Teach Your Kids How to Game Week #1
Each year DriveThruRPG runs a promotion called Teach Your Kids How to Game Week. Obviously here at Sidekick Quests I am very interested in doing just that. So, this week I will be posting a blog entry every day focused on RPG gaming with kids… both specifically as if concerns Sidekick Quests the Roleplaying Game and in general.
I thought I would start Teach Your Kids How to Game Week off with a brief intro/recap of who I am, why Sidekick Quests exists, why it is both a webcomic and an RPG and when you might actually expect Sidekick Quests the RPG to finally get released.
WHO I AM: My name is James Stowe. You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I even have an Art Blog. I have been a professional illustrator for nearly 20 years. I have done fantasy illustration for at least a dozen RPG companies and my work has been in over 100 roleplaying game and collectable card game supplements. I am also a gamer. I have been playing and running RPGs since college. I’ve run convention games, LARPs in nightclubs (it was the 90s) and campaigns that stretched over several years of actual play time. I love roleplaying games. If I could I would work on them most of the time. That is one of the main reasons why Sidekick Quests exists. I guess I should also say I am a cartoonist. I went to college (at the Savannah College of Art and Design) as one of the original 7 Sequential Art BFA students. Since graduation I have made comic strips and web cartoons (most of which were never published). Sidekick Quests is my first major webcomic. I’ve been producing it now for about a year and a half. Currently their are 3 complete story lines and (as of today) I am about to start the 4th. I am also a founding member of the Cartoonists League of Absurd Washingtonians, a comic creator and enthusiast’s group that is trying to draw attention to the amazing comic creators that live in and around the Tacoma, WA area (we have to compete with the already amazing comic scenes in Portland and Seattle, you see).
WHY SIDEKICK QUESTS?: Sidekick Quests began as a project I made called DND for Dads, which was basically taking existing DND 4e class/race templates and simplifying them so that I could run a game of Dungeons and Dragons for my son’s 8th birthday party. It went viral and was shared around various gaming communities. Reaction to it was overwhelming positive. There were a lot more Moms and Dads out there like me than I realized. I immediately began thinking of developing the project as a introduction for younger readers and their parents to the concept of Roleplaying Games.
WHY IS IT BOTH A WEBCOMIC AND AN RPG?: In that initial development for a introductory Roleplaying Game based on the DND for Dads template all the major components of what is now Sidekick Quests were created. I realized that there was a really great story in there. I personally wanted to know more about the lives of the awkward squire girl, the energetic enchanted woods scout, the goofy tomboy of a wizard’s apprentice and the little bucktoothed amateur jester I had sketched out. The world of Adventur in which they lived was a place I wanted to tell tales in. Turning the RPG idea into a webcomic was a very easy decision for me. It also allowed me a dynamic outlet to introduce the idea of the game I wanted to make in a narrative, ever-evolving media outlet that I could make with very little effort. I also fell in love with the idea of a Roleplaying Game that existed along side a continuing story. Some of my favorite RPGs were set in dynamic worlds that changed as new supplements were released. Knowing that I could create a version of that kind of environment by using a webcomic to introduce and change the world within the Roleplaying Game really intrigued me. That being said… as I continued with Sidekick Quests I found that I could devote more time to the comic than the game. The stories are being told while the game continues to evolve and play test. I am not where I want to be yet in how the two are meant to interact with each other but hopefully I will be soon. Which leads me finally to…
WHEN WILL IT BE AVAILABLE?: Well… I honestly am not sure I have a definite answer to that. I’ve announced release dates before and they have rocketed by with no release. Truth is, I am a father, a husband, a freelance illustrator by night, a Creator Director during the day and a game designer when I can fit it in between all the other stuff. I also want to make a game that really is that first step in gaming for your kids and my kids. RPGs are really important to me and I am the kind of guy that obsesses forever about this kind of stuff. That all being said, I am very close to release. The core mechanics of the game have been well play tested and the response has been very positive. There are sandbox rules I want to develop and setting information that needs to be written but the all-important nougaty center is in place. I will likely run through one more round of beta testing and then, after that… full release.
My initial plan was to just create Sidekick Quests the RPG as downloadable, sharable, print-to-play PDFs at a reasonable “app” level pricing scale. That is still basically the plan… although now with the existence of Kickstarter and service like it the possibility of a hardcover Sidekick Quests book with bells and whistles exists.