Posts Tagged ‘D&D Adventurers League’

I’m going to write a post that is self-indulgent. I guess that’s true about every post on this blog in one way or another, but this blog post is going to be a story in which I am the central character, which is a little unusual for this site. Usually it’s some crazy monster, magic item, piece of advice, or game mechanic that takes center stage. If you hadn’t guessed from the title, this post will tell you how I became a somewhat, kinda, sorta, maybe, known creator in the world of tabletop roleplaying games.

I’m writing this post because several people have asked me how I “made it” in the industry. To be honest, I’m not sure I have “made it” at least by the modern definition. I’ve got a full-time gig outside the industry as a TV commercial writer/producer (which I really love). That being said, I do get paid to work on some pretty great projects in the industry and I am doing more in this space than I dared to dream, so in some ways I guess I have “made it” in this industry. At least made it further than I expected.

Still I thought sharing my story might be helpful for anyone out there interested in a freelance RPG design career, but I will say that my path is unique and involves a lot of luck, so I’m not sure it can be replicated. I was inspired to share thanks in part to the requests I got, but also by a recent episode of the Down with D&D podcast in which designers and podcasters Shawn Merwin and Chris Sniezak shared their own stories. Definitely check out the episode because they have great stories and a lot of amazing advice.

The Tome Show

In Fall of 2013 I was listening to a lot of podcasts and playing tons of D&D with my friends on Roll20. The D&D Next playtest was in full swing and I devoured every piece of D&D news I could find. One of my favorite programs was the News Desk on The Tome Show, but it only came out once a month. I searched for other D&D news podcasts, but most were actual plays, none with D&D news. I remember telling my then-girlfriend, now-wife, Bonnie, that I wanted to listen to a weekly show that covered the latest D&D news in-depth. I told her there was no show out there like it (that I knew of) and Bonnie said, “Why don’t you make it?”

What did I have to lose by giving it a shot? I already knew how to edit audio… but I didn’t know how to book guests, build an audience, or even submit a podcast feed to iTunes. At the time I was listening to backlogs of the now-defunct D&D advice podcast Critical Hits hosted by Mike Shea of Sly Flourish. At the end of each podcast he gave our his contact information, including email, and encouraged folks with questions to reach out. I emailed Mike, thanking him for his awesome contributions to the community and asked for advice on starting a podcast. I soon realized how gracious he truly was. The man gave me 600 words of free advice and told me if I wanted more I should contact Jeff Greiner, the creator and owner of the aforementioned Tome Show podcast.

Already a subscriber to Jeff’s show, I eagerly went to him for advice next. Jeff asked me to pitch him my idea and without even knowing it was coming he offered me a chance to do my show on the Tome Show’s feed, immediately hitting a large audience of subscribers! I admit, this is some pure, amazing luck. Thus my first public RPG-related creation was born: The Round Table podcast. Special thanks to Rudy Basso, Alex Basso, Greg Blair, and Vegas Lancaster for making those first several episodes with me and encouraging me to keep making the show in those first weeks. Extra special thanks to Sam Dillon for actually getting all those episodes on the air. After several months of consistent output, Jeff told me (after I asked a few times) that he trusted me enough to revive the Gamer to Gamer franchise on the network and I started interviewing professionals in the industry. (Shoutout to my first interviewee on that show, Wolfgang Baur!)

Takeaways:

  • Listen to your partner.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to people for advice.
  • Be gracious and grateful. People remember how you treat them. Also everyone deserves to be treated like a human.
  • Seize opportunities when luck offers them.
  • Be consistent with you work and don’t be afraid to ask for more after you’ve proven yourself.

The Blog

I was three episodes into The Round Table and seeing thousands of people listening to the show when I decided I should probably use the podcast as a platform to promote something I always wanted to do, but had been too lazy to start – a blog about homebrew design. I had a lot of time on my hands, since Bonnie was on a two-week business trip, so rather than play video games every night (which was my normal MO when she was gone before the blog and podcast), I used the time to create this site. I made a commitment to write two articles a week. To keep myself accountable, I started shouting the site out on the podcast, knowing that I would need to keep it stocked with content if people were going to show up.

The blog’s audience growth was slow, but steady. I started with less than 10 views a day, but as I kept updating it consistently and shouting out new posts to various social media groups and message boards, the views crept up. Now on days when I don’t post something new, I get about 500 hits in a day, but it took me three years to get here.

Takeaways:

  • Sometimes you need to put video games and Netflix aside to work on rewarding, fun, creative projects.
  • The best way to build and audience is put out consistent, well-crafted content that you enjoy making.
  • Hold yourself accountable for getting your own projects done. No one else will.

The Work

So how did I finally get paid for some game design? Well my first jobs came from EN5ider and Johnn Four‘s Roleplaying Tips and they came about quite differently.

I had a year of blogging and podcasting under my belt when I saw EN5ider was just starting up. I saw a post on EN World calling for article submissions, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I had been rejected before by Dungeon and Dragon magazines and by the Adventurers League, but I didn’t let that discourage me. Editor James Haeck accepted of my pitch! Give Chase was born… after careful outlining, planning, proof-reading and revising, and revising again once I got notes from James. I made sure to hit each deadline and to listen to the editor’s feedback, incorporating it into the article, rather than rejecting what was said. James and I worked well together and I’ve written a few more articles for EN5ider since then.

Roleplaying Tips came about in a much different way. World Builder Blog was a regular contributor to the monthly RPG Blog Carnival and through that Johnn noticed my work, he reached out to me and asked if I would write an article for his newsletter that gave worldbuilding lessons. I’d be paid for the work and I could repost it here on the blog. That’s a great deal, so of course I said yes. Johnn and I have worked together on a few projects since, including a massive adventure that should be coming soon!

It was about another year before I got to do work for more people. In that time the DMs Guild launched. I already had a heaping helping of fifth edition content on this blog, so I put some of that into PDFs (without having ever done layout). The reputation I had built for myself on the blog and podcast helped get my products some buzz and a few became best-sellers. That’s when things really started to pick up.

The Adventurers League asked me to write an adventure for them and Shawn Merwin asked me to write another for Baldman Games. Roll20’s owners (who I met after applying for their game master job, which I did not get but did give me a chance to make connections with these very cool people) asked me to create their introductory fifth edition adventure, The Master’s Vault. Since then I’ve worked on a few other projects, but those are going to stay secret for now. Many of them are people I have met at conventions.

You know the rest of the tale. I’ve continued to create and since left the Tome Show to create my own podcast network with Rudy Basso. What’s in store for the future? Only time shall tell!

Takeaways:

  • Keep submitting to open calls. Rejection happens! That’s ok. Don’t take it personally and keep pitching.
  • Be an active part of the community.
  • Write, revise, proofread, and hit your deadlines. People will want to work with you again.
  • Create, create, create for yourself before someone asks you to do it for them. You’ll learn your craft and build a library of content to show off or even sell.
  • Go to conventions. Meet your heroes, ask them for advice. This industry is smaller than you think and people are super approachable and awesome.

Luck and Hard Work

I clearly owe a lot of people many thanks. I could not have made it to even where I am today without them. My timing worked out and I was very lucky, but I also created some of my own luck by working hard. Hopefully this story helps some of you out there!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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A new episode of Table Top Babble is now up!

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James Introcaso sits down with game designers Rob Schwalb of Schwalb Entertainment and Teos Abadia of Alphastream to discuss what it’s like to try to make a living in the tabletop RPG industry.

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If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website.


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James Introcaso and Topher Kohan sit down with Ginny Loveday and Adventurers League Admins Robert Adducci, Alan Patrick, and Greg Marks to discuss the latest announcements from the D&D Adventurers League. This podcast was recorded on December 13, 2016.

Please rate and review The Tome Show on iTunes. It takes 30 seconds and helps us a bunch!

Open Gaming Store Pick of the Episode: Lamentations of the Flame Princess: The Cursed Chateau

DMs Guild Pick of the Episode: A Very Aberrant Holiday Special

Links:

The Tome Show on Facebook

Have Spellbook, Will Travel

Heralds Guild


If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

How is everyone! Just a quick update this week about the release of my second ever D&D Adventurers League adventure! While this update is short, the adventure represents WEEKS of work and 30 pages of content.

Tales of Good & Evil

My second D&D Adventurers League adventure, Tales of Good & Evil, is available on the DMs Guild now. This bad boy was put out by Baldman Games and is part of their CORE series that is overseen by the great Shawn Merwin! Get a description below. Awesome maps by Jay Africa!

As the City of a Thousand Forges perseveres in the face of threats both internal and external, the effects of the planar portal continue to make everyone uneasy. When unusual individuals are drawn to the city because of the portal’s power, heroes are asked to keep the peace and ferret out anyone intending to bring harm to Melvaunt. A D&D Adventurers League adventure set in Melvaunt. A four-hour adventure for 1st – 4th level characters

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If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I could not be happier! My very first D&D Adventurers League adventure, DDAL05-05 A Dish Best Served Cold, is now available for purchase on the DMs Guild! Here’s a quick description of the module:

Stagwick’s long-standing peace with giant-kind is threatened as a patrol of Blood Riders spark a feud with a local tribe of giants.

With word of strange activity coming from the Ice Spires, Good King Hartwick can’t be too careful.

Can you quench the giants’ thirst for revenge?

A Two-Hour Adventure for 5th-10th Level Characters

This two-hour adventure represents many hours of work on my end and countless hours from others. The Adventurers League Admins are incredible at what they do and the adventure would not be where it is without the amazing feedback from playtesters.

Speaking of playtesting, an encounter was removed from the adventure for time during the playtesting feedback phase. These adventures need to fit to time for conventions and game stores, but if you’re playing it at home and want to throw another encounter into the mix, here’s how!

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And while you’re at it, pick up Travis Woodall’s awesome Deluxe Digital Map Pack for the adventure!

Added Encounter for DDAL05-05: A Dish Best Served Cold (SPOILERS AHEAD)

1. Add the following text to the “General Features” section of “Part 2. Abandoned Camp.”

Terrain. Eight-inch deep snow covers the ground. Medium and smaller creatures who move more than half their speed must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone at the end of their turn, suffering the debris-covered ground.

Climate and Weather. Snow falls rapidly from the sky, whipping around in all directions as the wind howls. Wisdom (Perception) checks that involve vision or hearing and ranged attacks against targets more than 30 feet away are made at disadvantage.

2. Add the following text after the read aloud text in “Part 2. Abandoned Camp.”

The abominable yeti that Scövja and Burleigh were hunting is hiding in this area. The smell of the bodies signaled an easy meal to the creature. More corpses were once on the ground here, but the yeti ate those. A successful DC 15 Wisdom (Survival) check determines there were once more corpses in the snow.

The monster hid by the tent when it heard the characters approaching, lying down to look like an enormous snowdrift. A successful Wisdom (Perception) check against the yeti’s Dexterity (Stealth) check spots the creature. If a character approaches within 40 feet of the yeti, the monster stands and attacks. The yeti fights until it is reduced to 30 hit points, then flees.

3. Add the following sidebar to “Part 2. Abandoned Camp.”

Adjusting the Encounter

Here are recommendations for adjusting this combat encounter. These are not cumulative.

  • Very weak party: Replace the abominable yeti with three yetis
  • Weak party: Replace the abominable yeti with two young remorhazes
  • Strong party: Replace the abominable yeti with a remorhaz
  • Very strong party: Add one yeti

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you buy the adventure, let me know what you think. Leave a rating on the DMs Guild and please help spread the word if you enjoy it!

That’s it for this week. This post was months in the making!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, like World Builder Blog on Facebook, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with Allison Rossi, Rudy Basso, and Round Table newbie Patrick Dennis to discuss the official Curse of Strahd announcement. Then it’s a bonus panel with Liz TheisRich HowardDave Gibson, and Topher Kohan dishing on the free Adventurers League adventure The Occupation of Szith Morcane available through Dragon+ and on the DMs Guild. Then it’s an interview with designers Gregory Schulze and Stone Lovecharm of Creepy Assassin about their new RPG StoryCube. This podcast was recorded on January 12 and 22, 2016.




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I sit down with Mike Shea, Topher Kohan, and Joe Lastowski to discuss the new Elemental Evil storyline in the D&D Adventurers League. This podcast was recorded on March 31, 2015.


I sit down with Topher Kohan, Joe Lastowski, and Mike Loewnau to talk about the end of the first season of D&D Encounters using the fifth edition rules. This podcast was recorded on January 4, 2015.

Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Holy crap we made it to 30! A new episode of my podcast, The Round Table, is up on The Tome Show’s website – and it’s a gooden.

Topher Kohan and I sit down with Wizards of the Coast’s own Chris Tulach and Chris Lindsay to discuss The D&D Adventurers League and Tyranny of Dragons. We have the word on organized play from the masters and makers of the League itself. This podcast was recorded on August 7, 2014.

Links:

Topher’s Google+ Page

Wizards of the Coast D&D Twitter

D&D Adventurers League Twitter

D&D Adventurers League on Facebook

D&D Adventurers League on Google+

D&D Adventurers League Official Page

dndadventurersleague.org

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!