“Can I buy enough RPG writing credits to springboard from vanity press to a paid freelancer?”
Since my first game of D&D with J Edward Neill, I’ve seen tabletop role-playing games as an opportunity to tell stories professionally.
However, it’s not a profession that I pursued. I plead “responsibilities” – day job of nearing two decades, kids, over a decade into my mortgage, excessive comic book and TV consumption, you know the chorus to this song. I have not made time to create, to move from wanna-lancer to freelancer.
In 2015, that changed.
Certain projects on Kickstarter let you purchase the opportunity to submit content to their publication. The barebones of the idea looks like:
- A publisher pitches a product on Kickstarter.com selling rewards to crowdfund it
- I pick the reward that lets me write for their product
- I pay, I write, they edit, they print, I rejoice
The writing is nothing too intensive, nothing that eats time. An adventure hook, a NPC, a location seed, a monster, or a magic item, just a few hundred words – my words, my name in the credits. This is my journey to freelancer and it starts with selecting the Kickstarter Reward Level: Vanity Press.
Primeval Thule 5e by Sasquatch Game Studio
Primeval Thule is a Conan versus Cthulhu inspired campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. Created by Richard Baker, David Noonan, and Stephen Schubert of Sasquatch Game Studio, they have written for D&D 3e, 4e, and – their most relevant product to this Kickstarter – Princes of the Apocalypse for 5e.
Interested in a free sample of Primeval Thule? Try Primeval Thule Traveler’s Guide to get a taste of their world.
For most gamers, the high-concept description, creator’s bibliographies, and setting sample decided their level of interest in backing this Kickstarter. For me, it was the $250 Dungeoneer Reward:
- Hardcover and PDF versions of the Primeval Thule 5e Campaign Setting – $49.95 / $19.95
- A large pullout map and PDF of the Thule continental map – Cost bundled with the book
- A GM’s screen – $25
- A large pullout map of the city, Quodeth – Cost bundled with the GM screen
- Six player reference cards and PDFs – Cost bundled with the GM screen
- A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e GM Companion – $7.95
- A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Players Companion – $7.95
- A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Red Chains adventure – $2.95
- A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Watchers of Meng adventure – $2.95
- A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Secrets of the Moon Door adventure – $2.95
- A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Night of the Yellow Moon adventure – $3.99
- A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e The Lost Tower of Viondor adventure – $3.99
- Total MSRP – $127.63
All great offerings but the sentences that opened lil’ Egg Embry’s wallet were:
- “[Y]ou’ll be invited to name a dungeon, ruin, or adventure locale and provide a brief background or description which will serve as the basis for our development of that site. (The copyright to the name and description you provide will be held by Sasquatch Game Studio, LLC. We reserve the right to reject and/or applaud inappropriate, vulgar, or unsuitable suggestions.)”
- Vanity press upcharge – $122.37
Their reward – pay-to-play or, for my situation in the era of credit cards, swipe-to-write – fit my time budget and my love of D&D. Combined with Thule’s barbarian-nightmare setting, their first-rate production values, and, top of my Christmas wish list, my words and name in print, I saw a path to freelancing with Primevel Thule as the first step.
The Mammoth Graveyard.
There is a valley where mammoths go to die. Centuries of their ivory wealth litters the ground in testament to its consecrated importance. Overlooking those graves is a primordial, decaying fortress built onto a godly-proportioned mammoth’s skull and ribs. The ruins whisper of lost treasures, violence, a dead god, and a plea to escape. But no one does…
Sasquatch edited my submission, elevating it to Robert E. Howard-lite, and printed it as a sidebar within their 5e edition of Primeval Thule Campaign Setting. The process was effortless – pay, write then submit while professionals handle the editing. The books have been delivered, read, and greatly enjoyed. Vanity press RPG writer’s credit number one complete! On to number two…
Primeval Thule: 5e Campaign Setting by Sasquatch Game Studio LLC
Raised: $52,811 starting July 16th, 2015
Primeval Thule: Pathfinder, 13th Age, and 4e Campaign Settings by Sasquatch Game Studio LLC
Raised: $75,232 starting July 2nd, 2013
Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer
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:
- Sasquatch Game Studio’s Primeval Thule for 5e (2015) available at DriveThruRPG.com