What to Charge? Freelance RPG Writers’ Dilemma Part 1.

I’ve become somewhat enmeshed in the discussion of how much a freelance rpg writer should charge. I’m not trying to get rich, but its a subject near and dear to my heart.

We recently had a major discussion on #ttrpgTwitter about what freelance writers should charge.

One company, name withheld, got in a heap of trouble because they insisted on keeping the rights (no royalties,) paying $.01/word, payment 30 days post publication, pdf or print copy, and apparently went off on the writer while in the editing phase. I can’t even begin to describe what all is wrong with this from a writer’s prospective. It’s a big ole kick in the pants.

Signing off the rights to something actually doesn’t upset me that much. It used to even be written into the OGL for D&D if I remember correctly. WotC could literally usurp something you wrote for their system and not give you a dime in royalties. I’d have to look to see if it’s still there, but I’m not worried about it.

One of the first things you learn in Journalism school is that once you submit an article as a freelancer, it’s gone. You can’t sell it to someone else unless you have permission from the first buyer. Yeah, you can still put it in your portfolio along with the publication and date, but you certainly won’t be selling the article to another publication and what are royalties, again?

Artists in the TTRPG sphere actually have it a bit rougher, if you ask me. Getting paid is tough. Getting paid a fair price for your work? Even tougher. Plenty of competition, though. Again, pretty much forced to sign the rights away and what are royalties? Yeah. Ouch.

It would seem being a corporate staff writer is the way to go.

I would like to remind everyone that Paizo’s writers did just form a union. Honestly, I’m not sure how much good it did anyone? I’ve seen a few pieces from/about union members that looked like, “Rah-rah, yay look at our shiny new releases. Ain’t it great.”

Which is not what I would expect from unionized workers necessarily? Like, I’m pretty sure UAW still has people who are angry as hell at “Da Man,” long after a favorable compromise is reached in any give negotiation. I might be wrong?

Union issues aside, it has been suggested by some that going to work for $20 or more per hour at a large game company such as WotC might be the best way to earn a fair wage and still get to produce cool stuff. Again, attention should probably be paid to one’s contract in terms of royalties, etc. Most corporations are weasel-y enough not to be paying one after work is submitted. That’s how big companies get big and stay big. But, hey, they can afford to hire kids straight out of college, too… (I might be just a touch jealous, but more on that later.)

Hasbro/WotC has a huge advantage when it comes to writers. They have a MASSIVE pool of writers for 5E in the form of DMsGuild. They can scoop someone up and keep them however long they want basically. Most of us would say “Heck YES” to that opportunity without negotiating terms too heavily. Yay money, right?

Working a steady job as a writer also has its advantages for both parties. Big companies can afford to print a few books that flop without losing the family farm. They also don’t usually have to rely on crowdfunding such as Kickstarter and all associated headaches when developing a new project. They can also kick a writer to the curb on a moment’s notice for whatever reason they want, basically. (Loosely put.) It’s pretty much an employer’s market, especially right now.

Competition used to be stiff for a decent job in RPGs back in ye olden days when Gygax was still at T$R. Has it changed? Yes! There’s way more competition for writing jobs now. Take one look on DriveThruRPG and DMsGuild. There are hundreds of writers nowadays.

Pay? pfft! I can spread peanut butter between two common MtG cards. Benefits? Willing to go pretty low on those just to get in the door. Overtime basically for free? Why not? Crappy work environment? “Can I still keep my job?” Street cred with all the gaming geeks of the world- PRICELESS!

So, you want to be a freelance RPG writer?

After all the sweetness that is working a corporate RPG job, unless you’re Mike Mearls, Tracy Hickman or Ed Greenwood for example, you probably won’t get to set your own terms. And that’s nowadays! I’m going to cover the old school version again in another article. So why not start your own company or become a freelance writer? Plenty of people have.

I’ve really been debating more about this by the day. Self publishing a regular book is tough enough. At least you really only need to produce, edit, find cover art, format, promote, advertise, and cut a deal with one or more publishing outlets. Easy, right?

RPGs require a few additional steps. Find a system you like or create your own. (Yes, you really can reinvent the wheel on this one.) Then, you need some degree of interior art and probably some cartography. Have you seen the 1st Ed AD&D line art and graph paper maps? That’s not going to cut it if you really want to make the big bucks. Then there’s playtesting, crowdfunding, publishing, possibly printing and doing all of the promotion/advertising.

How do I see fixing this situation? IFF you don’t want to publish your own TTRPG work of art, you’ve going to have to work out a deal with an indie publisher or a small company as a freelance writer.

More to come on this topic in Part 2. This rabbit hole runs a lot deeper than one might imagine. The #ttrpg industry is historically fraught with complications for indie publishers and freelance writers/artists.

Pushing My Luck for Free

Fanfic still gets plenty of mileage in most genres/tv shows. I know other fans tend to scoff at one another’s fanfic efforts. I get that sometimes it’s not super popular. I know it’s somewhat frowned upon to insert one’s one characters into canonical works. I like pushing the boundaries with creating my own works in someone else’s world, though. Wait until GI Joe RPG comes out…

I’m leaving the Diablo conversion on the back shelf for now. Although DCC with Diablo characters… aw man. So tempting… I notice Matt Mercer got to run a session or two in Sanctuary. I’m jelly.

Power Rangers RPG will keep showing up on my blog FOR FREE! I’ll never offer a paid product unless by some freak chance I get the nod from Renegade Studios/Hasbro. Otherwise, if I hear from someone’s legal team, it all comes down. Morph em while you got em, I guess.

I’ve got a lot of great ideas…

For other peoples’ intellectual property, unfortunately. For example, Power Rangers RPG is something I’d love to develop all kinds of cool content for. But how far can I go before I start getting blowback from Hasbro and their army of rabid legal dogs? I’d love to do a Diablo 2 or even Diablo 3 conversion for Dungeon Crawl Classics or even 5E D&D.

The magic word: FREE

The oldest RPG content dilemmas involve money, time, and copyrights/trademarks. Two of these are the oldest problems in the world that we even discuss in world design and campaign design. The other issue revolves around the fact that we tend to live in a greedy, litigious world here on Earth.

Money and time are probably the two most valuable assets in existence anywhere at any time. Art costs money. Printing costs money. Marketing takes time if you’re on your own and/or money if you hire it out. Crowdfunding only does so much good.

People gotta eat and pay bills. Honestly, I hate it. And don’t get me wrong, people deserve to be paid well for their efforts. I’m not trying to make a dime off of anything in the RPG industry that’s not my own original content. I just want to occasionally do things FOR FUN! Not profit. Not so much as a single penny.

Unfortunately, free projects, aside from being a labor of love, have to be done on the artist’s own time for fun. That means it takes away time from projects that could be making money. And if you compile a “regular day job” on top of writing/art/cartography/marketing efforts, pretty soon you run out of time for the fun stuff. I’m not suffering from that problem currently, but I am all too familiar with it.

I just want to do things because, wouldn’t it be cool to play a WoW Warlock in an OSR style game? Wouldn’t it be cool to play a Diablo Necromancer in D&D again? (I loved the Diablo 2 books back in the day.) I want to make a massive monster table for Power Rangers RPG and give it away to the public for funsies.

I can do things for fun and free, but…

Alas, people like to profit from their intellectual property. If I ran a company like Hasbro or Activision, I’d want to make sure my people got paid and keep the lights on. And thank goodness we have the Open Game License for D&D. Without an OGL and the accompanying System Reference Document, we’d get into legal trouble just trying to make cool stuff and share it.

We live in a disturbingly litigious world and the RPG industry is well known for lawsuits. Some of them can be pretty dumb and have cost us some of the best content that could have been, but never was. Just in the last year we lost out on some premium Ravenloft villains because of a dispute involving some old T$R properties and Dragonlance. And there was much grumbling from fandom.

There comes a point where free doesn’t keep the ban hammer from coming down. Unfortunately, getting sued takes away time and money not just showing up for court, but the sweat equity invested in the project itself. My best advice legally when it comes to publishing anything anywhere- when in doubt; don’t.

But, with a little luck, I’m a small enough fish with a free site I won’t get noticed or smacked down by any of the big fish. I’m pretty reasonable, too. Sometimes legal trouble stems from people being too stubborn or proud to know when to quit. Here’s a good stop sign- If you’re in court as a defendant- it’s time to stop doing whatever it was that landed you there.

I’m going to keep going until I can go no further.

Fanfic still gets plenty of mileage in most genres/tv shows. I know other fans tend to scoff at one another’s fanfic efforts. I get that sometimes it’s not super popular. I know it’s somewhat frowned upon to insert one’s one characters into canonical works. I like pushing the boundaries with creating my own works in someone else’s world, though. Wait until GI Joe RPG comes out…

I’m leaving the Diablo conversion on the back shelf for now. Although DCC with Diablo characters… aw man. So tempting… I notice Matt Mercer got to run a session or two in Sanctuary. I’m jelly.

Power Rangers RPG will keep showing up on my blog FOR FREE! I’ll never offer a paid product unless by some freak chance I get the nod from Renegade Studios/Hasbro. Otherwise, if I hear from someone’s legal team, it all comes down. Morph em while you got em, I guess.

Keep plugging away. I’ve got some things I want to put up as paid projects that aren’t just fan-having-fun stuff coming up. The paid stuff is probably going to be Pay What You Wish until I’m somewhat established. Some day maybe we’ll be in the $1.99-19.99 range. I have dreams and goals. Some of it’s a long way off.

Hang in there. Have a great week. Please be kind and considerate to one another.

Updates

Today’s excerpt is:
Three shaggy, long-bearded men sat around the campfire after another long day of trekking through the woods in search of a legendary dragon and its treasure. It was that time of night, after dinner but before bed when tales of daring and epic deeds would be told. Each man, starting with Ulric will tell one thing that makes him more noteworthy than other men.

#FlashFicFeb is going well. Other things- 😬

Day 4: Legend. I had fun with this one. I want to do much longer stories based around some of these. It’s too much fun. Really.

Today’s excerpt is:
Three shaggy, long-bearded men sat around the campfire after another long day of trekking through the woods in search of a legendary dragon and its treasure. It was that time of night, after dinner but before bed when tales of daring and epic deeds would be told. Each man, starting with Ulric will tell one thing that makes him more noteworthy than other men.

I’m only putting up mostly excerpts for now until I decide which one will be submitted for publication. I’ll drop a folder with all of the finished stories on the site at the end of the month. One will be submitted to the Storytelling Collective for publication on DriveThruFiction as part of a compilation.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

In other news…

I’m emailing my poor editor later to explain why I’m still woefully behind on a couple of D&D adventures. I might be overthinking things? Two weeks of Covid rampaging through the house didn’t help matters. I’ve also been having fun with unemployment issues and my own health. It might sound stupid, but sometimes being unemployed and home all day; doing housework is more taxing than working part time or even full time? Sounds crazy to me, but it’s how things have been.

I have lots of cool campaign ideas and plans for games floating around in my head, in my docs, and in my notebook. Lots more in the weeks to come. Also an update on my Power Rangers RPG campaign that I’m building for here at home. It’s gonna be fun for my family, at least. I’ve got lots of other stuff in the works as soon as this D&D project is finished, some of which I can’t even discuss yet.

So, please stay tuned. Have a lovely weekend. See you soon. 😃

#FlashFicFeb

Flash Fiction February is upon us! Let the good times begin!

I’m having fun with this one.

We’re already on Day 2. I’m amazed at how easy coming up with short short stories has been so far. I kind of like writing vignettes for RPG stuff and this is sort of what it’s like. Speaking of- I have lots of RPG stuff in the mix right now. I’m shamefully past deadline on one project. (I have not forgotten.)

The Day 2:

Focus

#FlashFicFeb Day 2

Charlie kept thinking to himself, “Gotta keep punchin. Gotta keep swingin. Gotta get my guard back up.”

Then there was a loud thump on his left ear. Was that a foot? Is this MMA? Is that the ceiling?

Charlie thought back to his first ever day of boxing. It was a private lesson in his dad’s buddy’s basement gym. He did a little weight training and learned about cardio. He never even strapped the gloves on the first day. Dad’s pal Jim was an expert trainer, though. Charlie remembered thinking about all the trophies on the wall.

“Speed. Power. Focus.” Jim’s words echoed in Charlie’s head from a later lesson.

Wait. Focus? Where are we? Oh, Jeez! That’s the ref. Gotta get up. Gotta stay focused.

Charlie struggled to his feet and shook off some of the many cobwebs. “Gotta stay focused,” he thought.

He answered the ref’s request to continue with a big nod, trying to appear as coherent as possible. For whatever reason, the ref was convinced Charlie was okay to continue. Although the ref did politely remind Charlie that one more of those and he was going to call it.

Charlie’s opponent was a big dude named Downtown Brown. The guy had a wicked right hook. In fairness, the guy had a wicked everything. Charlie was puzzled how this guy wasn’t considered a heavyweight.

Charlie came back out swinging. This time he could hear his trainer, Jim’s oldest son, yelling “Stick and move! Don’t try to stand your ground or this guy’s gonna kill ya!”

He was right. Charlie remembered the fight footage of Downtown Brown’s last three fights. All knockouts. All within the first two rounds. What round was it?

A large red glove connected dead center of Charlie’s face, and everything went black. The mat came right up to greet Charlie’s motionless body. The white towel flew up over the top rope and everyone rushed in to make sure Charlie was still alive.

My Flash Fiction February page can be found here. Sometimes I’ll only be posting excerpts. Other times, the whole story if it’s short enough. I’m here to tell you, 500 words is a walk in the park most of the time. Staying under 500 is a challenge for me.

Part of my ambition for #FlashFicFeb is to do some fanfic stuff and relate some things to RPGs. My first story was actually a brief arc from a Cyberpunk story. Good times. More to come.

Power Rangers RPG First Flip Through Review

In all fairness, I can only give this game 3 out of 5 stars. I really want this game to do well. It has a lot going for it. There are three major improvements that would help.

I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for a new release.

Please bear in mind this is all my opinion. Your experience may vary. I think this game is phenomenal; Mighty, even!

I’ll be posting a short review on Renegade’s website sometime soon as well. My loving wife, knowing my love of the TV series, gave me a pdf copy of the new Power Rangers RPG from Renegade. I’m pretty excited! If you’re a fan of the show or just a fan of superhero roleplaying in general, this book is a treat. I’ve been playing and making homebrew campaigns set in the Morphin universe for years, but it’s difficult to publish something when multimillion dollar corporations can sick their legal teams on you. Luckily, Renegade Studios is doing everything the right way and it’s awesome!

The book jumps right into the action helping you get your character made. Character creation is handled similarly to D&D 5E. No real surprises from what is essentially a heavily hacked D20 game in those regards. Please note, this is not intended as disrespect. There are a LOT of derivative D20 games out there and this one is definitely ahead of the curve. I suspect Renegade is trying to pull players in from 5E, given they both same parent company.

If this is what the Essence system is going to bring to the GI Joe and Transformers RPGs, I’m all about it. The system is really smooth in appearance from the outset. It combines some of the character development aspects from FATE and Powered By the Apocalypse that we like, but still has freeform character creation enough to prevent cookie-cutter characters. For example, you can build a Red Ranger as a class clown who takes care of his aging grandmother. The combinations of Origins, Roles, Influences, Hang Ups, character bonds, and so forth are going to lead to endless degrees of interesting characters.

The system itself reminds me a little bit of Savage Worlds or Cortex in that you get to add in different dice from a d2 (Coin) all the way to a d12 to your roll depending on your skill. Sure, certain ranger types are going to be more prone to certain categories. Blue Rangers get a bonus to Smarts, for example, but the system allows enough flexibility for anyone to be good at almost anything. Yes, you really can make a Green Ranger belly dancer who is also intimidating in heavy armor. The baseline stats are Strength, Speed, Smarts, and Social. This is one place were the game moves away from D20’s normal 6 stat spread. (Think of Speed being a little like Dex in most D20 games.) Skill tests work much the way one would expect in a D20 game.

I should mention there are rules for playing rangers outside of the regular Ranger Spectrum, such as the famous White Ranger. However, the book ONLY gives us the rules for White. Gold, Purple, Grey, and so on are promised in a later sourcebook which has not been announced yet. No surprise that sourcebooks are already in the works. I can imagine potential for dozens of them. I doubt we’ll see them open up an OGL because of the Power Rangers Trademark, though.

Combat looks smooth in the Essence System.

I haven’t tried combat yet, but it looks much like what you’d expect from an episode of the TV show. Putties go boom in one hit. Bad guys require a concerted effort from the team. Zord/Megazord battles are huge. Think I’m going to make some house rules for civilians caught in the crossfire, but that’s another matter entirely. You can’t expect the writers to do everything up front, right?

It’s most of what you would expect from D20 system combat in terms of initiative, movement, and actions. It will look a lot like D&D up until you go to attack and do damage. Getting knocked out as a Ranger pretty much looks like it does on TV- oops, there goes your armor and good night. Same thing with losing a Zord battle. I was surprised vehicles can actually explode in the rpg, claiming the lives of the occupants. That’s a little meatier than the TV series.

I should mention you get to customize your character’s loadout from the very beginning. You get to define your character’s weapons, fighting style, even your Zord from the get-go. That’s pretty darn cool. They give plenty of examples throughout, but you’re free to do as you choose.

I love that they’ve worked out the scaling all the way from human size all the way up to Megazord/Gigantic Monster size. Combat looks to be pretty well written if you want to have your character take on something 10 times normal size. The writers have a good sense of scale. Humans are squishy. Watch where you step. The column shifts kinda gave me Marvel Superheroes flashbacks from back in the day. Lol!

Chapter 11: Exploration confused me a little at first. Like, why are we talking about medieval fantasy style exploration in a day and age where we have Zords, satellite GPS, and infrared imaging? The rest of the chapter made sense dealing with different environments and conditions. Maybe the chapter could have been named differently?

The other thing I have to laugh about is you can make this game as campy as a 1960’s superhero TV show or as gritty as the “bootleg” short film with Katee Sackhoff as Kimberly. (That movie was dark, btw.) Personally, I’m leaning a little more toward the Mighty Morphin era and the more recent major motion picture in terms of “realism.”

The art in this book is top notch. The graphics and layout are phenomenal. I think a lot of credit should be given to the design team in terms of art and layout.

I give this game Three out of Five Stars. Here’s why:

  • Access to more seasons of the TV series.
  • Monsters! It needs so many more.
  • A more defined GM Section.
  • A different adventure entirely.
  • A little less gamey, a little more Morphin.
  • Little things like a map of Angel Grove, experience, etc…

To be very clear, I don’t hate this game. I really want it to be more mighty! I truly wanted to be absolutely in love with this game. I’m still stoked to run it for my kids. I really do like the game, but I think it needs some improvements. I hope someone at Renegade hears my pleas for improvement.

This game does an awesome job emulating the early seasons of the TV series. I suspect there might be some copyright/Trademark issues which is why a lot of the later Ranger teams don’t get mentioned? Hopefully they do Samurai and Megaforce down the road. My kids love those series. I’m big on the plot and Zords from both myself. Gosei is probably my favorite Ranger commander ever.

I felt the thing most seriously lacking from this first book: Monsters! Other than the Putties and a few examples, we don’t get much for monsters. Rita and Zed are mentioned, but no stats yet. Goldar is mentioned, but no stats. So far the Mighty Morphin area has been the main focus for bad guys. I hope someday we’ll get to see other seasons’ villains.

This book would have really benefitted from a quick and dirty monster creation system, maybe even a set of tables to quickly make the monster of the week. Also, as crunchy as the rest of the system seems to be, I wish they had gone into more detail about what happens when a monster goes Mega Mode. Right now there are two stat blocks for everything and I think it could be simplified to one stat block with dual listings. I kinda wonder if they’re leading up to a Monster Manual type book, but I haven’t heard anything specific about sourcebooks yet. (I think my wallet just cringed a little.) There is so much room for diverse monsters in Power Rangers from the extremely silly pineapple-octopus all the way to murderous giant robot bristling with firepower.

The other thing I think needed improvement was the adventure section. It’s a good intro adventure, I guess. Were it written for any other rpg, it would work pretty much as well. It does not scream “Power Rangers episode” at me. To me, it seems like it would be more at home as a convention game, maybe? I was hoping for more of an introductory adventure where the group receives their power coins for the first time, maybe a little more obvious monster fight, and more of an obvious BBEG. Without getting into spoilers, I think it’s a little game-y and not as much Ranger-y?

I found leveling up to be another source of mild confusion. We get a tiny bit of it on page 19. What we don’t get is any kind of experience system, guidelines or GM advice. I’ve been a GM for decades, so I’m just going to hand out levels as I see fit, but they really gave us nothing to work with here. It’s like Renegade is winding up for a GM’s Manual or something. I would have liked more specifics up front.

Personally, I would have rather they left the adventure out of the book entirely in place of more monsters, the other ranger aspects, more weapon and Zord design options, and a thorough GM section. Sorry, I’m still in shock that the entire GM section was basically three pages and spent one page explaining gamer terms to new players. It’s an extremely player heavy focus throughout. Maybe I’m just an Old Grognard, but it seems like a little more effort could have been focused on GMs in a $55 hardcover intro to the system and the world.

There are some minor things that bother me about this book. A map of Angel Grove would have been nice. I would have liked to have seen more back-and-forth between Alpha 5 and Zordon in the text portions. Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of Alpha 5 and I could have seen a lot less of him. I think they could have maybe used that space for GM tips or even comic panels for other characters.

Overall, great job. A few adjustments would have made it 5 stars. I’m sure there are good things coming in the weeks and months ahead.

I normally don’t do tl:dr, but…

TL;DR: Great game. Great genre emulation. Needs a bigger, better monster section, monster creation rules, and a LOT more of a GM section. Great D20 mechanics. Beautiful artwork. Definitely a good first attempt on the part of Renegade Studios.

Revisions Revisions Revisions

I was having some anxiety again until my loving wife set me straight.

Blog articles are much easier than writing almost anything else.

Photo by Pedro Figueras on Pexels.com

Why? Because if it’s my personal blog, I don’t obsess over every word. I laugh when I see these articles about charging what you’re worth and taking on too many clients. I honestly wonder how anyone does it. Rarely do I receive a straight answer.

I’m super picky about everything I write “professionally.” Like, I agonize when writing adventures. Has this been done before? Is it too cliché’? Are they going to like it? Is it original enough? Would I buy this?

I’m now on a second or third draft of one that I’m working on and ready to go to another story entirely. It’s amazing how many times I’m willing to think and overthink something and still end up changing my mind entirely. But I want everything to be just so if it’s going to represent me in publication. Not to mention I’m super jumpy about criticism after my last job. (Flunked a test for PTSD. That bad.)

My therapist says I have perfectionist and people-pleasing tendencies. LOL! Only all my life. Some people say I’m high strung and have a huge ego. Maybe? But if you knew what a cruel, rotten bastard my inner critic is, you’d get why I might appear high strung.

Stress compounds everything. Looming deadlines, sick kids, sick wife, and sick me don’t help matters. My car needs an oil change. It’s umpteen below zero in Iowa right now. Unemployment is running out. Funniest part is, I brought this on myself to a certain degree.

My wife gave me the best piece of advice ever.

Do you know what she said?

“Just do the damn thing and turn it in!”

After a little more discourse, I decided she’s right. Either my editor will like it or they won’t. It’s either going to sell or it’s not. Regardless of how it pans out, I’m going to survive and grow.

Until next time, stay safe. Please drink lots of fluids, get some rest, and eat your vegetables. Game on.

Nightmares of Mine

Short commentary on an old horror reference book that is a mainstay in my collection of GM advice reverences. I absolutely love GM guides.

I loved reading this book in High School.

It’s a good read even now, but you may have to find the pdf.

I remember this fondly because it was one of the first treatises on game mastery I ever read. I read a lot of books on game mastery back in the day. I still do, but not as frequently. Nightmares of Mine by Kevin Hite and John Curtis. You can find it on Goodreads here. It’s still around in pdf and print anywhere fine rpg resources can be found. I still retain my dog-eared, well-loved, physical copy. It sits on my reference shelf next to my Heritage English Dictionary and my Book of Stagecraft. I still look back at all of the above from time to time.

It’s listed under Rolemaster, probably because both were produced by Iron Crown Enterprises. I loved Rolemaster’s critical tables, but the games themselves weren’t usually at the top of my list. No lie, I had a character die while being created more than once… Spacemaster was fun as a one-shot though. Anyway, Nightmares of Mine really isn’t entirely a nuts-and-bolts RPG book.

It is chock full of good GM and writer advice and I recommend anyone starting any kind of a horror project to give it a once over before you start, especially if you’re new to the genre. This little gem of a book got me through a couple of Call of Cthulhu games, Beyond the Supernatural campaign, and running things in old school Ravenloft. My favorite Storyteller game, Werewolf the Apocalypse benefitted heavily from this as well. That game was so fun…

It’s helpful advice for GMs looking just to improve their technique, especially when it comes to horror, but running games in general as well. Advice on description, pacing, embracing the genre/subgenres as well as safety tools all come into play here. There are also tips and tricks for dealing with different horror subgenres. Be forewarned, a lot of what we have in the RPG community now, wasn’t really discussed as much back then. A lot of the modern horror games we have now hadn’t even been written yet, save Call of Cthulhu. Even if you want your dungeon crawls to be a little scarier, this book is a good catch.

I’ll be curious to see how the advice from Nightmares stacks up with the FATE Horror Toolkit one of these days. I’m still contemplating a Space Horror game one of these days. Probably a one-shot, but maybe a short campaign, depending.

Just wanted to do a short bump for this cool little book. More things to come. Have a great week. Game on!

Power Rangers RPG Campaign

I looked at the character sheet for the new Power Rangers RPG and I can’t help but to want to build a campaign.

I just saw the character sheet for this game…

And like so many other character sheets, it got me thinking. There is so much potential for this particular RPG to be outstanding in my collection as a GM. I have four kids who are all huge fans of the series, plus my wife is a huge fan of the original Green Ranger played by Jason David Frank.

I’m going to walk through some of my design process without a system attached on here just for fun. The first thing I want to consider is the version of Earth’s timeline or alternate Earth. This happens in several Power Ranger series and is referenced throughout some seasons. Personally, I love cameo appearances by rangers from older series. Megaforce was probably my favorite for this reason.

The opportunities presented by this new RPG are just too juicy to pass up.

Looks very familiar. Similar to D&D.

Needless to say, we’re going to probably start with an alternate timeline to Mighty Morphing. I mean, the original characters were cool and all, but why not kick it up a notch? Think about it. The Time Force Rangers knew alternate Earths exist. What’s to keep our old original arch enemy, Rita Repulsa from doing the same? What if she cast a spell that broke the time/space/dimensional barrier?

I’m going to start out with Lord Zed as the main bad guy in Season One of Power Rangers, uh… ooh. We need a name. Power Rangers Lightning Force. Okay, I can work with that. My 12 year old already has his character designed, like the minute I mentioned it. He wants to play Blue Phoenix. Can you tell he’s excited?

The idea here is not to just replay the old scripts.

Hence an alternate timeline. We’ll keep a few things here and there, but let’s mix and match. Gonna try to go slightly more serious than the Bulk and Skull type characters, but not as dark as the 15 minute remake with Katee Sackhoff that got banned. (Loved it for what it was, but yeesh. Dark…)

The characters are still going to start out as high school students in detention together. We’ll have a Breakfast Club type opening with them all in weekend detention together. My wife will probably want to play Tommy Oliver as a girl, if I had to guess. Tommi Oliver it is. I want to minimize the use of NPC rangers, but so far I’m betting I’ll have three or four solid players at the most with my wife and oldest popping in and out. My youngest is still learning how to play games and sit still, so he might get relegated to GMs helper to begin with.

I’m going to plan on the team only having four colors starting out.

We can always add more later, right? The original team for Lightning Force will be Red (Dragon) Blue (Phoenix) Black (Chimera?) and Green (Pegasus?) I may have to recruit a player or two online and adjust. Again, we’re in the development phase, so nothing is locked down. I’m feeling a very magical flying monster vibe so far.

We’re going to leave the gang in Angel Grove but I’m thinking the population might change. Ever notice how monsters regularly rampage through the town, smashing buildings and crushing cars? Why don’t we ever hear about innocent bystanders during these battles? I want there to be some kind of consequences to not leading the giant monsters out of town whenever possible. Who’d want to live in that town? Can you imagine the real estate nightmares? But I digress…

In the next installment of this campaign building series, let’s talk about the bad guys a bit. I want something more than a gold monkey with wings. I’m kinda considering borrowing extensively from a gaming company that is no stranger to trademark lawsuits. Think of it as a tribute to 40K. But if I’m flirting with danger, why not go all in?

Til then, take care. Please stay healthy. Eat your vitamins, drink plenty of water, get some exercise, get some sleep, and avoid giant monsters rampaging through your town if you can. Game on.

Mighty Powerful “Morphering” RPG

Personally, I have campaigns for a sentai built outside of the Zordon era and a couple of campaigns for Rangers that wouldn’t be part of the Morphing grid, but would easily be Power Rangers games.

The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers RPG from Renegade Games has dropped.

I have to say, I’m excited someone finally dropped an official version of this game. Some of us have been playing various versions of the world’s most famous superhero sentai for a long time or at least have campaigns waiting in the wings. I know the overwhelming concern with many game designers was the fear of being sued by mega giants Hasbro and Saban Entertainment for making an unofficial, unlicensed version of the game.

I was hyped when Renegade announced Power Rangers, GI Joe and Transformers are coming as RPGs. They’re all a d20 based system, probably as to make it friendly to the D&D players. I kind of wonder why Hasbro didn’t simply enlist the folks at WotC to do these games, but maybe they wanted to separate the licensing out.

Power Rangers RPG from Renegade Games.

Personally, I have campaigns for a sentai built outside of the Zordon era and a couple of campaigns for Rangers that wouldn’t be part of the Morphing grid, but would easily be Power Rangers games. I will say FATE Mecha v Kaiju did an awesome job of setting up a similar campaign. I’ve also come up with my own FATE sentai series, played around with Henshin Sentai RPG and have a Cartoon Action Hour campaign that is a fusion of Power Rangers and another popular kid’s cartoon that has its own trademark police. Needless to say, I’ve loved the concept of Power Rangers for years now.

My kids convinced me to watch Mini Force, so I could create a campaign for that any time as well. It’s a cute show. Lil fuzzy Power Rangers from SAMG Entertainment. It might be kind of a short campaign, though. Heh heh.

I grew up watching GI Joe, Transformers and Power Rangers after school. I’ve thought for years that a fusion of all three would be amazing. Take the zords to an all new level and have them be akin to Autobots and combine into a Megazord. Watch out Devastator! Likewise, making the Rangers into a military organization and have them fight terrorists from space would be epic, but a little outside of the scope of a Rangers TV series.

As a side note, I hung onto a lot of my old GI Joe and Transformers figures from back in the day. Still waiting for the crossover movie. Might have to do it as an RPG some day.

Dear Renegade,

Please email me a pdf copy of this game for review jeffcraigmile@gmail.com or drop me a note and I’ll send you my home address for a physical copy. I promise I’ll say good things on every website I can reach. I’ll even put up a YouTube channel just to review your games. Yes, seriously. I’m good for reviews of GI Joe and Transformers RPGs, too.

I’m also available if you’re hiring, especially writers. Thank you!

Your pal,
Jeff

Okay, before I drop any more puns intentionally or otherwise, I’m out. Have a great day. Game on.

Table for One?

Yes, I am guilty of rolling dice and talking to myself, mostly at home.

Should Role Playing Games Be a Solo Endeavour?

Okay. Please hear me out before I get branded a heretic in the RPG community. I think it’s okay, but with a few stipulations. No, a mental health waiver isn’t one of them, although you may want to keep your solo RP activities at home. Moderation is always a good thing with anything. It’s also probably better to go out and socialize occasionally if you can. Just sayin…

I’m not crazy, but I used to spend a lot of time alone.

Yes, I am guilty of rolling dice and talking to myself, mostly at home. As far back as high school I ran scenarios with my 2nd Ed AD&D characters to work out combats and anticipate what would probably be said by an average party. It filled a lot of lonely Friday nights in high school with Dr Who playing in the background. Back then, I didn’t have minis, so I used painted thumb tacks and push pins on a piece of graph paper tacked to a piece of wood. It’s okay to laugh, really.

Solo roleplaying evolves into story writing.

It’s a great writing exercise!

As I grew older, I really found a fondness for writing. I still generated tons of D&D characters, but I started writing their stories out as they leveled. It became more about fantasizing and less about rolling dice for random outcomes. This is something I still shamelessly do today with games such as ICONS and ICRPG. I even have a Pathfinder 2E character that’s kind of going this way.

I’ve written a lot of good fiction for myself this way. It’s a good way to kill time if I’m stuck at my kids’ practices and I’ve already done my meditation for the day. I shamelessly carry a bag of dice and a notepad around for just such an occasion. I also come up with a lot of interesting plot and campaign ideas this way.

These Days, It’s More Common Than Ever.

Thanks to the Icky Cough-Coughs (as my oldest calls it,) a lot of games went indoors, out of the public and online. If online isn’t your thing and your family doesn’t like dragons, giant robots or magical girls, there aren’t a lot of other roleplaying options. Computer games don’t require dice rolls. Most console games have relatively simple characters and no dice rolling.

Luckily, a few companies easily found on DriveThruRPG have you covered. They have tables for NPC reactions to simulate roleplay, approaches to solo combat, and even some adventuring tips related to exploration. Most of these are oriented toward fantasy RPGs, but not all of them. I’m particularly fascinated with solo ICONS and solo Operation White Box (WW2 RPG.) There aren’t a lot of modern or supers solo games, but they aren’t impossible to find.

Again, most of my focus these days is on writing, so I sit down and make a lot of notes or just start banging out stories. It works the other way around, too. Sometimes I make a D&D or Pathfinder character based on something I’m writing. It can help fill in some character blanks that I might not have considered yet.

One of my characters from a novel I was writing has actually showed up as an NPC in three different systems/worlds. It’s the end result of knowing a character inside and out, I suppose. It helped me acclimate to PF2E and WOIN.

I recommend solo RP for writers, GMs/DMs, and game designers who are struggling to work out character design challenges or just looking to boost their creativity. It also helps with designing interesting combats and traps sometimes. If you’re stuck inside on a rainy day and just want to roll some dice because you’ve already made over a hundred characters, it’s good for that, too.

I’m sane. I promise! 😅🤪

Art for this article is courtesy of the Bitmoji app. Too much fun to be had. Have a great day. See you again very soon. Game on!

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