I recently spoke with Michael Pucci, CEO of Eschaton Media and one of the creators of the Chronos system. They are conducting a Kickstarter for Chronos: The Universal LARP System. It is currently at $6,523 of its $7,750 goal, concluding on November 4, 2013.
Michael Tresca (MT): Tell us about your Kickstarter.
Michael Pucci (MP): We are Eschaton Media Inc and we are currently running a Kickstarter for Chronos: The Universal LARP System. We started the Kickstarter on September 30th, and are looking to raise funds for covering our artwork and production expenses for not only the base system release, but also a few game worlds and expansions covered under our stretch goals.
Chronos is a “Universal LARP system”. It is built to allow the GM and players to move between a live-action setting and a tabletop setting without any change in system. The way we did this was to do away with the character sheet, you now construct your character with a deck of cards. We will be releasing skeins, or worlds, that exist inside the Chronos universe as well as theme decks that will allow the GM to build decks and characters to fit into a world of their own making.
The system has been built and we’re working steadily on some fine tuning of how each of the cards works. This Kickstarter will allow us to produce the cards with the art that will really make the cards shine and allow us to put out the books to go with each of the decks. We have a core deck ready to go and four skeins to follow behind it. The better the Kickstarter does, the sooner we’ll be able to put out the other skeins and decks.
MT: Tell us about your gaming background.
MP: Personally, I have been playing RPGs since I was 7. We used to do family game night once a week and Dungeons and Dragons was a regular event. Since then (and I still have at least one of those die, though the crayon I used to color in the numbers is well worn away) gaming has been a constant aspect of my life. Vampire, Changeling, Call of Cthulu, Deadlands, RIFTs, Traveler, Mouse Guard, L5R, Fiasco, MechWarrior, Heroes, FireFly and an endless stream of video games have all occupied many days and nights of my night.
Our company is a conglomeration of writers, game designers, artists, editors, and layout professionals from a myriad of backgrounds. Independent theater LARP, contact safe boffer LARPs, table top RPGs, card gaming, board gaming, and miniature combat there is not a single team member in Eschaton Media that has less than fifteen years of gaming experience. Most of our staff members have been story telling or organizing game events for over two decades.
MT: Tell us about your company.
MP: Beyond our decades of game community experience, our team has worked in the game industry under many different flags over the years as freelancers. Our member have written for White-Wolf, Synistar Creative Systems, SJ Games, Make Believe Games, and Griptonite Games. In house we have produced the Dystopia Rising LARP network, the Dystopia Rising table top RPG series, Tempus Omni, and Project: Paradigm.
MT: Have you Kickstarted any other products in the past?
MP: One of our team members raised funds for a project before, but as a company, we have only supported other projects instead of producing our own.
MT: How has Kickstarter changed or influenced your business model?
MP: Kickstarter changes the production time for companies as well as allows smaller companies to compete to produce larger projects. For us, kickstarter is the means to be able to produce our game materials faster due to crowd source funding. All of the materials we have made for the Chronos series will be released, however, with a successful crowd sourcing we can afford the production and artwork costs over the period of a year instead of a period of three or four years.
MT: Why should backers contribute to your Kickstarter? What sets it apart?
MP: If you have ever been a theater LARPer, and have ever been in a combat that takes you out of character for hours, your muscles should cramp from how fast you react to contribute. Our entire focus for this system is to produce a universal base that any theatrical LARP can use to have FAST conflict resolution while providing materials that allow story tellers and game designers the freedom to produce any LARP world they want. Our system transitions between sit-down narrative play, theatrical LARPing, and open world LARP play with zero effort.
The system is also built to be easily accessible and quick to pick up. If you’ve never played a formal RPG, Chronos will allow you to give a quick and easy system to your games and an excuse to step outside and have an awesome time mock-fighting. If you’ve never done it before, trust me when I say you’ll be hooked.
In addition, every dollar that is being raised from this kickstarter is going towards art and product production. Eschaton Media is an established company, having produced 5 table-top books for the Dystopia Rising line as well as a 2 out of 3 books of a fiction trilogy within the Dystopia world. We have 2 new games and a stand-alone trilogy that will all be released in the next 6 months or so. For a potential backer who is not already familiar with us, there is very little chance (save some supernatural act that erases all the information on all of our computers and the Cloud) of the project not being completed on time and to the quality that we expect in each of our products, once the funding is secured.
MT: How do you feel about the state of the gaming industry today?
MP: I’m excited. For a long time the gaming industry has not advanced on a technological or format level. While great game products have been released over the past decade, many of these games have used the standards set in the 70’s for game design. With the growing popularity of alternative resolution systems, shared story telling mechanics, and worlds outside of the standard science fiction and fantasy flare I see great things for the gaming community over the next ten years.
MT: How hard is it for a game publisher in this economy?
MP: Producing and publishing games is not difficult. Producing and publishing games has actually never been easier. However earning the trust of a player base that has limited funds due to the economy is VERY difficult.
When you produce a game product, you need to find a way to get this product in the hands of your potential fan base. The individual game store doesn’t have the resources to be able to order directly from every single game publication company (in particular if you only have a couple of game lines) so the individual store owner goes to distribution companies. Distribution companies often times are not able to carrying your game materials unless you have already proven yourself as a money maker over the years. So if you haven’t produced materials that players already enjoy, and if you haven’t made a name for yourself, and your games are not able to make their way to mom and pops stores; the chances are that it will take a year or two before people are willing to invest their money in your products.
To combat this you need to relentlessly work conventions from coast to coast, be a part of your community, and focus on internet presence over everything else. This process takes a lot of time investment, some heavy financial investment, and without a doubt will take it’s toll on weary bodies working multiple conventions a month.
MT: What's next for your company?
MP: We are finishing up writing freelance-to-hire materials for the I AM ZOMBIE game line created by Mark Rein-Hagen over at Make Believe Games. After that we have four game lines that we will be releasing for the Chronos system that are our own intellectual properties. ExArcana, Devil Days, New Dorado, and Dreamless are each their own LARP world that we will be producing for the Chronos system.
We have two stand alone games waiting in the wings to be released, as well as a trilogy of fiction.
In addition the 5th and 6th expansion books for the Dystopia Rising series come out next year, as well as the last book in the Dead Heroes trilogy written by Peter Woodworth.
MT: What conventions will you be at next?
MP: The next convention will be MetaTopia in New Jersey. We will be doing some system testing for a couple of potential new game lines. You can also find us at Anonycon in Connecticut in December. We always look forward to GenCon, Origins and DexCon once the year rolls over.
MT: Where can we find out more about your company online?
MP: www.EschatonMedia.Com is our main web page for company information. You can follow the Chronos story at https://www.facebook.com/ChronosLARPSystem . Most importantly the Chronos kickstarter is at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/eschatonmedia/chronos-the-universal-larp-system?ref=live
MT: Anything else you'd like to share?
MP: Thank you for your time. As a company made of gamers looking to improve the tools that the game community has available to it, this has been our passion and focus for many years. With the support of the gaming community we can take this project and make something that has never been seen before.
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