Tracy Hickman



Well, today is the final day. In fact, it’s the final 12 hours of Tracy & Laura Hickman’s Sojourner Tales Board Game. The project has been more than funded and now it’s a race to see just how many stretch goals can be checked off. Personally, I want to see the Richard Garriott tie in for the Shroud of the Avatar. Not only would we get the back story for SotA, but three additional stories set in the new world of the Avatar. That would be quite awesome. That goal is a little ways off, but you never know how these things are going to play out. The team for Forsaken Virtues pushed the goal several hundreds thousand dollars in those final few hours. More SotA fans like me might come over just to get some more story content.

But if you haven’t pledged, today is going to be the last day. And this game and technology sounds very interesting. I’m very anxious to see how Tracy and Laura bring this all together. They’ve been writing stories for 30 years and Tracy is no stranger to technology so they definitely have the background on both fronts.

It’s projects like these that make for exciting times and Kickstater is a great vehicle to launch this kind of creativity. Who knows, this might be the next “Monopoly”.

So, who’s on board with me?

Oh, check out this little gem. I guess I didn’t scroll down far enough


Shroud of the Avatar and Sojourner Tales are excited to announce a very special offer to celebrate the final 24 hours of Tracy and Laura Hickman’s Sojourner Tales Kickstarter (and to show how determined we are to get to the $55,00 Stretch goal)! We are going to award each and every Shroud of the Avatar Adventurer* who pledges to Sojourner Tales at the $20 and above level a UNIQUE Sojourner themed in-game item. And, for our Sojourners who have already pledged here, you can qualify for this same offer by pledging your support at Adventurer level or above to Shroud of the Avatar.

*Adventure Teir is $40 for Founders, $45 for Benefactors.

Tracy & Laura Hickman’s Sojourner Tales Board Game

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia


As you’ve already guessed, I’m a big fan of board games. I love games like Risk, Monopoly, Game of Life, Yahtzee and so many others. To me, sitting around the table as you snack and talk is the real social gaming. And, I love books. I don’t get to read as much as I would like, but I love books. I love the worlds they create, the adventures, the mysteries. And I love books you can read on a tablet. The ePub and Mobi formats are fantastic things, especially when you can go back and live those fantastic “Choose Your Own Adventure” books in digital format.

But what would happen if you combined board games with books you can read on a tablet? Is such a thing even possible? What would it look like?

Well, Tracy and Laura Hickman have the same question and it looks like their going to find out. They’ve kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to make a board game that integrates with and loads a story from your tablet.

High tech gadgets and old school gaming? Oh yes, this does indeed sound fun! The concept sounds fascinating of reading stories and collecting board pieces. It sound like a wonderful way to read and game at the same time.

For those that don’t know, the Hickmans are the creators of the DragonLance series (as well as others) and Tracy is writing the back story for Shroud of the Avatar with Richard Garriott. Sounds like Tracy is a busy man these days, but this project sounds absolutely fascinating. The cost of entry is quite reasonable and you get a copy of the game when it’s done. Since Tracy is working with Shroud of the Avatar, I have no doubt he’ll follow in their footsteps and keep people up to date on everything he’s doing, accept feedback at every opportunity he can and keep crafting this game until it’s brilliant. Like SotA, this sounds like a whole lot of fun.

I’m throwing in my support and look forward to getting my copy.

Tracy & Laura Hickman’s Sojourner Tales Board Game

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

The game is full speed ahead to get as much working as possible for the Rooster Teeth demo that’s right around the corner. A lot of work has been done in the UI to make it as minimal yet functional as possible.

Richard showed off the “New Britannia Runic” alphabet.

Scott was able to show off a screenshot of the UI, the players backpack, spell books and bag. Items can be placed in the bag manually so you can arrange them or it will snap to a grid so you can just stuff them in there. Many different types of bags such as the “bag of holding”, potion bags that can hold many, many potions and bags that cold hold more items that the size would suggest. Oddly, there will space allotted for putting the bone chair, dead bodies and other large items into bags.

There is still more work going on with the outdoor world to make sure it looks good and work correctly with the increased size.

Trade between characters will be the traditional process where both players offer up their items and each has to agree to the trade. However, you can throw items on the ground and anyone can pick those up. However you won’t be able to throw items just yet, but the engine is there for future expansion. Interestingly, for each action the Devs are thinking how players will abuse and grief the technology. It’s sort of sad so much time and energy has to go into preventing players from acting like assholes.

Unfortunately the Dev Chat was cut short due to some technical difficulties. But it sounds like some neat stuff is coming and there will be a lot more to see after the Rooster Teeth demo. The main thing is the UI will be quick and clean. There won’t be the usual Orbs of Health and Mana in the corner of the screen. Most of the screen will be clear so you can see what’s coming to try and kill you. I like the clean the look. It should make for an interesting time. There are still lots of details to work out, so I’m sure plenty of this will change as we go along.

Chris and Richard talked about looting bodies and putting things in the inventory. Interesting, it “auto loots” now, but Richard isn’t a fan of that sort of thing. He wants players to pick and choose items and things shouldn’t end up in the inventory without the player putting it there. I guess we’ll have to wait and see who wins that argument. Once thing I did hear many times is that the game will work “both ways”, meaning you can do thing automatically or you can go through the process manually. I’m not sure I’m a fan of that. Seems like a lot of extra effort and redundant work. I guess they’re trying to please everyone, but do they really need to spend cycles like that?

Anyway, even though it was short there was some interesting information and some neat screenshots. I can’t wait for this Rooster Thing to be over so we can see some working demos!




More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but if the schedule holds we should see a Dev Chat today at 3PM. I believe Chris and Richard might show off some game elements or at the very least give more insight on the private Dev Forums, when we can expect to see some prototype game models, how the story is progressing, the new Tiers and maybe, just maybe, some details about a SotA store.

The gang has had some technical glitches as of late, let’s hope they don’t crop up for this one. You can find the link below.

Dev Chat with Richard, Tracy and Chris

I wasn’t able to catch the Dev Hangout live, but I just finished the recording. Lots of really neat information in this one regarding story, game mechanics, upcoming demos, the full length novel from Tracy, housing and even a couple of informal polls put out by Lord British to gauge people’s reactions. I know it’s been said before, but it really does look like the Private Developer Forums will be launching soon and working models of the game should be available in a couple of weeks. It sounds like they have a ton going on and will start to stitch the pieces together soon.

Here are a couple of quick highlights of the chat and some upcoming events.

  • Lord British would like to show off the “Stand Up” meetings where the Devs can tell what they worked on yesterday and what they plan to do today.
  • Backstory is around 100 pages so far
  • Chris is looking at the map to try and find locations they can make prime real estate for players. For example, they want to make areas where they can put castles or small villages.
  • In regards to the backstory they want to get with the high level investors in the game and Incorporate stories from their lives into the game. People who pledged at the Lord of the Manor level will be real characters in the game.
  • The novel will be serialized, perhaps a chapter a week starting in July. It may start as soon as July 18.
  • The serialized novel will be about 60k to 80k words, a full length novel. Should be a hardback collectors edition :). He even alluded to the complete novel being done by the end of the year. Richard was happy with that since he wanted to release some sort of working model of the game before the end of the year. We might get to play Shroud of the Avatar as a Christmas present.
  • Chris and Richard want to demo the game at Rooster Teeth. They plan to have crafting, houses, decorations and some combat available to demo
  • A question was asked about the class schism between the rich and the poor. Tracy explained that some areas will have classes while other areas will be more blended and community oriented. People will be treated differently depending on where you are.
  • Tracy also explained the Avatar may be more welcomed in some areas than others. The Avatar has become the stuff of legend and lore and that isn’t always a good thing.
  • User submitted art should be allowed within 2 weeks. Should have a working model of a house so artists can place their sample artwork on the wall and give it appropriate lighting to see how it looks.
  • NPC Familiarity – Treat NPCs poorly, they will eventually ignore you. NPCs can remember and welcome you.
  • There will be a mythology of the game. That is Tracy’s passion and the part he is working on.
  • There will be familiar creatures from other games, stories, etc. Richard didn’t give away what they would be, but he won’t rename a hobbit to a bobbit just to disguise it.
  • Lord British had a poll for the audience – He wants to get rid of the HP graph bars that we’re all so used to and replace them with damage visuals. The graph allows you to calculate a win and he wants to push that aside. As the monster is hit it will bleed more, it will stumble and limp, it will try to hobble away. Richard wants to make you “feel” your way through the game, not calculate your way through. In the words of Tracy, “It should be a game, not a job.”
  • Quick shot of the map of the world with city names. Freeze frame that and maybe you can see city names of the new world.
  • Chris wants to share some design documents and screenshots of the game. He’d like for people to know what goes into making the game mechanics and considerations for how objects work. For example, how should objects work when stacked? If you don’t pay attention you can make a bridge with them and that’s not what they want.
  • And lest we forget, we got to meet Mojito, Chris’ little Greyhound.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

This is the Dev Hangout I’ve been waiting for! As a player of Ultima II – V, which were all single player games that had to be story driven, I’ve been waiting to hear more about the backstory and the history of the land. The social aspects, the crafting and the house building are neat and I look forward to tinkering around with them, but it’s the history and the lore that interest me the most. I view the other stuff almost like icing on the cake. If the cake isn’t any good, why bother with the icing. That being said, let’s get to what Tracy and Richard had to say.

This is my paraphrasing and interpretation (and conspiracy theory). If I get something wrong or misquote, please forgive me.

Dev Hangout with Tracy Hickman and Richard Garriott 4/30

The story of New Britannia begins with a cataclysmic event. The heavens and the earth are thrown into chaos after a catastrophic event changes the world as we know it. These events take place at the end of the previous games (several hundred years ago) and leave the world in tatters. Knowledge and magic have been lost and at the very least shifted from the normal reality. Many of the old magic users are no more and the teaching and understanding of magic isn’t what it used to be.

Britannia has rebuilt itself through small tribes gaining dominance and offering protection to others. A new order has been established and over time society has once again regained a stable footing in the world. We find this new world rebuilt from the ashes of the old surviving quite nicely.

And then the Avatar arrives. Or more to the point, the Avatars. There are indeed multiple Avatars in the game and they are seen as an invasion. The Avatar is not necessarily a welcome visitor and in the words of Tracy Hickman, “You might not want to tell the citizens where you’re from.” From that, Shroud of the Avatar will take on a slightly darker and “grittier” tone than previous games. If you recall, the Avatar was welcomed as a hero, at least for the short term, but by the end of the quest, the visit may have caused more harm that good. Because of that, the event of cataclysm may actually be related to the Avatar himself. I sense this could lead to bad feelings by the citizenry.

There is a reason there are multiple Avatars in the world and they have a particular destiny, perhaps more than one. But that will have to discovered through exploration.

Richard did confirm that the new land will be called New Britannia, but that may not be the name of the continent you’re on. Brittany will be the largest town and there will be other towns to the northwest that reference Scandinavian rooted names such as Valhold and down to the Southeast we may find cities like Celestus.

While the overall story is multiplayer there are aspects of the story that will be unique to the individual Avatar. Richard and Tracy eluded to the idea of multiple endings of perhaps a “Choose Your Own Adventure” style story where multiple paths can be taken that lead to the same or perhaps different ends and not everyone travels the same path. While that sounds incredibly complicated from a story and coding perspective, it sounds pretty awesome from the gameplay stance. Could we actually play the game multiple times and go on different story arcs each time? Wow, think about that from a replay standpoint. What if you chose not to save the villagers, or you got there too late, or you chose one quest over the other? If the game changes based on those actions you would have quite a branching tree of a story to follow time and time again. I don’t know if that’s what they meant, but I get that impression. My interpretation.

The Avatar is your essence in the New Britannia world. Like the Chronicles or Narnia you’re Avatar is your window to interacting with others. Your age, health and lifespan may not directly correlate to the world you’re in. With that in mind, Richard alluded to the idea of how death would be handled in the game. It hasn’t been definitively defined, but there was a reference to how players would treat you if/when they discover you are from the other world. If the history of the land shows that you died in Britannia, but yet you exist here in the world, what does that mean about death? Does that mean you are actually already dead? Immortal? Cursed or damned? Are you playing as the undead on the road to redemption? Is this some sort of Purgatory? Richard threw out quite a few ideas so I’d really be interested to see how other people interpreted what he said. I had all sorts of interpretations for what he was saying. I even made connections to Paranormal Activity.

Richard and Tracy will be looking for backstory contributions from the Community. They are looking for contributors at the Developer level and higher to add their own personal tales to the lore. For example, there is a Fort Graf that Tracy named. Richard became friends with a jeweler in New York by the name of Graff. Ultimately this jeweler made his wedding rings and other pieces of jewelry. From there, Fort Graf has some the richest gem mines and gold deposits in all the land. There are other pieces he added based on his personal relationships. He is looking for people to help tell the tale of how they got to New Britannia. You are brought by the Lunar Rift, but how did it appear to you? What were you doing? What was you life like before the event? This will be an experience players can bring in to the game that is unique to them.

Richard and Tracy plan to play the game as often as they can. They will interact with players, host events and wander around to “meet and greet”.

The Virtues of the world will be familiar, but how they’re treated might be a little different. Remember, the world has been rebuilt after the cataclysm. Things will have developed differently. Society will have evolved differently. Things definitely won’t be the same as how we left them.

Tracy is looking for ways for people to contribute stories in-game. We’ve heard from Chris that we should be able to write in books and leave those for other players. Tracy is looking to expand this and give players tools for adding their own content that becomes part of the world. Sounds like he is talking far more reaching than books.

Neither of them would go into specifics when it comes to monsters, but there is an explosion-creation myth. It will explain how creatures came into being and how others disappeared. When building creatures they asked what kind of beast it should be and why should it be there? What purpose does it serve in this world? Where did it come from? What it’s ancestry? They didn’t take the creatures or their history lightly. There has to be a reason behind everything they do. Things have to exist or function for a certain reason.

Finally, Tracy is going to begin work on the backstory novel in the very near future. It will be released as a serial novel, meaning he will release chapters online as he finishes them and those at the Developer level and higher will be allowed to read and comment. He is looking for feedback on how to shape the lore and tie all the pieces of the story together. These will be posted over time then published once all the chapters have been offered to the Community. This sounds extremely exciting. We’ll have the chance to watch a novel actually get written and take shape. We may even have a part in molding it. If pieces don’t fit together we can help adjust them. If a side story would help fill in some gaps we could offer that as an idea and perhaps even have the chance to write it. This is going to be a whole lot of fun.

I’m sure there are pieces I’m missing. This is definitely worth watching as Richard and Tracy offer up a ton of information about the new world. We’re given a glimpse into the chaos that has shaped the world and the hesitation they may feel at welcoming these outsiders. The Avatar hasn’t always brought good fortune to Britannia so the return may signal yet more dark times. There will be plenty of opportunities to contribute and the Developer chats and forums will give a direct line of feedback to the team.

Tracy is just itching to give out details about the story, but is just as anxious for people to discover it. I’m really excited about the plot and can’t wait to learn more. As I said, this is the part of the RPG that interests me.

And last but not least, don’t forget that Stephen Daniele will be drawing some more art for us on Thursday at 3PM CST. If I remember correctly he is going to be working with magic, sorcery and perhaps a waterfall.

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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