Saturday, August 30, 2014

Interview: The Veranthea Codex Kickstarter

Mike Myler is back! This time I'm interviewing him about the Veranthea Codex Kickstarter, which launches on the 5th of September. I previously interviewed him about the Snow White Kickstarter.

For those who don't know Mike yet, here's a short bio: 
Mike Myler is fox-level crazy and the creator of the Veranthea Codex. With the reckless abandon of youth he leapt into the RPG industry as a full time freelancer last year, and has inexplicably managed to keep his head above water since. To see what Mike is up to on a daily basis, check out (or on twitter @MikeMyler2) or the blog for a constant stream of excellent Pathfinder content. 

After earning several hardcover credits and over four score otherwise with more than two dozen publishers, he found a home for his house setting with Rogue Genius Games. 
Alright, let's get started!

Welcome back, Mike! What have you been up to since our previous interview? 

I’ve been very, very busy!

The AaWBlog won the 2014 Silver ENnie for Best Blog, the Snow White Kickstarter funded with great success, and several other things got moving along (including some great projects for Storm Bunny Studios and 3-Play, but those are under the “Can’t-Talk-About Umbrella”). Living out here in full-time freelance land is a wild ride!

I think I can say that my first fiction gig for a first party publisher has left my hands? Pretty sure that’s as specific as I can get right now, but I have joined the ranks of folks that have bridged out from game design to fiction. :D 

When and how did the Veranthea Codex Kickstarter get started? 

The first Pathfinder game I played was set in Veranthea, but it wasn’t called that then—it had no name until I rolled in there. It was a cycling GM game, and nobody was keeping track of anything; I remember making the first map (which I still have), and not long after that they wanted me run the game instead of switching around.

That’s when definition really began and in fact, several of the NPCs in the world were once PCs! I’m a bit abashed to say so, but Boris was mine at one point (look around and you’ll understand). There were years of gestation as Urethiel and Trectoyri worked themselves out in my mind, accruing more and more fantastic characters, locales, and meshing elements that make up a world like none other! 

This is where the Clockwork Wonders of Brandlehill and the Mysterious Peaks of Baranthar are set, along with every other adventure that PCs enjoy at my tables (unless I’m playtesting something). 

The Codex part developed fairly recently; at GenCon last year (my first year!) I picked up an NPC Codex and now use it constantly. One time when I went to grab it for an NPC I thought, “man, I wish there was an alchemist in here” and it hit me like a brick: that’s a book I want, a book I would pay for. If someone as frugal as me was willing to pay for it (the last time I bought a piece of clothing was before we broke this century’s double digits), that means it’s a product others want, a product that needs to be realized. 

Owen and LJ Stephens over at Rogue Genius Games could not agree more strongly. I assembled my project team in June, we shook on it at PaizoCon in July, and throughout August I got the numbers worked out, the KS page ready, and started spreading the word. 

What can you tell about the Veranthea Codex Kickstarter? 

Oh holy jebus; what can’t I tell you? 

This book is part campaign setting, part Advanced Player’s Guide, and part NPC Codex. There’s three fantastic continents (and two more as stretch goals) that cover the gamut for adventure locales. 

The Kickstarter launches Friday September 5th. 

Grethadnis is a fair land not unlike the ones most of us play in, Western-themed fantasy where guns and technology are starting to emerge as wars erupt all over the continent. The Scarring—a mark on the land left after a battle between the gods—has made wild magic a dangerously common occurrence even outside of Nethys’ Scar. The last of the great jabberwock rulers has been felled by its thousands of orc slaves and in its absence, they have banded together into a massive war tribe wielding dangerous goblin firearms, threatening the half of Grethadnis not being conquered by a mad sorcerer despot in Trianestra! 

Far across the impassable Doryhanna Ocean (or recently traversable, depending on your campaign!) sits Urethiel, land of the enchanted. A divine cataclysm has forever changed all of the inhabitants there, giving some spell resistance, others spell-like abilities, and a scant few either intuitive control of magic, or immunity to it—as well as immortality! Three great dynasties have controlled the continent there and with magic so common, technology has waned, making it, oddly, the most mundane realm of Veranthea. The rule of the human empires has endured for a long time under the survey of the Immortals, but its other denizens are beginning to band together and amass power, presaging a conflict that may upset the delicate balance that has held the traditions of this continent in check for thousands of years. 

Then there’s Trectoyri, where the monstrous folk rule with warty fists from the metropolis of Goblinvania. As the divine fought during The Scarring, the Shadow Gods brought low the rulers of what was once the most bountiful realm. Fate turned against the kind folk, forcing them to flee below to the Forever Dark or north to the free isle of Ominara, entrenching themselves behind the massive cannon-laden Bedim Wall and turning into a socialized realm of conscripting city-states. Espousing science above all else, the monstrous folk have reached unrivaled levels of technology, stripping the continent of resources on the backs of enslaved dwarves, elves, and humans. Their finest goblin engineers have just “perfected” planes that can carry them across the impassable oceans—to lands rich with the ore and fuel that has been nearly depleted from Trectoyri! 

Can you give us an exclusive teaser about the Veranthea Codex? 

There’s the Veranthea Codex tumblr, which is updating every other day until the launch on Friday September 5th, then twice a week throughout the project’s funding period! So many more teasers are on the way! 

Still, a teaser just for here?

There’s a summoner archetype that makes your eidolon into a swarm of eidolons. You may or may not get to make it a really, really big swarm—we’re still working that out. :D 

What are the best things about the Veranthea Codex and what type of players or GMs would you recommend it for? 

The best thing about the Veranthea Codex is that it really is for everybody! 

Want to play a gritty game against impossible odds? You’re a slave on the run in Trectoyri, or headed back to save some of your oppressed fellows from the mainland! 

In it for a traditional fantasy experience? Grethadnis has all the pirates, chivalrous kingdoms, dinosaurs, and unique locales you need! 

Want to be a dragon? Play one on the run from the egg-hunters of Goblinvania! 

Looking for a high fantasy experience with lightning fast kicks and bonebreaking strikes? Be a wandering monk, samurai, or ju-wai shu mage in intriguing Urethiel! 

These are only a scant few of the plethora of exciting possible adventures that await folks that grab up the Veranthea Codex! Check out the tumblr to find more every day until the Kickstarter funding period ends! 

What are the current goals for the Veranthea Codex Kickstarter? What are the biggest challenges? 

Right this second? Waiting on folks to get back to me about the very last stretch goals! There are some very, very big names in the mix right now and I think realistically, my biggest challenge is not going crazy waiting to hear back from them! 

You've got a pretty impressive group of freelancers working on the Kickstarter. What can you tell about them? 

Luis Loza is on Urethiel and is hilarious (his designs are as brilliant as he is funny!), Brian Monster is taking his great sense of adventure to Grethadnis, and Colin Stricklin’s very unique take on gaming is, appropriately, reigning in Trectoyri. They are a fantastic team of writers already meshing together and brainstorming amazing ideas! There are dozens of stretch goals overflowing with talent, including the likes of the inimitable Clinton Boomer and the monstrous Jacob Michaels, but for more details you’ll have to wait for the Kickstarter launch! 

How do you generally find new freelancers to work for you? What is the application process like? 

As an integral part of the team (albeit an odd one) I see many pitches and end up editing what most of those turn into. Luis Loza’s Timeless Fort adventure was just freaking brilliant (and wow, what he has planned after that is incredible). Colin Stricklin’s two pieces (Death & Taxes, and the upcoming For Rent, Lease, or Conquest PDF module) are creative, innovative, and excellent, proving to me that he had the chops to take on my craziest continent. 

Then there’s Brian Monster; he got involved with me on the (ENnie winning! Did I mention that? :D) AaWBlog and has been a dependable, reliable designer that hits his deadlines and does good work—exactly the man I needed for Grethadnis. Michael McCarthy also got into the mix via AdventureAWeek, but I can’t quite remember how. I found out that his formatting and understanding of the rules was top notch, and after meeting him at PaizoCon, was pleased to see a man with the exact disposition and personality I want in my editor. 

I cannot explain how happy I am with how well the team is working together so far. :D 

What are the main requirements for a freelancer to work for you? What other skills and/or experience are useful? 

Don’t walk in empty handed or unprepared. This isn’t to say you need previous credits, just that you should show me something impressive, something really worth looking at, something that you’ve already covered all your bases for.
As for skills; the cleaner your copy, the better. Most importantly though? Deadlines. Hit deadlines and you are my best friend. Doing flash edits is not fun and late copy sets everything else back. 

What advice would you give to aspiring freelancers? 

Never be late. Late A+ content is of less use and value to me than B content that was turned in on time. Work hard, be pliable, be ready to be wrong, be gracious when you aren’t (and when you are), and be on time. 

Is there anything else people should know about the Veranthea Codex Kickstarter? 

Only that it launches on Friday September 5th! The press release drops some more names of the folks involved, and the Veranthea Codex tumblr is updating dozens of times between now and when the funding period ends!!

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