Posts Tagged ‘don’t hack this game’
I’m looking over the 35 pitches we have right now for Don’t Hack This Game. We’ve got some great stuff, and I’m pretty excited to work on this project.
There’s just one thing: nearly all of them are hacks that put the Don’t Rest Your Head engine into a different setting & twist the mechanics. We want those, but we also want the book to encompass more than that.
The original pitch window closes tonight: Wednesday, January 4th, at 11:59pm Pacific Time. But for things that aren’t porting DRYH to other settings or similar, we’re extending the pitch window by one week: Wednesday, January 11th, at 11:59pm Pacific Time.
Here are the sort of questions we want Don’t Hack This Game to answer:
- How can DRYH be used as a subsystem for other games?
- What new sub-systems could DRYH acquire to add another dimension to the game?
- What should every DRYH GM know about how to make the game shine in a particular way?
- What do pre-written DRYH adventures look like?
If you have an article that fits one of those questions or something like it, you have another week to pitch to us! Yay, pitches!
Already Written About DRYH?
Since the game’s been around for years, loads of people have written ideas on blogs, forums, etc. If you’re one of those people, and you think it’s worth being in Don’t Hack This Game, listen up!
We’ll be willing to take a small number of reprinted material. Payment for reprints is one and a half cents a word; otherwise, payment details are the same.
Alternatively, if you think you’ve written something that would be good, but worth rewriting for book publication, shoot us a line and we might accept it as a new article (depending on the amount of work done).
Either way, drop me a line at email@example.com and we’ll look at each on a case-by-case basis.
We’ve received ten pitches for Don’t Hack This Game, which excites me! And in anthology production, you got good pitches and you get sad ones. I’m going to show you an example of a good pitch, from Rob Donoghue. (Or, rather, he’ll show you.)
Proposal #1: Don’t Turn Your Back
Rob Donoghue – [redacted]
I’ve Written for Evil Hat, MWP, WOTC and White Wolf.
Don’t Turn Your Back: A game of action, espionage, and the prices to be paid for both.
This is, for all intents and purposes, a hack for using DRYH to run stories in the style of Casino Royale – superspy stories with all the trappings of gadgetry and badassery, but with nightmares and madness being replaced with the growing threat of compromise and moral decay. Characters are Agents, badass masters of espionage, assigned to stop The Opposition from carrying out their Sinister Master Plan.
While this was conceived in the vein of Daniel Craig’s James Bond, the idea is flexible enough to handle much of the “action-espionage” genre. This is not suited to games of quiet intrigue – it is for a game where intrigue is shaken (not stirred) with excitement, violence and sex.
- Exhaustion is now moral exhaustion, the toll of taking lives and trying to live in the strange limbo of a spy’s life. Go to far, and you’re In the Wind.
- Madness is Support (sounds nice, doesn’t it) – you can draw on it for resources and gadgets, but doing so runs the risk of Blowing Your Cover.
- Talents – Two Statements, one “I Always” and one “I Never”, both with a qualifying conjunction from the GM(A la Mortal Coil)
- Despair is The Master Plan, and serve as a clock for the game.
- Asset Dice – A single blue die to represent that NPC helping you out. Useful, but expendable. Works like extra discipline, and can be sacrificed to recover from being In The Wind or a Blown Cover, but the Asset goes to the GM.
- Help and Trust – Loan another agent your discipline dice for a roll, but he may choose to put any bad outcome on you.
- Secret Agendas – In multi-agent games, everyone has their own agenda over and above stopping the opposition.
I like this; it clearly states the idea and the points of interest for the article. It tells me what to expect. And, most importantly, it makes me want to read the thing.
You need to sell the anthology editor on the idea first and foremost. Your pitch to them has to say “I know you’re going to get a few ideas, and maybe even one like this one, but what I have here is worthy of your attention.”
Oh, and you need to do that in, like, 30 seconds. Because that’s all you’ll get if you have a boring pitch. How do you handle that? With deliberate detail to the reader’s eyes. (In the case, the reader in the antho editor, like me.)
First para is a single sentence, and my eye bounces there. Then it bounces to the “Mechanical Tweaks” heading, and then I see bullets there as well as the next section. This is all within roughly a second of my eyes having contact with the email, before actually reading it.
And now, going in, I feel like there’s some structure to the pitch that gives me confidence in what I’m about to read. Given that I’m not actually reading these much before the pitch window closes (as I have other things that I need to work on), deciding to read his pitch right away is an accomplishment.
If Rob had put the same information in two large, dense paragraphs, my initial impression would have been to sigh and file it away.
Now, Rob broke one of the rules in the pitch: 200 words on the synopsis. His was a touch over 300. Yesterday, I said on Twitter that part of the point of pitch guidelines is to demonstrate that you can stick to guidelines. And here, Rob gets a pass…and in no way does he get that pass because he’s one of the owners of Evil Hat.
He gets it because I know he can write to guidelines. There’s a dirty not-quite-secret: once you prove yourself, you get more flexibility in how you handle things like this. The degree depends on the editor involved and your rapport with him or her, naturally. With me, it’s simple: if I’m intrigued enough to where I want your article and I know you can write to spec, as long as your pitch doesn’t bore me or piss me off we’re good.
And he gets it because what he wrote was good. The intro was spot on, and the backup material told me what he’s thinking in a quick & clear way. In fact, it’s material he could have tossed out of the email and kept as notes for himself to make the pitch shorter, but it’s good material for me.
If I don’t know you, and you demonstrate not writing to spec, then your pitch had better be damned interesting to me. You’ll have to work harder than someone who did follow the guidelines.
And here’s where it gets really sticky: often, shorter is better, because it’s a teaser trailer for the article. So I might just like that shorter pitch someone sends in over the longer one you do.
In short: Rob’s got a good pitch. The proof is in the fact that I’m going to take it. But don’t tell him. I’m going to wait until after the pitch window closes to let him know. *shhhh*
I’ll share with you one more direct not-quite-secret about anthology editors: you can actually, you know, query us about breaking the rules. There was an interesting 500 word idea that was posted up that I might have taken if the author wrote and said “hey, I have this idea, but it’s only 500 words.” We might say “no” or we might start a conversation. But you won’t know until you ask.
 I chuckled at his footnote about his wife’s comment, because it’s true. :)
Fred Hicks and I have worked together on a few mad ideas, but the one we’re going to talk about today may be the maddest of them all! One of Evil Hat’s earliest games, Don’t Rest Your Head, has been out for five years now, and people have been doing all sorts of crazy hacks with it in that time. With its simple engine of exhaustion & madness, it’s inspired a lot of you awesome folks to do crazy-awesome things with it.
That’s the book we want to make, the next chapter in the Don’t Rest Your Head line: Don’t Hack This Game. And because you inspired it, we want you to be a part of it.
Articles We’re Looking For
We are looking for articles on hacking Don’t Rest Your Head’s system (exhaustion, madness, dice pools, responses, questionnaire, etc.), existing setting, new settings & rules supporting them, GM tricks, and so on. Articles may not be based on other intellectual property (so we can’t take your Shadowrun hack, but we could a generic or original cyberpunk-with-magic one).
Each article should be 1000-2000 words long.
Please read Fred’s post about hacking the dice pools in DRYH, as that’ll help understand where we see the handles in the game:
(You’re free to post comments if you disagree, by the way! We welcome conversation.)
You may also want to grab the free DRYH adventure, The Bad Man. It contains revised rules (in condensed form) for the game, notably the PvP & helping rules:
Pitching Us Ideas & Deadlines
If you have an article idea, send Ryan Macklin (firstname.lastname@example.org) the following information:
- Topic or subject of the article, summarized in 200 words or less
- Expected length of article (i.e. a ballpark between 1000 and 2000 words)
- Full name and contact information (e-mail address, etc).
- A brief background of past game or hobby writing experience or publications, if any
You may submit up to five proposals, although in most cases only one proposal will be accepted. Multiple proposals may be submitted in a single e-mail; in this case, contact info and background info only need to be included once. Submit your proposals in the body of the email, not as an attachment.
The deadline for proposals is Wednesday, January 4th, 2012. If your proposal is accepted, you will be notified within 7 days after the close of the open call window. Once you know if your proposal is accepted, you will have until Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 to submit your completed draft.
(Edit: as we’ve extended the pitch window for some pitches, our schedule will be shifting around. If we have a later due date, you’ll be informed when you receive our greenlight.)
We’ll turn that around within four weeks, and if there’s anything we need to have you revise, you’ll get notes from us with expectation of four weeks to turn it around.
Compensation for articles is 5 cents per word, 50% upon acceptance of your completed draft & 50% upon publication. You will also receive a copy of the final product and, of course, credit for your article.
If your article is accepted for publication, you’ll be licensing it to Evil Hat Productions for publication. That means you’ll own your work, but Evil Hat gets to publish it in Don’t Hack This Game first.
After six months, you may publish your article on your blog or wherever, so long as it’s non-commercial (otherwise, you’re using Evil Hat’s IP, Don’t Rest Your Head, without authorization). Naturally, you can contact us about this if that’s an issue.
What “acceptance” means: Your article is not considered accepted until we receive your draft and you have made any revisions we call for. Once we receive that and do a final review, we’ll let you know if it’s accepted and give you a contract for the work.
We are still currently evaluating our publishing options for this product, whether this will be electronic-only or electronic & print.
For More Information
If you have a question, you can either comment on this blog post, or you can email the anthology’s editor, Ryan Macklin, at email@example.com.
All queries/pitches will be via email if you wish for a response. If you do it over Twitter or Facebook or whatever, Ryan will roll his eyes at yet another writer who can’t follow directions, and ignore it. :)