Wayne Robert, author of Dungeon Plumbers and the currently crowdfunding Pan, His Majesty in Yellow (on Indiegogo), was kind enough to take some time out of his writing schedule to answer some questions for this feature.
Question: First, I'm interested in hearing about your Indiegogo campaign for Pan, His Majesty in Yellow. Talk about the book if you will, then about your experience with IGG. Do you feel like you had the reach that you did with Kickstarter? Is it a platform you'd use again?
Answer: Pan, His Majesty in Yellow is a strange lore mashup between J.M. Barrie's earliest Peter Pan stories and the mythos and lore surrounding Robert Chambers' Hastur, the King in Yellow, while also incorporating analogous mythic pastiches from historical mythology and literature that synergize with the themes of such a fusion. At its core, it's a fairy tale cosmic horror sandbox setting that can be added as a demiplane or micro-setting within another campaign, or used in its entirety. While players with characters of any level may enjoy the setting, many of the dangers are more appropriate for higher-level characters, such as those of 7th level and above. Demigods and and eldritch beings and titanic monsters and all that.
This is my first experience with Indiegogo so far, and I'd say it's a mixed experience. They have a much more involved set-up process to launch a campaign than, say Kickstarter, but their interface is not as user friendly (for creator or backer) as Kickstarter. The "flexible funding" option, however, is a stellar idea for projects that can benefit from a tiered level of success (such as this book that requires a minimum funding, but has an ideal target funding for a larger print run). One downside is that Kickstarter is the default platform for crowdfunding tabletop RPGs and board games and therefore has a much larger audience for such projects, whereas Indigogo is geared more toward different audiences, so my visibility and interest generated from typical Indiegogo users is much lower. Had I launched this project on KS, I'd have had better visibility but could only pick one tier of funding. Pan, His Majesty in Yellow will be printed as a result of this Indiegogo campaign, but the size of the print run and the special features of the book (cover finish, ribbon bookmarks, etc.) will depend on the total funding.
Q. Talk about Dungeon Plumbers. It's the product that first made me aware of your work, and I'm curious to hear about the process of designing and writing it. What were your inspirations (both media and systems). If you wanted to recommend a Dungeon Plumbers soundtrack, what would be on it?
A. Dungeon Plumbers was such a fun project, and I plan to circle back to it for a follow-up in the not-too-distant future, also! As a kid, I always associated the NES Mario Bros games with D&D, as Mario and Luigi would battle monsters and collect items and coins in a fantasy world while often traversing underground dungeons, and even defeating a dragon (Bowser/King Koopa). That stuck with me, and about 8 to 10 years ago I started toying with the idea of creating a Mario-inspired skirmish board game, but that never quite materialized. The idea evolved over time, combining with other themes, such as dieselpunk fantasy and modular OSR approaches to RPGs. So, here we are. I decided to launch my first ZineQuest project during the height of the pandemic and see what people thought—and the response was overwhelmingly positive! It was such a fun project to see come to life.
A Dungeon Plumbers soundtrack... hmm! Fun question! I think an odd mix of Irish punk, electroswing, Cowboy Bebop style jazz, some rockabilly, and ambient dungeon music would do the trick. What do you think?
Q. I'd also like to hear a bit more about your Zaratos ZineQuest experience. It was a lot of bite off, doing the multiple zines in multiple formats. What have been some of your favorite parts of the project? What would you do differently?
A. It has been a BIG undertaking, but it's been going smoothly so far. I think in hindsight I probably should have stuck to just Old-School Essentials. The OSR space is what I love most and it's the community I'm most active in, even though I write and design for 5E as well. The interest in the 5E versions was surprisingly low compared to the OSE versions, so while the project funded well, the 5E books have been more work to produce than anticipated (cost per unit, time/cost to convert, etc.). Otherwise, it's been a lot of fun working with such a diverse and talented team of writers and artists to see two very different projects come to life!
Q. Finally, what projects are you currently working on that you'd like to share?
A. Well, WORLDBREAKER and The Dark Tides of Zaratos are taking up 95% of my workload and creative headspace right now. I've done some editing for a few great projects by Diogo Nogueira and Lucas Rolim, and I am looking forward to doing more editing for the rootpunk art skirmish game Turnip28 by Max Fitzgerald. I've also been building some Gaslands cars in my nearly nonexistent free time with my partner, Emily, so we can have some postapocalyptic car battles in the near future... does that count? Ha! Future RPG projects for mid-2023 onward will include a revision and OSE conversion of Memento Mori / Memento Vivere, circling back to Dungeon Plumbers to develop robust procedural solo rules and skirmish rules and scenarios, more Zaratos adventures, and finishing up my O5E supplements (converting 5E-type stuff to OSE in bite-sized chunks to bridge the old-school/new-school gap in themes and options). I'm hopeful that WORLDBREAKER / The Dark Tides of Zaratos will be fully fulfilled by the time ZineQuest rolls around in February, as I have a fun plan for that, but if not I'll save it for the next ZQ.