Road to Kickstarter #17: Our Favorite "Otherworlds"
As part of The Hero’s Planner’s new multiverse inspired story, Yew (with the help of Prof. Mentor) will navigate 13 unique universes AKA “Otherworlds” in a quest to gather all the components needed to make the long journey back home, and save the multiverse in the process. Designing these Otherworlds has been an absolute blast for the whole team, and we want to spend this week bragging about some of our personal favorites!
When we initially were drafting up concepts for The Hero’s Planner, I was really advocating for a dated version of the planner. I really liked the idea of sculpting stories that related to the themes of each month. I was particularly excited about the challenge of February, the month of love. We do our best to make Yew genderless, and we were afraid that directly involving them in a love story would put our hero avatar in a bit of a box. So, we started thinking about a love story where Yew was more of a matchmaker. One day I was talking to Ryan and someone said something along the lines of “Kaiju Couples Therapy” and the idea was born!
I really feel like this is the Otherworld where we really started to embrace how goofy the multiverse could be, and we never looked back. When it comes to giant monsters destroying a city in the midst of a relational spat, it’s challenging to resolving the conflict without using dialogue. We thought it would be hilarious Yew picked up the pieces of a giant neon heart sign which was literally ripped in half and just held it up to them in a way that says, “Your fighting is destroying those around you! Remember how you love each other?”. All of a sudden this silly Kaiju couples therapy concept become a really profound metaphor that reminded me of this African proverb: When the elephants fight the grass suffers.
Ultimately we decided to make the planner undated, but I still think this otherworld is a great nod to the month of love.
Picking a favorite Otherworld is like picking a favorite child. We’ve talked about some I’ve really enjoyed working on and ones that came very easily to me, such as Dinoland or Kitty City. But the one that was a surprising challenge for me was our Steam Western sequence. We based it on a western-themed illustration I did for Quarantine Quest all those years ago but decided to spice it up with steampunk elements. Back then, we were working on the pre-pre-prototype Galaxy of Istoria Hero’s Journal and I had intended for the big brawny cowboy to be a nod to the big brawny bounty hunter from GOI. It was easy enough to change him into a steampunk cyborg sheriff, but trying to fit in a story about mistaken identity, a train robbery, and steam-robot bandits in 4 illustrations with no dialogue was tricky to say the least. In the end, it’s a setting I would love to return to in some shape or form. It has a horse with a steam-powered prosthetic leg, what’s not to love?
So many of the settings for the Otherworlds. One of Ryan’s many super powers is his ability to create nuanced and interesting worlds is second to none. I am genuinely excited about all of the different settings in the planner, but I think my absolute favorite Otherworld is The Extreme Food Challenge. From the different food related characters, the fun obstacles, or the nail biting finale, The Extreme Food Challenge is fun the whole time.
Similar to Nick, I was a strong advocate for the idea of crafting stories that relate to particular months & seasons in the real world. So when we were finalizing all of the “Otherworlds” that we wanted to include in the planner, I pitched a Halloween inspired setting for the month of October. Drawing inspiration from some of my childhood favorites like Casper, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and Ghost Busters, the pitch revolved around a ghost hunter Yew who would be assigned the task of retrieving a mythical antique from a long-abandoned haunted mansion.
One careful consideration we had to make when designing these Otherworlds though was to not force heroes into a “dated” planning routine. We didn't want heroes to feel like they would have to plan their month of October in the spooky trope, just like we don't want to force heroes to start their planning in January if that’s not what works for them. With that in mind, we decided to make “Spooky Eve” a Hero’s Guild exclusive, and released it to the Guild last October.
Ryan ended up taking things in a slightly different direction than my original pitch, but like always, he made it even better. I’m not going to go into specifics and spoil the story, but what I will say is that we ended up liking this Otherworld so much that we decided it’s going into the final planner anyway. But worry not, heroes! The planner will remain "undated". 👻
Nancy Drew was among my favorite book series as a kid and one of the Otherworlds perfectly captures that nostalgic and cozy mystery setting; “Sherlock Roach”. (The official name is still a work in progress!) Throughout the pages of this Otherworld, you’ll find out that it works almost like an ‘I Spy’ game; full of tiny details that make the pages fun to color!
Which "Otherworld" is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!