GenCon wrap-up: Where’s Johnny Depp when you need him?

Green Ronin was having a great show, having sold out of Mutants & Masterminds related products early in the convention, and having won eight ENnie Awards. However, one of the things that caught my eye at the company’s booth was the cover art for Skull & Bones, a d20 product that started its life with Synister Creative back in 2001, was with Adamant Entertainment for a while, and finally landed at Green Ronin — nearly a year and a half ago, at GTS ’02. Now planned as a September release (though the catalog says April), and the second product in GR’s Mythic Vistas line, the last I’d heard was that the book was “in layout hell” as of Origins this year.

Skull & Bones coverQuite obviously, some sort of powerful curse has afflicted the project, and T.S. Luikart, one of Skull & Bones’ co-authors, is the first to admit it. “I’ve promised to soak the first copy I get in rum and burn it in Karrefour’s name,” he told me, only half joking. “I wrote all the voodoo sections, and clearly pissed someone off.” (Looking skyward, he added, “Please, let the book come out! Please!!”) Whether the fried motherboard of one of the authors, or disappearing freelancers, or other challenging delays, the 192-page pirate campaign setting has seen its share of setbacks.

There’s a potential benefit to all these delays, though. “It’s been delayed through one thing or another for so long, there’s hardly any competition on the subject,” said Luikart. When Skull & Bones was originally scheduled for release, three or four competing products sprang up around it, causing concern that it would get lost in the shuffle. Not much chance of that now. The sourcebook has taken a different tack from other products, focusing on historical accuracy, voodoo and zombis (yes, I spelled that right), and the height of piracy along the Spanish Main. The rules for that most important of motivations, gold and silver, are the most accurate of any in the d20 system, and the book’s large section on plunder won’t leave buccaneers wanting.

As of this writing, Adamant Entertainment has announced “an agreement with Green Ronin to produce adventures and other support materials for Skull and Bones.” These support products will come in the form of PDFs through RPGNow and print-on-demand books through RPGMall. Here’s hoping the voodoo curse has lifted, allowing Skull & Bones to achieve its full potential as a great roleplaying resource and product line.