October update on Eldritch Realms

The development team and I are continuing work on the magic system. This, of course, will be the defining rules section of the game, so it’s important to get it right. Where we stand is that we have a roughed-out framework for how magic generally works and are starting into the details of creating spells.

Everything is still subject to change. I can say with confidence that the design of the magic system is inspired by historical (alleged) magicians such as Christian Rosenkruetz, Paracelsus, and Doctor John Dee. These are magicians of the intellectual tradition of European magic called Hermeticism, which shares a name, but little else, with the high-fantasy magic portrayed in the great RPG Ars Magica. So Eldritch Realms is inspired by (historical) Hermeticism, but I want it to also be inclusive of other kinds of magic from different places and times. If I get the design right, you’ll be able to play a folk magician or a Turkish mystic and have just as fun and interesting a game as if you had played an Hermetic “magus”.

On an unrelated note, I read The Elizabethan Underworld by Gāmini Salgādo last month as part of my research for Eldritch Realms. It’s an accessible and interesting book full of inspiration for any GM. It’s definitely going on the list of recommended reading in the back of Eldritch Realms.

Introducing Eldritch Realms

On Sunday, my team of freelance designers and I had our first play session of the new tabletop RPG we’re developing.

As I’ve said before (and told everyone I met at Gen Con), this will be an RPG of historical fantasy set in Renaissance Europe. The concept of the game has firmed up enough that I can make some more details public.

The working title of this game is Eldritch Realms. We may change that title before we’re finished with development, but for now, it will serve.

We’ve chosen Elizabethan England as the setting, because it’s awesome. Another reason for this choice — second only to its awesomeness — is that it should be familiar. Anyone who’s completed high school in an English-speaking country has read some Shakespeare. Maybe you loved it, maybe you hated it, but at some point you had to pass a test on Shakespeare and his time: and that of his sovereign. Very likely, you already know all the history you need to dive into the setting and feel comfortable role-playing there. And if you’ve been to a Renaissance fair, you’ve already visited that world.

Well, almost. Eldritch Realms is not about historical England. It’s about fantasy England and, specifically, playing a wizard in fantasy England. Eldritch Realms is a game about wizards and werewolves and King Oberon and Queen Titania and clandestine alchemical experiments and secret societies and probably giants on the Yorkshire moors. History is the starting point for understanding the setting. The game is a fantasy game, where you play a wizard and go on adventures and save the good people of England from supernatural menaces.

We’re just getting started on developing the magic system, but our approach is to try very hard to capture the flavor of Renaissance folklore. This means magic is going to be subtler than in D&D or other fantasy games (including Ars Magica) because historical magicians didn’t claim they could throw fireballs around. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of options for magical powers. The designers’ research so far shows that Paracelsus claimed the power to levitate objects into the air. The Rosicrucians could reputedly read minds, turn invisible, and communicate magically over great distances. Dr. John Dee possessed a shewstone, which was the inspiration for the name of my company.

Our current thinking is that all the player characters are wizards, and will probably have a choice of different kinds of historical magic to specialize in.

We have a great development team, whom I hope to introduce in a future post.

It is much too early to talk about when the game will be ready. It’s still more than a year away, and possibly more than two. We are working on the game now, writing the rules in rough form and playing as we go. Eventually we’ll have a rough draft ready to try out at conventions. Please keep following us on Google+ or Facebook, and we’ll post updates as often as we have news to report. We’re going to take our time with this and make the best game we possibly can. How long that will take, my shewstone can’t tell me.

About the Working Title

“Eldritch” means “spooky” or “eerie” and, according to Merriam-Webster, is a word about 500 years old. When gamers see the word “eldritch,” they often think of H.P. Lovecraft, because “eldritch” (along with other gems such as “squamous” and “cyclopean”) was among that author’s favorite words. Eldritch Realms has nothing to do with the Cthulhu Mythos. It has to do with England about 500 years ago. Well, 450 years ago, around the time the word “eldritch” must have been hitting its stride. I think of this name reclaiming a word at risk of becoming Cthulhu Mythos jargon, and putting it back to work as a general-purpose and really cool way to say “eerie.”

Shewstone Publishing Joins the 21st Century!

In addition to our old-school email list and RSS feed, you can also follow Shewstone Publishing on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+ShewstonePublishing.

That’s probably a more convenient and reliable way to keep up to date with product announcements. Remember, our first product is in early development and release is more than a year away. We’ll post occasional updates here, on Google+, and on our email list as development progresses.

Hello from Gen Con 2016!

I have arrived at Gen Con 2016 in Indianapolis. I’m looking forward to meeting lots of fellow gamers, including potential customers and business partners (such as freelance artists and game designers). I have a busy schedule but feel free to write to me via the contact form if you’d like to meet up in person. Also, consider joining my product news mailing list to receive occasional updates about new and upcoming products and future convention appearances.

Product News mailing list

If you would like to receive occasional news from Shewstone Publishing, such as announcements of new and upcoming products, convention appearances, and the like, you can subscribe to our product news mailing list.

We also have an RSS feed that can automatically inform you when this web page is updated. Any product announcements that are posted to the mailing list will also appear in the RSS feed, so use whichever you find more convenient.



First product is under development!

Shewstone Publishing’s first product will be an original pen-and-paper roleplaying game of historical fantasy, set in Renaissance Europe.

We’re in the very early stages. It is too early to say when this product will be ready, other than it will be in 2017 at the earliest.

We’ll announce further details when we can.

At this time, we are concentrating on writing and producing this game, and are not planning to start any additional projects until this one is finished.

Welcome to Shewstone Publishing

Shewstone Publishing is a new digital publishing company created by authors, for authors.

Our business model is to be a trusted partner for authors. We provide the editorial and project management expertise necessary to bring a book from first draft to finished product. We take care of financing so all the author has to do is concentrate on writing her best work.

Our company was founded by an author and it’s our priority give authors a fair deal. We pay very attractive royalty rates compared with major publishing companies. We gladly publish books under copyright license from the authors, including Creative Commons licenses and the Open Game License.