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Articles

Here, you’ll find interviews, discussions and opinion pieces from myself and guest writers. If you’ve got a topic or game you’d like me to cover, please contact me and let me know. My opinions, as well as those of my guest writers, are our own.


I’m very excited to drop this promotional piece for Coyote and Crow. The logo and graphic design work are by Barbara Schelling. Barbara is a member of the Nakoda tribe and if I have my way, she’ll be an ongoing member of this project. I really love the graphical elements and color splashes in the logo.

The art is by Harry Conway. This piece wasn’t commissioned and isn’t connected to Coyote and Crow in any way. However, I temporarily licensed it for concept and promotional purposes. I feel it does a great job of capturing much of the tone and essence I’m going for, even if the details aren’t quite right. It won’t be used in the final version of Coyote and Crow, but I hope you enjoy it for now. And if you’re developing a game, please reach out to Harry (who you can find on ArtStation). He’s a great guy and a pleasure to work with.

Logo/Design by Barbara Schelling Art by Harry Conway
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The following is a short story set in the world of Coyote and Crow. It will likely appear in the core rule book. Waya’s Lesson is meant as an introduction to the world of Coyote and Crow, both in tone and theme. It also is at the heart of why the game is called Coyote and Crow. I hope you enjoy it.

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Things I’m going to talk about today:

  • Experience in RPGs
  • Native American talent
  • What’s next

It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m wiped. In the last couple of weeks I’ve dealt with the incredible achievement that was Avengers: End Game and the dismal failings of Game of Thrones. More importantly, I’ve been grappling with huge shifts in organization and workload at my day job. And to be frank with all of you, it’s left my batteries so dry that I’ve not nearly made the progress on Coyote and Crow that I would have liked.

But that doesn’t mean no progress has been made. In fact, I overcame one of the greatest hurdles in my development with a specific rules concept that I’m thrilled to see implemented. So let’s jump in.

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Hello! This is the first in what will likely be a long development journal for my Native futurist role playing game, Coyote and Crow. For the basics of this project and what has led me to this point, see my first post about it HERE.

So, how are things going with it, you ask? Incredibly well! At the same time, I’m beginning to grasp what a huge mountain I have to climb. It’s a little terrifying. More than just creating and publishing a new RPG, which by all accounts is daunting enough, I also have the very important responsibility of making sure that the Indigenous representation in my book is 100% on target.

Here are some aspects I have updates on:

  • Artists
  • Game Development
  • Outreach and Awareness

Artists: While I still haven’t locked in an artist yet, the search continues and I’m more determined than ever to find a Native American artist that is a fit for this game. I’ve spoken to some amazing folks, both Native and Non-Native and the list of people who have shown interest is getting long. Still, I haven’t quite gotten that mix of availability, heritage, skill set and enthusiasm that I’m looking for. It will come though. I can feel it.

Game Development: The game is coming along (although I have to admit, my day job has been grueling lately and I often have a hard time sitting in front of my laptop in my office after having spent all day on it.) I have six pre-made characters ready to go for a one-off adventure I’m developing. This will put my basic rules to the test and I’l be able to get valuable feedback on the system as well as thematic feedback from non-Natives.

My world building is coming along nicely and the world of Coyote and Crow is starting to feel more lived in every day. By the way, Coyote and Crow is my beta name. It’s possible I could switch to something else down the line, but I have really solid reasoning for sticking with what I have.

Outreach and Awareness: I’ve been blown away by the reception I’m receiving from both the gaming sphere and Native Americans. There seems to be a genuine hunger for this type of storytelling and world setting and I feel like I’m coming into this at just the right time. Marc Miller has been an invaluable resource and I can’t thank him enough for his continued support for the project. Two other established RPG publishers have shown interest in the project (which, come on, how flattering is that?). Numerous people have stepped forward to offer help, counsel, expertise and guidance. I was interviewed for a new podcast that focuses on inclusivity in gaming. Oh, and I’ve secured a web domain: CoyoteAndCrow.net (although there’s nothing there yet).

Next Steps: Hopefully, I’ll have an artist locked in soon. I’m hoping to be able to go through three play throughs of the one off adventure (Teaser! The title of the adventure is “The Isolation of Station 54”!) with three different groups of players during this spring and summer.

As much as I originally planned a release for Origins Game Fair 2020, now I’m just saying it will take as long as it takes to get it right. I’m feeling the enormity of my one shot and getting this done properly and I don’t want to rush it.

Till next time!

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Update 3/23/19:  The response I have received from people over the last 3 months has been astonishing! But I also realize that I want to start publishing real updates on the game here on SL3 as their own blog posts. So going forward, I’ll be creating new posts for each update. Check the main blog page for the lastest on Coyote and Crow!

Update 11/29/18:  I received an incredible promotional piece from artist, Jeff Holt, who really captured the feel that I’m going for. It’s at the bottom of the page.

Update 11/1/18: I’m currently participating in NaNoWriMo and using it as a way to start fleshing out some of my world, its story, and the themes that I want to highlight.

Update 10/18/18: I’m currently working on finding an artist who can help me with a promotional piece for the game. Specifically, something that can help draw attention to the project and help me get the team together that I need.

More updates here as they happen!

The Basics

I’m thrilled to tell you that after my experience with interviewing the NDN Players (which you can read HERE ) I had sort of an epiphany. After seeing a preview for the video game Greedfall, I wanted to create a “What If” world that explored the idea of Native Americans who never met Europeans, never suffered under colonization. And not set in the 1400s or even now, but in the future.  I tossed around the idea of a board game and a card game (both of which are still on the back burner), but decided to instead focus on my first true love in gaming – roleplaying games. RPGs are the best way to create the world that I have in my head and the best way for players to experience this rich expansive idea. (more…)

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Let’s discuss the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Ready Player One. (See what I did there? I referenced something from popular culture.)

I’m going to be getting into some minor spoiler territory in this article regarding Ready Player One, both the book and the film. That said, I’m not here to discuss the details of the plot of either. Want I want to talk about here is how Ready Player One is a golden opportunity for gamers, game developers and publishers. Not just video games, but board games as well. In fact, for the sake of this article, consider board games and video games interchangeable.

Ready Player One is filled with successes and problems. Both the film and the book are a meta-onion, enabling the consumer to look back and in on themselves, peeling away their relationship to media, nerd culture, and fandom. There’s beauty and ugliness in stripping back those layers and it’s important that we take a moment and pick those things out, isolate them, identify them, and then, either replicate them or shove them into the waste bin of history. (more…)

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No, this isn’t about me turning into the Hulk. This is my quick wrap up of this year’s trip to GAMA, the GAme Manufacturer’s Association. For 2018 and the near future, the board game trade show moved to Reno, Nevada, away from Las Vegas. For those of you that aren’t aware, GAMA is an industry trade show focusing on the board game industry. It’s a chance for publishers to interact with retailers, to show off their latest products and to let them know about future plans. There are seminars, demo nights, parties and an exhibit hall.

This is my third trip to GAMA and each year, it becomes more enlightening and more rewarding. The breadth of creativity and passion in the board game world is truly astounding. The switch to Reno seemed to be mostly for the better. We stayed at a pretty modern resort and it seemed to keep most of the publishers and retailers all in the same area.

Rather than bore you all with a play by play of who I had meetings with or throwing out a bunch of names that wouldn’t mean anything to you, I thought I’d give you some highlights of games that I think will be making a big splash soon. In fact, you can probably bet a little money that you’ll see reviews for some of these games soon.

Restoration Games: These folks are one of my favorite publishers out there right now. They’ve got expansion tracks for Downforce coming as well as Dinosaur Tea Party, an adorable light game with incredible art.

Smirk and Dagger (and Smirk and Laughter): It’s hard for me to convey how excited I am for Before There Were Stars, a creative myth making game using dice to create constellations. It’s one of my most anticipated of the year so far. They’ve also got the incredibly fun looking Tower of Madness, a Cthulhu style game that borrows from the old Kerplunk model of sticks in a tower with dropping marbles.

Renegade Games: I might be a bit biased on this entry. Renegade is branching further into role playing games and their latest, Overlight, is co-written by a friend of mine. But the art is incredible, the game play sounds amazing and Renegade always brings its A game.

Sadly, I didn’t get to play much at the show. It was a whirlwind couple of days and I had to leave early for a couple of vacation days to New Orleans. With another busy work week ahead, this is a short wrap up and sadly, I don’t have a deeper dive into how amazing GAMA can be. I’ll be back as soon as I can. In the meantime, here are a few pics from GAMA featuring some lovely peeps and some awesome ghost pirate ships from Deadman’s Doubloons by Passport. (Also, I can’t say “Ghost Pirate” without saying it like the ghost pirate character from the Venture Bros.)

 

 

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We need to have a talk about Indigenous representation in board games.

For most of my life, I’ve been lumped in with the majority of straight, white, cis male America, for better or worse. As a child, I was blissfully unaware of even the most basic concepts of racial bias, bigotry, racism or the dirty reality of American colonialism. Traveling in the military began to open my eyes to the rest of the world though and living in New Orleans for a decade completely changed my perspective. I believe, for the better.

But it took a little longer for me to begin to direct my attention directly to the concept of representation in board games and longer still for me to understand the representational void within board game design. One of my stated goals with Sub-Level 03 is to bring gaming to a wider audience and with that in mind, I reached out to to the folks at N.D.N. Players and asked if they’d have a chat with me.

N.D.N. Players are a group of Native American scholars and gamers based in the Pacific Northwest who combine their thorough education, knowledge of Indigenous communities and love of games. Taken directly from their webisite, they have a variety of aims:

• Bringing their indigeneity and social equity skills with them into the gaming aspect of popular culture
• Increasing a scholarly Indigenous presence within popular culture
• Using their Indigenous and their academic knowledge within their gaming
• Modeling Indigenous philosophies and understandings within gaming

With so many other minority voices rising up and being heard in current American political discourse, I felt like this was a great time to talk about Native American and Indigenous representation in board games and board game designs. What follows is my chat with Jeanette, Jonathan and Tylor. It’s a bit long, but I feel it’s well worth the read. I’ve edited in a few places for brevity but never for content or tone.

                                         

Jeanette Bushnell, PhD           Jonathan S. Tomhave, PhD       Tylor Prather

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Connor
Connor

Hello, readers! If you’re just tuning in, I highly recommend you go back and read part 1 of this article, which can be found HERE.

In part one of The Ethics of Buying Board Games, I discussed a bit of the industry framework and how you, the average game player, probably gets their hands on a game. Next, let’s talk briefly about money. I know many of you have probably already thought part of this through. If the distributors buy the games from the publisher, then the publisher has already gotten their money. Why should it matter where you buy a game from? In theory, that transaction has nothing to do with the publisher, right? I’m glad you asked. We’re getting closer to the heart of the matter here. (more…)

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