about artists, though, is they take that mess of words and somehow (through magic is the only way I can figure) create an image (or series of images) which end up being a way better version of whatever I had in my head to start. Those are some of the best days, when you open up your email to get a new page and it leaves you speachless. Where you want to go back to your script to see how in the world they made it so much better.


Page 16 Panel 1 Pencils – Edgar Salazar Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta Colors – Javi Laparra


The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Colors – Javi Laparra

Letters – Alexander Lugo

Writer – John McGuire



This panel represents a bit of the calm before the storm. At the end of last issue, Fantasy Jason spotted this very same spacecraft in his (illegal) telescope. Now he finds himself commissioned to draw it. In so many ways, this is exactly what his curious mind truly wants to do. Somewhere inside him is a person who wants to see the strangeness in the world. The very truth of things which cannot be obscurred by those in charge.

Here we are with our artist sitting on top of a hill, trying to draw this literal alien craft as the workers go about disassembling it. He’s not sure whether this thing will be studied or destroyed, so it may be his pictures will be all there is left for anyone to know this machine existed.


The Script

Page 16 Panel 1

Jason has paint on his clothes, face, and has various sketches, scroll casings, and papers lying all around him. He has a sense of wonder and awe at what he is witness to. Magus move past him with pieces of the ship.

For this panel, the time is 13:00.

Caption – Early Afternoon.

Peter (caption) – It will eventually be dismantled, so we need accurate records.



Edgar and Genaro did a great job here really nailing this moment. The butterfly fluttering just above Jason provides a very relaxing moment in the midst of the overall craziness which is not only occurring in that moment, but really has been occurring since the day before (Issue 1) and is a bridge to what awaits our hero throughout the remainder of Issue 2. He placed the papers on the ground beside him, so the reader can see that he has been hard at work for a little while already. And he has an in progress piece on the easel to his left.

On top of that, Javi’s colors are perfect here. The greens, browns, and blues put the characters and the reader at a sort of ease (hopefully).

And while I haven’t shown your the entire page here, the overall feel is much the same as Jason pours himself into this project. Maybe even forgetting for a moment that this craft from his dreams is actually real and true.

Lost in the moment. Lost in the painting.



Be sure to sign up for the upcoming Kickstarter by clicking the image below!





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




In Our Dreams Awake – Reflections on the Kickstarter

Pretend this says “Funded on Kickstarter!”

In case you missed it, I’m about a month past the end of the Kickstarter I ran for Egg and my comic, In Our Dreams Awake Issue #1. I have a ton of thoughts on the Kickstarter itself and just the whole month.

So this is the 5th Kickstarter I’ve had some level of participation in. I helped out on both the Route 3 and The Fox Chronicles campaigns. I was an active participant on the Crossing Issue #1 campaign, and then I completely ran The Gilded Age one.

On each of these, I’ve learned some things, made some mistakes, learned some other things, and made other mistakes. But you would think that after these previous experiences, I might not make as many decisions that end up causing me some level of heartache, but clearly, the only way I really learn is through banging my head against the wall.

So during the early part of the campaign, I jotted down some of my thoughts. The words that follow are in the moment, edited only for clarity, but they help to show a bit of what my thought process was going through and how easy it is to let the bad thoughts take over.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


This first note comes either late on Day 3 (Friday) or early on Day 4.

Day one was decent, but I had a couple of numbers in my head for where I’d like to be at the various milestones of the project.

$300-350 after day 1.

$600 after day 3.

$1000 after a week.

But the first day was $211, the second day was a huge drop and by the time Friday rolled around I was really concerned about the project and rethinking my idea of where to set the goal.

You see, the goal was set in mind to help recoup the art costs, but it actually wouldn’t pay for them 100%. I was fine with that, I’m willing to put “skin” in the game (I think from my calcs that somewhere around $2400 would actually be the break-even point).

I’d done the hustle, reached out to the websites, gotten some articles, and sent a notice to my mailing list (though it might be a bit colder than I’d like). I sent updates to the Gilded Age backers, to our bakers on the Love’s Labour’s Liabilities and Love’s Labour’s Liberated Roleplaying zines (even though it doesn’t directly coincide, it is still something).

With these things I kept thinking can I get 10% of those people to contribute:

185 in the mailing list = 19 people

12x in Gilded Age = 13 people

The Zines = I’m not sure who might come over from the roleplaying side, but it shouldn’t be Zero.

22 people clicked the Kickstarter notifications button = 2 people

I mean, even accounting for some overlaps there, 20 backers early wouldn’t be the craziest thing. And after 2 days we sat at 13 people.


As you can see, it was tough going there early on, and it really made me question a lot of things about what I did or didn’t do. And I recognized some of the things (which I’ll likely get into in a future post).

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay


Now flash forward two weeks. In the meantime, things had been slowly (and I mean slowly) proceeding where we’d have one decent day and then nothing for a couple of days. The swings were beginning to get to me.

Overall we hit the $1000 (50%) mark by the second weekend, which was certainly nice, but it has fallen off a cliff this last week, and I have no idea how to turn it around. At this point we’ve been sitting on $1149 for a couple of days, and we’re 8-9 days left before this thing ends.

I did look to see that approximately 65 people signed up to be reminded and I think 11 of them have actually already contributed, so that’s nice. But I thought the Kickstarter person who talked came on the Comixlaunch podcast mentioned something like an 80% conversion rate on those people (maybe I’m remembering it wrong). So that would be 41 more people to potentially help push us along. If all of them go for the $10 level (plus shipping) then I’d be sitting at $1750ish and we can push it over the last little bit. But if the majority of them are more digital then what, we get to half of that and make it over $1500?


And this last one was a few days later. As you can see, I’m still focused on having made the goal too high.

I should have set the goal at $1500.


I mean, I’d still be frustrated at how it is going, but I wouldn’t be worried it wouldn’t fund. Good lord!

The other thing on my mind is that those people get the reminder and see we’re too far away and they opt to not bother anyway, which is the worst-case scenario here.

It feels like I’m missing some avenue to get the word out to ensure this thing happens. But I’m not sure what that is.

Then, on top of everything else, what’s the plan for issues 2-4? I can’t (and shouldn’t) count on only friends and family to support the comic. I need to figure out how to get more eyeballs on the comic. This thing needs to grow. This thing needs to build on itself so that at some point it becomes a bit of a break-even situation financially.

Everything takes so long, and I’m sure that has hurt my path here. If I had the ability to push this comic immediately (within 6 months) of Gilded Age, that would have probably made a big difference.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


When you are in the dead zone and the goal looks like it is out of reach, you begin to focus on all the bad that is happening. It’s real easy to lose sight of why you’re putting your work out there. How excited you should be that people are supporting you in any way.

And don’t get me wrong, I was over the moon anytime I saw someone new had backed the project. That was always a pick-me-up. I said it many times during each of the other Kickstarters that this thing is like having another job (at the very least a part-time one). This means by the end of 30 days, you’re burned out on everything.


I was on vacation when the project was finally funded. And even though I was doing my best to relax prior to that moment, it was a huge lift of stress just like when using the new Budpop natural supplements. Sadly, I didn’t jot down my exact thoughts, but if I could go ahead and share them now they would have been a lot of internal screaming and yelling, some nice positive four-letter words, and just a sense of accomplishment. I love comics so much, that to be able to do them, even in a small way, is such a blessing.

For all of you who joined me on my journey and supported the dream, thank you.


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 Comic: – Anatomy of a Panel – In Our Dreams Awake #1


We have about a week left to go on the In Our Dreams Awake #1 Kickstarter, so be sure to check it out!


Taken as a whole, a comic book represents the input of multiple people, multiple perspectives, and multiple skill sets before the final product is created. I’ve said many times in the past that one of the reasons I love the format is exactly for that reason. You get to feed off of the creatives who you work with. And what begins as one thing can become something completely different in execution (and making the overall comic that much better).


In Our Dreams Awake #1 – Page 7, Panels 7 & 8

The Team

Pencils – Edgar Salazar

Inks – Genaro Olavarrieta

Letters – Egg Embry

Writer – John McGuire



This pair of panels represent the end of a larger conversation within the issue. So much of this world that Jason Byron lives (dreams?) in is dictated by the mages who control everything. They ensure the chaos technology threatens to bring to the people can never exist again. They are Order.

And to go against that would mean going against everything they stand for… and that way lies madness.

So what do we see? We see that Edgar made a choice to not allow for any other colors within these two panels, but instead presented them as a pair of black and white moments. Two men, representing opposite beliefs about their world, are separated by the small table.


The Script

Page 7 Panel 7

Annoyed by Peter’s accusation, Jason pushes himself away from the table as if to get up.

Jason – I know all of this, Peter.

Peter – So ask me your question again.


Page 7 Panel 8

Same shot as Panel 7 (Jason is still sitting). Jason pauses. No words are needed.



As you can see from the script, I actually made a slight mistake between the two panels. In Panel 7, Jason is frustrated/annoyed and pushes himself away from the table. Edgar followed that showing him standing up. His body language is very tense. However, when we come to Panel 8, I note that “Jason is still sitting”…

No, John, he is not.

But Edgar went with it, and I think it actually works in this visual context because of the artist’s choice to make these mirror images of each other (in regards to the black and white). Where Jason was angry in the previous moment, he has sat back down. But instead of either of them furthering the conversation, the darkness envelops them instead pointing two the very ideas that they stand for can not exist alongside one another.

It even mocks the prompt from Peter in Panel 7: “So ask me your question again.” Panel 8 answers that prompt with silence. There is no need to push the issue any longer.

There are no shades of gray here in this place.


But perhaps there is another world for Jason to find peace? One he can visit while he dreams?


Please check out the current Kickstarter for In Our Dreams Awake!


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 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


Behind the Comic: In Our Dreams Awake


I don’t have the email anymore where I first pitched Egg the basic idea behind In Our Dreams Awake. I basically remember that I had hit upon this idea of someone having to live two different lives, one when they slept and one when they were awake. I know that it happened around the Winter of 2004-2005 in one of many of our daily emails back and forth to each other. Those emails served as both catch-up on the day/week and also a dumping ground for us to share potential writing ideas.

You see, the goal with Egg and I always was to find a way to write comic books. During college, there were many, many, many weekends the two of us would journey from one comic shop to another looking for back issues. And during those trips, we’d talk story ideas. They ranged from some take on whatever Marvel or DC or Image might be doing at the time all the way to our own comic ideas featuring our own characters. But this was in the days before something like Kickstarter existed, back in the days when we were going to have to find a way to do things on the “cheap”.

Egg’s always been good about looking at potential story ideas and breaking them down into a format that might be a little different. And In Our Dreams Awake sent his mind going.

I know/remember a few things about this time:

Egg found the title from a quote by Thoreau.

Egg pitched the idea of the two of us writing portions of the story. One of us would take one dream and the other would write the other.

Egg found both the artists to do what would become a 4 issue mini-series: Edgar Salazar (pencils) and Genaro Olavarrieta (inks) for my “fantasy world” dream and an artist for “futuristic world”.

So we started on the scripts for issue 1. And then the pages started rolling in… this was working… we were going to have a comic book!

We quickly got scripts going for all 4 of the issues, as Edgar and Genaro were rocketing through their work. I learned how to color on the computer (which is a story for another time). Egg’s artist was turning in good stuff. The tone felt great… all we needed to do was find a home for the comic.

We approached Image, I think we sent it off to a couple of other places, but nothing ever came of it. I was working with the Terminus Media guys at the time and had learned enough to know how to get the book printed, but we realized we probably needed to have a complete book before going down that path.

And then Egg’s artist fell off the face of the Earth.

He’d done around 20ish pages out of the 48 or so we’d need to finish things up. But we couldn’t find him. He didn’t return email. I think Myspace was a bust (remember Myspace?). Months went by, which became a year, which became two years. Edgar and Genaro finished their pages and moved on, but we felt hamstrung by this artist. It was weird that one of the original reasons for doing the comic with two artists was so that it would half the load. We thought there was a chance that if an artist disappeared (or ghosted us) that it would be relatively early in the process. Maybe they’ve done 1-5 pages and then make like a wizard, but he’d done enough for 2 issues.

We scrambled. Egg came up with an idea to split his dream in two with the already finished pages and then get a new artist (potentially himself) to do the last 24 pages. We toyed with some other thoughts, but time went on, and like so many things…

In Our Dreams Awake passed into legend…

It nagged at me. Tugged at the back of my mind. Every year I’d look through my files and see the pages and think about what could have been. I wrote the Gilded Age and The Dark That Follows and still, it was there. Egg moved on to RPGs and writing for so many websites that I can’t even keep up with his output these days.

When we were first working on the comic, Egg found the Thoreau quote and it fit perfectly. But randomly during that same Christmas, my mom got me post-its with quotes on them. And while they didn’t have the In Our Dreams Awake quote, they did feature one from Poe that seemed made for our comic:

Things had lined up perfectly until they didn’t.

Then March 2020 happened and the world changed. We had time on our hands. And In Our Dreams popped up in my dreams again. So I reached out to Egg. Told him I wanted to make a go of it. That we knew so much more than we had nearly 2 decades earlier. The biggest obstacle was always having product, but in this case, we had 1/2 the story already done. There was only one hurdle to go: we needed to reach out to Egg’s artist and see if we could use those pages or if we were going to start over.

And after many weeks, we decided to go with someone new.

The thing was, I’m a part of a couple of Facebook Groups where artists post their work looking for their next gigs, so I’d been saving posts of anyone who caught my eye. So when we decided to move on, I shared all the potentials with Egg, and very quickly we identified Rolands Kalniņš as the person who could bring the sci-fi/cyberpunk dream to life. And Rolands has done that and more. And all of a sudden we had issue 1 ready to go.

All of sudden… after 17 years…

The Kickstarter launches one week from now, but we’d love it if you’d sign up for the Notification Page just so that Kickstarter will send you an email when the project goes live. You can find that page 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

In Our Dreams Awake – Kickstarter Prelaunch

Jason Byron dreams of two lives. In one fantasy, magi reactionaries won, technology is banned, and Jason is a portrait painter hiding a contraband telescope. In the other world, he leads a cyberpunk gang amid a future of flooded cities and gilled aliens. When he closes his eyes in one world, he awakes in the next. Jason’s only desire is to wake up in the arms of his true love, Laura… Uh, or is it Fem’a Lin?… If only he knew which one was real?!

In a society ruled by mages, Jason Byron is a master artist trying to provide for his family. He has a secret heirloom, a telescope. With it he can see the stars, but can he see the trouble his illegal piece of technology will bring to his family?

In drowning London, Jason Byron deals in chum, the hottest drug among aliens. He and his true love are trying to escape their world. Can they keep the peace long enough to get away before the world is pulled beneath the waves?

In Our Dreams Awake is the story of what happens when both of those worlds begin to spin out of control. What happens when Jason no longer knows which world is the dream and which one is reality?


In Our Dreams Awake comes from co-creators John McGuire and Egg Embry. The first issue of this mini-series features two dreams, the first illustrated by Edgar Salazar and the second by Rolands Kalniņš. Both artists provide covers in addition to Sean Hill’s variant cover. Written for fans of love stories, dreampunk, steampunk, and cyberpunk, this comic offers an engaging mystery with amazing artwork. This story is about love and loss and asking the big questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? Who do I love?


We are launching the Kickstarter on March 30, 2022; however, you can make sure that you get notified when it launches by signing up at the Pre-launch Page!


Over the next month and a half, I’ll have preview pages, origin stories, interviews with the creative team, and probably some stuff I’m not remembering right now. I hope you’re ready to join me on another comic book adventure!


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

Setting Realistic Goals

The title should be followed by a question mark: Setting Realistic Goals?

Because it is something that I know I’m not always the greatest judge on how much time something should take to do when it comes to my writing projects. At the beginning of every year, I try to sit down and figure out the various writings I have swirling around in my head and try to get them in some discernable order. The ones that I’ve been working on for months and months or years and years. Is this year a doable thing for this particular work?

You see, in January everything is still ahead of me. Literally, anything can be possible in those cold and gloomy days of winter. What are you going to do, spend time out in the cold, or maybe you use that time to finish up some projects in 2022? Maybe that project you were supposed to finish up last year… this is the year I get it out the door.

But that’s always been the thing about this process. I see other authors who are able to be machines in their processes. They trim the time from their lives without regard to anything else. They are singularly focused on getting to the next finish line, sometimes at such a speed, I wonder if they actually had any time to sleep or eat or bathe during that time.

I have lofty goals, but I also know (based on experience) that sometimes overextending my reach is going to just make me depressed. Depressed about missing my self-imposed deadlines. Depressed as I get lapped by other people I see doing their best to hustle. Depressed because I have dreams and aspirations, and sometimes it feels like none of them are attainable.

But I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one who has this problem. I see it all around me. Over the years I’ve listened to the various day jobs I’ve worked as they lay out their projected goals for the coming year. You know those meetings where they want to have some level of growth year over year that boils down to a number (likely a percentage). And nearly every time I sit there wondering who came up with the numbers they were talking about. They are these pie in the sky type of plans where you’d need everything (and I mean everything) to go perfect to even have a smallish chance of meeting the goal.

You see, it’s one thing to reach for the stars, but I think it is important to have attainable goals. Otherwise, there is a lack of hope that you are doomed before you even get started.

So I try to keep it in mind. I try to see what might be a good amount.

I’m been working on getting another Kickstarter Comic out into the world.

I feel like I’ve been working on it for a full year, but really it has been even longer than that. And over the next few weeks, as we countdown to the launch, I’m going to have plenty to talk about the origins of how the comic came to be, why it wasn’t done years (decades) ago, and how sometimes it is worth it to revisit those stories that never got their due. Because, if I had realistic goals when it came to this property, it would have never gotten this far.


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

PRESS RELEASE: Battle Box Dice Roller: Reclaiming Time in Tabletop RPGs

Kickstarter coming soon for dice-rolling aid

Coming soon to Kickstarter is the Battle Box Dice Roller, the biggest improvement to dice-rolling at the table since the invention of the dice tower. Most tabletop RPGs require rolling multiple dice for attacks, modifiers, damage, and bonus damage sources. The Battle Box lets players roll them all at once for each attack, potentially saving 15 seconds or more per player per turn. It also provides a convenient place to note dice-roll modifiers, reducing the amount of time spent cross-referencing or double-checking character sheets. Over the course of a single combat-heavy game session, that can add up to nearly half an hour.

Designed by a D&D player for D&D and other tabletop RPG players, the Battle Box is a transparent plastic box with 5 compartments to roll dice in, and a slot on the lid where a ½” (~12.7 mm) high strip of paper with labels can be inserted. No special materials are needed. A strip cut off the edge of a standard sheet of paper and labeled by hand will work, making updates for use with multiple characters and changes over time a snap. The paper is held in a slot by a pair of tabs that go over it, plus small nubs at each end to keep it from sliding out of place easily.

A typical D&D player might label the box as such:

Attack d20+5 | Adv D20+Bless d4 | 1d6+4 piercing | 1d6 poison | 3d6 sneak attack

This rolls all dice for an attack at one time, separated by type and labeled by the player for easy accounting when dealing with enemies with resistances or vulnerabilities to specific damage types. The label also removes the need to cross-reference to a character sheet to determine what needs to be added to the to-hit or damage rolls.

Players in non-D&D systems can label this however they want for easy use when rolling 2d10 to as a d100, or whatever other dice combinations are needed. The individual compartments easily accommodate up to 4 dice each.

Designer Jonathan Hightower explains it like this:

“I have a lot of fun running my Dungeons & Dragons games, especially higher-level games where there’s a lot going on and a lot of attacks being thrown around. I typically have larger party of five to six players. I noticed that it would usually take time for people to pick out and roll the appropriate dice to attack, then cross-reference to their character sheet, then roll again for damage and cross-reference again to see what to add.

Even for someone who rolls all of their dice at once, separating out three or four different types of results, like attack versus regular damage versus damage from being a holy weapon versus the weapon also being on fire takes time. I tried to figure out how to make things more efficient, so we could spend more time playing and less time waiting on dice-rolling and math, and this was the result. It’s a simple concept, but I couldn’t find anything like it on the market.”

Design work for the Battle Box is complete, and a US-based manufacturer has been selected. The Kickstarter is expected to launch in June 2021. The pre-launch page can be followed at:

PRESS RELEASE: Symbaroum for 5E on Kickstarter April 13

Symbaroum for 5E Coming to Kickstarter April 13

Sign Up to be Notified!

The acclaimed world of Symbaroum has enticed and fascinated fans of tabletop roleplaying games since the launch in 2016.  Now this dark and mysterious world welcomes new adventurers, with an adaptation for 5E of the Symbaroum Player’s Guide, Game Master’s Guide and Bestiary.

The Kickstarter campaign will start April 13 at 3pm CET/9am US Eastern, and will offer a wide range of pledge levels, spanning from digital-only to an exclusive three-piece Collector’s Edition.

Of course, there will be numerous stretch goals to unlock, to grant extra value to the pledges of everyone supporting the project. Follow the link below to to register for news and notifications, and you will not miss the grand opening!

At the heart of Symbaroum lies the dark forest of Davokar that calls out to be explored, for the trees are covering the remnants of an empire which fell into ruin long ago. But the road into its depths lays far from open and the shadows beneath the foliage are fraught with danger.

Join the adventure in this brand-new 5E adaptation of the dark fantasy game Symbaroum. Explore the vast forests in the hunt for treasures, lost wisdoms, and fame. Seek out the barbarian clans to trade or plunder. Establish your base of power among princes, guilds, or rebellious refugees in the capital. And try and survive encounters with trolls, dark-minded beasts, and undead warlords.

But always remember the warnings spoken by the wardens of the forest. Tread carefully and do not disturb the ruins of old, for ancient evil stirs in its sleep.

The horrors of Davokar are about to awaken…

Ruins of Symbaroum 5E Teaser Trailer – Soon on Kickstarter!
What to Expect

Optional Rules: To emphasize the dark fantasy nature of the setting, new rules for traveling and rests, social challenges, magic, and Corruption are introduced. Alignments are (as a default) removed from play.

New Origins: Aside from familiar folks such as humans, elves, and dwarves, the Symbaroum game world lets you create PCs and NPCs who are changelings, ogres, goblins, trolls and even a particular form of undead.

New Classes: The Ruins of Symbaroum Player’s Guide presents the classes Captain, Hunter, Mystic, Scoundrel and Warrior – each with between four and seven approaches/sub-classes, and all of them with customized features up to lvl20.

Try It Now!
Since about six months back, there is a 109-page condensed Symbaroum 5E PDF available for free download from DriveThruRPG. It was designed as a proof of concept – meant to provoke a reaction from potential players, from within the established Symbaroum community as well as from the broader family of tabletop roleplaying gamers. And the response has been amazing!

With this free PDF, you can try out Ruins of Symbaroum:

  • Setting introduction, including a map of the game world
  • Customized rules for Shadow, Corruption and Rest
  • Two new origins (Goblin and Human) with traits and backgrounds
  • Three new classes (Mystic, Scoundrel, Warrior) with four new approaches
  • The tutorial adventure The Promised Land, introducing the setting & new rules
  • Four pre-made lvl 1 player characters
  • The bonus scenario Blight Night and updated lvl 2 PCs
Join our adventures on the Free League Youtube and Twitch!
This Weeks Streaming Schedule
Tuesday March 30 at 9pm CET/3pm EDT
Coriolis: Mercy of the Icons Actual Play
Brother Ramas gave K’Shar a secret communicator. What conspiracy will be revealed, or is it just a way for the Samaritans to track down our pesky crew? 

Wednesday March 31 at 5pm CET/11 am EDT
Join Free League CEO & co-founder Tomas & Youtube-maestro Doug for the monthly update on all things Free League! The Q&A includes the latest about Symbaroum, ALIEN, The One Ring & more.

New Videos

Tabletop Gaming Spring Showcase 2021: Free League Publishing
Our very own Tomas talks about what’s coming up for Free League this year!
Find out more about Tales From The Loop – The Board Game, ALIEN, Twilight: 2000, The One Ring, Vaesen & Symbaroum. 

Symbaroum: Alberetor – The Haunted Waste Video Q&A
Brave adventurer, find out more about Alberetor – The Haunted Waste, the coming adventure in the Chronicle of The Throne of Thorns, for the praised dark fantasy tabletop roleplaying game Symbaroum. Co-creator and lead writer Mattias delves deep into the new adventure.

Playing Tabletop Roleplaying Games Online
Want to go on adventures without having to leave the comfort & safety of your home?
Find out how to play tabletop roleplaying games with your friends online here.
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Kickstart the Comic – The Fox Chronicles #1

You have to train. You must get better today than you were yesterday. You must be better tomorrow than you were today.

For there is something you are to do for this world and many, many other worlds.

Yet, the world around you is dark and full of monsters that appear the same as any other person who walks down the street. Those are the ones you must guard the innocent against.

You are destined for great things.


The Fox Chronicles #1

Publisher – Prime Direction Studios

Writers – Robert Jeffrey II & Leo Patrice Ware

Artist – Fritz Fulo Casas

Cover Artist/Colorist – La’Vata E. O’Neal

Cover Artist – Marcus Williams

Colorist – Candice Han

Illustrator/Graphic Designer – Pao Xiong

Cover Artist – Sheldon Mitchell

Kickstarter Campaign ends on Thursday, April 15, 2020, at 12:00 PM EDT.


The Pitch:

A coming-of-age futurist adventure. Full of action, suspense, and intrigue.


The Story:

In this coming of age, centuries-spanning story, Autumn Fox finds herself caught up in a galactic power struggle when all she wants is to better her world. As sinister forces, terrestrial and beyond exploit the very systems we take for granted. Our story is going to follow Autumn, an Atlanta teen, as she tries to balance overly protective parents, friends, and the overwhelming need to protect those around her. The series is a must-read for fans of such genre-defining series as “Tomb Raider”, “Far Sector”, “Ironheart”, and “Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender”.


John’s Thoughts:

As I’ve noted in the past, I’m with Robert Jeffrey II on anything he decides to write. I’ve watched his skills as a writer grow over the years, and am proud to be his co-writer on The Crossing.

With The Fox Chronicles, he is getting to build a character who appears to have one foot firmly on Earth and another that ties her to something ancient and deadly. This young woman at the center of the story is not only trying to figure out her place in a larger world but in a very large and scary universe.

But maybe more importantly is that this book wants to use its platform to illuminate an ongoing problem: the forced labor of women and girls. From the Kickstarter page:

“Every year millions of people are victims of forced labor with women and girls accounting for 71% of all victims.”

If we can help people gain an understanding of extremely important topics through our stories, then it only makes sense to do just that.

The Rewards:

One of the first things you’ll notice is that there are three different variant covers available to order which will allow you to get exactly the cover you want for this tale ($50 level). In addition, there is an opportunity to get some Original Artwork ($100), and at the same cost, have a one on one with Robert Jeffrey II who has gone through the DC Writer’s Workshop. I have no doubt that he’ll have plenty of things to discuss with whoever goes for such a Reward.

The Verdict:

As I’ve said in the past, I’m with Robert Jeffrey II on pretty much anything he writes. But beyond that, I think that this is one of those true labors of love from the team. Seeing the artwork come in, reading the script, and just listening to them talk has me convinced.


Be sure to check out the Kickstarter 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

Love’s Labour’s Liabilities – Postscript

So we are about a week past the end date of our submission for Kickstarter’s ZineQuest 3. How did it end up?


I think Stress was the watchword on this project with most decisions that we made focusing on how to limit the amount of stress we would have in running the Kickstarter, hitting our goals, and fulfilling the Kickstarter. So you’re going to see that word a lot in the recap below.

As I noted in my Kickstart the Game post, we reached our goal in about 5 hours which made it a lot less stressful (see, there’s that word!) than our first attempt at doing a Zine back during ZineQuest 1. During that campaign, we funded in the last hour or so which meant that for the entire duration of the Kickstarter we were constantly checking and double-checking the webpage. Now, this is a normal part of a Kickstarter… or at least for me it is, but it can’t be both distracting and at times deflating. You get the little highs when you check and the number goes up, but it is almost worse when the number just sits there, mocking you.

In comparison, Loves’ Labour’s Liberated’s (LLL1) goal was set at $1000 and Love’s Labour’s Liabilities’ (LLL2) goal was set at $400.

Why the difference in goals? Well first was the hope that we might fund earlier in the process and not get down to the last few minutes not knowing whether it was going to fund or not. The second was that we knew more about the process. Going into LLL1, between the 3 of us, only I had run a Kickstarter before and that was for the Gilded Age Graphic Novel. This was an RPG-related item that we were still figuring out. And we wanted to set what we thought was an achievable goal… technically we weren’t wrong. But with LLL2, we had learned what to do and what not to do.

Finally, there was the biggest reason for only having a $400 goal. We gave away LLL2 (pdfs) to all the LLL1 backers for free. Why did we do that? Well, we were late on delivering LLL1.

Really, really, really (add about 100 more “really”s and you start to get the point) late. We all dropped the ball on that and really there was no excuse for it.

This giveaway was an additional attempt to make up for all those delays. However, this created a different sort of problem: If you give away the zine to your previous backers then you are going to have to pretty much find all new backers for the new Kickstarter. Normally, when you do sequels to previous Kickstarters, you are counting on some percentage of backers to follow you to the next project. During LLL1 we had 81 backers. Doing things this way meant we were kind of starting from scratch with this one.

I should note that about a dozen backers for LLL2 had also backed LLL1, so it didn’t completely eliminate some repeat customers.

Of course, we didn’t know what to expect, so the $400 with a potential for some stretch goals made a ton of sense. And again, funding so quickly really let us focus on getting the word out rather than worrying so much on the $$.

This brings us to the single biggest difference between LLL1 and LLL2, we had completely finished LLL2 before the campaign went live. Obviously, we needed to have it done to deliver to LLL1 backers, but it was a conscious decision by all of us that we needed to get out in front of this so that there would be no question in anyone’s mind whether they’d have to wait a year or more to receive what they’d paid for. In fact, as we look to the future, I believe this is the best way to do any additional Kickstarters we run.

When LLL2 was all done, we actually eclipsed LLL1 in both total backers and total dollars:

LLL1 – 81 Backers for $1018

LLL2 – 86 Backers for $1134

This amount allowed us to unlock 3 stretch goals which were Bonus Art X-Cards for use at your gaming tables.

We delivered the updated LLL2 pdf immediately upon the campaign ending, and are now in the process of getting the dedications put into the pdf before it gets sent out to the printers. After that, the three of us will get together and pack up the zines and stretch goals to send out to the backers (which looks like it will happen the first weekend in March). All of this means that potentially everyone will get their Zines within about 5-6 weeks of the campaign ending.


Now what?

We’ve started talking about what a LLL3 might look like. I know Egg is looking to do another non-5e Zine at some point down the road on his own. And recently I’ve become enamored with the idea of maybe branching out from a 5e zine and looking at some of the other systems. Not sure exactly when any of those will be done, but I’m looking forward to working on them!

For all of you who backed either Kickstarter, I just want to thank you again for placing your faith and your hard-earned dollars behind these projects. The ability to do this is really the fulfillment of some dreams that we’ve all had since we first discovered roleplaying games.


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


PRESS RELEASE: Take to the clouds with Sky Islands

Aether Studios has set a new standard for STL publishers of tabletop gaming. SKY ISLANDS, the studios 3rd Kickstarter, takes fans above the clouds and into the steampunk metropolis of Aethertowne. To celebrate the launch, they are giving away a free 3d printable skyship, The Corsair, to all who check out the campaign on Kickstarter.

Studio co-founder Will Walker said of the project: “Our team has been working on this project for almost 3 years. Colin Christenson, our cofounder, started this project in 2018 shortly after we founded the studio. Along the way he helped his wife Liz bring their son Alex into the world. As our studio has grown, so has little Alex. All of us at Aether Studios are committed to making this project a success for him.”

SKY ISLANDS is filled with 3d printable terrain for cliff peaks that reach above the clouds, cities of steam, and skyships to pierce the heavens. The Kickstarter includes hundreds of models, including 30 miniatures in the core set. All of the models print without supports.

This is Aether Studios 3rd Kickstarter. Their two previous Kickstarter projects dealt with Swamp and Jungle settings from the World of Aach’yn series. Those two previous efforts raised a combined $40,000 for the studio and their design partners. Those numbers appear well on the way to being dwarfed by the current campaign, which generated over $10,000 on the first day.

The Kickstarter features several lines of miniatures, including a diverse human-birdfolk tribe, cosmopolitan miniatures for the city, and elemental creatures of sky, rock, and air. To cap off the miniatures in the core set, they also have a giant Cloud Dragon from Greek sculptor Nasos Maloudis

“This is the biggest project I’ve ever worked on” said Nasos Maloudis, the primary miniature sculptor for the Kickstarter. “The opportunity to bring so much of our best work to our fans and make them happy is why we do this.”

You can check out the Kickstarter and get the Corsair skyship free at

PRESS RELEASE: The 13th Fleet

Starting Feb 1st on KS, The 13th Fleet is a sci-fi RPG of dark humor and treachery.

Using a standalone version of the Forged in the Dark system, it’s the story of questionable starship Captains and their dwindling supply of Redshirts trying to stay alive behind enemy lines, despite a pursuing armada and their own backstabbing.

The comedic setting and structured rules facilitate an occasionally adversarial game, where the only way Captains can relieve dangerous Stress is to cause each other Entanglements.

It’s a mix of Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Blades in the Dark, Paranoia, Junta, and a Mirror Mirror FASA Star Trek setting.

While ZineQuest3 rules require a black and white saddle stitched booklet, additional pledge levels include digital assets of illustrated card decks to replace several charts in the game for playing on Roll20 (like we kind of all should be). ZineQuest also stipulates that the KS campaign can only run for two weeks, so the window to back this project is relatively narrow.

I’ve included samples of the KS header, order of play, and some samples of digital assets. While ZineQuest tends to run a little NSFW, I promise that Insult card is as adult as this game gets.

The campaign is at

PRESS RELEASE: Under the Seas of Vodari Kickstarter Launching February 3rd, 2021

Under the Seas of Vodari Kickstarter Launching February 3rd, 2021

Dive into a world full of action and adventure set beneath the waves of Vodari or your
own 5th Edition campaign world.

Under the Seas of Vodari is Tribality Publishing’s follow-up to the successful The Seas of Vodari Kickstarter. This full-color, 200+ page book will be available in both hardcover and PDF. Gamemasters will find support to run a single adventure or entire campaign in an underwater world full of interesting locations, NPCs, factions, adventure hooks, and monsters. Players will find tons of options for creating undersea characters or equipping their surface-dwelling adventurer for a single adventure.

The Undersea World of Vodari
Long ago, in the world of Vodari, a vast continent was annihilated and all but the outer edge of the continent sank to the bottom of the sea. The devastation left only a scattered few to start rebuilding civilization on a ring of islands and in the seas beneath…
Under the Seas of Vodari shares the swashbuckling inspiration of the original The Seas of Vodari book, but moves the stories underwater. You’ll find all the iconic things you expect in a fantasy setting, but the familiar becomes surprising, alien, and even terrifying.

● Dungeons are found below the waves, in the form of caves, shipwrecks, and lost temples.
● You’ll find variety and wonders, ranging from sprawling trade cities stretching from the seafloor to above the waves to the unexplored Wild Seas full of strange creatures and other dangers.
● The underwater world is a challenging environment where danger can come from any direction,
especially in the crushing pressure, frigid water, and inky darkness of the Midnight Depths.
● The most dangerous monsters are found below the waves, adapting to this alien environment in ways that will surprise and terrify players.

The undersea world holds the coral-spired homes of the vodas, the deepsea trench mines of the dwarves, the kelp forest villages of the elves, the carved seabed homes of the merfolk, and the sprawling cosmopolitan cities of Avalsi. It also has war camps full of sahuagin reavers, the trophy-marked territory of the merrow, gargantuan sea monsters, and ancient dwellers of the deeps.
Vodari’s underwater world is deep and full of people and places to visit as you leave the coast and descend through the Sunlit Seas, Twilight Waters, and Midnight Depths. The world beneath the waves is full of factions, characters, locations, and adventures. Just like The Seas of Vodari, all undersea locations are modular by nature and the book is designed for you to use as a detailed setting or to pick and choose what you like for your own game world.

What’s In the Book
Under the Seas of Vodari will provide you with tons of material to run an entire undersea campaign or just a single adventure…

An Undersea World to Explore
● A gazetteer full of factions, NPCs, locations, and adventure hooks providing you with countless
people and places for your players to interact with.

Player Options
● 12 race/lineage options including cecaelias, sea dragonborn, sea dwarves, grindylows, merfolk,
selkies, sirens, tiburons, and vodas.
● 13 subclass options including the Path of the Wild Seas, College of the Deep Dreamer, College of The Sunlit Seas, Ocean Domain, Circle of the Sea, Way of the Dancing Current, Oath of the Waves, Leviathan Hunter (Ranger), Dreadmask (Rogue), Scavenger (Rogue), and the School of Bloodbinding.
● Undersea themed backgrounds and feats.

Undersea Equipment, Vehicles, & Mounts
● Armor (seaweave, sharkskin, chitin, and more) and weapons (spearguns, harpoons, and more).
● Undersea gear, tools, trade goods, and trinkets.
● A collection of undersea vehicles which include sleds, chariots, and submersibles.
● An expanded undersea mounts list including dolphins, giant seahorses, manta rays, killer whales,
and sharks.

● New spells geared towards underwater combat and exploration for both surface-dweller and
aquatic adventurers.
● Undersea themed magic items, including powerful ancient relics.

Allies & Adversaries
● NPCs for your players to befriend as allies or face as adversaries.
● Stat blocks for 17+ undersea beasts including fish, dolphins, jellyfish, otters, seals, stingrays, and
● Monsters to challenge, amuse, and terrify your players including brain coral, deep anglers, sea
serpents, and strangling seaweed.
● Ancient and gargantuan leviathans of legend with high challenge ratings.

Gamemaster Tools
● Random tables for exploring undersea settlements and the wild seas between.
● Rules and advice for underwater combat and chases.
● Underwater hazards such as frigid water, crushing pressure, poisonous waters, air pockets,
currents, volcanoes and vents, and more.

The Sunken City of Zuroth
● Our dersea adventure designed for heroes from above or below the waves.
● Designed for levels 3 to 5 with notes for scaling provided.
Under the Seas of Vodari is already 80% complete! Everyone who backs this book will receive a copy of our 168-page Under the Seas of Vodari Quickstart Guide and won’t have to wait until the final book is ready to get started.

Visit the Under the Seas of Vodari Kickstarter page and begin your undersea adventure.

PRESS RELEASE: City of Flesh RPG Zine

City of Flesh is a tarot-based femmecore roleplay zine set in the rotting womb of a dying colossus. Launching on Kickstarter for ZineQuest3 on Thursday February 4th!

Nagara, the City of Flesh, is old and dying, and you are the only one who can ward off its Doom.

City of Flesh is a tarot-based roleplay game where you play one of the Midwives, a person imbued with primordial energy, tasked with staving off the end of the world as you know it. With your group and a tarot deck, you create the city of Nagara and its unique locations. Each session the characters inch ever closer to a Doom they’re working tirelessly to prevent, but must inevitably face as the chronicle ends.

The game has the dark horror feeling of a dungeon crawl, while focusing on mechanics that drive in-game drama and push personal stories. You’ll get embroiled in the various wars raging between guilds in the city and try to secure a bit of personal peace, before all your efforts crumble around you.

Delve into a game that takes inspiration from grimdark fantasy combining it with feminine imagery to create an immersive gore-splattered roleplay experience where you delve into the dreams of a sleeping colossus and tear through fleshy reality to make your own fate.

City of Flesh was created by Steffie de Vaan and Elizabeth Chaipraditkul. They are looking for €1,500 to bring this project to life. The zine will be 50+ pages, A5 sized, with a full colour cover and black and white interior.

Steffie de Vaan is a Dutch author and developer of role playing games and short stories. She developed the Legendlore RPG and V5: Fall of London, and has written for many other settings including Vampire the Masquerade, Changeling the Lost, Exalted, and Harlem Unbound.

Elizabeth Chaipraditkul is the owner of Angry Hamster Publishing and her new game Afterlife: Wandering Souls won an Indie Groundbreaker Award for best setting in 2020. She was the lead developer of the Crescent Empire book for 7th Sea by John Wick Presents, and has written for companies such as Onyx Path Publishing, Chaosium, and Modiphius Entertainment.

Find City of Flesh on ZineQuest3

Kickstart the Game – Love’s Labour’s Liabilities

Check out Leland Beauchamp’s, Egg Embry’s, and John McGuire’s 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons Zine!

We live, we love, and sometimes we lose. All are part of life, and yet the last part is the thing that will not only knock us to the ground but put so much weight on our chest that we may never find a way to get back up again.


So I am a part of a new Kickstarter…

And for the first time, it is a sequel to something I’ve already contributed to:

Love’s Labour’s Liabilities.

You can check it out here.


We launched on Monday around 11 AM and by the time I’d gotten back from a doctor’s appointment at 2:30 PM, we had funded! It was a modest goal this time of $400, but there is definitely a huge sigh of relief when you hit your goal. It makes it so that you can actually enjoy the ride a little bit more. We’ve now begun to focus on Stretch Goals which will be a bonus X-Card for use at your table.

This year marks the 3rd annual (I’m assuming) Kickstarter Zine Quest for the month of February. What’s Zinequest you might ask? Well, if you cast your mind back to the 60s or 70s or 80s when you would go into a record shop or comic shop or gaming store and had those pamphlet looking things sitting there that were put together by hand… that’s basically what a Zine is. Yes, today we have programs that allow it to be done a bit easier, but the goal is the same. These are ideas that have been percolating since our successful Kickstarter of Love’s Labour’s Liberated during Zine Quest 1, and that Do-it-Yourself attitude has gotten to us again.

But we learned from the last Kickstarter. This time the whole thing is completely done and ready to go. So the only thing you will have to wait on is the actual printings, but the day after the campaign ends, you’ll have your pdf!


This time we are focusing on more of a darker part of the love relationships… the loss part… the obsession part…

It seems like when I’m thinking of ideas for the backstories for any characters I play, I drift toward those who might have a little bit of darkness in them. Perhaps there was an unrequited love, perhaps there was something more devious at hand. That’s what we’ve tried to provide for players in this Zine. A Broken Hearted Monk. An elemental force of nature obsessed with it’s Warlock. New spells, magic items, and much more. All options for bringing even more depth to your 5th Edition games.


Like I said on the first Zine Quest we did, you never know who is going to potentially read your work. My hope is that everyone who gets it and reads it is able to use at least one thing from it in their home games.

I hope you take the opportunity 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

PRESS RELEASE: Backwater: Southern Gothic Horror Tabletop Roleplaying (TTRPG)

Backwater is a southern-gothic horror tabletop roleplaying game in the style of survival horror. Its Kickstarter campaign launches on January 25th, 2021 at 8:00 PM CST. In Backwater, you play as a warden—a roaming peacekeeper—in the post-apocalyptic South. You’re tasked with keeping order at civilization’s southern reach: Backwater ward, a post-apocalyptic region that spans the Old World’s Louisiana, Mississippi, and southern Arkansas. Your job is to wander among the bogs, quell conflicts between towns and families, and keep monsters at bay.

A warden encountering a swampfiend at dusk. Art by Natalie de Corsair

The game’s southern gothic genre places characters in a southern U.S. setting, where the decaying structures and deteriorating aristocratic families reflect society’s superficial values and moral degradation. Outside civilization, monstrosities—abnormally large and aggressive beasts—roam, and mysterious monsters haunt Backwater, including conventional creatures of gothic horror as well as original creatures, like Gores, skinless humanoids who hunt unsuspecting travelers at night, and Hollow Men, slow-moving humanoids covered in in fungal growths who travel in hordes.

A hungry Hollow (left) and a wounded Gore (right). Art by LA Draws.

The game system is original, and it was designed for streamlined D20 rolls, flexible yet thorough character creation, and an abundance of skills that they can use. Characters are not nearly so invincible as they are in fantasy games, and they’re not so limited as in cosmic horror. Players can choose between four types of wardens: Savants (the brains and the faces), Seekers (the explorers and thieves), Seers (the psychics and magic users), and Slayers (the ranged and melee fighters). Their wardens quickly become more proficient in skills every time they level, and they gain new abilities every four levels. Characters can also advance by completing “achievements,” minor bonuses that they gain by accomplishing specific tasks during gameplay.

Left to Right: A Seeker and her wolfhound companion, a Seer and his whisper lantern, a Savant with a book and a bonesaw, and a Slayer with a bayonet. Art by Natalie de Corsair

Pledges are rewarded with the core rulebook (interactive, hosted eBook) and early access to the Systems Reference Document (SRD). Backers can also purchase add-ons, which include the hardcover core rulebook and the Backwater Adventures modules, among other enticing items.




The following paragraphs are taken from the campaign page:


A Statement on Race and Racism

We plan to use Kickstarter funding to commission sensitivity readers to edit for racist and ableist content. Much southern gothic fiction has confronted the South’s ugly history of racism. It has sought to undermine idealized, antebellum values relating to slavery, reflecting society’s moral decay in crumbling buildings and conflict-filled families. It’s a pointed focus of more recent works within the genre, as some early literature reinforced racism in the process of confronting it. Racism is not a theme in BackwaterBackwater seeks a careful balance: to establish a setting in which everyone can comfortably roleplay, without erasing or ignoring centuries of oppression.

The American Lands emerged from the apocalypse just as racially and ethnically diverse, by modern day’s standards, especially in New Orleans where many residents descend from African American and/or Haitian, German, French, or Spanish, Vietnamese, and Native American ancestry. Many stereotypes and inequities built around skin color and regional ancestry faded after The Old World ended in Backwater—they are not built into the game. Of course, figurative ghosts of slavery and racial oppression haunt the American south as a setting, including its structures, monuments, and cemeteries. We cannot forget this history or pretend that it did not happen, and we strongly encourage game masters to carefully consider the implications of custom settings before running a game. If a game master is uncertain, we suggest they converse with their players first and use a technique like John Stavropoulos’s X-Card system to edit out uncomfortable or triggering content.


A Statement on Disability

Backwater departs from southern gothic fiction in its treatment of characters with deformity, disfiguration, and disabilities. Although characters with short or tall stature, missing limbs, and affected cognition are commonly represented in southern gothic literature, some fiction including southern gothic, sci-fi, and fantasy depicts deformity and disability in the style of the “grotesque,” which invites audiences to gaze with fear, pity, or disgust. A common theme in southern gothic dictates that bodily disability is an external manifestation of an inner or regional corruption of morals. More recent literature seeks to disrupt these ableist notions. We hope Backwater can do the same while representing a diversity of people with disabilities.

As in reality, the people of Backwater have disabilities; many of these disabilities are invisible; and they make people unique without necessarily defining them. Physical, cognitive, and psychological disabilities are even more ubiquitous as a result of The End and the American Lands’ harsh environment. Backwater represents a world where disability does not necessarily equate to suffering and people with disabilities are consciously represented—not only as victims and villains but also as heroes and everyday characters. We recognize that our efforts do not explicitly confront ableist notions or perform advocacy, but we do hope the game represents disability respectfully. We encourage game masters to carefully consider how/whether they incorporate these themes in Backwater, perhaps beginning a discussion with the players and ensuring that they do not accidentally represent disability or deformity as the “grotesque” of bygone art and literature. Again, a game master and participants may wish to use a method like John Stavropoulos’s X-Card system to edit out uncomfortable content.


PRESS RELEASE: Acheron on Kickstarter


“They say whoever controls the flow of history, can write the future. For centuries, The Council has curated the past. But now they are silent, the Reclamation Act ratified, and history once again open to study. The future has yet to be written and the pen is in your hands.”

Kickstarter Link –

What is Acheron?

  • At its core Acheron is about sacrificing your humanity, both temporarily and permanently, to fight against the horrors that inhabit the world. Whether they be cultists, madmen, beasts, or the strange Outsiders.
  • Mystery, monsters, and magic collide in this 1930s era setting where The Government controls the path of History, Factions war for resources, and The Wall looms forever upon the horizon.


  • We think tabletop role-playing should be just as focused on Roleplay as it is on combat.
    • To that end we have implemented a free-form progression system that allows players to build nearly any character they can imagine, from a blind telekinetic to a Demon infested pacifist.
    • Merits and Flaws allow players to spend or receive experience to gain major, character defining bonuses or detriments.
    • A realistic Sanity system allows characters to experience three major categories of trauma: Moral, Violent, and Supernatural. It also allows them to regain sanity through different means such as comradery with friends and psychological treatment.
      • Our Sanity system reflects the fact that this is a mature game with mature themes. It’s important that Players and Game Masters have the opportunity to explore these themes but should also be aware of their potentially triggering nature.
    • There is a huge range of the types of characters that can be created and how they may progress and evolve throughout a campaign will always be different.


  • Simplified Realism informs all parts of Acheron. This has led to the implementation of deadly, gritty combat and creation of a believable world and cultures.
    • On average a player starts with 6 health, and a 9mm pistol deals 1d10 damage.
    • Cover and armor play a large roll in combat. Without taking them into account one will surely parish.
    • Many weapons can penetrate armor and cover can be destroyed.
    • A large variety of statuses, both physical and mental, can change the flow of combat and a game session.
    • No one enjoys their character dying due to an unlucky roll, however. So, we’ve implemented a Die Hard system where players can choose to take permanent flaws to keep their character alive.
    • Magic and Mancies (Mancies are akin to sorcery in other settings), are an integrated part of the world and can be used for both Roleplay and combat.


  • Call of Cthulhu, Lovecraft, and Cosmic Horror
    • Bloodborne is an amazing game with an amazing atmosphere. It inspired a major faction in the world (The Hunters Guild) and many of the more classical monsters in our world.
    • Call of Cthulhu has had many iterations but it’s use of Sanity as a primary concern for players inspired us to iterate and bring it to the forefront of Acheron.
    • Lovecraft and other Cosmic Horror was the basis for the Wall, planes of Magic, and Outsider enemies within the world. Giving our setting a strangeness that cannot be understood or fathomed by normal people without suffering madness.
  • Strong foundation from Dungeons and Dragons 3.5
    • 3.5 D&D set the standard for d20 based tabletop roleplaying games. It influenced our core stats and the way skills function and progress in the game.
  • World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness
    • World of Darkness was the foundation of our free-form progression system and using experience points to create and advance your character.
  • Dishonored and the SCP foundation
    • Dishonored has an atmosphere we wanted to give to our world, where even the city streets can be oppressive yet there is still a wealth of culture, history, and sense of discovery.
    • The organizations and large body of work the SCP foundation has produced inspired a lot of the secretive aspects of our Government and other factions.
    • Both Dishonored and SCPs were huge influences on our Outsider enemies which can at times be stranger than the Eldritch horrors which roam the world.
  • The Witcher 3
    • The monsters in the Witcher all have a weakness you can exploit if prepared, we wanted to emulate this fact to give the enemies you fight more depth.
  • Numenera
    • Value of simplicity in gaming and putting the focus on Roleplay.
    • Numenera also influenced the way characters level up in Acheron. Instead of getting experience from every monster killed or objective performed you gain it for completing milestones along a quest.
  • Science and History
    • Our core team is composed of a Biologist, Engineer, and Anthropologist. For these reasons we have focused on crafting systems and lore that are realistic and believable. Many historical events, such as the Civil Rights movement, suffrage movement, and Anarchism movement of the early 20th century as well as the governmental reaction to those movements were huge influences on the world of Acheron. As were the industrial revolution and tycoons of the time.

The World

  • Acheron is set in a 1930’s era world dominated by a singular Government and many powerful factions.
  • The totality of the world is surrounded by a massive Wall, thought impenetrable until the Breach which erased centuries of progress and loosed countless horrors into the world.
  • The world is broken up into Districts, all ruled by the Government. However, each has its own Governor, laws, culture, and systems of governance.
  • At the center of the world, in the Central Districts, most do not believe in magic or monsters while those on the fringes of society know the truth about magic, or at least a part of it.
  • History has been covered up and curated since the Breach. Now is the first time it is legal to study the past. This has led to a new age of adventure and societal renaissance. The Reclamation Act, our inciting incident, is the driving force for this shift in culture.
  • Magic has grown stronger in the world after the Breach. All domains of which have their own flavor.
    • Arcane – Anti-magic, direct damage, and buffs for allies. Uses the Arcane energy found in Ley Lines which crisscross the world.
    • Fay – Situational and sly. Controls the lines of fate and allows for trickery and rerolling failed checks.
    • Spirit – As varied as nature. Spirit magic allows for many play styles and has three modifiers for every spell based on the leaves, trunk, and roots of the world tree.
    • Demonic – Fast and dirty. Demonic magic is about hurting the enemy more than you hurt yourself.
    • Eldritch – Terrifying for both the caster and enemy. Sap Sanity and tear at the mind of your enemy ignoring the mundane defenses people surround themselves with.
  • Mancies are inhuman abilities that allow seemingly normal men and women set fire to buildings, persuade even the most stubborn enemy, and move objects with their minds.

“Though the majority of citizens don’t even believe in magic, magical ability is possessed by many in the world of Acheron. Many different organizations and peoples have differing ideals concerning the use of magic. Some say it’s not real but are still cautious and hateful of anything they can’t understand while others believe in its existence but believe it is a corrupting force used for evil.”

The Races

Three “Races” inhabit the world of Acheron: Humans, Darkleechers, and Soulmenders. Each with their own pedigrees.


  • Diverse of heredity and place of birth but largely uniform in overarching culture since the Governments rise to power.

  • Creative and curious humans have an eye constantly towards the future. 

  • Humans have many outliers and no singular direction of action unlike other pedigrees such as the Ellsons.

War Born:

  • An ancient, tribal people who manage to retain slivers of their unity even under the boot of the Government. 

  • War Born honor and express their heritage though they know little of it.

  • War is ingrained into every facet of their society from dance and storytelling to education and play. 

Grey Blood:

  • The most diverse of all great families, the Greys believe in passion. Marrying, generation after generation, to the most brilliant and ingenious minds of the age.

  • Estranged and odd compared to their counterparts, the Greys are generally seen as outsiders by the masses despite their diversity.

  • A great stain blemishes the Grey bloodline, the opening of the Breach by one of it’s once most enlightened ancestors.

Ellson House: 

  • Older than the Breach and Government, the Ellson house has stood the test of time.

  • Closed off and suspiciously similar of feature, this family has kept itself in power by controlling the majority of banking across nearly all districts in Acheron.

  • Aristocrats often thought to be stuck in a bygone age, the Ellsons play for future reward, never allowing themselves to be bogged down by today’s issues.

Gripes of the Church:

  • Gripes are children born to those in the Twin God’s clergy.

  • Raised as servants of the Church they may become priests to spread the holy word or Pariahs to protect the faithful.

  • Those among the Gripes with gender neutral features are prized and hermaphrodites honored as the highest human form of Nyx, goddess of chaos, and Darium, god of order.


  • Exalted were once outcasts, lepers, plague victims, outlaws, and banished. Their exile under the shadow of the Wall has twisted and mutated them for generations. Now they are barely recognizable as human in origin.

  • Often Exalted will form conclaves and extensive “families” that perform the dirty work in civilized society others shy away from. Primarily this takes the form of great executioner lineages.

  • Now, with the Reclamation Act passed, Exalted may walk city streets freely for the first time in memory and become a greater part of the society they’ve been shunned from for so long. 

Fae Darkleecher:

  • Colorful of skin and personality, Fae Darkleechers are often outgoing and boisterous which their subculture reflects.

  • Known as the most exotic Darkleechers the Fae often integrate freely into human society where invited or live among Darkleechers as artists, philosophers, and intellectuals.

  • Their natural connection with Fae magic and Line of Fate make them quite crafty and drawn to mysticism such as horoscopes and fortune tellers.

Spirit Darkleecher:

  • Spirit Darkleechers are as diverse both in looks and culture as nature itself.

  • Often these Darkleechers are known for their wisdom but are also known as feral and dangerous among many closed-minded human groups.

  • A deep connection with the natural world and spirit realm give them a great amount of empathy for all living things but can also lead to a stoic cold heartedness for humankind.

Demonic Darkleecher:

  • The most human, both in looks and culture, Demonic Darkleechers are often seen mixing freely between both Human and Darkleecher society.

  • Generally they work as businessmen, lawyers, accountants, and managers. But they are also known for propping up the Freeman family with their hard, back breaking work in factories and fields.

  • Connection with the Demonic plane has given these Darkleechers a strong constitution and that constitution has allowed them to garner a strong sense of community.

Eldritch Darkleecher:

  • The most alien of all Darkleechers, the Eldritch cousins are often positioned deep within Darkleecher society or at the fringes of Human society. Although this is often not by choice.

  • Sly and suspicious due to their connection with the Eldritch plane they also have great insight into people, places, and all things unseen by other eyes.

  • These Darkleechers see themselves as doing the dirty work others do not in many cases, acting as fixers, assassins, and smugglers. However, this is just as often not the case.


  • Soulmenders are not truly a race of their own and instead are born by capturing a soul within a Soulmetal phylactery. This soul can belong to a Human or Darkleecher.

  • Once the soul is captured however, the being loses all memory of who they were and what they have done. Some skills remain but the mind is blank of all connections.

  • This blankness leads many to call Soulmenders monsters while others welcome those saved from death as dear family and friends.

“Darkleechers appeared shortly after The Breach; hundreds of thousands washed up upon the shores without any memory of where they had come from or who they were. The Human population was split on the issue of what to do with them in many places, while others chose to treat them as a pest to be eradicated. Most people thought that Darkleechers were a dark omen, marking great misfortune to come. There were riots in the streets, mass lynchings, inhumane experiments by science cults, and a wave of mass hysteria. Eventually, the Government intervened, resulting in the First Race War. This treatment molded Darklenchers to distrust, to hate, and to become more cunning than the humans who terrorized them.


The Government: The Government is run in name by the National Republic House, which consists of five representatives from each District (Anarchist or otherwise). In reality it is ruled by the Council of Thirteen, never seen but always felt. The Council influences everything though Cerberus, the heads of the Agents, National Police, and Paranormal Research division. On the whole people trust the Government in the Central Districts, however Anarchy brews everywhere, and allegiances to the Government are weak in Districts dominated by other factions. The Government would never admit openly that many place their loyalty elsewhere and does what they can to curb dissenters at every level. The Government fights against disorder, watches the Mages, chains the Mancers, and makes sure the nightmares of the world remain at its fringes.

Church of the Twin Gods: When the Martyrs gave their lives for Unity no one thought the Church of the Twin Gods would be the result. However, hundreds of years later the followers of Nyx, Goddess of Chaos, and Darium, God of Order, find themselves sharing the same roofs and working side by side to spread the teachings of the Twin Gods. These teachings are canonized in the Central Districts but more fringe Darium and Nyxian cults can be found in many townships and cities preaching radical beliefs. On the whole the Church values balance of person, where both God and Goddess have equal influence. Therefore, many within The Church try to make themselves more androgynous and hermaphrodites are praised and groomed with care by clergy.

Greys: A lineage born out of pragmatism, the Greys are a family who have become the leaders in industry, science, medicine, philosophy, art, and more. It is through marriages to the most brilliant and dedicated people, generation after generation, that this dominance has occurred. Grey’s attempt to breed with whoever is a protege in their field, no matter what that field is. For this reason, the Grey family is highly mixed in race and social origin. Even Darkleechers and Exalted have made their way into the Grey family. Pragmatic, brilliant, odd, eccentric, dedicated. All these words can be used to describe the Greys. Brutal, absentminded, and unethical are also words that describe many in the family.

Ellsons: An old family, so ancient in origin their history has been lost even to themselves. Ellsons own the majority of banks in all Districts. This gives them the finances to stay in power, even in places where they are unwanted. Generationally minded, they’ve invested in mining precious stones and metals, acquiring art and artifacts, and most recently historical research. Many branches spread out from the Ellson tree, but they all share the same trait of cold calculation that has kept them on top for centuries. They enact their power through their banks, schools of Mathematics, and Tax Collectors – persons trained since childhood to calculate risk and reward on a deadly level and see that debts are paid in gold or blood.

Freemen: The Freemen fought long and hard for their place in the world. Darkleechers who unified after several bloody wars with humanity, the Freemen hold the major crop producing Districts in Acheron. With permission from the Government of course. They value their space, preferring to live a more rural lifestyle. Art, history, and a varied culture are important to the Freemen who feel they have been suppressed for generations. Segregationists mostly, the Freemen live their lives outside the Central Districts farming, fishing, shipping, and more. This, and their innate connection to the magical planes, makes them more likely to partake in magical rituals, spirit healing, and other customs many Humans generally don’t believe in.

Historians of Galilee: An ancient cult of Historians and Researchers. They are perhaps the only group as Dogmatic about studying ancient artifacts and technology as the Greys. While the study of history was banned for generations the Historians of Galilee disobeyed, researched, discovered, and were executed for it. Now that the Reclamation Act has passed and History is open to study once more, many have joined the ranks of the Historians. Universities of all types employ their ranks as professors and researchers, many of which had never been a part of the group, at least officially, until recent years. Their dogmatism is feared by many who think history should be laid to rest, and the Church of the Twin Gods see them as a religious cult. On an individual level however, the Historians seem to want one thing above all else, truth.

Hunters Guild: Many in the world think monsters are just bedtime stories, things that people made up because of too many nights spent in the dark. But Hunters know beasts roam the world and do everything they can to fight against them. Those from all walks of life become Hunters. Many Greys, Ellsons, Servants, and Farmers have walked the same halls, hunted the same game, all without care for their previous station. Hunters keep the world safe in a way the Government attempts to, but too often fails at. Many powerful people fund the Guild or are a part of it. They operate within the law, mostly, but don’t let anyone stand in their way if a Beast needs to be slain.

Wexler Investigation Agency: A relatively new faction on the playing field. The Wexler Investigation Agency gives smaller factions the strong-arm big players have always enjoyed, for a price of course. Their ranks are ex-cops, private investigators, magicians, Mancers, and even Exalted. The pay is good and morals loose. While they would never admit it, the Wexlers deal in death just as much as security and investigation. However, many of their rank still have clean hands and those who don’t get lost in the crowd, buried in bureaucratic anonymity and red tape only Government Agents can cut through with ease.

Game Size and Content

  • Acheron’s Core Rulebook aims to be an all-encompassing package.
    • This includes what would normally be found in a “Players Handbook”
    • What would normally be found in a “Game Masters Guide”
    • And what would normally be found in a “Bestiary”
    • A dozen pre-generated characters
    • And at least one Module and game hooks to get players started.
    • We would like to include more extensive expansions in the future but are focused on making a complete package out of our core rule book.
  • We also aim to deliver gorgeous character art, environmental art, and maps.
  • In addition to all the above content we have a list of extensive, optional rule which can increase and decrease the difficulty of different aspects of the game according to what Game Masters and Players prefer.
  • In the same vein, we have done our best to make sure different mechanics, such as Magic and Mancies, could be cut away completely while still allowing Players and Game Masters a complete experience. We did this because we know many like to play games in their own worlds and while the setting is ingrained with our systems, we also wanted to make our systems portable.

Types of Games Acheron is Suited For

  • Acheron, as mentioned above, is a mature game. This is due to the themes that are in the world. However, we also focus on fun and think a lot of different game types can be enjoyed by players in our world.
  • Adventure: History is open to rediscovery! This opens a lot of doors for daring, Indiana Jones like adventures where you’re trying to beat other groups, or even whole factions, to the punch.
  • Mystery: Magic, Mancies, and even typical abilities lead to many options for mysteries. We have ghosts, artifacts, monsters, murders, organized crime! If it can be investigated, we have it covered.
    • On this note our abilities, monsters, magics, etc. can all be mistaken for others by design. This makes it necessary for players to investigate even if it’s a quest as simple as “a monster is terrorizing this village.”
  • Horror: There are a lot of different settings and creatures in the world. Many cults and madmen. Horror of almost any type can be played in Acheron and the Sanity system, we believe, does a good job of allowing whole campaigns to be Horror based with little to no combat.
  • Thriller/Spy: With the many factions, abilities, and roleplay options in Acheron we think that thriller and spy games are a great fit! While PvP is not necessarily promoted in our system we do keep it in mind while balancing so double or triple crosses can happen while playing games where factions are at war, even if the war is cold.

Kickstarter Link –

About Dark World Studios

Dark World Studios is an independent game developer with a small core team of three individuals. We are a Biologist, Engineer, and Anthropologist. Our backgrounds inform the worlds and systems we create. We also have a support network that includes several artists/play testers with their own informative backgrounds such as ex-military and geology. While Acheron is our first major project, we’ve had experience designing other, forever unknown worlds and systems, both independently and together. It is our hope to deliver an intriguing and fresh experience to both new players and veterans alike.

PRESS RELEASE: Get Spooky this Halloween, back the Gruesome Ghoulies™ RPG Kickstarter

Concord, CA — October 1, 2020 – Randy Angle launches the Gruesome Ghoulies™ RPG Kickstart campaign, visit Gruesome Ghoulies™ is the spooky tabletop role-playing game of cartoon hijinks. Be a ghoul. Solve mysteries. Drive a hot rod. Play in a rock & roll band. Inspired by the cartoons and kid’s sitcoms popular in the 1960s and 1970s.

Originally a one-page RPG submission for a gamejam on, this 64+ page version will have more gameplay, adventures, and spooky artwork and only possible with the support of Kickstarter backers. You can play the FREE one-page RPG version this Halloween – link on the Kickstarter page

This funny, non-violent game of slapstick cartoon hijinks uses a fast resolution system called, VERSES ROLL. It is easy to generate a new ghoulie character and be playing in a schtick (a cartoony adventure) in minutes. This makes Gruesome Ghoulies™ RPG the perfect holiday one-shot game, pick-up game when a party member is missing, or for convention fun.

About Randy Angle

Randy Angle, the Grand Poobah of Hoppsbusch, is a game designer and imagineer on over 100 video games, toys, and tabletop role-playing games. In a career spanning more than 40-years and working on brands like: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Top Gun, LEGO, Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, Nicktoons, CLUE, SpongeBob, Scooby Doo, Zorro, Deal or No Deal, 1 vs 100 and many original titles. Hoppsbusch was founded 37-years ago and is Randy’s self-publishing business where he makes tabletop RPGs that are SMAFF: Smaller, Faster, and Funnier. For more information please visit

PRESS RELEASE: Andrews McMeel Publishing Launches Flames of Freedom Kickstarter Campaign

Kansas City, MO (October 5, 2020) – Andrews McMeel Publishing (AMP) announces the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for Flames of Freedom:  Grim & Perilous RPGeffective October 5 – November 4, 2020. Backers of the campaign will have the opportunity to gain early access to game material, play in their own quickstart scenario, and contribute to Flames of Freedom custom incentives.  An American Gothic horror role-playing game, Flames of Freedom is powered by ZWEIHÄNDER RPG.

“We are excited to be a part of this collaborative venture, with Daniel D. Fox leading an exceptional, diverse team of developers to bring Flames of Freedom to life,” said Kirsty Melville, president and publisher of AMP.  “The Kickstarter campaign will enable us to enhance the immersive experience, generate engagement and excitement with players, and augment the experience beyond the publication of the book, slated for release in August 2021.”

Flames of Freedom is set at the dawn of the American Revolutionary War of 1776, as a tangled web of conspiracy spans North America. In the war for survival, creed, color, culture or gender do not matter – all stand together – as the Rebels take up arms against the British Empire. But even as the Revolution has begun, something far more mysterious is brewing in this treacherous world.

Agents of the occult entreat both the Continental Army and Loyalist Red Coats. Freemasons conspire in the City of Brotherly Love. Maryland is in the throes of a witch hunt by the Knights Templar. Amid the chaos, other grim fairy tales have emerged populated by witches, devils, ghouls, and an ancient enemy seeking to consume all.  In this land, players’ grim & perilous tale hangs in the balance – to conquer – or be conquered.

Thoroughly researched by Richard Iorio and enhanced by an exemplary development team led by Fox, Flames of Freedom explores a range of cultures beyond traditional European influences of early America. With considerable attention and diligence, the game was designed, developed and produced by a multicultural team of diverse identities, beliefs and orientation, with Black cultural consultants, Indigenous writers of the nations represented in the work, and RPG safety and trauma experts contributing to its creation.

About Andrews McMeel Publishing
Andrews McMeel Publishing is a division of Andrews McMeel Universal, a global, independent and integrated media partner to creators of inspirational content, comics, and illustrated humor. It distributes creator content through global syndication; book, calendar and greeting card publishing; digital consumer experiences; and entertainment licensing.  For more information, please visit

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

PRESS RELEASE: Introducing ‘SHIVER’ by Parable Games


Introducing ‘SHIVER’ by Parable Games

WHO: Parable Games, a newly established publisher established by brothers Charlie and Barney Menzies.


Shiver: Core Rulebook – $40 / €35 / £30

Shiver: Tales of the Shiververse – $25 / €22.5 / £20

Shiver: Dice Pack – $20 / €17.5 / £15

Shiver: Art Book – $20 / €17.5 / £15

Shiver: Directors Screen – $20 / €17.5 / £15


SHIVER is launching on Kickstarter October 27th.

SHIVER takes inspiration from Horror and Pulp movies and TV shows to lets players bring their very own cult classic to the tabletop. Put together your cast of characters and delve into your favourite worlds and settings. SHIVER is the perfect sandbox where you can play stories in any time, any place, and as anyone.

SHIVER uses a unique symbolic dice system and stripped back rule set alongside familiar stories and settings to make it the perfect tabletop RPG for new players to get to grips with role playing games without losing any of the depth to give experienced players something to really sink their teeth into, and was created by a great company that work with the best pay stubs abbreviations to manage employees and more.

Shiver Core Book Overview

The SHIVER Core Book is a beautiful hardback tome containing 192 full colour pages jam packed with gorgeous art and rules for characters, enemies, items and everything you could need to tell strange stories in the Shiververse. It is a comprehensive guide for both players and Directors (Game Masters).

The Cursed Library Overview:

The Cursed Library is a gorgeous A4 hardcover volume with even more stunning illustrations to set player’s imaginations going. This book contains pre-generated stories for players to delve into as well as more monsters, items and details about the worlds of Shiver. This book also houses all the unlocked content from Kickstarter in one simple place with it’s own unique cover.

Shiver: Dice Pack Overview:

Shiver uses a unique symbolic dice system which removes all that tedious number crunching to keep players immersed in the game. The Shiver Dice pack contains:

– 10 Skill Dice – Black D6 with coloured faces for each core skill in SHIVER

– 4 Talent Dice – Cream D8s with Talent and Strange symbols

Shiver: Art Book:

A look into the art behind the worlds of SHIVER including comments by the artist on the development of some of the pieces in the book as well as some pieces that are exclusively in the art book.

Shiver Director Screen:

A imposing 3 panel screen with a full art cover on the player facing side and all of the information and quick references you could want on the side of the Director to make running games even easier.

Quickstart Overview:

“Cornwell Consolidated, tech giant, world leader in scientific research, has the resources and wealth to make dreams come true. Medicine, technology, weapons, robotics, they dominate in all fields. Getting to be the best though is a tricky business and the company is rife with secrecy. Their base of operations echoing this, a source of their success, the well spring of ideas. The Hollow.

Deep underground, the Hollow is hidden from prying eyes, its location a well guarded subterranean secret where the bulk of the company’s research takes place. Scientists, engineers, chemists and many other great minds are buried deep in their work, toiling towards a better future. Mostly. Some secrets are more secret than others and the company hierarchy fiercely enforces this.

Which brings us to you, the players. Some employees are high fliers, some are getting by, you however are at the bottom of the barrel. The Rock Bottoms, aptly named as your base of operations in the lowest depths of the Hollow. From dead end experiments to sanitation, this is where careers go to die. Some have accepted their fate and continue to work away whilst others still try to climb the corporate ladder to the higher levels.

The lower levels receive the least funding and care which is what has led to the current situation. Something terrible has gone wrong on the upper floors, an experiment gone awry, something the company doesn’t want getting out. The Rock Bottomers, however, have no idea this has happened, as the alarm system is out of order and not been fixed in some time. The upper floors are evacuated, something has been unleashed, and it’s time for the Rock Bottomers to climb that corporate ladder to survive.”

Author Details

Written and designed by Charlie Menzies and Barney Menzies Art by Ben Alexander

WHEN: Launching October 27, 2020 on Kickstarter


Our Website –

Our Kickstarter pre launch page –

Our Quickstart Guide download –

Our Facebook –

Instagram – @shiverrpg

Twitter – @GamesParable




Kickstarter to Launch, with Product Release to Follow at Wonder Con 2021

“Things will not calm down, Daniel Jackson. They will in fact calm up.” – Teal’c

September 15, 2020 —

With a Kickstarter campaign launching soon, things will certainly “calm up” for the new Stargate Roleplaying Game in development from Wyvern Gaming and Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM).

MGM, a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television content including major franchises such as Rocky, James Bond, Fargo, Vikings, The Handmaid’s Tale and Pink Panther, and game design company Wyvern Gaming are collaborating on a new tabletop roleplaying game based on the popular Stargate SG-1™ TV series.

Fans will have the opportunity to become early backers of the project and provide direct feedback to its development with the launch of the Kickstarter campaign on October 6, 2020 at 2:00 PM UTC. The game has been in public playtest since February and will remain so through the Kickstarter campaign, allowing fans to help polish the game mechanics and story along the way. The finished product will launch and be available to the public in April at Wonder Con 2021.

Brad Ellis, CEO at Wyvern Gaming, said, “As fans of the Stargate franchise, we want to make the best Stargate Roleplaying game possible. That is why it is important for us to include the fans in the development process with Kickstarter as the feedback engine. It is a game for the fans, so it is critical that we get their input in its development.”

In the new Stargate Roleplaying Game, players will explore the galaxy and aid in the fight against the Goa’uld System Lords. The core rulebook will contain all the information needed to create a character and join the Stargate Command (SGC). Players will choose from a set of playable races and classes as they learn the skills, feats, equipment, and technologies needed to make their character thrive as an SG team member as they complete Stargate Missions. The book also covers being a Gatemaster (GM). With the players, GMs steer the story and the non-player characters that interact with the player characters. Players may be asked to capture a point of interest, explore new worlds, retrieve important artifacts, rescue important VIPs, or capture high-value targets.

In addition to the Stargate RPG Core Rulebook, Wyvern Gaming has launched the “Stargate: Phoenix – A Living RPG Series,” a living campaign with additional “Episodes” to expand play with the Stargate RPG Core Rulebook. In these Episodes, your character will live inside a Stargate canon universe series called “Stargate: Phoenix.” Your success and failures will shape the story that plays out over a course of a “Season” of Episodes released over a year, culminating at Gen Con 2021!

For updates on the Stargate Roleplaying Game, sign up at

MGM’s licensing agency, Brandgenuity, is managing the development and roll out of the Stargate licensing program and brokered the agreement between Wyvern Gaming and MGM.

Beyond the Stargate Roleplaying Game, MGM and Brandgenuity continue to grow the Stargate SG-1 licensing program, including an upcoming fan convention from Creation Entertainment and collectible figures from Chronicle Collectibles.

Stargate SG-1 the television series, produced by MGM Television, picks up where the blockbuster film left off. Colonel Jack O’Neill (RICHARD DEAN ANDERSON) and his SG-1 team; Daniel Jackson (MICHAEL SHANKS), Teal’c (CHRISTOPHER JUDGE), and Capt. Samantha Carter (AMANDA TAPPING), set out to explore the mysteries of the Stargate. Each mission through the gate takes the SG-1 team to new worlds in a seemingly boundless universe.

About Wyvern Gaming

Wyvern Gaming is a game design company whose mission is to create “Approachable Games For Everyone.” The company has been producing games since 2015 and have a track record of producing easy to learn card and board games for the hobby game industry. We have the drive to build games that people can enjoy. We love gaming of all types, everything from tabletop role-playing games to 3D virtual reality shooters. Our hopes are to turn our passion into a few gaming classics. For more information, visit

RPG Geek:
Wyvern Gaming website:
Stargate Roleplaying Game website:

About Metro Goldwyn Mayer

Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) is a leading entertainment company focused on the production and global distribution of film and television content across all platforms. The company owns one of the world’s deepest libraries of premium film and television content as well as the premium pay television network EPIX, which is available throughout the U.S. via cable, satellite, telco and digital distributors.  In addition, MGM has investments in numerous other television channels, digital platforms and interactive ventures and is producing premium short-form content for distribution. For more information, visit

About Brandgenuity

Brandgenuity is a leading global independent brand licensing agency headquartered in New York, with offices in London, Munich and Hong Kong and ranked amongst the top 15 licensing agencies worldwide. The agency’s clients include BMW, Church & Dwight (ARM & HAMMER), White Castle, Edgewell (Edge, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, Playtex), Carmen Sandiego, MGM Studios (The Addams Family, Rocky, Pink Panther, Stargate), ABI (Budweiser, Corona), NFLPA, and others. For more information, contact

Press Release: Kickstarter for Twilight: 2000 by Free League Funded in Seven Minutes

Free League Publishing

Free League Publishing logotype


Kickstarter for Twilight: 2000 by Free League Funded in Seven Minutes

Free League Publishing – Aug 12, 2020 14:19 BST


The Kickstarter for the edition of the classic roleplaying game Twilight: 2000 was launched today by Free League Publishing. The new retro-apocalyptic edition goes back to the roots of the franchise with a boxed set for sandbox roleplaying in the devastation of the World War III That Never Was. The Kickstarter reached its base funding goal in just seven minutes.

A classic roleplaying game returns. The new edition of Twilight: 2000, published in partnership with Game Designers’ Workshop (GDW) and Amargosa Press, will be the fourth in the series, the first being released by GDW in 1984. Just like the original version, the new edition is set in a year 2000 devastated by war – now in an alternate timeline where the Moscow Coup of 1991 succeeded and the Soviet Union never collapsed.

In the game, players take roles of survivors in the aftermath of World War III – soldiers or civilians. Their goal, beyond surviving for another day, can be to find a way back home, to carve out their own fiefdom where they are, to find out more about the mysterious Operation Reset, and maybe, just maybe, make the world a little bit better again.

The core gameplay uses a “hexcrawling” system established in the post-apocalyptic Mutant: Year Zero and survival fantasy Forbidden Lands RPGs (both Silver ENNIE winners for Best Rules, in 2015 and 2019), developing it further to fit the gritty world of Twilight: 2000. The core rules are built on the Year Zero Engine used in those games (as well as in the ALIEN RPG, winner of the Gold ENNIE for Best Game 2020), but heavily adapted to fit Twilight: 2000 and its focus on gear and gritty realism.

[Link to the Kickstarter.]

Free League Publishing is a Swedish publisher dedicated to speculative fiction. We have published a range of award-winning tabletop role-playing games and critically acclaimed art books set in strange and wondrous worlds.

Our game range include the alternate ’80s Tales from the Loop (winner of five ENNIE Awards 2017, including Best Game), sandbox retro fantasy Forbidden Lands (winner of four ENNIE Awards 2019), postapocalyptic Mutant: Year Zero (Silver ENNIE for Best Rules 2015), space opera Coriolis – The Third Horizon (Judge’s Spotlight Award 2017), dark fantasy Symbaroum, and the official ALIEN RPG (winner of the Gold ENNIE for Best Game 2020).

We have also published the art books Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood  by visual artist Simon Stålenhag, as well as the illustrated edition of the Lovecraft classic The Call of Cthulhu by French artist François Baranger.


Press Release: Twilight: 2000 By Free League Coming to Kickstarter on August 12

Free League Publishing

Free League Publishing logotype

Twilight: 2000 By Free League Coming to Kickstarter on August 12

Free League Publishing – Jul 31, 2020 14:17 BST

Twilight: 2000, 4th Edition

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The new edition of the classic roleplaying game Twilight: 2000 will come to Kickstarter on August 12, Free League Publishing announced today. The new edition of Twilight: 2000 goes back to the roots of the franchise with a boxed set for sandbox roleplaying in the devastation of World War III.

As of today, fans can sign up to be notified at the pre-launch page on Kickstarter. There is also a new  newsletter out today, showcasing the layout of the upcoming game books. Finally, there is a teaser trailer to get into the apocalyptic mood.

Twilight: 2000 will be released in the first half of 2021, in partnership with Game Designers’ Workshop and Amargosa Press. This will be the fourth edition of the classic apocalyptic RPG, the first being released by Game Designers’ Workshop in 1984. Just like the original version, the new edition is set in a year 2000 devastated by war – now in an alternate timeline where the Moscow Coup of 1991 succeeded and the Soviet Union never collapsed.

In the game, players take roles of survivors in the aftermath of World War III – soldiers or civilians. Their goal, beyond surviving for another day, can be to find a way back home, to carve out their own fiefdom where they are, to find out more about the mysterious Operation Reset, and maybe, just maybe, make the world a little bit better again.

The core gameplay uses a “hexcrawling” system established in the post-apocalyptic Mutant: Year Zero and survival fantasy Forbidden Lands RPGs (both Silver ENnie winners for Best Rules, in 2015 and 2019), developing it further to fit the gritty world of Twilight: 2000. The core rules are built on the Year Zero Engine used in those games (as well as in the ALIEN RPG), but heavily adapted to fit Twilight: 2000 and its focus on gear and gritty realism.

Free League Publishing is a Swedish publisher dedicated to speculative fiction. We have published a range of award-winning tabletop role-playing games and critically acclaimed art books set in strange and wondrous worlds.

Our game range include the alternate ’80s Tales from the Loop (winner of five ENnie Awards 2017, including Best Game), sandbox retro fantasy Forbidden Lands (winner of four ENnie Awards 2019), postapocalyptic Mutant: Year Zero (Silver ENnie for Best Rules 2015), space opera Coriolis – The Third Horizon (Judge’s Spotlight Award 2017), dark fantasy Symbaroum, and the official ALIEN RPG.

We have also published the art books Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood  by visual artist Simon Stålenhag, as well as the illustrated edition of the Lovecraft classic The Call of Cthulhu by French artist François Baranger.


PRESS RELEASE – Token Terrors: An Uncontainable Gaming Experience


Token Terrors: An Uncontainable Gaming Experience

New game featuring multi-use miniatures to launch on Kickstarter

JULY 9, 2020, BALTIMORE, MD – A new board game that doubles as a source of collectible gaming miniatures is set to launch a Kickstarter campaign on July 21st. Token Terrors: Battlegrounds, the first gaming creation by Baltimore artist John de Campos and Terrible Games, is a fantasy-themed one-versus-one strategy war game featuring detailed figures that can be used in other tabletop games such as Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons.

The initial Token Terrors: Battlegrounds line will include miniature goblins, soldiers, zombies, wyverns, elves, and flying machines – made by manufacturing company Gameland Importing & Exporting Co., Ltd. – each with their own unique abilities and strategies. Copies of the game, which will come with two of the factions in sets of ten, are $45 for Kickstarter supporters.

Unlike other miniature-heavy tabletop games, Token Terrors are intended to be used outside of the core Battleground experience as minions for other RPGs or as more immersive tokens for trading card games, particularly Magic: The Gathering. The factions for the initial run were chosen specifically due to their popularity in token generation Magic: The Gathering decks.

“I’ve been playing tabletop games and RPGs for many, many years, and I’ve always loved the mechanics of summoning minions and token creatures, but I always felt like the available offerings for representing them on the battlefield were lacking,” said Token Terrors creator John DeCampos. “They were either too expensive or too cheap, so I’m hopeful that Token Terrors will fill a niche for people like me.”

The Battlegrounds game has been diligently playtested by hundreds of people over the last three years at gaming events and conventions such as MAGFest and PAX East and has a rich background of lore and vivid artwork created entirely by de Campos and the Token Terrors Games team. Following a successful Kickstarter launch, there are future plans of a seasonal model that will move on to new factions making older seasons more desirable as collectibles.

Token Terrors: Battlegrounds launches on Kickstarter July 21st for a pledge of $45, and will retail for the same price following a successful campaign. For more information visit where you will find a mailing list signup for regular updates as well as lore backgrounds and additional game information.

About Token Terrors: Battlegrounds

Created by John de Campos and the team at Terrible Games, Token Terrors: Battlegrounds is a 1v1 game that has been in development for more than three years. Enriched by robust lore and artwork created entirely by the Terrible Games team, Token Terrors is built on established gaming practices as well as innovative and exciting new mechanics, while also providing a series of detailed, sturdy miniatures made by Gameland Importing & Exporting Co., Ltd. with countless applications in other tabletop games. Through strategic choices, well-timed attacks and smart use of each Token, players will alternate commanding their forces and attempt to outmaneuver and outwit their opponent until one player destroys all of the other player’s Tokens, reigning victorious.

Number of players: 2

Time Required: 30 – 45 minutes

Recommended Ages: 12+

Token Terrors Website:


Twitter: @TokenTerrors

Instagram: @tokenterrors




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Kickstarters and Good Intentions

Art by Larry Elmore

At the beginning of last year, I was body-snatched and convinced that doing something for the Kickstarter Zine promotion was a good idea by Egg Embry (of this very site among many others). Actually, it was an opportunity to dip my toe into the Roleplaying world that I’ve often thought about over the years. In fact, if you go all the way back to high school, the very first thing I ever submitted to anything was to Dragon Magazine, which was THE Dungeons and Dragons magazine. I read it every month. Anytime my parents happened by a bookstore, I’d search for the latest issue and read and reread them until the covers fell off (literally in some cases).

For those who may not know, Dragon would contain articles about the game. Sometimes this came in the form of how-to-play certain situations that might make an appearance in the game. Other times it was additional weapons or spells that your character might be able to gain access to in your own campaign.

It was in that vein that I decided to make one of my senior independent study class’s goals to write and submit an article to Dragon Magazine.

Now, that class was the biggest blow-off class (I’ll need a whole other post to talk about the goings-on in that class over the course of a year) and a perfect thing for my senior year. But this was something I was passionate about. I spent time crafting my article, which focused on a series of magic spells inspired by one of my characters. Without getting too much in the weeds, I thought the spells had promise and offered a different way to play the game.

Sadly, I received a rejection piece as my response (which I still have upstairs somewhere). And while I wasn’t crushed or anything, I was disappointed. It certainly felt like the ability to get anything potentially published was beyond a longshot.

(Later, after a few years passed, I stumbled upon the file and realized immediately why it had been rejected. There just wasn’t enough meat.)

Which brings me to last year’s Kickstarter: Love’s Labour Liberated. It was a 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons focused Zine around the idea of Chivalry and Enchantment… Love would guide us.

They say that every campaign you run, you should look to learn from. They also say (whoever “they” might be) that it is easier to learn from your failures than your successes. When I ran the Gilded Age Kickstarter, I was definitely learning on the fly. But overall, I was happy with the way the campaign went. The bigger problems came in dealing with the printers and the end of the year holidays. With Liberated, there were a number of things I’ve learned:

Have a clear assignment of roles and duties in regard to the project.

With comics, I’m the writer. I know what it is I’m supposed to be doing. With the Zine, we had 3 writers and once the other 2 had called “dibs” on a couple of things, I was left wondering how best to contribute to the Zine. We all kinda had a “we’ll figure it out as we go along”, but I believe that only caused us to delay things needing to be done.

Have milestones set up for the project even as you are crafting the Kickstarter.

We had our big due date for sending the finished product out (about 5 months), but we didn’t sit down and break down exactly how long we might need for a particular task. This meant that there wasn’t much in the way of check-ins by any of us… which led to the approaching deadline and not nearly enough done on things.

Just because you have time, doesn’t mean you have all the time.

This ties into the above. I think we all thought that 5 months was more than enough time to get everything done. Heck, between the 3 of us, that will be extra time. Maybe we’ll get this thing done early. Yeah, about that.

Communication is key.

Not saying that anyone should look to be late in delivering their projects, but I think Egg has done a decent job of keeping the backers updated. We’ve had a couple of hiccups here and there, but generally the backers get an update every 2 weeks. Sadly, for a long while, most of the updates were “we’re working on it, but we’re behind”.

This is more a personal one, but I think I want to have the Thing completely done before doing my next Kickstarter. There is a stress level that builds the later things go, and I know that with Gilded Age, that part wasn’t as much a concern. The only thing I had left to do was the overall layout and get the book printed. For my next comic Kickstarter, I’m going to basically send to the printers as soon as the thing ends. No delays!

We’re in the process of finishing the Liberated Zine project up. Last week we sent out an artless draft – basically all the meat of the new “stuff”, but not prettied up. This past weekend I mocked up the Zine and would legitimately say we’re 95% done. And I’m very proud of the work we all put into it. I think it will be a good representation of our work.

It just took a bit longer than we would have liked.


John McGuire is the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. The Trade paperback collecting the first 4 issues is finally back from the printers! If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

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 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

Press Release: Light Strikers RPG – A Sci-fi/Fantasy Super Hero Story game with a brand new setting & rules system!

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“It’s fun, positive and truly heroic!”

What is a multi-platform tabletop roleplaying game?

Light Strikers is a multi-platform TTRPG that mashes up fantasy, novels, retro cartoons, anime, jrpgs & superhero comics into an original synthesis. From its inception, it’s designed to exist within a collection of rulebooks, battlebooks, novelettes, comics, anime, and more.

The setting:

In the world of Adamah, you’ll be a Light Striker super hero for the Altasharon Kingdom. Adamah blends sci-fi and fantasy into an awesome anachronistic landscape. Everything epic you’ve ever dreamed of exists here in some form, with a Light Striker twist. Yet there are so many surprises in store that you’d never expect. You’ll find mystical treasures, enchanted areas, transforming robots, mythic beasts, supernatural powers, evil monsters, and wicked villains. This place will be your other home. You will make fond memories as you enjoy your stay, and protect it from harm. The stories that take place vary between heroic battles, drama, politics, romance, whimsical fairytales, horror, intriguing mysteries, and legendary adventures. With your powers and position, your choice always matters. It will affect others and the world around you.

“Get ready to unleash your Spiritus powers and become a Light Striker. Fight to uphold love, equality, peace & beauty!”

About the gameplay:

Utilizing the customizable Clash system, you can start playing right away with a rules-lite version. You can always add more rules and powers, or play with the entire rules set straight away. All that’s required are at least two 6 sided dice for the rules lite version. Add a full set of polyhedral dice for the complete version.

To play:

You simply describe what you want to do, as your character, in Adamah. Talk to other players and characters, ask questions about what is around you. You can act out what your character says, or simply state it. Next, the game referee/narrator (Sage Commander, who controls the game elements, scenes, and plot points) responds to you. They provide more details, and describe how other characters interact and reply to you. They might ask you to roll dice to determine the outcome of your action, and will explain what happens with the results.

The lore and world-building support an endless campaign. Develop your characters and their stories along with the Sage Commander. You’ll enjoy plenty of ways to roleplay. Your hero will interact with a rich world filled with distinct allies, villains, races, factions, and monsters.

The combat is fast and fun. Keep it simple with the rules-lite mechanics. Or, use all the powers, abilities and options for more skirmish and tactical play. You can even set up your game session to be like a traditional dungeon-crawl and boardgame. Explore, fight monsters and enemies, collect treasures and enjoy the thrill of combat. You’ll love playing in the wondrous world of Adamah as a Light Striker!

“This RPG is configurable in multiple ways for adults, kids and teens of all backgrounds.”

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Launching this summer on Kickstarter, you’ll have the opportunity to support & be part of our origins with:

The Academy Pack

This includes the 1st edition core-rulebook, an introductory battlebook, and a novelette immersing you with everything you need to play!

Be prepared to enter the Light Striker Academy in the world of Adamah, and become a true super hero for the Altasharon Kingdom.

For more info, check out Light Strikers on Kickstarter and join the adventure! Clash