I had a busy day on Friday. I started with two seminars, followed by an Ashes of Athas game and the live Tome Show recording and finished by a Five Year Mission concert.
The hosts of the morning seminars were: Wolfgang Baur, Christina Stiles, Ben McFarland and other freelancer who I missed his name (Sorry!). The first seminar was RPG Freelancing 101. I have a small desire to do some rpg freelancing. It is one reason I started this blog to improve my writing and determine how productive I can be. They mentioned that two important steps is to be assertive & confident followed by delivering. I need to work on being assertive and confident. They suggest starting small first and then you’ll get larger projects. It makes perfect sense because large project are lots of investment for a publisher to make on a new freelancer. I do not have a problem with being possessive of my ideas as I love to share my ideas. A pitch to a publisher needs to be short, sold and show the exciting parts. If it’s an adventure then speak of the action not the background. If there’s a secret or mystery then you reveal the mystery to the publisher. You need to play the RPGs that you wish to write for. If you get a project then you don’t drastically destroy or change a part of the setting unless instructed to. You should push your boundaries but respect the limits imposed by the publisher like word count and setting limits. A new freelancer has lots of ability to work on what they want but as you raise up in the freelancer pyramid then you get less choice to what you wish to work on but higher profile projects.
The second seminar was Creating and Improving Your Homebrew RPG Setting. They started with two viewpoints: write only what your players will interact with and write everything because it is fun. They talked more about it and I gathered the general idea is to focus on your immediate needs but when you have time, write what you enjoy. They mentioned to have an overall theme to unite your campaign. I found it a useful reminder of my theme “resurgence of old empires”. They said the goals of the players are important. Please note that player goals can be different from the goals of their character. Ex: A player might want a tragic but heroic sacrifice but the character wishes to live. A good GM notices this simple conflict and provides opportunities in the setting.
They talked about mysteries in your setting. You don’t need to reveal everything to your players or even yourself. Always keep a few mysteries in the setting. Something for the players to wonder and attempt to discover. Mysteries entice the players but the reveal might end it. Don’t pull away the full curtain.
The audience asked about publishing and self-publishing the setting. They said self-publishing is a beast best tackled in its own seminar. They advised to test if there is an audience for your setting through various distributions (i.e. blog, podcast, etc.). You pitch small sections of the campaign to your audience or publishers rather than the whole campaign. A publisher will not have time to read a 500 page setting bible from unpublished individual.
Finally, they advised to rip off fictional characters or real life characters for your homebrew setting. Modify the character for your homebrew setting but use the inspiration.
In the afternoon, I had a fun Ashes of Athas game. It was my first Ashes of Athas game and it was fun. The DM, Marcy-Alice, was awesome. She enjoyed the story and the interactions. The combat slowed things down and we had to rush to finish it since we went 30 minutes over the time slot. I had fun play Sala, my halfling druid who enjoys transforming into beasts. I learned he is a protector of all life which put him into conflict with certain members of the party.The half-giants in the group lost their tribe to Urikite soldiers. They blamed the Sorcerer-King Hamanu and all his soldiers. Sala believes those Urikite were just following orders and they shouldn’t be killed just for following orders. When he saw the ant lion attacking the Urikite soldiers, he leaped to rescue them. When the half-giants prevents the other Urikite soldiers to escape, Sala scowled at them. We didn’t focus on killing all enemies. Mary-Alice made the goal of the encounters clear and we focused on that. I love organized play events where the goals are clear. A combat encounter doesn’t need to end with one side being destroyed.
In the evening, I participated in the live recording of the Tome Show Episode 201. The hosts were Jeff Greiner and Tracy Hurley. Their guest was Robin D. Laws, acclaimed game designer. I was in the audience. It was great to hear the advice that Robin provided to add story in the D&D game. I asked him for improvisation tips in D&D 4th edition. He provides useful advise that you should listen when the episode gets published.
Our night event was a concert by the Star Trek inspired band, Five Year Mission. Their goal is to create a song based on every single episode of the original Star Trek. They are four song writers and a drummer. The song writers switched instruments and sung the song they wrote.
The drummer got to wear a wonderful fake mustache for a song.
We all know who got the better deal out of this. I felt they should have ended with their song “Shore Leave” but it makes a great play on words but we got a great fight scene between Mike Rittenhouse and a Gorn. I uploaded a video of the epic combat.
I hope they do international tours and come up north to Ottawa.