What a week. So much happened. The best way to even start to cover it is in rapid-fire bullets.
- Announced Pugmire.
- A game I contributed to, Hillfolk, won this year’s Diana Jones Award.
- Ken Hite formed “Eddy Webb & Associates” with me, and we interviewed Rich Thomas for the position of Junior Couch Surfer.
- Swapped stories over drinks with fellow Onyx Path freelancers at Matt McFarland’s birthday party.
- Met a potential client for freelance work, who turned out to be a fan.
- Got a migraine on Saturday, but quick timing and a very brief nap solved that.
- Ended up with a fair bit of swag, even though I didn’t buy anything.
- Discovered a company that makes fantasy dog miniatures.
- Picked on some people a lot. More than I should have, perhaps. I need to think about how I express affection.
- Got a Sherlock Holmes card game as a late birthday present, and then played it the next night with David Brookshaw and his friends.
- Lots of early morning conversations with Richard Thomas, covering everything from the business to Pugmire to yoga to very personal topics. And lots of old war stories.
- Made a game out of cardboard at the show and tried to sell it to people.
- Accidentally kicked said game into someone’s face.
- Saw so many of my friends and had more time with them, but still not enough time.
- Met a lot of people excited to work with me on future projects.
- The shrimp cocktail at St. Elmo’s.
- Got Scott Holden’s pants.
- Waited for hours for our pallets.
- Had so many people ask for autographs, ask for pictures, or just shake my hand.
- Heard stories of how my work and my friends’ work has shaped and improved the lives of others.
- Put faces to names and online personas.
- Muted my hearing aids to deal with construction noise.
- Walked dozens of miles throughout the week.
- Met new people.
- Made new friends.
- Remembered why I love this industry.
At Gen Con today, I announced a partnership with Onyx Path Publishing to create and produce the Pugmire tabletop RPG. Pugmire is a fantasy game, where dogs (along with cats and other animals) have inherited the world from Man and try to understand and explore the land they’re a part of. The kingdom of Pugmire follows the Code of Man, and the various dog breeds all work together (and sometimes against each other) to rebuild civilization.
Pugmire will be owned by me, but Onyx Path will work with me on the creation and development of the RPG. We’ve also discussed other expansions of the world, such as fiction. The world will still be owned by me/Pugsteady, and the products will be co-branded as such. We’re hoping to have some kind of Pugmire-related release at Gen Con next year. This is my first step into developing a fully owner-created property, but I’m very excited about the possibilities. I have the utmost faith that Onyx Path will be a great partner in this endeavor.
More information as I work out details and can share them in some intelligent form!
After a surprising number of twists and turns, in the end I will be at Gen Con this year, thanks to Rich Thomas and Onyx Path Publishing. I’ll be around the OPP booth most of the convention, but there are a few other places you can find me during the show:
2p-3p Book Signings (Onyx Path Booth #1103)
2p-3p Book Signings (Onyx Path Booth #1103)
10a-11a What’s Up With the New World of Darkness and Q&A (Grand Central D, Crowne Plaza)
2p-3p Book Signings (Onyx Path Booth #1103)
3p-4p What’s Up With the Trinity Continuum, Exalted, Scion, Scarred Lands & More! (Hay Market A, Crowne Plaza)
4p-5p What’s Up With the Classic World of Darkness and Q&A (Hay Market A, Crowne Plaza)
As many of you know, I was laid off from CCP in April. From April to June, I looked for full-time work, but I did some freelance writing on the side — partly to get at least some money in, and partly to keep my skills sharp. In July, I realized that my freelance work was taking up more and more of my time, so I took some steps to be more organized and serious about it. A few other things fell into place, and I realized that working as a freelance writer and designer could actually be my job. So I did some research, talked to some very smart people, and a couple of weeks ago, I filed to form a company. I am now the owner and sole proprietor of Pugsteady, LLC.
What does this mean? At a high level, not a lot changes. I’ve done work-for-hire for companies for 12 years now, and that’s not likely to change. However, I realize that there will be down times between contracts, and I’d like to start working on my own projects. Having a company that I can attach those projects to gives me and them a little more protection, and gives me access to a few good things (such as easier tax filing and a separate bank account, so I keep my assets distinct).
While “company” sounds exciting and interesting, I’m still working for me, and I’m still making a fraction of what I was beforehand. It’s not likely that I’ll be cranking out new tabletop RPGs or video games anytime soon. Further, I’m also still looking at other opportunities that make sense for my career and my life. But it also means that even if I do work at another company, I still have my company. I can still produce my work, and know that it’s stable. My work won’t get gobbled up by someone else unless they make me an offer that I like. It’s also something I can fall back on if I do leave such a company. And maybe I can make a new tabletop RPG or video game at some point.
So over the next several months and years, you may hear “Pugsteady” from time to time. That’s me, doing what you love, and what I love doing. This site isn’t going away anytime soon. But it is the next logical step in my life now, and I’m excited and terrified and what happens next.
I’m usually pretty biased when I write these peer reviews, but this one I’m really biased on. Rose has been my friend for close to seven years, and I’ve seen this particular project of hers evolve over that time. I not only got a copy to review, but I also saw several early drafts. Plus, I really like the same kinds of pulp fantasy that she does.
But all that aside, The Sugar House: The Adventures of Sasha Witchblood is a wonderful collection. All four stories feature the titular Sasha Witchblood, a “wild woman” adventuring across the lands of a pulp fantasy world that is as much inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales and Russian myth as Robert E. Howard’s Conan. Sasha is a gruff, no-nonsense woman that likes the comforts and riches of civilization, but can’t actually stand the people within it. This tension constantly pulls her into strange and dangerous situations. These four stories reference and connect to each other, but they don’t necessarily comprise a complete story — rather, they read like a travelogue, a collection of tales about Sasha’s life that eludes and mentioned previous stories. It also contains a number of very inclusive characters, which is always a refreshing change in fantasy.
The book is very short (just over 71 pages), but it’s a great read. I hope that this book does well, because I would love to encourage Rose to write more Sasha stories. If you like your fantasy with a high dose of strangeness, I think you’ll really like The Sugar House
A lot of things have fallen into place recently! So much going on!
Three books I’ve worked on have recently released!
Songs of the Sun and Moon is a fiction anthology of the Fera (non-wolf werecreatures) for Werewolf: The Apocalypse. I contributed “A Nuwisha Walks Into A Bar,” which is about a Nuwisha and a Corax trying to uncover a conspiracy. I’ll have a taste of this story next week, but if you can’t wait, you can get it at DriveThruFiction.
Dark Brigade is actually a rewrite and update of the very first book I ever wrote completely by myself. It’s a series book for Cartoon Action Hour, Season 3, detailing a covert paramilitary force dedicated to defeating a terrorist group comprised of vampires, wolfmen, zombies, and other supernatural horrors in the style of 80s action cartoons. It’s available for as much as you want to pay at DriveThruRPG (and I get a portion of the earnings!)
Iron Wolves is another series book for Cartoon Action Hour, Season 3. This one was done as part of the original Kickstarter, and features an intergalactic police force fighting against a collection of space mobsters headed up the nefarious Queen Bee. You can get the PDF at DriveThruRPG.
AndoCon was a lot of fun, and I had a great time gaming and hanging out with people. I also did a version of my LARP theory talk, “Your Game Sucks,” and the fine folks at Altered Confusion filmed it and posted the talk online.
Also, while I was at 221b Con, I sat down with fellow Sherlockian author Stephen Seitz, and we chatted about the original canon and my book Watson Is Not An Idiot. Part 1 and Part 2 of his documentary are on YouTube.
Many creative professionals, like myself, are familiar with the concept of a non-disclosure agreement (or NDA). It’s a legal document that employees and contractors sign with companies to protect their products while they are in development. You see them all the time, and I’ve certainly signed my fair share.
Recently, however, I’ve seen a few companies that are pushing against the need for NDAs on every project they do. The most visible is Evil Hat’s “Disclosure Pledge,” but I’ve seen other creative professionals (usually indies) argue that exposure is more important than protecting information. Which brings up the question “When do you need to ask people to sign an NDA?”
I’m not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc. etc., but I did listen to an IGDA webcast about intellectual property last week, which answered a few interesting points for me. In it, I learned that NDAs are primarily used for one area of IP rights: trade secrets. In the U.S., a trade secret is basically defined as any information which derives independent economic value from not being publicly known.
What does that mean? As an example, let’s say you’re working on a new paper and dice roleplaying game, and you have some new mechanics. If one of your freelancers took that information to another company, would you lose potential sales as a result? Conversely, if your freelancer took that information to the Internet, would you lose sales? Or would you gain sales from buzz and hype?
There isn’t any easy answer to this — each company and individual will draw that line a little differently. People who feel they have sincerely novel material should always consult a lawyer. But at a higher, strategic level, it is worth consideration. It’s possible that your project may be hindered, not protected, by heavy NDA use.