In September/October 2017, 186 backers funded the publication of Steam Highwayman I: Smog and Ambuscade: an open-world, solo-roleplaying steampunk adventure gamebook. The campaign engaged backers from around the globe, many new to Kickstarter, gamebooks or Steampunk. The project delivered around 200 copies worldwide, on schedule.
Now the Steam Highwayman is back! Volume II: Highways and Holloways uses passages, codewords and items interlinked with your adventure in Volume I: Smog and Ambuscade to create an adventure that doesn't stop at the end of a book. You can continue your travels, finally finding and freeing Professor Benner, pursuing the mysterious lady of the burnt rose, progressing in your involvement with the Compact for Workers' Equality and spreading the legend of your deeds further among the people. Or you can begin again, starting unique quests based in the wooded Chilterns and the Thames valley, steaming over the roads between Henley, Reading, Wallingford and Oxford.
New gameplay mechanics will create a more interactive landscape, with more opportunities to rob and fight, a more persistent and threatening Constabulary and the opportunity to take to the skies in one of the airships flying from Rotherfield Greys. Will you join with the feared Captain Coke, or deliver him to justice? Will you side with the Coal Board in their machinations against the Telegraph Guild? Will you rise through society to mix with the gentry and beat them at their own games of croquet?
Why should you become a backer?
By pledging towards this Kickstarter Campaign, you will be funding the illustration and publication of Steam Highwayman II: Highways and Holloways, extending the adventure into a new region and supporting the project. The text is already written, but your support will bring the book to life!
- Fund the design of the cover and internal illustrations
- Help choose the passages Ben May will illustrate
- Receive your copy before retailers have access
- Feature in the printed acknowledgements in every copy printed
Steam Highwayman II: Highways and Holloways is 270 pages, 1500 passages and approximately 145,000 words in length. It will be printed in paperback and I hope to make it available online after this Kickstarter is fully complete. It's been written to maximise re-playability and long-play, linking with Volume I: your adventure as the mysterious Steam Highwayman continues, only defined by your decisions. However you won't need Volume I to play Highways and Holloways - it can stand alone. If you'd like to see me getting excited with a proof copy, try here.
The gameplay of Steam Highwayman is powered by the reader's own choices. The book is divided into 1500 passages, linked by options. You will record your choices with tickboxes and codewords, move between passages, note your possessions and money, roll dice, improve your skills, fight enemies and explore the region. As you discover new locations and characters, you will be offered the chance to accept quests, undertake rescues, solve mysteries and more. Linking passages mean that you are free to travel between volumes, meaning that you can still use connections and friendships you have made in Volume I - as long as you are not caught on the road by the Constables! If you're keen to see the style of the gameplay, try this demo version of Volume I.
This map shows the region you can explore in Steam Highwayman II: Highways and Holloways. It is more than 50% larger than the area covered by Volume I. You can read about the inspiration of the Steam Highwayman here.
Ben May will be illustrating the interior with atmospheric and intriguing pen-and-ink illustrations in classic style. Click here to see some of his work for Steam Highwayman I: Smog and Ambuscade.
As a backer, you'll be able to help choose which sections deserve to be illustrated. In the course of the project, I'll be sharing passages that I think would provide an exciting image and asking you to help choose the ones Ben will work on.
If you decide to back the project at the WANTED CRIMINAL reward level then you will receive two copies of the printed book: one standard, like everyone else's, and another featuring a unique first page - a Wanted Poster, on which your likeness will appear. Once the project is funded, you will be asked to supply a profile photograph (in steampunk wear if you wish) and some notes. Ben will be drawing only TEN Steam Highwaymen in these strictly limited posters - so pledge early to be sure of your notoriety!
What happens to my pledge?
Cost breakdown per copy of Steam Highwayman II: Highways and Holloways is as follows:
- Printing costs: £5.31
- Handling / packing: £1.65
- Kickstarter fees: £1.40
- Artist contributions: £6.00
- Other project costs and contingency: £0.64
The printing cost is higher than for Volume I as the book is almost 50% larger. Nonetheless, the basic pledge will remain the same as for the previous campaign.
Breakdown for the WANTED CRIMINAL reward level:
- Printing costs: £11.62 (increased by personal insert)
- Handling / packing: £1.65
- Kickstarter Fees: £8.20
- Artist Contributions: £50.00
- Other project costs and contingency: £28.53
- July: Proofreading and playtesting begun
- August: Illustrations begun
- September: Text finalised
- October: Illustrations finalised
- November: Finalised proof
- December: Shipping of books
- May 2019: Writing begun for Steam Highwayman III: The Reeking Metropolis
I will be posting an update here on Kickstarter every two weeks after the completion of the campaign until all copies are shipped. Longer pieces and development logs will be posted on my website.
Working with the estimated size and weight of the book and current shipping prices, I have tried to offer shipping costs as close as prudently possible to regional costs. Shipping costs are liable to change and so some elasticity is needed here.
Recommendations for Steam Highwayman
'Every time I dip in, I find something brilliant.'
- Dave Morris, Fabled Lands, Heart of Ice, Can You Brexit without Breaking Britain?
'If you like plenty of content in your gamebooks – and therefore abundant gameplay – then this series will certainly deliver.'
- Michael Reilly, Tales of Quahnarren, GameBookNews.com
'If you loved the Fabled Lands books or Steampunk, you need to pick up Steam Highwayman.'
- Jonathan Green, Fighting Fantasy, The Wicked Wizard of Oz, Pax Britannia
'Re-invigorating thegamebook genre.'
- Jon Ingold, Inkle Studios,80 Days, Steven Jackson's Sorcery
'Please do yourself a favor and pick it up. A very well-written and immersive gamebook!' - Victor Matt
If you are desperate to read and play Volume I: Smog and Ambuscade, it can be purchased on Amazon here and you can begin your adventure while waiting for the completion of Volume II. If you're the sort to enjoy delayed gratification, why not choose the BOTH BOOKS pledge and have them arrive together in a lovely block of book, almost 500 pages of adventure?
Thanks for reading about my Steampunk Adventure Gamebook project. If you'd like to have your own copy, please choose a pledge that suits you. If not, please consider whether there's someone you know who would like to hear about the Steam Highwayman.
Don't forget - Who is the Steam Highwayman? YOU are the Steam Highwayman!
Risks and challenges
This project builds on the successful Steam Highwayman I campaign of Sept/Oct 2017 and I've been careful not to overstretch or aim to expand too quickly. I will be using the same printing partner (IngramSpark). Some postage methods have been changed to bring costs down.
Artwork commissioning and completion is the single biggest factor in the final delivery of the book, followed by the editing process. Ample time has been set aside for each of these, but this is where any delay in the project is likely to occur. Of course I'll be posting public updates regularly to let everyone know where we are in the publication process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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