Steam Highwayman Volume I: Smog and Ambuscade
Steam Highwayman is an adventure gamebook in which the reader explores an alternate 19th century England on a steam motorbike. You can choose to rob the rich, give to the poor, or to pursue and punish evil-doers. Will you side with the Compact for Workers' Equality and work to bring about revolution in England? Will you find a place in high society and become famed for your gallantry and style? Will you find your own path through the smog of the cities and beneath the branches of the quiet woods?
Your adventure is only limited by your success in pursuing your own goals. You have no single quest to complete and there is no fixed 'story', but you will encounter many quests, missions, puzzles and mysteries throughout the book. Your journey through these becomes your 'story' and when it comes to an end, you can begin once more and explore what might have been.
This Kickstarter is to fund the printing of the first gamebook volume, Smog and Ambuscade.
The world of the Steam Highwayman is inspired by classic Steampunk like Keith Roberts' Pavane and Gibson and Stirling's The Difference Engine, while using a modular, open-world format inspired by Morris and Thomson's Fabled Lands series. If you would like to see for yourself, try the demo version or head over to my website.
Steam Highwayman has been great fun to write over the last year and my playtesters and editors have had just as much fun reading it. I'm really pleased to be able to share the same pleasure to my backers - and beyond! You can learn more about the inspiration for Steam Highwayman here.
Steam Highwayman I: Smog and Ambuscade is being illustrated by Ben May, the artist behind the Oxford and Cambridge Pub Crawl posters and the Behind the Mask book and app. So far Ben has completed the cover image and a sample of interior illustrations in black and white - but I'm planning that with your support, I'll be able to pay him to illustrate the book throughout.
The internal style is influenced by classic gamebook illustrators like Russ Nicholson, as well as giving Ben the opportunity to work in his favoured hand-drawn style. We're aiming to produce something atmospheric and eyecatching.
Steam Highwayman I: Smog and Ambuscade will be produced as a printed book. Nothing can beat the excitement and discovery of flipping between pages, coming across shards of story and literally finding your way towards a conclusion. Printed books offer the armchair adventurer many things that an electronic story don't:
- Maps are one page-flip away!
- Simple record-keeping, with pencil and eraser
- Transparency: everything written is open to you, even if you're not 'meant' to be there!
- No battery issues, download times or lack of memory
- Space for notes and marginalia
- Shareability: pass the book on
So find a comfy seat, a pencil and some dice. Pour a glass of something historic and open up an adventure on your lap...
I'm planning to use IngramSpark's print-on-demand service to print the final versions of the book.
- IngramSpark provide good quality printing on small runs
- Printing centres in the UK and US will significantly cheapen distribution costs
- Once the Kickstarter is complete, your friends will be able to order their own copies through Amazon
The book will be around 200 pages long, 8"x10" (203mmx254mm) and paperback, with a glossy colour cover and monochrome interior.
IngramSpark use several printing sites and a worldwide distribution network, so worldwide shipping charges remain low and show little international variation. Time from printing to delivery will vary depending on region but I am planning to have copies in my backers' hands by March 2018 at the latest.
Doubling the funding for Steam Highwayman allows me to commission Ben to complete around 15 further illustrations. This brings the total number of pieces to nearly 40 - ie 1 unique illustration for every 5 pages.
More lovely steampunk artwork for the interior! This brings the total to around than 50 pieces - ie about 1 unique illustration for every 4 pages.
Fill the book with pictures! This brings the total to nearly 60 - ie 1 unique illustration for every 3 pages of story and we've reached the realistic limit for what we can deliver without changing the publication date.
Social Stretch Goals
I'm not simply interested in publishing copies of Steam Highwayman - I want the Steam Highwayman to ride out into the collective imagination and become a part of steampunk lore. That makes me really keen to reach the following Social Stretch Goals to widen awareness of the project.
100 Facebook Page likes to unlock NOW UNLOCKED!
Unlocks Designing the Steam Highwayman- The story of the development of the Steam Highwayman's appearance and design, including draft artworks and design notes. Available for free download right here.
150 Facebook Page likes to unlock - SHARE HERE!
Unlocks Designing the Velosteam - The design process for the second-most important character in the books: the velosteam! Discover how Ben and I worked to refine the look and workings of the steam motorbike. Available for free download.
Other Social Stretch Goals will be posted here as the campaign runs! Planned rewards include:
The World of the Steam Highwayman
- A video tour of some of the locations featured in Steam Highwayman I: Smog and Ambuscade.
- I will upload a video reading some of my favourite parts of Steam Highwayman, detailing the influences and my writing decisions.
Where will my pledge go?
The breakdown of pledge and delivery costs is given below.
Funding beyond the current stretch goals will repay costs in setting up the Kickstarter and allow me to begin work on Steam Highwayman II: Highways and Holloways. I will only take an author's royalty if we fund beyond 400%.
Risks and challenges
Delays in the final editing, printing and distribution of Steam Highwayman may effect the delivery date: I have made maximum estimations of time needed based on other print-on-demand authors' experience.
Pledges cover the minimum cost of the book currently to be printed: the text is complete and in the editing process, while illustrations are still to be finished.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)