Blog Archives

Writing Basics: Index Page

The “Writing Basics” line of articles is my effort to codify some things that are fairly fundamental to writing in the tabletop RPG industry, but which aren’t generally taught in schools or discussed  much in how-to forums and convention panels. These are things I’ve mostly had to pick up over the years, which I would have loved a short primer on when I was getting started (or, in some cases, even ten years into my RPG writing career).

As this line of articles grows, some folks have asked me if I will cover a topic that… I already covered!

Right. Social media is NOT a steady, reliable, or easily searched information distribution mechanism.

So, to help anyone who might wonder what topics I have already cover, here’s the Writing Basics Index Page, with a short description and link to each article in this series. I’ll update this page as I keep writing these.

From Nothing to a Game Book: What is the process that leads from nothing to a company publishing a finished book? This is my best stab at a high-level, rough overview. It is, at best, a sketch that covers a lot of different ways this happens, but there are companies that add steps, or skip steps, or do things in a totally different order.

Paginations and Wordcounts: In this installment of Writing Basics I take a brief look at two related subjects that freelance writers often don’t need to worry too much about, but that are extremely important to the RPG industry overall—paginations and wordcounts.

Introductions: This covers the topic of “Introductions,” by which I specifically mean the text at the beginning of a product, book, chapter, or section (likely with its own header—these things are often interconnected), that explains what’s actually in that section of text. Ideally, it’s interesting to read, gives the reader some idea of what information is coming and why, and gives some context how that material connects to other books/products/chapters/ or sections of text.

Headers: Headers are the big titles of sections of books that tell you (roughly) what content is in that section. If you want a quick overview of what headers are, how to mark them in a manuscript (which, I should note, is actually “however your publisher tells you to,” though the [H1]- and [H2]-style designations are pretty common if not universal), go check out Rogue Genius Games’ “RGG Writer Guidelines,” which discuss headers and how to let your editor and layout artist know where they should in your manuscript.

Final Checks for RPG Manuscripts: In this entry, I going to talk about the all the work you should be doing after you are done writing, but before you turn over the manuscript. These last checks are often the difference between a polished manuscript that gets people’s attention, and a barely-useful mess that requires significant work from your developer/editor/producer/publisher to bring up to their standards.

Check the Rights to Anything You Use in Publishing: This is SUPER basic, but I see smart people get it wrong all the time.

Impostor Syndrome: A lot of creatives have it. I have it. Here are some of my coping mechanisms, in case any of that is useful to someone else (and, you know, why would it be given that I clearly have no idea what I am talking about).

 

Got a Writing Basic you’d like to see covered? Want to support the time it takes me to write things like this? You can request the first and help with the second by joining my Patreon, for as little as a few bucks a month!

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Really Wild West Index

Since it looks like I’m going to be working on Really Wild West campaign and setting hack for Starfinder on and off for the foreseeable future, in order to keep it usable I’m creating (and will maintain as new articles are written) an Index that lists and organizes the existing articles.

SETTING ARTICLES
These are descriptive of the setting, though they may include rules elements.

Really Wild West
>Read This First. 🙂
The year is 1891. The place is somewhere in North or South America, generally far from established law. In 1890, the War of the Worlds happened. That’s over, but wow has tech taken a leap forward.
This is a Weird West setting hack for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, with theosophy (magic), fantasy and sci-fi races, guns, and strangely advanced technology. Includes tips on how to hack the Starfinder Roleplaying Game rules to better suit the Weird West genre (like how to avoid everyone having to wear armor to be effective), as well as some feats unique to the setting.

Putting the “Steam” and “Punk” in Really Wild West
>I quite intentionally don’t describe RWW as a “steampunk” setting, but is it one? What is steampunk, anyway? A think piece about a popular genre and this setting’s place in it… or outside of it.
Inspirational Links
>Some examples of what the Really Wild West might be like by other great creatives!

Starfinder Species in Really Wild West
Shirren, lashunta, vesk… where are these new species from in a game about an 1891 Weird West? We start by looking at androids.
Part 2
Kasatha and lashunta.
Part 3
Shirren, vesk, and ysoki.

Badlands City
>A city built by Hell and ruled by devils… and one of the safest places in the West.
Badlands Resident Theme
>A theme for people from Badlands City
Dread Templar Archetype
>Badlands City produces devil-trained officers of the law who focus on punishment and vengeance.

Easterner Theme
>Is your character from back East? Then this is your theme.

The Mexican Porfiriate and the Technopolitan Theme
>Mexico is a rising technological superpower, governed by war heroes and scientists. Includes the Technopolitan theme.
Science Agents
>Short fiction and an archetype for Mexico’s famed peacekeepers of rationality.

Plot Hooks and Inspirational Media
> Want to know what kinds of adventures Really Weird West characters may have? Here’s a list of 20 plot hooks and a list of inspiration media that helped set the tone for the setting.

RULE ARTICLES
These are primarily about rules, though they are designed specifically for Really Weird West.

Gunslinger
>Anyone can use a small arm. Gunsligners are legendary with them.
More Gunslinger Abilities
>A companion piece to the Gunslinger.

Dare Feats
>
For the characters are are at their best, when the situation is at its worst.
Wilderness Feats
>For characters who are more comfortable out in the wilds.

Key Ability Scores and Resolve
>Really Wild West is a cruel setting with pulpy characters. That takes a tweak of some core rules to support properly.

Theosophy and Psychic Powers
>While spells and magic are an established part of the 1891 of the Really Wild West, it’s also possible to gain psychic powers such as clouding minds and psychometry through the Practicing Psychic feat.

Renown and Gear
> Rules for using character renown to buy higher-level gear, allowing money rewards to remain the same regardless of character level.

Dragon Guns
>Weapons that throw fire onto your foes have their origins in China and are 1,000 years old.

Lightning Guns
>One of the more common energy weapons available in the Really Wild West.

Shotguns
>Shotguns in Really Wild West work a little different than the big blast weapons of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

Mare’s Leg
>Pistol-cut rifles never really existed in the Old West… but they’re iconic, and we have a LOT of things that never existed in the real Old West, so…

Gizmoes
>The setting doesn’t use armor upgrade rules, but all that cool equipment is still available, in the form of gizmos!

Bar Fights and Beatdowns
>The Brawl rules apply when there’s a lot of fighting, but no one is trying to kill anybody.

Mounted Combat
>Horses are more common than self-powered vehicles in the Really Wild West.

Showdown Rules
>Two sides face off in the street, hands twitching near holstered guns…

Technology and Equipment
>What is there, what’s the background for advanced tech in the 1890s, and some more Wild West themed gear.

Scorchers
>In the real-world 1890s, “scorchers”–bicycle riders (male and female) who sat-forward on the diamond-frame bikes–were considered a social menace.
In the Really Wild West, scorchers hold a different place in society.

BESTIARY
A (so far very short) list of Starfinder Roleplaying Game-compatible monsters to popular your Really Wild West adventures!

Grizzly Boar
>Massive alpha predators of North America. This article also gives some guidelines on how to create monsters in general for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

Gulchers
>These poor folks died in the harsh conditions of the frontier. They just don’t know it.

Rattle-Cat
>Venomous ambush-predator common to North America, as well as an article discussing how to best utilize the Expert array when creating monsters for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

Western Rakshasa
>Long a major threat to South Asian, natural born western rakshasa are now also one of the greatest dangers adventurers may encounter in North America. This is also an article discussing how to best utilize the Spellcaster array when creating monsters for the Stafinder Roleplaying Game.

PATREON
If you are enjoying any of these, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!