Post details: BW meets Avalanche - seeking alpha testers

05/30/10

Permalink 07:36:48 am, Categories: Promotion, marketing : strategic, 1535 words   English (US)

BW meets Avalanche - seeking alpha testers

Cross posted at the burning forum.
Notice that I try to present our vision first, and give information on the product afterward.

Well, anyway, I'm still looking for alpha testers, even if you're not playing with BW. Just use the "contact" button on our current site and we'll get into touch.

Introducing myself
Let me begin by introducing myself and my presence on this forum (first post for me, so ...).

My name is Sébastien Pelletier and I live in Montréal, Québec, Canada. I've been living there for almost three years after being in Paris for six years. I'm a project manager as my daily job. My main hobbies are movies, reading about philosophy, French and international politic, and I'm also a big player (CCG, video games, tabletop and, of course, rpg).
I'm mostly present on The Forge and story-games.
Be warned that I'm a native french speaker.

It is while being in Paris, alone, far away from my friends, that I started to work on a rpg project, which, at first was supposed to be "little".

Introducing Avalanche
I guess you haven't heard about it, since it is not on the shelves yet, so let me introduce you to Avalanche.
Let me start with our vision :
We believe that role playing games are first and foremost a creative activity. We believe that role players, dungeon masters and players alike are very creative. This is why Avalanche is an unfinished product. We believe you can finish this story better than ourselves; that including you in the creative process can only improve Avalanche. This is not a story where you are the hero. This is a story where you are the author. We believe that you should create the very own fabric of the culture you are part of, that you shouldn’t and wouldn’t be a simple beholder of the upcoming adventures to come. We need you to finish this book.

We believe that the creative process has more value than the final product itself. This is why you will encounter different maps representing the same reality in Avalanche; even some drafts. In the course of this creative process, which must be as free for the creators as possible, multiple, even concurrent, versions of the same truth might arise. This is good. Because there is no truth, not even some author’s truth. As authors of Avalanche, your truth is as good as ours.

And maybe, this might interests you :
What is Avalanche about you might ask me? Sure, it is about a civil war, it is about hard dilemmas about the humans’ survival, it is about the abuse of nature, but this would not be my answer. Avalanche is about finding one’s place into the world. It is about questioning one’s value. Avalanche is first and foremost about one journey of self’s discovery.

What kind of product would be able to support that vision, what would be its specificity :
- Pure fluff : Avalanche is not about any systems. It might be played with any system you'd like.
- A single product : Avalanche is a setting and many modules in a single product.
- No PCs : don't look for them, they are not mentioned once.
- No details : Avalanche is high level and provide no details concerning the setting and the adventures.
- Modular approach : every bits of information fits into a "space". Forget about your typical modules.
- Multi plots : Avalanche is about many adventures, all occurring [I]at the same time[/I], over a large region.
- Calendar based : there is no chapters. There is only a big timeframe to manage the plots. And [I]time[/I] does matter.
- Non linear : Avalanche is not meant to be read from one cover to the other. You may start anywhere and follow on any pages.
- Storyboard : yeah, this looks like a storyboard; and yeah, storyboards are, by definition, unfinished product. So is Avalanche.

If you're intrigued, you may take a look at those :
The teaser of Avalanche
Map of the region
The relationship map
An example of a typical page with the provisional final layout

Avalanche and Burning Wheel
I've play tested Avalanche with d20, BW, TSOY and some kind of variations of white wolf system. It works fine with all of them, but, of course, different systems do different things, so depending on how you intend to play Avalanche, some systems are better at handling some types of games. For my AP report for BW, you can see it here.

Anyway, I really liked BW, even if I found it a little bit "rules heavy" for the players I had at hands. But, seriously, I do find Avalanche and BW do be a perfect match. And I do not think there are needs to accommodate Avalanche or BW for this fit. That's one thing I'd like to prove to Luke (yeah, that one), with whom I was in constant contact. And, by the way, Luke is one of the person who really helped me a lot on this project. And I'd like to thank him for that.

Maybe on a more general note : although Avalanche could be played with any system, I wouldn't recommend using d20. One of my goal as a publisher is to attract players of d20 with a mature product (my target audience is over 30) and introduce them to other systems, which I think would allow them to experiment more mature games, system related.

Looking out for Alpha testers
So, how am I going to prove this to Luke ? Well, by addressing his community. And maybe, I'm wrong (in which case, so be it), but let the "experts" decide.
Please also note that I intend to begin selling "beta" version of Avalanche this summer (I'm hoping late July) and I'm currently looking for testers. So, why not do both at the same time ? And I prefer to play test within a strong indie community than with d20.

So, what's the alpha version, the one I would be providing for play test?
- 120K word, describing a hundred characters, locations, organizations and magical items, and including a three months calendar of events happening in the world (that's the adventure).
- Around 350 illustrations done by great artists. A 100 is still missing.
- No informative pages. I'm writing them now and I want some feedback from the play testers to make sure I'm addressing the right thing.
- No layout and I must admit this is not the best "readable" stuff you'll come across. I'm using a word processor do produce the pdf and well, it is a bad idea.
- Three gorgeous maps (geographic, political and military) of the region.

Of course, I would be available for full support over the alpha version.

What I am expecting from alpha testers ?
- To read, at least, some parts of the book. There is no need to read it all to play.
- An AP post describing the character creation. Avalanche is quite useful doing the character burner.
- Three AP posts describing your game. I'm only asking for three sessions. After all, you're free.
- Of course, you must be using BW.

What's in it for the alpha testers ?
- A free pdf beta version of Avalanche when it is ready.
- A free pdf final version of Avalanche when it is ready.
- Credit as alpha testers on the final book.

Really, a contract?
Well, I guess this is some "overkill" and I thought a lot about this, but I think it is needed. Why?
Because I want permission to use and edit your AP reports and put them in the book. And, here at Avalanche, we take intellectual property very seriously.
Otherwise, the contract would include :
- No right to distribute.
- The AP needed to be credited.
- Those AP posts might be posted here, or at the forge, or at story games.

The contract will, in fact, also serves as a NDA, to prove that the product was distributed to you.
And to be honest, that will be hard to pursue someone on this. I might be disappointed that a alpha tester doesn't play, but what can I do?

Interested?
Be warned : Avalanche is a big book. It is a campaign. You'll have to invest some time into it. Also, Avalanche is kind of strange, it is a new kind of product.
But, on the other hand : I do think Avalanche is gorgeous and innovative. And fun.

Of course, I'd like people willing to play a campaign, having players at hand and with experience with BW. I'm not looking to distribute it to people who just want to "take a look" at it.
I'm looking for five alpha testers, hoping that all of them would be using BW.

So, if you're interested, don't hesitate, PM me (a quick note : a little introduction from your part would be well seen from my part).

As for this thread, I'd like to keep it for general questions and to talk about ideas on using BW with Avalanche and report AP post links.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I know this is long ...

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