Ages ago, I had an idea. I was discussing the best use of marketing hoopla and I wanted to come up with an amazingly bizzare game concept to use as an example. What I came up with was Tiny Tinkourers, Victorian gnomish steam-driven battle-suit arena gladiatorial combat! The publisher to whom I was talking at the time (Chris Hill of OKG – They have some really neat stuff) said he couldn’t wait to play the game, and I told him he was welcome to use the idea.

Almost a month later to the day, there was a bit of a small groundswell of support for them actually making a game around the concept (What other kind of groundswell do you get from a game about gnomes after all?) and in the discussion, Chris coined the phrase Gnomecha.  It was an instant hit.

Within another month’s time, OKG was announcing their newest product: Gnomecha. Everyone that had been in support of the idea over on YouMeetInATavern (at the time still TreasureTables) was excited about the new product.

*Cue Ominous Music*

We don’t know how the Grue managed to catch the staff of OKG, but their site and forums haven’t been updated since June 2007 or so and despite attempts to get in touch we haven’t heard from Chris. (and if anyone out there reading this knows more on this, please drop us a line.  Chris was a nice guy who genuinely wanted to bring awesome RPGs to his customers and the fact he’s not answering e-mails makes worry-warts out of several of us gnomes)

This casts the release of Gnomecha into a gray area. Thus, I’ve decided that if I want Victorian gnomish steam-driven battle-suit arena gladiatorial combat, it falls into my own hands to produce. So after careful consideration, I’ve decided to write it myself.

Because of the sticky issue of giving the concept to Chris and his company actually starting development on a product and inability to reach them to get consent to work on a project of my own, I’ve made the following decisions:

  1. What I’m working on has to be sufficiently different than what OKG had planned.  Thus, I’m sticking to my original concept of steam driven battlesuits as opposed to large-scale mechs as featured in Gnomecha
  2. What I’m working on has to make an attempt to be compatable with anything OKG may eventually produce.
  3. This isn’t standalone.  This is a suppliment to OKG’s vision of Gnomecha.  It’s an alternate setting/timeline and a rules system tweaked for work with that

So that’s the story of what I’m doing and why.  The last important question is: “Why here?”  Why Design Gnomecha Victoriana at Gnome Stew? Despite the immediately obvious thematic appropriateness,  I still need a DMing hook.  Luckily for me, designing new settings, rules, etc… is bread and butter for most DMs and the decisions I make in designing Gnomecha Victoriana will be familiar to every DM out there. Which is really good because I’m just flying by the seat of my pants on this one so I’ll be milking everything I can out of the comments.

Stay tuned for Part 2 when I start discussing the first three steps: Getting Player Buyin, Research, and Picking a system…

About  Matthew J. Neagley

First introduced to RPGs through the DnD Red Box Set in 1990, Matt fights on ongoing battle with GMing ADD, leaving his to-do list littered with the broken wrecks of half-formed campaigns, worlds, characters, settings, and home-brewed systems. Luckily, his wife is also a GM, providing him with time on both sides of the screen.



2 Responses to Gnomecha Victoriana: Steam punk gnomes in Victorian England – Part 1

  1. I’m not sure I agree that there’s a sticky issue involved here. You gave Chris blanket permission to develop your idea provided he gave you credit, and while he announced a game based on that idea ultimately he never developed it.

    IMO, the idea is still yours and it’s pretty obvious OKG is — unfortunately! — dead in the water. I wouldn’t worry too much about taking your idea in whatever direction you want to go, and I certainly wouldn’t strive for compatibility with a product that is 99.9% likely never to exist.

    I’m bummed that OKG never developed Gnomecha. I would have shelled out for it sight unseen, and it’s too bad that OKG didn’t make it as a company.

  2. While I agree with your assessment of the situation, I feel like I have some kind of obligation to live up to the “Nice Guy” standard on the whole deal.

    It’s not that big an inconvenience since OKG’s direction wasn’t the direction of my original vision. I’m actually happier producing it “my way” and OKG’s choice of system was actually really good.

    Gnomecha had that feeling to it that made everyone go “Hell yeah!” That’s kind of why I’m taking up the project. I wanted it. Everyone else wanted it. I know what I wanted it to have. Why not do it myself?

    I’m bummed that OKG didn’t make it. Their Campaign Gem concept was really cool and their stuff was inspired. Mostly though, I just wish Chris would pop by and say “Hi”. Just so we know OKG didn’t fail when he drove off a cliff or something.

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