My comments on the HeroScape fansites are soon noticed by Craig Van Ness and his buddy Rob Daviau - the designers of HeroScape. I am invited to become a playtester for expansions, and start providing edited wording for unreleased characters.
Being I was a copy editor in the past and alpha tested some thing called EverQuest, they were happy to take my comments in hand, along with those of other playtest groups.
I had to sign an NDA, and I respect that still to not reveal more about secret moonlit meeting places and arcane formulas to compute character values.
NOT a dungeon crawl - but it takes place with orcs and knights in a dungeon. No levelling, no treasure, no equipment, no exploring. This is fatal and that's it. Go in and beat the snot out of each other.
Badly translated from French, the rulebook is a horror. "Figth Values" instead of "Fight Value". The rules include such mental convolutions as characters having a momentum so that if they turn when running, they probably fall, although you can attempt to nock a bow and fire while doing so.
It DOES, however, have the really cool terrain and a massively cool and misunderstood dice system. A TON of dice, but you only ever roll two. Modifiers modify the dice, not the die roll. This eliminates tons of calculations and makes for hyper fast fighting. If you can figure out the movement rules.
I wrestle with the rules and write a session report.
That's me on the right at the Adiken offices. My son Spencer is the little dude. Alain Henner at the head of the table. Just left of him, Arnaud Borne. Far left, Pete somethingIdon'trecallrightnow, the art director.
Adiken was founded by Alain using a grant from his father, who was a very prominent manufacturer of helicopters in Europe.
With over a million dollars in capital, rather than find a place to cast miniatures, he bought the machines to do it all. The plastic injection stuff, the pewter cast equipment, the CAD systems to run it. In the long run, this would save fortunes.
The first trip up, Spencer cast the very first Malgaroth figure. This meant a lot to him. He knew the story I had written (it was the first) and he thought the guy was coolly evil. I detail his casting process at http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/67442
Oh, if you're interested in the stories, there's a few dozen at www.adiken.com, just click around the miniatures and many have plotlines.
The idea was massive. A series of scenarios, all interconnected in a tremendous which way book. Some choices would be based on the player decisions, some would be on the results of a given scenario. A massive scenario tree was designed, stories crafted, characters fleshed out.
And we're not talking a little work. This is a novella. 120 pages of fiction, all tightly tied into these wild scenario ideas I develop. I give them all of the stories and pertinent guidelines, they playtest the scenarios.
Nin-Gonost was purely combat based. I am adding a whole new strategic plotline level to it.
In the end, very few characters will survive. This will lead to another series of characters and new campaign book each year.
What new characters do I want? Whatever I want, they will design. Yes, that IS my wife. At about 75% completion of the book, they are so floored by the work I have done that they give me complete creative control of the project. Whatever I want, I get.
Stories I write get painted into beautiful paintings by famous D&D artist Jeff Easley. I swear I am brought to tears.
I get to define what Nin-Gonost really means. It was mentioned in passing as meaning "Fortress Of Tears" in antique elvish. I create the complete definition. Nin-Gonost is a fortress built around a fountain. Elves cannot cry. They traded it for their extended lifespan. That fountain runs with every unshed tear an elf never cried. Hence the Fortress Of Tears.
I mention some of the rules in the base set need tweaking.
"OK - rewrite them. Its yours. After the Campaign Set."
By the way, I do marketing for my living. $150 for a game? No. It will not sell.
Now that I have seen the factory, I work out with Alain a new introductory set. I plan down to the half penny what needs to be included to get people to play this game and entice them to buy more.
The basic rules become Dungeon Clash, which is my re-interpretation of the basic rules and redesigning of several of their castings to be made cheaply.
No magnetic map, though. Not for $39.95.
I am not happy with the final product. The rules I worked on were edited and layed out poorly, and things like turn sequence are left off. The map, while beautiful, is basically a full color tiny poster. Agreed, we want people to buy into the system, but it is not really what I wanted.
I had created a way better game than had made it to market.
Oh well, so goes the publishing business.
HOWEVER - this new $40 miniatures game sells HUNDREDS of copies in the FIRST WEEKEND of release.
Alain puts me incharge of marketing. As part of that, I insist they have more games. My games. Tai Chi is to be the first, as it is fairly cheap to produce.
I am flown to DragonCon in Atlanta, and have crowds at our booth. Dungeon Clash is selling like crazy, the boxed set flies off the shelves. Tai Chi is demoed and we accept preorders. I play the new Campaign Rules for hours and hours each day and people gladly fork over $150 for the box, plus maybe $100 more for minis. The Con organizers are stunned at the amount of people showing up at our Dungeon Clash tournament. The game plays in under 30 minutes, so the turnover is huge. It was basically Dungeon Clash with extra dice for each player and a magnetic board for prettiness (Of course the dice and board would add $50 to your purchase price, but at a con, the money flows freely). 16 tables running.
My latest trip to the Canadian office reveals that, sure, I met MY deadline for the Campaign Set.
No one else did except Jeff Easley.
The scenarios are not tested. Some still going massive rebalance issues. The miniatures not crafted. Cards not designed.
And, due to a corporate merger, my dayjob is deemed redundant - I am fired from my career.
I call Alain in a panic. I am made the US distributor for all things Adiken. This was planned for the future, but is rushed into high HIGH gear. My garage gets loaded with literal tons of pewter miniatures and I spend my days calling retailers for reorders.
Adiken becomes my full time job between writing/designing, marketing and orders/shipping.
I assemble about 25 people nationwide into the demo team. The game needs to be played to be bought - otherwise it sits on shelves.
I insist to Adiken that the rules will STILL not carry this game, they need to be redone. Torn apart and redone. There are rules problems, readability issues and more. Considering reactions at DragonCon, they agree. I am to redesign Nin-Gonost. The only restriction is that I use the existing components.
Well, I almost do. I throw out the magic system and revise it completely. I redesign every skill, much of the basic rules, and the flow of play.
This is Nin-Gonost: The Core Rules. From 128 pages to 32 color ones.
Read and enjoy. There's a damn good tactical game very few people have ever played in here.
I no longer answer the phone as "Paul at Adiken". I have a new day job (less than 4 miles from home!).
And Adiken is exploring options for mergers and partnerships with several very large mass market companies. I am included in that deal, if I agree to be and if it becomes reality.
Here's the info from the last Adiken catalog at this time:
Nin-Gonost rules rewrite: Available only as download
Campaign Set: I've been done for months. A complete intricate novella that I spent a sleepless month creating. The physical components have not yet been created. I don't know the status of the actual scenarios.
Tai Chi: Man, if you have a copy of the initial few, hold onto it until for some reason its worth a fortune.
Spyyr: About 50 people played this 3D abstract strategy game at DragonCon. Although it was met with great enthusiasm, without that factory under my control, I cannot manufacture it.
Quest For The Nose: Maybe 20 played this. Its a funny little fantasy card game, but I don't know if I'll ever bother taking it further.
Barony: Picture a Civ game played with no board, only books. The prototype played was unillustrated. Not sure of the future of it.
Journey Of The ArcLight Transit: Sci-fi Nin-Gonost. This exists only on my laptop at this time.
If any merger occurs, these things may see light of day. I truly don't know.
It would certainly be nice to get paid for this stuff...