Interview with Brotherwise Games, Developer for the Stormlight Archive Premium Miniatures and Stormlight RPG

Hello fellow Cosmere fans! Welcome to another one of our follow-up posts from Dragonsteel 2022. For this post, I’ll be interviewing Johnny O’Neal, co-founder, game designer, art director, and chief “Stormlight officer” at Brotherwise Games. If you are unfamiliar with Brandon Sanderson, the Stormlight Archive, and Dragonsteel 2022, I suggest you first visit our Dragonsteel 2022 posts here and here.

Meeting Brotherwise Games at Dragonsteel 2022

It was really great to meet Johnny and the Brotherwise Games staff at Dragonsteel this year. The main highlight of their booth was showing development versions of their Stormlight Archive Premium Miniatures. In fact, we covered our experience of seeing the miniatures in person at my first Dragonsteel 2022 post here.

On top of seeing the premium miniatures in person, I was grateful to have been able to ask Johnny a few questions about two upcoming Stormlight products from their company: the Stormlight Archive Premium Miniatures and the Stormlight Archive RPG (currently under development). Both projects are fully partnered with Brandon Sanderson and his company Dragonsteel.

With the above said , check out my interview with Johnny below where he answers a few of our questions for these hotly anticipated Stormlight products.

Interview with Johnny O’Neal from Brotherwise Games

Hello Johnny, it’s great to meet you, and I appreciate your taking time to chat with me. The Stormlight Archive Premium Miniatures on display at Dragonsteel looked amazing! The painting, and material look very well detailed and high quality.

With the above said, how close will the actual miniatures be from the ones you showed at Dragonsteel? How excited are you for us backers to receive the final product?

Johnny: Thanks! We’re extremely excited to get these into backers’ hands, and thrilled with the success of the Kickstarter. Right now we’re in the middle of prepping our designs for production, so at Dragonsteel we brought along our latest prototypes, which are definitely non-final.

The professionally painted miniatures on display at Dragonsteel 2022:

Johnny: We showed some professionally painted miniatures that we used for social media posts during the campaign, which were custom jobs by award-winning painters like Elle Firespray and Joshua Wray. Our final painted figurines will still be primarily hand painted, but in a factory setting where there won’t be quite as much shading or nuance. The Shallan figurine was an early factory sample and is more representative of final quality, though we’re still working on details like her eyes and skin tone.

A photo of the Shallan figurine, which is an early factory sample, and is more representative of the final quality of the painted figurines is shown below:

Johnny: The unpainted miniatures were 3D printed samples. The final injection molded miniatures will be more robust and the details will be more consistent. (Some details, like Dalinar’s “hand energy” or the Alethi Spearman’s shield, got lost in these 3D printed versions.) In some cases these were 3D printed versions of the “Hollywood models” we used for visual development, whereas the final miniatures will incorporate sculpt revisions to optimize them for a smaller scale.

Here is are some photos of the unpainted miniatures from their booth:

Johnny: That’s a long way of saying that we brought along the most representative prototypes we had available, but we’re still months away from real production samples. As soon as we have those, we’ll share photos on social media and our Kickstarter updates.

They also had an unpainted chasmfiend figurine on display! Check it out:

On a related note, with the global supply issues abound, are you doing anything to maintain quality for painting and materials with respect to the manufacturing or mass production process?

Johnny: We’re partnering with the best factories, and while supply chain issues make delivery timing somewhat unpredictable, they don’t get in the way of ensuring premium quality. Our unpainted miniatures will be made from a combination of polymer plastic bodies and thermoplastic weapons, a cut above the vast majority of all-PVC miniatures. For our painted figurines we based our spec on the 56 mm scale miniatures from the Street Fighter Miniatures Game, but we’ve budgeted for even more size and paint detail. For our statue we’re going with the showpiece-quality resin and detail. Brandon wouldn’t have it any other way!

Here are more photos of the display painted figurines, again, this will not be representative of the final painted miniatures (see the Shallan figurine above), but still very impressive!

Related to the miniatures, your team is also busy working on the Stormlight Archive RPG. At Dragonsteel you mentioned that you’re potentially being inspired by traditional RPGs like D&D. In terms of gameplay, can we expect any similarities or differences to traditional RPGs?

Johnny: We have a long list of design goals for this RPG, and right at the top is “Balance uniqueness and accessibility.” It’s not easy to get together an RPG group, and one of the easiest ways to turn people off is to show them an unfamiliar rules set. D&D and its underlying d20/OGL system are ubiquitous, so you can expect us to take at least some inspiration from their concepts and vocabulary. At the same time, I can promise this won’t just be another licensed 5e supplement. The Stormlight RPG will be a standalone game, with unique rules that capture the world’s magic system and its narrative-driven approach to character progression.

Can you share anything with our readers on your progress on the RPG so far?

Johnny: As a lifelong TTRPG player, I have never been more excited for a project! While I’m serving as Creative Director for the Stormlight RPG, handling art direction and Dragonsteel approvals, the actual design and writing will be handled by experienced professionals. We’ve identified an all-star team and have set aside the time and resources required to make our first two hardcovers the best they can be. It’s also worth mentioning that almost everyone at Dragonsteel is an RPG player, so they’ll all be working to ensure this project’s quality. Brandon, Dan Wells, and other team members will be part of the design process that’s kicking off now.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? 

Johnny: I’d just like to say thank you! Everyone at Brotherwise feels incredibly lucky to be working with Dragonsteel, and the success of each project is what makes the next one possible. Because Call to Adventure: The Stormlight Archive went well, that paved the way for Stormlight Premium Miniatures. The proceeds from this most recent Kickstarter are going to fund our next three years of RPG development, plus some other Cosmere games and collectibles we haven’t even announced! We’re able to support Brandon with these products because fans show up to buy them, and I’m grateful that Cosmere readers are the best fandom around!

Johnny, thank you so much for answering our questions! We’re so excited for the Stormlight Archive premium miniatures, and can’t wait to get our hands on them once they are ready to ship out. We also can’t wait for the Stormlight RPG, and look forward to hearing more as your work progresses.

As an added bonus, here are some more photos from the Brotherwise Games booth at Dragonsteel 2022:

So grateful to Johnny and Brotherwise Games for the interview! Be sure to check out their website to see more from Brotherwise Games, including their non-Cosmere related products. I cannot wait until the Stormlight Archive Premium Miniatures and the Stormlight RPG release sometime soon. For more on the Stormlight Premium Miniatures, see check out their Kickstarter page here. The Stormlight RPG is still in the early stages of development, so we’ll probably hear more about that project in the future. Until then . . .

Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination.

Enjoy the Cosmere journey!

UPDATE (11.20.2022): If the above peaked your interest, do check out our other Dragonsteel 2022 posts below:

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