Thursday, August 27, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Day 27

Day 27: Favorite Idea for Merging Two Games into One

So, this isn't really something I do, and as a result, I'm not entirely sure how to take it. The closest thing I've done recently, though, is make the pitch to take one or more characters from out ongoing Deadlands game (specifically the scrappy orphan kid who's grown up under the tutelage of the Chinese kung fu master/laundry owner in Colorado) and transport him through the time shifts into Feng Shui 2, potentially taking some other characters along as well or else making new ones. I think it'd be awesome. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Day 26

Day 26: Favorite Inspiration for Your Game

So, my favorite source of inspiration, by far, is music. I regularly start my games by playing a song I feel to be thematic in some way -- it works great to get my players' attention, get them in the mood, and let them know the game is starting (thus transitioning them out of chat mode). I have gotten a bit out of the habit with this most recent reboot of the game I'm running -- it's something I should get back to, though. I also tend to use it at the beginning of the classes I'm teaching, if I need a way to get their attention and I can relate it to the lesson. I should definitely do it this semester, though. So yes -- always, always music.

(By the way, if you're interested in running Chill, you need to listen to Hozier's album. Seriously, the whole thing. All of it. If you haven't already. OMG.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

RPGaDay2015: the last week's worth of entries

So school started and I finished an editing job and... yeah. Also, my corgi decided to chase a buck and suffered some muscle strain, and was the most sad corgi ever for a couple of days. (He's fine now). But yes, I let this get away from me, and now I must catch up.

RPGaDay2015: Day 20, Favorite Horror RPG

So, for a lot of years, the World of Darkness was like the only good answer to this question. I couldn't have picked a specific flavor of it until these last few years, where it was really Changeling: the Lost. There's a lot of resonance there for me. That said, I honestly have to say that Chill 3rd Ed has replaced it. My favorite thing, bar none, is being a person trying to fight off the bad things. That is the horror game I want, and I want some success to be possible. I wanted Kolchak the Night Stalker, etc. And Hunter sort of did that, but not in the way I wanted. Chill does. And yes, it's kind of a gimme, since my company made it, but seriously: I freaking love playing this game. It's all the good things.

Day 21: Favorite RPG Setting

So... I run a Dresden Files RPG game. I love Dresden with all the love a girl can have. That said... I think my favorite setting, bar none, is the Iron Kingdoms. It's crazy, I know -- arcane steam mechs and ongoing war and crazy creatures from the woods and everything like that. And I'm not even huge into fantasy! But I really, really, really like it. Something about it is just kitchen-sink enough to be my catnip. Now, have I played it? Nope. Do I know what the current system is like? Nope. I own the book, but I haven't really gotten a chance to look through it. That said... doesn't matter. The setting rocks.

Day 22: Perfect Gaming Environment

This strikes me as kind of weird, but okay. I have probably 70% of my perfect gaming environment right now. The changes I'd make are indirect, not-top-down room lighting, better chairs, and a bit less corgi interference, but the last one of these will come in time. We have an awesome Geek Chic table that doubles as our dining table, a dining room full of game books and the game closet, and it's right next to the kitchen and the coffee maker for great dinners and snacks and, of course, coffee. Oh, and I'd replace the sliding glass door with one that's more energy efficient and doesn't just suck the heat out of the room. And I'd love to paint the room a slightly more cheerful color, if I had the least idea how to go about painting a room. That's pretty much it.

Day 23: Perfect Game for You

What even is this? Okay, fine... the perfect game for me. Um... I like games with character development, with investigative and puzzle elements, and with some danger or weight to the character's choices. There have to be stakes that matter, you know? Story is more important than combat. Character relationships and choices have to have consequences and development. Mechanical/system advancement is not a huge thing to me; I'd rather start with most of what I need and earn new stuff in the story than get xp and have to save it up or figure out what to spend it on. I like games that last a long time, like years to get into the character and see where she ends up. That said, it's less a system or a setting and more a style of play, so I'd say there is no one single "perfect game for me." It's all in the execution.

Day 24: Favorite House Rule

Oh lord. Um... okay. This is a style of game I don't play anymore, but for fantasy games where it's ostensibly somewhat important... I hate buying random gear. I hate that part of the game SOOOOOO much. It just gets in the way, and unless we're REALLY going to talk about resource management and make that a central part of the game, having to remember to buy all the things my character would know she needs is just stupid. So I always house rule the Standard Adventurers Kit. Anything you can reasonably expect your character to need and consider part of her kit, she has. It costs a moderate amount of money, but not enough to keep you from buying the weapon and stuff you need (say 50 silver, in D&D money). I have never yet had anyone be sad about this choice -- that says something to me about the "importance" of gear in games.

Day 25: Favorite Revolutionary Game Mechanic

Oh, man. So, I'm going to say the one I experienced most recently, which is the character/personality setup in Bluebeard's Bride, by Whitney Beltran. All the players are aspects of the Bride's psyche, and the one who's in control at the time is the one who takes damage and gets to ultimately decide what happens. They can all support or interfere with one another, and the way you determine who's in charge is who gets to hold the wedding ring. It's creepy and awesome and ultimately a really fresh take on a game system that is more often competitive than not. I actually forgot we were using a *World system when we were playing it. It's pretty darn amazing.

Okay. Back to one a day for the rest of the month! :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Rising Waters: Season 2.5, Session 3

Following the ghoul battle, everyone went to get cleaned up. Zeke's phone rings, though. It's his mortal, not-informed girlfriend calling to verify their dinner plans.  Ree'sha (I'm spelling this wrong, I know, but I don't have his sheet in front of me) asked if they were still getting together, and whether or not she needed to buy a new dress for his friend's wedding, since she got an invitation but she remembered his friend was a bit odd.

Zeke immediately went on alert, as his girlfriend was now planning on attending Uno's wedding when he still didn't have an invite, and from all they could tell, wasn't going to get one. He broke off from the rest of the group and set about getting dinner reservations and getting cleaned up and prepped for what might be a difficult evening.

Upon hearing that people were getting invitations to his wedding, Uno starts freaking out. People work on calming him down while they start checking with their own loved ones. Dylan calls his parents, who say they think they got something but threw it away. Eldi learns Hui got one and is planning on attending, because Uno is Eldi's friend. Everyone Uno knows is already going, and Viktor's contact didn't get one. Adia's ex got one and isn't planning on going, and wanted to know why she hadn't left town yet.

Adia went looking for her sugar skull, after realizing other people couldn't see Josh, and that's when it came out that Dylan had left it in the diving bell accidentally. The group minus Zeke finishes cleaning up and heads over to the Fells Point waterfront to try to get it from the diving bell without being noticed or getting in a fight with whatever. They went to get it and Eldi did some glamour, so while they almost got noticed, they managed to cover it and be fine. What they discovered is that the salt circle Dylan had surrounded it with was blown out all over the floor, omnidirectionally, presumably from when the demon voice was coming through it.

Since demons shouldn't be able to use the skull, though, Viktor starts studying the skull and looks at it with the Sight. He discovers that it's a) not a human skull, although it's related -- maybe a sidhe skull -- and the magics that power it are both demonic and fae, which shouldn't be a thing ever. They start looking at the other gifts, and it becomes clear that while some are of fae origin, some aren't, and some are blended, getting weirder and weirder.

Uno suggests going to the library to see the loremaster of Baltimore to ask about the artifacts and to see if there's anything he can do to get out of these contracts. They all take off tot he library and meet Jeffrey, the head librarian. He's pretty nonplussed by the articles wanted to go to library and see the loremaster to see if they could figure out what was going on, and how he could get out of this. He agrees to look at the artifacts, but he needs all of them in one place to do that. We leave our characters going to get the rest of the stuff and coming back to find out what's going on!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Catching up

Dear Readers, all 10 or so of you, the past few days have been somewhat fraught. I have started fall semester orientation, gotten my son's senior pictures, baked desserts of legend, and seen my sons leave for the summer. I am, frankly, spent, and not a little sad. I have therefore allowed the RPGaDay project to fall off my radar. Today, however, I'm catching up, with days 17, 18, and 19 all in one overstuffed post!

Day 17: Favorite Fantasy RPG

So, this one's actually hard for me, because although I started off in fantasy just like most other gamers... I'm not in love with playing in fantasy games. It takes something very unique about a fantasy world for me to engage with it anymore. I've got no interest in Tolkien-esque settings if it's not actually Tolkien; no interest in the bog-standard D&D stuff either anymore. I think the closest thing to standard fantasy I'm into anymore is something like Blue Rose, which has a nicely developed fantasy world and is ideally suited to run the types of fantasy books I enjoy a bit more (Robin McKinley's work in particular). I'm really looking forward to the 2nd edition. Pretty spiffy all around.

Day 18: Favorite SF RPG

Okay, so confession number two: I'm not a big SF fan. Speculative fiction, yes; science fiction specifically, no. It tends to just leave me cold. There are some exceptions, mind you, but they're few and far between, and tend to leave the sci-fi as window dressing instead of making it central to the game. The one I'd be the most excited about playing, though? Eclipse Phase. It's probably telling that it errs far more on the social SF side of the spectrum; most of the ones I like do.

At its best, Eclipse Phase has all the horror of Alien with all the psychological and philosophical weight of the very best work out there. At its least complex, it has bacon ships. You can make what you want out of it, without the default being military SF, which is a genre that doesn't appeal to me in the least for RP purposes. They do good work, those guys at Posthuman. :)

Day 19: Favorite Supers RPG

Hmm. I think my favorite has to be Marvel Heroic. I know there are issues with it, but it's really just a heck of a lot of fun. It's a pure shame that the game license went away, because it's a really awesome game. My character, when last we played it, was Pink, a college track star who was exposed to radiation and developed a super metabolism and super strength, so she's very jumpy-flippy and very strong and very good at acrobatics. I don't think she had any abilities other than that, but it's been a hot minute. She was fun to play, though, and I enjoyed the ease and flexibility of the game system; it was easy to pick up and learn, easy to play, and I was never at a loss for what my character was capable of, or what the best approach to something would be for her.

I don't have a big yearning to play established characters, so figuring out how to make someone from scratch was more of a challenge than I wanted it to be, but I can't really hold that against it; it's not like it turned out to be hard. Really, though, pretty darn awesome. Good work once again.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Day 16

Day 16: Longest Game Session Played

I think I have to credit my ex for this one, as he wrapped up his long-running game with a session that lasted an entire weekend, with a huge boss battle and a final denouement that wrapped up everyone's storylines. There was even a papier-mache terrain map of the lost city we reclaimed as the head of the half-elf empire reborn. Seriously, it was a ton of work, and worth the weekend we spent playing. Good times. Never playing AD&D again. :)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Day 15

First of all, happy birthday to my husband and best GM ever, Matthew McFarland! *muppet arms* Yaaaaaayyyyyy!!!!

Day 15: Longest Campaign Played

Whoo boy, this one's hard. I think -- I think -- that the current title holder has to go to our monthly Monsterhearts campaign, which has been running for two years almost exactly. I player Briar Rose Stephens, who's a Chosen that lives with her absentee single professor dad and a housekeeper in Perdido, CA. Briar's boyfriend is Austin Fairchild, whom Matt has been trying to kill off for like three seasons now. She owes a life to the king of the Fae, and she looks at it as a personal responsibility to keep Perdido as free from the threat of monsters as possible. She's about to graduate high school, though, so who knows what will happen? :)

Prior to that, it was the bi-weekly Changeling: the Lost campaign, titled Snowblind (which I don't have an easy link for, but I'll work on finding one and updating it), which I started guest-starring in before I even moved here, during my long-distance-relationship phase with Matt, and it lasted another 2 years after I got here.

I will play short games, but really, I much prefer longer ones. I don't need to advance my character all that much, I just want the character development. That said, though, it's hard to get one going, and Matt has so many games that he wants to play and run and test that it's a difficult thing to get a game that really goes long enough to suit my taste. We can compromise, though. :)

Friday, August 14, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Day 14

Day 14: Favorite RPG Accessory

So, my favorite RPG accessory, hands down, is my ARU, which stands for All Rolled Up. I picked mine up a couple of years ago at GenCon (mine is white with a black scrollwork calligraphy pattern on it) and I love it so very much. It's where all my dice live. Pencils and even index cards go in it. It's basically my gamer go-to bag and it keeps everything handy and neat, without becoming the black hole that a dice bag can turn into when you're not looking. It could also function as an impromptu knitting tool bag (too small to hold yarn, but that's okay) or a mini art supply carrier, or whatever.

They also have versions that use chalkboard fabric, versions made with oilskins so they're waterproof, and all manner of nifty things. You can even custom order them. If you are looking for a very cool, very portable thing for your gaming love, I can't recommend an ARU highly enough. But not mine. You'll have to get your own.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Days 12 and 13

Got behind yesterday, so here we are today doing two -- which probably figures, because I don't really have excellent answers for either of them.

Day 12: Favorite RPG Illustration

So, I love art in RPG books. Love love love. As a result of that... yeah, I got nothin'. I don't have a favorite, really. How could I ever pick just one? I will tell you who I love as an illustrator, though: Alessandro Alaia.

The above image is "Line of Defense," and he did it for Chill -- and that, to me, is so indicative of the game that I can't even express it any better than he did in images -- and as a word person, that's saying something. If you want to know what Chill is, look up. It's all there. And it's gorgeous. 

Day 13: Favorite RPG Podcast

So, there are a billion awesome RPG podcasts out there, and I don't regularly listen to any of them. I know, I feel bad about it. But grad school, you see, and I can't work while someone's talking in my ear... so no podcasts for me. It's not like I listen to podcasts about anything else either, though. I want to. I just... don't. That said, I'll happily be on your podcast, if you have one, and who knows? Maybe you'll be the podcast that gets me to start listening to them. :) 

But don't count on it. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Day 11

Day 11: Favorite RPG Writer

Aw, come on, man. This isn't even fair.


Okay, so this one has a winner and a runner-up as well.

First, I've got to give my man, Matthew McFarland, a serious shout-out. He wins this because honestly, his game writing always knows what it is. He understands how to communicate the structure of a game and its rules in a way that is not only readable, but sensible. He is, in my opinion, responsible for some of the best work written for the World of Darkness. The fact that he loves what he does comes through in his words, and it makes it a pleasure to edit. Also, the man writes fiction that breaks my heart in the best way. I can always hear his voice in his fiction, even when it's someone else speaking, and that just kills me. :) Also, in the words of Charlotte Bronte, "Reader, I married him." And I would be fibbing if I didn't admit that his skill as a writer was one of the things that won me over. He's my own personal Orpheus, and I admire him greatly.

Second, I've got to give full props to Steve Kenson, who I started working with in my earliest days in the industry, back at FASA on Shadowrun. I can identify Steve's work at a glance -- it's clean, clear, and filled with a certain buoyant lightness even as it deals with the nitty gritty details of whatever system he's writing for. He moves from game to game as though system mastery was no big deal, and he's consummately professional. Any day I find out I'm going to be working with Steve again is a good day. :) Love ya, man.

RPGaDay2015: Day 10

RPGaDay2015: Favorite RPG Publisher

So, if I'm disqualifying my own company (which of course I am, because lame), I think I have to pick Evil Hat Productions, makers of Fate Core, Atomic Robo, and the Dresden Files RPG among others.

There are a lot of RPG companies out there, and and I have friends at most of them, so this is saying something when I pick one at which I only know people to say hello to as I pass them in the hall at a con. Evil Hat has been a surprising force for good in our industry, spearheading an entirely new system that's become a standard of play, breaking out a franchise game that rocked the standings for who gets noticed, helping create the Bits and Mortar initiative, and generally being good people who do good things. This is not to say other people in gaming aren't good people doing good things, but Fred et. al.'s mindfulness about the industry as a whole and their willingness to be transparent about their processes have been an active force for good.

Second place goes to Posthuman Studios, who are likewise willing to take ethical stands and live up to them. All the love, friends. All the love.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Day 9

Day 9: Favorite Media You Wish Was an RPG

If I could make anything I wanted into an RPG, it would be this. Space Rome, Immortal Juice, people/animal hybrids, intergalactic space travel, hoverskates.... oh heck yeah, I would play in this world. And unlike a lot of stories, I don't feel like Jupiter's is the only story here. EVERYONE has a story. I could play anyone and it would be equally valid; the people of interest are not restricted to the upper-class universe rulers, although they are interesting. The question of what Jupiter does or doesn't do to/with the rest of the Abraxis family and their Immortal Juice harvesting remains outstanding, as does what other planets she is considered to "own" and what all is even out there.

Oh yeah. I would play and write the heck out of this. Wachowskis, if you're listening, I'm totally your girl. :)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

#RPGaDay2015: Day 8

Day 8: Favorite Appearance in the Media

I'm not going to sit here and say that Kindred: the Embraced was the best gamer TV show ever. I am, however, going to say that I still like it in all its cheesy, overdone, OMG early-White-Wolf, how-did-this-ever-get-made-into-a-TV-show goodness.

I was excited to hear this was coming to television. I watched it pretty religiously with all my gamer friends. I was sad when it was unexpectedly cut off when the lead died in an accident. I knew it's like would probably not come again. Now, in that, I was only half-right. It was many years before anything as delightfully campy and "horror" based hit television again, but the rise of cable programming has given us shows that far exceed anything Kindred: the Embraced was ever capable of providing. I still have a soft spot for the original, though.

Friday, August 7, 2015

RPGaDay2015: Favorite Free RPG

Day 7: Favorite Free RPG

To be fair, I haven't gotten to really play this yet. That said, the people behind it at Posthuman Studios are old friends of mine. I've edited various bits of the line over the years, and so I know first hand just how good a job they do. It's released under Creative Commons; the book retails for $50, with the PDF for $20, but as it is a CC release, you can get it for free online and then choose to pay later.

This book is in its 4th printing now, with a full and robust set of supplements building out the universe and investigating what it means to live in a world where identity is decoupled from physicality. I admire this work greatly, and I suggest that if you haven't yet taking a look at this for some reason, you really should.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 -- Most Recent RPG Played

Day 6: Most Recent RPG Played

So this was going to be Beast: The Forsaken, as we played that Monday night, but then last night our friend Travis came over and ran The Sprawl for us, a Powered by the Apocalypse cyberpunk game.

I'm really picky about my cyberpunk games, as some of you know. The economic struggle should be a real one, otherwise it's just katanas and drones and trenchcoats, and that's boring. The * World engine, though, actually works really well for this sort of thing, particularly coupled with an additional Gear and Intel mechanic so there are things to invest in. I'm really happy with this game, and I'm looking forward to the next session.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Rising Waters: Season 2.5, Session 2!

So we last left our fellows seasick and concerned as they pulled themselves out of the bay in front of Fells Point. The sidewalks were littered with the bodies of dead seagulls and the storm clouds above were threatening, with wind and rain spattering down on the streets. Over the scent of the bay and the storm, they could all smell rotted meat and old, dead blood, letting them know that the ghouls they had been seeking were nearby.

Eldi was the first to spot one, lurking in a narrow alleyway, waiting to ambush the characters. She used her glamour to set off a sort of flare above it, notifying the others (and getting oohs and aahs from the barhoppers nearby, who thought it was fireworks). Victor and Uno moved to take it on, Uno with his sword, and Victor using his fists and his kinetic bracelet focus to pack a bit of extra punch. Dylan decided to see where there might be others and went ahead and pinged the diving bell, using the sonar idea he'd been using below water to sense if there were any others anywhere around. He located two others hiding not far away around the corner of a building, waiting to spring out and catch Adia off guard. Eldi tries using light again as Dylan yells out a warning, but she misjudges and ends up sending off the flare off too close to Adia, temporarily blinding her.

Adia tries to duck and roll, as she's quite the Ninja-Wallflower, but she misjudges and ends up back in the water rather than closer to the buildings, where she'd intended to go. That being said, the ghouls can't reach her, so she turns out to be in a very safe place. Zeke takes a shot at the ghoul, doing some damage, but his internal "gotta save them all" instinct kicks in and so he dives over and helps pull Adia out of the water, giving up a chance to attack the ghouls. Meantime, a weird sort of garbage golem (demonic construct) pulls itself out of a dumpster behind Victor and starts in on him to the exclusion of everything else (He Is THAT Asshole, after all), and he'd caught the attention of the constructs in the bay.

When it looks like the team was going to be overwhelmed, Dylan decides to call on the power of the energy in the storm and bring down lightning, frying the ghouls. Zeke says a prayer for him, calling on Sauriel, and that charges Dylan's efforts with Soulfire, giving Dylan a taste of rightness and certainty as he calls down the magic that he's never experienced before. The lightning follows as Eldi runs for the safety of Adia's purse, since he forgot to warn her, and the ghouls and the construct are all zorched. Zeke uses soulfire to enhance his bullets, finishing off two remaining ghouls, while Victor and Uno take out a ghoul and the trash demon respectively. There's a strange, echoing laughter that comes in off the water, and the skies start to clear as the ghouls dissolve into the street puddles, and the group starts to wonder just what it's gotten itself into.

Tune in next time!

#RPGaDay2015 -- Day 5

Day 5: Most Recent RPG Purchase

So, it isn't a full RPG, but it's for a game I've been semi-consistently running for a few years now. The Paranet Papers is the third book for the Dresden Files RPG, to be supplemented maybe next year with the Fate Accelerated update to the game. I'm personally tremendously interested in the update and any help the Paranet Papers would provide to the magic system, as that's still the clunkiest aspect of the whole thing. I'm also give to understand there's a fan conversion to Fate Core that works like a champ in the Fate Codex, and I'm excited about that. It's on my list to look at sooner rather than later.

Of course, it should be noted that while I picked this up at GenCon, it's hardly the only thing we bought. It is the thing that was the most "mine," though. The runner-up is Clockwork Dominion, which has made me squee upon a brief perusal. I'm looking forward to getting more into it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#RPGaDay2015 -- Favorite new game and Most surprising game

Today's RPGaDay entries are day 3 and 4, and then we're caught up! Yay!

Day 3: Favorite New Game of the Last 12 Months
Setting aside my own stuff, since that seems like cheating, I'm going to have to say that I think Atomic Robo is going to feature pretty highly here. I picked it up last GenCon and I'm really still quite taken with it. I'm going to have to schedule a time to play it sometime in the next few months, because I really want to run it, but I've got to finish Dresden first.

Day 4: Most Surprising Game
I think I have to give this spot to Epyllion. We are having a new and exciting movement in games wherein cute is actually something that sells. This fact should not be underestimated -- it's recognition of a meaningful shift in RPG consumer demographics. Books like Eloy Lasanta's Mermaid Adventures that got roundly ignored three years ago are now moving like crazy, because there's a new willingness to embrace mechanics and aesthetics that are non-traditional. Marissa Kelly's Epyllion is a sterling example of this trend, wherein the * World system is retooled for a game about baby dragons growing up in a world where the Shadow threatens to consume everything they have, and only they can really stop it. It's fresh, charming, and cute without being twee. There are real issues and darkness behind the adorable exterior, giving the game some real meat and heft without making it  ponderous or too focused on blowing stuff up. It's a really great game.

More tomorrow!

Monday, August 3, 2015


It's time for #RPGaDay2015 again! I'm a little behind, so I'll start catching up today and finish catching up tomorrow. 

Day 1: Forthcoming Game You're Most Looking Forward To
I think I'd have to say, based on the con I was just at, that the game I'm most looking forward to is Bluebeard's Bride, by Whitney Beltran, Sarah Richardson, and Marissa Kelly, coming from Magpie Games. I got to play a game of it on Saturday night (thanks Sarah!) and it was fantastic. There's some really, really, really good work going on there, and I'm excited to see it fleshed out and on paper. 

Day 2: Kickstarted Game You're Most Pleased You Backed
Again, since it was here today, I'd have to say Feng Shui 2 from Atlas Games. Cam and company did a heck of a job on this game -- it's fun, it plays well, and it's all the stuff I loved about Feng Shui with none of the stuff I hated. And it came in the mail today! I'm looking forward to playing it. :)

More tomorrow! 

The RPG Industry and fair compensation

So an interesting discussion has started about compensation for freelancers in the RPG industry (see here for David Hill's initial blog post and here for Ryan Macklin's continuation of the theme). They basically bring up that working for hire on a per word basis at current RPG industry rates is frankly both unfair and untenable, and although they aren't sure what the alternative is right now. For those who aren't already familiar with the problem, freelance author rates in RPGs run from $.01 per word to $.08, with perhaps WotC and Paizo paying .08 and Onyx Path paying $.03 to new authors, with a cap at $.05 for established authors. Terms are typically half upon completion, half upon publication.*

This level of pay is shit, to put it mildly. It is difficult to ask for more, however, because RPGs do not in any way make the money they once did. If you sell through a print run of 1000 books, you're doing well. The bigger names do far better than that, but by and large the retailer and distribution chains that once supported RPGs have been crumbling for years, and new companies often work exclusively in PDF and PoD formats because they can't afford the back end costs associated with warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution. They don't make much money, so they can't pay much money; and if you love games and have a skillset in writing technical material about horror and fantasy and sci-fi stuff, you end up working for practically nothing because there are hundreds of other fans out there like you who are willing to work for practically nothing, because this isn't a job, it's a hobby.

It's important to hit that last note, so I'll do it again: "this isn't a job, it's a hobby."

I hear a lot that we don't have an "industry," that we have people who do stuff for love and it's wrong to expect anything else. That is incorrect. What we have is an industry made up of people who started doing things on their own after a bunch of the businesses from the previous generation, based on actual small-presses, closed up shop in the 2000s, and the new ones were one- or two-man set-ups trying to squeak out a living on minimal expenses. That we began that way isn't a problem; that it's 2015 and most of the businesses haven't moved on to an actual business model with employees IS the problem.

If you put out one game a year, hire freelancers. Seriously. Pay them well, as with crowdfunding you have no excuses not to, but hire freelancers. If you put out multiple games/books a year, then you ought to hire the people who do your line development and organization, getting the extra work off your freelancers and onto the people you're paying to do that job, so that everyone can do the work they're being paid for and doing it for a reasonable fee. Either as a long-term consultant or a part-time employee (or a full-time employee, in some rare cases). The Green Ronin model is one that works for distance offices, with teleconferencing and occasional trips into HQ twice a year to confab, work out directions for the company lines, and get things organized and outlined and ready for the next year. Treat businesses like businesses. Treat professionals like professionals. That's the solution for this.

*My company, Growling Door, pays $.06/word, half upon first draft and half upon completion, just for the record. We would like to be able to pay half up-front, half upon completion, but that hasn't yet proved tenable for us. We've historically paid $.05 for new writers and bumped to $.06, but we're considering that across the board.