Creator’s Catalyst Project

Say what you will about Twitter, but in the last couple of years it has been responsible for me connecting with some pretty amazing projects. Commenting on a thread on Twitter is how I found myself editing for the Uncaged Anthology books, one of the best editorial experiences of my career so far. It’s where I managed to find myself playing in the Clockwork Vines world with some amazing players and under the care of our Keeper, Honey.

And lightning has struck a third time. I replied to a post by Francita about wanting to offer free layout help to creators, saying I would be happy to donate some editing time for any creators she worked with, if they needed it. That led to a conversation between Francita, her partner Hector Rodriguez (a skilled and talented artist in his own right), and myself, about forming a team to provide our services to new and marginalized creators in the TTRPG space. That was yesterday.

Today I am excited and pleased to announce the launch of Francita’s brainchild, the Creator’s Catalyst Project! Our goal is simple: we want to help marginalized creators who might need a little extra push to finish a project, get their project ready for publication. Details are listed in the pinned Tweet and in the Introduction document, but here’s the elevator pitch. We have a set amount of in-kind donations each application period (time donated by the three of us) to put toward a project we choose from eligible applicants. We have set-up a Ko-Fi to take donations from the community; donations from each application period will be put toward the project we choose and help expand the scope of services we can offer. We will then work to get the successful applicant’s project finished so they can publish.

And this isn’t a slow process! Each cycle is thirty days; fifteen to accept applications and take donations, a few days to select and then consult with the successful applicant, then another fifteen to finish the work and turn it back over to the client, ready to go out in the world. This is great for any number of reasons, not least because the successful applicants will see an almost immediate benefit. But it also means our team gets to work on new and exciting projects on a quickly rotating basis, and any community members who donate don’t have to wait long to see the results of their generosity.  Plus you get a bit of advanced notice on cool things coming into the TTRPG space, so you can be first in line to buy the new creations as they come out!

If you’re a marginalized creator in the TTRPG space, I hope you’ll look over the information and apply; we would love to help you get your project ready for the world! If want to help the Creator’s Catalyst Project with our work, we surely would love to get donations so we can expand the scope on applications we receive. Ko-Fi even has a way to donate on a regular monthly basis, so if you want to show continued support for what we are trying to do we would be ever so grateful!

Keep your eye on this, I am excited to see the projects we can help find their way to market! And if you have any questions about the Creator’s Catalyst Project, feel free to reach out through the contact info on Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

Done Waiting

Like many of you, I read Orion’s statement about their being let go from Wizards of the Coast and their treatment while they were employed there. And I feel what many of you feel: anger, disappointment, sadness…a mix of feelings that, for me at least, add up to rage. And that’s what I had intended to do when I got up this morning. The previous version of this post was full of rage, lashing out at WotC and Hasbro, their management, at the co-workers who remained complicit in silence. But I deleted that post and started this one.

Because I have worked through rage, to contempt. And that is all Wizards of the Coast deserves from me, and all of us, today and going forward. I could run through a laundry list of reasons why. I feel like I covered enough of them in my previous post so instead I’m going to focus on one thing that stood out for me.

WotC’s most recent statement included the following bullet point:

“We’re proactively seeking new, diverse talent to join our staff and our pool of freelance writers and artists. We’ve brought in contributors who reflect the beautiful diversity of the D&D community to work on books coming out in 2021. We’re going to invest even more in this approach and add a broad range of new voices to join the chorus of D&D storytelling.”

And the thing that immediately occurred to me when I read Orion’s post yesterday was, they knew. When WotC made their statement, when they squirted out these beautiful sounding words, WotC already knew what had been done to Orion and the treatment they endured, and not only did they do nothing, they already knew they weren’t going to renew Orion’s contract.

They lied to us. They looked us in the fucking eye, told us everything was going to be okay, and carried on as usual.

meet it is I set it down

That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain…”

There is a tactic an abuser will use if it looks like they might get outed as an abuser. They will go to their previous victims, check in, and apologize. It isn’t sincere, the abuser isn’t trying to fix anything with this. They are doing damage control, so when the story of their abuse comes out they can claim they were already working on the problem.

The statement made by Wizards of the Coast in mid-June is the corporate version of that. They made it, not out of contrition, but to control the narrative. So that any stories that came out (and there have been many, Orion’s is sadly just the latest) would be mitigated. “No, our bad, but look, we’re getting help!” Like so many other abusers in out hobby and the industry, WotC has been outed. And not once, it must be said. People I respect have been telling us for years that we are in an abusive relationship with WotC, that they won’t change. Speaking for myself, and as recently as my last post, I held out hope that WotC could change, that they wanted to change. I was wrong.

I started playing Dungeons & Dragons on January 21, 1980. It has been a source of joy and creativity for me for forty years. I have found friends I wouldn’t have otherwise because of D&D. I have written innumerable words about and for the game. I have been this game’s champion.

Until today, July 4, 2020.

Wizards of the Coast is another abuser exposed in our hobby. It may be in them to redeem themselves, but frankly I no longer care. Given the size of WotC’s presence it may sound ridiculous, but for the good of the hobby they cannot be allowed to take up space here anymore. I’m sorry I wasn’t fully on board with that before, and I apologize to anyone I hurt by my continued tacit or overt support of D&D and WotC.

Disentangling our hobby from WotC will not be easy. There are any number of freelancers who, because of the market share D&D holds, rely on creating D&D content to pay the bills. This includes not just the DMs Guild, but also your FLGS, folx who make gaming accessories, and streamers. Yes there is an uptick in non-D&D games streaming, but the D&D tag on Twitch remains the most used and watched of the TTRPG tags. So while I hope each of these groups and creators will take a good, hard look at what is going on and make their own decision, I don’t expect there will be a huge switch overnight and I don’t fault anyone for that. Talk to me a year from now, though…

As for me? In my now deleted rage post I had a towering list of ultimatums and demands, promises I was going to make. But all of that boils down to one thing. I will no longer support Wizards of the Coast, or any game they produce. I am winding up any current obligations I have that might touch on the D&D space, and then I am done with it. I will not write another word about D&D, here, at The Rat Hole, or anywhere else. In order to cause the least harm to any creators who still rely on DMs Guild, I will continue to accept editing work for DM’s Guild projects, but will ask that I be paid in a royalty share to be assigned to Extra Life instead; if that can’t happen I will donate my word rate to Extra Life myself. Existing projects for which I currently receive royalties cannot be changed, but I will tally my quarterly earnings from those and also donate that amount to Extra Life. In any case I will not personally profit off of any D&D products, and I look forward to taking on editing work for products in other systems. A few current writing projects will be pivoted to system neutrality or other TTRPGs.

And as I have said before, you’re going to see me talking a lot more about other creators on here. Picture our hobby like an enormous aquarium. Yes, D&D is a whale floating smack in the middle, big and impressive looking. It’s the first thing anyone sees when they first arrive. But it doesn’t actually do much except occasionally inhale and spit out other fish. If you pull your attention off the whale you will see it surrounded by a vibrant, colourful, exciting world of other creatures. Our hobby has so much more to offer than a whale that is taking up space better used by other fish*. It’s time for the whale to go. 

Because even if they fixed everything tomorrow, it wouldn’t be contrition or remorse. It would be fear. Fear of losing their place of power in our hobby. Fear of losing us. Because that’s what WotC hopes you and I won’t notice in all this: they need us, more than we have ever needed them.

*Just to head off the comments, yes, I know a whale isn’t a fish. You know what I meant so just don’t.

#ReadIndieRPGs Master Post

I was cross posting my #ReadIndieRPGs videos here up until about Day Twelve. I stopped because I knew I was going to do a master post, listing everything I read with links to the videos and the games. It seemed to me a master post with everything in one place would be more useful to anyone coming by the site, even if it meant less daily traffic.

I’ll talk about my thoughts on #ReadIndieRPGs in another video and post that on the site as well. For now, I wanted to get this listed in one spot because I feel that if you are new to indie RPGs and want to explore what’s out there, this list is a good place to start. Not entirely unintentionally I managed to give a good cross-section of types of games, solo vs. group games, and so on. And many of these creators have other games as well, which I encourage you to check out.

A quick guide to the links below. If you click on the Day you’ll go to the video I recorded. If you click on the game title you’ll go to whatever page has more information on the game and a way to purchase it (where this is multiple locations I have opted to link the location which gets the creator more money). If you click the creator name you’ll go to whatever page best shows them off, usually their website or Twitter page. Specific entries might have other information. Enjoy!

Day One: #iHunt – by Olivia Hill and Filamena Young

Day Two: savior – by Kate Bullock

Day Three: Succulent Sorcerers – by Diwata ng Manila

Day Four: Hot off the Press – by Margaret Catter

Day Five: TTRPG Safety Toolkit – by Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk

Day Six: A Hero’s Journey – by Jessica Marcrum

Day Seven: Session Zero by Meghan Cross

Day Eight: Purplest Prose by Pamela Punzalan

Day Nine: Station Hunt by Graeme “POCGamer” Barber

Day Ten: Breakfast Cult by Ettin

Day Eleven: Solar Convention by Will Sobel (published by Gallant Knight Games)

Day Twelve: Camp Xander by Raven Norris (published by the San Jenaro Co-op)

Day Thirteen: you will die alone out here in the black by Ben Roswell

Day Fourteen: Wu De The Five Powers

Day Fifteen: Wishing Well by Riley Hopkins

Day Sixteen: all we know are the things we have learned by Blake Stone

Day Seventeen: Paleo Party by Dyer Rose (published by the San Jenaro Co-op)

Day Eighteen: Oathbreakers by Jamila R. Nedjadi of Sword Queen Games

Day Nineteen: Yule Army by Secrets of the Masquerade (published by the San Jenaro Co-op)

Day Twenty: Keeping the Lights On by Hekla Björk Unnardóttir (published by the San Jenaro Co-op)

Day Twenty-one: Flying Circus by Erika Chappell (published by Newstand Press)

Day Twenty-two: Los Arboles by Mercedes Acosta

Day Twenty-three: Sandwich County by Flowers

Day Twenty-four: Banquo at the Feast by Marn S.

Day Twenty-five: The Steadfast & the Rebellious by WH Arthur

Day Twenty-six: 99 cent Chamber of Death by Christian Guanzon

Day Twenty-seven: Stewpot by Takuma Okada

Day Twenty-eight: Ego by Sandy Pug Games

Day Twenty-nine: Troika! by the Melsonian Arts Council

Day Thirty: Ryuutama by Atsuhiro Okada

#ReadIndieRPGs – Catching Up

I took a few days away to relax and regroup, get my bad brain back in order. But I am back, and here are videos for Days Ten to Twelve to catch me back up. Day Thirteen resumes our normal one-a-day schedule.

Day Ten

Day Ten is here! As foretold in The Prophecy we are reading from Breakfast Cult by Ettin. Breakfast Cult is played using the FATE Accelerated rules, and each player takes the role of a student at Occultar Academy, Earth’s finest occult school. Hilarity ensues.

If you you would like to play more from Ettin, check out their Itch page and give them a follow on Twitter. I recommend Retrocausality or Oh, Dang! Bigfoot Stole My Car With My Friend’s Birthday Present Inside.

Day Eleven

Day Eleven is here, Ambassadors, and it is time to attend the Solar Convention. In this one-pageRPG by Will Sobel, published by Gallant Knight Games, you will argue and cajole your fellow players to advance your government’s agenda at an intergalactic conference. Good luck, Ambassador! You can keep track of what Will Sobel is up to on Twitter and find more from Gallant Knight Games on DriveThruRPG.

Day Twelve

It’s Day Twelve! Get your bunks squared away and head to the mess hall, we’re having breakfast at Camp Xander, by Raven Norris. You play camp counselors at a camp for monstrous children, with all the hilarity and pathos that ensues. If you would like to find more from Raven Norris you can follow then on Twitter and check out the San Jenaro Co-op compilations. Volume One has another game by Raven, Eggsecutive Powers, and Volume Two contains On Loan and Deathseekers.

Inspired by the recent #ReadtheDMG I wanted to do something similar to celebrate the Indie games I love. Permission is sought from the creator before recording. If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndieRPGs – Day Seven: Session Zero

Day Seven! We made it through the first week, which means twenty-three more days of Indie goodness to go! Today I read and talk about Session Zero by Meghan Cross, one of the best character story generators I have come across. If you would like to see more excellent games by Meghan Cross please check out her Itch page or follow her on Twitter. I highly recommend The Silent Garden and GayMerGirls, both brilliant games.

Inspired by the recent #ReadtheDMG I wanted to do something similar to celebrate the Indie games I love. Permission is sought from the creator before recording. If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndieRPGs – Day Five: TTRPG Safety Toolkit

Welcome to Day Five! Today we deviate a bit and read from an indie TTRPG resource, if not an actual game. But since it helps make your games safer and therefore better, it’s on my list!

The TTRPG Safety Toolkit is a resource created by Kienna Shaw  and Lauren Bryant-Monk. The TTRPG Safety Toolkit is a compilation of safety tools that have been designed by members of the tabletop roleplaying games community for use by players and GMs at the table. You can find it at bit.ly/ttrpgsafetytoolkit.

Inspired by the recent #ReadtheDMG I wanted to do something similar to celebrate the Indie games I love. Permission is sought from the creator before recording. If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndirRPGs – Day Four: Hot off the Press

Day Four dawns! Grab your books and feed your algebra homework to the dog, we’re going back to high school with Margaret Catter’s Hot off the Press! You can check out more of Margaret Catter’s work on their Itch page (https://margaretcatter.itch.io/) or on Twitter (https://twitter.com/mcatterdev). I particularly enjoy “It’s Dangerous to go Alone, Take This” which is a micro RPG using whatever the GM has in their bag or pockets at the time.

Inspired by the recent #ReadtheDMG I wanted to do something similar to celebrate the Indie games I love. Permission is sought from the creator before recording. If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndieRPGs – Day Three: Succulent Sorcerers

Welcome to Day Three! I was hoping by this point to be celebrating Spring by reading from Diwata ng Manila’s Succulent Sorcerers, but since it’s -20C here on the Canadian Prairies maybe I’m trying to conjure it instead. You can check out more of Diwata ng Manila’s work on their Itch page or on Twitter. Besides other games set in the “succulent” universe, like Bonsai Brawlers and Petal Paladins, you can find excellent games about relationships and mechs.

If you would like to record your own videos reading from an Indie game, please do and use #ReadIndieRPGs so we can find them. If you are not the creator I highly recommend seeking their permission first. And talk to me in the comments about your favourite Indie RPGs, I’d love to hear from you!

#ReadIndieRPG – Day One: #iHunt

I was inspired by the #ReadtheDMG videos that went around last week. I wanted to do something similar to celebrate and encourage folx to read and play Indie RPGs. Once a day, all through April, I will record a short video reading a passage or two from RPGs by some of my favourite creators. If you’d like to join in the fun, please post your videos using the same hashtag so everyone can find you.

In the meantime, please enjoy my NSFW (language warning) video for #iHunt.