I was mucking about the net one day when I happened to come across your site through Pinterest and a review of a game I had done a Q&A for: Flint and Steel. I had meant to read only one article, but I read a second. After that I read a third. Before I knew it, I'd read almost every article you've written so far. How did you become such a talented writer? Usually, I can only get through books like Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and A Game of Thrones.
I really appreciate the compliment. I have dreamed of writing most of my life and the thought of putting those thoughts to paper literally left me hanging on inaction and very little to show when I did take action. Fear of rejection is a powerful feeling for procrastination. Once I discovered blogging, I discovered my love of writing again. So now I write all the time and the funny thing is, you are constantly improving…If there is a secret beyond actually practicing the craft, I have one rule. Every time I create a post, I want it to be actionable or beneficial to the reader. Even if my audience does not leave a comment or pitch in to a Kickstarter I want them to feel like they have learned something valuable.
You've mentioned that you're planning on heavily investing time into helping people find ways to promote their RPGs. Time is money. What prompted this great generosity?
I believe by helping others, we end up helping ourselves. When I created my site, Destination RPG, I really wanted to make something useful. While I want to finish my game I found many people were doing the same thing and most of them had better grasps of game design than I did! In those same forum posts I was looking for help, they were rejecting the idea they could even make a car payment with their life’s passion.
We are living in a time where technology makes it possible for anyone to be a publisher and challenge the industry whales for a pie small enough to take care of themselves.
So I said to myself, I may not be the next Gary Gygax but I think I can make my mark in this industry by helping other people help themselves.
I read in one of your articles that you're working on writing your own game design. I think it was code-named Fatebreakers. Is there anything you can tell us about this system, or is it secret? How do you find the process of writing and game design as a whole?
One thing I can tell you: it has nothing to do with Fate Core!
Right now, I am working on the game setting and if there are any specific rules I expect them to be very rules light.
The concept of the game is simply there are three types of people roaming the world.
Fated characters have a strong destiny and are able to jump across dimensions melding with alternate reality versions of themselves. Either through a telepathic connection or outright body melding.
The Nascent have a Destiny across multiple life spans to accomplish something greater than a single life could on its own.
Fatebreakers themselves are unique in time and space. They have no carved out destiny and can instead do as they will. Stealing powers from Fated and Nascent. They also change other people’s destiny simply through interference.
So the main idea revolves around player characters romping through alternate dimensions and time to fulfill their chosen destinies while dealing with certain races that can do similar thins.
You said that you weren't going to focus so much on the design of game systems themselves, but more on the promotion side of things. Is there a particular reason for this? In my experience, the actual design of systems can be one of the most important parts of a good promotion campaign. What are your thoughts on this?
Good design is very important to helping sell a game once it is released, I will not refute that. Most successful games coming through Kickstarter though do not even have a demo or sample of people playing the game. Instead they have a vision, some artwork, and a lot of word of mouth surrounding their game. They can make enough to finish up production of their game and take a stab at their vision. If their backers like it, then the creators can keep on creating.
What's your background in RPGs? What was your first gaming group and RPG like? Do you prefer to play as a player or GM? What other games do you really enjoy? What are your favorite games and hobbies? What do you look for in an RPG? What is your current favorite and most hated RPG system? What's the funniest RPG moment in your career?
That is a lot of questions!
I am not an industry veteran but I played a lot of RPGs. I was in fourth grade when a my best friend's older brother Patrick invited me to play D&D with them. Patrick gave me a character sheet and forgot to tell me how to fill it out other than rolling a D20 for my stats. I think I played a wizard that first time, but I was hit by a petrify curse and Patrick asked what my saving throw was. I had no idea what he was talking about.
When I was in high school and college all I played was Werewolf and Mage in old world of darkness. I think I have an authority complex because I only played the GM and was never satisfied when other people would run the game.
I used to really be into World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, and Magic the Gathering.
I spend a lot of time reading and writing now. Unfortunately I have been a road warrior for the past three years and rarely have the opportunity to even play my X-Box anymore. So I look for games I can quickly jump in and out of.
My favorite system is Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Can I say I really hate the Arkham Horror board game? Talk about overly complicated and nothing happening.
How do you think technology is affecting RPGs?
I think we are seeing technology take RPGs and turn them into video games. I think it is a natural progression. People love a good story and high quality writers and artists make that and the math easy. It is an unfortunate turn for book writers though, and I think with enough positive exposure people can turn this into a growing industry again.
What do you think the future of RPGs will be like?
More interactive books and systems being handled by smart phones/tablets. Rule clarifications will be embedded in the books with video example. Integration will be key.
I noticed you wrote in one of your articles that you can't rely on anyone else to make your dreams (or game designs) come true. I think this is a very valid statement. Whenever I wait on someone or something else to get the job done I always end up waiting a very long time. Was there any particular event that led to this observation? Despite your inclination to 'go it alone' is there any way other people have helped you out over the years? Players, friends, family, etc.
Once I finally had a child, a trigger switched on that made me realize I have am actually responsible for this other person. It did not help that my wife constantly called me her dreamer either.
My entire life has been one big dream of doing something and not acting. One thing I did after having a child immediately was to take a job I did not expect to receive. Traveling the country I realized that I may only have a little more experience than other people I encounter. The major difference is I do my best to take action now where other people sit there waiting for other people to make the first move. When I applied the concept to my personal life, I realized just taking a lot of small steps typically results in a large momentum everywhere else.
What can we expect in the future of Destination RPG?
As you mentioned, Destination RPG is going to heavily focus on different ways to help promote RPGs. Not just RPG books but tabletop, card games, and even some video games. This may be through coaching, courses, or directly helping in campaigns.
Ultimately, I want to run a convention for independent developers along the lines of Gencon, but I prefer to focus on one thing at a time. Otherwise I end up with 22 half finished projects!
Thanks for your time, Rob!
You can check out Destination RPG at: http://www.destinationrpg.com