A blog featuring the game related ramblings and ideas of a role-playing gamer since 1980. My interests include many games and gaming related topics, but my main focus will be on Open Ended Original Edition Old School Fantasy Adventure Sandbox Role Playing Games (OEOEFASRPG™) The Open-Ended Sandbox Exploration of Dungeons, Wilderness and Cities. Occasionally, other topics outside of gaming will be discussed here as well.
Q&A with Jamie Hardy of Perilous Journeys Publishing
I am going to post this now even though I was in the process of brainstorming some more questions for Jamie Hardy of Perilous Journeys Publishing. As I mentioned in my previous post, an upswing in work commitments is currently eating up a lot of my free time. Maybe I can do a continuation of these questions at a later time...
Would you mind giving a quick
introduction about yourself and your company?(Whatever you feel is appropriate in this forum)
name is Jamie Hardy and I am the founder and owner of Perilous Journeys
Publishing.I have always been into
games.My first memories are of board
games, in elementary school I moved into AD&D, and most of high school was
spent playing AD&D.I started to get
into some other RPGs then, but as many people know, getting players to move to
a different rule system after being so used to one system is very
difficult.In college I got into
different groups and LARPS that gave me the opportunity to play with those who
were fans of different systems and genres.
first game I tried to write as a Highlander based RPG in high school.It was very much in the AD&D rule
structure.I don’t remember much about
it, but I am pretty sure it sucked.I am
not sure it really got played either.Many
years later, I now have two RPGs out with SteamCraft
being that newest game.Out first
expansion for SteamCraft, tentatively
titled Shadows Over Newport will be
released soon.We are also working on
some additional products for SteamCraft
and have a new RPG in the works.
With all of the commercial games that are available why did you feel
the need to publish your own?
didn’t think of it that way.With PJ, it
was just putting out the game.I wasn’t
building a company and at best I have broken even with my costs, but certainly
not the time I put into it.SteamCraft was different.
ago, my wife was living in Japan for a while so we skyped.One day I came across this steampunk
stuff.I read up on it and starting
looking at the fashion, its themes, and the people who were getting into
it.So the next time I talked to my
wife, I explained to her this steampunk thing.I told her that since Twilight had killed off the vampire/Gothic thing
that I thought steampunk was going to be the next big thing.I told her that someone should put out a
steampunk RPG because it could be huge.If you could release at the right time, with an easy to use system, you
could have a success once steampunk became more popular like the Gothic/vampire
stuff did in the 1990’s to mid 2000’s.
wife then said that I should do it.She
said that since I had already written an RPG, I had a game system that would
work, there should just need to be the need for a setting – and that wouldn’t
take too long.It wasn’t as easy as it
seemed at the time.I built a new system
to make things work the way I wanted and world building took a long time.
Why steampunk? (Have you always been a fan, etc.)
I grew up watching the old Wild Wild West TV show.I found it awesome at the time.In that regard, I suppose you could say I
have always been a fan of steampunk in some way.Nevertheless, I think cyberpunk has been a
longer direct fascination.I think some
of the most fun I ever had in an RPG was playing Cyberpunk 2020 in high school
a few times.I think after the release
of PJ, I started thinking of other genres and was going to put out a cyberpunk
version of that.Then I came across
steampunk on the internet and that led to SteamCraft
instead.I am sure what grabbed me at
the time was the aesthetics.I think
what keeps my interest is the technology and the type of characters allowed by
that technology.I really like the
frontier and individualistic aspect of the steampunk era where scientist and
inventors are in some sense the heroes.Tolling away in a one room shack, they come up with fantastic inventions
to help the world or more often, to sell for a massive profit.I love the idea of needing or wanting
something and then someone going into a room, grabbing parts, and then building
what is needed.Steampunk allows that
because it harkens to an era where something like that did happen, i.e. Fulton,
Edison, Tesla.It is a much more
romantic, compelling, and interesting view of scientists and engineers than
what is the case in the modern world.
took the aesthetic, technological, and inventor aspects of the steam era and
then mix it with the themes I enjoy from cyberpunk and the result is a really
interesting amalgamation that is my view of steampunk.
I noticed the similarities with Gygax’s Lejendary Adventures and how
you fixed the frustration I and others have had with that game.Was that the motivation for Perilous
answer this, I need to put things into context.I grew up playing 1st edition AD&D and never went on to
play 2E.In the late 1990’s I got onto
the internet and found Gary Gygax’s website.I then went and emailed him and I am sure it was about AD&D.I know at some point I sent him the Bard as a
class and he said some nice things but pointed out because of a settlement he
couldn’t offer an endorsement but suggested I post it up on Dragonsfoot.
at that time Lejendary Adventure was in beta.Gary talked it up, I downloaded it and printed it out.I got onto his mailing list and we ended up
chatting a lot.I very much had an
AD&D outlook on games and talking with him really helped break that
mindset.At some point he decided to let
me write a supplement for the setting Lejendary Earth.The project was much different at that time
than what came about.I started working
on a small portion known as the Djarenn Septarchy with a friend of mine.Anyway, I ended up moving around the time LA
was released and I never finished that project.At that time I think Gary had a lot of people working on various things
and I don’t think any of us delivered any of the products.
down the road I get back into LA and the old Yahoo Group was replaced by a
website.Prior to Gary’s health decline,
I did get involved with a lot of LA potential products.I wrote up some stuff about necromancers and
had an article as well as new spells for the Lejends Magazine ready to be
published just as the magazine was canceled.At another point, I helped a member of the LA community write an
adventure.It was supposed to be
produced by Hekaforge, but because LA pretty much failed it was canceled.Another publisher was going to put it out and
I started to write another adventure as part of the deal, and that company went
under.Meanwhile, I was branching off
into other games and helping people out for free with writing, editing, and
testing things that wouldn’t get published.
the road, Gary died.Gail Gygax, his
wife, pulled all of the contracts she had.A 2E of LA was planed and then scraped.At that time, a small publisher wanted to do a retro-clone of LA and get
it into print.I agreed and I started to
work.Well, I was much more productive
than he was and plowed through it.When
I was maybe 2/3 done, he contacts me to pull the project.
the time I was writing adventures that I thought would be published but new
were, I got married.My wife saw how
much time I spent of gaming boards, doing things for other people, and writing
projects just to have them canceled.At
the time, I got the impression she was a bit pissed I kept wasting my
time.Knowing this, I decided that I
would just do things myself so that I can say at least I got a product
completed and done.
that I was not producing a retro-clone, I was freed up to do things how I
wanted.I suppose my overall goal was to
produce a skill-based RPG that gave you the openness of original D&D to
appeal to those players as well as to the few people who played LA.That required me to produce a skill-based
game around the way people actually played LA.
think that Gary was a very smart man, but I believe that what made AD&D
great were people around him to challenge him and clean up rough ideas and poor
writing.LA lacked that.Thus, you got a confusing mess and no one
came close to playing it like it was written.For example, if you play the game as written, you had to come up with
the character concept.Then select the
abilities you thought appropriate.Then
you consulted with the GM about what exactly each ability did.Then, you both had to agree on what the
numerical rating of the ability meant.That is, do you have a broad knowledge of everything, or specific
knowledge of one thing?There were no
real guidelines or rules on how to handle any of this.How did people actually play?Well, they assumed that whatever the ability
covers a PC can do.Further, you just
roll under the rating and the action succeeds.
order to create the type of fantasy game I wanted, I thought back on those
early conversations with Gary.One of
the notorious things that everyone asked in regards to LA, was what an order
is?Well Gary had imagined that the GM
would create a world and that there would be associations that trained
people.If you recall in AD&D, when
you leveled up you needed training.He
thought this means GM’s created associations for players to belong to and I got
the impression that this was what he had done since D&D.
I then decided to do was to take my interpretation of how Gary played D&D and
put it into the skill-based system.Over
the years I realized that there is a strong interplay between the game setting
and the mechanics and part of LA’s problem was not integrating them.When doing PJ, I realized I had to integrate
the rules with the background assumptions of the setting.
the way, I decided that the sloppiness of the 1970’s style RPG was unacceptable
to the modern gamer.So when creating
the abilities list I made sure that each ability was clearly defined to avoid
overlap.I removed nonsensical abilities
like Luck and replaced it with a mechanic in the game.I made sure that you could do whatever was in
the list of abilities.I made changes to
the attribute system to solve problems people had.
had the LA gamer in mind when I worked on Perilous Journeys.I wanted a game that they would embrace as
well as one that would appeal and make sense to new gamers.I didn’t want a rule system that contradicted
itself.I wanted to make sure that if
there were game world institutions that needed to be incorporated into the
rules that it was done.I wanted to
remove the needless restrictions that Gary was fond of putting to games.I wanted a flexible rules-light system that
allowed the freedom of original D&D, but reduced the hand waiving that GMs
have to do in that game.
Perilous Journeys was your first design and it was made available
through Lulu.What have you learned from
that experience?What would you do
differently looking back?
think everyone starts with Lulu, but few stay there.Lulu makes things very easy for
self-publishing.It breaks everything
down into steps.There aren’t limits to
file sizes.You don’t have to convert
your art from RBG, to CMYK, nor do you have to use PDF x-1/a.They have a great tool for doing covers.You can do full bleed with Lulu.
most people do not know is that Lulu is not a printer.Instead, they send your files to independent
printers.This is why people do not stay
with them.You can use CreateSpace and
save a lot of money and be on Amazon without having to pay Lulu’s fees and
higher costs.DriveThruRPG allows POD
now, and their printer is often cheaper.If your goal is to get your RPG product out there, then Lulu isn’t the
place you want to stay.
am not sure I would have done anything different.My goal at that time was not to have a gaming
company.It was to see an RPG product I
wrote be available and Lulu worked for that.If there was one thing it would have been to do hardcover instead of
perfect bound.Lulu uses different page
sizes for those requiring a different layout.Since people wanted a hardcover, I would have likely done the layout for
hardcover size.Perfect bound would have
still be an option because I can use the layout for the hardcover for the
perfect bound, but not vice versa.
The SteamCraft kickstarter was a success.I believe you exceeded your goal but, most
importantly, fulfilled all backer rewards.It’s refreshing to see a kickstarter that ends in a positive
manner.Can you tell us about the
experience?(Stuff like did you have
SteamCraft completely designed before doing the kickstarter, did you have a
plan in place, etc.)
might be wrong about this, but insofar as I can tell by searching on
Kickstarter, SteamCraft is the only
steampunk rpg that has fulfilled its rewards and to top it off, we pretty much
did it on time.I believe we were able
to do this because of good planning and a bit of luck.The writing, layout, art, etc were all done
and we had the PDF for sale since April of last year.We used POD to make copies and sold them at
was going to conventions that led us to doing a Kickstarter.There is another steampunk rpg that was out
in the area and they had insane success on Kickstarter.I started to think about doing one then.People began to pressure me to just sort of
launch it because somehow I was going to be behind.Instead, I ignored them.I put a plan into place on how to do a
Kickstarter.I also wanted to know exactly
how to do things.So, I got prices for
printing the book.Got an ETA on how
long that would take.I learned how to
get the book into distribution.I then
set a schedule for everything beginning with the Kickstarter.I then totaled how much money was needed to
print the books, fulfill the rewards, and then ship everything.The only thing that we continued to do was
edit the book for a final printing.
actual experience of Kickstarter is nerve wracking and a bit addictive.I found myself constantly checking the totals
and waiting for backers.I was trying to
find new places to get the word out.It
was great to be funded and Kickstarter is an amazing way to get your product
noticed.We have fans all of the world
because of Kickstarter.However, the
experience was very stressful and having to fulfill rewards personally takes a
lot of time.The current plan is to only
do a Kickstarter if we need the money to get a product out.We have a card game and another RPG in the
works, so there may be a Kickstarter for those.
On the flip side of that question – and you choose to be as specific as
you want in your answer – what do you think causes these problems that commonly
pop up for kickstarters trying to get a game published?
assume you mean something along the lines of why successfully funded RPG
projects fail to fulfill their rewards or take a long time to complete.I think that there are many reasons, but I
will pick three general ones that I am aware of.First, is that they do not think about the
business side of things.You need to
know how much it is going to cost to print books.You need to take shipping costs into
account.You need to carefully choose
the all too common stretch rewards.The
costs on those can be substantial.Once
you reach you goal and have the money, you need to avoid the urge to splurge
the money on upgrades you did not budget for.
people take on too many projects.There
are at least a few cases of people once they are funded with one project, go
and start another one.Putting out one
project is lengthy and expensive, when you add two or three, then things are
naturally going to get behind.
the very nature of Kickstarter leads to delays.People are there to get money to do the project and have no
understanding as to how long things take or how much it costs.Many people going into Kickstarter have
little done.Some are still “testing”
things but have it written.However,
they still need art and to do the layout once the testing is complete.Of course, the reason why they are on
Kickstarter is to get the money for the art, and sometimes pay for layout and
editing.If they could pay for those
things, they wouldn’t need to do a Kickstarter.
many cases, you are getting in on the ground floor of a project with someone
who has never produced a product before.It isn’t just the inexperience that causes the problems, but how much
needs to be done prior to release.The
more that needs to be done and the more people that are involved in getting the
project done, the more likely delays are going to happen.Inexperience and worrying about funding
creates unrealistic deadlines.If
someone posted up it would take one year for you to get your book, would you
back it?In many cases I do not think
potential backers are intentionally mislead, but I think there is a
subconscious motivation to be optimistic about deadlines.
think SteamCraft was in a different situation
than many other projects on Kickstarter.We wanted money to do a printing of the book and get it into
stores.Most other people need money
just to get their project completed and produce a few copies for their
backers.We were much farther along in
the process allowing us to meet our goals.
a side note, and I cannot speak to this being a common issue or not, but I
believe that many people vastly overpay for art.Part of it is that people still buy under an
old pricing model.That is they pay by
the size of the art in the book.They
pay $40 for a single quarter page, but then have to pay $150 for the same image
if it takes up a full page.That pricing
model makes no sense for the modern publishing world.You should purchase by the piece, not the
size it is going to be printed.Again,
that comes back to the first problem I mentioned – not thinking like a
business.But, when you are doing
something for the first time you are often going to make mistakes like
this.I was lucky enough to spend time
leaning the RPG market before I decided to be a publisher.
Where do you stand on the retroclones?(Do you use any of them or don’t see the point at all, etc.Tell us how you feel.)
cover so many different types of games with different purposes I don’t want to
lump them all together.I believe that
OSRIC was intended less to be a book for people to use in place of AD&D,
but to provide legal cover for people wanting to put out adventures.That way, the first edition gamer can put out
an adventure and say “For use with OSRIC” instead of AD&D.That makes sense to me.Most people have never played the original
“White Box” D&D.It is not something
you can easily get a hold of.So, having
a retroclone of that makes sense to give people access to that style of
term ‘retroclones’ can also be used for original but sorta clone products.People re imagine D&D, but put it in
space.Or I have seen people try to make
a Second Edition of AD&D the way that Gary intended it.These are interesting products and I have no
problem with that.
that said, I do have some issues.I see
no reason to play a clone if you have access to the original, or if the
original is cheaply available.If you
want to play AD&D, then just go play AD&D.I do not see why people would want to
purchase a clone of that.The books are
easily available and pretty cheap.
What other types of games do you enjoy?
like most types of games, although a lot of the new German board games I don’t
really care for.I suppose I prefer
tactical, simulation, and role-playing games the most.I like games that involve problem solving, planning,
and finding creative solutions.The
medium of the game doesn’t matter.I
enjoy card, board, computer, and PnP RPGs.This ranges from traditional card games and RISK, to computer games like Civilization
and The Secret World.Of course good old-fashioned slaughter your
enemies games are fun, which is why I played Dark Age of Camelot for over 10
years slaughtering Mids and Albs who were invading border keeps in my homeland