IDW Serves Up Revenge… Dracula’s Revenge!

Van Helsing and Dracula Clash Again on a Bloody Trail of Mystery

San Diego, CA, January 30, 2004. Get ready for the appearance of some of the most well-known and feared characters of horror in IDW Publishing’s April release Dracula’s Revenge.

Someone is savagely butchering the prostitutes of Whitechapel. Sounds hauntingly familiar doesn’t it? Except it’s been a decade since Jack The Ripper used these streets as a killing ground, and Jack never drank his victim’s blood. Factor in that Dracula has been “dead” for eleven years—so why has Abraham Van Helsing been summoned to London?
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A .5-Baked Theory

I talk to lots of people in the adventure game industry. We chat about all sorts of things, but the conversation often turns to questions like, “How’s it going?” In this case, “it” usually means “sales.” The answer I hear most lately is, “Not so good.”

This is particularly true of d20 publishers, which most major RPG companies (with a few notable exceptions) are these days. The question then becomes, “Why?”

There are lots of theories. Some people figure this is the long-predicted shakedown from the “glut” of d20 product on the market. The market only needs so many different books on elves, the notion goes. Eventually, people stop buying them.

While that could be it, I think there’s a simpler (numeric, even) answer to why sales seemed to fall off the edge of a cliff this summer: 3.5.
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Plugging Along

Work is going well this week. I just turned in a revision of my outline for the first novel in my Eberron trilogy for Wizards of the Coast. The first draft is due in early May, so I’m eager to get rolling on it soon. I wrote the first chapter when I pitched the books, and it was a blast. This is a setting that’s going to turn heads.

For my day job at Human Head Studios, I’m plugging away at Dracula’s Revenge and our other upcoming games. I’m also working on revamping my division’s websites. In a sense, my work on has been a dry run for that, so hopefully it will all go smoothly.

I Got Mortalized!

I had a great time on Mortality Radio last night. Many thanks to Adlon and Smaug for inviting me on, and even more thanks to those kind souls who showed up to listed and pepper me with questions. That’s a wonderful group of people there, doing something positive for the adventure gaming industry.

My favorite part of the show was when they commented on the length of my résumé by calling me “the Jimmy Stewart of gaming.” As a long-time Stewart fan, that’s a kind comparison. Fortunately, I wasn’t moved to haul out my Stewart impression: “Atta boy, Clarence!”

If you missed the show, you can either download it or stream it out of the Mortality Radio archives. Click here for the link to Show #49.

Mortality Reminder

I’ll be on Mortality Radio this Friday, January 23. The show starts at 8 PM EST, and I should be on sometime around 9 PM. If you have the time, stop by and join in. The show takes questions both on the air and via IRC (Internet Relay Chat). If you can’t make it, visit the site the following week. They usually have an archive of the show posted within a few days of it airing. Hope to see/hear you there!

Dracula’s Revenge Comic Script Done


Yesterday, I finally managed to finish off the script for the second of the two-part comic book miniseries for Dracula’s Revenge. It’s now in the hands of my editor and old friend Jeff Mariotte over at IDW Publishing. I’ve seen a few of the pages from the artist, Szymon Kudranski, and they’re great.

Although it was great fun to work on it, it’s a relief to be done with it. My Eberron novels are calling. It’s funny how 100,000 words doesn’t seem like all that much when you have seven months to go, but their size grows by the day as the deadline gets nearer. My first draft isn’t due until early May, but I need to revise my outline right now to bring it into line with the way the game world has developed since Wizards first sent me the early material.

Writing a comic book isn’t like anything else. With a novel, a short story, a screenplay, and so on, you have a rough structure you work within, but you can roam around a little bit. A comic book has a tight framework that you can’t deviate from too much. Each issue has 22 pages of story, and each page can only have so many panels on it. If you want the story to flow properly, you have to map it out page by page before you script your first panel. It’s like working a puzzle as you write.

For someone like me who had two years of engineering courses in college, using both sides of your brain like this is a lot of fun. Your creative side works the story while your scientific side wrestles with the structure. With any luck, it comes out as a seamless whole.

You’ll find out in March, when the first issue goes on sale.

Dracula’s Revenge Website Up


At my day job at Human Head Studios, we just launched a new website for Dracula’s Revenge, a boardgame of tactical combat that pits Dracula and his minions against Van Helsing and his friends in the catacombs beneath the streets of Victorian London. I designed this game for Grenadier Models back in the early ’90s, but they folded before they could publish it. When I hired on with Human Head, I dusted it off and presented it as a possible game, and the team loved it. With luck, it should be out in May or June.

My friends at IDW Publishing have licensed the setting for a two-issue comic-book miniseries I’m writing. I should have more about that on the official Dracula’s Revenge site soon.

The Circle Is Complete

Cover of The Authority RPG

Once upon a time, I got a call from John Nee at WildStorm Productions. They wanted to produce a collectible card game, but they knew nothing about how to pull it off. Jim Lee and Drew Bittner had gotten together and designed a first draft, but they wanted a professional’s opinion about it.

John got my name from Martin Stever, an old college buddy of mine. John asked me if I’d be willing to fly out to La Jolla, California, for a week to hammer at the game. We worked out the details, and I was gone.

The game was rough, pretty much what you’d expect from people who’d never designed a game before, but it showed promise. Drew and I smacked the thing into shape over the course of that week and lots of later e-mails and phone calls. Eventually it became the WildStorms CCG
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