About this project
I am a veteran designer with over 25 years of experience who is frustrated by not having an excuse to spend more of his time creating new games. This project is the solution and I would love to bring you along for the ride.
For one month for every $1500 raised I will dedicate my life to designing and producing a game a month. Some will be card games, others will be board games and there will probably be a role playing game or two in there somewhere.
Good news! Legendary designer Jeff Dee will be working with me and will be contributing an original design ore two of his own!
All games will be fully playtested. In order to make that happen I will have a regular playtest night here in Austin and elite groups of Beta testers throughout the world.
Each game will be illustrated by a world class artist. I have assembled a team of some of the best in the business. Seriously – these guys are legends. There are samples of their work at the bottom of the page.
I will travel to as many conventions as I can so I can spread the word about the project and hang out with as many of you as possible.
When the project is over I will ask my Backers to help me choose the best of the games to revise, rework and put into production through a Springboard campaign.
I am aware that this project is a form of inspired madness so I will be maintaining a web site that documents the entire experience. I will include a blog, pocasts, and forums for backers and playtesters.
This isn’t just a project – it is a Quest for gaming glory. There is no way to know for sure what will be forged in this explosion of effort but one thing is or sure – by journey’s end there will be a lot of games and we will have done a whole lot of gaming.
What could be better?
Becoming a Backer
Backers will be invited to submit possible topics and to vote on which topics they would like to see me turn into a game. This will be a collaborative process. I will work directly for you (collectively speaking).
Backers will be invited to form local playtest groups. If you want this will allow you to participate directly in the development of the games themselves.
Backers will receive a print and play PDF of one game a month for the duration of the project. Think of it as a game of the month club where you get to help decide which games you get.
So let’s review – by backing this project even at the minimum level you get 6 games in 6 months and you get a print and play game right away. That’s less than $4 a game. All that and you become part of a unique community of gaming enthusiasts whose contributions will shape the entire project. You become my boss.
Where will the money go?
I need to upgrade my desktop publishing capabilities to make this process as efficient as possible so I will need a new computer, printer that can handle card stock, scanner and so forth. My current gear simply isn’t up to the challenge.
Prototyping supplies are shockingly expensive. I expect to spend hundreds just on paper, card stock, printer ink and toner.
Traveling to conventions is a costly enterprise. I will use the funds we gather to help me get where I need to be to bring the games to the gamers.
I want to pay the artists who have agreed to work with me as close to what they are worth as I can manage. The minimum funding goal will work but I am hoping to be able to pay them more. We are talking a lot of games and a lot of images here.
Don’t want to wait until January for your first game? No problem! Instant gratification will be yours! Anyone who becomes a Backer will get access to a print and play game as soon as the minimum funding goal is reached. We will post details on which game we will be offering in the next couple of weeks.
We are offering this lovely shirt at the Standard level and above -
We are also offering copies of EAT! - a full color card game that has actually been produced and printed and comes with some most excellent special dice that were manufactured for us in Germany.
"Welcome to the ultimate showdown of man against food. Pick the dish you want to try to eat from the buffet, roll the special EAT dice and see if you manage to force it down or if you lose your lunch. Be careful not to eat too many different flavors and avoid gross food if you can while you race to victory."
EAT is easy to learn, plays quickly and is an ideal family or party game.
These are the folks who will be illustrating the games -
When still a teenager in the late 1970s, Dee and Jack Herman co-created Villains and Vigilantes, the first complete superhero role-playing game. He went on to illustrate numerous material for the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) including interior artwork for manuals and illustrations and covers for adventure modules for the game. Some of his most recognized work can be found in the manual Deities & Demigods (especially in the Egyptian and Norse pantheons). Along with Erol Otus, Jim Roslof, David S. LaForce, David C. Sutherland III and David A. Trampier, Dee is recognized as one of the first-generation D&D artists, providing artwork as settings for imaginary worlds and adventures.
Jeff has worked in the role playing industry 25 years illustrating giant robots, elves, trolls, spaceships, aliens and various heroic and not so heroic types for books, games and cards. He is working with an author on a couple children's and young adult book series and hope to get them published soon.
"There is a strong probability that, if you took a can opener to Mike Nystul's skull and popped the top, a glistening black arm, covered with glowing red eyes, would reach out of the void and drag you in to be devoured."
From a review of the Whispering Vault in Pyramid magazine
My name is Alex Gray. I love games. I have loved games my entire life. Not computer games. The kind of games you play face to face with other people. I became a professional game designer as soon as I was able and worked in the games industry for more than twenty years. I have had other jobs but I have never been more passionate about anything else and I keep coming back to gaming. For me, it is home.
The Whole Story (for the Curious)
I became a gamer when I was 9 years old. I told the story of how I got into the hobby in Issue 219 of Dragon Magazine. Rather than attempt to tell the story again here, if you are interested I suggest you download the PDF of the issue in question and read the article, which begins on Page 10. You can find an archive HERE.
I played with my family in a campign run by Len "Leomund" Lakofka. He was playtesting the "L" series modules, which were set in the Lendore Isles. It was during this time that we became involved in the testing and development of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. My family suggested several spells, several of which made it into the Player's Handbook - one of which (Nystul's Magic Aura) bore our family name. Eventually, in part because of my continued involvement in the industry, Nystul became a character in the Greyhawk world setting.
I started freelancing for the game industry in my early teens. My first published work was a godawful submission to Dragon for a "Valley Giant" based on the Jolly Green Giant. Yes - from the frozen vegetable ads (if you are curious and a masochist download an archive of Issue 60 HERE).
In the early days I did a lot of work for Hero Games. I was a fan of their game system and ran tournaments and demos at conventions like GenCon. At these conventions I started making connections that led to work for companies like Iron Cown Enterprises, Steve Jackson Games, West End Games and White Wolf.
After years of freelancing I was hired in 1990 by FASA to be their BattleTech Developer. That office was full of amazing, talented people and was the best job I ever had. I still have friends I made during my time there. I was involved in a lot of projects, most notably the Solaris VII boxed set and MechWarrior 2nd Edition.
After FASA I was hired by Mayfair Games to be the RoleAids developer. RoleAids was a line of D&D compatible supplements (which was a relatively rare things before the whole GSL thing). I got to work a bit on the DC Heroes game (which was my brother Bryan's line) but my pride and joy was the Demons line. These products were a bit controversial because at the time there were no demons or devils in Second Edition D&D (they were taken out during the bad press that was leveled against the hobby in the late 80's and early 90's).
I finally got my shot at working full time for TSR Hobbies just before they were bought out by Wizards of the Coast. I had only just started in on some Planescape material when everyone up and moved to Seattle. I did not join them.
I struck out on my own in 1993 to start Pariah Press through which I self published the exceedingly odd (but very well recieved) Whispering Vault. To this day, it is the product for which I am best known. I eventually sold the game to Green Ronin games after which I essentially left the industry to be a full time stay at home dad. I changed my name from Mike Nystul to Alex Gray in 1996 because I was tired of people misspelling Nystul.
Over the years I have done some work for the computer game industry, I have been a teacher and a performer but I have always longed for a return to the industry that had been my passion for most of my adult life.
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