How Jeff Irving Built Fantasy World, Vrahode, From Scratch

How Jeff Irving Built Fantasy World, Vrahode, From Scratch

Can you think about making a model new fantasy world fully from scratch? That’s precisely what Jeff Irving did, along with his upcoming sport collection, Vrahode. After greater than 30 years of dreaming and refining his concepts, he thinks the time is lastly proper to share his concepts with the world.

In this episode, we discuss how Jeff created his fantasy world, how he’s constructing a group to deliver it to life, and the way he’s dealing with the wedding of chilly enterprise realities to lofty desires.

You can be taught extra about Weathervane Games & Vrahode by going to their websitelanding pageFacebook page or groupTwitter, or Instagram

Check out the Weird Marketing Tales web site in case you haven’t already. If you need to observe Weird Marketing Tales on social media, go to @WeirdMarketing on FacebookYouTube, and LinkedIn. Go to @WeirdEntrepreneurs on TwitterInstagram, and TikTok.

How Jeff Irving Built Fantasy World, Vrahode, From Scratch Sahrhune Ships Crew

Sahrhune Ships Crew


00:00:00 How Jeff Irving Built Fantasy World, Vrahode, From Scratch

00:00:39 What is Weathervane Games?

00:01:36 What is Vrahode?

00:03:56 How Jeff decided to turn Vrahode into a game

00:07:17 The difference between writing rules and writing books

00:11:24 The pros and cons of having a complicated brand name

00:13:13 Jeff’s worldwide team of experts

00:14:52 What is the difference between a game and a game system?

00:19:33 How Jeff is keeping Vrahode approachable despite its customization potential

00:23:42 Jeff’s innovative 3-D terrain system (Harbinger)

00:29:42 What Jeff did before Weathervane Games & Vrahode

00:32:54 How Jeff’s graphic design background makes it easier to manage a team

00:35:11 How Jeff hired help from fantasy writer, Shawn Allen Dressler

00:38:47 Pitching highly original ideas

00:40:01 Advice for new business owners and creatives

00:43:25 Finding Jeff online


Jeff Irving: It was like getting a brand new cellmate in jail by your self. You know what I imply? After being within the cell by your self for 25 years.

Brandon Rollins: My title is Brandon Rollins, and that is the Weird Marketing Tales Podcast. On this present, I will probably be interviewing small enterprise homeowners, entrepreneurs, and artistic professionals, all that will help you see the methods that you would be able to make a residing that you just didn’t even know have been attainable. And for this episode, I’ve introduced on Jeff Irving from Weathervane Games. Jeff, how’s it going?

Jeff Irving: Great, Brandon, how are you doing?

Brandon Rollins: I’m doing nice, particularly because you’re right here. So I believe first query I gotta ask is what is going to Weathervane Games be doing?

What is Weathervane Games?

Jeff Irving: Well, Weathervane Games began, let’s see, this 12 months. In reality, I created a bit of enterprise, an LLC in Montana the place I stay to, to have one goal, basically. And that’s the home the Vrahode Game System. And so we’re within the weeds because it have been of that improvement, which is large for a brand new enterprise, a small enterprise that basically was me.

So, however I wanted to create a enterprise entity, so created an LLC simply to accommodate the undertaking and any future initiatives. For the foreseeable future, we’ll see, clearly the remainder of this 12 months. Next 12 months, we’re hoping to crowdfund in quarter 4. And so Weathervane Games will probably be busy with the Vrahode Game System till most likely someday… I believe we’ll be capable to formally say that we’ve wrapped that someday in ’24, a minimum of so far as the core field and the primary three expansions.

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Rime Wraith

What is Vrahode?

Brandon Rollins: Very cool. So I suppose the, the higher, extra particular, and let’s be trustworthy, extra loaded query is what precisely Vrahode?

Jeff Irving: It is a nonsensical phrase that lets you have a extremely brief electronic mail handle.

Brandon Rollins: Nice.

Jeff Irving: No, the, Vrahode is, is the world that our fantasy system exists inside. It got here to me a very long time in the past, again in, uh, 1990 once I was a graphic design, effective arts and journalism scholar at Ball State University. And, I used to be this, , uber geek on one facet, I used to be additionally a lead singer in some bands on the opposite facet, however I performed video games since I used to be a bit of bitty child they usually all appeared the identical to me.

You know, I used to be taking part in a human, an elf, a dwarf, and I used to be sometimes saving damsels in misery from a pink or inexperienced dragon. Those have been fairly widespread themes. And, uh, on the finish I’d get the proverbial Lord of, , Rod of Lordly Might or some form of typical magic merchandise. And I used to be actually form of uninterested in it.

So Vrahode form of got here out of that want for a brand new fantasy world, a brand new world that wasn’t stuffed with all these Tolkien and Gary Gygax tropes. So Vrahode began with that and I actually supposed to put in writing a bunch of books concerning the world of Vrahode. And I believed, , sometime I’ll write these books, however I continued to play video games and over time, through the years and doing a whole lot of writing, I noticed I actually didn’t benefit from the strategy of writing as a lot as I’d hoped, I’d.

So I began to search for different mediums, uh, with which to share the world of Vrahode with individuals. And I saved taking part in all these video games and I simply slowly got here to the conclusion that I could make this interactive expertise for those who might be extra fulfilling than them studying novels about Vrahode, however really attending to, to participate on this planet and battle by way of the conflicts of the world.

And so Vrahode took place after which morphed into this sport system with that objective in thoughts.

Brandon Rollins: See, that’s cool as a result of I gotta think about that at the beginning, while you have been within the mindset of considering of Vrahode as being a fantasy novel universe, it most likely took fairly a shift in mindset to go from novels to video games.

About when did that occur? 

How Jeff determined to show Vrahode right into a sport

Jeff Irving: Well. I bear in mind about 25 years in the past. I used to be coping with an prolonged sickness. I used to be, I can’t – it was some form of, I believe it was some form of, uh, like higher respiratory an infection that simply became pneumonia and ended up simply actually knocking me for a loop for some time. And I believe that was the time once I received critical about translating, these, I’d written all these sociologies for all these totally different races and matrilineal, patrilineal descent patterns. How their, how their magics have been sourced, how these races handled one another, , and I had all these, all these things typed up all these paperwork of, of those races that I used to be making actual in my thoughts.

And throughout this sickness, I, that was actually once I thought, “hey, these, these are factions, these are sport factions and one of many collection that I liked once I was youthful, like faculty age with my pals, we’d play the Milton Bradley grasp collection, which, , have been massively common.

You’re speaking about like Axis & Allies, Conquest of the Empire, Broadsides and Boarding Parties, Shogun, Fortress America. I imply, it was, a whole lot of older avid gamers will bear in mind this collection and you continue to discover Axis & Allies and Conquest often in a rummage sale however, um, I liked the video games and I, I grew to become an enormous fan of cube chuckers.

So I set out throughout this sickness, I got down to create this type of homage to Axis & Allies, however utilizing the world of Vrahode. And so I, I baked it all the way down to this type of dice chucker, wargame the place the generals, the fantasy generals of those fantasy armies would are available in and lead this group of troopers, however their magic would improve the very form of delicate magic of the troops.

And so then simply by advantage of the overall answerable for the military, your military would change its techniques and its talents and methods based mostly on that modification to the troops. And then you definately got down to simply chuck cube. Okay. I received 5 probabilities for a 4 or much less. Boom. All proper. I received three probabilities for a two or much less growth, , and also you’re, and also you’re simply, you’re simply having cube chucking enjoyable.

And then clearly the enemy armies, they wanna take out that normal, , so that each one these enjoyable modifications, your troops are getting go away. So I created this elaborate prototype and I’m positive there’s lots of people on this trade that may empathize with it and sympathize with this course of, , you, you spend all this cash and attempt to piece collectively this lovely prototype that exhibits that you just’ve created the most effective sport ever made.

And then you definately ship it off to any individual who is aware of what they’re speaking about and simply wait and wait. 

Brandon Rollins: That’s fairly widespread. 

Jeff Irving: Yeah, so I despatched my, I despatched this huge field of stuff that I’d spent a whole bunch and a whole bunch of {dollars} on simply cobbling it collectively, ship it off to Fantasy Flight Games. They have been tremendous variety.

They mentioned, that is most likely one of the vital lovely prototypes we’ve ever seen, but it surely’s $150 sport. As , 25 years in the past, that was a good, that was a good chunk of change. Uh, they mentioned, “we’re making $12 games right now, but thank you.”

Brandon Rollins: Yeah.

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The distinction between writing guidelines and writing books

Jeff Irving: So I principally simply form of, I chalked it as much as, , “hey, it doesn’t matter.”

What mattered concerning the expertise was me studying to put in writing a rule e book and understanding the right way to make a rule system. And, and that very similar to {an electrical} schematic, the phrases in rule books have a lot extra weight than phrases in novels, as a result of in a novel, the reader takes the which means and does what they need to with it.

But in a, in a sport system, in a rule system, even in case you change the tense of a phrase, you’re altering the gameplay. And so I actually discovered the facility of the phrases inside a sport system and a rule system, and that you would be able to very simply go astray the place the sport is simply unplayable simply by altering one phrase.

Brandon Rollins: That’s true, as a result of while you actually cease and take into consideration the expertise and, and let’s simply take into consideration avid gamers as prospects for a minute. I imply, the entire buyer expertise is you play out these explicit actions they usually have some form of story which means, some form of thematic which means. That simply so occurs to specific itself in gameplay.

So immediately an errant phrase isn’t just an odd phrase selection, one thing that an editor finds and weeds out, or that slips in by way of the publication course of and it’s not an enormous deal. Suddenly, it has all these form of impacts that chain on each other, that form of derail what you’re attempting to say with the sport.

Kind of excessive stakes.

Jeff Irving: Oh, yeah. and, if, there, there’s a participant on the market that can discover that and uncover that mistake.

And they may exploit it to the nth diploma as a result of that’s what avid gamers do. We, we discover methods to play higher, to, to be extra highly effective, to, , stack the deck in our favor. And, uh, the one that actually received me was while you, while you say the phrase “player,” and then you definately have a look at that within the guidelines, and in case you change that to “hero” then it impacts a complete totally different group. It impacts a complete, , the, if it’s participant, effectively then if that participant is taking part in three heroes, then shouldn’t that rule have an effect on all the ones they’re taking part in. And so it’s, it’s a slippery slope.

Brandon Rollins: Yeah, one thing you mentioned a minute in the past received me considering the place, effectively, , 25 years in the past was 1997 at, as of the time we’re recording this. So at the moment, after all, there wasn’t actually an urge for food for an Axis & Allies type sport that had this huge fantasy world behind it. It sounds loopy to say now to a contemporary gamer, who’s used to the existence of stuff like Gloomhaven and really, very story heavy $150, $200 tabletop video games which have all of the belongings you simply talked about.

But then there wasn’t a whole lot of that you need to, you needed to actually hunt for it. And the web was too new to essentially join with individuals who had that. This was earlier than Board Game Geek. And but your time, it has come as a result of now what you’ve got recognized, this factor that you just recognized on the market of not being a product that was like what you wished. Now, lots of people agree with you and also you’ve received this market and also you’ve had this concept in your head that you just got here by truthfully, and have refined through the years. And now this concept is colliding with this present market. And I believe that’s simply, that’s actually particular.

Jeff Irving: Well, I believe one of many issues too that occurred is I acknowledged in that first preliminary effort to create that form of Axis & Allies sort wargame was that, that wasn’t what would serve the world of Vrahode finest. And, and I discovered that, hey, this was a, a pink herring that though I liked Axis & Allies, and I liked cube chuckers, and I liked wargames, one of the simplest ways to drag individuals into this world was to make it extra of an journey dungeon crawl sport, and actually, really journey slash dungeon crawl, not only a dungeon crawl with a bit of little bit of journey side, however really, , one which, that did justice to Overland journey and the Underland dungeon crawl sort, , the place you bought the finite variety of rooms and halls and, and that form of factor.

The professionals and cons of getting a sophisticated model title

Jeff Irving: So it allowed me to, to take a look at that first sport, which I believe the title of the primary sport was referred to as the Vrahodean Chronicles, which was only a mouthful of cole slaw. It was, it was an enormous, huge chunk. And, and Vrahode, though it’s form of a nonsensical phrase that I’m advised, , you shouldn’t actually title a sport after a fantasy phrase as a result of nobody is aware of, , your, your lore, but it surely’s so central Vrahode the title of the world is so central to this sport collection that I, I’ve to maintain it. So… 

Brandon Rollins: It’s a two edge sword. The factor with nonsense names in companies and types is that yeah, you possibly can really make it work. You actually, actually can. It’s simply an uphill battle. If you choose a phrase that’s tremendous widespread, you’ve got an excellent probability of being found by random probability.

If you select a phrase that isn’t tremendous widespread, no one is imitating that no one is doing what you’re doing, however you need to get individuals to know the phrase, to lookup within the first place. And so long as you’ve got the endurance and the persistence to only say the title over and time and again, by way of varied totally different types of content material advertising, I believe that having the phrase Vrahode is a title is gonna be effective. Cause I like, I do know you, I do know you’ve received the endurance to truly say it time and again till individuals begin Googling it.

Jeff Irving: Yeah. I do. Um, and I it’s, it’s not like I’m simply beginning to say it both. You know, I’ve been saying it since faculty.

Brandon Rollins: No, you’ve been doing this since ’90.

Jeff Irving: Yeah. So now I’m simply considering of, “how do I say it louder and clearer and have it carry over a farther distance?”

Brandon Rollins: Mm-hmm, by way of an enormous group effort. And I believe that’s one other factor to level out is like, I additionally know the scale of your group, which I’m additionally a member of myself. You’ve received a ton of various artists and writers and entrepreneurs and that form of factor, working with you. So that’s gonna assist make fairly a little bit of it simpler too.

Jeff’s worldwide group of specialists

Jeff Irving: Oh yeah, undoubtedly. And I believe that, , it’s enjoyable once I go on the market and I have a look at the artists, which have taken half in, in creating, , the characters and the, creatures and the environments. They’re fairly remote. I’ve received, , I’ve received three Italians, see two Russians, two Aussies, three Brazilians, two Brits, a Frenchman.

And so, it’s neat to see as a result of I at all times attempt to create friendships with them on social media as effectively. And, it’s neat to see them posting about their contributions to the undertaking. Seeing individuals reply simply to them, understanding them, and to their artwork in and of itself, not as a part of the bigger undertaking, however simply these little items, these little aspects of what is going to create the entire world.

And it actually, it actually makes me form of jazzed up as a result of that is simply little remoted items of individuals in all these international locations which are gonna learn about what we’re doing finally. So it’s cool.

Brandon Rollins: Yeah. And by the best way, for these of you who occur to stumble throughout this podcast on the weblog, in case you scroll down and look by way of the transcript, you’ll additionally see a whole lot of this paintings interspersed all through the put up. So in case you wanna see particularly what this appears to be like like, I encourage you to try this. 

So to make issues abundantly clear for anyone who wants a bit of extra context on this podcast, the sport that you’re engaged on proper now’s Vrahode: The Calteeryn Ascension, and I’ll hyperlink to related hyperlinks within the transcript beneath so individuals can test that out. The fundamental thought is that you just’re going to be taking this sport to Kickstarter.

What is the distinction between a sport and a sport system?

Brandon Rollins: Now, what’s fascinating to me is that you just typically use a phrase “game system” as an alternative of “game.” So are you able to assist me, and by proxy, the listeners, to grasp a bit of bit about how a sport system differs from a sport?

Jeff Irving: Definitely. I, I believe there’s a, there’s a extremely sturdy headwind for us as a brand new firm, an untested firm in Weathervane Games, me as an untested sport designer as a result of no one received to play, uh, the Vrahodean Chronicles. When I, once I crafted that, as a result of it, it resulted in a prototype.

And so by advertising this as a sport system, we really feel prefer it’s a special form of method. It’s form of like what Hero Quest did. And, and never a whole lot of different video games do that the place you’re principally selling the product as a complete, as a rule system. And so what you’re telling individuals is that we expect we now have a rule system right here that we’re excited to create sanctioned content material for.

We’re excited to create, such as you mentioned, the Calteeryn Acension, which is the core field. This is form of the leaping off level into the world of Vrahode, and we’re creating three giant expansions to that core field. And these are, the primary one is known as The Enlighted & The Enslaved. The second one is known as Facing the Storm and the ultimate enlargement for the sport collection is known as the False Gods’ Deceipt.

But these 4 video games, , all three expansions are depending on the core field. You need to have that, however the, the 4 sport collection exists inside the Vrahode Game System. And so what we’re saying to you is that is our providing to you inside the Vrahode Game System, however as a result of it is a new world, and we expect that you just’re going to take pleasure in all this new lore, these new heroes, new roles, new creatures, new plot traces, and a brand new technique to play fantasy video games.

We need you to contribute your personal content material, make your personal heroes and function archetypes. Make these up yourselves. We provide the instruments to try this. Also, there’s nothing stopping you from creating your personal quest chains and your personal campaigns yourselves after which we’re gonna host these for you. We’re gonna assist you to create your personal content material and welcome you into the world of Vrahode with us and say, “hey, here’s the sanctioned material we’re making for you. What can you make to make the community better? What can you do to make, to help expand the lore of this new world?”

And the enjoyable factor is it’s like that first time you performed a task taking part in sport or a tabletop sport and the sport grasp, as a result of all video games required sport masters again then places, places the primary mini on the board and tells you, “okay, here’s a Kobold and you have this level one fighter or whatever.”

And you’re like, “holy crap. What is that? Is it friend? Is it a foe? Can it kill me?”

Vrahode principally does that. Let’s simply have that form of childlike marvel of a fantasy world once more. And so then having the sanctioned materials and permitting our backers and followers to create their very own heroes, their very own content material, their very own campaigns, let’s us form of say, “hey, let’s do a fantasy reset.”

So that’s what a sport system is, and it helps us form of fight that headwind of a no-name studio, an unknown designer. I imply, there’s clearly different methods we are able to struggle that headwind. You know, I believe the discharge of the Calteeryn Ascension within the Kickstarter and concurrently releasing the three expansions.

In different phrases, in case you again us subsequent fall, you’ll have the chance to, in case you wanna simply attempt it, you’ll give you the option have the chance to get the Calteeryn Ascension. But if you wish to again your entire story arc , you’ll be capable to do it at the moment. Cause what we wanna do is present the backers and followers that, “hey, we can create a lot of really high quality content here.”

Just as a lot as say a Steamforged Games or a Mythic Games. Or CMON, , as a result of we now have this wealth of story that began in, , ’89, 1989, or 90, proper round then. And so this isn’t like, this isn’t our first rodeo, so to talk, , we, we even have been growing this, this concept for the product for, for a very long time.

Brandon Rollins: Yeah. Yeah, undoubtedly. And for individuals who need to be taught extra concerning the lore, by the point I drop this podcast – I’m recording these fairly a bit prematurely for Weird Marketing Tales – Jeff and I’ll seemingly have a podcast particularly concerning the Vrahode lore out at the moment. So in case you wanna test that out, that’s nearly actually going to be on by the point that you just hear this. So for anyone who desires to get actually within the weeds on that.

How Jeff is retaining Vrahode approachable regardless of its customization potential

Brandon Rollins: Now in, when it comes to what you had simply mentioned about, um, simply how individuals can create their very own tales and their very own characters inside the world of Vrahode. I believe that’s fascinating as a result of it permits the sport to even be a sandbox, form of like a whole lot of the most well-liked video video games of the final decade have been sandbox video games.

And I’m speaking about. Oh, gosh, like Minecraft and No Man’s Sky. I’m fairly positive Fortnite counts, though I’m unsure the right way to be trustworthy with you, however like level is, there’s a large urge for food and we see this within the online game trade for individuals forging their very own path and you will discover comparable parallels in board video games, however you do one other fascinating factor the place you keep away from the entice that sandbox video games appear to fall into, which is the place you really give individuals sufficient route to know what to do when it’s their first time taking part in. Cuz you’ve received your marketing campaign e book, you’ve received your pre-made roles. So anyone who doesn’t need to have to consider all of the implications of their decisions can simply choose up what you advocate and go from there.

Jeff Irving: Yeah. I imply, I believe one of many huge complaints within the board sport trade, while you get in the direction of the Gloomhavens and that form of factor is about up time. You’ve received to design one thing that’s fast to get to the desk for these individuals, , there, there are these those who if it takes them greater than 10 minutes to get the sport arrange, then they’re begin, already beginning to lose curiosity.

And I get that as a result of life is, life is busy. People wanna, they wanna get proper to the meat. They wanna have, most often these days they wanna be capable to play little brief classes that match into their life-style. I believe giving them that fast play possibility, the pre-generated heroes, our dashboards form of try this in our system.

We have these dashboards. You have one on your hero and also you principally plug in all these little motion cubes, your playing cards and it’s all proper there. And, and also you simply take off with it. And it form of does the heavy lifting for the rule system. And in order quickly as you determine this piece of plastic in entrance of you, that actually does a pleasant job of managing a ton of knowledge factors in a really concise method, then you definately simply form of focus in your pals. 

You form of, or in case you solo play, you simply concentrate on the gameplay. And that was a tall order, but it surely was one thing that, as a result of I, I don’t have the strain of working for a studio. I simply occurred to create this studio, to accommodate this undertaking. And it might take nonetheless lengthy it wanted to take.

I didn’t have a monetary deadline. I wasn’t like, , about to be homeless. I’m retired. So it form of grew to become one thing simply was my Magnum Opus. And I believed, what does it imply to create a sport that’s your Magnum Opus? Well, to me it meant giving it all of the monetary assets that you just wanted at the start, I needed to inform myself, “can I afford to make this game?”

And then you need to give it the love and the time that it wants to truly be a totally fleshed out bloom, , a totally fleshed out flower on the finish and one thing that’s compelling and exquisite. And so I’ve that luxurious that I’m not beholden to some boss that’s going, “you know, we have to, this has to be done by second quarter. And if it’s not, you can look for another job.”

I might, I might simply be like, “well, this will be done when it’s done. It will be a quality proposition to our customers, not a value proposition, it will be expensive and it will be worth every penny.” And that was form of what I got down to do as a result of the, the world meant a lot to me that I used to be keen to create one thing that didn’t essentially slot in what the sport trade says is the best product. No, that is, and I simply really feel like if I take that journey to the very finish, , and I keep true to that objective, that there will probably be a lot of those who need to try this with me, that wanna expertise that with me.

And I believe, I believe that’s one other technique to form of beat that headwind is to say, “I’m not, I’m not creating something here that you are going to expect. This is gonna hit you from every angle that you don’t expect.” Especially our 3-D terrain system. I imply, who does that? Who creates a sport collection and tries to squeeze a viable 3-D terrain system into that?

Well, no one it’s idiotic. 

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Very early prototype of the Harbinger Terrain System

Jeff’s revolutionary 3-D terrain system (Harbinger)

Brandon Rollins: And that, that you just’ve gotta really clarify a bit of bit, as a result of that is form of a thoughts blowing factor for individuals who have performed tabletop video games, like… oh, what, what do I say to the normies? Cuz I do know like a whole lot of common persons are gonna hearken to this. So principally like while you’re taking part in a sport and it’s, and it’s modular, that’s, there isn’t a set board that you just simply play off and it’s the identical each time you nearly at all times are simply gonna lay it out in a two dimensional approach. If you need to increase the world you accomplish that in effectively, one in every of 4 instructions up, down left, proper. That’s it. But you’re really engaged on making it to the place these, these, the board can really go in three dimensions in a modular approach that’s totally different each time.

And that’s Harbinger. 

Jeff Irving: Oh, yeah. You know, a whole lot of avid gamers can low cost have a look at Vrahode and low cost us as , our paintings is totally different. It’s not as overdone. I believe a whole lot of artwork as we speak may be very overdone. You know, you’ve received, I’m speaking about heroes with swords which are longer than they’re tall they usually weigh, , they might weigh 400 kilos in actual life. And one, and one swing of that, , sword will kill a whole room of enemies. We actually didn’t need that have as a result of we really feel like that, that pattern in the direction of tremendous darkish, demonic, hyper, all the things hyper.

I simply form of wished to say let’s simply wash the dishes. Let’s see what these seem like clear once more, , let’s have a look at, let’s have a look at a set of unpolluted dishes and actually begin in a brand new route with that. And so the world is totally different. Everything begins out easy. Heck, you don’t even have steel weapons to start.

It’s stone, stone, and wooden weapons, , these rudimentary issues. But once more, a part of that Vrahode sport system enchantment or what’s making it compelling is the issues that we’re doing totally different. And the Harbinger system, I believe is our, our, , you possibly can low cost Vrahode in some ways, in case you’re used to Gloomhaven and all of the tropes of different fantasy video games, however I dare individuals to low cost our Harbinger system as a result of what it, what it does is it hits you from left area.

We give individuals on this sport system, we give them 28 totally different macro settings. That you possibly can zoom into to have these compelling battles. And they’re 18 by 18 inch flats. And I don’t like hex techniques. I believe hexes look, sci-fi in a fantasy setting. I’ve by no means appreciated hexes, though they’re extra correct for motion.

We have sq. grids all through all the things inside, exterior areas. They’re all sq. grids. But we give individuals 28 macro settings to zoom into from the Overland, from the, from the world map, you possibly can zoom in, so the sport stays flat, however then you possibly can modify the flats with these little terrain miniatures.

So you possibly can customise the flats while you write your personal quests and issues, you possibly can modify these with our, our fundamental terrain set of miniatures. So we provide you with that, which is quite common. I’ll inform you somebody who did it brilliantly of late was, Shadowborne Games of their sport, Oathsworn.

I imply, you’ve received these great little homes and bushes and partitions. It’s very immersive. It’s lovely. Our, our fundamental terrain system for our flats is far more fundamental than that. It’s not, doesn’t take out fairly a lot area, but it surely does assist you to customise these flats and it nonetheless retains the gameplay very simple to trace.

But then as we progress later into the sport collection, we introduce, like Brandon mentioned, we launched this Harbinger system and it’s this fascinating collection of room and corridor tiles, stairs, stair risers, and even dungeon risers that assist you to elevate an 18 by 18 inch flat as much as two inches or 4 inch peak to be able to actually have as much as 5 stage deep dungeon or indoor experiences in your tabletop.

Nobody’s achieved it. We’ve labored extraordinarily onerous to make this factor so simple as we are able to, as enjoyable to click on collectively as quick. And it’s not like we’re attempting to get individuals to construct erector units each time they should play. We’re augmenting our flats with the Harbinger system.

So let’s say, let’s say you Brandon, you’re creating content material for the Vrahode Game System your self, and also you’re this uber dungeon freak. You need to construct the most important, most advanced, deepest dungeon ever made. Well, then the Harbinger system lets you try this on your gamers and your sport group would possibly dig that.

Well, my sport group just isn’t gonna sit round and await 20 minutes whereas I construct this factor. So what we are likely to do is we’ll have a dungeon flat, after which off that dungeon flat, we’ll take you up a stage or two into another rooms and hallways and allow you to expertise that.

And then the additional you get into our sport collection, a whole lot of the ultimate battles we like to provide you that richer, deeper expertise. And so these could have a couple of extra Harbinger tiles and ranges arrange, however you don’t need to do it each quest as a result of it’s, it, it may be burdensome, but it surely’s all based mostly on what your pursuits are.

If you wanna try this, I’m telling you what, when this factor, when this factor hits Kickstarter and you’ll actually see what it appears to be like like when it’s full glory, I really feel like there’s gonna be another corporations that wanna do it, need, wanna do one thing prefer it. So I’m, hopefully, hopefully we are able to do that factor and get it out first as a result of , it’s, it’s fairly cool.

Brandon Rollins: Yeah. And the factor, the factor about avid gamers which are keen to spend greater than 100 {dollars} on a sport, physicality counts for lots, like board gaming, principally… two of the main the reason why individuals will play board video games as an alternative of video video games or do one thing else is: one, they wanna really hang around with their pals in a bodily area. And the opposite factor is they need one thing that’s bodily and tactile and fascinating to take a look at. And that is going to try this in a really particular, very actual, very dramatic approach that I don’t, I can’t consider another video games which are actively doing that proper now. 

So I, I’ve received a completely um, left area query based mostly on, on what we’ve been… Well, it’s, it’s not an odd query. It’s not an odd query. I’m not, I’m not right here to grill you.

What Jeff did earlier than Weathervane Games & Vrahode

Brandon Rollins: I’m not right here to grill you, however, uh, yeah, my query was what did you do earlier than Weathervane Games?

Jeff Irving: Ooh. Well, clearly, I, , earlier we have been speaking about how the Vrahode story began and I used to be speaking about being in faculty. So, , clearly I used to be a effective arts man and a graphic design man, journalism man, , I used to sit down round sketch canvases, draw bare individuals. I imply, that was form of the place my curiosity lied was in effective arts and issues.

And then I went to work for my household enterprise, which my dad and uncles had an combination enterprise. They bought, uh, stone and gravel they usually, they constructed bridges they usually made asphalt highways and stuff. And so I went to work for them. But clearly my faculty diploma was within the graphic design and journalism.

So I believed, effectively, I’ve received this to fall again on. If the enterprise isn’t there for me and I’ll be darned, I began a administration coaching program for my dad. Sixteen months later, he sat me and my brothers down on the desk and mentioned, “well, we’re selling the business.” And I’m like, “oh, well, I’m glad I took in college what interested me, so that I could go work.” 

And so, I began my first enterprise at 23. I begin began a bit of pc software program retailer referred to as Dream Realm Software. It was a closet and I liked pc video games. And after all, I had simply graduated in graphic design so I knew my approach conscious round a pc fairly effectively. I couldn’t consider it. I put, I believe I put $15,000 in to begin it and I really made cash. I couldn’t consider it. I made cash promoting pc video games. And so then a pair years later, I purchased out one other firm that had not paid their gross sales taxes for a couple of years. They had probably not achieved proper by the federal government.

And in order that they have been shut down. Well, I, I went to the financial institution and I purchased all their stock again from the financial institution and I opened up of their location. I form of began on with the subsequent iteration and I referred to as it Irving Computing. And so we did all of the enjoyable stuff. We added console gaming stuff. Like at that time, I believe it was Sega, possibly, possibly Sega video games, Nintendo video games.

Brandon Rollins: Yeah, most likely across the like Genesis, Super Nintendo kind of era

Jeff Irving: Yeah. Yeah. Genesis, that’s it. Genesis and pc video games. And we began doing rebuilding computer systems and putting in networks. So I did that. And then I went to my accountant I mentioned, “hey, we’re actually making money. You know, a little bit of money doing this.”

I mentioned, “I’m thinking about moving to the mall.” And he mentioned, “well, that’s a, that’s a big bite. He said, but you’ll never know if it’s gonna be successful unless you do it.” So. I took all the cash that I’d leveraged from the primary two companies and put it into Irving Computing within the mall. And we did that for one more 5 years, till the tech bubble burst.

And I believe most individuals alive as we speak, do not forget that what occurred with the pc trade, all the things simply tanked and all of the revenue went out of that trade for a bit. And that’s once we form of walked away from our 11 12 months run of pc shops. And then after that, I spent most of my time doing graphic design for a big firm referred to as Draper, after that. So, yeah, a whole lot of graphic design, being entrepreneurial, operating companies.

And I liked that. I liked my prospects and I had nice relationships with so many, so many avid gamers and pc geeks and stuff. It was so enjoyable.

How Jeff Irving Built Fantasy World, Vrahode, From Scratch RoseCrossing web

How Jeff’s graphic design background makes it simpler to handle a group

Brandon Rollins: See, that’s cool as a result of I, I think about that additionally helped you construct up the talents that you just’re utilizing in your present undertaking as effectively. 

Jeff Irving: Oh, yeah. Oh yeah. It’s good to be a sport designer and I can say that I’m, cuz , I did, I did one earlier than, so I, I do have that hat to put on. It’s not a flowery hat, however I do have the designer hat to put on, however to have the ability to, to truthfully say, “hey, I’m a, I’m a viable graphic designer.”

Now that’s to not say I’m a viable board sport trade, graphic designer, cuz I’m not, , there’s, there’s delicate developments and there’s, there’s issues taking place within the board sport trade that I’m simply not attuned to finely like individuals that really work as graphic designers within the board sport trade, , they see developments come and go.

I’m probably not tuned into that stuff. And I’m okay with that as a result of Vrahode isn’t actually going to observe the developments that is likely to be present, it’s gonna observe what it’s alleged to be. You know, so I believe I’m a ok designer to know what I would like, know what I would like it to seem like and say, “hey, that is form of what I would like you to do to place it collectively. 

Brandon Rollins: Yeah. And that, that helps quite a bit as a result of having a graphic design background makes it quite a bit simpler to handle artists. Lots of people don’t notice simply how particular suggestions needs to be while you’re doing one thing for product design and even one thing for half of a bigger image in a roundabout way. You have to have the ability to give suggestions that’s not similar to, “I don’t know, make it pop.” 

Jeff Irving: Oh, no, you’re proper. You’re completely proper. That’s form of the cool half as a result of I draw a bit of bit from my graphic design background to provide suggestions. I draw closely from the story from the world and the way particularly I’ve envisioned it in my head all these a long time. When you mix these two issues and I’ve sufficient graphic design data to say “this layer needs to be desaturated, this needs to be more transparent.”

And so these three issues collectively, I believe the artists have appreciated it. 

Brandon Rollins: And I believe it takes a really particular set of experiences to have the ability to pull off a undertaking to this scope. I imply, you need to know the way to have the ability to run a enterprise, however you additionally need to know the right way to, the right way to make good artwork, particularly as a part of a group. You have to have the ability to write rather well too and develop these worlds. And that’s, that’s a fairly, that’s a fairly uncommon mixture of expertise. 

How Jeff employed assist from fantasy author, Shawn Allen Dressler

Jeff Irving: Well, and, and I’m, I keep in my lane on the subject of that. I believe one of many first workout routines that I needed to undergo on this undertaking was to let go of the newborn. I needed to let go of this lovely child that I had in my head all these years, which was the story and the world. I needed to let that go to somebody who might really write it. 

Brandon Rollins: That’s one of many hardest elements.

Jeff Irving: Yeah, so I needed to actually search and do a whole lot of trial and error on discovering writers that weren’t simply good, however they have been capable of write epic fantasy. That was the vital factor, and so I went by way of a number of writers that have been first rate writers.

They simply couldn’t write epic fantasy till I discovered Shawn Allen Dressler, who’s a broadcast epic fantasy novelist. And so we spent a substantial amount of time and I spent, I even, , I needed to, I needed to pay him for the weeks and weeks of immersion that it took for him to get down into the world with me.

And I used to be joyful to do it as a result of the suggestions that he would give me and the dialogue that we started to have. It was like getting a brand new cellmate in jail by your self. You know what I imply? After being within the cell by your self for, for, for 25 years, 30 years, lastly, you’ve got this fascinating cellmate that you would be able to speak to.

But inviting Shawn into the world and having the ability to hand him the world of Vrahode after spending these weeks and weeks and weeks of claiming “here, I’m gonna pay you just to just to really, really in your heart, embrace this world.” And he did. And it was like, hey, that is what it took, was this time of simply actually ensuring that he didn’t go away me and go away the undertaking and attempting to have interaction him in, on this planet. It actually bore fruit. And so then I used to be capable of say, okay, now right here’s the story arc that I see.

Here’s the layers of, of lies and deceit which are occurring inside this world. Now you are taking it and run with it after which I used to be capable of simply go over, hold my graphic design hat on, hold my artwork director hat on, hold my undertaking supervisor hat on till you got here alongside and, and, and simply keep in that lane. Just keep, keep the heck away from Shawn, go away Shawn alone and let him do it.

And, after which what I’d do is I’d work by way of my channels. And then as soon as I received stuff to the purpose the place it was pretty polished, then I might run it by him for wordsmithing, like card textual content and issues like that. But I, I’d keep in my lane, get issues to the place he might spend a bit of time on them, however wouldn’t be slowed down in my channel.

Brandon Rollins: And that’s good since you’re additionally avoiding the basic entice that occurs with a whole lot of ardour initiatives the place you’re actively getting different individuals concerned. You’re letting them have enter and also you’re letting individuals’s suggestions enhance the world that you have already got a imaginative and prescient for which I believe in some methods comes with simply form of feeling such as you’re tapping into one thing else that’s on the market as an alternative of creating it up, which I discover a whole lot of artistic individuals do.

If what I imply by that. 

Jeff Irving: Oh, yeah. Well, it’s, I’ll inform you, what’s been the toughest a part of this complete factor is I’m a gamer. The hardest a part of this complete course of has been not taking part in video games. I don’t wanna choose up guidelines from different sport techniques and put ’em into Vrahode. It’s gotta construct, it’s gotta, similar to Minecraft. We’ve received to place this sport collectively, brick by brick to be its personal factor. So that when individuals unbox this. It’s not the identical factor. They’re not saying, “oh, this is just a rehash of this. This is very similar to this game.” I would like individuals to unbox this and go “that’s different.” 

Brandon Rollins: And you’ve performed a bunch of video games right here. You’re simply speaking about like letting the opposite video games sit for a minute so that you just even have time to develop new and authentic concepts. 

How Jeff Irving Built Fantasy World, Vrahode, From Scratch Hoarfrost Ravager

Hoarfrost Ravager

Pitching extremely authentic concepts

Jeff Irving: Everybody desires to know the place this matches. You know what I imply? Everybody desires me to inform them what this factor is, what’s Vrahode and the way does it play? And so when pinned down, , when individuals say, I have to know what, if I’m gonna again you, I would like you to inform me “what is it?”

The most concise reply I may give them is that if Gloomhaven and Hero Quest had a child in an artwork gallery, that might, that might be what this. Because it’s approach, it’s approach much less advanced than Gloomhaven. We’re attempting to make it approach much less fiddly. But we additionally, we wished one of many issues that’s the good about Hero Quest and, and I imply, doesn’t matter what sort of video games you, you want, or don’t like, it’s onerous to disclaim that the fight system for Hero Quest may be very accessible and enjoyable and quick.

And so we, what we mentioned is we wish one thing that’s simply as quick or quicker and extra enjoyable than Hero Quest, however we wish it to be richer, no more rule heavy, however richer. And so that’s that core. That’s the core to all the things. When you’re speaking about dungeon, crawlers and journey video games which have, which are fight heavy is that’s your cash shot proper there.

Advice for brand new enterprise homeowners and creatives

Brandon Rollins: Yeah. So I’ve received only one final query for you. And that’s “what advice would you give to somebody who’s just starting up their own business or creative project for the first time?”

Jeff Irving: Wow. 

Brandon Rollins: Yeah, you possibly can take into consideration that for a minute. 

Jeff Irving: Well, I inform you it’s simple as a result of for me, my journey within the board sport trade began such a short while in the past that I’m that particular person, , I’m, I’m similar to anyone else who would resolve that it’s vital to them to create one thing that both shares a brand new wrinkle on a, on an present idea, a sport, or permits them to create a brand new world and even only a quite simple sport like Azul or, otherwise you one thing like that, but when that’s actually what you wanna do, I assume the most effective recommendation I may give is that this.

If you’ve got the wherewithal to do it, it’s not a get wealthy fast scheme. You is not going to earn money doing this. This needs to be a ardour undertaking. You know, making board video games just isn’t a get wealthy, fast scheme, it’s not even a get wealthy scheme. It’s simply not about.

Can you earn money? Can you achieve success as a small designer? Yes. Now that Kickstarter is there you completely can, however that may’t be that may’t be main. If you wanna earn money, then you definately’re within the flawed trade. It’s simply not effectively fitted to wealth creation.

I’d say this, I’d say being a part of this trade, what I’ve discovered is it is filled with extra great, useful, and genuinely good individuals than another trade I’ve ever been uncovered to. There are good individuals round each nook go to GenCon, go to Origins, go to PAX, go to Essen, no matter you’re gonna discover persons are artistic. The neighborhood is inclusive. I believe it’s a welcoming neighborhood. I believe all people desires to create secure areas for individuals regardless of how they determine in order that I believe that’s vital.

If you’re a, an LGBTQ designer, don’t be afraid. There’s gonna be an important huge viewers of individuals on the market able to welcome you and, and luxuriate in your merchandise.

But I believe vital factor that I’d say is that this, if it’s not concerning the cash and it’s a ardour undertaking, then except you’re keen to place your coronary heart and soul and energy into it, have the humility to tackle different individuals which are smarter and extra gifted than you. Have the flexibility to take criticism, be thick-skinned. I imply, all this stuff are crucial and artists are notoriously a bit of bit egotistical.

No, you need to assume like a graphic designer. When you’re a graphic designer, you’re employed for the consumer, and that consumer is the gamer and in case you can’t create a product that may maintain its personal in one of many 4,000 video games that’s launched each single 12 months, 4,000 a 12 months. Imagine that. How are you probably going to create a sport that stands out in one in every of 4,000?

Well, in case you consider in your product and also you’re not concerning the cash and also you’re keen to be humble and also you’re keen to deliver on individuals which are higher than you and smarter than you, then what’s the mark of success on the finish of that? If you possibly can create one thing that lasts past your lifetime, to me, that’s success, that’s a legacy.

So if it’s not about cash after which you may be about that, then I say, it’s the best trade that you may probably be concerned in.

Brandon Rollins: And I believe that’s some excellent parting recommendation to finish on.

Finding Jeff on-line

Brandon Rollins: So at this level, the place can individuals discover out extra about your undertaking on-line?

Jeff Irving: You can go to the Facebook web page, the Vrahode Facebook web page. We have a, one other group web page on Facebook referred to as Vrahode Tavern. Um, and it’s V R A H O D E. It’s form of a bizarre spelling you possibly can go to That’s the web site and we now have a touchdown web page,

And as a result of it is a ardour undertaking, all we wish is engagement. It may be engagement by you saying your artwork is horrible or, or, or this sport appears to be like ridiculous. I don’t care what it’s. I simply need engagement. And I would like individuals to assist us make this factor nearly as good as it may be.

You can be taught extra about Weathervane Games & Vrahode by going to their websitelanding pageFacebook page or groupTwitter, or Instagram.

Check out the Weird Marketing Tales web site in case you haven’t already. If you need to observe Weird Marketing Tales on social media, go to @WeirdMarketing on FacebookYouTube, and LinkedIn. Go to @WeirdEntrepreneurs on TwitterInstagram, and TikTok.

Brandon Rollins: Yeah, and for anyone who desires simply to simply click on on that, present notes and transcript, you’ll discover hyperlinks there as effectively. 

Thank you for listening to this podcast. My title is Brandon Rollins. This has been the Weird Marketing Tales Podcast. If you wish to discover us on-line, you possibly can go to On just about each social media outlet you possibly can consider, we’re both @WeirdMarketing or @WeirdEntrepreneurs. Either approach, the hyperlinks, all that stuff is gonna be within the present notes within the transcript if you want to seek out it.

Also take a second to subscribe to our podcast wherever you get your podcasts. And in case you occur to be on Apple, please go away a 5 star evaluate. That really helps fairly a bit greater than you would possibly know. Again. Thank you for taking the time to hearken to this podcast. I do know you gotta billion different issues you may be doing along with your time.

We actually respect it. Talk to you once more quickly.

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