Monday, 16 April 2012

10 Years Ago: Mazes

I am the Warden!!

I can't recall today how this memory came to me, but it did nonetheless. It wasn't through an email or any visual reminder (seeing the old cover again), it just slipped into the conscious part of my brain and gave me cause to stand back and literally say "Whoa" out loud. I know, total Keanu moment.

Ten years ago at this time, I started work on my first RPG supplement. Originally called Mazes, the name was changed to d20 Options: Mazes and finally resulted in Campaign Options: Mazes after being told there would be legal complications in using "d20" in the name of the product.


Today, I dug through old CDs and "flipped" through the pages of this PDF, reflecting back on the work poured into this first book with fond memories and deep regrets. I can remember pacing in the parking lot next to my rental house with my dog, Rusty, running around sniffing the grass for signs of pee and squirrel droppings while I pondered the next step in the design process. Any day I had off work was dedicated to the book with a fervor I couldn't understand at the time and all my thoughts were on mazes. Why should people use them? How do I make them more exciting? What are quick tips to building one? I had never been the type to race a pencil through 2D mazes in the paper or in one of those supermarket activity books, yet I became consumed by the concept of incorporating mazes into D&D. Hell, I even wrote new rules for using the minotaur's path memory ability when using a minotaur PC.

When the memories came flooding back, I thought it was close to the 10th anniversary of Mazes' release, but there's still another year to go. Still, my journey to this point in my life started ten years past. You can't help but look back on your life a decade ago and consider the differences: a previous marriage, a different house, a different education, a car... the use of my right foot. Some changes for the better, some for the worse, some memories humorous, others unwanted.

I mentioned regrets earlier. Always have I wished Mazes did better than had turned out, but it's release was in league with so many others. I was still pleased with how it did and for a first book, it was incredibly ambitious and lead to numerous other projects I'm equally fond of. There are parts of the final product I wish I had better knowledge and consideration towards, such as the layout. And I remember the artwork as better. Something else which didn't help later sales was the controversy of its cartographer, Clayton Bunce, whose career was destroyed in a single blow when it was discovered he had duplicated another map for a Conan product published by Mongoose, if I'm not mistaken. More importantly, Mazes was released by a newcomer in both designer and publisher.

Because of Mazes, I had opportunity to take over Emerald Press when its founder, Shane Garvey, thought about calling it quits for personal reasons. When I frantically responded to the email and begged him to reconsider for just this initial product - mine - he offered me the chance to pick up the pieces where he left off and keep EP going. I did for eight years and prize those years as the inspiration to take my career to the next step.

Excuse me for a second, I have something in my eye. Damn wind.

Whenever I think back to Mazes, I consider a re-release and have announced my intentions in the past. I'm thinking of it again. But not now. For now, I'll just bask in the memories for a while and use it as fuel to keep pushing forward on Killshot and return to it on December 31, 2013 when it's the 10th anniversary of its actual release and ponder on it some more. Until then, perhaps you'd like to have a gander yourself.

Click, help yourself, and enjoy a free copy of Campaign Options: Mazes. Hopefully, you'll appreciate it as much as I did building it.