Wits and Wisdom: An Intro to the Smoking Bones
Updated: Mar 24
“The world is wilder and more magical than you know! The question is...do you have the eyes to see it? Or the spirit to brave it? And most important, do you have a captain bold enough to lead you? Join Captain Red Jones and the Smoking Bones Travel Company on a grand tour and let us open your eyes to a larger, stranger, and far more magical world!”
Ages ago, the world was filled with incredible, magical marvels. Here in the Northlands, unique cultures and kingdoms grew around these wonders and neighboring kingdoms flourished in relative peace for a long time. But one day, a dangerous magical discovery was made that put the stability of the Northlands at risk. The kingdom of Withermark sought to exploit this discovery for their gain and the Withering War began. Conflict raged across land, sea, and air and it looked like the Marks would prevail. However, when a small band of Withermark airships, known as the Smoking Bones, bravely rebelled against their own kingdom, they turned the tide in the favor of the defenders and the Marks were defeated. The War was very costly. Whole kingdoms were wasted, countless lives were lost, and so many magical wonders were destroyed.
Centuries later, the surviving kingdoms of the Northlands are still recovering. Red Jones is the great great grandson of the mutineering captain of the Smoking Bones fleet and he has a personal connection to the magical landscape of the Northlands. When he began to see wonders disappear without cause, he started the Smoking Bones Travel Company as a way of protecting and promoting the remaining landmarks that are so central to the Northlands' cultural identity. Before the Grand Tour movement, it was difficult to find even a handful of passengers and money was short. But now, with the new touring boom, he has the assets and the interest to further his mission: find out why these important magical landmarks are disappearing and stop it from happening again.
In summary, the Smoking Bones Saga is the story of Captain Red Jones and his crew and their adventures as they deal with magic, pirates, passengers, and a resurgent Withermark kingdom.
That’s the story in a nutshell. But how will you get to explore the world of Smoking Bones?
Since the beginning of this idea, I knew I wanted to write actual stories. So the full narrative of the SB Saga will be in book form. Specifically, a series of long-form children’s books or "illustrated novels” (comparable to James Gurney’s Dinotopia books...in form, probably not in amazing-ness, but I’ll try) that will unfold the story of Red Jones and the conflict between a rising Withermark and the rest of the Northlands. The first book is storyboarded and I’ve begun the final writing. My plan is to finish and release it in 2023. In addition to books, I plan to produce lots of supplemental material to go with them…SBTC travel guides, illustrated travel posters, maps, etc. These will all be produced and distributed by Wits End Studios (me) as fast as I’m able. I’m very excited about these books and extras and I hope you will be too.
And then there’s the board game. Frankly, I think this will be huge. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m partnering with a major publisher to bring the Smoking Bones world to life in board game form. Contracts have been signed…this is totally a go. In fact, it's quite far along. I’ve been working with the designers for almost two years now as they prepare a game design that weaves wonderfully between mechanics and theme. It will be going to blind playtesting soon and it will continue with development the rest of the year. Release will be sometime after that…can’t say exactly, but there are tentative timelines. This will be a very illustration rich game. So, if you like my work, I believe you’ll be pleased with the game. If you don’t…ummmmmm…I’m sorry.
The Smoking Bones world is truly a labor of love and something I’ve been working on for almost 10 years. Please keep your eyes peeled for more info. While the publisher/designer team will remain secret for a while, I will start to share more of the world through my blog and through the Sketch Hunter’s Guild FB Page. I love this story and I hope you will too 🙂 For those interested, I’ll be publishing another post about the history of Smoking Bones idea shortly.