Role-Playing Games: The Frontier of Independent RPGs

Header image for our article on role-playing games featuring a 20-sided dice.

You might be surprised to learn that some of the most visually impressive and well-researched books on Lulu include games — role-playing games and adventure games, if you want to be precise. These projects can take years to create and involve entire teams of people, including writers, editors, designers and test players.

Even if you have no interest in throwing down die and filling out a character sheet, the works are still a fascinating artistic enterprise. While many view role-playing games (RPGs) as part of a niche (though resurgent) market, there are some universal truths that we can all learn from talking to the masterminds behind these books.

The Next Generation of Role-Playing Game

So, today, we have the honor of presenting to you Lulu’s very first super panel on the frontier of independent role-playing and adventure games. We asked a group of our bestselling French- and English-language RPG creators a few questions about their experience self-publishing and got a glimpse into the world of these content juggernauts. If you’re a self-published author of any genre, I highly recommend hearing what they have to say about design, marketing and producing a quality self-published book.

Featured authors: Brian St. Claire-King, Cédric Chaillol, Anthony “Yno” Combrexelle, Manuel Bedouet, Jeff Dee, Talzhemir, Batro Games, Elwin Charpentier, and Kobayashi.

So, let’s start off with the essential question: why self-publish your role-playing game?

What are the advantages of self-publishing your RPG?

For some authors, it was a question of retaining the rights to their material:

Jeff Dee: Having been through a six-year court battle to get the rights back to V&V (Villains & Vigilantes), retaining the rights is pretty important.

For others, it was the democratization of publishing resources that pulled them in:

Cédric Chaillol and Elwin Charpentier: For a start-up or single author, self-publishing with print-on-demand is the best way to disseminate your work without taking on the financial risk. RPG players have a particular attachment to the physical object, to the touch and shape of the work. Classical print options imply the purchase of bulk quantities in order to lower the price to a reasonable per unit cost. Lulu gives us the opportunity to offer something to the reader besides a PDF and evaluate our audience’s reaction.

Kobayashi added that in addition to the reduced financial investment, self-publishing offered “greater flexibility than traditional publishing.”

Flex on Those Formats

Kobayashi touches on an element that is directly linked to print on-demand’s cost efficiency: greater creative liberty. When you don’t have to worry about whether or not an idea is going to put you in the hole financially, you’re free to think about other things, like how you’re going to break the mold with your next role-playing game:

Talzhemir: Not only do I have the choice of topic, I also choose the scope of a project.  The gaming industry may be focusing on eighty-dollar books; I can make something that’s eighteen. I also have the power to decide how long to work on it.  The Kurt Hills Atlas was two years in the making. Most companies would have limited it to one, with half the final page count.

Manuel Bedouet expounded upon this idea:

“It’s tough for me to compare, having worked infrequently with established publishers. In general, the format of my games is rather short, far below what would generally be considered for print by a classic publisher. I’m not sure my work would be of interest to them. When I started publishing, the idea never really crossed my mind.

More Money, More formats

When the financial component is stripped away, authors innovate and experiment with their content in ways that, otherwise, they might never have been able to do:

Combrexelle: Self-publishing allows you to offer alternative formats (take your book’s page count for example: 50-page A5 booklets would be impossible to sell in the traditional circuit) and more experimental content, all at a price authors want or think is fair for their content. For the niche market that includes role-playing games, it allows an author that’s able to write a product on their own to profit more than in the classic circuit for a lower price, all of this on the basis of a monthly payment starting from the effective release date.

And there’s the time investment. As Combrexelle goes on to explain:

“For authors in general, the wait is reduced or nonexistent: there’s an immediacy–a small increment of time elapses between when the book is finished and its publication.”

Brian St. Claire-King: There aren’t many RPG publishers big enough to hire staff writers, and those that are big enough usually have their own cadre of writers and few openings.  For someone who wants to break into the industry, I think self-publishing is the best chance they have to succeed.

If we look at the most innovative and most lauded RPGs that have come out in the last few decades, they were all self-published.

A Better Bottom Line For A Better Book

James Tornade: The main advantage to self-publishing is a better bottom line for the author and their product. At last, the author is paid properly for his/her work. Whatever we lose in notoriety and visibility, we get back with direct remuneration; remuneration that isn’t cut by a distributer or a boutique. If I’d gone the traditional publishing route, I never would’ve been able to pay rent with my games, because the market for RPGs is too small in France.

And when independent authors get creative, who wins? The reader.

Dee and Talzhemir: There’s an opportunity here.  Across America, we’ve lost a large number of brick-and-mortar stores. It’s left people that much hungrier for written material.  They might not be looking for ‘War and Peace’ but they’re willing to spend the time to read RPG material, for the pay-off of using it in a game.

When considering the monetary investment that self-published authors must contend with, Cédric Chaillol, Elwin Charpentier, and Kobayashi all agreed: Lulu offers authors an opportunity to publish their work with minimum financial risk involved.

Meet RPG author Jeff Dee

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Jeff’s first RPG play experiences were Empire of the Petal Throne and Dungeons & Dragons.  He went to work for TSR, as an artist, at the age of 18.  By then, he had already written and published his own RPG (Villains & Vigilantes) with Jack Herman.  He enjoys the aesthetic and mathematical challenge of design.

Genre Bending in Role-Playing Games: From Cyberpunk to Stonepunk

“Cyberpunk was a reaction to the observation that, as time goes on, old science fiction books reflect the current age’s probable future less and less.  Considering how the future could be so different from what people a mere ten years ago had envisioned got writers to thinking about how the past also could have gone differently.  So, Steampunk is about an alternative Victorian age.

In most RPGs, the technology and the society are more ‘established’.  The Stonepunk idea is that a GM can start their world out with technology limited to what it was according to archaeologists, but then it can then develop beyond that.  Rules are given so that, with a GM’s approval, the characters of the players can invent things.

There can be a tribe that lives in tight symbiosis with mammoths, like the Mahouts of India.  If they can find bamboo, maybe they can invent the bamboo crossbow.  In general, Cavemaster is most likely to be run as a “period piece” sort of game.  But, if the GM chooses, they can let things go “off the rails”, and that’s Stonepunk.”

A display featuring three of Jeff Dee's role-playing games.

What is the first step to creating an innovative and engaging RPG?

A good place to start when creating an RPG is figuring out what exactly you’re playing at:

Batro Games: The first thing is to determine what we’re playing and who we’re playing as. Then, I make a detailed outline of the book, the summary, in order to have a global vision of what I’m going to write and where I’m going to stick information.

Next, you need to determine if your potential audience is big or not. This determination will help you plan your budget for the mockup, the price for your book, and the budget for illustrations. And you’ll get an idea for whether you’re about to dump a bunch of energy into a project for potentially low sales and little returns. RPGs are niche, and on Lulu, only the most well-known can get over 200 sales within a few months. But, of course, there are some really low-key games that have a huge impact on the mainstream due to their ideas and innovative concepts. And, in this way, these games are recycled by others and turned into a better product.

Creativity is one thing. Marketing? That’s something else…

Meet RPG author Batro Games

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Essential Element To A Good Role-Playing Game: What Is It And How Do You Get It?

I would say it’s clarity of the premise: what are we playing? What is the setting? How long are we playing this game for? What are we playing with? You have to have all the practical tools, the relevant tips for setting the scene… then, of course, you have to test it. And retest it. So much eludes us when we’re writing it out, and it’s absolutely necessary to see how your game works in reality with real players that you don’t know. And then, obviously, there’s creativity!

Three of Batro Games' role-playing games on display.

Batro Games: Then there’s the actual writing, the rewriting after testing, all of which takes an enormous amount of time. There’s the illustration step, the mockup… in general, it’s a team of 3 to 4 people who work on an RPG: authors, illustrators, designers—the most talented (or lucky) wear multiple hats.

Creating a book—it’s a demanding and long process. Creating an RPG, well, that’s setting the bar even higher. They’re super complex in reality, but it’s a passion!

At the end of the day, writing is work.

“The creation process is pretty simple,” Said Kobayashi, “It boils down to sit in front of a screen and write regularly.

Meet Kobayashi

Check out this selection of her titles on Lulu:

It might sound glib, but if you pick up a copy of Writer’s Digest, half the advice you read points you in that direction. But before you sit down and write, you need a direction. Here’s Kobayshi again:

“I have the tendency to create universes and games that I don’t see in existing works (or at least, not with the same approach that I would like).”

Of course, RPGs have a more visual component to them than your average novel. Brian St. Claire-King walked us through what it means to create a setting your readers will want to explore:

Meet RPG Author Brian St. Claire-King

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Brian St. Claire-King is the founder, creative director, and primary author for the role-playing game company Vajra Enterprises. Brian was born in Canada, grew up in California, and currently lives near Portland, Oregon. Brian has been a gamer since he was a kid and always loved writing. He has a degree in psychology and his hobbies include photography and urban exploration. Brian’s passion for urban exploration comes through in his work, as evidenced by his reflection on what makes a good setting:

“I think it’s to come up with a setting, perhaps a historical one or perhaps a fictional one, that hasn’t been seen before in gaming.  It should be a setting that has a lot of inherent conflict, and where people from all segments of the society have a chance to change their world.  Most of all, it should be a setting that you as the author would like to explore. You’d like to walk around the setting, peek into its hidden spaces, and meet the people who live there.  A good setting will make you want to write the game and will make people want to read it.”

Three of Brian St. Claire-King's role-playing games on display.

Eye On The Prize: Staying True To Your Vision

Throughout the creation process, whether you’re writing a memoir, a novel, or a role-playing game, you’re going to receive a lot of input from your editors and, in the case of RPGs, test-players. Manuel Bedouet enlightens us on his process for staying true to his original vision for a game:

Bedouet: The game is an interactive material, and, therefore, malleable. The implication of this being that between the original idea and the final draft, there are important testing phases. 

But, in the beginning, there’s an idea. For example, I want to tell a story about this subject from that angle. Or maybe I want to play off of some material element. Perhaps there’s an emotion I want to elicit–In fact, it might just be a cluster of ideas. And if we’re lucky, if everything falls into place, then we start to see the roadmap that’ll take this cluster of ideas and lead us to the final destination.

Next […] comes testing, adjusting, shaving off the extra bits, and repairing the broken ones. At this point, the most important thing is not to lose sight of your initial drive, because you’re going to receive a lot of outside suggestions. Keep your roadmap in mind and strike a balance between the trio: keep what’s good, toss out the bad and add what works better. 

Finally, we’ll address the question of layout. Here, it’s important to find the best way to make your content readable and appealing to the eye.

For Talzhemir, creating an RPG means first putting yourself in the players’ shoes. For her, that’s the only way to get handle on the implications your rules and writing will have on the players once they’re in the thick of it:

Meet RPG Author Talzhemir

Talzhemir’s first play experience was running D&D in fifth grade.  She ran James Bond, Star Frontiers, Gamma World, and others.  “I love tabletop gaming as a way to connect with my friends, and, as a creative outlet.”

The role of the Game Master in an RPG: Meanie vs. Genie

“I think ‘innovation’ is a touch overrated.  I would try for ‘engaging’ first.  To achieve that, you need to thoroughly understand the role of the referee.  A ‘Game Master’ actually has two different jobs–and, as it turns out, they’re diametrically opposed.

The first I call the ‘Genie’: they grant their player’s wishes, in-game. Want to be beautiful, strong, agile, capable of magical spells, even super powered?  Want to face danger, achieve wealth and success?  The Genie grants these ‘wishes’ of their players.

The second job I call the ‘Meanie’.  Without challenges, without the possibility of failure, injury, etc., there would be no drama, no excitement.  The Meanie gives the story meaning.  In every play session, the GM balances these two roles.  (The initials are G and M; it’s easy to remember.)

So, I think the first step is considering what roles you and/or players want to be in, and what exciting conflicts might come out of that.  Put that into words.  You might get a paragraph of back cover text for your effort.  If you can’t make it sound exciting, if you can’t sell yourself on it, reconsider that premise, try to improve it.”

Three of Talzhemir's role-playing games on display.

So, our authors have obliged us with the broad strokes account of how they do what they do. In other words, they’ve shown us the house and we can see the view from the front-yard. Now, what did they use to build the thing?

Tools Of The Trade: How Do You Make A Role-Playing Game?

Our self-published authors are using everything from free programs like Libre Office and Google Docs to Adobe InDesign. It all boils down to using the right tool for the job:

Chaillol & Charpentier: Our books are laid out in InDesign. All the graphic elements are done in Photoshop and Illustrator.

Easy. Next.

Kobayashi: It varies between works, ranging from InDesign to Libreoffice.

Great. It makes sense that different projects are going require different tools, but let’s see if we can’t get a little more specific:

Batro Games: Adobe InDesign, Antidote, Word and GoogleDocs. I work a lot with shared tools and co-authors.

Talzhemir & Dee: Scanned artwork goes through Photoshop; things like logos come out of Illustrator. Drafts of text are made with Google Docs. The cover image was made in Paint Shop Pro, and the final product was put together in Word.

St. Claire-King: I use Adobe InDesign. There was a bit of a learning curve when I first started using it, because I’d never used a professional page layout program before.  However, I stuck it out and now it does everything I want it to and I couldn’t imagine using anything else. I also use Photoshop to make sure that photos and illustrations will look their best on the screen and in print.

Combrexelle:  I use Word as my word processor (which perfectly manages the heading styles and keeps track of corrections), Antidote and some trusted editors for the spell-checking and phraseology, and Adobe InDesign for the layout and graphic elements as well as Photoshop for the visuals (photo editing or illustration via a tablet). Aside from images sourced from photo banks, I take all my books from A to Z.

Bedouet: When I’m drafting out the book, I work with a traditional word processor. All the written work and revision is done through this medium. This is also the moment when I organize the structure of my games, which can shift a lot after the playtests. An RPG book should, I think, have a pedagogic dimension. It’s important to explain things in the proper order in order to be as clear and easy-to-read as possible.

Meet RPG Author James Tornade

A role-playing game is a book unlike any others: it’s a community-based game. And for me, the essential element of a good community-based game is the rules, its “game design.” They have to be clear when read, intuitive when playing, and they have to serve the described universe, highlighting the subtleties of a world with examples.

In my latest game, F.A.C.E.S, I tried to write the rules clearly, without bogging down the text with a style that would impede understanding, and I put examples for every rule. We should be able to read the function of the game without any doubts or grey areas: everything must be clear, clean and precise.

Three of James Tornade's role-playing games on display.

Writer of Rules: How Rules Build The World

Tornade: Once again I think in terms of game-design. A little like a mechanic: I ask myself, “For this universe, this ambiance, which set of rules will work best? Do I need simple, universally accessible rules, or richer, more complete rules designed for an audience of “gamers”? After that, I start sketching it all out in notebooks, throwing dice, calculating the probabilities… It’s a labor of love, I promise you.

For example, in DEEPSYX, which is a horseback dungeon exploration game and a cross between role-playing and board gaming, I really wanted the game to be quick to understand, and something that even kids could engage with. But I also needed the rules to be fun, so that players can have a good time fighting monsters and, on occasion, find themselves pitted against unexpected outcomes. That took a few months, but I’m super happy with the result.

What is it like working with your team?

For RPG authors, the creation process is a collaborative effort:

Chaillol: In our case, we’re a team but each project has a primary author who brings the idea forward, creates the first draft and serves as a sort of guardian for the work. We went from independent productions to projects that open up to the rest of the team: discussions, contributions, criticisms, editing, etc. Nevertheless, the project lead has the final say in order to preserve his or her original intention. It’s collective, but not a true democracy.

Charpentier: The perspective of the team is invaluable as far as stress-testing our proposals and seeing what works—or not—in a natural way. We each have our specialties and a mutual confidence that allows us to give feedback to one another regarding the projects. This exchange, it seems, is an indispensable asset for motivating the team. It brings in an essential competitive element. I feel like working alone like this would be almost impossible in the long run.  

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Collaborators and RPGs

Bedouet: In general, I have three types of collaborators:

  1. Testers: they’re there from the beginning. They’re incredibly important to the operation, the first ones to interact with the content, and the ones that will shake out the broken pieces so you can finally end with a functional game. They’re also the people with the biggest influence over the game’s development, because they were there from the beginning, and their suggestions can have an enormous impact even when the prototype is barely operational.
  2. Editors: in a manner of speaking, they’re also testers. But they’re testing the book. They’re hunting down spelling errors, troublesome syntax, and anything that just doesn’t make sense. If the testers are controlling for the game’s intention, the editors are controlling for the its implementation.
  3. Illustrators: I’ve worked with many people. At this point, it’s about finding an artistic identity and vision that matches what you, the creator of the game, already has in your head. It’s also about making concessions (on both sides).

Dynamic Duo: Jeff Dee & Talzhemir

Dee and Talzhemir: Jeff is more the ‘mechanics’ person, and Talz is more the ‘setting’ person, but those two dynamically interrelate.  We can work together smoothly because we respect who has the final say in a particular area.

And how did the two of them start working together?

Dee and Talzhemir: It was something of a lark.  We had seen “Dinky Dungeons” and it was cute but we wanted something more actually playable.  So, we created “T.W.E.R.P.S.”, which was printed on two sheets of paper, and we cut and stapled and folded each copy ourselves, by hand.  It wasn’t the plan, but we ended up learning desktop printing in miniature form.

These books are pretty awesome in terms of the scope of their project, the many individual pieces that have to come together and the level of collaboration that is required. We wanted to know some of the nitty-gritty details as far as the actual mise en œuvre of these projects went.

Meet RPG Author Anthony “Yno” Combrexelle

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Graphic designer and, in his free time, a self-published role-playing game author. He got into RPGs in middle school, after reading about them in a video game magazine. He joined a club in his town, tried out a variety of games, and started making his own.

Shaky cameras and lucky rolls: the spooky sources of inspiration behind Channel Fear

In general, any work that opens up the imagination inspires me. Books… but also films, comics, video games and even music. For Channel Fear, specifically, being the fantastical horror film fan that I am, I always wanted to come up with a game that captured the essence of works like The Blair Witch Project, REC and documentaries and shows on the supernatural. I “formulated” this idea with a group of reporters researching mysteries and tasked with bringing back images and information. It was a concept that I wanted to make as simply and comprehensibly as possible to facilitate RPG groups ability to pick it up and play.

Three of Anthony Combrexelle's role-playing games on display.

How long does it usually take for you to publish A Book?

It turns out, for most of the panel, a straight answer was hard to come by:

Bedouet: It varies.

Combrexelle: It fluctuates a lot.

Kobayashi: Depends on the project. Writing takes around 2-3 weeks but everything else (finding images or an illustrator, laying out the book) can take anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks.

A couple days to a few weeks? Seems like an incredibly fast turnaround for such a complex piece. But it just depends author to author. Batro Games gave us the estimate:

“On average, it takes a little less than a year.”

And Bedouet drew attention to the fact that, oftentimes, it’s not the writing, but the revision and testing that becomes a huge time-suck.

Chaillol and Charpentier gave estimates on the later end of the spectrum.

Every self-published author needs a good editor (please). But self-published role-playing game authors have to go one step further: finding test players.

Tornade: You have to test your game. And if you can find them, test your game with honest people who will tell you what works and what doesn’t. That goes hand in hand with the hardest thing for an author to do: try not to get your ego tied up in your creation, and accept criticism. If you have multiple people telling you, “I don’t really get this,” “This doesn’t make a lot of sense,” or “Isn’t that a bit complicated?” you’re likely going to need to revisit your copy.

So, a few years go by, or maybe just a few months, but at long last you’ve published your RPG. Now what?

How self-market Your Role-Playing Game?

When it comes to self-marketing, there are times when nothing beats getting out there in-person and meeting your prospective audience:

Talzhemir & Dee: Our primary publicity is through conventions. Texas comes first. We show up in person from Dallas to Houston to San Antonio.   We have an advantage in that Jeff is an old name from the AD&D days, so he gets to be a guest. A little publicity comes to us through social media.  We benefit from positive word-of-mouth in online communities such as Facebook Groups. There’s no money for advertising, though.

Meet RPG Author Manuel Bedouet

Web Site | Lulu

An RPG author with a heart for adventure. He’s been inspired from animated series like Gravity Falls, and comics such as Lumber Janes.

A Different Breed of Adventure Gaming: What Sets You Apart From The Rest?

It’s a difficult question. I do think that I have a few characteristics that set me apart:

  • Games that don’t put physical violence at the center of the story, going so far as to not include it at all.
  • Procedural narrative approaches that allow for the simple creation of universes and original adventures.
  • Lots of leeway as far as creative license for gamers going through the campaign.
Three of Manuel Bedouet's role-playing games on display.

When it comes to selling your RPG, just having a web site won’t cut it

Chaillol: Networking is vital and just having a website isn’t enough. You need to search out specialized media groups online, solicit subscribers, and contact the magazines stocked in kiosques. You can also get the word out through Facebook, via group and associations, but be sure that your posts are concise and informative. You’ll do more harm than good polluting pages with useless publications. I also think you ought to share, show off, release some of your work as free, downloadable content to show others what you’re about.

Kobayashi: Start by participating in a role-playing community (forum, Discord, Facebook etc.) with which you’re going to share something besides just promotional material. You should cultivate a potential audience before publishing your work.

St. Claire-King: I’m sure I could be doing better.  I do banner ads on websites, press releases on sites such as rpg.net, get free copies of my books into the hands of online reviewers, and promote new books on the Vajra Enterprises Facebook page.

Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is key when marketing your self-published book. This will inform not only your creation process, but where you market and how you market after publication.

St. Claire-King: From talking on social media to people who have bought my games, it seems they’re mostly adult gamers, some college-aged and some older, who have played a lot of the “classic” role playing games, the same ones I grew up with, and now are looking for something new and different. For them, I make games that aren’t just updated versions of those classic games, but that provide new and unique settings and experiences.

Chaillol: It all depends on the work. Kémi is a book for beginners an includes a pedagogic element. We know some players might find certain mechanics simplistic, but the sense of what you’re doing is clear from the beginning. In this case, we were targeting novice players, both young and old, associations, and people looking for an introduction into role-playing games as well as Egyptophiles and non-gamers.

Meet RPG Author Elwin Charpentier

Finding your niche

“There’s definitely a question of profiling—the audience most likely to latch on to Etherne are those interested by antiquity, low-fantasy, and, I hope, those fascinated by the worlds created by the old Casus Belli: Laelith, Goferfinker, Paorn, Alarian… For a long time, they were my inspiration, and there’s a little bit of those games in all the games I’ve worked on. My readers are, a priori, readers over forty or more, but downloads and feedback show a wider scope than that. We’ve noticed a surprising number of readers from Brittany, for example! Perhaps because the question surrounding the Celtic force them to cast an eye back to antiquity for answers. We count in part on easy access vis a vis free samples to facilitate the recognition of our works.”

One of Elwin Charpentier's role-playing game books on display.

Tornade: [My target audience is] role-playing gamers. And most of the time, they’re veteran players–“black belts” of Role-Playing Gaming. They’re an extremely demanding and picky audience, who aren’t going to do you any favors when it comes to spelling mistakes and grammar, or if there’s anything incoherent about your universe, or if your rules don’t hold up. But they’re also an audience that makes me rise to the occasion (they inspire me to correct my errors and create add-ons to my games). And they’re loyal. If they like one of your games, chances are they’ll have a look at the next one you put out. In short, they’re the kind of people who know what they like and I have zero desire to disappoint.

In closing, we wanted our panel to give our audience a little advice. So, we asked them:

What advice would you give a young author looking to get started?

Bedouet: Create all the games. Don’t wait until they’re perfect before you put them out there.

Careful though: I’m not saying to rush your work. Make quality games that are faithful to your intention and follow through with the promises you make to your readers.

But know that you’re going to make mistakes. You’ll regret some things about your games, sometimes right after you’ve published them. That’s normal. That’s how we learn to be better.

Chaillol: Read up on what’s already out there, pay attention to the rules, especially when they’re simple ones

Never forget that a game is an encounter between a character and the world, and that many mechanics and superfluous descriptions can be eliminated

Always consider whether or not a rule addresses an issue or particularity of the game’s universe

Before you begin your redaction, start with an outline that should be in itself self-sufficient for playing the game.

Make it short. Because no matter what, the campaign will be a long one.

Meet RPG Author Cédric Chaillol

Where does it all begin?

Mental images, game mechanics, their challenges, the tension, the desire to emulate the feel of a book or a film that you adored, everything that sparks your imagination, the reader, the actor, the tactician in us… the beginning might be super general or abstract. What’s important is that you take this impressionistic vision and convert it into some kind of structured content, where the context and the system come together in a useable fashion. It’s a long and spanning process that requires a rigor in its execution extending beyond simple artistic inspiration. It’s a bit of an idealistic quest.

One of Cédric Chaillol's role-playing game books on display.

Charpentier: Know how to take your time and look back over your work. So often we wind up rushing to the finish line when we near the end up the first draft, and that’s the moment when we stop spotting the errors, the mistakes. Stop yourself. Step away, catch your breath, and let the dust settle for a bit. Then come back to your work, and try and keep up that mental space. Pick your critics wisely, but as soon as you’ve entrusted them with your work, know how to take their criticisms constructively and appreciate them.

It’s all part of the art…

Roll for Stamina: Keep the Momentum Going!

Kobayashi: Be consistent, reach out to people likely to be interested by your ideas, and, above all, have fun!

Combrexelle: Put the pedal to the metal, always put your art before the job, and only put out your best: the kind work that will allow you to take criticism because you know you put your all into it.

More pragmatically: set goals (short term, or even a series of subobjectives) and, above all, always set deadlines to keep you honest. Doesn’t matter if you miss them, as long as you keep them in mind and they motivate you to achieve your goals. It’s vital to have the sense (and satisfaction) of progress on a project. Great Works always end up being more complicated than they first seem.

Batro: Be upfront about the game we’re playing with your game. Read up on everything that’s out there on the subject you’re writing about and be prepared to do some real research. Try out a bunch of different games, with or without DMs or dice. Keep up with what other people are producing—the thing about role-playing games is there’s already a million out there. If you want to stand out, you’re going to have to work for it and find your original angle.

Merci and thank you to the members of our Lulu 2019 Super Panel on Independent Role-Playing Games.

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