GenCon Industry Insider Featured Presenter

GenCon 2016

Today, I’m happy to share with you that I’ll be returning to GenCon: Indianapolis to speak on panels. I will be a GenCon Industry Insider, participating in a track of panels to share industry insights with attendees, along with several other storied individuals including Emily Care Boss, Eddy Webb, Kenneth Hite, and several others announced via the website. Huzzah!

Congrats to all of the announced speakers. I can’t wait to see you at GenCon 2016! Heck, I may even wear a suit this time around…IF the weather holds up, that is.

Cortex Plus Creator Studio Now Live!

CCCC logo

Recently, Margaret Weis Productions has announced and launched the Cortex Plus Creator Studio (CPCS) program in conjunction with DriveThruRPG.com. This new program allows fans such as yourself to offer supplemental materials, such as setting hacks, using the Cortex Plus system of rules and its variants. To do so, you’ll need a copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide, which currently serves as “the” rules for Cortex Plus Action, Cortex Plus Heroic, Cortex Plus Drama, and Cortex Plus Fantasy Heroic variants. Many fans have been excited to see what the rules can do, because Cortex Plus offers a lot of possibilities due to its simplicity and flexibility. Because gameplay is heavily focused on character interactions, the rules facilitate twists and turns in the plot. Each system variant, then, provides a different flavor, or style of play.

As the developer for the upcoming Cortex Plus Action corebook, I feel that the Cortex Plus Creator Studio program is great for fans–especially since the bulk of MWP’s games, such as the Firefly, Smallville, and Marvel RPGs, have been based off of licensed properties. Now, licensing and contracts isn’t something I normally talk about, because they are fairly similar industry-wide, but I do want to point out another reason why I think this is an interesting development. When a writer or a game designer works on a game, we typically sign what’s known as a “work-for-hire” contract. (In 10+ years, I have never signed a contract in gaming that wasn’t work-for-hire, even on company-owned properties that aren’t licensed from TV/Movie studios.)

Signing a work-for-hire contract means that legally we don’t own the work we do, and once we’re paid for that work the companies take our contribution and use that as they see fit. While every license, freelancer, contract, and company is different, writing under these terms typically means we have less flexibility as creators than if we were to do the work ourselves. The CPCS gives both fans and creators more control, because while the agreement does have some limitations, the work you upload is based on your own settings and design ideas with no oversight. The only requirement is that your work is tied to the stellar Cortex Plus Hacker’s Guide. Thus, while your material is supplemental, you decide what you want to do with it.

If you’ve got a setting hack or a pile of Distinctions/Talents/Powers, etc. you’ve been sitting on, I encourage you to check out the new program. Just remember: licenses such as Star Wars and Firefly aren’t part of this program. The CPCS is strictly meant to be used for your own worlds, your own stories, and your bursts of creativity and brilliance.

I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for Cortex Plus, and I hope that its future will include you.

My Interview with Dragon+ Magazine

DragonPlus

Recently, I was interviewed for Dragon+ Magazine about Battle for the Undercity, along with Joshua Raynack and industry veteran Jon Leitheusser. Matt Chapman, the editor-in-chief for Dragon+, reached out to me after seeing that my work had been reviewed in a March 2016 Unearthed Arcana article by Mike Mearls and Chris Lindsay. This entire experience has not only been positive, it’s taken me completely by surprise, and I’m happy that folks are enjoying my work. I’ve received a lot of support and cheers for my efforts, and a lot of complements on my Battle for the Undercity 5e design post as well. This entire experience has been stellar, and it’s definitely encouraged me to do more work on D&D 5E as time allows.

Thanks to Mike, Chris, and Matt! I hope you’ll check out this month’s issue of Dragon+ Magazine, and it inspires you to grab your dice. After all, the entire point of being in the gaming industry is to create memorable (and fun) experiences for you. Roll thee well!

Come Steampunk With Me. SteamCraft RPG Now on Kickstarter!

SteamCraft Muckers Guide

In the spirit of Gibson and Sterling’s The Difference Engine, SteamCraft takes you to an alternate, dystopian world where gears, goggles, and airships dominate life. The Industrial Age is joined by an early Information Age, combining into a gritty world where corporations use technological advances to amass hordes of wealth and power at the expense of the working class. Meanwhile, technomages’ ability to create by mixing magic with machine lurches ahead of their wisdom to control their creations and where scientific exploration is best done in coal powered airships venturing beyond the charted world maps. Just as Shadowrun mixes cyberpunk and fantasy, SteamCraft mixes steampunk and fantasy. The scientific wonders of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells mix with fantasy elements like dwarves and elves. The result is a world filled with ancient horrors as well as man-made beasts.

Now, you can back the SteamCraft RPG Player’s Guide on Kickstarter and ensure that my worldbuilding skills are put to good use! That can’t happen, however, unless we fund… So what are you waiting for?

Help RPG Creators Directly! Donate to the RPG Creators Relief Fund

RPG Creators Relief FundDid you know there’s a charity for RPG creators? It’s called the RPG Creators Relief Fund, and it’s mission is:

“The Roleplaying Game Creators Relief Fund (RCRF) is a charitable organization founded to provide financial assistance to tabletop roleplaying game creators suffering hardship due to medical emergencies, natural disasters, and other catastrophic situations.”

Now you do! You can donate via DriveThruRPG.com, through the website directly, or become a sponsor.

Many of the disasters that hit RPG creators range from medical emergencies to house fires to the loss of a child, and these dire situations impact all of us differently–especially since everyone’s support network of friends and family, as well as ability to receive public assistance or fall back on savings, varies greatly. This is a way to say “Thank you!” for all the hard work RPG creators do to ensure that there’s a bit of fun in this world despite all its ills.

I hope you’ll consider donating* to this charity, for without funds it’s challenging to help those in need.

* In the effort of full disclosure, I am on the Advisory Board.

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