For the record, right now Souljar Games is just me. I've got friends who are willing to help, but this is my endeavor. I say this because I want to dispel any thoughts that somehow I'm a big game company (or even small game company). This is a garage operation. Or it would be if I had a garage. That doesn't mean to say this is some fly-by-night, shaky operation. I've done this dance many times as the line developer at Last Unicorn Games and Decipher. I know how to put together a schedule and a product, and get it out the door. This is the first time I'm doing it for myself....
I want to start a new page for the Cairn RPG. It's a brand new day. So let me start by telling you where things stand with the text.
One of the things that has been bandied about on the Kickstarter page is the idea that I somehow got involved in the process and complicated it. People keep saying they want their "beer & pretzels" game. That's partially my fault, because in an earlier posting there I said I was adding "crunch." Let's be clear. That was marketing-speak because at the time I was working for Castle Nystul and had to put a happy face on things. What I meant to say was "I am adding the game to the game."
I received a number of files in late December. They consisted of a central mechanic, some notes on things like Drives and Traits, and some notes on classes. I think I have the original files I was sent somewhere. I think they consist of some 5,000 words or thereabouts. So your "beer & pretzels" game was "roll 1d12 and beat a target number" and some notes. Go play. How do the stats on your character sheet affect the roll? No idea. How do I improve my rolls through experience. No clue. What stuff do I get from my profession? Uh, hang on...
So I had to take those notes and turn them into a polished product. I put the actual game in the game. That's what I was doing for two months. Actually writing the "beer & pretzels" game.
Which brings me to my next point. I'm not sure what you expected from a "beer & pretzels" game. To me, that says you expected a simple game of killing monsters and taking their stuff. Some kind of "Mouseguard Lite." In fact, I'd love to discuss what your expectations were for Cairn. What did you hope to see from this game? When you saw the art and read the Kickstarter, what did you imagine in your head?
As it stands, much of the game is written as Pathfinder for Animals with simpler mechanics (actually, not that simple. Magic item creation is a mess, for example). Some of it is written as a simple storytelling game. It's a game that's a bit schizophrenic at this stage. So part of what I'm doing is picking a direction and focus for the game (a zeitgeist, if you will), and making it a unified whole. Maybe it should be Pathfinder for Animals. Maybe it should be more. Personally, I'm aiming for something that captures the whimsy of Jeff Laubenstein's artwork. When I read Mike Nystul's short story (I don't recall, did you guys see that?), my heart felt joy. I want a game that instills whimsy and joy, while also giving you guys something to fight for.
Where does the text itself stand? Some of the professions don't work. The central Harmony mechanic can be expanded to other areas of the rules (thus actually making it central). The text needs a "voice." Magic items and monsters need to be completely re-written. The central concept of being Dire needs to be better explained and codified. I have a list of tweaks and changes that have to be made to make this an effective game.
I'm opening up this process and letting you in on my thoughts. I'm inviting you to participate. Showing you what's going on behind the curtain. I want to thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.