Just as Tough Now as It Was Then?

I’m still going to do it. I have zero expectations of winning anything. If I hear anything back, I’ll probably faint. Not holding my breath, though. However, I could really use that cash prize from any level. Not holding my breath on the publishing clout, however.

Is the Old Guard in the TTRPG Industry Guilty of Gatekeeping?

I listened to the entire podcast, and I gotta say I’m not as enthused as I once was about doing RPG Superstar or ever working for Paizo. Maybe I’m wrong. I dunno. It just sounds to me the same way it did back in the old T$R days all over again. Just slightly younger voices. Here’s the link to the Roll for Combat Podcast.

I’m not saying they’re doing anything wrong. I have zero beef with Jessica Redekop, Stephen Glicker, and Mark Seifter. Roll for Combat is a good podcast. I like DMs Lair (Luke,) too. I’m sure they’re tons of fun to work with if you’re a TTRPG industry professional. This is not a hack job on them or the podcast.

I don’t feel welcome in that particular corner of the community any more.

I’m hearing a lot of contradiction with the introduction of this year’s RPG Superstar. Glicker in particular makes me nervous as a judge and as the contest coordinator.

“Anyone can enter,” they said.
“It’s a foot in the door for the TTRPG industry,” they said.
“It’s anonymous. Anyone can win,” they said.

They also said:
We’ve had people win three Gold medals in one year.
Many of the contestants have gone on to work in the industry.
If you’re a winning entry, you’re good enough to work professionally.

And the thing that gets me- you have a public vote, that gets promoted any/every way possible.

How does it stay anonymous if you can promote your work on social media beforehand?

The nice Roll for Combat crew spent the better part of three freakin hours explaining what they look for in a winning entry. The reason I say RPG Superstar sounds a lot sketchy is because we hear the word “professional” in about every other sentence. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, the term “professional” anything tends to set me off into rant mode. As much as I love the TTRPG industry, I still hate most things McCorporate America.

There is public voting from the end of May until the middle of June. The winners of the popularity contest go onto the judges. How do the judges NOT see the various writers and submissions?

How do the judges NOT see the various writers and submissions? The Author’s name is literally attached and publicly visible.

It’s no wonder the approximately top 25 every year are industry vets or even well known by the judges. I don’t much care for popularity contests. And this whole thing looks skewed. I hope I’m wrong. Someone feel free to email me or drop a comment. Maybe I’m looking at this from the wrong angle. (This blog is not about “Fear me for I am always right about everything!:”)

And for every lucky contestant in the Silver and Copper tiers, you know there are probably 10 more that got to hear “Sorry, kid. Better luck next year. Join our Discord and continue buying our products.”

Yes, this is a contest with cash prizes and we don’t all get a trophy.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that there are going to be hundreds, maybe thousands of entries that don’t get selected. That’s life. That’s how these things work. Tough break. Better luck next year. I wonder if they’ll even say anything to the rest of us who don’t get selected. (*Yes, I’m counting my entries amongst the dead on the proverbial cutting room floor.)

I don’t have a problem with failure. We’re longtime friends. As long as I failed because of my own flaws, I can take it. Fine. Whatever. Tomorrow is a new day.

So why are we here, exactly?

I wrote an article as part of a series here on the blog over a year ago. You can find it here. I keep telling myself that it’s not as hard to break into the TTRPG industry now as it was back in the early 1990s.

The more I hear these Roll for Combat folks talk, the more I hear the old T$R editors, who were famous for not working with new talent. “Come back when you’ve been published elsewhere, kid.” they’d say. Paizo is not dissimilar to Wizards of the Coast. Technically they are the next biggest fish in the pond. I guess it’s no surprise Paizo is starting to sound or act like Hasbro/WotC.

How many times are we going to hear that something a fan submitted was utter trash, but something the pros submitted was solid gold. How many times are we going to hear, “better luck next year,” when we know darn good and well it was good enough this year. I can’t speak for anyone else, but this whole contest sounds a bit suspicious to me. Maybe it’s the bitter old skeptic talking, or maybe I’m once again only paranoid until proven correct.

I love how we hear how RPG Superstar is a good way for writers to break into the industry, but the judges are looking for material written by industry professionals. Seifter helped write the Gamemastery Guide for PF2E. Jessica Redekop works for Paizo. Yay credentials, but at the same time, that could also be misconstrued as gatekeeping.

We just went through a scandal with WotC and the OGL. That scandal makes a lot of us not want to ever trust WotC again. Maybe Roll for Combat, RPG Superstar, and Paizo better take a long hard look at the message they’re putting out.

WotC fooled around and found out what happens when a company angers its fanbase. I realized there is no expectation of impartiality or even fairness among the judges. This is run by Glicker to fill up pages for a Battlezoo Bestiary type product. They’re letting the fans put in all the work while the contributors get a pittance and a pat on the back.

All of that having been said…

I’m still going to do it. I have zero expectations of winning anything. If I hear anything back, I’ll probably faint. Not holding my breath, though. However, I could really use that cash prize from any level. Not holding my breath on the publishing clout, however.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you being here. I’m letting my skepticism get in the way of a good time. Tomorrow is the 19th. Freedom Day post will be coming.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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