So, the Preview Edition of Ross Rifles came out.
On February 8th, 2018, it went live on DriveThruRPG.com. One week later, we’ve experienced a wonderful reception to this small, condensed version of the game. We reached 100 downloads in 5 days! I have nothing but the utmost appreciation for everyone who’s taken the time out of their day to download and read through the game. Now begins the march towards the final product, which will involve even more extensive playtesting and editing. We hope that you will be following us every step of the way, which is why we’ve decided to begin uploading weekly Developer Blogs, with this being the first.
During the lead-up to the release of the Preview Edition, I found myself with some free time as it was being edited. I decided to do some more research into my familial connection to the First World War. My great-grandfather, Thomas Vivian Keenan, volunteered to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1918 and arrived on the front on November 18th, 1918. As my sister Erin said, he pulled a total Keenan maneuver and managed to avoid extreme danger through luck. One of the great things about Veterans Affairs Canada is that they’ve made all the records of soldiers from the First World War completely open to the public (here’s a link if you want to search for any connections you might have). I was able to find his attestation papers, his medical records, his discharge papers, and more, right down to his dental information. The CEF was nothing if not thorough! However, all this information led me to a book called The Adjala Connection, which was written by my Great-Uncle John Reilly Keenan in the early 90s (meaning it does not feature yours truly…). John Reilly had this to say about his brother’s service: “Tommy was the first of the Keenan Brothers to enlist in the armed forces of his country. In one of his uniform pockets, he carried a small black notebook, which I was given to understand contained hushed up military secrets. Inside was the Morse Code of dots and dashes. Tommy went overseas late in the fall of 1918. The story was that his outfit was to fight in France on the eve of November 11th. That was the day the Armistice brought the carnage in Europe to a halt. All in all, I think my oldest brother enjoyed his stint in the army. He was young enough to adapt to military life and enjoy the travel it involved”. Tommy returned to Toronto in 1919, met my great-grandmother, and fathered my grandfather Jack Keenan. I remember nothing about my great-grandfather, considering he passed away in the 1960s, but I do remember my grandfather showing me pictures of him when I was a child. It was clear to me, even then, that Tommy was viewed almost like a family hero. While my Great-Uncles would go on to serve during the Second World War, it was Tommy that set the precedent of military service. Even though Tommy never saw action on the Western Front, he still experienced adventure, served his country, and actively chose to represent Canada overseas. His story is just one of the thousands of stories that came out of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and it’s those kinds of stories that we’re interested in telling with Ross Rifles. Ross Rifles is meant to teach the experience of the war, rather than the political narrative, and expand on what you might have heard about in your high school classroom, read about in a popular magazine, or seen in various media revolving around WW1. Ross Rifles is about farmboys, factory workers, both volunteers and conscripts, and how they found identity and friendship in one of the most harrowing conflicts to ever occur.
To celebrate the release of the Preview, Daniel K and I will be traveling to Ottawa from February 19th to 21st! Primarily, we will be conducting research at the Canadian War Museum. Since we have an extensive background in museum education, we’re both very excited to get a chance to look through their collections. In addition to this, we will be playtesting Ross Rifles on the 19th and 20th in a lovely store called The Kessel Run, from 7-9p,m. If you’re an Ottawa-based tabletop fan and you’re interested in Ross Rifles, make sure to get there early to find a spot at the table! Stay tuned to social media for all the pictures from the trip, and future developer blogs!
Pictured is a photograph known as “The Gang”, from the book The Adjala Connection. Thomas Vivian Keenan is seen in uniform in the top-right corner.
-Patrick K, Lead Designer, Ross Rifles