What an RPG Developer Does

I’m an RPG writer and developer. Sometimes the term “lead designer” gets used with slightly different responsibilities, and sometimes it gets used to no difference in responsibilities. In different companies, the exact responsibilities, and whether it’s a contract or staff position, vary. For instance, I don’t do any layout, and strictly work with word count, […]

Zero Draft

So, elaborating on yesterday, I’m going to talk about your zero draft. If you’re writing for someone else, you may think that once you get out the  length and message you need, you’re good–you should just hit send. Maybe a spellcheck is in order, but after that? Go. You shouldn’t. You have not produced a […]

2K a Day

I don’t know who needs to hear this for their career development, but apparently this is not well known: In long form tabletop RPG writing it is generally expected that you can produce an average of 2000 near-first draft standard words per day. This doesn’t mean every day is a 2000 word day. I have […]

Working for Green Ronin and Other News

So, some good news. I now have a regular gig with Green Ronin Publishing. I’m excited to take up a bunch of projects with the company as a developer “at large,” meaning I work on a variety of stuff instead of just one line. You can read the message announcing it, and where the company […]

90s Design: On Canon

Canon is now a Thing. Nerds fret over it and creators hate wrestling with it, but it used to be a nonentity in mainstream media. You had continuity, but there was little pretense of a persistent world with a coherent entity. Now everybody’s trying to build big media franchise like Marvel and Star Wars. Now […]

What’s In Your Trash Can?

In a secret place, Wood Ingham and I (and other folks) talk about games and things. Wood posted this as a coda to that discussion and others, about the Zizekian “trash can” of ideology and how it applies to RPGs. Please go read it, then come back. (I really hate what Zizek says about immigration […]

Solving Setting Mastery

So last time I talked about setting mastery and how it can screw up a game. In retrospect I think I overemphasized the bad parts. At its best, it helps people becomes natives of the setting. When they’re not jerks, they help everyone else get into the spirit of things and best of all, save […]

Setting Mastery

Back when D&D 3 came out, the designers talked about “system mastery.” Knowing the system better always helped you play a more powerful, effective character, but 3e made this an explicit design goal. Some feats and spells were just plain better than others. Later on this turned out to not be such a great idea, […]

No Content, Really

Vampire: The Masquerade? Shadowrun? Cyberpunk 2020? AD&D 2nd Edition and its worlds, like Planescape? Mind’s Eye Theatre with the grey book of box set? Rifts? Rifts, even? Deep cities? Scene-driven adventures? Networked NPCs? Secret societies? Metaplots? No apologies. No excuses. HEY NET PUNK.

Mapless 2: Cheap Content!

No really, it’s cheap. Google search cheap. Because I searched for “mapless fantasy” to see what other people had to say about it today. Even the image contains a cheap joke! Obscure, but cheap! Anyway, I point you to Joe Abercombie’s words, which make a lot of sense to me. I don’t hate maps. I love […]