The Digital Lycaeum aims to be a resource for fan game developers, especially those of the Ultima and Shroud of the Avatar series. As such, I feel we have overlooked one development medium: board games!
If you’ve been following the progress of Sixth Circle Gaming‘s work, you have seen how beautifully Ultima VII: The Black Gate is being transitioned to a boardgame. Last week, another board game became the first to feature content for Shroud of the Avatar.
Tracy and Laura Hickman’s new boardgame, Sojourner Tales, was funded on Kickstarter. In the process, it passed its stretch goal to include a trilogy of adventures set in New Britannia, the world of Shroud of the Avatar. Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott will be writing these adventures, setting them in the rich period that leads up to the start of the video game. This period will also be the setting for the Shroud of the Avatar novel, which is currently being penned by Tracy and will be released to backers in stages, before being compiled into a full length book for publication.
Backers of Sojourner Tales will receive a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) version of the game just before Halloween, while the full version of the game is likely several months away.
Playing Sojourner Tales is a unique experience. Not only do you have a physical board, markers, and dice in front of you, but you also download a Sojourner Story Module, which customizes the game you play. Modules will be provided in epub, Mobi or PDF format to support play using an eReader, but can just as easily be printed. As you travel around the board, you lead into story elements drawn from the module, which affects how you complete the game.
Sojourner Story Modules do not just adjust simple text, but can completed redesign portions of the game. One module may be an epic fantasy, such as Shroud of the Avatar, while another might be hard science fiction, or pulp noir. Additional rules can be declared in a story module as well; for instance, a crime drama might have a countdown mechanic where you do not shuffle cards back into decks and once you run out of cards the bomb goes off. Others may adjust the duel mechanic for when players run into one another.
This dynamic game structure not only makes Sojourner Tales highly customizable, but ensures that you never really have the same playthrough experience twice.
Authoring Story Modules
The best thing about Sojourner Tales, however, is that anyone can write a Sojourner Story Module, and lead their friends through their very own adventure! Tracy has released a Sojourner Designer’s Guide that walks potential authors through the process of creating their own adventure.
And if you want to sell your Sojourner Story Module, you can do that too! From the Kickstarter page:
Licensed to Game
Anyone is free to write a Sojourner Story Module (SSM) for their own private use and, for that matter, give it to others for their private use as well. We’ll provide you with all the tools you need to create your own adventure for your next Family Reunion or Special Occasion.
If, however, you want to SELL your SSM to someone else and profit from the exchange … then, yes, you would need a ‘Grass-roots License’ from us.
What is a ‘Grass-roots License’?
Laura and I want to make it as easy as possible for authors and adventure game designers just like you to write Sojourner Story Modules and to be able to profit from your creativity. That’s why we decided to do what we call ‘Grass-roots Licensing’: offer a license to anyone who wants it under terms that would allow them to quickly see a profit from their work.
This benefits all of us: it allows you to sell adventures that you write for the game not only on our website but anywhere else — including Amazon’s KDP, iBooks, Kobo’s self-publishing or on your own website. It allows Laura and I to keep our ownership of the Sojourner Tales intellectual property strong (by establishing a clear path for any authors to create commercial product). And it provides a clearly defined line between ‘fan fiction’ (written for fun and personal use) and licensed products.
‘Grass-roots Licensing’ is an exciting aspect of Sojourner Tales that allows you to be a part of its growth.
Digital Lycaeum Resources
Resources at the Digital Lycaeum that can be helpful for a board game developer would of course include items from our 2D Assets and Textures categories. However, don’t be afraid to stop there! Some eReaders, including the iBooks application for the iPad, will support Video and Audio embedded content! Some even support embedded fonts! These are all supported in PDF documents as well.
If you have content that you would like to share, please get in touch with us! We would be happy to host assets for Sojourner Tales projects, in addition to those for video games.