Jim Hall (he/him) - Author, Game Designer, Illustrator, Layout - Jim has been publishing RPG adventures since 2021 including “Worldlings: Tales of Tiny Gods”, “Escape the City”, and “Titan Cliffs” which is featured in Knock! Issue 3. His art can be found in the Ennie winning Barkeep on the Borderlands, Secrets of the Golden Throne, and others. He's actually also one of the first subjects of the Meet the Publisher series I started awhile ago. You can catch that interview here.
He'll be Kickstarting Beetle Knight, a game of bugs and their adventures (full disclosure, I've been following his progress on this for the past year or so and am really looking forward to it).
Question: Give us the elevator pitch of your project. Tell us about it in two sentences or less.
Answer: In Beetle Knight, you play as beetles, moths, pill bugs, and other noble Knights designated by the Iridescent Order as wardens of the realm of Litterfall and are thus duty-bound to understand and protect the varied crawling denizens in the deep wilderness societies of the forest floor. The Kickstarter includes everything you need to get started, including the core rules, a setting zine, two adventures, and solo rules.
Q: Is this your first ZineMonth project or have you done it before? If it's your first, talk a bit about what inspired you to give it a shot this year. If you've done it before, what's something you've learned from previous crowdfunding projects that you may be doing differently this time, or, if you're not doing anything differently, talk a bit about your previous projects.
A: I participated in ZineMonth's first year and then ZineQuest later that year, so this is my third go at it.
From my previous projects, I have learned to have the work largely completed when the Kickstarter launches. It makes it easier to talk about, shows some proof that your project has legs, and makes delivering the rewards easier. With Beetle Knight, the core rules are complete which is good because they took 2 years to develop and test. My previous project, Worldlings: Tales of Tiny Gods, was Kickstarted when it was very early in the writing process and took longer than expected to complete.
Another big thing that I've learned is to stay plugged into the community. They can help answer questions, connect you to resources (like free/low-cost artwork, good editors, printing services, etc), and will even share your project with their followers on social media. The ZiMo Discord is a great place to start.
Q: Finally, tell us something about your current project that really excites you but the average backer may not be aware of. Maybe a twist to an old trope, a new way of presenting something, or maybe just something you've never tried before that you're using this as an opportunity to try out.
A: Two big things that excite me about Beetle Knight are the world of Litterfall and putting a brand new system out there.
First, the Kickstarter includes a "Litterfall World Guide" with contributions from Amanda P. and W.F. Smith that is filled with gameable material for Arbiters (Beetle Knight's game masters). It includes things like interesting NPCs, factions, technology and magic, information about society in Litterfall, safe and dangerous locations, species information, past calamities, and other goodies. The core book gives hints about the world but this book really comletes the picture. Combined with the two included adventures and solo rules and we have a pretty great game for you!
Here's a sample story hook to wet your palate, "Deep in the rotting log that is the Millipede’s fortress, a disease spreads like wildfire. No one knows the source. Perhaps they discovered something left by the Termites long ago?" Interested in the NPCs? Here is one you might encounter, "Agaricus the Astral Weaver: Agaricus weaves spells inspired by and connected to the massive mycelial network of the Land. Their link stems from a perpetual necrotic wound received in youth where mushroom spores took root." There is so much there to play with!
Secondly, its super exciting to put out a system that's different from most things out there. Beetle Knight's Contest roll mechanic with promotion and demotion of dice is a unique combination of ideas that I've never seen before. I'm really proud of how the mechanics turned out and how they interact with Species and Special Items to make characters with a wide variety of strenghts and weaknesses. The quickstart rules are available for free on Itch and have been released under creative commons (CC BY-SA). My hope is that others will take the system and build new things with it that I never could have imagined.