Empyrea Q&A

Quest for the lost city of Empyrea in Frank Mentzer's Aquaria Setting.
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Empyrea Q&A

Post by ExTSR » Tue Sep 05, 2017 12:23 am

The dawn is rising, and many questions will be forthcoming.

Here's the place. I'll do my best (some things are Top Secret at this stage, pls remember), and will try to be prompt. :)

F
(my usual jot, a habit from the TSR days, G to F and F to G, and you know who G was. This is Frank Mentzer)

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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by Big Mac » Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:42 pm

First question (which might be top secret): Have you figured out all the possible stretch goals for the Kickstarter yet?
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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by ExTSR » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:12 am

Big Mac wrote:First question (which might be top secret): Have you figured out all the possible stretch goals for the Kickstarter yet?
No, but it's (obviously) a major topic of discussion. All I can say is how we're leaning. :)
Simply, I want to avoid physical stretch goals. They require extra overhead and are prone to delays. Instead, we're thinking about digital products, special perks, access to me directly :oops: and other intangibles, and a 40-year well-documented campaign history with a lot of physical artifacts that could easily become art books full of stuff. ;>

F

(subject to editing after my PR people yell at me ;> )

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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by Big Mac » Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:53 pm

ExTSR wrote:
Big Mac wrote:First question (which might be top secret): Have you figured out all the possible stretch goals for the Kickstarter yet?
No, but it's (obviously) a major topic of discussion. All I can say is how we're leaning. :)
Simply, I want to avoid physical stretch goals. They require extra overhead and are prone to delays. Instead, we're thinking about digital products, special perks, access to me directly :oops: and other intangibles, and a 40-year well-documented campaign history with a lot of physical artifacts that could easily become art books full of stuff. ;>

F

(subject to editing after my PR people yell at me ;> )
I do see a bit of a flaw in the Kickstarter concept. The company (Kickstarter) has created a bit of a "spam-your-buddies" business model, with the expectation that spamming as many people as possible, will get more money into the Kickstarter and create a bigger and bigger physical product, with more pages, colour, extra side-products and on and on. Kickstarter claim, in their small print, that they are a crowd-funding system to help launch ideas (rather than a shop) but they present a storefront that looks very much like a shop, and nobody who spams their buddies ever passes on the legal cautions. (It's always "We just need another $500 USD to unlock this cool thing I want to buy".)

I think that Reaper Miniatures are the kings of Kickstarter spamming (as far as roleplayers are concerned). :lol: When they do their Bones Kickstarters they pull in over a million USD. And the choice for backers is so stupidly complicated, that they have to send you to a website that helps you work out what to buy and not buy, so you can figure out a pledge level. It's almost impossible to miss a Bones Kickstarter, if you have a social media account.

At the other end of the scale, Jeff Dee did a interesting series of mini-Kickstarters, to fund recreation of some of his lost TSR art. He put more art in, as stretch goals, but if he didn't hit the stretch goals, he just came back later with another Kickstarter and another Kickstarter. I saw his Kickstarters get mentioned, at the time, but there wasn't a major spamming campaign to promote them. And fans didn't have a one-off-chance, where they were forced to buy everything in one go. I think the same backers probably supported him over several years and were able to keep up easier.

If backers can get you enough cash to get something put up as a Print on Demand product, I figure that other people can come along in a year or two and "buy into" Empyrea then. So, to me, something like that (something that build's Empyrea content that lasts forever) would help increase the player base over time. I think I'd be more interested in having more Aquaria/Empyrea fans to chat to, than seeing a bunch of collectable stuff that eBay bandits want to grab and put into ziplock bags in boxes. So if you are aiming for something fairly small, that's probably going to be great for me. :)

I've seen a few people run Kickstarters to finance Free RPG Day products. If you do get a lot of people throwing money at you, perhaps you could use some of it to finance the cost of making freebies that GMs can use to pull player's into their games. If you made freebies, they could go on your website later, and you wouldn't need to hold back the main product for them. :)
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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by Havard » Sat Sep 09, 2017 9:07 pm

Will the new Empyrea material reference any previous material that you have the rights to? Like the Eldritch Ent modules?

-Havard

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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by ExTSR » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:22 pm

Havard wrote:Will the new Empyrea material reference any previous material that you have the rights to?
If I have rights thereto, sure. But virtually everything of mine every previously published belongs to the publishers thereof. "All rights" is a common setup. Artists have it different; many of their works need not be unique to a product (brand imagery is one of many exceptions), and limited use with reversion is also common, except when you're actually an Employee.

Noting that, I can say we can approve Eldritch lines as Empryeal licenses, enhancing sales thereof in exchange for a tiny piece. Might involve a touch of repackaging, we'll see. I don't anticipate using Gamer Common (an EE hallmark) in Empyrea products, but again, we'll see.

F

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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by Big Mac » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:12 am

ExTSR wrote:Noting that, I can say we can approve Eldritch lines as Empryeal licenses, enhancing sales thereof in exchange for a tiny piece. Might involve a touch of repackaging, we'll see.
I don't know if Kickstarter rules would allow you to bundle in reprints of Eldritch Ent Empyrea books, as Add-Ons, but if they do, you could offer it as something that people could pay a bit extra for (if they don't already own those adventures) and Eldritch Ent could get paid a chunk when the Kickstarter ends. :)

And if Eldritch Ent was cool with you using their Empyrea products as Add-Ons, it would be unlikely to bloat the time needed for the Kickstarter to be delivered. So there wouldn't be a risk of something like that derailing things. So it could be a win-win for Eldritch Ent, Loxley and also the fans. :D
ExTSR wrote:I don't anticipate using Gamer Common (an EE hallmark) in Empyrea products, but again, we'll see.
If you don't put it in the products, but you get enough cash on the Kickstarter to make Stretch Goals a must, you could perhaps commit to putting up a "Web Enhancement" that provides Gamer Common stats for Eldritch Ent fans who want to use the new book alongside their Eldritch Ent books.

If you do Web Enhancements, they would not need to be delivered at the same time as other stuff.
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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by ExTSR » Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:12 pm

Let's start from scratch.

My name is Frank. A long time ago I worked for TSR and Gary Gygax, and I wrote some things.

Now it's 35 years later, and most tabletop hobby gamers don't know me. Many have never heard of me. There are a lot of great games out there, and it's hard to pick one. Thank you for your time and interest.
.

When I was Gary's Creative Aide, we talked about my Campaign. We decided to publish it, but Gary wanted it very distant, with no active connections to his continent. That's what he wanted so that's what I did. Earlier plans didn't materialize, so the time is now, sadly 9 years after my friend left us.

Empyrea is based on three premises: magic instead of Technology, a sentient but indifferent Planet who knows how everything can be in balance, and royals who place quality of life (for all) above unbalancing mass whims (like war and wealth).

These premises have far-reaching consequences, and I have spent decades extrapolating the results and applying them to an entire continental society. (I have over a thousand chatroom game logs, i.e. my laboratory.)
.

Our story is about Empyrea at its height. It is geographically constrained on all four sides, and Evil wants to spoil the party. But at the moment it's a comfortable Realm, the sort of world in which your current player characters have thrived. They'll find a second home in Empyrea.

We plan to release the core set by next Summer (Kickstarter in October). If it is well-received, we'll offer a whole line of supporting products. We're trying to make Empyrea available for various Fantasy RPG systems, and a science fiction interface for the offplanet setting. These are plans, but only the future will reveal the results.

SPOILERS: Additional sub-plots involve orcs trying to be civilized, dragons deciding not to be adventurer-fodder any longer, an undersea race of giant squid who actually rule the planetary ocean, a Lost World right next door, giants who may have an offplanet heritage, and Immortal beings who might just erase everything and start over. But that's all in the background, and won't affect you... much.

Why will this take 9 months to produce? Because Loxley is assembling fantastic talents from all fields, but few are doing this full-time. You'll soon see 30 names. These tremendously talented people work with many companies. We just have to deal with the logistics.

Thanks again for your interest. More to come soon.

Frank

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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by Havard » Tue Sep 12, 2017 10:15 pm

Incredibly interesting!

I have always been fascinated with the technology aspect of Aquaria and also the idea that this is a sentient planet. That second part reminds me of things from the BECMI sets so I am looking forward to seeing the flavour that I associate with Mentzer Game design. I also like the idea that you are doing a boxed set, which is very appropriate, but I hope it wont turn up the price too much.

Its going to be hard to wait a whole year, but I am sure it will be worth it!

Thank you for doing this Frank! :)

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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by Sturm » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:37 pm

Well if it's Frank Mentzer's I will certainly buy it, you and some other people (Bruce Heard also!) are basically RPG to me.
Also your ideas are wonderful :)

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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by ExTSR » Sun Oct 01, 2017 6:31 pm

The project in a nutshell:

Empyrea is a backdrop. It's a Setting, not an adventure.
Your game is about your characters, using your system.
We offer Empyrea as an option, a second home. Use it occasionally, perhaps as an ‘alternate reality’, or start a whole new story.
We'll make the process easy, and give you starting background options and feed you the information you'll need.

For 40 years a simple formula has applied to the RPG business. You design a game system, you place it in a dedicated Setting.
Now the industry has matured, and this is a new approach. Empyrea is not designed to supplement one game system.
We will publish for "ten game systems". But 8 of them are the same game, really: 3 D&D editions and 5 D&D Licenses (OGL). In every case we sit around tables, play character roles, and slay monsters. The real design challenges are in Savage Worlds and Runequest (my second-ever RPG and the first good skill system). In both cases we’ll work closely with the creators and publishers, Pinnacle and Chaosium, to fine-tune the approach.

In an adventure you can’t separate the system; in fact, the best adventures highlight the best of the system used. In a setting, however, we can and will segregate the ‘crunch’, all the game-specific details, into one System Book in each set. The rest of the contents are the same.
- Pick your system when ordering, and add other system books if you wish.
- Consider getting all 10 System Books (for completists) and the Tube Map add-on to get an unfolded autographed map set for your game room or collection.
- Various feudal titles are available for the Serious collector (using the hierarchy & titles from the 1970s LGTSA and C&C Society of Lake Geneva). You can be an Empyreal Royal for all time, a permanent fixture in the global campaign.

F

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Re: Empyrea Q&A

Post by ExTSR » Mon Oct 02, 2017 7:15 am


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