I’ve been involved in some sort of RPG since the early eighties. Ever since being introduced to it by my soon-to-be DM, up till the last two years that I’ve been running my own campaign world, weaving a story through role-playing games has been a major part of my life.
To add to that, I am a writer and long to share my ideas, characters and worlds to the general public for consumption. BUT, I’m not an artist. For some, even my players, it’s hard to convey the story properly although there is a sense of the story through their eyes. Still, I’ve always thought it would be great to be able to easily put together a visual picture of a character I’ve created either NPC or one of my treasured player characters. And to animate it? A dream come true. Just ask the Critical Role cast. It would be living the dream. But I can’t draw very well and I’m not surrounded by artists and animators ready to do my bidding…don’t I wish.
SO, what’s a guy to do?
Well, help is on the way! For we are not the only lovers of RPG that has had this kind of dream. NO, someone has put this dream well on the way to being a reality. NEVERENDING is it’s name and it is an online character builder, scene builder and animation platform with an amazing library of customizable art to bring your campaigns to life.
Now, the good news is that NEVERENDING has a kickstarter that will allow you to get on the ground floor, as it is, and be apart of making this dream a reality not just for you but so many others.
We talked to Jamie Van Doren, the spearhead of product design with NEVERENDING to get an idea of what to expect from their program.
First of all, Jamie and I, although from different parts of the country, very different ages and different walks of life, talked the same language. We met like old friends, much like all of us, at the gaming table of sorts. We both grew up playing D&D and various other rpgs that became more than a ‘game’. It became a way of expression. It allowed both of us to step beyond our reality and grow in ways we couldn’t out in the ‘normal world’. (What is that anyway?) I found, talking to Jamie, that much of what he had experienced was familiar, if not down right a mirror image of my own.
And, according to Jamie, this is what spurred him and his associates to develop NEVERENDING as a great tool to keep the party engaged in the story between sessions. As Jamie put it, sometimes it’s too long a time between games and the excitement wanes and the party has forgotten what spurred them to continue the adventure. With this program you can keep them all motivated and Immersed in the game with emails containing comics or even animations containing their very characters. You can even use audio from the very game to tell the story and reignite the fire of the last session. If you don’t quite understand what I’m getting at, go look at a lot of the animated cartoon shorts from the afore mentioned Critical Role where it is simply a reenactment of a portion of the last session. That is exactly what we will have at our fingertips here. And all without having to sink a mound of cash into art and animation all on our own (where would we even START?). Something that would take a production team hours to do, we will be able to do in a much shorter time and with extraordinarily less cost.
I mean, do you enjoy pirating pictures off the internet to try and express stories, characters and elements of the RPG experience? This is something you can make your own. It will be unlike any other character or party. If you can afford to get an artist to do commissions for you, you should (support your local artist, right?). But if you can’t, this is going to be a great resource.
The intentions here are to keep the excitement alive and enhance the role-playing experience; making it all come alive! What DM couldn’t use that? And, I’m with Jamie, why aren’t there more of this kind of resource out there?
From their Kickstarter, we can see videos displaying drag and drop art work with a myriad of customizable pieces. From a character’s hair, to their very specific body type (Not every character is a He-Man or She-ra doll, right?) to clothing and weapons. Not only that, but you can create a backdrop for either your picture or a nice animation. There are gif-like animations of flickering fire or lightning spells to make your wizard a badass or give your scene some ambience. There is work toward taking one specific animation and adding it to any created character. You could take a half hour or so and create something that really helps aid the experience IN the game also.
NEVERENDING is also working on a character sheet and an NPC generator (You can see more about the time line in the image on the left) that does more than just give us the numbers. It will bring the people that the players interact with to life in a whole new way. It’s not just a physical representation. It’s possible animation. It’s personality trait and how they personally interact with that local. So, a bartender is more than a bar tender. Maybe he’s just helping out and he’s really a stable hand. You can learn their motives, desires and dreams. Simply put, your NPCs come to life. This is exceptionally intriguing to the DM who sometimes struggles to add personality to the myriad of towns people and enemies their party’s meet.
In an amazing attempt at inclusion, NEVERENDING has, not only, introduced a whole plethora of body types, but also things like prosthetics and even a wheelchair both hovering and chariot like if a player would want to have a character more like themselves or as a way of understanding the world of someone with such things without conveying any type of deficiency or handicap.
“Imagine you have all of your players at the table. And they’ve been in the dungeon, in front of these fairly non-descript doors. They’ve just removed the magical wards and they’re about to open them. And you pull up on the screen on a video that you have put together showing these doors opening. And the lights flickers or suddenly bursts bright to show a long hallway leading to a throne. And there’s the Lich one the throne as the camera zooms in. And behind the Lich starts creeping out these shadow demons….Talk about setting the stage.”
Jamie Van Doren-NEVERENDING
In this crazy time with life changing every second, Jamie took a reorganization from his work and turned it into his dream. And, through KICKSTARTER, you too can be a part of this dream. Jamie’s dream. NEVERENDING’s dream. Our dream. Your dream. Become a part of this project today. How far and fast they go is all up to you. Below are some links to check them out on social media and their website!