And I have a TON of ideas. Heck, I’ve got ideas for getting more ideas. Creativity fountain for days. I have that in spades, hexagons, even. Heh heh… makin up my own card suits. See?
I won’t lie. I start a lot of projects. I don’t necessarily finish them. I get sidetracked rather easily. Okay, more like derailed. No promises on this one, but it’s a set of ideas that’s been brewing for ages now.
And I have a TON of ideas. Heck, I’ve got ideas for getting more ideas. Creativity fountain for days. I have that in spades, hexagons, even. Heh heh… makin up my own card suits. See?
My latest venture, among others, is creating my own Dungeon Crawl Classics Campaign world. I have some challenges to overcome. I also have a ton of cool stuff I want to do, probably more than I can fit into one book or even one world. I get really excited because they’re all things I’ve wanted to do for years and years.
I have all these cool plans for kingdoms. Challenge: Mapping. I’m building it as open sandbox for now. I’m having my own little group of characters explore random hexes as we go. The cities, settlements, and kingdoms will be there when they’re discovered.
I have all these neat ideas for various race/culture combos. Challenge: Fitting everything on a map and still having characters discover them. Races have been controversial as of late. Do we even call them races any more? This is mostly an OSR issue. Maybe it’s time to borrow a page from Pathfinder 2e and D&D 5E?
I want to add a bunch of game mechanics including new classes, spells, deities. Challenge: Players are going to freak out. Possibly in a good way, but still. Am I literally trying to reinvent the wheel here? Maybe. It’s like Advanced Dungeon Crawl Classics or something.
Classes are one of my favorite things to tinker with. Challenge: How will players and Judges react to certain traditional classes and items being tossed out? I want to bring some old school D&D rules in. How’s that going to go over? Moreover what’s already been done before. DCC has a long and rich history.
I think world design and campaign design should break certain rules and go outside the guidelines. Creativity isn’t about stressing over who’s getting offended today. Maybe coming up with new ways of NOT stressing the audience out, sure.
So my plan here is to simply start the damn thing and see it all the way through. It may take me 20 years and be published after my death, but hey- we’ll get there. More to come as I develop it. Prepare to be freaked out, possibly.
Originally, I was going to do this with D&D 5E, but… where’s that edition going to be one year from now? I think I’m backing off of 5E until the dust settles a bit. Let’s be honest, that particular market is getting oversaturated anyway.
Thanks for stopping by. There’s a lot more coming. I appreciate you!
There are tons of RPG systems out there besides the standard D&D and fantasy. Go out and explore. Find something new!
“Obscure” being a relative term, I guess.
Today I realized I collect and love a lot of offbeat RPGs. You know, things that aren’t mainstream D&D. I’m not knocking the grandfather of all RPGs or anything. I still love D&D from BECMI on up. But there are so many other RPGs outside of D&D. Heck, there are plenty of genres outside of fantasy to explore.
I see a lot of posts/articles to the effect of “Alternatives to D&D.” I always chuckle at the notion because some of us have embraced this idea for years now. I don’t just mean Pathfinder or Middle Earth, either. I mean alternatives to fantasy rpgs.
Life can be scary away from spell slinging elves with swords.
Personally, I love the mecha genre of anime style games. Good luck ever finding players for that, btw. (I guess they exist somewhere but not around where I live.) WWII gaming has some appeal, but again players seem to be few and far between. (Check out Operation White Box!) Most people go toward Star Wars in its many incarnations because Space Opera is kind of like fantasy’s futuristic cousin.
I think a lot of sci-fi and modern games get a bad rep because “guns are icky.” Truthfully, many of us have had negative experiences with firearms to the point of not wanting to roleplay characters that use them. And there’s also the percentage of the population that knows little to nothing about guns. Swords and spells are easier to figure out, I suppose. The same can be said for modern horror as well, although Call of Cthulhu is still thriving.
I recommend looking into one’s own favorite genre of books, movies, or tv shows for inspiration. Chances are, there’s probably an RPG out there on the market for it or a way to adapt a current system. Generic, universal RPGs are fairly common these days from the d20 System (OGL, D&D rules,) to FATE, D6, Open Legends, Genre Diversion, and dozens more. There are too many to list here and most are adaptable to anything from gritty historical realism to far flung psychedelic future utopian fantasy.
Full disclosure: I am NOT a spokesman for OneBookShelf or any subsidiaries, but I’ve been a customer for years. It’s a good RPG shopping site for indie games. There’s also a lot of good reviews there if you’re on the fence about buying a new game or game system.
I could go on all day naming good systems and specific RPGs for people to try out, but it might be easier just to go on Itch.io or DrivethruRPG and look around for yourself. Your local used bookstore might also be a good resource for RPGs off the beaten path.
Please consult your group before launching a new campaign or system.
I want to emphasize that some groups may not be ready to do something other than good old D&D. I have friends who absolutely refused to do anything besides D&D. It was the only game they knew. It was the only genre they were comfortable it and you could not get them out of that comfort zone for love or money. To those friends, I said, “Cool. See you next week for D&D.”
Challenging though it may be at times, one can always find a group online somewhere for almost any game imaginable. It might take some time, persistence, and effort to find said players or GM. If lockdowns taught us anything, it’s that there’s a niche out there for just about everyone on the internet. Failing that, I would recommend trying some solo roleplaying. More on that here.
Whatever your game or system of choice is, please do enjoy. I hope your weekend is full of good friends and superb die rolls. Game on.
If the world was open? If it had its own OGL? If it were free to distribute AND had a good system? Heaven!
Pathfinder Second Edition vs Dungeons & Dragons 5E
Please forgive me. This post is not intended to start an online donnybrook over whose system is best. **Disclaimer:** Play whichever system you like. Decide for yourself what you prefer. Thank you!
Yesterday I was discussing whether or not one should play/run/create content for D&D 5E strictly for rules-as-written or homebrew. Homebrew is awesome! But with 5E being the top dog in the industry right now, it’s also the one most people are playing with/creating material for. I love 5E for this reason.
I used to dog on Pathfinder pretty hard when it started.BUT…
Yeah. I’m guilty of that. I’m sorry family. It’s true. I used to think it was strictly intended for all the Third Edition D&D players that couldn’t handle Fourth Edition. BUT! I came around. Just in time for Pathfinder Second Edition.
Lessons learned, I LOVE Pathfinder 2E! The mechanics are great. The classes are pretty cool. It’s flexible. Paizo learned from their previous edition. The main rulebook is heavy enough to defend my home from burglars… It’s all good. Some day I might do a full review.
There’s another catch with PF2E, though.
If you are playing D&D 5E as written, you’re playing in the default setting of Forgotten Realms. There’s also Eberron, Ravnica, and soon I guess they’re releasing Spelljammer and possibly Planescape. If you go online there are literally hundreds of other campaign worlds and settings along with conversions of older settings. Please don’t panic. There is plenty of room for more. The Open Gaming License literally opened the floodgates for more world building than anyone ever imagined.
Pathfinder 2E, not so much… While Pathfinder Infinite has opened their world to creators, it’s pretty much their world. I don’t mind this, but it doesn’t leave a lot of room for world building. That’s unfortunate. So, yay, I can homebrew PF2E, but then I have to figure out how literally everything translates into PF2-ese. So, yay Golarian.
I will say Starfinder, which is more or less Pathfinder in space, just opened up considerably with the Galaxy Exploration guide. That’s cool. Space is infinite. The Universe is literally infinite and that’s without alternate dimensions. It would be foolhardy to lock players into one star system or one planet for a space game.
I see this happen with other games.
I collect RPGs like mad. I love games. I love mecha and anime games especially. Alas, many of them seem to fall into one of about three categories. 1. They have their own very specific campaign setting/world. Again, yay, but it’s not what I’m looking for. 2. They’re too generic. A lot of games have great mechanics, but just don’t go far enough into what I was looking for in their game. 3. Last, they don’t have any kind of OGL attached. Which means they’re literally the only source of material for that game.
I understand companies having exclusive rights to certain properties. Ask anyone who used to work for T$R or West End Games about Lucasfilm. They’ll probably cringe. Star Wars was especially tough to work with, from what I hear. Ugnaughts anyone? Margret Weis Productions had a deal with Battlestar Galactica RPG. A lot of established properties don’t want people willy-nilly adding to their setting and then publishing it, which thoroughly wrecks the official canon and creates all kinds of plot holes. Seems fair to limit creative access, right?
But why lock an indie game possibly with its own unique system, into a specific setting? Seriously, I would love to work for just about any game company on almost any system. (I have a few disclaimers, but we’ll leave that for another day.) But if the world was open? If it had its own OGL? If it were free to distribute AND had a good system??? Heaven!
I might not exactly love D&D 5E for certain mechanics.
But at least the OGL lets us create our own worlds, classes, characters, and so on with an established system that actually does work pretty darn well. Ironically, PF2E is based on roughly the same mechanics. There are a LOT of d20 based games. At this point, if I’m publishing on DrivethruRPG, my intention is to do something d20 based or a superhero game like ICONS. The only other generic systems I’ve really enjoyed so far have been FATE and Open Legends. Again, I’d have to spend some serious time developing within those systems because there are certain things kinda missing that I’m looking for mechanically. (Again, that’s another discussion.)
I love Paizo’s take on d20. I think the Starfinder/Pathfinder mechanics are well thought out. I think PF2E is loads of fun. I almost taught my kids to play it before D&D 5E. PF2E has not become the runaway train of supplements that its predecessor did. I look forward to their upcoming releases and writing some adventures set in Golarian probably just for fun. Maybe not for publication. Starfinder Infinite material might be a possibility, depending…
I love D&D 5E because I’m building my own very odd, wacky, very fun (hopefully) campaign world. With some help from the Universe, I might even publish it. And I have some “generic” fantasy stuff that I’m again planning for DMsGuild hopefully in the near future. Pathfinder Infinite might be another story. I don’t know yet.
I’m also working on a more solidly constructed portfolio to show off some of my writing talents. In the meantime, if you are interested in hiring me as a writer I am quite available. Heh heh. No seriously! LOL! Please hire me? Heck, if you’re local I’ll even walk your dog or something.
I have more d12s in my bag than d20s. Yes, I rolled a Nat 12!
I could make a 1d12 table of 1d12 tables I want to make. That’s how much fun they are. I won’t bore you with that one here, but it could be done.
I make 1d12 tables for a lot of odd random things as a DM, though. They add all kinds of spicy goodness to bland encounters. They work for weather, travel, global events, some NPC attitudes, and of course, random monster encounters. I know I’m old school, but I still believe in the old wandering monster table. Because maybe the troll down the hall decides to go for a stroll about the time the party thinks they’re going to rest. Bwah ha ha! Rolled an 11. Meet the troll.
I think the d12 is the most underrated dice in any game, except ICRPG. Yay! I suppose they’re good in SWADE and EGS, too if I remember right. But D&D and Pathfinder are very reserved in their use of the d12. My solution is to use them for any and every thing I can think of. I carry the things for fun every day. Really.
My players have called me out on it in the past. I have a pattern for most of my tables. You can probably guess the pattern. 1’s are, of course going to be catastrophically bad or unwanted news. 12’s are, naturally, something favorable or at least more favorable. 2-3 are usually something unwanted but not scary bad. 10-11 are usually the pretty good end of whatever the table is. Everything else is likely meaningful but random. I’ve done more random variants, but that’s the gist.
Let me throw down a sample:
Roll 1d12. Average Night at the Stable:
The stable catches fire! If the group has mounts there, the animals are in danger! One of the stable hands running into the inn a major panic to get help and save the animals.
Horse thieves! Choose a random party member who had a mount in the stables. Their mount is now missing.
Oops. The stable boy accidentally left the stall door open when he was cleaning. Choose a random party member. Their mount is now out wandering around somewhere.
Asleep on the job. Stable keeper accidentally loaned one of the characters’ mounts out to a local merchant. The animal is treated well, but won’t be in the stable until the next night.
Where did they find this kid? The stable boy decided to ignore his chores. The animals are not fed or watered, and stalls are not cleaned out. This will lead to somewhat moody, fatigued, smelly mounts the next day.
All is well. The stable keeper feeds the all of the animals a treat! Unfortunately, it doesn’t agree with one of the mount’s tummies the next day. (Choose a random mount.)
All of the mounts are well fed, well treated, and are ready for action the next day.
The stable keeper notices an issue with a horse shoe and takes care of it, free of charge. He lets the group know the next morning.
The stable keeper chases off a predator outside the stable. He lets the group know about it in the morning. One of the characters’ mounts is still skittish. The stable keeper will offer to loan out his personal thoroughbred for free if desired.
The mounts are well-loved. They receive a +1 discretionary bonus to any one given roll during the day.
What’s in that feed? Whatever the stable keeper fed the mounts, is working very well. The group receives an Advantage on any ONE given roll related to travel or the mounts.
Holy buckets! The mounts are well fed, loved and ready to go! ALL mounts gain a +1 discretionary bonus and Advantage on one travel/mount related roll. They will also automatically pass the first morale roll within 24 hours automatically! The mounts are happy.
I have several points in the article that caused me to raise an eyebrow, but I’ll just touch on a couple of points from my old guy gamer point of view. Yeah, I’m “old” officially. I turn 49 in June. Sigh. My last trip to Gen Con was almost 20 years ago. Dude… But we’re not here to discuss that.
Yes, D&D in particular has become big business since 5th Edition happened.
With Critical Role and D&D 5th Ed causing quite a stir and pushing the game into the limelight, we’re no longer just nerds rolling dice. Obviously Hasbro has money to go around from years of action figures and board games. It’s truly sad that the lawsuit baggage follows D&D around like a hungry revenant or a pack of ghouls. This has not changed since, um…. ever? Those new to the game might not be aware the #TTRPG world is littered with bitter lawsuits from way back in the day.
I don’t think it’s fair to say “money ruined the game” so much as greedy people are ruining the game. That’s been the case for a long time, as the article mentions. D&D 2nd Ed was a result of Gygax’s divorce. You can’t even hint about a lawsuit in front of certain Palladium folk. Same thing with Paizo if I’m not mistaken. The current debacle over Dragonlance is probably going to kill whatever chance we had of the 5th Ed official setting. It’s sad.
What hope is there for the future?
There are a lot of fresh faces in the #TTRPG field. Again, it’s not just all of us old farts sitting around a table laughing and rolling dice. Yes, books have gotten pretty pricey. As the article mentions, you used to be able to outfit your entire gaming library for less that $50 USD. I think my 1st Ed PHB was $15? Maybe? Now you can’t even get a pdf sourcebook for much less.
And who thought it was a good plan to charge paper prices for PDFs? Seriously, if you want to talk about greed? There you go. Bless One Bookshelf for their creations, DriveThruRPG, DMSGuild, etc… They’re great sites and they help new designers get pdfs out for (usually) reasonable prices. Which is not to say I approve of certain industry giants who dominate the market and charge the same for pdfs as they do for print.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” –Snake Pliskin, Escape from L.A.
So, I tracked down one of these $35,000/year jobs the article mentioned. Then, I sighed the old familiar sigh when I read the requirements:
“Previous published game design experience.” Gosh, it’s like 1985 with T$R all over again. It’s like saying, “We won’t hire you until you’ve been in the industry for a while,” but then no one will hire you to give you the experience you need to get into the industry.
Solution: Self publish a pdf or know somebody with their own company. Only back in the day, there were no pdfs. It’s still the same old, tired, song and dance. Pretty sure the people you’re looking to hire already have jobs. Just sayin.
The rest isn’t all that surprising or hard to come by even for someone fresh out of high school or more likely college. Although I would be curious to hear what “Deep hobby or professional experience” looks like sometime.
And as another side note, the preferred qualifications made me sigh the same old sigh again. A year or more self-employed or freelance game design work and “Experience as a game designer and writer without formal guidance…” Seriously? No offense intended to whomever wrote this description, but I think you’re reaching considerably. Without formal guidance? So, no editor. I mean, I get it, but if I was doing all of this as a self published writer, why on Earth would I want to drop everything and work for any other company?
We’ve had other recent events in the RPG industry that really make me scratch my head. Paizo employees just formed a union because they wanted better pay, benefits and working conditions. Jolly good for them. Interestingly enough, Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite started at about the same time. There is no such thing as coincidence, folks.
What are the odds?
Do I personally think I have a snowball’s hope in Hell of getting hired? Not really, but what’s the best that could happen? I did apply for the one quoted above, btw. The problem is, and I suspect this for many of us, is that my actual resume and my gamer resume look nothing alike. Gaming has been my hobby for the most part and my side hack at best.
Is being a game designer/writer my dream job? Ya think?!? Of course it is! I ate, slept, ran and played RPGs for years before I “settled down.” My college degree is in Sociology/Journalism. Think about it. People + Writing/Editing = RPG Industry. There were no classes in 3D printing or Diceology back then. Heck, I’ve watched the publishing industry go from print and hand-drawn layout to completely online publications and I still have the border tape and Pica ruler to prove it.
I’ve been getting turned away by publishers since Gary Gygax ran T$R and the RPGA was still around. Gen Con was still in Lake Geneva for crying out loud. The first two RPGs I ever ran both came from T$R and came in a box with dice you had to ink yourself. I remember Star Wars RPG before it was a 30th Anniversary reprint. I used to play with one of the original play testers for that game.
Writing for RPGs has literally not changed in almost 40 years. You need a good imagination, a grasp of game mechanics, and a certain degree of map-making as well as writing skills. It hasn’t, sigh, changed on the publisher end, either. As I mentioned above, it’s pretty much easier to start your own company before you can get hired by the big guns. If you’re going to do all that, why not just stick with your own company?
I still drive by the abandoned building that used to be The Game Shop (Yes, that was literally the name.) where I bought my first books, minis, and dice. I still have the dice, too. The thing that amazed me the most about old-time game stores was the cottage industry that sprouted around the various game products. People sold minis they painted for resale. Writers sold copies of rulebooks they printed and stapled themselves. Art and jewelry used to be sold right alongside comics in many places.
Grouchy old men used to talk about 14mm scale Historical battles in front of the same counter where us nerdy kids went to buy the latest copies of Dragon and White Dwarf. Anyone could make a game with little cardboard chits and plain paper hex maps and get it published locally if they had a little startup cash.
The RPG industry has the greenest of grass roots. Only the labels and the technology have improved. There was literally a company here in Iowa that started in a little old abandoned schoolhouse. They published the most epic and phenomenal D&D 1st Ed adventure modules. Why did they break up? Beer in the vending machines. Even if that were legal, the fistfight that ensued because the employees were drunk wasn’t. Tis sad, but illustrates a point. Indie RPG publishers can turn a few dollars even off of licensed properties. Just maybe no beer in your office vending machine?
What’s the takeaway?
The original article is basically correct. The RPG industry is a cottage industry first and foremost. Big corporate mentality might work for games such as Magic: the Gathering and Warhammer 40,000, but the RPG industry has always been and industry by fans, for fans, and primarily made up of fans.
I hate to say it, but D&D may be the top dog forever, but the massive wave of popularity the game is riding currently will eventually die down. WotC is already gearing up for a new edition as early as 2024 in anticipation of this happening. If you look on Kickstarter today, the number of 5E products from indie publishers is phenomenal. (Hey, I’ve backed some. I get it.) Looking at DMSGuild.com, the number of published alternate rules, adventures, and supplements puts good ole 3rd Ed to shame. That’s quite a feat if you think about it. (Yes, I went there.)
I’m not even anticipating people getting burned out on the hobby. The fire has been lit. RPGs aren’t going to up and vanish overnight. The hobby will still be going years, if not decades from now. Board games have been around for, um… ever? RPGs can probably expect good longevity. I think the large corporate mega-giant RPG companies may never become a thing, however. The industry will probably keep going, just more spread out and diverse.
Also, if by some fluke a game company exec reads this:
I want there to be a rich, positively huge world. I want to build a world so big that my first group might have to hex crawl at first just to find their way around. Nature will be lush and grow very rapidly…
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to building a fantasy new campaign world for the Fifth Edition of the World’s Most Renowned RPG and deciding what all I want to have go into it. I know several things I don’t want that I’ve seen over my many years of running games that are too numerous to list here. I will go over the highlights of some things I think would be fun.
First off, I want there to be a rich, positively huge world. I want to build a world so big that my first group might have to hex crawl at first just to find their way around. Nature will be lush and grow very rapidly, which is why there could be ruined cities buried beneath the dirt and in the trees. Needless to say, druids and shamans will have a fun time.
Speaking of classes, I want to bring back some old favorites of mine and build upon the preexisting ones in ways that haven’t entirely been covered yet. Samurai will play a large role in things socially and politically, as well as their weapon-mastering cousins- the Kensai. Obviously I plan on Ninja, Shugenja, and the Wu Jen making a comeback. I keep looking at ways to integrate Sohei as well without sacrificing any of the PHB classes. Races: Simply put, I love elves. There will be lots of them. There will be several of the old favorites and a race somewhat similar to the Warforged of Eberron fame. I also want Gnomes to play key roles, too,
Dragons: Here there BE DRAGONS!!! I love dragons. I don’t think enough campaigns or adventures feature enough of them. Fizban’s Treasury looks to be a fun book for me to draw resources from. I also have some great ideas that I need some serious art talent to have help with. Not everything can be done up with stick figures and protractors.
Ancient and recurring evil: Part of my style of D&D has always been good vs evil. Since I know Blizzard will never cut a deal with WotC ever again, I figure I can incorporate some Diablo style elements into my game. I’m also a big WoW fan, but I want to stay away from some of that material for fear of looking too much like WoW. I may borrow bits and bobs such as magic items and monsters, just with my own spin on them.
I know WotC has said they plan to resurrect two of their old campaign worlds, and possibly a third sometime before 2024’s revision of the game. My educated guesses so far are: Dark Sun, Planescape, and possibly Spelljammer. We’ll see what they do. I think they should bring back Mystara and possibly Greyhawk. Honestly, I think the rights might be a bit tricky on some of the older properties, though. I’d also love to see Birthright or Al-Qadim, but I’d bet against those after seeing what WotC put on DMsGuild as a disclaimer regarding some of their older games. (Personally, I think they’re trying to hard to appear sensitive, but…) I’m seriously doubting OA will ever make a comeback in any way.
Anyway, my world will pull a little from Birthright. I loved the way Regents were connected to their lands and gained powers from it. What if any character could draw additional powers from their homeland? Or if they had spirit helpers? What if rulers could shut down their borders by spells or natural abilities? Yeah… Makes me salivate. Lol!
I plan on rebuilding the weapon list from scratch. Like many DMs, I take great pain in what has become of some of my favorites as well as those of the players. The same can be said of the armor table and many spells. It will be time-consuming and I won’t have it all worked out right away. Spell revisions and changes tend to take a long time.
Of course, no world would be complete without the presence of many of the classic monsters. The undead will certainly make a large appearance. Sorry, as hard as I try to avoid the clichés, I know there will be liches, vampires, skeletons, and zombies to fight. We’ll also see the standard spread of elementals, hydras, manticores, yokai, kodama, and dozens of other creatures from European and Asian sources. That’s kinda my thing.
I want the campaign to center around exploration first and foremost. We can dig into politics and religions once the campaign has been going for a while. I really want this to be the type of game where the PCs get to decide where they’re going. I want to try to avoid any heavy-handed NPCs and massive secret agendas that no one can do anything about. (Sorry, burned out on FR and Eberron that way.) I also want to avoid NPCs looking at the group and saying, “Been there. Done that.”
My intention is eventually to start putting pieces on here and some pdfs out for some of my basic things, such as weapon and armor revisions. I don’t want to charge much/anything at all until I start getting some basic maps made and a little bit of the lore written. Eventually I’m going to have enough built up to consider a Kickstarter or getting some money together for artists and possibly mapmaking. By the time 5.5 or 6.0 rolls around, I might have something concrete.
If you made it this far, thanks for hanging out with me. I appreciate you! Stay safe and see you again soon.
I take my writing very seriously, even for the hobby.
I’m plugging away on my latest sourcebook idea and I started doing a little research in an effort to avoid too much overlap with what others have done and make sure I covered most/all of my bases. I made a discovery that almost derailed the whole project. I froze in my tracks when I noticed a fairly big name in the industry did a sourcebook on almost the exact same topic. The. Exact. Same. Topic.
My thought process spun out for the better part of a week. I didn’t even have the heart to keep going. I was pretty bummed. I mean, who am I to compete with that guy? My book isn’t going to be nearly as cool or sparkly, right?
After agonizing for days over this, (because I take my writing very seriously, even for the hobby,) I finally broke down and spent the two bucks on DMSGuild to pick up a pdf copy of the book. Surprise!
Much to my surprise, it looks nothing like what I’m working on! I was actually kinda shocked that this came from what I consider a leading writer in the industry. I mean, yes, it’s clean, thorough, and well-composed. But it’s way shorter than I expected for the money.
*Side note, I’m not naming names because I don’t want to cause any undue ill will toward this person or sound like I’m trying to brag. He’s got some good stuff. I’m continuing on doing what I know how to do without borrowing a word from it. All’s well.
I learned something today. Actually a few of things, to be honest. First, I do belong in the tabletop RPG industry. This is my jam. Second, there’s more than enough room for newcomers, even at this point in 5E’s development. Third, it’s not a competition. We’re all crazy. Maybe a better way to say that last part would be, there’s plenty of room to stay competitive without stepping on one another’s proverbial toes. It can be done.
So, on that cheerful note, I’m getting back to work. I have tables to craft and flavor text to write. If all goes well, my new sourcebook should be getting uploaded to the DMSGuild in a couple of months. No more brushes with Imposter Syndrome. I promise.
Being an avid tabletop roleplaying game fan has taught me a lot of things in life.
Okay, so this is intended to be pretty lighthearted. As is probably known, and I’m not trying to brag, I have become a bit of a Renaissance man over the years. My choir director in high school used to actually chide me about that, even when I was around sixteen. Back then it was sports, electronics, photography, art, writing, Spanish, theatre and Dungeons & Dragons. Nowadays it’s UFOlogy, spirituality, Law of Attraction, self development, cooking, kids, Instagram, writing, and Dungeons & Dragons. I’ve been at this game since I was about 11 years old. They featured a guy about my age on CNN who’s still got his game going, if you want a comparison.
One summer wayyy back in the 1980’s a friend that I met at the swimming pool introduced me to this really neat-o game called “Marvel Superhero Role-Playing.” I was a huge comics fan and it only seemed natural. Sure enough, I was drawn to it like ants on sugar. My friend thought it was awesome because they passed the job of running the game off onto me. Ha! D&D was soon to follow, like, the next day. My friend thought running the game sucked and somehow that’s why I needed to be in charge.
The joke was on him. (Sorry, Travis.) I’m still going strong 35+ years later. Obviously not on the same campaign or even the same game, but you get the point. I love tabletop role playing games. It has pushed me to become a better writer, learn journalism, sociology, and so many other things. I even met my wife at a gaming convention back many, many years ago. I’ve had the privilege of working for three game stores over the years plus a few writing endeavors.
Of course, there have been some lean years with me and the hobby. In high school, we were still in the era of “D&D is a scary satanic cult and obviously all you kids who play it are going to burn in hell.” I can’t count the number of times they tried to sell us on that one, even at school assemblies. That shit was hilarious. Obviously no one in my group of friends was remotely dissuaded from doing anything. I mean, seriously? It’s a GAME, people! Not even a competitive one. (Maybe that’s what was confusing. Who knows?) As far as I am aware, this hobby has never successfully been branded a cult, caused a suicide, or managed to summon an actual demon. It’s a burnt-out old fear paradigm… Moving on.
Then there was college. No joke, I ended up bouncing majors no less than a half dozen times before coming back to journalism and sociology. Writing + Interacting with people. It made sense to me, anyway but I’ll be honest, more than a little influenced by my love for RPG’s. It’s not like a theatre career was going anywhere from here in the armpit of the theatrical world. (Sorry not sorry. It’s true. Iowa is not known for Broadway productions.) Although ironically, D&D 5E has risen in mainstream popularity because of a group of voice actors doing a gaming podcast called “Critical Role.”
Lastly, my real moment of Homer Simpson at the Bowling Alley came when I stopped working part time at our Friendly Local Game Store because we had two kids at the time and I needed a real, good paying, full-time job. (Blech! 🤢) I know, right? (The Bowling Alley was Homer’s dream job in case you missed it.) My wife and I even had to give up our regular game sessions because my work schedule totally didn’t mesh with trying to run a regular game. That, and we’re up to four kids. What time?
BUT, never to be discouraged, I have kept up on the industry pretty well and I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to get involved. I have a second blog, second Instagram Account and I’m debating about expanding a couple of other ways once the Covid thing dies down some more. @sellsword.games and sellswordgames.game.blog if you’re curious. Not much there to look at yet, but I’m still working on it. Writing, collecting, interacting with the community, and learning a lot about self publishing have become a fascination of mine.
To make matters even more awesome, my kids are getting old enough to become interested in the hobby. Woot! Time to break out the dice and the DM’s Screen again. Yes! Under mom’s careful supervision, of course.
So, getting to the gist of what I was originally starting to say before I got a little sidetracked down memory lane. Today, I learned a couple of neat things. One is WordPress, (Love you guys ❤😁) was missing a command to show my other blog over on the other page. LOL! My bad for not proofing my page, not theirs.
Another thing I learned, in my research for starting a new gaming zine, is that apparently while print is mostly dying, zines are still around, sorta? Most of the major online hobby magazines have dissolved into one of about three or four different places.
The first and most obvious is Patreon. Patreon lets you choose how much content you want to give as a publisher for a certain dollar amount. I have some hangups when it comes to Patreon that I will discuss some other time. It’s cool, but at the same time, maybe not my thing? The verdict is still out on that one.
The next place I’ve seen a lot of zines disappear to is different websites and blogs. This is why I am developing a blog and eventually site pages to go with it over on my other site. Maybe some premium content eventually. It’s in the works sometime down the road.
Then there’s the App market. This actually surprised me a little. Yes, I know. Probably seems a little strange to some of the younger folks. Even the company I work for has a rewards app these days. But somehow I didn’t see this thing with the magazine coming.
Lastly, and this is where my jumping-on point was originally, is the PDF market. I would have thought for sure that this was the way to go. I mean, we used to buy actual print magazines for $4.99. A lot of print books are now exclusively PDFs now. The PDF market, or rather the e-publishing marketplace is the way to go on so many other things now, right? At least if you’re looking to self publish, anyway.
I mean, I understand that the game publishing community is one of profit and commerce. Maybe not a millionaire maker, but at least enough to buy the next book from some other company that comes along or enough cash to buy a pizza. I’m not looking to get rich. Turns out a lot of the hosting sites for PDF publishing charge a pretty hefty percentage off the top of your product, especially the folks at the Dungeon Masters Guild. Go figure. It’s more about the love of the game, anyway.
But, there’s a real added value to this experience. By learning how the gaming market comes together, I’m learning WordPress and web marketing as well as so many other fun facts today. Play the clowny outro music. I’m outta here for the day. Zing!