Happy New Years, and a Tianxia Art Sneak Peek!
Greetings, Internet Neighbors, my name is James Dawsey and I am the owner and Publisher at Vigilance Press. The New Year is finally upon us, and I can’t wait to get started with it, but I didn’t want to let this opportunity go by without recognizing everything that we’ve done in 2012. This blog may be a bit longer than my normal posts, and it’s going to be a bit more of a personal letter from me to you, but I hope there is something in here for everyone. I’ll be making some announcements in this letter too, so if you’ll indulge me, I’ll get around to those in a bit.
2011 was a turning point for Vigilance Press. I took over the company in September of that year, and spent the first few months working with the publishing schedule that had been in place before I took the reins. The changes began with Ruben Byrd, who stepped in as my new Layout Designer and did a fantastic job right out of the gate. He created a new look for our products that took advantage of the assets we already had and showed them off with panache, bringing a level of professionalism that made a huge difference in how people saw us. Then came Nathan Kahler, a man who has become as indispensable to me as the authors who write the material I publish. His meticulous editing and understanding of multiple game systems have really helped elevate our products to that next level. Our first products, Action Scenes: Museum Mayhem and The Oktobermen (first edition) were well-received by fans and by critics. People saw the change and it wasn’t long before I found myself the target of a great deal of attention from creators who wanted to be part of the action.
2012 was the first year of Vigilance Press where I began to move forward with a “Master Plan.” Step one of this master plan was to put out amazing new products and really up our game to a professional level. To this end, I turned to authors like Jack Norris, Jason Tondro, Rick Jones, Steve Perrin, Darrin Drader, Lynn Hill, and Aaron E. Sullivan to help me develop new properties and send off old ones with a bang. They have all contributed thousands of words and helped create a virtual stack of manuscripts that I am thrilled to be publishing. We managed several feats of daring this year, as well, developing projects in short time frames and moving to Print on Demand for many of them. When I started 2012, I didn’t have any physical products to show people (we had been a purely digital company up to that point), and now I have 4 books sitting proudly on my shelf. While I want to thank all the authors who chipped in, I really want to give special thanks to Jack Norris, who has become a personal friend and the anchor for most of my projects, helping me develop big new ideas for multiple lines. Jack, I couldn’t have done it without you.
I can’t just rely on text alone for what I do, however. 2012 was the year I began to realize that Vigilance Press was just too big for my own ambitions as an artist. When I came aboard, I was lucky enough to have material from Dan Houser, Jon Gibbons, and more… but the speed at which my stack of manuscripts was expanding and the growing demands on these artists’ time meant I needed more people to step in. I searched high and low, and renewed some old friendships, and found myself bringing a host of new artists to create artwork for Vigilance Press. Artists like Denise Jones, Susan E. Meyer, and Hannah Friederichs stepped up to help illustrate our in-development project Arthur Lives! for Fate. I myself contributed some work to early projects like The Oktobermen and Black Chapter, but I couldn’t produce the art at the quality I wanted in a timeframe that worked. I called in favors and brought in people like Jesse Justice and Doug Smith, both friends who are incredibly talented (but busy) artists. But still, it wasn’t enough. I watched the manuscripts piling up.
Then, out of the blue, Alex Williamson began posting his artwork at The Atomic Think Tank (the Mutants and Masterminds forums). I contacted him without hesitation (and who wouldn’t, after seeing his gallery!?). I’m happy to say we became fast friends, and I was simply amazed by the amount of professionalism and the sheer volume of work he has been able to contribute. You’re going to see a lot of him in upcoming books, from Six Gun to METAs, he has turned in dozens of illustrations for Vigilance. He brings comic book flair to the table that absolutely captures the “Super” look I wanted for our main superhero line. Alex, meeting you has been one of the highlights of my career, not simply a highlight of 2012.
What’s amazing to me is how our line of products has changed “Behind the Scenes” during the course of the past year. We’ve been moving forward on a lot of fronts, but the audience may not have seen a lot of the changes we’ve been making. To many of you, it may seem like we simply slowed production, but the changes have been more substantial than that. With the advent of our “Beacon City” series of podcast adventures using the Mutants and Masterminds game system, we have responded to constant calls to develop Beacon City as an actual setting. We have plans for a campaign book, the METAs line of products, and more. We have also been looking at publishing for new systems, like Fate Core (more on that in a moment). The assembly line never stopped, but as we rolled things on down we hit some bumps and stalls along the way, learning from every mistake or happy accident. 2012 has been the year I learned what the heck it meant to be a publisher.
What began as a goal to make better products has become a year of making friendships. I couldn’t have begun what I did without having been inspired by other industry professionals who taught me to bring my A-Game. When I was a gaming fan, I would occasionally recognize the names on books but I never had the opportunity to put faces to those names. Over the past few years I have not only met many of you, but I have made several friendships that I will value forever. People like Steve Kenson, Jon Leitheusser, Christopher A. McGlothlin, and more. You folks have made me feel like a welcome member of your community rather than an interloper, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. To everyone in the tabletop games industry, and Green Ronin in particular, I thank you so much for giving me the confidence to stand beside you and bring my best.
2012 was also the year I learned how powerful Kickstarter can be. I’ve seen others use it to finish big projects, start new companies, and reach new fans. I have designs of my own for Kickstarter, but we’ll talk about those closer to launch time for those campaigns. One of the most recent projects that I’ve seen launch like a rocket has been the long-awaited third edition of Fate, “Fate Core.” Watching this project has made us very excited at Vigilance Press because we have long believed in Fate as the central mechanic for our new edition of Arthur Lives! by Jason Tondro. Having read the current draft of the rules, however, we decided we wanted to jump in with a smaller project first and prove our merit.
To that end, let me now announce our upcoming Fate Core-compatible Kung Fu Fantasy setting supplement by Jack Norris! Tianxia: Blood, Silk, and Jade will be a full-color Fate supplement in the neighborhood of 15 to 30 pages. The manuscript is 80% complete, and we’re already producing artwork. Denise Jones has turned in the first of many, creating a unique look for this book which will really help it stand out. We aren’t sure if the length of the book will lend itself to print on demand, yet, but rest assured the PDF will be out shortly after Fate Core is officially published (and the rules license is active). Jack has been blazing through this manuscript like a demon, having long harbored a desire to produce a Wuxia/Kung Fu setting. His unique setting and characters will make this not just a set of Kung Fu rules for Fate, but a fantastic basis for a campaign and a genre book all in one powerful package. If you love it enough, there is certainly room to expand on this world with future books.
Closing this blog post with a blatant plug might distract from the overall message a little, so let me return to my theme of gratitude. For myself and many others, 2012 has had its share of disappointments, but on the balance I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career as a publisher. I have made new friends, published books that I actually bring with me to the gaming table, and have become ever more immersed in a hobby that has guided my life since I was 10 years old. There are days when I am frustrated, struggling against deadlines or unforeseen complications, but I don’t dwell on those. Instead, I dwell on the joys of being excited to open my emails each day; to reading new manuscripts, to seeing new pieces of artwork, to signing off on final products, and to the thrill of sharing them with you.
Most of all, I am grateful to the fans of Vigilance Press. The wonderful people who have encouraged me, posted reviews (both gushing with joy and with productive critiques), and shown interest and enthusiasm for what I’m doing. Without you folks, none of it would happen. Seriously, I can’t thank you enough. 2012 was the year I figured some of it out. 2013 is going to be the year where I learn some new things and make new relationships, but I won’t be doing it alone. I’ll have you guys there alongside me, and I’m delighted you’ll be joining me on this journey.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and productive New Year,
Publisher, Vigilance Press
January 1, 2013
PS: Here’s a sneak peek at the art from Tianxia, one of Denise’s favorite characters from the setting material, Fish-Eye Cheng!