Spreading yourself thin creatively and why that can be positive

When I get right down to it and take a good look at myself, I’m an optimist at heart.  I’ve also been going through a burst of creativity these last few months as I’m working on old ideas and new ideas keep popping in to my head. The result is an almost overwhelming flood of projects heading straight towards me.  But honestly, this is a good thing.

Granted I’m looking at all of this from the hobbyist/creator point of view. I’m not getting paid by anyone to do all of this and since they’re all my projects, that means any deadlines I face have been set by me. Sure, I do make some money off of these things but it’s really a trickle – just enough to keep me in new bits of my gaming hobby and support the projects I already have going.

The good thing about being almost overwhelmed by projects is that when I grow tired of working on one thing, I can take a few moments to mentally shift gears, and then I have a whole range of other things to choose from.  There are projects that take a certain amount of sarcastic humor to work on, and others that involve as much number crunching as creative writing.  Funny things, interesting ideas without mechanics, crunchy mechanical bits, writing about other people’s projects.  It’s all good!

I’ve always wanted to write for an RPG publisher, or develop a new board game, or do some creative writing! I’ve just gone about shoving my way into the field on my own, rather than following the older, more traditional path.

I like to keep lots of things going, and actually enjoy managing it all. This is of course happening while I’m not at my day job or spending time with my family, which limits the number of actual hours I can pour into the pot.

Argyle & Crew

Argyle & Crew, the “Sock Puppet RPG” is my latest nearly complete project. I have a kickstarter project going for it (with just 9 days left as of now) to hire professional artists and layout folks.  I’m not confident this will get funded, with just 9 days left and only at 35% completed.  Funded or not, the game will move forward! I’ve really, really enjoyed working on this.  A few months ago I took a break from my other big project to avoid serious burn out and Argyle & Crew was the result of that break. It took me about two months to write and, as far as the game itself is concerned, it’s finished.

A&C is a cooperative storytelling game with RPG-lite rules designed with kids, parents, educators and councilors in mind. Instead of a character sheet, you have your Soppet (SOck puPPET) which represents your character.  Adventures take place in a magical land called Skcos and are limited only by imagination. It’s an important project for me because I’m hoping to bridge the gap between a child’s natural tendency towards free play and the enjoyment of the more structured hobby of role playing games.  I have kids, I enjoy hanging out with kids and I think that they can benefit greatly from using games as a learning tool.

I’ve also learned a lot developing this!  For the first time in years I’m able to put my MEd. to good use. I was able to put together a CC licensed mix-tape soundtrack for the game that’s free to download, and I’ve connected with the Wayne Foundation to donate 25% of any profits made from this to help end the sexual exploitation of kids in the USA.

Just this week I’ve redesigned the cover, gone through and completely changed the layout, added some brilliant new artwork donated by the talented Khairul Hisham (example below) and done a second complete round of editing.


Work continues on the Aruneus project, which did get successfully funded through Kickstarter.  I’ve just published the Herbology of Aruneus, dealing with six magical plants and the extracts that can be made from them.  Up next will be two new character classes.  The first, the Supplicant is directly mostly towards the world of Aruneus itself. The second, the Quantamancer, will be useful in both Aruneus and generic Pathfinder as well.

The Supplicant is done and ready to go. The Quantamancer still needs a lot of crunchy mechanical stuff ironed out with it.  After that class is finished, I’ll be working on the Gods of Aruneus, with several new clerical-type tweaks and powers available.  The first adventure, the Haunted Mine is complete and just in need of some more artwork and formatting. The second adventure is written in outline form (and playtested) but in need of more creative writing, artwork and formatting.

Then will come a complete overhaul of all the Aruneus products, the addition of several new creatures and the compilation of it all into one 100 page+ source book.  Then, Aruneus will be done! At least, as far as the scope of this first project.

The Devil’s Dogs

This is a brand new RPG I’m working on.  It’s going to be a lightweight system based off of the very lightweight rules I’ve already written for Argyle & Crew.  Think modern gritty noir, combined with strong demonic and angelic elements.  You’ll also score points for both very good and very bad one liners.  Right now this system is purely notes, scribbles, thoughts and hastily written emails to myself.  But I’ve gotten a few pages of those together and about a page of fiction written for it.

The mechanics will be based on a d6 system and this will be designed to be a lightweight game, easy to jump into, 10 minutes or less for character creation, with the primary focus of the materials being creatures, adventure ideas and stuff to use in game.

Night of Darkness

It started out as a joke post to Google Plus.  An RPG embracing the most cliches, the best of the worst mechanics, ideas so thoroughly overused that they’re laughable.  And it turned into an honest to god side project.  I think of this as the Spinal Tap of RPGs.  Something made well, but made to be intentionally bad. I’ll probably utilize the same system as Devil’s Dogs, since it’s fast to ramp up, easy to use and great for one shots.

Somewhat surprising to me is how quickly everyone on Google plus jumped all over this!  Lots of people willing to help out, which will be fun! I won’t be devoting the majority of my gaming time to developing this, but I plan on nursing it along.

To me, saying “Night of Darkness” is like saying “Ocean of Wet” – it’s self referential, almost instantly overdone and makes me crack a smile every time.  The tag line for this game will be “When it’s dark, no one can see you scream!”

Kick Ass Swords

Another project that started out with my tongue firmly pushed into my cheek.  Kick Ass Swords started off as the cover you see here. Then people started contributing ideas for swords. That kick ass. So I brought the idea to Reddit and got lots of great feedback and even more ideas for edged weapons that put boot to cheek. I have not spent all that much time on this – other than formalizing the cover and setting the designs for 15 or so swords. I’d like to hit at least 20 swords before I push that old publish button.

This Website

I have a great group of people writing for me here, which is a fantastic help.  But the website still takes time. There’s always back-end updates, writing my portion of the content, getting the word out and supporting my authors and editors.

Featured Reviewer – DriveThruRPG

When I’m not gaming myself, or writing, or working on this site, I spend time reviewing other author’s products.  It’s a fantastic gig with a truly staggering amount of material flowing past me on a daily basis. Anyone who says this hobby is dying, should take a quick look at how much new product appears on sites like DTRPG on any given day. I can really only look at a few things a month, but I do my best to highlight both the coolest new RPG books I find, and also the cheapest indie products featured on the site.

Magical Muddle

I can’t talk much about this one, except to say it is a stand alone board/card game being developed by Aruneus artist Tim Reardon and myself. And it’s going to be freaking awesome.

So yeah. That’s pretty much what I do with every minute of my spare time.  I still occasionally find myself playing a video game on my computer but my tendency when I sit down in the office now is to fire up word or GIMP and get some work done, rather than shoot terrorists or level up my latest online character.


3 thoughts on “Spreading yourself thin creatively and why that can be positive

Add yours

  1. I find myself stopping and looking at all of the creative things I want to do and am currently doing and feeling a little amazed. I love that I have so many things to keep my brain active!


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