An Interview With The Purple Sorcerer

It’s ‘Talk like Jack Vance Week’ all this week at Goodman Games in honor of DCC Dying Earth! As our kickstarter approaches its final week we’re kicking things into linguistic overdrive with a week-long celebration of the stylishly unique language of Jack Vance.

The adherence of your exacting scrutiny to the following matter will be of reciprocal benefit to all parties concerned. The savant Jon Marr, Master Magician, he of the amaranthine hue and rumored porphyrogenitic origins, has made formal appeal to the conclave of gamers and fans to support his ongoing sorcerous machinations through a largesse of fiscal aid.

This drive to secure the future of The Purple Sorcerer is not of infinite duration! The time of its waning draws ever-near, and portends the conclusion of his trials. You are the one who holds the power, and the one that can continue to bring such an amazing array of wizardly tools to all who would support Dungeon Crawl Classics.

To help facilitate your understanding of Master Marr and his designs, we present an interlocution between Magistrate Brendan of the clan LaSalle and The Purple Sorcerer himself.

For our new fans: who are you and what do you do?

I’m Jon Marr, the creator of Purple Sorcerer Games. Until recently I was a graphic designer/web developer for a large corporation while acting as the Purple Sorcerer on the side… now I’m a full-time sorcerer, creating and publishing adventures and free tools for Dungeon Crawl Classics!

How did you discover DCC? 

Back in the misty past before the DCC beta, I was lurking on the Goodman Games forums because I’d created some battle maps for a 4th Edition adventure Goodman Games had created. So I was there when the first rumors of this ‘amazing coming thing’ began to circulate. When the quick play and beta rules first arrived, I was all over it: the first 0-Level Party Generator arrived 3 days after the beta dropped!

Can you tell us a little bit about the evolution of yourself as a programmer/ app designer?

My programming development has been a bit like riding a roller-coaster: sometimes I’ve felt like I had a clue, while at other times I’ve felt like a total fraud. In the early days back in the 80’s, I completely underestimated my skills, or I could have gotten in early with some (soon to be massive) corporations that we’re just getting going nearby. So I just drifted along doing hobby programming building character generators for a variety of games while the development landscape changed around me. Finally, I focused on web development and worked for almost a decade as the webmaster at a college. This was probably my peak of being within shouting distance of ‘professional programming’… and the experience prepared me directly for the original tools I created for DCC

After building the Crawler’s Companion and generators, and leaving the college, I kept creating cool new DCC stuff, but I wasn’t pushing myself to stay on top of what was going on in the development world around me. So when the tool I built the Crawler in reached its end of life, I had to decide if I was going to put in the effort to get back up to speed on web development. (No small thing). The app stores aren’t as friendly to small indy developers as they once were, and since web tools have reached the point where you can do 99% of what you needed an app to do before, I decided yes, I’ll go for it. It’s been a fun adventure re-tooling my skill set. 

What is something that you see on the creator side of Purple Sorcerer that none of us civilians could ever guess?

I guess it would be the chaos of deciding where to focus my energies. Now that I’m doing it full-time, it’s much easier to set a schedule without worrying about ‘work-work’ intruding, but finding the right balance between tools and adventure work will always be a challenge! 

Why do a fund drive, rather than charge a subscription rate or sell ads? 

I’ve told this story before, but my wife was a bit, we’ll say ‘confused’ on why I was putting so much time into creating stuff I wasn’t charging for. I told her that the rewards on the adventure side from the good will generated would outweigh the development costs, and that turned out to be true. The Pledge Drive sort of grew up organically: as the costs mounted to maintain the development effort, the DCC community stepped up to take care of it for me. I’m never not amazed by that. I actually thought about switching to a Patreon model a few years back, and Joseph Goodman told me I’d be nuts to mess with a good thing. He was right!

What is out there in the future for Purple Sorcerer?

So much stuff! It’s so freeing to be doing this full time, and not having to worry about other work: this year should see a major increase in the pace of both adventure and tools releases. I’ve just released the beta version of the Lankhmar Character Generator, and the HTML version of the Crawler’s Companion is going live for testing any moment now. We’ll be announcing our next adventure by the end of the summer: an awesome jungle romp written by my son Benjamin, followed at long last by my own adventure ‘Against the Vortex Temple’. 

I’m also making a foray into streaming to stay more connected to the community, and will soon be appearing on the Goodman Games twitch channel. The first episode will cover the character generators, and I’ll also be making a special announcement about or next big free tool. It’s a bit terrifying, but should be fun!

Any final comments?

As always, I can’t express enough thanks to the amazing DCC community. There are so many good people here, and I appreciate everything that they do for me and my family. It’s a bit scary to have cut the safety lines to focus on PSG full time, but it’s already proving to be a joy. I hope everyone is excited about this year’s pledge drive, and everything that is coming from Purple Sorcerer Games in the coming years: we’re here for the long-crawl

Author: pandabrett

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