We've stormed the center ground of the Planet Mercenary RPG Kickstarter, that calm patch in the middle when things slow down a bit. We're pretty close to the next stretch goal, at which point some company pins will be created for our favorite weapons manufacturers, including Strohl and Phubahr.
There may be a couple more as well. We have some other manufacturers whose logos are being locked down.
Jeff Zugale is currently working on the cover art while Alan and I pound on the core content of the book. It's amazing to see how much progress we've made in the last couple of weeks, and equally amazing to see how well some of these pieces are fitting together.
Saturday's pounding involved smashing Photoshop into the Mayhem deck until it spat out another draft for the backs of the cards, shown to the left.
The Mayhem deck informs your role play by adding information to about 25% of your successful die rolls. There are cards like"Let Me Show You How It's Done," in which your action was so successful that nearby grunts or players gain permanent bonuses. These are offset by cards like "That's Coming Out Of Our Pay," in which your success was mitigated by collateral damage of some sort.
Then there are middle-ground sorts of cards like "Somebody Just Earned a Nick-Name," which will have players scrambling to turn recent events into a nick-name for the lucky person who rolled Mayhem this time around.
How exactly these cards play into the story is up to you and the Game Chief. Testing has thus far shown that the general result is laughter, and it happens in-game, driving the session forward rather than derailing it. The Mayhem mechanic worked far better than I hoped, and I credit Alan for turning my hare-brained idea for dice-and-card blend into something so enjoyable.
I'll keep this as spoiler-free as possible. The Daredevil series on Netflix is worth the investment in a Netflix membership. It's richer and more powerful than any cinematic superhero story, and while it is dark, it is not the trendy kind of dark. It's the kind of dark a good storyteller uses so that when we get light, the light is blinding and brilliant.
The story of Daredevil goes well beyond what's actually in those 13 episodes, and I'm not talking about what's coming next season. The very existence of that story, in that format, on Netflix, is the beginning of a much broader narrative about the future of entertainment.
Finished Netflix's Daredevil. If this model for episodic programming survives we are in for a story-driven entertainment renaissance. — Howard Tayler (@howardtayler) April 23, 2015
I'll stand by that statement.
Back in 2013 Kevin Spacey said similar things when he talked about how House of Cards couldn't be the show they wanted it to be without Netflix freeing them from the "shoot a pilot episode" business model of the networks. Here he is, saying those things.
I got chills when I first watched the excerpted version of Spacey's speech back in 2013 (full version is here.) I watched it again last night after finishing Daredevil and I am convinced that Kevin Spacey has correctly prognosticated the future of the entertainment industry. House of Cards (which I don't much like, but that's irrelevant) and Daredevil serve as proof that Netflix can provide a superior business model for episodic storytelling, and that by so doing they'll give us better stories.
We talk about storytelling quite a bit over at Writing Excuses. Brandon, Dan, Mary, and I have recorded well over fifty hours of discussion in bite-sized chunks, and one thing we keep coming back to is the power that can be wielded by storytellers who know what they're doing, and who have the skills and the space in which to do it. Episodic television has gotten much better in the last twenty years, and it will get far, far better once it finally breaks the shackles of legacy network business practices.
That doesn't mean that all the stories will be great ones. It means that the great ones are going to amaze us. I'm really looking forward to this.
It's like this: for the next 25 days I'm going to be burning through whatever social capital I've accumulated in order to drive eyeballs and open wallets at this thing. But I don't want that to be all I talk about. You'll get bored, and I'll get stressed out, and then I'll just get louder and oh! Look! COOKIES!
Long-time reader, first time cookie-sender Blaine sent me this box of shortbread cookies topped with lemon rind, a recipe inspired by the "puckerdoodles" from Force Multiplication.
They were baked by Blaine's partner Lysander of LDOriginals, and I must say he did a solid job with them. I should also confess to sharing them around generously. My family got one half of the batch, and I got the other.
This is just a draft, of course. If you'd like to know more about our design decisions, and see the facing page of this spread, we put that in our development blog. Note, however, that we are not looking for proofreaders. This is not that stage of the project. Not even remotely.