Here we are folks, for the last part of the exciting interview with Bruce Heard, about his Calidar: Beyond the Skies project. You may want to read the first part here. But enough talking, let’s give the stage to the interview!
The “world soul” is, by no means, the most original and interesting feature in the world of Calidar. It creates a contrast between immortals depending on veneration and the “world soul”, existing by itself, a stronger contrast between nature and religion than in other fantasy settings. Will you explore this duality in “Beyond the Skies”? Can you elaborate further this concept?
Bruce: Yes, this is an important topic at the source of CC1 “Beyond the Skies.” The new book fleshes out existing concepts and then brings to life others, such as the relation of ascended gods with the world soul (how much of their own existence ties into this pool of magic, the damage they do to the world soul when they abuse its powers, what happens when they die, the consequences of weakening the world soul, etc.), its origins, the magical bond between mother worlds and their moons, rogue moons, holy wars, and Armageddon. A lot of details are provided on the Dread Lands and seitha, and how to manage them in game play.
Behind all this, we have a section on the shamans of Calidar and their own peculiar link with the world soul. Shamans do not worship ascended gods—they honor the world soul and spirits of nature at the heart of the Dread Lands. They are aware of the merciless rivalry between the ascended gods fueling their maddening quests for power and divine hegemony, which threatens the World Soul and the existence of shamans. They are no friends of the “civilized” skyfolk, as they call them, because the shamans know outsiders bring with them the seeds of the world’s doom.
Do you plan to publish official adventure modules for Calidar? Are you in need of a hardened and fierce team of designers to support you in the fulfilment of these projects? We may already know 3 or 4 people 🙂
Bruce: I’d love to write adventures, but I honestly haven’t had the time to do this myself. Fan work here is critical, needed, and very much welcome! Start with posting support material in the forum. This will give design teams an opportunity to become more familiar with the contents and style of Calidar (and its creator’s). It gives me an opportunity to weigh in on certain aspects to help fine-tune all this, publicly or privately, and help keep everything coordinated between what the design teams want to achieve and what I know will come up in future gazetteers. I don’t see any reason why this work could not be collated and published later in a real adventure book for all to enjoy. Fan adventures in the forum can be written for any game rules they like (they’d have to be “converted” later to Calidar’s systemless stats for publication).
As players and master ourselves and, regrettably, with lesser and lesser time to cultivate our nerdy passions, are you still able to play a campaign of your own? What is the setting? We like to tell stories and to hear them as well, can you please tell us the plot in a nutshell?
Bruce: Snorts. Laughs hysterically. Laughs hysterically again. Gasps for air. Laugh hysterically some more. Time, you say? Who, me? Kidding, right? ::twitch:: If I had such a thing as time, I’d play Calidar for sure. Though I do like Mystara and always will, Calidar has more to offer from a conceptual point of view. It reaches more deeply. The plots are many and far-reaching. You will discover what I mean when you start reading “Beyond the Skies.” This is a vast source of stories and adventure ideas, with gods pulling strings, sending off heroes on quests to challenge foes tasked with opposing them. This book will affect every gazetteer that follows.
We cultivate some amateur interest about mapping ourselves and we know that you secured the collaboration of Thorfinn Tait, a good move for sure, as many people in our audience may already be aware of. Can you tell us something more about his contributions to your project?
Bruce: In my view, Thorfinn is the ideal partner here. He and I have known each other for years now. Working on maps for the development of Alphatia (see on my blog), has done marvels in this regards. We understand each other well (at least I hope so). It’s immensely easier for me to work with someone who instantly understands what I’m trying to do. This was also the case when I was at TSR, because I enjoyed a very close relationship with the cartographers on staff. It is even better here because Thorfinn spearheads mapping techniques and visuals, which exceed my own experience. He’s able to suggest approaches I hadn’t considered because of his know-how and total dedication. It does matter very greatly that he helps proof my design drafts, so he’s likely up to speed on where I’m taking projects. In the end, I can only marvel at the beautiful work he does.
At about half way, how is the crowdfunding going? Any anticipation you can give to your fans about future projects?
Bruce: Crowdfunding felt a bit slow for a few days (it’s actually on a par with the first book), though past backers and new ones rallied this week. We’ve just passed the $11K mark, so we’re almost funded with 2-3 weeks still to go. It’s the doldrums before Christmas, sort of. Typically, things pick up a lot more during the last week of crowdfunding—this is common to all kickstarter campaigns. I absolutely hate that! I feel a lot more comfortable with a softer curve that doesn’t stress the heck out of me during slow weeks. Doldrums are so boring. So, if you can back this project now, please do so! You’ll make me a lot happier. The next Kickstarter campaign probably won’t take place over Christmas.
“Beyond the Skies” is inherently harder to finance because it is twice the size of the previous book, starting at 220 pages. The intent of the stretch goals is to increase the amount of commissioned art. With each of them, the total page count is likely to increase, all the way to 260 pages with the dream goal of one illustration for each of the 89 gods depicted in the book. Big, full color books with decent paper aren’t cheap to print, and they can prove ridiculously expensive to mail out because they are so darn heavy. Because the book is printed on demand via DTRPG, the unit cost is high. What makes it at all possible to provide my books outside the US is that DTRPG operates a printer in the UK.
Thankfully, the next projects are gazetteers. At 132 pages, they now feel a lot easier to handle, at least from my point of view. Feedback from the first book will be invaluable in making them the very best they can be. Another advantage is that the next books don’t have to introduce the entire universe, which was a major challenge for “In Stranger Skies”. I can concentrate on what really needs to be fleshed out. . . and cool maps. . . and skyships. Current indications are that the next title will probably be either Osriel or Caldwen. Keep your ears to the ground. Join the forum. It’s where the news are discussed and issues debated.
Thanks Bruce! This was the last question. It was a real privilege and honor, for us, to have you as a guest for our column. Obviously, we wish you a great luck for your “Calidar – Beyond the Skies“, see you next time and why not? To the next Kickstarter.
That’s all folks! See you soon to you, our followers, for other news, game tales and other, we hope, great posts!