Doug, The Lost Books of Talislanta

For those of you who were members of the Tal Yahoo Group around the time SMS announced he would be releasing the Tal line for free, there was much talk of the resurrection of unpublished Talislanta manuscripts. There has been virtually no news at all, as far as I know, regarding this topic since that time. So I contacted Doug, the individual coordinating this effort, and asked him some choice questions. Enjoy!

Marques: Simply put; “What?! There are Tal books that were written but have not been published and by some magic are still in existence? I must know more!!”

Doug: Yes! There are several Talislanta manuscripts that have yet to see the light of day. There are approximately a dozen or so manuscripts by about eight authors that we are trying to get cleaned up for the Talislanta fans. Originally, these works were commissioned by Morrigan Press. SMS himself gave most of the authors some guidelines and guidance here and there.

Right now we hope to have most of these compiled and turned into a pdf very similar to the ones used on the Talislanta site for rest of the Talislanta milieu. However, before fans get too excited, these are basic manuscripts. While they’ve been edited and proof-read to a degree, there is currently no artwork with them. No fancy page borders. Little in the way of nice scripts. Just text.

That said, some of the authors, myself included, would like to see these works eventually turned into something as beautiful as the other Talislanta titles. At the moment, however, we’re mainly interested in getting the works together and into a format where Talislanta fans can enjoy them.

There are a number of works that aren’t in this collection, however. A few titles were released onto the Talislanta list when it seemed that they wouldn’t be published by Morrigan. Those works are still excellent pieces, but unlike these, they’ve been seen by fans. Too, there are one or two titles that are incomplete. Their authors hope to do more work to bring them to a state where we can add them to the Lost Books of Talislanta, but how soon that may be is unknown.

Marques: What can you tell me about the books specifically? Tal editions covered, authors involved, book types, etc…?

Doug: Originally, when I got the various authors together, it seemed that our works were spread across 4th edition, one or two for 5th, and one even slated to be released as an Omni product much like “The Darkness” conversion of Midnight Realms. However, we all talked about it and decided that all the works included should at least conform to one rules-set. That rules-set is 4th edition. Any of the works that weren’t in 4th edition were converted and re-written so that they would be.

Amongst the Lost Tales of Talislanta, players are going to find new and interesting locales, such as the continent of Celadon, the frontier town of Deadwood, the depths of Werewood, and the heights of the Volcanic Hills. Too, there are adventures to be had in such locations as the Isle of Caprica and the Wilderlands of Zaran.

Marques: Books that are turned into a publisher are usually pretty messy and aesthetically basic. The publisher takes that raw material and turns it into something beautiful. In what state of “publication readiness” are these books in.

Doug: As stated, these works are fairly basic. Adam Black, bless his Tarteran touched little black heart, has offered to produce a few pieces for the work as a whole at a reduced rate from what he normally charges. I think at least a couple of the authors took him up on that offer. Those pieces won’t be in the initial presentation of the Lost Books, but we hope to update it at some point in the future. Right now, the layout is fairly simple. We are looking at how much work needs to be done to have them in a more traditional Talislanta format – double column pages, borders, art and the like. However, as we’re essentially donating our work and time, we’re going to have to do this in stages.

Marques: I imagine something of this magnitude has been a nightmare to coordinate. Could you tell us a little bit about the project itself and its current status?

Doug: As the time on Morrigan Press’s contract for Talislanta started running down, it was more than obvious that there were works still out there that hadn’t been published. Mainly because I knew that, I had a few, and I knew of at least a small number of others as well. So, when it was announced that all the old works would be going up on as a gift to the fans, I asked SMS if he wanted things that had never been published as well. He thought it was a great idea and asked me to see what was still outstanding.

I put out a message on the Talislanta list and some other venues to ask for works of Talislanta that Morrigan (or others) hadn’t published. The response was a bit more than even I’d thought it would be. Even SMS was a bit shocked, I believe, by the number of books that were sitting and waiting to be published. Obviously, whatever problems Morrigan Press may have had on it’s business end did not extend to their hopes and expectations for the Talislanta line. Even if only two or three books a year had been published, there was enough material awaiting editing and artwork to last for quite a while.

I think I can speak for all of the authors when I say that we wanted this material to make its way into the hands of the fans, no matter what. Between the authors, myself, and SMS, we discussed a variety of options – everything from self-publishing to free pdf release. Eventually, it was clear that releasing them free with the other Talislanta works was the optimal way to go.

Pretty much all of the authors did these works with the expectation of being paid, and while that won’t happen, we all feel that the fans deserve these books. Unfortunately, I’m not a game publisher. If I had the money, we could likely get artwork commissioned from SMS/Talislanta approved artists, get a fancy page border, and have these works look beautiful. But, as it is, essentially we’re giving away the hours and hours of work we were all contracted for.

Hopefully, we should have a working pdf copy of the Lost Books of Talislanta by the end of the month. There are maybe two unfinished manuscripts and hopefully some artwork that we’ll be able to add and subsequently re-release, but the time frame for that is much longer.

Marques: I can’t thank you enough for seeing this through and for the time you’ve undoubtedly invested. I’ve personally thought a great deal about the possibility of this project coming to fruition one day and been especially exited about this project. Is there any additional information that you would like to share about this project or say to the Talislanta community?

Doug: No thanks necessary. I’m really just another Talislanta fan. Yes, I happen to have written some Talislanta books, and I’m grateful for that. And if there’s anything that Tal fans want to ask about my works or this project in general, I’m always happy to reply.