Friday, December 13, 2013

Geek for Hire

I've decided I'm going to dip my toes into the freelancing world for RPGs. Why not? Might as well put my work experience as an editor at the National Archives, AND my (pending) Masters degree in Writing from Johns Hopkins, to fair use. And what better way to do that than with the hobby I love?

It seems like in today's world, freelancing for the RPG industry is both easier and harder than it used to be. Easier, because of big break-throughs in copyrights such as the rise of the Creative Commons License. Some of the best role-playing games out today, such as Eclipse Phase and my much-beloved Dungeon World, have explicitly stated that you can write whatever you want for them. There is a little fine print, but the bottom line (at least for this blog) is you don't need anyone's permission to write something for those games.

Writing seems harder these days, though, because of the competition. The market is saturated with amateur RPG writers and designers. I have spent days browsing's endless list of roleplaying games and supplements. I often wonder how many of these products have been playtested...or even edited, for that matter! Sure, the cost for most of these products is pretty cheap, in the grand scheme of things, but the time and effort it takes to assimilate a new RPG product into your mind and your game group's rotation can be significant. 

I'm not trying to fake myself out of freelancing...I'm just wondering how I'm going to produce something that will rise above the rest. I guess I better start at the bottom: adventure design.

I HATE writing adventures. Well, "hate" is a strong word, but I don't typically run a pre-written adventure, and I don't like writing them. I usually prefer to have a broad outline and then just wing it. Take this weekend's Numenera adventure, for example. I've got a little "wish list" of freaky Numenera shit I want to see in the adventure, and a general set-up (the PCs are all on the Wandering Walk, for reasons of their own devising), and that's it. I like to feed off the players' energy, and I often feel an adventure gets in the way of that. 

So I guess that's how I've got to write these adventures I want to publish, right? I write a set-up, I write a list of cool shit that could happen, and that's it. We'll see if it's that easy.

My first "assignment" is still up in the air, but the front-runner right now is the very promising looking Covert Ops, by DwD games. They're looking for short (10 page or less) adventures that they plan on selling on DriveThru for three bucks, allowing the writer to keep half. After DriveThru's cut, DwD estimates that to be about 75 cents paid per purchase. Can't exactly quit the day job on that, but a legit, paying gig is a nice bullet-point for the freelancer resume, right? So, after this weekend's foray into the Ninth World, perhaps I'll order a copy of Covert Ops and see what kind of adventures I can cook up...

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