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The RPG History Project Launches Patreon

Last March at Gary Con VIII, Pat Kilbane shared a glimpse into his RPG History Project with a preview of bits of interviews.

Every few weeks since Gary Con, he has released snippets of a presentation by Tim Kask at that same Gary Con, on the first five years at TSR.

Just a few weeks ago, he released the full presentation by Tim, including the last question asked by yours truly.

Now, Pat has launched a Patreon to help fund further production efforts to document those from the dawn of the RPG age, gather existing film of Gary Gygax, Dave Areneson, and others, and compiling a documentary on the origins of D&D.

I have described Pat’s efforts as a third D&D documentary that will get done while the other two documentaries duke it out in court. Pat is focusing on building goodwill and showing progress along the way prior to seeking fan funding. Now that he has had regular releases of snippets and finally the full presentation, he has shown us what he and his team can do.

Pat honored me with the first interview on the launch of his Patreon.

LH Many know you from your work as an actor. Back at Gary Con, every time I was in earshot, I heard someone talk about Mad TV, or another TV show or movies you had a part. What was your start in acting?

PK My professional career started in stand-up comedy in late 1989. I went from performing at open mics to eventually headlining clubs and then moving to Los Angeles in 1994. Jim Carrey was huge then, so it was a good time to be a lanky, physical comedian. I got an agent and was doing commercials a few years later, which lead to Seinfeld and Mad TV and then movies. The greatest thing about being on the road as a stand-up was going to game stores all over the country. In the early 1990s, internet sales had not yet challenged the bricks-and-mortar game store, so there was one in almost every city. It was like a treasure hunt.

LH What was your start in making your own films?

PK Going from being an actor to a writer/director is just like going from player to DM. After a while you get an urge to be the guy creating the fun! My first filmmaking work was pretty modest – putting videos together for TV pitches. I’ve done many things big and small since then, including a Twilight Zone-style series for Discovery Networks called Dark Secrets and a series of shorts for Major League Baseball.

LH How many are on the team/crew for the D&D documentary?

PK It’s a tight group of four of us – myself, Melissa McQueen (producer), Matt Renoir (producer and director of photography) and John Bennett (producer and sound engineer). The small size of our team and our long-standing friendships serve as a buffer against discord. I’m the only gamer in the bunch, but we’re all passionate about the project and have had a blast so far.

LH When did you get your start as a gamer?

PK In 1979 I was introduced to the Holmes Basic Set, and there was no turning back for me. That was a world shaker of a day. Some people play RPGs and have fun with them, but there are those of us who are captivated by them, and I was captivated. Everything I do creatively feels like it’s D&D in one way or another. It’s like a lifeline to your childhood sense of wonder.

LH Have you played in games with many women? Have you ever been a GM with women players? Have you ever had a woman GM?

PK I’ve never had a woman GM, but I’m in a regular game now that has a half-female party (four women and five men). It really enriches the game experience, and in many ways makes it more immersive. Since women are half of our population, the game just feels more “real” with women at the table. The group is much younger than I am, so I don’t think they know any different. How times have changed. lol

LH Are there any conventions you attend on a regular basis? What was your first con? What cons have you shared your efforts besides GaryCon? Will we be seeing your efforts at any future cons?

PK My first con was a small function in Dayton, OH, and I have no idea what it was called. I was probably thirteen then, and had an amazing experience with a game of Traveller. So incredible. The game master’s name was Scott Roomes, and I don’t know what he’s doing now, but I hope to meet him again someday to tell him how awesome and formative that one session was. Top notch storytelling. Origins was my first big con. I remember meeting Stephan Pokorny there when he was just starting out. There aren’t any cons I can say I go to regularly. It’s tougher logistically living in LA.

We’d like to go to cons with the RPG History Project, but our limited resources right now are best spent on the production itself. Especially now that we have launched the Patreon, we want to make sure that supporters are seeing the progress and are excited about what we are doing. When we catch a breather, though, game cons are the best. Gary Con this year was pure joy.

LH What was your inspiration to do a D&D Documentary? When/how long have you been working on it? When did you start?

PK Jon Peterson’s book Playing at the World was an eye opener for me. I read it cover to cover and was so grateful that someone had put in the careful effort to create such a detailed history of the hobby. I also wanted to make an impactful contribution to the hobby, and film is the medium that I’m schooled in. It was summer of last year that we did our first shooting. We had been in discussions with a production company about the project, and when they turned it down, we decided that we were going to do it anyway.

The absence of footage existing of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson was huge motivator to expand the project from a documentary to a full historical archive. The early pioneers of the hobby have been so influential, we’d be remiss as RPG enthusiasts to not make such an effort.

LH How long do you anticipate it to take at the current rate? That is, how many months/years until we get to a finished product?

PK As I mention on the Patreon page, there will definitely be a 2017 release for the documentary. The interview archive I would like to continue updating for years to come. All of it will require the help of the community, though, if we are going to reach the quality and consistency we aspire to.

LH Did you have trouble convincing the interviewees to participate with the issues with other D&D documentaries? Was there anyone who said no, and still won’t participate even after they’ve seen what you’ve done?

PK The only people who have balked so far are folks who are either camera shy or just too humble to want to be interviewed. I understand that completely. There has been mention here and there of the other documentaries, but nothing negative from our prospective interviewees.

LH How many interviewees? Who are they?

PK I’m guessing we’ll need at least thirty interviews to have a fully fleshed-out film, and right now we’re at about half of that. We have great stuff from Luke Gygax, Jon Peterson, Dave Wesely, Lee and Barry Gold… Paul Stormberg gave us an on-camera tour of 330 Center St. that is pretty magical. And as you mentioned in previous articles, we got interesting perspective from mythology expert Robert Walter and also Rob Cohen who is part of the creative teams behind the Simpsons and Big Bang Theory. It’s awesome to see D&D’s roots reach into other huge cultural phenomena.

LH How many more interviews do you have to go?

PK There are a handful of folks we’re arranging interviews with here in the Southwest, but as you know, the Midwest is where most of the “Old Guard” call home. We’re planning a 7-10 day tour of Wisconsin and Minnesota to visit with as many of those folks as we can, but we’ll need the help of our supporters to make larger operations like that possible.

LH How much would it take to make this happen sooner?

PK The bad thing about bootstrapping a project like this is that it’s a mountain of hard work; the good thing is that we are efficient with every single dollar. The film and the archive will happen no matter what, but the level of Patron support will be key in determining scale and quality. For the full archive we envision and a moving, artful documentary, $5,000/mo in Patron support would get us there.

LH When will we seem something on Patreon? What about Kickstarter or other crowd funding?

PK Yes, Patreon! Support us today, even if it’s for just a buck a month! I think real lovers of the hobby will find the content and updates to be more than worth it.

LH How else can we support this project?

PK Share our videos and talk about them with your friends! That’s always a huge help. At the end of the day, the RPG History Project is all about community. I’m hoping it will strengthen the tabletop RPG community by providing a richer common history for us to share and discuss.

LH Is your Dorks of Yore Facebook page the best way to keep up with this project? Will there be a dedicated FB page or G+ group for this project?

PK Yes, the Dorks of Yore FB page is the best way to follow our activity outside of the Patreon posts. We don’t plan a separate Facebook page for the project, but we may create a closed group page for Patrons so we can use it for livestreams, etc. I’m not sure about that, though.

LH Do you still play RPG’s? How often?

PK I have a 5e campaign that I play every week, an Adventurer, Conqueror, King campaign every other week, and a home-brew fantasy campaign I play a few times a year when I visit family in Ohio. The latter has special meaning for me, because that game is with the same people I started with at age eleven.

LH Finally, a question of a personal nature. When will the rest of the world get to hear me ask my epic last question of Tim Kask at his GaryCon 8 talk on the first five years at TSR? 😉

PK Haha! You can tell it has taken me a while to answer you, because it’s already been posted! Your question was a real showstopper, Larry, and a perfect capper to a great seminar.

LH Thanks for all your efforts on this documentary and for taking the time to answer my questions!

PK You’re welcome! Thank you for being such a positive, active voice in the RPG world! I enjoy your Multiverse articles and am happy to have met you in person at Gary Con.

For more details and to give your support, head on over to Patreon. You can see the Patreon video here:

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