The poll for July is open, but for now, the spotlight’s bright beam of publicity is Samurai Sheepdog, complete with ENnie-nominated crew, interesting range and social media activity. The indie publisher has Facebook pages for many of their product ranges.
Geek Native reached out and got in touch with Kevin Glusing, the lead RPG designer and a partner in the studio. Kevin kindly found time to help with some of my questions.
An introduction to Samurai Sheepdog
Let’s start at the start and find out about the publisher. Yes, they’ve a great name, but as it turns out, that’s not always been what the designers have been known as.
In fact, it turns out that back when Geek Native had a different name (GameWyrd), and I could barely write (only a slight improvement all these years later), I interviewed some of the core team.
Who are Samurai Sheepdog?
Formerly Mystic Eye Games, Samurai Sheepdog started with Hal Greenberg, Doug Herring, and Ken Shannon. We added Kevin Glusing to the team in 2013. We publish fiction, tabletop board games, and RPG content.
How did you come to be? Just how important was The Awakened?
Hal, Doug, and Ken worked together previously when we were still Mystic Eye Games. Unfortunately, after some distribution issues that we had to work out resulting in lost sales and book destruction, we paused for a while before rebranding as Samurai Sheepdog and setting up our first releases: The Awakened anthology of short stories, the Tournament at Camelot card game, and The Fall of Man campaign setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
Why might we have heard of Samurai Sheepdog?
I always relish the chance to speak to publishers in this interviews about their perception of our perception of them. If you already know Samurai Sheepdog, I wonder how you first heard of them and whether it fits with what they might think.
What do you think you’re best known for?
Over the years, we have recovered a good number of our fans from the old days as they learned of our return. We released a full bundle of all of our MEG content on Drivethru that remains quite popular almost 6 years later. Our most commercially recognizeable release has so far been Tournament at Camelot, created through WizKids, and its sequel, Tournament at Avalon.
On the RPG Scene, we’ve seen success with our Book of Many Things collections, and more recently our Name’s Games Patreon. The Awakened series now has 4 books and counting, and an RPG setting on its way. Kevin, specifically, is probably best recognized for Play Manga d20 (which was actually released in collaboration with the Open Gaming Network) and his Pathfinder RPG campaign setting, Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters, which brings the idea of monster catching and training (similar to Pokémon) to the system.
What would you like to be known for?
“Other companies sell you what they make. We make what you want.” This is the slogan we’ve recently adopted for our Name’s Games Patreon, where we preview content we’re working on for our various projects and build requests made by our backers. This idea started with The Book of Many Things, which is likewise a trio of books (plus our Decidedly Laughable Collection released for April Fools and Kickstarter Campaign Content) compiled from ideas, suggestions, and requests from around the Internet.
Similarly, we have brought in a number of guest and freelance authors for various projects, from The Awakened, to our most recent Lands of Theia campaign setting by Steven Rasheed James. The latter has been released for Pathfinder 1e, Pathfinder 2e, and D&D 5e.
What does good look like to you?
It’s the best feeling coming across mention of our products casually on social media. I feel we’re doing well when we don’t have to push the promotion of our content.
What’s in the future for Samurai Sheepdog?
Asking questions about the perception of the past is one thing, but RPG Publisher Spotlights are a rare chance to look ahead in time as well.
Can you tell us anything about your still in development projects?
We have The Awakened III in development for our fiction line. Ken took a break from board games for a bit to focus on family and health. For RPGs, The Book of Many Things Volume 3, BoMT Decidedly Laughable Collection, and each version of Lands of Theia are still receiving regular content updates to add classes, character options, and more before they go to print. Because those books are in PDF format, we could create early releases of them so they could help pay for their own art and development while we work to finish them. Eventually, we want to get back to the Kingdom of Monsters and update The Fall of Man.
It’s been 10 years, nearly, since the release of Arawn’s Quest, so can you tell readers about that journey and the new stories?
Along with Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters, Kevin brought over the Pnumadesi setting, wherein he set the Zen Chronicles. The first book, Arawn’s Quest offers readers an introduction to the world through the eyes of somebody who has never been there either. Almost 500 years ago, the xendauni, a race of forest-dwelling shapechangers, were banished from the world by their mortal enemies, the elementals. The story opens with Arawn being freed from their prison so that he can do the same for his people. His quest is to collect the gems used to banish the xendauni from reality, but as a stranger to the world, he’ll need the help of newly made friends. 4 books (and a previously unreleased anthology) in, and we’re ready to conclude the adventure with The Third War of Elements.
What’s getting you excited in the tabletop gaming scene?
Pathfinder 2nd Edition is picking up steam now that it’s been out for a couple years. We jumped into the new edition right as it came out with The Faithful Few, which offers four new character classes for the system: Convokers (divine summoners with avatars), dragon speakers (an updated dragon shaman class from 3.5), midnight legates (an homage to the Midnight setting), and warlocks.
The continued growth of D&D 5e has also been good, with new official rules that have helped as we develop Lands of Theia for that system.
What else might we see from Samurai Sheepdog in the future?
We continue to support Pathfinder 1st Edition, and will do so as long as we still have fans buying our content for it. Right now, we’re focused on finishing our open projects mentioned above. Once those are wrapped and printed, we want to use the earnings from them to complete The Awakened RPG and Player’s Advantage: Monster Trainer. The long term goal is to expand on the Shattered Worlds multiverse concept we started with The Book of Many Things, which allows us to incorporate and pay tribute to various settings and media through a singular lens.
- Samurai Sheepdog’s website.
- Samurai Sheepdog’s Name’s Games Patreon.
- Samurai Sheepdog on Facebook.
- Samurai Sheepdog on Twitter.
- Also, on Facebook, Book of Many Things, Name’s Games, and Lands of Theia.
Latest Samurai Sheepdog Products
We can find Samurai Sheepdog on DriveThruRPG and so can list their five most recently updated products below.
- 15th July 2021 Name’s Games June 2020 Collection
- 1st July 2021 Name’s Games June 2019 Collection
- 15th May 2021 Name’s Games May 2020 Collection
- 30th April 2021 Name’s Games May 2019 Collection
- 9th April 2021 Name’s Games April 2020 Collection
Samurai Sheepdog is also available by the Open Gaming Store.
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