Back very nearly 10 years ago when we released our first product, Last Rites of the Black Guard, one of the ways we distinguished ourselves from the crowd was by giving away MP3s that could be used by the GM as in-game sound effects. Those MP3s ended up being even more popular than we’d expected, a freebie that people still comment on today.

Now, with major revisions to Degrees of Horror behind us, we’re starting to talk about what we can do to support the GMs who want to run it. Pinebox stands among a minority of settings that take place in “modern times.” That gives us an advantage over fantasy or sci-fi settings– we can extend the setting out onto the web by giving you an ETU school website.

A few of you might remember that we started a website called The Raven’s Report shortly after we finished the first draft of Degrees of Horror. If you follow the link, you’ll see that ostensibly it’s a student-run e-zine based at ETU. Most articles are reported from the naive perspective of someone unbelieving in the occult, but you–the Pinebox insiders–can read between the lines and imagine the supernatural forces at play. Each article is, in essence, an adventure seed for an ETU campaign.

As revisions to Degrees of Horror dragged on, we put The Raven’s Report on pause so we could focus on polishing the game. Now with the heavy lifting behind us, we have the luxury of revisiting old haunts. We can resume The Raven’s Report, but as just one element in a whole university website. We can include Raven’s Report news items, a page on ETU history, a campus map, university merchandise from ball caps to coffee mugs, …and more.

It’s the “…and more” where you come in. We’d really like YOU, our Pinebox fans, to tell us what sort of things you’d like to see on an ETU website. We want to offer a site that our fans will actually use and enjoy. What sort of things would entice you to check out the site as either a player or a GM? What would keep you coming back more multiple times? If a part of the site were behind a paywall, what would sort of content would you consider valuable enough to pay for?

We would really, really appreciate your feedback. This would be a site FOR YOU, so we want to get it right! The best place to comment is on the Pinnacle forums but you’re also welcome to comment on our Facebook page or in the Savage Worlds fan community on G+.

5 Responses to “Class Notes: Raven’s Report redux”

  1. Kristian Serrano Says:

    Universities and colleges often have police reports of incidents. That would be an excellent vehicle for the site to add color to the setting.

    You’ll need to include Admission information possibly highlighting the attractions of Pinebox to entice students to apply and commit once accepted. Also consider some sections detailing onsite visits for prospective students.

    Being a web developer and having managed a student portal system for a division of enrollment services, I have a ton more ideas.

  2. Preston DuBose Says:

    Awesome Kristian! I work at a university so I get exposed to our website a lot as well, but it’s easy to get stuck in a certain mindset. I LOVE your police report idea. The federal Clery Act requires that universities disclose criminal activity on and near campus. That would make a fantastic set of adventure seeds. Keep those ideas coming!

  3. Kristian Serrano Says:

    Cool!

    So, I’m not familiar with what degrees ETU offers, but some of the courses in those programs could include Forensic Anthropology, Archaeology, Criminal Justice, etc. and they could tout their practical experience opportunities.

    Housing might have some safety tips on their site.

    I could see a page listing all sorts of student organizations for clubs based on paranormal studies, faith, monster hunting, computer science, and even gaming. 😉

    You’ll likely need an academic and events calendar. Perhaps include some guest speakers.

    I’ll post more as I think of them.

  4. Kristian Serrano Says:

    I could see some student organization sites being living communities of actual ETU players and GMs. Imagine cross-pollination of campaign stories and discussions but within the context of the characters they play and then bringing that back to their table.

    What if the police reports were connected to sessions played and submitted? A summary of the aftermath or even events that occur during an adventure or campaign? You could have a section in the site where users can submit reports.

  5. Preston DuBose Says:

    Great ideas! We’ve been talking about possible interactive tools (online adventure generator and GM/player interaction like you suggested) but at that point we get into real development time. We’d have to monetize the site in some manner to justify that level of investment. It’s doubtful we could just write it off as a loss-leader. That’s not saying we’re not going to do it, just that those advanced functions would probably come in a “phase 2”.

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