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Heroic Story has raised $6 million to build a Web3-enabled tabletop RPG platform.
The Los Angeles company’s goal is to let storytellers imagine new worlds for open-ended game franchises, and it recently launched an online version of Legends of Fortunata, a tabletop RPG franchise created by the company’s founders. .
Upfront Ventures led the round with participation from Multicoin Capital and Polygon Technology, bringing the company’s total funding to date to $7.4 million, Jay Rosenkrantz, CEO of Heroic Story, said in an interview with GamesBeat.
The round also saw participation from strategic angels, including Jonathan Lai (a16z Games Fund One), Steve Arhancet (CEO Team Liquid), Richard Ma (CEO Quantstamp), Orange DAO, George Strompolos (Founder Fullscreen), Wolfgang Hammer (Head of movies, Miramax) and screenwriting
duo Ryan and Kaz Firpo (Marvel’s “Eternals”).
Past investors include Transcend Fund, Kevin Lin (Twitch co-founder), Holly Liu (Kabam co-founder) and Furqan Rydhan (Thirdweb CEO). Funds will be used to recruit talent, market the live beta, and build on-chain technology to support a massively multiplayer world ruled by professional gaming masters.
and run by millions of players.
Rozenkrantz and his brother Scott started Heroic Story in the summer of 2019 at the Y Combinator accelerator. Since September 2021, the company has been building a massively multiplayer version of Legends of Fortunata.
Heroic Story reinvents traditional pen-and-paper RPG gameplay on a new gaming platform that combines matchmaking services with the world’s greatest masters and story-driven digital collectibles that allow players to lead their shared adventures together.
Legends of Fortunata, the company’s first game franchise for the platform, is a new living campaign set in the fantasy world of Fortunata. Fortunata was created by Heroic Story’s in-house narrative team of novelists and screenwriters, with contributions made by its community of thousands of fanfiction writers and digital artists.
The immersive gaming experience eliminates the pain points of playing traditional tabletop games online, with no stressful programming and an exciting virtual rewards system designed to broaden TTRPG’s reach and appeal to new audiences. Legends of Fortunata is now available to play through the Heroic Story game pass platform.
“The intersection of storytelling and technology has been the theme of my career, from my early years as one of online poker’s top professionals and entrepreneurs, to designing and directing one of the first adventure games. for consumer virtual reality,” Rosenkrantz said. “At Y Combinator, Scott and I strive to solve problems for storytellers, the world’s most underrated talent, and after spending the last year and a half exploring Web3, we truly believe that smart contract-driven platforms will transform gaming, the storytelling and community building. .”
Legends of Fortunata launched on September 23, 2022 with a free collection of 1049 World Passes. Shortly after minting, the Fortunata World Pass collection became the most traded collection on OpenSea.
The platform launched with several famous game masters including Ron Ogden (host of Dungeon Run), Jason Charles Miller, Aliza Pearl, April Hill, Patrick “ThatGreyGentleman” and Luke Gygax, the son of the inventor of Dungeons & Dragons.
“We fell in love with the vision for Heroic Story because they are creating authentic online RPG experiences for large, global audiences who are passionate about the tabletop RPG genre. We know of no better founder than Jay to serve this community, as demonstrated by the successful launch of the Fortunata World Pass collection,” said Mark Suster, managing partner at Upfront Ventures, in a statement. “He lives and breathes the spirit of this community and we are thrilled to support him in making it a live game.”
The team includes art director Paul Adam (Bioware, Wizards of the Coast), programmer Martin Beierling-Mutz (EA), and esports industry veterans Matt Elento (Team Liquid) and Daniel “Tafokints” Lee. The team has 11 people in total.
As the company and the gaming platform grow, the plan is to improve the economy within the gaming franchises, comprised of gamers, game masters, and content creators, many of whom currently buy and sell goods and services through of inefficient and isolated markets, through the incorporation of platforms. -Broad tokenomics that incentivize and reward participants to improve the game together.
A life of pivots
They created the company as a result of a series of life pivots. Rosenkrantz said that he thought he was going to be a screenwriter. He went to film school in Boston and graduated in the midst of the online poker boom. He drifted into that community and ended up becoming one of the top 10 players in the world.
“I was super fascinated by how the internet was changing poker culture around the world,” Rosenkrantz said. “So I started making films about people: documentaries, short films.”
His feature film Bet Raise Fold is a documentary about the rise of online poker and its eventual fall, which occurred in 2011 when the Department of Justice shut down the industry in the US.
“That was a big turning point,” Rosenkrantz said. “And all my friends left the country to continue playing. I really wanted to tell the story of community law and finish this documentary. We had to reissue it from scratch. My younger brother, Scott, graduated from film school around the same time. And we had always been telling stories together.”
They moved to Austin and started making VR movies, as they believe VR will change the way stories are told. They moved to Montreal and started a game studio and shipped a VR adventure game in 2018: Chiaro and the Elixir of Life. Unfortunately, they concluded that it was 10 years too early for the market.
They then headed to Y Combinator, where they studied Web3 and the opportunities in blockchain gaming.
“For a totally different idea, Web3 wasn’t even on our minds. But our concept has always been around this convergence of entertainment and technology to solve problems for storytellers using these new media,” Rosenkrantz said.
The brothers figured out “how not to die,” following instructions from Y Combinator, and watched non-expendable tokens explode in 2021 in art and games.
“We’re trying to figure out how to fix the problem that writers and storytellers like,” Rosenkrantz said. “There is so much value created by the writers, but they capture very little. It is very ungrateful.
Rozenkrantz added: “So we asked ourselves, ‘What if it was more like a video game? What would happen if you had this repetitive game?’ What do smart contract based writing products look like?’”
They wondered if it was possible to make NFT books. That kind of thinking led them to tabletop RPGs and the collaborative storytelling that happens in them.
“We started experimenting with NFT where we built this collaborative storytelling game and built a community of writer creators who really love to write fanfiction about sci-fi and fantasy franchises, and fan artists who really love to draw,” he said.
They started holding creator contests every week and brought in a novelist to help with the story. They started creating the story and thus Legends of Fortunata was born. They noted how Dungeons & Dragons had a resurgence during the pandemic, particularly as Netflix’s Stranger Things became increasingly popular.
“The table has never been so popular,” Rosenkrantz said. “If you have the right group of people, if you have a good master of the game, it’s great. What if we solved all that? For example, what if we created compressed time for fun so that you can find the players or a group of players that you want to play with? At a moment’s notice? And could you be matched with an excellent master of the game?
And finally they concluded: “So, what if you could influence them to direct the story in a giant world of MMO skills? That was really exciting.”
When they presented this idea to investors, they were excited.
“They just intuitively agreed with the hypothesis that you could expand the audience for games, make it more accessible, and it would solve tremendous problems for them,” Rosenkrantz said. “That’s when we started building the platform into the game.”
As for Luke Gygax, the son of D&D creator Gary Gygax, Rosenkrantz met him and is now questing on the online platform.
“He’s a great person to have on board and just build relationships with our crews,” Rosenkrantz said.
Some of the game masters started out as extremely skeptical of Web3. But when they saw the shared world-building in the first project and saw that the company was giving a profit to the creator community, they rallied, Rosenkrantz said.
“Heroic Story is being built with a very principled approach,” he said. “I think our game masters are really a great resource for bridging the gap between mainstream and Web3 right now.”
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