Designs from the Mind – product development part 2

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Welcome back for part 2 of my blog posts on RPG product development, for those who may have missed part 1 and would like to catch up with the conversation so far click here. For everyone who is keen to carry on, here we go…

So we’ve got our idea, done some market research, and worked out who we are looking to target with our product and now in steps the search for format. In my case it wasn’t viable to look at hard copy products at this stage as being an indie author I believe I can get more bang for my indie budget buck by producing electronic products and in this instance a pdf was my preferred option. This not only gave me a realistic product type but a product that will be able to be viewed pretty ubiquitously and across different formats from computers to phones. So a big win there. As a side note my yearn for accessibility was driven by feedback from a survey I took about e-products, the results of which can be found here.

Next was the hurdle of making my game world actually attractive to people to purchase as there are some big issues with this type of product due to a large aversion for change. Realistically my total market will be small in comparison to other segments such as adventures however I see it as also being the most rewarding. So in my mind some of the greatest hurdles come from loss of knowledge, the GM now has to pretty much throw away everything that they knew about their current or previous world and learn mine, players on the other hand don’t have this as much of an issue as part of being a player is discovering the lands and surroundings so if it’s all new then there is more opportunity, scope and excitement. So with much of my work I’ve tried to provide player opportunities associated with societies, classes and areas as well as adventure hooks to help highlight possible ways in which players can interact with aspects of the world or how those aspects and organisations would influence the player’s progress. I think that this is important as it helps to bring about some engagement for GM’s and players alike as they read through my products.

So who is my game world aimed at, essentially people who are just starting up with fantasy role playing or coming from a different genre into fantasy, GM’s tired of their old world and looking for something new to challenge their players with and GM’s who are looking to switch campaigns and looking for a new setting.

With all of these aspects understood and worked out I set to writing and after a metric ton of writing and typing I had a proof of my product, then set about doing three things simultaneously. Firstly was to organise and send my product to three separate editors. As an impoverished indie writer I had to rely upon friends and family as opposed to a professional editor so I had to choose who edited my work very carefully and found a group of people who would look at the work from different angles and who actually knew how to edit properly. Secondly was to organise artwork. For this I decided that I would put all my cash into the cover art for the initial release and use the funds generated from ‘early adopter’ sales to build in artwork throughout it at a later stage, and as a reward for those who did purchase early in the piece I do thank you and when The Blood Soaked Lands is updated I will be sending you a free upgrade for your support. Thirdly was to learn some software that would allow me to design my product, in the end I went with Scribus and am very happy with how it turned out, its relatively easy to use and gave me the functionality such as embedded hyperlinks and display options that suited the look and feel that I was going for.

So several weeks later when all the editing was collated, the cover art and map work done, I put it all together and produced The Bloodsoaked Lands. A piece that I am proud of and a work that I hope you will consider if you are looking at a new world setting or just a new setting to be placed within your current world.

As a sneak preview of my second work I have provided below an excerpt, this is a small section that details the mindset of one of the people within it, a nation of tribes known as Gracia.

“I place the soles of my warm deer skin boot softly upon the ground; their supple hide base makes little noise upon the ground cover.  My shins part the leaves of the ferns that make a green blanket for the forest, covering it a foot and a half above the soil. The air is still damp from the night time rains and all around me I can hear the dripping of water from the leaves as the last of the rain drains from the canopy above to the forest floor.  There is little breeze this morning and my warm breath clouds in the chill air as I exhale. The forest is clear now, the fog of the morning has lifted and it has been cleaned from the previous rain. I have marked my body with woad to signify my intent to others, now it is time to hunt.

Looking to my left I can see my uncle, he is crouched against the trunk of a large tree, his bear skin cloak wrapped around him as he waits patiently, in his hands is a fine bow and although I cannot see it I know that he has an arrow knocked ready to release at a moment’s notice, he is a skilled hunter and in the absence of my father he has taught me all that I know.

I take a few steps forward and like my Uncle I rest my back against a nearby tree and search for my brother.

It is not long before he reveals himself and with a hand motion he signals for us to move. He has spotted our game and now it is time to make a kill and then it will be time to feast.

This is our world and this is my part in it.”