Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jakandor

Ah, Jakandor, a small world which hoped to be so much more.

Jakandor was conceived before I left TSR, well before the Wizards of the Coast buyout, and saw final publication by WotC in that period when they were gunning up for Third Edition. It was, in part, an attempt to deal with the "too many worlds that were too deep" problem that others have mentioned when talking about that era. In short, the problem was that we had succeeded too well, and created too many IPs, too many campaigns, and therefore split the market. In addition, we created worlds with long publishing histories in multiple projects, so to create a good new project, you had to have a voluminous knowledge of the past.

Jakandor was supposed to address that: Four products, consisting of a trilogy of sourcebooks and a novel, which would be a campaign that could be run over a summer break. It was not intended to be the next great Realms which could sustain campaigns forever, or an epic like Dragonlance that involved a lot of travel and adventrue. It was supposed to be a small thing, easily installable in other peoples' campaigns, lootable for cool stuff, but still capable of holding its own.

Looking back, it was definitely my White Bear & Red Moon. I conceived of two opposing cultures, each convinced they were the heroes, On one side was the Knorr - savage barbarians with giant wicker battle-robot - young, passionate and bloody. On the other was the Charonti - an ancient civilization living in the shadow of past glories, utilizing necromancy as a we would use technology - Wise, old, and magical. Each believed they were the epitome of humanity. Each believed the others were abominations.

It tells you something when this is the only Jakandor map I
could find online, and it comes from the first release.
The plan, well, my plan, was to release both original sourcebooks at the same time, and let the players choose which side they were going to favor. If we released one before the other, that would show favoritism and skew the players one way or the other. Then we would do the final adventure book as we brought these factions together from opposite ends of their large island.

In reality, we released it like we released all things - one at a time. We did the Knorr book, then the Charonti book, then finally the total Jakandor book. And while the Knorr book won an award (from Inquest, but still, award, with a plaque and everything), they were dropped into the abyss and were never really seen again.

Oh yeah, the novel. Yes, I wrote one. Yes, we edited it. But the company decided not to go forward with the book. And while I had no advance when I wrote it, there was a clause that paid me if they cancelled it. And later the book was returned to me, with the note that if I wanted to sell it elsewhere, I could, once I changed any proper names. Since then it has been my "trunk book", the book that exists, but hasn't even made the rounds for publishers. I suppose in this self-published world, I could exhume it, but even filing off the serial numbers and changing the names to protect the guilty would still leave it a relic of another era of publishing.

Alas, Jakandor. It had so much promise, but sailed into the teeth of a less-welcoming age, and as such reduced to a footnote in gaming history. But it is my footnote, at least.

More later,