Doom, Gloom and Eberron Q&A


Since the Phoenix Kickstarter campaign ended, I’ve been working hard on finishing the writing for Phoenix and that’s going to be my focus for the next few months. However, I don’t want to completely drop off the face of the earth, and I’ve got a big backlog of Eberron questions to get to.

First, news: Fairytale Gloom comes out this week. I’m very happy with the game and I look forward to hearing what people think of it. One thing I like is that you’re working with characters you already know – which makes it easy to come up with a new story. Furthermore, Fairytale Gloom doesn’t use preset families; instead you assemble a family from the cast of 20 characters. So you can assemble the cast of a classic fairy tale… or you can decide that Snow White, Red Riding Hood and Cinderella are secret agents working for the mysterious “Granny.”

Beyond that, there’s big news in the world of Kickstarter. For those who aren’t familiar with The Doom That Came To Atlantic City, in 2012 a guy named Erik Chevalier licensed a game I’d designed with my friend Lee Moyer, and went to Kickstarter to raise the money to produce it. He raised four times the amount he was asking for; told everyone that he was making the game; and a year later revealed that he was out of money and had never actually gotten around to making the game. Here’s my post from when I received this news. Because Erik had broken his contract, the rights to the game returned to Lee and I. We worked out an arrangement with Cryptozoic where they made the game and game everyone who backed it a free copy. It wasn’t an ideal solution – Erik had promised many things that Cryptozoic couldn’t provide, especially since they were doing it entirely as a gesture of goodwill to the people who’d been robbed – but thanks to Cryptozoic the game exists and made it to the backers. For the last two years there’s been no further news… until yesterday. The FTC has leveled a $112K judgment against Erik Chevalier as punishment for his duplicitous practices. Supposedly he’s also enjoined to honor his pledge to refund backers. It’s of limited effect as Erik is apparently broke – but I’m glad to see SOMETHING done about this. Crowdfunding is an amazing thing. Thanks to people who have put there faith in me I’m producing Phoenix  a game I could never have produced on my own. It’s a chance to bring things in the world that might never exist otherwise, and I hate seeing that trust abused.

So, that’s the short news here: I’m still working on Phoenix, Fairy Tale Gloom will be on shelves any day now, and there is finally some degree of justice for Doom backers.

I have a big slush pile of Eberron questions that I’ll get to as time allows… here’s a few to get the ball rolling again. At this time I have no news about any developments with 5E Eberron. Rest assured, I’ll share news if and when I have any. Now on with the questions…

The Mourning is the big obvious “no canonical answer” Eberron mystery. Any others in the setting that you particularly like?

Where do warforged souls come from? What do the Daelkyr want? What were the Quori of the previous age like? What exactly are aberrant dragonmarks, and why are they starting to appear again after lying dormant for so long?

When running Eberron, what is the single most important thing to remember? How does Eberron differ from other settings?

I don’t think there’s one answer that covers all Eberron games. If you’re more on the pulp end of the spectrum, then you want to look for ways to make the PCs feel remarkable. Never have a fight on solid ground when you could have it on the back of a moving lightning rail or an airship plummeting from the sky. Emphasize the villainy of the villains and the stakes of the conflict, and make sure your players feel like big damn heroes. All of this changes when you go to the noir side of the spectrum. In the mean streets of Sharn, things aren’t so clearly defined. It’s hard to tell the heroes from the villains. Stories don’t always end well – and sometimes it’s best when they don’t. In a noir campaign your want hard decisions and difficult revelations.

But there are a few things that can apply to any Eberron game, and these are things I try to call out when I’m creating an Eberron adventure for a convention or charity event. One of these is the war. Khorvaire is just two years out of a horrific war that ended with the utter destruction of nation. How did the war affect the player characters? Who did they fight for, or why didn’t they fight? How can its impact be felt in the adventure – whether it’s the scars of the conflict or the tensions of the current cold war? How about the impact of industrialized magic… how can you show magic being used as a tool within society?

When running con games I call out elements of the setting that are especially unique. In previous games I’ve used parties of Dhakaani goblins; monstrous agents of the Daughters of Sora Kell; and a Blood of Vol undead equivalent of the A-Team. It’s a way to immediately impress on people that things aren’t what they’re used to – that monsters aren’t always bad guys and that the bad guys aren’t always monsters.

Eberron is a world that is waiting for heroes. Do you think it’s a world with a place for a campaign for high level evil characters? Beside that forces of evil look already preeminent, I am worried that a ruthless high level cleric or mage could easily overpower any human institution.

This question comes up a fair bit. There’s a lot of different ways to answer it. But the first question I have is what’s the experience your players are looking for? In choosing to be evil, what do they WANT their story to be like? In my opinion, RPGs are about building a collaborative story. As DM, your challenge is to build out that story, to make it challenging and interesting. In choosing to be evil, do your players want to simply achieve wealth and personal power? Do they want to create a criminal empire? Do they want to depose rulers and take over Khorvaire? Each of these stories builds room for different sorts of opposition. An equally important question is what they want the tone to be… is this story more pulp or noir?

Personally, I see an “evil” campaign as leaning more towards noir. The typical noir story has very few heroes… but deals with the fact that villains will happily prey on each other. In a noir story, I’d reveal that the world is a lot darker than anyone realizes. I’d play up the number of organizations that are secretly controlled by the Lords of Dust, the Aurum, or the Dreaming Dark. I’d work in the extremely ruthlessness of organizations such as the Trust, the Citadel or the Chamber. I’d have my villainous PCs constantly on edge for the threat of betrayal, assassination or dangerous revelation. Sure, that institution LOOKS like an easy target… but that’s because you don’t realize that the “low level cleric” running the temple is actually an epic level rakshasa or an Inspired. In short, in a noir villain campaign, I’d pit the PCs against other villains who are every bit as powerful as they are – or more so – and in a far better starting position.

On the other hand, perhaps the players WANT a pulp-style evil campaign in which they are the worst villains the world has every seen. In that case, I’d play down the Lords of Dust and Dreaming Dark; if the players WANT to be the coolest villains around, it’s not so much fun to be constantly tripping over older evil conspiracies. Instead, I’d create heroes. Eberron is intentionally designed as a world in need of heroes because the PCs are expected to fill that role. If the PCs instead choose to play villains, as DM I’d create the heroes that would usually be PCs. Let’s have Tira Miron reborn as a new crusader of the Silver Flame. Trade out the Lord of Blades for a heroic warforged uniting his people into a force for good… a Professor X instead of a Magneto. Perhaps the Twelve assemble a team of dragonmarked champions as their own answer to the Avengers. For that matter, you could bring in any of the protagonists of the Eberron novels; the reason novels aren’t canon is because we don’t want these heroes treading on the toes of the PCs, but if the PCs don’t want the part, why not? Alternately, you could have a truly powerful group of heroes – heroes who always seem to come back no matter how they are defeated or destroyed. The ultimate revelation is that these champions are actually shapechanged dragons – agents of the Chamber acting to preserve their preferred path of the prophecy. They always return because even if killed, a new dragon can assume the role of the fallen champion.

Basically, the default assumptions of Eberron assume the PCs are heroic. If they aren’t, change those assumptions. Create what you need to create to present the challenges the PCs want to deal with. And don’t be afraid to LET the PCs disrupt existing organizations, if that’s the story they want to be part of. LET them throw Kaius out and take over Karrnath… because once they’ve got territory to control, you’ve got a lot more hooks to work with.

That’s all for now!



Doom News & Things I’m Backing

The Doom That Came To Atlantic City is one step closer to reality. These resin models were used to create the molds for the playing pieces. Cryptozoic has proof copies of the miniatures and is showing them at Board Game Geek Con, going on in Dallas right now! This is the first time anyone’s been able to play the game with the miniatures, and it’s great to finally be closing in on the end of this particular road. Thanks again to everyone who put their faith in this project, and especially to Cryptozoic for their kindness and generosity.If you get a chance to see the minis at BGGC, let me know what you think!

While my experience with The Forking Path was painful and disappointing, I still believe in crowdfunding. I’m planning to kickstart Phoenix next year. The game is coming along and we’re continuing to playtest and hone, but we aren’t going to launch a campaign until we are entirely confident in our production budget and timeline. Having seen what happened with Doom, I have no intention of making those mistakes in my own campaign… and as a result, it’s still going to be a few months before we launch Phoenix. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to back a host of other projects. Some have just wrapped up, like Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s Middleman Crowd-Funded Franchise Resurrection and James Ernest’s card game Get Lucky; I’m looking forward to both of those. But there’s a few others that are still going on, and I thought I’d share.


An RPG project from Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell, this is a setting that crosses multiple worlds, each with its own unique laws and structures… and your character changes to adapt to each world. I played around with a similar idea a few years back, and I’m keen to see what Monte and Bruce have come up with. The Strange only has 24 hours left, and they’ve already unlocked a host of new material through stretch goals, so check it out quick!

ODYSSEY: A Game of Journeys

Odyssey is a story-driven RPG from Will Hindmarch. I’ve been a fan of Will’s work since we collaborated on Friends of the Dragon many years ago. His pay-what-you-want cyberpunk campaign Always/Never/Now is one of my favorite roleplaying experiences of the last decade. In my opinion, anything Will is involved in is worth a look, and Odyssey is no exception.


From the minds of Anthony Gallela and Jeff Wilcox comes Zeppeldrome, The Hazardous Dirigible Rally. If you’re like me, you’ve been bemoaning the horrifying dearth of dirigible-based board games on the market today. Zeppeldrome doubles down on this concept, as it’s a dirigible race in which the racecourse is itself in an even larger dirigible. This isn’t just a load of hot air, folks. Well, it is, but it’s also an intriguing game involving a modular board, pre-planned movement, and the ability to interfere with your opponent’s preplanned movement. I haven’t had an opportunity to check it out, but Jenn has, and it gets her seal of approval. So if you’ve been hankering for a quality game about humorously awkward airships, take a look!




Cryptozoic Saves Doom!

The development of The Doom That Came To Atlantic City has been a long road for Lee Moyer and myself, and a week ago it looked like a story with a decidedly unhappy ending. For me, the worst part of it was that people who’d put their faith in my design had been hurt by it. When the news broke, we received a outpouring of support from people in the gaming community. Both casual gamers and industry professionals expressed their sorrow, asked about buying the Print & Play version, or what it would take to get to get the game into print. While Lee and I were keen to see the game finally produced, neither one of us were comfortable with the thought of doing that when the first people to support it were left out in the cold. Luckily, Scott Gaeta of Cryptozoic Entertainment felt the same way. So here’s the news of the day:

The Print and Play version of Doom is live. If you are a backer, you should receive download instructions within the hour (make sure to check spam folders!). if you don’t, please contact me through this website.

Cryptozoic Entertainment is going to produce The Doom That Came To Atlantic City… And send it to the backers free of charge. If you backed the game, Cryptozoic will be providing you with as many copies of the game as you were due to receive. They can’t fulfill all of the rewards that were promised by The Forking Path, but they are going to evaluate the rewards and see what else they can do. If you’re a backer, expect to hear from Cryptozoic in the next few days with more information.

You can find the official press release here, and while you’re at it, check out Lee Moyer’s post on his blog.

To be absolutely clear: This has nothing to do with The Forking Path or Kickstarter. The project was cancelled, and this is not a reward or refund from the Forking Path. Cryptozoic isn’t assuming responsibility for the Kickstarter project or the actions of The Forking Path: They are simply doing what they can to make things right for the gamers who have suffered because of it. As I said, they can’t cover all rewards The Forking Path promised, because they are doing this entirely at their own expense to lend a hand. But Cryptozoic will see to it that the backers get the game they thought they were backing, and that is a tremendous relief to me.

Thanks to all of you who backed the game and to those of you who reached out to us over the last week. Thank you for making this game a reality, and for showing such compassion for your fellow gamers.


Here’s the Cryptozoic Release:

Cryptozoic & Creators Pledge that Kickstarter Backers will not be Abandoned!

Irvine, CA (July 31, 2013)—Cryptozoic Entertainment™, a premier developer of original and licensed games, announced today that it will be publishing the board game The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, created by Lee Moyer and Keith Baker.This news comes just a week after the previous publisher announced that the Kickstarter project had been cancelled.
“For Lee and I, the worst part of this is that people who put their faith in our game have been hurt by it,” said Baker. “After the Kickstarter was cancelled, many people came forward with ideas to keep the game alive. But we didn’t want to pursue an option that would save Doom unless it would also get the game into the hands of the people who first supported it.”
Moyer and Baker have fought to bring this whimsical game of cosmic horror to life for over a decade. In 2010, sculptor Paul Komoda joined the team with his unique vision of the terrifying Old Ones. In 2013 it seemed that the stars were finally aligned… until the surprising announcement that the project was abandoned.
“We were really shocked to hear the news about this last week” said Scott Gaeta Cryptozoic’s chief operating officer. “The game looked fantastic and I thought that we might be able to help, so I contacted Keith right away. Keith and Lee told me that taking care of the Kickstarter backers was the most important thing to them and I couldn’t agree more. That’s why we are going to be fulfilling all of the Kickstarter game orders ourselves.”
“Our first priority is getting the game produced and in the hands of the Kickstarter backers,” said Gaeta. “We are already working with the factory and should have a date we can share in a few weeks. We are also going to be demoing the game at Gen Con and the upcoming Alliance Open House. This game is just too much fun not to make it available to gamers everywhere.”
Soon to be available in hobby stores world wide, The Doom that Came to Atlantic City board game invites players to assume the role of one of the Great Old Ones – beings of ancient eldritch power. Cosmic forces have held you at bay for untold eons, but at last the stars are right and your maniacal cult has called you forth. Once you regain your full powers, you will unleash your doom upon the world! There’s only one problem: you’re not alone. The other Great Old Ones are here as well, and your rivals are determined to steal your cultists and snatch victory from your flabby claws! It’s a race to the ultimate finish as you crush houses, smash holes in reality, and fight to call down The Doom That Came To Atlantic City!
For more information about The Doom that Came to Atlantic City Board Game, please visit, Keith Baker’s blog at and Lee Moyer’s blog at
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About Cryptozoic Entertainment
Founded in 2010, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Inc. is a premier developer and publisher of original and licensed board games, card games, comics and trading cards, including the World of Warcraft® Trading Card Game, The Hobbit board and deck building games, The Big Bang Theory: The Party Game and The Walking Dead™ Board Game. Following a philosophy and core principle of “Fans First,” the dedicated gamers and fans of the Cryptozoic Entertainment team are focused on producing fun and amazing products along with epic events that bring all gaming fans together as part of the Cryptozoic community. Visit for additional product and event information.