Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Alternity 2017 and Green Ronin Publishing Talent Search

Ready to design a planet? Seriously, a planet. Your business card could read, “[INSERT NAME], Planetary Architect and Wanna-lancer”. If that, or trying out for Green Ronin Publishing’s female-centric RPG talent hunt, appeals to you, read on.

Alternity from Sasquatch Game Studio

Alternity 2017 – A Science Fiction Roleplaying Game by Sasquatch Game Studio LLC
Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, May 4 2017 11:59 PM EDT.

“A modular Science Fiction Tabletop Roleplaying game limited only by your imagination. Choose your future!

Alternity is back—and it’s better than ever!

Strange new worlds and deadly aliens? Mercenaries for hire? Post-apocalyptic survival? Explore your favorite visions of sci-fi adventure in the new Alternity Science Fiction Roleplaying Game from Sasquatch Game Studio.

Many Worlds, One Game: The Alternity Core Rulebook includes a wealth of campaign-building guidance and a modular rules design so that you can model your favorite SF setting or create your own. We’re also launching with one “pre-built” setting, our Protostar universe . . . but we’ve got plans for more worlds if you want ’em! We plan to unlock at least one more setting through our stretch goals for the project.

Alternity Rule Books

What’s your future?

In 1997, Bill Slavicsek and Richard Baker created the original Alternity game—a powerful tabletop RPG engine for science fiction adventure across a wide range of genres. Now, twenty years later, Sasquatch Game Studio is creating a new sci-fi RPG inspired by the original game. We’re rebuilding the game mechanics to take advantage of 20 years of advancement in the art of game design. We’re marrying bold new ideas and exciting new subgenres to the original scope and vision of the Alternity game. And we’re bringing it all together in a convenient, full-color, handsomely illustrated Core Rulebook with supporting adventures and sourcebooks.

But don’t wait for the Kickstarter to finish! A Beta Test release of the Alternity game is currently available as a free download on DriveThruRPG! The Beta release includes an overview of the rules, an introductory scenario, and a sample adventure. We’ll be collecting feedback from testers and backers throughout the coming weeks to make Alternity awesome!

Want to see more about the development process? Visit our website at: http://www.sasquatchgamestudio.com/Alternity and check out our Alternity Design Blogs!

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Alternity or Primeval Thule? Alternity is going to look amazing!

Sasquatch Game Studio is the design team behind the Primeval Thule Campaign Setting and the Princes of the Apocalypse campaign adventure for 5e. Our Alternity team includes the creators of the original game published by TSR. You can learn more about us and our products at www.sasquatchgamestudio.com.”

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Egg’s Thoughts:

Sasquatch Game Studio, the designers behind Primeval Thule Campaign Setting, produced the first vanity press purchase I participated in. That setting – best described as Conan meets Cthulhu – stands tall among the 5e products I’ve bought along the way. The quality of their production (writing, direction, and art) is second to none.

Using Primeval Thule as a guide post, I think Alternity will be one of the best sci-fi products available. Being a new, wholly original iteration of the original TSR game, Alternity will provide both a retro-fix and break new ground.

As an added bonus, they have a vanity press pledge level that allows you to name and design a planet for their Protostar Mission Guide, the first campaign setting for Alternity. Ever had a whole sci-fi planet you wanted to design? Here’s your chance to do that and work with some of the top talent in the RPG industry. Based on my experience, I cannot recommend this enough.

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Green Ronin Publishing’s Talent Search Submissions are open!

“This is just one part of Green Ronin’s larger and ongoing diversity initiative. In this specific case, we’re interested in hearing from women-identified and non-binary individuals with a passion for dark fantasy. What we’d like to see are writing samples that illustrate a grasp of the elements typically involved in RPGs: rules design, world-building/setting write-ups, character profiles, and fiction vignettes, as well as writing that aims to hybridize these elements. Familiarity with the Lost Citadel property is not a requirement at this stage.

We will be accepting your submissions from today until May 15th and the winner will be announced to the public as part of our Lost Citadel Kickstarter on June 6th.

  • Submissions should be no longer than 3,000 total words.
  • Submissions should be sent with an introductory email that includes your name and contact information; during the evaluation stage we will be stripping the submissions of identifying information and assigning each a code number as part of a blind reading so they can be judged without regard to name, existing reputation (or lack thereof), or anything other than the quality of the work.
  • Submissions should be saved as a document file and sent as an email attachment to lostcitadelrpg@greenronin.com. Don’t worry about heavy formatting, tone-appropriate font choices, or other stylistic flourishes.

While the setting is dark fantasy and its core expression will be in 5E, you are NOT required to adhere to those specifics in your submissions. We welcome submissions featuring mechanics from any edition, or those for our in-house system (AGE), or even those featuring other popular systems you feel might be dark fantasy-appropriate.

Green Ronin Publishing – Lost Citadel

Keep in mind that this is not a math test disguised as a talent search. While submitting a well constructed Pathfinder stat block may be acceptable, it doesn’t go very far toward showcasing one’s talent and/or ability as a writer, only one’s ability to do math. Remember, the idea is to make a strong impression with your writing.

By submitting your work for evaluation, you represent that you are the sole author of the material being submitted, agree that Green Ronin and its agents have the right to read your submissions for the purposes of this search, and acknowledge that Green Ronin is under no obligation to use, buy, license, or adapt your talent search submission for any other use.”

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Egg’s Manplanation:

Green Ronin Publishing is a Top Five RPG publisher. To be picked by them during this talent search would be a career jumpstart. Add to that, they’re targeting the expansion of the RPG industry by getting more women behind the keyboard. If you meet the above criteria and want to test out the freelance RPG waters, this is the talent hunt for you.

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Wanna-Lancer Opportunity – EN World Freelancer

This week, I’m looking at a success – I translated my wanna-lancer credits into a freelance opportunity and you can, too. Become a freelance RPG journalist through the open call on this major RPG news site. Read on for more details.

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EN World – Freelance Columnists Required!

EN World, one of the largest “DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and PATHFINDER RPG news” websites in the world, is looking for new contributors for their community-generated content program. They’re requesting pitches for ongoing 500-word articles examining RPG news, industry coverage, commentary on gaming and the gaming community, gamer-interest profiles, and focused reviews of games. It’s an exciting offer because, if they accept your pitch, it’s freelancer work that grows your RPG profile.

If you want to write about games and be paid for it, you can find their open call for freelance columnists here. Their guidelines and how to contact them are here.

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My favorite piece of art from the FirstFable Guide Book. Art by Charlie Bates

After reading about this opportunity, I pitched several column series ideas, and my wanna-lancer resume, to EN World. A portion of one of the ideas caught the submissions editor’s interest. He asked for a new pitch focusing on reviews for children’s games. I was stoked that he spotted a diamond in the rough. I re-wrote the pitch, he approved it. I wrote my first article, he had only short, helpful notes. I adjusted the article and the review, entitled Gaming at the Kids’ Table: The FirstFable RPG, can be read on EN World here.

My blog series on the Tessera Guild is about buying and building my RPG resume to move from a wanna-lancer to a freelancer. A big piece of the puzzle has been filled in with this freelance column on EN World. Does this mean that wanna-lancing is over? No. One assignment does not a freelancer make. But, it’s a positive step.

I want to thank EN World for offering this opportunity. A big thank you to Submissions Editor Christopher Helton for seeing something worth publishing. I also want to thank the Tessera Guild for letting me write here. Every article exercises the writing gears and helps get me ready for future assignments.

Thank you all!

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Wanna-Lancer Opportunity – Kickstarter for Sorghum & Spear

Why do I invest in RPG Kickstarters? Beyond the products, it’s to get the experience and writing credits to build a tabletop role-playing game resume. This week, I’m looking at a way to translate my wanna-lancer credits into an opportunity – a fantasy comic book series that seems designed with RPGs in mind.

[Ok, ok, ok… really, I’m looking for a way to push a worthwhile comic by a nice guy!… But there will be the potential for a RPG tie-in.]

Sorghum & Spear Art by Welinthon Nommo

Sorghum & Spear by Green County Creative
Kickstarter campaign ends on Monday, April 17 2017 7:00 PM EDT.

John McGuire did a fantastic write-up of Green County Creative’s Kickstarter for their comic book, Sorghum & Spear on the Tessera Guild. I’m a fan of the property, I’ve met creator/writer Dedren Snead at the Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo (super nice guy), I was happy to back the project, and I’m ready to read this comic book.

What is Sorghum & Spear? Sorghum & Spear is a fantasy saga that follows a group of amazing young girls who are called upon in a time of war to become the last line of defense against the Spora; a pantheon of demons bent on destroying their people and conquering the Eternal Realm.

Green Country Creative is producing an amazing comic for everyone to enjoy while dedicating it to people of color. Through this Kickstarter, Dedren is on a mission to make the world a better place. The Kickstarter has a charitable element that gives to Project Have Hope “to empower women in the Acholi Quarter of Uganda by providing education to both the women and their children and assisting the women to establish business opportunities to promote economic stability and sustainability.

Sorghum & Spear – Marlannah.         Dedren Snead and Welinthon Nommo’s character designs would be perfect for a RPG character sheet.

In the comic book, the story is a fantasy tale of young warrior women maturing into their independence and life juxtaposed against demons and war and last hopes. High fantasy told in comic book form.

The centerpiece of any comic is the artwork. Welinthon Nommo’s art for the covers, posters, and concepts elevates this sword and soul comic series. His work has enough dynamic power to leap off a comic book store shelf and go home with a happy reader. Like White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade used Tim Bradstreet’s art to define the aesthetic of their World of Darkness, I hope to see Green County Creative use Welinthon’s work as their baseline. Its kinetic imagery combined with cell shading colors really makes the world feel vibrant and the characters pop. Just the few images available through the Kickstarter sold me.

Sorghum & Spear – Namazzi.        Dedren Snead and Welinthon Nommo’s character designs would be perfect for a RPG character sheet.

The property, with its story and art style, is ready to jump medias. They’re exploring animation and Sorghum & Spear has a back-of-the-napkin plan to expand into RPGs.

Now, don’t let me put words into other company’s months. Dedren has not launched an official RPG or, as far as I know, conceptualized the game. But the Kickstarter for the comic book has already reached its goal and continues to grow. That’s the first sign there’s real interest and that can translate into additional products.

Because that’s a positive sign, we’ve exchanged a few words and, assuming the RPG morphs from thought to form, I believe we’ll talk again about what I can do to bring this property from comic books to tabletops. If all goes well, I hope to collaborate with Green County Creative on a module or other RPG options. I’m looking forward to that day.

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

 

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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Underworld Races & Classes

Playing in the subterranean underworld in 5e or Pathfinder? Need some more races (monsters), societies, and classes? AAW Games has the Kickstarter for you!

Underworld Races & Classes – Funglet

Underworld Races & Classes — 5th Edition & Pathfinder RPG by AAW Games
Kickstarter campaign ends on .

Help us put our Underworld Races & Classes into a massive tome with new racial traits, feats, archetypes, magic items, and spells!

The Underworld Races & Classes tome for 5th Edition and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (two separate books) includes devious drow, deep mining svirfneblin, psychedelic funglets, beautiful, semi-crystalline colliatur and more: a total of 14 new races and over 25 classes clocking in at 250+ pages!

In 2014 AAW Games released the ENnie Award nominated Rise of the Drow mega-adventure along with various source books, injecting a huge dose of the wonder of spelunking back into the deep realms of the games we all know and love.

Critical acclaim and fan demand prompted the creation of individual books, featuring new races and classes born from the darkness and alien splendor of the caves below as well as detailed notes on the cultures and histories of these proud people. 

The frontier of the deep, its black horizons with their phosphorescent lights, deserves unique heroes and villains to populate the crystal-studded caverns, black subterranean lakes and mushroom jungles.

Using feedback obtained from numerous fans, play-testers, and reviewers we have completely revised and expanded upon all of our races & classes and combined them into one rock-solid volume for each system, suitable as darker, weirder and more insidious companions to your Pathfinder RPG and 5th Edition core books.

 

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Underworld Races & Classes – 5e Layout

Underworld Races & Classes – Pathfinder Layout

 

Looking at these layouts, AAW is clearly thinking about how the source systems should be presented and not doing a simple copy and paste with only the stats tweaked.

Underworld Races & Classes – 5e and Pathfinder Cover Mock-Ups

 

While this Kickstarter does not feature any vanity press options (my usual barometer for pledging for RPG Kickstarters), I’m featuring it because:

  • it offers more races and classes – all of them specific to the underworld – to expand your game. The art and the write ups look great and you can’t – CAN’T – go wrong with fungus folk! [EDITOR’S NOTE – Mileage may vary on one’s love of fungus-based PCs… and fungus-based players.]
    • 14 Underworld Races
    • Detailed discussions of each of the race’s society and interactions
    • 25+ Underworld Classes
    • Additional Drow Domain Details (AD&D&D?)
  • I had an opportunity to do an early review of the Kickstarter and offer suggestions on it. The version of the Kickstarter that is posted now is more dynamic than the first two versions I read and better showcases the products that they are offering. Add to that it was funded in the first hour and you’ll realize that AAW games is knocking these books out of the park.

This is basically the Underworld Player’s Handbook and any campaign set underground will benefit from this resource.

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

 

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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Three RPG Kickstarters You Need To Back (by March 31st, 2017)

Looking for adventures, or maps, or a whole new tabletop RPG experience? Want to create an emotion-driven supervillain, or a weird magic item, or a custom dungeon map? Well, Kickstarter has three tabletop role-playing games that end this Friday, March 31st that cover all of that and more. The countdown is on!

3) Trinity of Awesome Returns! by Kort’thalis Publishing

Ends on Friday, March 31 2017 12:01 AM EST.

Get three adventures (one fantasy, one 80s sci-fi, and one pulp horror) for $7 or get the adventures and write content for them for $17. This Kickstarter is funded and close to reaching its first stretch goal! Want more details on the vanity press option, click here.

Trinity of Awesome Returns Art

2) Sensational: A Superpowered RPG where Empathy Matters by Thomas Constantine Moore

Ends on Friday, March 31 2017 3:48 PM EST.

A full superhero tabletop role-playing game for $5 or create content for it starting at $20. The core mechanic – your character’s powers are based on their emotional state – is destined to inspire in-character role-playing at the gaming table! Funded and working on the stretch goals! Looking for a more details on how Hulk Mad = Hulk Smash? Click here.

1) The Big Book of Maps (for Tabletop Roleplaying Games) by Justin Andrew Mason 

Ends on Friday, March 31 2017 10:oo PM EST.

Over 150 RPG fantasy maps served up three ways (several GM and player versions) starting at $10 or get a map commissioned for $80 (with lots of options in-between). Fully funded and wrecking stretch goals (adding sets of map icons)! This one may cover every lair and encounter your party will crawl for the foreseeable future. Need to see some samples and a little more detail on the custom map? Click here.

The Big Book of Maps

If you have the spare coin and love tabletop RPGs or, if you’re like me and building a RPG resume to jump from wanna-lancer to freelancer, these offer golden opportunities!

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

* * *

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Sensational: A Superpowered RPG where Empathy Matters

Want to make a supervillain? Want to have others play your villain and use her/him/it in their adventures? Want to see your villain published in a new tabletop role-playing game? Want to be credited for it? If you answered yes to any of these, read on.

Sensational: A Superpowered RPG where Empathy Matters by Thomas Constantine Moore
Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, March 31 2017 3:48 PM EST.

You’re a 19-year-old runaway in an unfamiliar city. You have superpowers–but you can only use them when you’re happy. So yeah… you might be screwed.

Jump into a superhero RPG unlike any other, where your character’s powers can only be accessed through a specific emotion. Lift cars over your head, heal your friends, punch holes in the Moon, but only if you’re sad, or sickened, or surprised.

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Pledge $25 or more

The Hole You Punched in Your Wall

You were so angry, you decided to make a supervillain about it.

INCLUDES:

  • Name and Design a Canon Villain in the Core Setting
  • ‘Backer’ Credit in Core Rulebook
  • PDF of Core Rulebook
  • Digital Shout-Out on Twitter

Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions

Name and Design a Canon Villain in the Core Setting: You can choose the name of a villain, as well as their power set, background, characterization, etc. The villain will appear in the Setting chapter of the Core Rulebook, and you will be credited by it. This includes a half-hour video chat meeting with me to discuss your villain’s design, probably in June.

Stretch Goal Note: If this campaign reaches $2,000 or more in funding, then it will unlock the Villain Illustrations.

I will commission illustrations of all the canon villains as well. Same deal if you chose the “The Hole You Punched in Your Wall” Pledge Level.

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Pledge $30 or more

Your Support Network

Without people like you, it would be really hard to get through the day.

INCLUDES:

  • Name and Design a Canon Faction in the Core Setting
  • ‘Backer’ Credit in Core Rulebook
  • PDF of Core Rulebook
  • Digital Shout-Out on Twitter

Name and Design a Canon Faction in the Core Setting: You can choose the name of a faction, as well as its purpose, notable members, power structure, and logo. The faction will appear in the the Setting chapter of the Core Rulebook, and you will be credited by it. This includes a half-hour video chat meeting with me to discuss your faction’s design, probably in June.

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Thomas Constantie Moore Character Sheet

Egg’s Thoughts:

For $25, you name a villain, create their powers, design them (emotionally and physically), have a call with the creator of the game, and, possibly, be a part of a custom illustration of the character. If you want to do a whole faction, it’s $30. For the money, it’s an amazing deal.

For my quest to become a role-playing game freelancer and my RPG resume, this adds another unique gaming system, puts me on the ground floor with a new publisher, and lets me unleash a villain on the world of Sensational. This is a good opportunity no matter how I slice it.

Let’s talk about the system and its unique feature. Thomas Constantine Moore is thinking beyond the dice to create a system that pushes role-playing over stat min/max-ing. He’s matching superpowers to emotional states. Hulk Mad = Hulk Smash! It’s easy to equate anger to punching harder. But what if you expanded on that ala Geoff Johns’ take on the Lantern Corps of the DC comic universe? The DC Green Lantern idea matched colors to emotions and created factions for each color/emotion. Sensational will match emotions to powers levels so the deeper the character is into the emotion – the more emotional that the player plays the character – the more powerful they’ll be. The concept speaks to me.

Egg Whine! Egg Most Powerful Whiner of Them All!

(John McGuire and J Edward Neill can testify to that in court.)

I think this project will be fun and I am interested in seeing what the mechanics he creates look like. Out of the gate, his system is about emotions and his pitch and rewards have put a smile on my face so that tells me he’s on the right path.

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I gotta shout out Thomas’ website. His resume is a character sheet (storyteller system). $#%&ing genius. When I re-do my bio, it’s because his idea was too good to not mimic.

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

 

* * *

 

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Tessera Guild at the Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo 2017 – March 11 and 12

Come meet the members of the Tessera Guild at the third annual Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo on March 11th and 12th, 2017.

North DeKalb Mall in Decatur, GA. Admission is free.

Robert Jeffrey IIJohn McGuire, and Egg Embry, along with Sir Leland Beauchamp, will host four panels over the two days:

 

I AM BlackSci-Fi.com
Saturday, March 11th from 3:00 to 3:50 EST

Hosted by Robert Jeffrey II as well as William Satterwhite

“Since its inception BlackSci-Fi.com’s goal has been to be “the premier site for the latest updates on Sci-Fi, Sci-Fact and Fantasy entertainment, news, people, places, and events and the measure of their impact on the African-American community, while also seeking to inform and inspire the imagination of individuals who aspire to live beyond the boundaries of everyday life”

Join Editor-in-Chief Robert Jeffrey II, and contributing writer William Satterwhite as they discuss the in’s and out’s of working for BlackSci-Fi.com, the websites goals and future plans, while touching on the general state of Black speculative fiction.”

 

You wrote something. Now what?
Saturday, March 11th from 5:00 to 5:50 EST

Hosted by Robert Jeffrey II as well as Bobby Nash and Milton Davis

“Join writers Bobby Nash, Milton Davis, and Robert Jeffrey as they discuss what happens after (or during) writing a book (novel, comic, short story, etc). Enjoy this insightful look into each writers path to becoming a published author followed by a Q&A session.”

 

John McGuire co-hosting: Freelance Writing and the 9 to 5

Freelance Writing and the 9 to 5
Sunday, March 12th from 3:00 to 3:50 EST

Hosted by John McGuire, Robert Jeffrey II as well as Nicole Kurtz, and William Satterwhite

“The Ups, the Downs, and Everything Between
By day, mild-mannered 9 to 5-er, but by night they create worlds! Join freelance writers as they discuss keeping a balance between the daily rigors of their 9-5s and writing careers.”

 

Sir Leland Beauchamp co-hosting: Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in

Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in
Sunday, March 12th from 12:00 to 12:50 EST

Hosted by Egg Embry and Sir Leland Beauchamp

“Role-play, write-up, and crowdfund your RPG adventures!
Have an original adventure, series of monsters, or tabletop game? Interested in crowdfunding its publication? Join Egg Embry and Leland Beauchamp for a a beginner’s guide to monetizing your tabletop RPG products. We’ll create a D&D creature to take through a hypothetical Kickstarter (idea to pitch to funding to production to delivery to what comes next).”

 

Egg Embry co-hosting: Dice, Kickstarter, Cash-in

For directions to North DeKalb Mall and this free convention, visit the ASFE website here.

 

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer™

Wanna-lancer™ Checklist T-shirt available at Cafepress

Missed the show? Interested in being a wanna-lancer? Start with the official Wanna-lancer Checklist t-shirt or wall clock or ice tea glass!

 

 

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Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

How Playing D&D Reshaped My Entire Life

Christmas Eve 1987.

I was eleven years old.

As far as gift-hauls go, 1987 was a reasonable year. I raked in some fresh NES games, unwrapped a new pile of GI Joe action figures, and rolled my eyes at the requisite stack of clothes for school. I would’ve been satisfied if that’s all it had been. Toys, games, and clothes…what more could an eleven-year old want?

And then my Uncle John rolled into town.

You see, I lived in Chicago with my grandparents at the time, and the snows that winter were brutal, particularly that night. We’re talking piles of white powder in the yard and dirty grey slush on every road. We’re talking fifteen hours of night, and no real breaks in the clouds for weeks. Uncle John had to commute all the way from downstate, which normally takes two hours, but that night it took him pretty much triple the time. Either it was the snow’s fault, or he dreaded Christmas Eve at my grandparents’ house.  I guess I’ll never really know for sure.

The hour was late. Ok, maybe not that late, but late for an eleven-year old who’d just spent the entire day begging his grandparents, aunts, and uncles to unwrap a few of all his gifts early. Having succeeded at tormenting them into a massive gift-release, I sat in my bedroom, surrounded by wrapping paper and happiness, content with my life. I could’ve died a happy child right then and there, drowning in a sea of blue inter-connectable racetracks, NES cartridges, tiny plastic rocket launchers, and socks.

But I didn’t die. I heard a summons from the living room, and out I shambled. If I was slow, it’s because my belly was stuffed with Circus Peanuts and Orange Crush. I was sleepy. I was dragging. I just wanted to be left alone for the next three months to fully soak up my gift-haul.

“Jeremy, your Uncle John has one last gift for you. Do you want to open it tonight?” I remember someone asking me.

I halted. Of course I do! I screamed in my head-movie.

“Yeah ok,” I grunted in real life.

Uncle John handed me a wide, flat box. You know the ones. I think it was from Macy’s, and it had all the hallmark signs of being another box full of clothes. It wasn’t gift-wrapped, but it did have a single red bow on top. One. Red. Bow. Uncle John wasn’t a sentimental dude, which I could (and still do) understand.

When I took the box, I had the same sinking feeling every kid does when he sees a box like that.

Great. More clothes.

I thanked him and padded back into the hallway. No one thought much of my departure. I wasn’t two steps away before all the adults (I was the only kid in the house) started talking politics again. Not even Uncle John seemed fazed by my apparent disinterest. Untended to, I plunked down in my bedroom doorway, sighed with all the weight an eleven-year old could muster, and pried the top off the box.

I guess I should’ve realized the box was too heavy to be full of clothes.

And I should’ve known my Uncle John was too cool for sweaters and school shirts.

What was inside?

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Mind. Blown.

Before that instant, I’d never heard of Dungeons & Dragons. I’d never heard about role-playing, tabletop gaming, or rolling dice to kill undead lich lords. As I picked up the first tome (the Dungeon Master’s guide was my favorite) I felt as if a sharp breeze blew away the memory of all my other gifts. It stunned me, and made me shiver both literally and figuratively. Also in the box: a set of sparkly green polyhedral dice (which my players would learn to hate) and a stack of PC stat sheets, but I didn’t yet comprehend their meaning. I couldn’t see it yet.

I was lost, but in a good way.

Winter deepened. Chicago frosted over for most of the next three months. I didn’t care. Even though I lacked local friends to game with or a real understanding of what I was getting into, I consumed the books Uncle John had bought me. When I say ‘consumed’ I don’t mean to imply I merely read them a few times. No…I memorized them. I gobbled up the D&D dialect, became a master at its mechanics, and plotted for the day I’d actually be able to run a campaign.

But more than this, more than just learning the game, I felt a door open inside my mind. I’d always had a vivid imagination, but this was something different. It changed my perspective about what creativity could be.

And in doing so, it changed the course of my life in a very real way.

* * *

Let’s fast forward a few years.

Far removed from frosty Chicago, I found myself in a hot, heavily-wooded part of North Georgia. My parental unit had remarried and shipped us to the deep south, where summers were forever and winters were but a few weeks of rain in late January. I missed the frozen wastes, but thawing out felt nice. And more than the weather were the chances to meet new friends.

Friends who would game with me.

Friends who shared my passion for deep, dark storytelling.

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…friends who would fight this guy with me.

And so it began. In eight grade, I met The Kube, a friend who was willing to spend endless hours rolling dice with me. He created the legendary characters Silverleaf, Black Dragon, and the wizard who became a prime character in my epic fantasy series, Dank. Then in my freshman year in high school, I met Egg, John McGuire, and the devious Chris Griner.

And it was ON.

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I was a dedicated DM, going so far as to create my own 200-page hardcover campaign setting…

*

We spent thousands of hours role-playing.

We downed hundreds of pizzas, killed barrels of Mountain Dew, and endured sessions lasting upwards of 15 hours.

My players learned to hate my dice, but I like to think (in my head-movie) they enjoyed the fact our games were about more than slaughtering imaginary monsters. We told stories. Deep stories about sacrifice and suffering. Legendary stuff that no video game can capture, that not even the longest, most profound novel can duplicate. If you’ve ever played our style of ‘storytelling’ D&D, you know what I mean. The players are a part of an epic tale, not just dice-rolling treasure fiends. The dungeon master is merely a blank page, ready to turn whichever direction the players want to go.

But the best part?

It didn’t stop there.

It began

Many years after my last epic session, sometime in the early 2000’s, all the storytelling lessons I’d learned flashed back into my mind. I missed (desperately) the feeling of sitting down with friends to weave a deep, dark tale, but I knew at the same time I probably wasn’t ever going to recapture it. We’d all moved apart and built our own lives. Some of us were married, and others were exploring new careers. Lacking a way to play the game I loved, I had to find a new outlet for my unbridled creativity.

And so I started my writing journey.

I sat down in the dark, my brain brimming with an entire childhood’s worth of ideas.

And the stories, many of them birthed a decade or more earlier, began to pour out of my fingertips.

Over the next fifteen years, I wrote fantasy novels, sci-fi tales, spooky novellas, and other fictional fare. I couldn’t stop. I was (and still am) a man possessed. Looking back at all of it, I know I never would’ve done it if not for those endless nights of dice-rolling and gold piece counting. I might’ve done other creative stuff, but the depth wouldn’t have been there. The story-telling skills I learned during a decade of D&D’ing were irreplaceable stuff. The seed had been planted on Christmas Eve 1987, and had grown into something I never could’ve anticipated.

Those three little books changed the way I thought. The way I imagined. The way I wanted to create. And after thousands of dice rolls, hundreds of hours spent preparing stories for my players, and countless nights at the gaming table, I wasn’t the same person I’d been. I’d grown to appreciate the art of a story without an end, and I’d learned to love all the crazy thought-collisions that happened while playing this simple little game.

There are those who will mock D&D. They’ll say it’s a game for nerds, introverts, maybe even losers. Some will even claim it supports anti-social, anti-religious behavior. Nonsense…all of it. Done right, D&D is a vehicle for allowing people to take part in a story. It’s better than TV, which isn’t interactive. It’s better than video games, which confines players to a controller and some pixels. In many ways, it’s the most imaginative game ever created. It was for me. And I’m willing to bet, it was for many, many others.

So here’s to The Kube, Egg, Griner, Nicky P, Jeremy II, John, and all the rest. These fine friends were inspirers of more characters than I can recollect. AD&D First Edition forever!

And here’s to Uncle John. He gave me three little books that rocked my world.

…and inspired twenty-four books of my own…and counting.

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Published in 2015….conceived in 1992.

If I had any advice to modern parents, it’d be something like this:

Take your kids’ phones away. Give them a D&D book. And walk away.

🙂

J Edward Neill

Author and Artist

DownTheDarkPath