Would you like to buy a dream?

Recently I made a declaration of sorts on Facebook. My frustrated creative urge was reaching critical mass and I realized something: I have no reason to be timid or apologetic about making, sharing and even selling art. I had a big ball of angst in my belly about asking friends for money, even for something dear to me that I’ve lavished with hard work and care.

So, SbtT now has a publishing arm, Story by the Throat! Press. This consists of me, Joel P. Shempert, making games and selling them and playing them. Right now, I’ve got a PDF of my first game, Spectre of the Beast, on sale at RPGNow, and I can sell print copies of both Spectre and my new game, The Dreaming Crucible, in person or by mail order. Click on the link under the site banner for more details! In the meantime, think of this as a combination manifesto and press release:

All right folks, I’m going to be frank. I got dreams, big ones. But right now it’s difficult to take even small steps. Work sucks away the premium of my energy, fatherhood drinks up on the rest, and marriage subsists on the fumes. Dreams? Well, dreams suffocate, living on as lingering whispers of despair at their passing.

Well, NO MORE!

I’m taking my dreams by the throat and wrestling them back into my life. I’m setting goals and chasing them to hell and back. And what dreams, you ask? Well, I certainly have plenty to choose from. But let’s start with this: I’ve written a storytelling game that’s dear to my heart. It’s called The Dreaming Crucible, and it’s a roadmap for telling stories about resorting to magical quests to cope with the pain, the angst, even the sheer nightmarish trauma of growing up. I’ve designed it to be learned quickly and played in about an hour, and it represents, I hope, something authentic that I desperately want to say to the world.

This means I want to share my game with you. Yes, you! I want to play this game with as many of my friends as possible, to see what dreams we can dream together, and to learn as much as I can and make this game the best it can be. If you’ve played a roleplaying or storytelling game before, great, but leave your assumptions at the door. If you never have, that’s fine—this game is made not for people who have learned a complex set of skills, but for anyone who loves stories and is willing to be vulnerable.

So here’s how it works: I will sell you my game for FIVE DOLLARS. Anytime, anywhere, you see me, you hand me $5, I pull The Dreaming Crucible out of my satchel and hand it to you. This deal includes an actual play session with me, you, and one friend, at our earliest convenience. The game is meant to be played, not read and forgotten! If you don’t live in my town, email me at storybythethroat AT gmail DOT com to mail order a copy. Now, if: A) you already bought the game, or B) you can’t afford the game, or C) are curious but cautious about the value to you, then listen: I will still play the game with you! In fact, please! I want to. ‘Cause that’s what it’s about, and I want to see what stories YOU, my friends, will tell!


UPDATE, 3-28-2011: at this point, I’ve long since succeeded in refining the Dreaming Crucible into the beautiful finished game it was meant to be. Thanks to all who bought the Demo version and made that possible! You can find the info and purchasing links for the complete game here.

17 Responses to “Would you like to buy a dream?”

  1. 1 Mick Bradley
    May 30, 2010 at 6:27 am

    I TOTALLY resonate with what you wrote about creativity being frustrated by the other stuff. Goodonya for fighting back!!

  2. 2 Hans Otterson
    May 31, 2010 at 12:22 am

    woo hoo! I’ve played in one full game of the Dreaming Crucible, and it was good. But I want it to be great, which either means playing it until we realize what’s not working, or playing it until I can conform myself to the game enough to make it great. Either way, I want it. Great stuff, Joel!

  3. 3 Zac in VA
    May 31, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Hey Joel, do you live in any vague proximity to the DC area? It’d be rad to play with you, man! Your game book for Crucible looks really awesome.

  4. 4 Joel
    May 31, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Sorry, Zac. I live in Portland, Oregon. I’ve enjoyed conversations with you online and if an opportunity ever arises we should totally meet, play, whatever.

  5. 5 Joel
    May 31, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Mick: The weird and funny thing is that I’m mostly fighting back against myself. Which doesn’t make it any less of a real and vital battle.

  6. 6 Joey
    February 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    If ever I find myself in Portland Oregon, I’ll have five dollars for you. :)

  7. 7 Joel
    February 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Thanks, Joey, but I don’t actually sell the original, preliminary version of the Crucible anymore. Enough folks bought it, and played it with me, that I was able to refine it into a finished product–fully, richly written, beautifully laid out, lavishly illustrated. I sell it for $12.


  8. 8 oberonthefool
    April 16, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Bring it to Forge Midwest and I will happily play (and perhaps even purchase) it!

  9. 9 Joel
    April 17, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Man, I would love to go to Forge Midwest, but it’s just not happening this year. Next year, I fervently hope!

    Ron owns a copy, though; if he’s coming you should totally hit him up to play!

  10. 10 oberonthefool
    April 17, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Sorry you can’t make it. Trying to pin Ron down for a game is a challenge, being the local celebrity that he is everyone else is trying to do the same, but at the least I’ll borrow his copy and give it a read-through! Start saving your shekels for next year right now!

  11. 11 Joel
    April 18, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    Fair enough!

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