WMHS artwork: Taylor Made, Iron Golem cheerleader

Does that cute medusa in Lair Economics really have her eye on you? Can you possibly get your grade up in Common Tongue class while spending so much time in Slamball practice? Who’s bringing the cupcakes for the Undead Poets Society bake sale? And what do you really learn when you sign up for Armor class?

Wandering Monsters High School is a humorous fantasy roleplaying game where you take the role of monsters going to school. Inspired by wacky teen comedies and the silliest bits of fantasy gaming, WMHS is an all-ages game that anyone who’s attended school can relate to.

I first wrote WMHS as a 24-hour RPG challenge in 2005; start to finish, the game was done in less than a day. You can read the original version for free on the Web.

Why a new version? The revised Wandering Monsters High School game features an updated (and better) dice mechanic, new artwork, expanded rules on social interactions and student goals, more classes and extra-curricular activities, status symbols, a map of the school campus and walking tour, and more. What’s more, it’ll be available in print for the first time, as a 120-page digest-sized paperback.

Why a kickstarter? After a few years of work on it, the new WMHS edition is almost done, but there are some things that I simply can’t do by myself — such as proofreading, additional artwork, the aforementioned campus map, and so on. To get that stuff done and get the book in your hands, I need to get help. And since I want to make money by selling WMHS, I want to pay for the assistance I’m getting. And I want a way for interested parties to pre-order their copies of the game!

Who’s involved? The writing is by me, Caoimhe Ora Snow (also credited as Kynn Bartlett); I’m a game designer who has been playing roleplaying games for over 30 years. I’m also the developer of Heartbreak & Heroines (will be returning in 2012!). The WMHS art is primarily by cover artist Lea Hernandez, comics artist and webcomics pioneer. Additional artwork was contributed by Louis LeClerc, and Robert Altbauer is our cartographer.

Who’s the cheerleader? That’s Taylor Made, iron golem cheerleader! She’s one of four example characters featured in the WMHS rules.

Here are Taylor’s WMHS game stats:

Taylor Made
Species: Iron Golem
Year in School: Junior
Gender: Female
Niche: Brainy cheerleader
Clique: The Inn Crowd
Grades: Citizenship B, Fitness B, Hygiene A, Occult D, Scholastics B, Vocational C
Classes: Simple Weaponry, Lair Economics, Magic and You, Draconic Language, Music, Geography (elective)
Gifts & Talents: Natural Armor, Breath Weapon, Really Strong, Spell Resistance
Special Needs: Metabolically Challenged, Inept (spells)
Extra-Curricular Activities: Cheerleading Team, Monster Chorus, Papers & Paychecks Guild
Status Symbol: Pompoms of power
School Supplies: Notescroll, backpack, cheerleader outfit

Taylor is a cheerleader and is pretty flexible for someone made of solid metal. She’s unable to use magic well due to being an iron golem, but is otherwise quite smart and does well in school. Taylor enjoys getting her hair done at the local blacksmith, often changing her style from day to day. She has no idea why Karvathas hasn’t asked her out yet.

For more details, see the kickstarter project!

Heartbreak & Heroines is a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures — saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It’s a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.

You play a fantasy heroine (or hero, if you prefer) whose heart has been broken. She’s experienced some loss so great that she’s taken up her sword, her tome, her staff, or her wand and walked away from her place in society — by becoming one of its defenders, fighting back the darkness that endangers everyone.

My friend Dwayne McDuffie passed away earlier this year. He was a comic book and animation writer who loved comics — but also saw they didn’t reflect his life as an African American man. Instead of writing a lot of essays and making blog posts (although he did both at times), he and went founded Milestone Media to create the kind of comics he wanted to enjoy. By doing so, Dwayne changed the comics industry and left a legacy that won’t be forgotten by fans of Static, Icon, Justice League, Ben 10, and other comics and animation properties.

I’m no Dwayne McDuffie, but I do want to change gaming by making it more inclusive — of women, people of color, LGBT people, and basically everyone. Using Dwayne as my model, I don’t want to just talk about inclusive gaming, I want to make and play games that push the window on inclusion.

Heartbreak & Heroines is first and foremost a fantasy adventure game. It’s not preachy and it isn’t a textbook about feminism, but it’s written from a feminist point of view. It challenges some of our assumptions about the role of gender in gaming but at the heart of H&H, it’s about being a heroine (or hero) and finding your way to happiness in a dangerous world. I hope to produce something that Dwayne would have enjoyed reading.