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A narrative film inspired by the Salem witch trials.  The screenplay is an adaptation of an actual roleplaying game session.
A narrative film inspired by the Salem witch trials. The screenplay is an adaptation of an actual roleplaying game session.
196 backers pledged $43,730 to help bring this project to life.

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If you’re a fan of roleplaying games, then you’ve undoubtedly experienced one of those magical nights, when every player is on their best game, and when it’s over, you say, “Wow, that would make a great movie.” Well, that’s what we’re doing! Last year we filmed about 30 roleplaying game sessions, and one of those stood out above the rest as a session with a clearly cinematic story. What’s unique and exciting about this project is that the screenplay is an adaptation of a story and characters created through roleplaying.

Don’t play roleplaying games but like dark tales? You’ll love this film, too! It contains bitter family rivalries, unexpected betrayals, a nasty and manipulative villain, lies and deceit, and perhaps a horrifying hanging...or two. For fans of dark works, it’s delicious! Naturally, this project only succeeds if what we create is appealing to someone who doesn’t care at all about games. If you’re a film buff, it’s crucial we create a work you find compelling on its own merits, and we believe we can do just that.

I'm intrigued! Tell me more...

The game that launched the tale was Fiasco, but the game was played in a dramatic fashion instead of a more common comedic way. The players included Ben Robbins, the designer of Microscope, and Seattle-based story gamers Caroline Hobbs, Jerome Vernich, and Pat Kemp. We’ve completed a screenplay adaptation of this gaming session, and we’ve brought together a talented film crew to put this project together.

Caroline Hobbs and Ben Robbins in the Fiasco game session that inspired this film.
Caroline Hobbs and Ben Robbins in the Fiasco game session that inspired this film.

When completed, The Devil Walks in Salem will be a “long short film,” roughly 30 minutes in length. We will film it in Washington State using local cast and crew. So, if you’re local to Seattle and you’d like to actually be in the film, it includes an “angry town mob” scene where Kickstarter backers who select that level of pledging get to yell “hang her!” or “burn the witch!” and join the fun by wearing period costumes!

As another part of this project, we’ll finish a documentary on story gamers, plus we’ll put together footage of the entire Fiasco game session so serious gamers can watch the actual game play out—I know it sure upped my game to watch these talented story gamers in action. We’ll also provide a transcript of the game that inspired the screenplay alongside the shooting script so you can see precisely how the game was adapted to the screenplay. Further, we’ll have bonus interviews with the cast as well as with Ben Robbins, who organized the game, and designer Jason Morningstar, who will share his reaction to how his game, Fiasco, was adapted to an unusually dramatic style.

What is Fiasco?

Fiasco is a roleplaying game designed by Diana Jones Award winner, Jason Morningstar. Traditional roleplaying games tend to focus more on mechanics and the accumulation of power through gold, magic items, and “leveling up.” Fiasco is a game where the emphasis is on story creation. Fiasco also shuns the traditional notion of requiring a game master; the players collaborate with one other to create a wholly original story, and the mechanics are focused around rights of narration.

Fiasco, by Jason Morningstar
Fiasco, by Jason Morningstar

Why Kickstarter?

Using story games to develop a script is a new concept, and community-based funding allows us to explore this idea of merging story games with cinema. So, with your help, we can afford to hire the cast and crew to make this the best film possible.

Come join us in making the dream of creating a movie out of an exciting gaming session a reality. Participate at any level that works for you, and together we’ll make gaming history. Not only will you receive cool rewards for joining our little filmmaking “club,” you’ll know that without you, this film would never have been produced.

While I believe this project will be well-received by the gaming community, I also hope it will help make roleplaying games more accessible to those who are curious about what happens in the basements of gamers around the world. In other words, I hope we provide a showcase for what roleplaying is all about.

Whether you’re a film buff or a gamer, I hope this project inspires you as much as it inspires me.

Vision for the Future

I’ve enthusiastically played roleplaying games since 1978. I merged this passion with my career in 1990 when I founded Wizards of the Coast and authored that company’s first product, The Primal Order, a treatise on mythology in gaming. Then in 1997, we acquired TSR, the publishers of Dungeons & Dragons, and I had the opportunity to publish D&D 3.0, one of the most successful D&D editions of all time. During the last decade, I’ve taken a deep dive into expanding my passion into story games.

Yet one thing that’s always troubled me about roleplaying games is that the experience is ephemeral. Just last night (at the time of this writing), I was dining with some local gamers, and Ryan Macklin described an incredible session he had played recently, which led to us discus how roleplaying experiences can never be adequately shared with others. Wil Wheaton, Zak Smith, and others, including me, have explored this by filming roleplaying sessions, which is great but is greatly limited by the patience of the audience for watching what Jeff Grubb calls, “Twenty minutes of excitement crammed into four hours.”

Perhaps the desire to share memorable roleplaying experiences could be addressed (albeit to a limited extent) through screenplay adaptations? This is the underlying question I want to address with this this film and with future projects.

Risks and challenges

Although I’m relatively new to filmmaking, this isn’t my first film production since graduating from film school. This spring my new filmmaking company successfully produced a trailer and two episodes for Gen Con: Behind the Screen. With the Salem project, we are notching up the complexity by creating a period piece, which I believe is a reasonable incremental step forward.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About $10

    Thank you! Receive a digital "Thank you" card from our production team. And we'll mean it!

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    Pledge US$ 20 or more About $20

    The film. View the results of our effort of love, the film, The Devil Walks in Salem, based on a roleplaying session. With this pledge receive a copy of the film via digital download.

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    Onscreen Credits! Help fund this project and get your name permanently etched in film's closing credits under "Special Thanks."

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    Pledge US$ 40 or more About $40

    You want a DVD of the final film! We'll ship a DVD of The Devil Walks in Salem to you.

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    Pledge US$ 50 or more About $50

    Memorabilia Package (digital). If you like cool keepsakes and awesome photos, this is the package for you! With this pledge you'll receive a digital version of the film, a high resolution (1520 x 2250) movie poster, 6 high-resolution (1600 x 1200) movie photos of cast members on set, a copy of the shooting script, and the official soundtrack (musical score) of The Devil Walks in Salem. (All the rewards at this pledge level are for digitial versions.)

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    Pledge US$ 60 or more About $60

    Film and Documentary Package. This reward includes a DVD of the film and all the video material, including the storygamers documentary, outtakes and bloopers from the making of the film, a complete video of the game session with Ben Robbins that inspired the screenplay, and commentaries by the screenwriter, director, and producer.

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    Pledge US$ 80 or more About $80

    Seattle Premier! Attend the premier in Seattle, preceded and followed by snacks and libations. Meet the cast and crew, while hobnobbing with Seattle filmmakers and game designers. Let's dress up, have drinks, and post pictures on Facebook we'll regret later! This reward also includes a DVD of the film.

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About $100

    Gamer Package (digital). First, let me say, "I love you." Really! The Gamer Package includes digital versions of not only the film but also a documentary on story gamers as well as video of the actual roleplaying session that inspired this film. It also includes a re-skinned version of the Fiasco Salem play set, expanded to show how the players used it in play to help craft their story. Finally, the Gamer Package includes a D&D/Pathfinder-style adventure set in a fantasy version of Salem in which the players have to figure out, "Who is the real witch in Salem?" And as we meet our stretch goals, we will be adding additional value to this package!

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    Pledge US$ 120 or more About $120

    Gen Con Package. This reward is specifically tailored for Gen Con fans. You'll receive a digital version of the film and a 4-day badge for next year's Gen Con Indy (2014). Also, we will invite you to join us for a private screening party of the film at Gen Con!

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    Pledge US$ 200 or more About $200

    Join the angry mob! Do you hate witches? Do you want to see their evil sorcerous ways brought to an end? Join us on set in full costume and makeup as part of Salem's angry mob, hurling venom and insults in the name of all that is good. We'll provide food, costumes, hair styling, and makeup. You need to provide your own travel and accommodations at a location in Washington State (TBD) and be available for a shooting date at our discretion (likely late October or November, 2013). This reward also includes a DVD of the film.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About $500

    Gamer Package---Peter included! This includes everything in the gamer package, plus a roleplaying game session with me (Peter Adkison) in a private setting while I treat you to fine cuisine and beverages. Some RPG's I can GM, but I'll play anything. We can play in Seattle, Las Vegas, NYC, Columbus, or Indianapolis. (Must negotiate times based on availability and travel.) This reward will also include a copy of the DVD.

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    Pledge US$ 3,000 or more About $3,000

    Executive Producer credit. I'll be honored to add your name alongside mine as the proud principal financiers of this film! This reward also includes a DVD of the film.

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    Pledge US$ 5,000 or more About $5,000

    Peter flies to your town!. I will come to game with you and your gaming group, in your home town, with dinner and drinks on me. I can GM or play, depending on your preference. In addition to playing, we'll talk games and, if you like, I'll tell stories and answer any questions you have about gaming industry history (to the best of my ability, of course!). Pledge amount is based on US or Canada. For international destinations must be near a major international airport and add $1000 for Peter-shipping. Must negotiate timing based on availability. This reward will also include a copies of the DVD for you and your gaming group.

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Funding period

- (28 days)