Hello one and all, and welcome to the new Vigilance Press website!
My name is Chuck Rice, and I founded Vigilance Press in 2002, which somehow seems like the late 70’s as I think back on it.
In that year, I discovered a great RPG called Darwin’s World and, through that RPG, a little website called RPGNow. In those days, the only real name of note on the site was Monte Cook. Admittedly it’s a pretty BIG name of note, but most of the RPGs available there were by independent startups.
In short order I would create one of those startups myself, mainly as an outlet for an idea that was nagging at the back of my head and wouldn’t let go: a d20 supers game.
It was a very primitive effort from a first-time writer with no layout or art direction experience, and I did everything myself except for editing. The result wasVigilance, and when RPGNow asked me for a “company name,” I chose Vigilance Press because, hey, it wasn’t like I was going to do this again, right?
Of course, I did do it again, and rather quickly.
Rules are nice and all, but what people really need are characters, so a couple of months after Vigilance came Darkness and Light, a book of NPC heroes and villains. This marked the first time my USHER campaign setting would see print, and included characters, such as Old Glory and the Savant, that would become mainstays of my campaign and writing over the next 9 years.
After taking a detour into science fiction with a setting called Prometheus Rising, freelance writing opportunities started coming my way. I guess my early efforts, primitive though they were, caught the attention of some larger companies. Mystic Eye Games published Vigilance: Absolute Power, a compilation ofVigilance and Darkness and Light which included more information on the USHER universe, much of which would remain exclusive to that little-known book for almost a decade.
Then, RPGObjects approached me with an ambitious plan: we’d take one chapter of Prometheus, its starship creation and combat rules, and turn it into a 128-page sourcebook for d20 science fiction. The idea was just crazy enough to appeal to me. This led to a long collaboration with RPGObjects, and Vigilance Press went into hibernation 6 years.
Like all good things, though, my time at RPGObjects came to an end. I still love the books Chris Davis and I did together, but he was ready to move back to his first love of software development. Looking around at the state of RPG freelancing, I decided to once again invest my efforts in Vigilance Press.
In my later days at RPGObjects, I had started shepherding some projects and writers. Mike Lafferty had done some writing for us, and Jason Tondro had an unreleased True20 setting called Arthur Lives! that had been quietly gaining steam behind the scenes. My first realization was that if Vigilance Press was really going to succeed, it needed to be more than an outlet for my writing, so Mike Lafferty and Jason Tondro came on board.
We released Arthur Lives! and other books for the True20 system. Sadly, those books didn’t do as well as we’d hoped, and we began, quietly, to look at other systems we might use. It was around this time that Steve Kenson, creator of Mutants and Masterminds and all around Super-Genius, began to use his powers for good again, working on a simpler, cleaner supers system more inspired by the classic TSR Marvel FASERIP system, where M&M was more inspired by Champions.
Credit here goes to Mike Lafferty, who kept pointing out posts Steve was making about his new game (eventually named ICONS). When we realized the game would have an open license, I decided it was time to head back into Supers. Vigilance Press took on a new life with a series of WWII supers books set in the golden age of the USHER universe, and they did extremely well.
We embarked on a very ambitious publishing plan of one short supers PDF each week and gamers responded, knowing on Wednesday they could count on a new installment of Golden Age supers for ICONS. We kept it up, amazingly, for almost 4 MONTHS, something I will never stop being proud of. You can look at those books today and see the quality of the art, layout, and writing and realize we did the first 16 in 5 months, starting before ICONS was available to third party support. It still makes me smile.
This culminated with the first full look at the USHER universe, called the USHER Dossiers, giving a complete history of the setting from 60,000 BC, when the first metahuman was born, until 2010 AD, when the superhuman scourge Scion was repelled from Earth.
We continued with supers as a primary focus, but also took a very interesting detour (one I hope to take again soon) into my other love, the Post-Apocalypse. Darrin Drader, former WOTC alum turned writer for 38 Studios, had a setting idea that he and I turned into a little book called Nuclear Sunset. Only one book for the setting has been done so far, but Darrin and I both hope to revisit the setting as our work lives permit.
By 2011, Vigilance Press had grown. Grown beyond my desire to run it. As the company had gotten bigger, I was turning more and more into a businessman and less and less into a writer. I began to look around for someone to take some management duties off my hands. Eventually, I talked to James Dawsey and liked his vision for the future of Vigilance Press so much I sold the company to him, fully intending to, in essence, freelance for the company I had founded and nurtured over the past few years.
Then Mayfair Games came calling. I had talked with them before, and it turned out they had an opening in marketing and liked a lot of the grassroots marketing I’d done for Vigilance Press. This took me out of the RPG writing business for the first time in 9 years.
So, this is the end. And like all ends, it’s also a beginning. My time with Vigilance Press is over, but the company lives on. James has guided the company for 10 months now, and I can tell you the best is yet to come.
Thanks for stopping by Vigilance Press and taking this little tour through the company’s past. But don’t leave, and don’t be sad, because the company’s future is even brighter, and the best is yet to come.
Or as Geddy Lee once sang, “Changes aren’t permanent. But change is.”