Thursday, June 09, 2005

[HMP] Bardic Lore: The Villa of Mysteries Released

Highmoon Media Productions presents Bardic Lore: The Villa of Mysteries.

We first crossed a fancy gate that marked the entrance to the estate. Tall, spear-like trees—cypresses, I was informed—created a natural fence around the vast property and stood as soldiers flanking the path that led up to the villa proper. As we got closer, pairs of statues of creatures I'd only heard of in the myths of the invaders replaced the cypresses: centaur, pegasus, medusa, and the god they called Bacchus in a central and prominent spot right in front of the entrance to the house. A dark-haired, olive-skinned woman, Mirella Valerianus, unmistakably the mistress of the estate awaited our carriage with a veritable army of servants. [...] Early the next morning we were escorted to our carriages by the lady Mirella, who extended personal, private invitations to the Ard Righ and myself to return at any moment to the villa, whether on an official function or not. As we pulled away, and I turned back to see the olive-skinned beauty waving us farewell, I thought I may just have to take her up on her offer.
— From the journal of Amergin Ó Míl

Bardic Lore: The Villa of Mysteries details an Imperial-style villa for your d20 Fantasy game. Learn the history of the villa, its association to the cult of Bacchus, and the secrets it hides within its walls. Includes a history, a detailed tour of the villa, important NPCs, a new creature, a new spell and Lore/Knowledge information. Written by Daniel M. Perez.

Fully compatible with UKG Publishing's
The Villa of Mysterious Delights, a full-color 25mm printable map of the villa for use with your miniatures!

I am excited about this product. This is our first collaboration with another company, namely UKG Publishing, and I hope it is only the beginning. John Milner makes some bad-ass maps, and the one he did for the Villa was just astounding. I honestly don't know if our cross-promotion will work out as well as we hope it will, but gamers everywhere should definitely get a kick and some use out of his Roman villa map.

This product, The Villa of Mysteries, has waited some 2 years, and gone through various incarnations, in order to see the light of day. The villa was originally conceived as an isolated location known as the Villa of Earthly Delights, set in the world of Arcanis, namely just outside the city of Savona. This was way back when the idea of releasing Arcanis-themed articles first came up during company meetings, and though it never came to fruition, the article was completed anyway, and filed for possible later use.

Fast forward to earlier this year when, during a long-overdue clean-up of My Documents folder, I came across my folder of possible Arcanis articles, about 8 total. By now I'd already started Highmoon, and given that it was going to be next to impossible to get permission from Paradigm Concepts to use the Arcanis PI, I decided to make it generic and release it myself. After all, that was the whole point of starting my own publishing company. I started the process of making the story generic, which was quite annoying since I had made the villa quite integrated with the Arcanis setting, and I didn't want to necessarily rewrite 6 pages of history. So I gave it a go, made a first draft, and let it simmer for a while.

In the meantime, Bardic Lore turned from being a generic fantasy line to one portraying an implied campaign setting, name a mythic Celtic Ireland and British Isles (something that was unforseen, but quite welcomed). After the deal was made with UKG for them to do a map of the villa, I went back to it, and decided that I really did not need to make so many changes if I decided to make it part of Bardic Lore. Since the villa was set in Coryan, which is basically Arcanis' fantasy Rome, I decided to set the villa outside Londinium, and thus expanded the reach of Bardic Lore's implied setting and somewhat defined the time in which it is set (not that I am entirely sure of what that is, mind you; I wanna leave Bardic Lore grow as needs dictate). The second draft was easier to do; all I had to do now was remove the leftover PI elements, and Roman-ize it, which was quite easy to do. The result was the Villa of Mysteries, which I decided to name the same as the model in Pompeii.

I'm biased, but I think it is a nifty product. Even if you don't use it as-is, or decide the whole Roman-like style and history are for you, the location itself is a staple of fantasy, and the descriptions, NPCs, and new rules are all world-neutral enought that there should be no problem dropping them into any game. Ultimately, I am proud of the product because I like it; if I saw this product for sale, I would buy it, and I hope others feel the same way. Perhaps it's silly to get so involved with a short publication like this one, but each one of my original works, regardless of size, are one more notch I can put on my "Doing What I Love" belt.

I hope you like it.

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