From around October last year through to January I was working on content for Open Design as part of my participation in the Dark Roads and Golden Hells (DRGH) project and now some of that work is available for you to spend your hard-earned dollars on.
Open Design projects were an interesting experience. There was a very “fan community” feel to the whole process, with people in the community for the product all contributing ideas and giving feedback on parts of the project as they develop. To become a contributor to the DRGH project was a 2 step process for me; firstly I purchased patronage as a Senior Patron and secondly I pitched ideas and they were chosen by the DRGH community for inclusion (or not).
Being a Senior Patron gave not merely a better position to pitch content for DRGH, but it also opened up opportunities to be involved with other projects such as the Midgard Pathfinder Bestiary to which I was able to contribute the Dream Eater monster after pitching along with a number of others DRGH senior patrons. It also got me involved with the KQ community and through the IRC chat led to my taking out a Midgard patronage and pitching monsters for the 4E version of the Bestiary (which was just funded through Kickstarter and will be printed in Hardcover and have a player’s guide printed for it to which I will have also contributed along with Paul Baalham). It also allowed me the opportunity to pitch to be the lead on future Open Design projects (which I didn’t succeed at to my great relief now).
The main thing being a Senior Patron permitted was the ability to pitch to contribute one of the new planes (in 4E terms an Astral Domain) or to detail part of an existing plane. There were 2 rounds of pitches and I pitched a different thing each time, learning from the first pitch to create a better pitch the second time around. The pitch is a tough thing to write well, a single paragraph essentially that must capture the imaginations of the patrons enough to win more votes than the other pitches. In all 7 patron pitched planes made it into the book, many more were pitched. My successful pitch was the Plane of Spears, a place of eternal battle where the armies of heavens and hells can clash and gods of battle make their summer homes. A successful pitch meant writing 6000 words of content (about 4 pages, 5 with pictures), which is surprisingly difficult not because 6k words is hard to write, but because fitting what could be a sourcebook of its own as your imagination takes hold into 6k words is pretty hard!
So DRGH has the Pathfinder logo on the front cover and that might make a 4E DM look away from the product, however 80 of the book’s 109 pages are system neutral. There are 12 pages of monsters and magic items and 15 pages of Pathfinder player content that a 4E DM cannot use as written, but could certainly get some more ideas from for making homebrew 4E content (especially the Monster section). The 80 pages of system neutral content covers things from the structure of the planes (using the Midgard cosmology as an example), how to travel around the planes, rules for unique and unusual things that can be purchased and sold (like souls and voices) and of course the 44 pages that introduce 7 new planar locations in detail.
Now I’m looking forward to getting some use out of the product in the comming years (see it being system neutral and thus good for DnDNext as well) and maybe reading feedback from the gaming comunity on the product. If you grab a copy I certainly hope you find it as enjoyable to read as I do!