6. Onyx Path Has Big Plans For 2014
Until this con, I did not really understand the strange permutations of what happened with the White Wolf brand since the 1990s. Here is the nutshell version, as I understand it: White Wolf Publishing merged with a MMO (Massively Multi-player Online) company (CCP), presumably because they wanted the Vampire: The Masquerade name for an MMO (as there have been some successful video games in the past). They kept up the core business for a while, but things got a little sporadic, and they moved towards becoming a PDF company. Somewhere along the way Richard Thomas, who goes back ages and ages with the brand, started a company, Onyx Path, that now has the rights from White Wolf and is publishing books. Meanwhile, By Night Studios manages the LARP version. So, it's a little split up these days.
Julie Scott Richard Thomas explains THE FUTURE. Or at least the 2014 release schedule.
In the Onyx Path panel about 2014, they announced the revival of multiple game lines, intending to make a big splash. Clearly they are intending to prove that they can produce as much now as they ever have. For the most part, there are some terrific looking books on the horizon, including more 20th anniversary editions of the original settings. That said, I have been a fan of enough small publishers to know that this sort of thing can crash and burn. Palladium Books intended to re-launch their game lines with a massive super-crossover book series called the Minion war. I just checked their website and the final book is available on pre-order. Fair enough, right? Well, the first book came out in 2006. So it was a seven year re-launch.
I do not think Onyx Path will go down the same road as they have some very experienced developers, and they are not owned by Kevin Sembeida, who has a very mixed reputation. But I am not sure I totally buy in on the schedule. Of course, to be fair, Richard Thomas himself said multiple times in the presentation that every date was a goal and not a promise. So I think they are on my wavelength, at least a little. Anyway, color me cautiously optimistic. Although I am jaded, I am excited to see that the schedule has so much verve in the first place. Bully!
7. The Vendor Room Was Very Small
Like, tiny. The wife and I did find things to buy, but I was surprised to find only a handful of vendors in a space roughly as big as my bedroom. My own purchase is a bit hard to describe, a pendant made of interlocking stones but with a smooth face, made to look like gears. Allegedly, the stones contained helpful spirits. That was not a big factor in my decision, as I purchased it because it matched my outfit, but my thought is that if the magic spirit part has no additional charge it can only be an upside.
The vendor took my politely nodding at his descriptions as some sort of affirmation of something, and I ended up being given a free psychic reading. That was mostly interesting. I was told by the spirits, via the psychic, to eat more pro-biotic yogurts and to be careful of my digestion, which I think means that the spirits were calling me fat. Which probably explains why they are invisible, as otherwise insulting people would end in a pummeling. They also told me to pick up crystals to keep negativity away, which honestly I would probably try if you handed me one, but gave me no tips on how to get any. Fortunately, sugar is a crystal and I get plenty of that.
Julie Scott Inhabited by spirits overly concerned about my digestive system? I'll let you decide.
Anyway, it was an interesting experience, and the whole thing threw me off enough that I ended up not getting any pictures of the walk-in closet / vendor room. In another LARP / table topper divide, most items were costume oriented despite the fact that The War House, a venerable old gaming store who brings a booth to the LA cons every time, is literally about 10 minutes from the Queen Mary. (I stopped there on the way in one day.) Although, when I think about it, since Onyx Path is going POD / PDF and Drive Thru RPG exclusive content, maybe they just want you to get the books online now.
8. Yes, There Will Be More Kickstarters!
Now, I'm not sure about the rest of you, my hopefully vast and sexy audience, but I have been spending some time on Kickstarter as of late. In fact, this year I have sunk a figure measured in the triple digits into the darn things. Kickstarters can be super fun, like the Fairytale Games Kickstarter, wherein I get more minis the more random people in the iInternet add into the pot! Every day I check it and see what new ones have now been created. It is super fun.
Thing is, though, it should be fun. Why? Because the damn things will not darken my doorstep for at least another year. Of the things I have spent my triple digits on, so far I have one partial delivery with the rest still pending. I think Kickstarter projects make sense for Onyx Path, since they are getting towards POD, which does not necessarily work with the big and deluxe releases. But I also think people need to be very clear that, as Richard Thomas said in the panel, the Kickstarter is entirely separate from the main book release. As in, a fun extra, not a pre-order. These are the cool editions to sit on your shelf and look pretty. (Want to see the Kickstarter schedule? Click here.)
I learned this the hard way with the Mummy Kickstarter. I ordered a deluxe edition with the thought I would get it early. Instead, the POD version was posted ages ago, and my benefit will be just having a really beautiful version of the book. I would have been better off with a small pledge and buying the book as soon as the regular version was available. No one misled me or anything, but I think sometimes the lines can blur for Kickstarters everywhere and people need to know what they are getting into.
All of that aside, I was shocked when I met the company owner for the first time and realized he was also directly involved with the Kickstarters. Richard Thomas was super nice and seems genuinely interested in connecting with the fans. I felt a bit abashed about a grouchy comment I left on the Mummy Kickstarter about book delays. Sort of like if you called the complaint line for McDonald's and Ronald answered personally. Then you felt bad because he was your friend with big red shoes. Or some other example that makes more sense.
9. The Wrecking Crew
In a series of events that is complicated and dorky, I am an organizer for a World of Darkness fan/gaming group (the Dead Gamers Society) in Southern California (home of the Queen Mary). But Onyx Path already has their own go to demo group named the Wrecking Crew. The do cool things like demos at Gen Con. At first the Wrecking Crew was announced as the people hosting all the games. The leader of our club said he was going to talk to the convention and ask for game slots. Time went by, my attention span failed me. We got game slots and showed up to run. Was the Wrecking Crew going to look down on us as provincials? Would we all get territorial and have dance offs? No! They were cool guys and ran some great games and played some of ours. We all plan to see each other at the next con and there was much Facebook friending. The end.
Also, they have a cool logo.
10. Demon: The Descent Demo
How metal is this cover?
I played this. It was awesome. You should probably download the quick start guide. It is a free download, or if you are like me and like to read these things in your "contemplation room," the hard copy is $5. I think you probably have to do that to make any sense of it. But I will try. Ahem. Basically, the god of World of Darkness these days is a gigantic super machine called the God Machine (as discussed in our previous article). It acts in ways that are not understandable by mortals and generally mucks around with things. It has bio-mechanical servants that are, logically, called angels, but unlike the halo-wearers we are used to they have a strange robotic edge to them. Since the God Machine is not necessarily good or even all that interested in humans, demons aren't evil, but they do escape the will of the God Machine to do their own stuff like classic demons. Then it gets weird since they are mechanical, but pretending to be human and hiding from the God Machine. Sort of Paradise Lost meets the The Matrix, with just a bit of a mecha battle flavor when demons throw down and go full form on each other. Loved it, and it is so far the only World of Darkness book I know of with plasma drives, which make everything better. Except maybe zombies because they'd be too goddamn fast, and the humans would have no hope. But then again, at least they would be scary.
Previously by David N. Scott: