You may have heard that our founder, Shane Hensley, got his professional start working on the game Torg: Roleplaying the Possibility Wars, originally published by West End Games way back in 1990. Many of the core concepts of Savage Worlds come from Torg, and Shane is very happy to have served as the lead designer of the new edition, Torg Eternity published by Ulisses Spiele North America.
We consider Ulisses family… we share offices and Shane helps out with several of their new games, including Torg and others you’ll hear about soon.
The storm returns via Kickstarter on May 31st. Keep your eyes on the Torg Eternity website and follow the official Facebook page for all the latest news.
Celebrate all things Savage at Chupacabracon with an unparalleled gathering of Pinnacle personnel!*
Chupacabracon IV takes place May 12th-14th at the Wingate Hotel & Conference Center in Austin, TX. Featuring a schedule positively bursting at the seams with games, Chupa also boasts a jam-packed Savage Saturday Night with several Pinnacle alums working behind the GM screens! Catch up with Jodi & Clint Black, Sean Patrick Fannon, Preston DuBose, Ed Wetterman, Sara & Brendan Quinn, and, of course Shane Hensley himself. And if that wasn’t enough, you’ll find several other folks representing a number of popular licensees in attendance, as well.
And don’t miss our East Texas University tailgate party on Friday May 12th from 6:00-8:00pm in the parking lot. Enjoy free drinks and chips until they’re gone. Challenge a Savage Worlds celebrity to a tailgate game like washers or ladder toss for the price of a small donation to the con charity. And in true tailgate fashion, join us in a round of the ETU Fight Song which we’ll then share online for all! Go Ravens!
* Try saying that three times fast!
Chupacabracon in Austin, Texas, is truly a Savage Worlds event not to be missed. Come on down this weekend, January 9-11, to get your own slice of Texas gaming heaven.
The RPG Guest List includes our own Shane Hensley, Clint Black, Ed Wetterman, and Preston DuBose. You can spot ’em roaming free-range about the show* or catch the Pinnacle Entertainment Group: The Wall of Wonder panel (featuring all four of them) at 4:30 pm Saturday!
But wait, there’s more. There’s a whole passel of licensees headed that way, and the Savage Worlds game selection is a sight to behold. Register today and join us there!
* I hear if we let them forage naturally like that, they’ll taste better if we ever have to carve them up for meat. You know, in case of zombie apocalypse, Famine outbreak, or particularly large company barbecue.
It’s that time of year to bring things to a close, to make sure you’ve finished what you’ve started. In that spirit, here is the second part of the Sellner-Shane interview that we started last week. Get some answers about the Cackler graphic novel and what’s coming next.
And while we’re making sure to finish things up, don’t forget to get your preorders in for Dead Man’s Hand. Get full preorder details and special prize information from last week’s article before you let time get away from you!
Interview With Deadlands’ Creator Shane Hensley: Part II
VIS: Welcome Back Gang! As we close out 2014, we wanted to make sure we wrapped this in depth interview between the two top guns of Pinnacle and Visionary! Last time, Visionary’s own CCO C. Edward Sellner, interviewed Deadlands creator Shane Hensley about the game and all the great developments coming at you this coming year. This time, we talk a little more with both about the next phase! Alright gents, last time we just mentioned the coming of THE CACKLER, the next Deadlands Kickstarter Graphic Novel. So, let’s pick up right where we left off. Why now? Why a graphic novel?
SH: We’ve been chasing a live action show as well as the animated show I talked about for almost 20 years at this point. We’re also coming up on the 20th anniversary of Deadlands, and we’ve got some really big plans for the roleplaying game. We also now have a partner in Visionary that really gets what we’re trying to do and has a long-term plan for our comics and fiction.
CES: Well, mostly thanks to such a great partner there! All of us at the studio absolutely love the property, we love the backstory, the richness of the world, and all the great villains. The first round of one-shots was really the highlight of the studio’s history as far as we’re concerned, a chance to really strut what we could do with the right brand.
SH: The first foray into our comics had some tremendous talent, one of which was Bart Sears. When Chuck Sellner of Visionary asked if I’d like to finally tell the story of the Cackler with Bart, there was no way I could say no.
VIS: What’s it been like working with Bart and Visionary?
SH: I’ve been reading comics for over 40 years…since I could read…so getting to write a real meaty book like this is a treat all on its own. Chuck Sellner (and Brand Manager Matt Cutter) have really helped me hone whatever skill I might have and I think people will love the end result of what is truly a team effort. That was before I saw Bart’s art—particularly the initial shot of the Cackler, and later his crew. It’s been the screen saver on my computer for over a month now! But it goes beyond just cool characters. Bart took the first few pages of the script we wrote and made a few changes—changes we all instantly agreed were even better. He truly is a natural and visual storyteller, and if fans like the book that eventually sits in their hands, it will be first because of the great editing and advice by Matt and Chuck, and by Bart’s eye for making those words flow into the visual medium.
VIS: And how about your end Chuck? What’s it like working with Shane and Bart on this book?
CES: Shane is one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known. He’s a top notch creator, and really gets the process. This is his world, his story, but his willingness to let the comic guys help craft the final product says a lot. And of course, Bart is one of my idols in comics. I’ve loved his art since forever, and as great as it was having him on Death Was Silent, working directly with him, and coloring his art is a new high mark in my own career.
VIS: Where does Deadlands go from here?
SH: There is so much on the horizon. In addition to the Dead Man’s Hand direct edition and the Cackler from Visionary, this year sees the release of the novels from Tor, written by New York Times Bestselling Authors Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Marriotte, and Seanan McGuire—we’re SUPER excited about that. We’re also gearing up for the 20th anniversary and a brand new surprise and direction for the game—some of which stems directly from the tale of the Cackler. There’s support for our Deadlands spinoffs Hell on Earth and Noir, and re-release of the original “Deadlands in Space,” Lost Colony. And there’s a whole new Deadlands setting coming in the next few years as well we think people will really go nuts for. And if we’re lucky, we’ll have another crack at that television show or feature we’ve been chasing so long.
Say, you’re a smart cookie. Look at you. You follow the Pinnacle news, you play good games, and you get what you want out of life. I can tell. You’re way too smart to miss out on Dead Man’s Hand. It’s the first original collection of the Deadlands comics series produced by Visionary comics and IDW, and it includes all the original comics (Devil’s Six Gun, Massacre at Redwing, Death Was Silent, and Black Water), two new stories (Vengeful by Deadlands creator Shane Hensley and What a Man’s Gotta Do by Deadlands Big Bug Matt Cutter), and the first-anywhere sneak peek at Ghostwalkers, next year’s Tor novel from New York Times’ best-selling author Jonathan Maberry!
So, what you’ve got to do is go by your local retailer and preorder Dead Man’s Hand as soon as you can. It’s in the January Previews Catalog, just waitin’ for you to stake your claim. But hurry, because you gotta’ get in those orders in January—maybe even early January depending on your store!
And we’re going to make it real easy if you’ve never done this before. Download a Dead Man’s Hand Preorder Form, fill it out, and hand it directly to your retailer. If they need anything else, they’ll ask you and write it in the handy space we left for ’em. Gotta’ keep the shopkeepers happy, you know. You can also preorder Dead Man’s Hand on-line with the order code JAN150543, too. And if you’re overseas and having trouble, you can always preorder Dead Man’s Hand from Forbidden Planet UK.
As a tip of ol’ Santa Shane’s hat to you, here’s more reason to reserve now. After you pre-order, post “I just got dealt the #DeadMansHand at (name of your retailer)” on your favorite social media site. Heck, include a pic if you like. Then email a link to your post to PreOrderPromo@visionarycomics.com. You’ll get a return email with links to a free PDF of Deadlands: The Kid! And that ain’t all—tell us which Deadlands Reloaded book you’d like, and you’ll get a free PDF of that too! Yep, two books free just for ordering one. It must be the holidays!
We’re not forgettin’ the retailers, either. Whichever store gets the most posts wins a complete Visionary Comics’ print library! That’s two copies of each of our trade collections, including both volumes of Headlocked, Frog Princess, both volumes of Visions, limited collector’s exclusive edition of Dead Man’s Hand, and our Kickstarter exclusive volume Deadlands: Raven. We’ll even throw in a copy of our next exclusive volume, The Cackler, when it releases! As a final bonus, you’ll get an autographed collector’s pack of the original one-shots, including signatures by most of the creators. That’s over $300 worth of collectible comics! So, keep the forms handy, tell folks about the promotions, and make sure all your horror-western fans know about Dead Man’s Hand! They’ll thank you for it!
Visionary’s C. Edward Sellner interviewed our own Shane Hensley for their website, and we thought you might be interested in what ol’ Shane had to say, too.
Interview With Santa Shane Hensley!
He may not actually be Kris Kringle, but this year Deadlands creator Shane Hensley is in a pretty joyous mood. As we ramp up the 20th Anniversary celebration, there’s lots of excitement and we thought it would be a good time for the two head honchos, from Pinnacle and Visionary, to dig a little more into Deadlands lore, and dish some more details on what’s coming up from the Pinnacle / Visionary Partnership!
CES: Alright Shanester, let’s start at the beginning for all the newbies. What’s Deadlands all about?
SH: Deadlands is a Weird Western where the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, known as the Reckoners, are trying to bring about a Hell on Earth so they can walk upon it in the flesh. They do this by nurturing fear to drench the earth in dark, supernatural energy that can sustain their physical manifestation.
That’s the “meta level” and the back story that ties all the various Deadlands games together—the original Weird Western, the post-apocalyptic “Wasted” West” of Hell on Earth, Deadlands Noir, and Deadlands Lost Colony—which takes place on the far fringes of space.
CES: Sounds like real fun at your holiday party.
SH: Characters in the property rarely know any of this though. They’re focused on more local events and what’s right in front of their faces. Our heroes are usually concerned with the dead coming back to life or the haunt that lives in the old Jenkins’ place.
CES: I could see that.
SH: But by defeating even these local terrors, they’re slowly—bit by bit—battling the Reckoners as well. Besides lightning-fast gunslingers, brave Indian warriors, and other standards in the Weird West, Deadlands also has a number of “arcane backgrounds,” characters who have developed supernatural powers to fight the good fight. Hucksters make dark bargains for power, hurling playing cards charged with energy or casting other “hexes” and spells. Mad scientists use a super fuel called “ghost rock” to power infernal gizmos and weapons. Shamans channel power from nature spirits, and the blessed draw spiritual magic directly from the distant but always present powers of good.
Most importantly, in the world of Deadlands, those with particularly strong wills can come back from the dead—hence the name. The price is high though—the “Harrowed” crawl out of their graves by way of “manitous,” evil spirits that vie for control of their host. Those Harrowed who maintain “dominion” over their demonic rider can quickly develop additional supernatural powers as well.
CES: So, nice mix of Western, Horror, Mystical, and Steampunk. One reason we did the four one-shots originally, with each issue leaning more or less toward one of those foundational elements. Fantastic! How did this all come about? What made you create Deadlands?
SH: The original inspiration came from a Brom / White Wolf painting that was later used for their Vampire the Masquerade game. The book was Necropolis: Atlanta, and it featured a vampire with his crossed guns in front of a tattered rebel flag. (I originally saw it as the cover of their magazine though and didn’t realize he was a vampire.) I saw it at a convention (GenCon), and had a 16 hour drive home afterwards, through the long, dark night. I couldn’t get that image of the undead “cowboy” out of my head. I kept wondering “What was so important in life that he crawled up out of his grave for?”
Slowly, all the ideas began to take form. I eventually put the game together for my home group. Everyone seemed to love it, so I decided to do it for real.
CES: And everything grew from there?
SH: Yes. We were very fortunate. At first we were told that Westerns don’t sell, so we planned on a small print run, then we’d blow the world up and let the bad guys win—a story that would be told in the post-apocalyptic sequel, Hell on Earth. We did that, but as Deadlands proved successful we made it official that the Reckoners cheated…Hell on Earth wasn’t inevitable. Exactly how that works is best left to the books themselves, but we think it’s a pretty cool story. Short version? The Reckoners do lose and Hell on Earth is avoided—but then they cheat. At least in the official timeline.
CES: Sounds like a world and setting that would appeal to comics fans on multiple levels. You got your genre points, you got your epic backstory, you got your whole worlds of characters and even your own twisted timelines and alternate futures. We should do Deadlands comics! Oh, wait…
CES: Now…tell us about the Cackler.
SH: In college, I ran one of my favorite Dungeons & Dragons® campaign settings, Dark Sun. One of the villains was an albino elf with long, stringy hair and round, rose-colored sunglasses who giggled after he insulted the heroes. I did the laugh when I ran the games and my players hated that guy. It stuck with me years later when we created Deadlands.
We had always planned on Deadlands being a property, not just a roleplaying game, and one of the things we were excited about was pitching an animated series—something like HBO’s Spawn. We didn’t know it was going to be so short-lived at the time, of course, but we thought a dark, adult-oriented animated show would be a fantastic way to explore the Weird West. I did a treatment for it and knew that my villain would be my giggling fiend from so many years earlier. “The Giggler” didn’t sound particularly menacing, so I called him “the Cackler.”
Since we wanted this to be an animated series, I wanted the Cackler’s origin to be something that was unveiled over a long season, and when people found out—when they deciphered all the clues—the payoff would be worth it. That meant he had to come from a story we either set the groundwork for or was a story most people already knew. The albino angle stuck with me hard and I knew exactly who he was. Who he was defined what he was doing. What he was doing had the ability to change the world of Deadlands.
And just like with the Reckoners and Hell on Earth, I knew I wasn’t afraid to let the bad guys win. You’ll have to read the graphic novel to find out exactly what that means.
CES: Speaking of which, we got our first full-color tease from that, with art from legendary Bart Sears!
CES: Now, that’s just to whet your whistle! We’ll run the second half of this here interview next week amigos! And start looking for regular little teasers of art from the upcoming Kickstarter campaign! Bart is KILLING this! So, Shane, you gonna “HoHoHo” for us?
Game registration for ChupacabraCon II is now open—rush on over and sign yourself up today! Join in on the Savage Saturday Night hosted by the Lone Star Savages or at any point in this fine festival of gaming, January 9-11, 2015 in Austin, Texas.
You can also catch Shane Hensley, Clint Black, Ed Wetterman, Ross Watson, and Sean Patrick Fannon there. If you want to think of them as Pokemon, go ahead and catch ’em all. I wouldn’t try putting any of them in my pocket, though. You can also see Jeff Dee, Ken Hite, Robin D. Laws, John Wick, and many others—check the Convention Guests page for a full listing.
It’s only a month away—register today!
Want to learn about The Last Parsec before the Kickstarter begins? Our own Shane Hensley brings you The Searchers. Nick Garron got his crew off the Niccolo before it cracked apart, but there was a cost to having only one escape pod. The searchers are trapped on a hot jungle planet with a terrible secret and no way home. Will they be torn apart, brought together, or something else that even the team’s psychic didn’t see coming?
Cameron Dayton (writer and story developer, including Blizzard Entertainment and Chair Entertainment) shines a light on space salvage operations in Scrapped. Captain Cherokee Meier has hit the mother lode, an entire fleet of derelict ships. As the first buzzards to the kill, his crew is sitting pretty, but there are other problems at hand. Can the crew keep it together even as they tear the fleet apart?
EerieX Radio has just released their interview of our own Shane Hensley at Gen Con. Shane’s interview starts about 1 hour and 13 minutes, right after Lester Smith. If you’ve never had the chance to talk (or listen) to Lester, you should go ahead and catch the whole thing.
Catch other episodes, including the first part of the EerieX Radio Gen Con interviews, from the EerieX Radio home page or follow EerieX Radio on Facebook.
Are you ready for a really big convention announcement? Oh, that’s unfortunate—but I do have a few medium-sized convention-related bits for you, and I hope that satisfies your cravings.
Dragon Con was a blast. Savage Worlds products were flying out of the Beautiful Brains Books and Games booth. Clint and Jodi Black were on several well-received panels, and gaming in general and Savage Worlds in particular continue to grow every year. We had eight full tables at Savage Sunday Night, and a very good time was had. It’s always nice to catch up with folks you only see at the conventions, but this time I* got to meet Kristian Serrano (who I’ve only known electronically) in the flesh. Join us all there next year!
The legacy of Gen Con continues. The Misdirected Mark’s Gen Con Interviews, Part Two is now available. If you weren’t there, it’ll be like you were. If you were there, it’ll be like you still are (which is probably kind of creepy, really).
Plans are afoot for the annual Savage Worlds invasion at MACE. Their event submission is open now, and lots of talk at Dragon Con was about what we were all planning on running at MACE. Watch this space for more details as they come, and watch MACE November 7-9 in Charlotte, North Carolina, to catch at least Jodi and Clint Black and Joel Kinstle.**
There’s going to be some Savage Worlds gaming at Chupacabracon—at least two! While I’m sure there will be much more than that, both Shane Hensley and Clint Black are planning on attending. Shane will be running an East Texas University adventure called The Thing at Wilson’s Quarry which may finally dissuade college students from swimming in quarries for good. Clint will be treating people to his Sci-Fi original homage, Arctigator vs Crocosharkasaurus, with survival and better acting gigs both unlikely. Go ahead and mark your calendars for January 9-11, 2015 and catch them in Austin, Texas. You’ll be happier (and more likely to have some barbecue) if you do.
* Remember, if you see “I” in the updates, it’s me, Joel Kinstle. Pinnacle does not speak in some weird anti-royal non-we singular pronoun.
** Yes, that’s me again, but in the third person this time. All of you who have been victims of my editorial wrath may now feel smug for my lack of consistency.