I initially founded Scopsong Press to publish modules for that 5e game. I was about 90% done with my first adventure before I decided I’d rather make zines and tiny weird games. Everything else in this post is a long rambling autobiography leading to why.
I’ve always found role-playing games fascinating. From between the ages of about ten and twenty years old, my brother and I would buy one at the comic book shop, bring it home, read the whole thing, try to understand what was going on, and then try a 1 vs 1 session that would last about 5 minutes before we gave up. Here are a few of the games I remember:
Definitely things a parent would (perhaps unwittingly) not raise an eyebrow at in post-Satanic-panic suburbia.
In college, I picked up AD&D 2e and had about five minutes to flip through it before 3rd edition was released. By that point, I had found a group of people to play board games with, and so we tried a few D20 games (3e and WOTC Star Wars from what I remember). We usually got one or two sessions in before we got bored. We weren’t great story-tellers.
Then there was the time I threw each and every RPG book I owned into a big dumpster at the back of my apartment complex.
About 10 or 15 years ago, I was in my mid (okay, late)-20s working a mind-numbing job, and still very much the shy and reserved kid. So I decided to take an improv class. I was never a great improviser, but I started learning to tell stories on the fly. Through that, I not only met my wife (a different story), but a great group of friends who loved playing RPGs.
There was a Savage Worlds Deadlands campaign. I barely remember my own gunslinger, but I certainly remember the laudanum-addicted doctor from the east coast getting high on his own supply all through Deseret.
There was a 7th Sea campaign. And after that, a 7th Sea hack in a setting another friend had devised (and eventually published several novels in). Two complete campaigns, a great group, an fantastic GM (better even than you’ll find on YouTube, TBQH), and piles of chicken wings later, I saw what role-playing games could be.
And then we moved. Away from the city to a place where we could afford a patch of grass for our kid to run around in. The prospect of playing games looked bleak.
But sometimes you get lucky. One of the other dads in our new neighborhood was a gamer and talked me into getting and painting up some Warmachine Hordes (we still haven’t played). And then a new family moved in, and that dad played games, too. Not only that, but he had an existing D&D group that had lapsed.
And so we had (and still have) a 5e group. But still I wanted more. I wanted to understand how games were put together. I wanted to know what made one fun sometimes and another not. I bought a bunch of used rulebooks for a bunch of old systems, but all from “popular” games by the bigger game publishers.
I signed up for the RPG Writer Workshop last fall and started working on my first 5e module. I created a business name with the state to publish under. I was almost done with it…
And one day last fall, I saw a post about Ultra-Violet Grasslands. It was weird, it was cool, and it was beautiful. I had missed the Kickstarter.
So down the rabbit hole I went. I ended up in the Exalted Funeral Discord and got the full fire hose of independent RPGs, creators, OSR, itch.io, Kickstarters, zines, and oh my god, why is my wallet empty?
I love everything I’ve gotten into. I appreciate and enjoy the community that has formed around Exalted Funeral. I’m joining online games in new systems I wouldn’t be able to play otherwise, and I’m having a blast.
So, if you’ve made it this far: I’ve got some things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to RPGs. Maybe they’ll turn into things I publish. Maybe they won’t. Either way, I’m going to try to keep writing here, because most of all, I enjoy the community, and this is a community that blogs.
And I don’t like that 5e adventure I wrote before. Maybe I’ll break out bits and pieces and drop them here some day.