World of Darkness: Year of the Road (Storytellers Vault) / Interview with Matt M McElroy

The Storytellers Vault, the World of Darkness/Chronicles of Darkness community content digital storefront, is running their first storyline event. “Year of the Road is a collaborative effort by World of Darkness community content creators making new supplements based on the themes of travel along the highways and byways in the World of Darkness.” I was curious about the event, what it meant to the WoD, and what was coming from it, which led me to Matt M McElroy and this interview.

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EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for agreeing to talk with me about the Year of the Road at the Storytellers Vault. Can you tell us about this event?
: Thanks for having me. The Year of the Road is part creative challenge to community content authors on Storytellers Vault and part homage to classic World of Darkness storylines like Year of the Ally and Year of the Hunter that White Wolf did years ago.

EGG: This is “the first Storytellers Vault creative challenge and storyline event.” What prompted its creation?
: As a big fan of the books that were released in the Year Of events from White Wolf, especially Ghouls: Fatal Addiction and Project Twilight, I wanted to offer STV creators a chance to make their own supplements along those lines. I thought it might be a fun way to explore the different types of books someone could create for the site and I wanted to see what cool books would be created.

EGG: Ideally, what types of products do you hope to read during this event?
: I’m hoping folks are inspired to create new adventures or enemy factions. Speaking as a developer who’s worked on several World of Darkness books, I’m curious to see if anyone will pick a detail from one of their favorite books and expand on it in ways that’ll be fun to use in a chronicle. For example, someone could write something that explores vehicular combat, protective blood magic for travelling vampires, or a series of escalating threats characters might encounter moving from one city to the next.

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EGG: That would be fun to read! So far, who are some of the Storytellers Vault rock stars participating in this event?
: A couple of the initial books worth checking out include: Rachel Judd’s A Cainite’s Guide to Travel, Sebatian Freeman’s Errant Knights: Nomads of the Sabbat, and Joseph Nassise’s Darkened Streets fiction anthology featuring stories by David Niall Wilson, Bill Bodden, Aaron Rosenberg, and many more.

EGG: This is only for the World of Darkness. Why focus on that setting as opposed to Chronicles of Darkness or Exalted?
: Since the concept was inspired by those original Year Of events, I felt the setting focus for World of Darkness was appropriate. Additionally, White Wolf published the World of Darkness before Exalted and the Chronicles of Darkness, so it seemed fitting that the first storyline would be set in the World of Darkness. Storyline events will be available for Exalted and Chronicles of Darkness in the future. I have a ton of ideas to draw from and I’m lucky that the community is very active. A few authors pitched some concepts that are too good not to use at some point.

EGG: Is there an approval process for a Storytellers Vault piece to be a part of the Year of the Road? Are there resources that creators can access?
: Year of the Road releases will function just like any other Storytellers Vault community content. It’s an event with a tightly focused theme and setting, but no approvals are required. To help creators identify which releases fall under this theme, we offer a cool Year of the Road logo they can use on their covers to help identify YotR-themed books.

EGG: It’s a Year Of event, does that mean you’ll promote it for an entire year?
: We’ll be promoting and challenging authors to publish their own Year of the Road books and we’ll be featuring them wherever we can for several months. Plus, the Year of the Road storyline filter is now a permanent category that authors can select if they come up with cool ideas down the road. This also helps future customers find interesting collections of themed supplements for their favorite game lines whenever they are shopping on Storytellers Vault.

EGG: At the end of the event, what will be your measure for how successful this promotion was? Do you anticipate an annual Year Of theme?
: I’ll be monitoring the event after it launches and will consider how many new supplements were created for the event, what kind of books fans of those game lines were excited about, and consider feedback from the creator community and the World of Darkness community. I want to use that to learn and improve for future creative challenges and storyline events. It’s too early to tell how successful it would be, but I’m definitely hoping creators and fans latch on to the idea. Other storyline events will not be “Year Of” in name, that is primarily an homage to those classic Year Of books. Exalted and Chronicles of Darkness will have other story hooks for their creative challenges.

EGG: For those that do not know, tell us about yourself? What companies do you work for?
: How much space do you have? Kidding...mostly. For OneBookShelf, the company that runs Storytellers Vault, I’m also on the team that manages the DMsGuild community content program, mostly helping the talented Lysa Penrose make that site an amazing resource for the Dungeons & Dragons community. I also manage DriveThruComics and DriveThruFiction where I assist publishers from around the world with their digital comics and eBook publishing efforts.

When I’m not doing all of that, I’m the general Operations Manager and Managing Editor of Fiction for Onyx Path Publishing. That mostly means I keep an eye on the day-to-day operations such as sales channels including maintaining relationships with local game shops, DriveThruRPG, Indie Press Revolution, the Amazon Kindle store, and other venues. Additionally, I manage our presence at conventions and special events, general marketing, and more. I also oversee the production and publishing of our anthologies, comics, and related books.

Beyond that I still own and operate I don’t publish quite as much content as I used to, but I’ve got some big plans for next year. I also do the occasional consulting gig for publishers big and small regarding their production/marketing/crowdfunding plans.

EGG: That is a lot! Thank you for discussing this event. Where can fans learn more?
: There’s a couple of links to check out. First, if you’re interested in seeing what’s currently available, drop by the Year of the Road on Storytellers Vault here. If you’re interested in joining the community and want to create your own Year of the Road-themed books, join our official Facebook discussion group.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: At Gen Con 2019, I played Geist: The Sin-Eater 2e with Keegan Sullivan (an amazingly fun game and session crafted by an expert storyteller). After the game, I talked with Keegan about his plans for submitting the adventure to the Storytellers Vault. Since then, I’ve been on the lookout. When he shared Rage Along Route 1, a setting sourcebook for W20 and part of the Year of the Road, I snapped it up. By Keegan, Josh Heath, James E. Deeley, and JC Stearns, it’s an excellent addition to the WoD providing “details on several key locations along US Route 1, which runs from the Florida Keys all the way to the Canadian border with Maine.” If you’re looking for a sampling of the Year of the Road, Rage Along Route 1 is one of my recommendations.

NOTE: This article includes affiliate links to DriveThruRPG and Amazon. As a DriveThruRPG Affiliate and an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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