Posts

Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Chris Pramas

Chris Pramas is an award-winning game designer and writer, and the founder and president of Green Ronin Publishing. He is best known as the designer of the Fantasy AGE RPG, the Dragon Age RPG, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition. He has been a creative director at Wizards of the Coast and Flying Lab Software and a lead writer at Vigil Games. Most recently he worked with Wil Wheaton on the Titansgrave web series from Geek& Sundry. Green Ronin continues to thrive under his leadership, publishing roleplaying games like Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Today: Kickstarter Launch! Tomorrow: Talent Search Rules!

Today we launched the Sentinels of Earth-Prime Kickstarter and it’s going great! As I write this, we are already over 75% funded and it looks like we’ll hit our basic funding goal on day 1. Amazing! Sentinels of Earth-Prime is a cooperative comic book card game that takes the setting of our Mutants & Masterminds RPG and combines it with Greater Than Games’ terrific Sentinels of the Multiverse rules. Sentinels of Earth-Prime is a stand-alone game but it’s 100% compatible with Sentinels of the Multiverse, so you can mix and match decks from either game. It’s like a comic crossover on your tabletop! For more info, head on over to Kickstarter and check out the campaign.

Tomorrow we’ll be posting the rules for our Talent Search. We know that there are a lot of folks waiting eagerly to see them. Just one more day and all will be revealed! If you missed the original announcement about the talent search, you can read about it here.

Evan Sass

Evan Sass

Evan got his start in the hobby game industry in 1995, as a co-founder of Rubicon Games. Among other games, he has worked on Cranium, Cranium Hullabaloo, and the Pokémon trading card game. He has been editing and proofreading books for Green Ronin since our first product, Ork! The Roleplaying Game. He has been managing our web sites since about 2002. He co-designed Walk the Plank, our card game of piratical trick taking, and is our in-house Dragon Age and Fantasy AGE editor.
Evan Sass

Green Ronin Gamer Badges!

Green Ronin Gamer Badge

Green Ronin Gamer Badge

We are big fans of unlocking achievements here at Green Ronin, so naturally when our pals at JBM Press launched their Kickstarter campaign for Gamer Badges, we were excited! Now, we are part of the fun, too, with Green Ronin Gamer Badges! There are only a few days left in their campaign, so now’s the time to check it out and back!

Gamer Badges

Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Chris Pramas

Chris Pramas is an award-winning game designer and writer, and the founder and president of Green Ronin Publishing. He is best known as the designer of the Fantasy AGE RPG, the Dragon Age RPG, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition. He has been a creative director at Wizards of the Coast and Flying Lab Software and a lead writer at Vigil Games. Most recently he worked with Wil Wheaton on the Titansgrave web series from Geek& Sundry. Green Ronin continues to thrive under his leadership, publishing roleplaying games like Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Book of the Righteous Interview: Aaron Loeb

On Monday I interviewed Robert J. Schwalb (you can read that here, or here, if you missed it). Today I’ve got an interview with the man himself, The Book of the Righteous author Aaron Loeb! He is in China on a business trip but still found time to answer my questions. Thanks, Aaron!
Aaron Loeb

Aaron Loeb

Q: About six months ago you texted me one day and asked, “Why isn’t there a 5E version of The Book of the Righteous yet?” What made you feel like the time was ripe for a new edition of the book?

A: When 3E came out, there was a lot of excitement about it. It was like the D&D we grew up loving was having a re-birth. I got that same feeling from 5E. And it’s been over a decade since we released the original, so I thought now might be the right time to bring it back as new players are coming into the game — or others are returning — due to 5E.

Q: When you were writing The Book of the Righteous, was there a particular type of gamer you had in mind? Or did you try put in something for everyone?

A: Yeah, it was definitely for the hard core roleplayer. There was a lot of “crunch” in it — a lot — a whole new class, prestige classes, tons of spells and artifacts and monsters. But at its heart, the book is for people who want to have their character’s or their campaign’s mythology have depth to it. It’s so rewarding when you’re playing a character whose powers come from a religion to have a deep mythology to draw on.

Q: You’ve run several campaigns using The Book of the Righteous cosmology. Any tips you want to pass on to GMs planning to do the same?

A: Once you have a meaningful religion in your campaign, it opens up whole new plotlines and conflicts — and not just for the characters with religious powers. Every character in the campaign can, if their players are interested, have a meaningful relationship with their god and it can lead to compelling storylines for them as well. Sometimes it leads to conflicts within the party. It opens up a whole new area of mentors and trainers for all the characters, and new justifications for quests.

In campaigns most of my life (I’m not sure about others), the religious characters have some basic idea of what their religion is. Sometimes they even developed pretty deep background on their churches. But the other players didn’t necessarily have any connections to their religion or church. They didn’t have any reason to develop what their character thinks about the other character’s religion. And of course, there were those campaigns where one player worships Thor and another one worships Zeus or something, and it always felt like the less said about religion the better — because the very topic would break the bubble of the fantasy.

Q: Before he moved into the game industry and went to work at Wizards of the Coast, Jeremy Crawford was in your game group. Was there one of the gods he particularly favored? 

A: Yes, indeed! We had a great long campaign where he played a scholar of Tinel, a 60 year old wizard. It was a great example of religion playing an important role for a character without religious powers as he was a scholar in a Tinelite lyceum. I still remember his character’s regular cries of “Outrageous!”

Q: Your day job is in video games. Can you tell folks what you do, and how it relates to your roots as a tabletop gamer?

A: Sure! I’m the President of Worldwide Studios & Live Services at Kabam. We make mobile games, with a focus on games that are massively multiplayer — meaning games with deeply-embedded competitive and cooperative gameplay. Our games include Marvel: Contest of Champions, which is one of the most popular mobile games in the world.

Core tabletop roleplaying systems are at the core of nearly all of our work, because our games are services that last for years. Tabletop roleplaying games pioneered the game design concepts around continued character development over years and years. When you look at RPG design, you can think of good design as a series of connected gears — some large, some small. Just as you advance one gear, it advances another, but now creates a new challenge or set of choices to advance a different gear. For instance, every time you play, you gain experience points, constantly advancing one gear that eventually triggers a level. Every time you turn the level gear, you advance other gears — powers, spells, etc. And each of those has embedded within them their own systems that involve interesting choices and challenges.

This all comes from D&D and other tabletop games and it is at the heart of nearly all game system design for massively multiplayer games in the modern era.

Thank you, Aaron! We are closing in on $14,000. Hopefully, we will have The Book of the Righteous funded by the time you get back from China. 

Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Chris Pramas

Chris Pramas is an award-winning game designer and writer, and the founder and president of Green Ronin Publishing. He is best known as the designer of the Fantasy AGE RPG, the Dragon Age RPG, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition. He has been a creative director at Wizards of the Coast and Flying Lab Software and a lead writer at Vigil Games. Most recently he worked with Wil Wheaton on the Titansgrave web series from Geek& Sundry. Green Ronin continues to thrive under his leadership, publishing roleplaying games like Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Book of the Righteous Interview: Robert J. Schwalb

Reposting from yesterday’s Kickstarter update, here’s an interview Chris did with Book of the Righteous developer Rob Schwalb:

Today I’ve got something fun for you: an interview I conducted with Robert J. Schwalb. Thanks to Rob for taking time out of his weekend to answer my questions.

Robert J. Schwalb

Robert J. Schwalb

Q: You’ll be developing the new edition of The Book of the Righteous and working on the rules design with Rodney Thompson. What’s the most exciting part of the project for you?

A: A billion years ago, when I was getting my start in the business, The Book of the Righteous was one of those books that left me astonished. It really was one of the high-water marks for d20 publishing and few supplements have ever come close to the imagination, the comprehensiveness, and the utility found in its pages. Further, it screamed to be used. You could pick up the book and build a world around it or just pull out the pieces you needed to flesh out your existing campaign. The chance to help bring this mighty tome to 5th Edition is both intimidating and exciting. The whole project is awesome and I’m thrilled to have the chance to bring this book to a whole new crop of D&D fans.

Q: What do you think your greatest challenge will be?

A: What made BotR such a powerful tool was that it took full advantage of 3rd Edition’s mechanics. Not only did the book produce a new class (the holy warrior), it also introduced a swathe of prestige classes, spells, feats, monsters, and more. Two editions later, we find D&D in a very different place from how it was almost fifteen years ago. We don’t have the same mechanical buckets into which we can chuck the various options. A domain, for example, is now a far weightier game object than it was in 3rd edition. Rather than go back to the prestige class well or try to emulate 3E design, Rodney and I are taking the story and finding the best way to express it through the current mechanics. In some ways, it’s like starting from scratch. Some might be simple, needing only to point toward an existing option in the game, but most will require entirely new design. Rodney and I will create new domains, oaths, and options for other classes as well. Each needs to stand on its own and be portable to other cosmologies/pantheons to ensure maximum usage.

Q: You wrote The Unholy Warrior’s Handbook, which was a sort of sequel to The Book of the Righteous. Are you going to fold any of that material into the new book?

A: Whew! That takes me back. Whether or not we get to incorporate any material from that book depends on how many pages we get to play with. I would love to include paladin oaths for Thellos, Naran, and the other evil gods. We are getting some room back since we won’t need as much space to express the mechanics as the original book needed, but stuff from the Unholy Warrior’s Handbook will only come forward if we have the space.

Q: Are there aspects of the Fifth Edition rules you think work particularly well with The Book of the Righteous?

A: Fifth Edition took many great steps forward, but one of the most interesting, and the one to our great advantage, was in class design. Classes represent big story ideas. They are broadly conceived to encompass several different archetypes. At some point in the character’s development, sometimes at level 1 and others at higher levels, the player faces a significant decision point, which involves choosing a subclass. Now the Player’s Handbook calls these points by many different names—ways, paths, archetypes, origin, patron, and so on, but they all have a similar function, which is to provide players with a way to customize their character along a particular development route. A rogue character with the thief archetype is pretty distinct from a rogue with the assassin archetype.

The subclass system lets us capture the holy warrior domains without needing a new class. We can get to the same place as the holy warrior took us by creating new oaths to model paladins of different religions or point readers to existing oaths when it makes sense to do so. Similarly, we can create new domains to make clerics of one god very distinct from those in service to another god or, again, just point the reader to an existing domain. In the end, subclass mechanics let us shape classes in a variety of ways without having to replace a class or add one to the game.

Q: When we first talked about the project, you felt strongly that we didn’t need to revisit prestige classes in the update. Do you think that’s a concept whose time has passed?

A: I really wrestled with this one. While not everyone in the universe loved the proliferation of prestige classes in Third Edition, I still feel they were a valuable addition to D&D and one that fit in well with how the game handled multiclassing. Most prestige classes were hyper-specialized around a set of mechanics or particular story, so going back to this design could be interesting in Fifth Edition. However, I resisted because I don’t think 5E needs them.

Classes now take up a lot more conceptual and mechanical real estate than they did in previous editions. For example, paladins in 3E were presented as champions of order and virtue. Variations on the paladin either came into the game as variant class features or through the domain system utilized by the holy warrior class. You could also customize your paladin through skill and feat selection.

In 5E, the paladin class is more broadly conceived, large enough to accommodate a wide range of expressions as shown in the Sacred Oath class feature. This decision point, more or less, grabs all the customization options and compresses them into this decision point. So if you want to play a classic paladin, choose Oath of Devotion. If you want to be more like the 4E warden class, choose the Oath of the Ancients. If you want to be like the 4E avenger class, then the Oath of Vengeance is for you. This decision, along with others like them, let the root class shoulder a lot of the work in delivering classic D&D classes. Rather than populating the game with dozens and dozens of classes, we can just make the core classes bigger by introducing new options for the big choice point.

When I looked at the prestige classes in 3E, I realized many were really just specializations of a particular class. While they could be accessed by a variety of classes, certain classes stand out. Assassins, for example, typically had levels in rogue. Likewise, archmages usually had levels in wizard. In a way, prestige classes function as 5E subclasses but lurking outside core classes. Since almost all customization options beyond level 1 live inside of classes, it makes sense to nest prestige classes inside the associated class. Doing so makes it clear what kinds of characters are likely to move into that area of specialization and removes the prerequisite hoops for doing so and without forcing groups to use the multiclass rules, which are optional. For groups who are using multiclassing, characters interested in moving into specialization from can simply do so by using the normal multiclassing rules described in the Player’s Handbook.

For example, let’s take the god Urian. The Book of the Righteous says this deity has three major orders: Skylarks (clerics), Eagles (paladins), and Hawks (a prestige class). The prestige class’s description says that hawks often come from the ranks of barbarians and through their training become “just as the bird for which they are named … trained to hunt and maul.” Rather than create a micro-class, we can instead build a new “path” choice for the barbarian class, perhaps called the Path of the Harrier. We can then build mechanics that reflect the sort of training members of the Hawks might receive. Barbarian characters worshiping Urian could choose this path when they reach 3rd level, while characters belonging to other classes who have Strength scores of 13 or higher can access them using the normal multiclassing rules. Best of all, even if your group isn’t using the full pantheon described in the book, the new path option offers barbarians a new choice even in games that don’t make use of this book.

Q: To date Wizards of the Coast has been focused on The Forgotten Realms setting, so many new campaigns are using it as a setting default. What do you think Realms players can get out of The Book of the Righteous?

A: One of the great things about the Realms is the size. There’s no shortage of gods in the realms and introducing the pantheon or parts of the pantheon from our book would only enrich the setting. Even if you don’t want to adopt the cosmology presented in BotR, you can easily plug the orders in to the religions of other gods. Finally, many of the new paths, domains, oaths, and other subclasses are setting agnostic, so you can plug those into whatever world you’re using.

Q: After you left Wizards of the Coast, you designed your own game, Shadow of the Demon Lord, and had a hugely successful Kickstarter for it. What’s new in the world of the Demon Lord?

A: It’s been an exciting year since the campaign ended. Since last April, I’ve released something like 75 products and we still have many more in the pipeline. Last month, I released Terrible Beauty, a juicy supplement filled with dark, twisted faeries and the hidden kingdoms in which they live. This month, I’m releasing Exquisite Agony. My take on Hell, it’s an alarming book, dripping with evil, and lavishly illustrated. I think the kids are really going to like it.

Thank you, Rob. We look forward to seeing what you do with The Book of the Righteous! And those of you who haven’t seen Shadow of the Demon Lord should check it out. It’s like, how much more Schwalb could it be? And the answer is none. None more Schwalb. 

Please check out the Kickstarter, and we’d appreciate any support you can give us.

Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Chris Pramas

Chris Pramas is an award-winning game designer and writer, and the founder and president of Green Ronin Publishing. He is best known as the designer of the Fantasy AGE RPG, the Dragon Age RPG, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition. He has been a creative director at Wizards of the Coast and Flying Lab Software and a lead writer at Vigil Games. Most recently he worked with Wil Wheaton on the Titansgrave web series from Geek& Sundry. Green Ronin continues to thrive under his leadership, publishing roleplaying games like Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

[Updated] Ronin Roundtable: Now Kickstarting! Book of the Righteous for D&D 5E

UPDATE:

The Book of the Righteous Kickstarter campaign is now live, so please check it out, and give us whatever support you can. Thank you!


BotR

As fans of Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition no doubt know, Green Ronin worked with Wizards of the Coast last year to create two books for the official game line: the super adventure Out of the Abyss and the sourcebook Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. This was a great opportunity for Green Ronin and gave us important experience with the 5E rules. When our partnership with Wizards of the Coast was announced, people wondered if we’d be doing more 5E books on our own. Green Ronin had made its name publishing 3E material as one of the first d20 companies back in 2000 after all. And my own history as a designer stretches back to Second Edition with books like Guide to Hell and Slavers. We decided to wait until WotC had announced the licensing arrangements for 5E though, and a couple of months ago they did just that.

I’m now happy to announce that we will indeed be doing 5E material and we’re going to start by revisiting one of the most critically acclaimed books we published during the d20 era: The Book of the Righteous by Aaron Loeb. Aaron texted me some months ago and asked, “Why isn’t there a 5E version Book of the Righteous?” I told him that I fully intended to make one if the licensing situation clarified. It did and now here we are!

Later this month we’ll be launching a Kickstarter for a new edition of this classic book. The mechanics will be fully revised for the 5E rules. You may have heard of the person designing the new rules material: one Robert J. Schwalb. Rob not only worked as our d20 developer for many years, but also went on to work for Wizards of the Coast and was on the design team for D&D 5E. Safe to say that the mechanics are in good hands with Rob and we’re always delighted to get to work with him again.

So what is Book of the Righteous? Simply put, one of the most comprehensive pantheons ever seen in roleplaying games. It presents more than 20 pick-up-and-play churches corresponding to gods that feature in most fantasy campaigns (god of war, god of justice, etc.). Each church features lavish detail, including in-depth information on its clerics, holy orders, dogma, prayers, and rituals. These churches can be used in any campaign to bring a whole new level of detail to the religious characters. Plus, for those who don’t have a complete cosmology in their game, the Book of the Righteous provides a comprehensive mythology that unifies all of the gods in the book. That mythology, and its corresponding cosmology, is not tied to an existing campaign setting, making it as portable and useful as our long running Freeport series. If you want in-depth religions for your campaign, The Book of the Righteous is for you.

I’m excited to bring back the Book of the Righteous. It’s one of my favorite things that we’ve ever published and the original has been out of print for a long time now. I hope 5E fans embrace it the way 3E fans did before them. I’ll also be forthright in saying that this Kickstarter is a test of the 5E market for us. If the Book of the Righteous Kickstarter does well, that will tell us that there is demand for 5E material from Green Ronin. If you want to see more of that, back it!

Chris Pramas
Green Ronin

Evan Sass

Evan Sass

Evan got his start in the hobby game industry in 1995, as a co-founder of Rubicon Games. Among other games, he has worked on Cranium, Cranium Hullabaloo, and the Pokémon trading card game. He has been editing and proofreading books for Green Ronin since our first product, Ork! The Roleplaying Game. He has been managing our web sites since about 2002. He co-designed Walk the Plank, our card game of piratical trick taking, and is our in-house Dragon Age and Fantasy AGE editor.
Evan Sass

Blue Rose Kickstarter and Dragon Age Pre-Order Both Ending

Blue Rose RPG

Blue Rose on Kickstarter: Last Chance!

If you have been waiting to back Blue Rose: The RPG of Romantic Fantasy on Kickstarter, you’re almost out of time. We’ve been knocking down stretch goals left and right, and there are only about six hours left as of this post. The next stretch goal, unlocked at $82,500, is a second side on the poster map, which we really hope we get to do.

Please back Blue Rose while you can. (And thank you so much if you already did!)

In other time-sensitive news, on Tuesday at Midnight (the very end of day on Tuesday, Seattle Time) the Dragon Age RPG Core Rulebook pre-order deal will end.

Note: After a very inconveniently-timed technical issue, the pre-order deals in our store (pre-order selected books, get a deal on the PDF version) are working again. We are sorry about the problems. If you pre-ordered and didn’t get the deal please write custserv@greenronin.com to report the problem. If you have already done so, we will get you sorted out as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience!

Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Chris Pramas

Chris Pramas is an award-winning game designer and writer, and the founder and president of Green Ronin Publishing. He is best known as the designer of the Fantasy AGE RPG, the Dragon Age RPG, and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, 2nd Edition. He has been a creative director at Wizards of the Coast and Flying Lab Software and a lead writer at Vigil Games. Most recently he worked with Wil Wheaton on the Titansgrave web series from Geek& Sundry. Green Ronin continues to thrive under his leadership, publishing roleplaying games like Blue Rose, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying.
Chris Pramas
Follow Chris

Ronin Round Table: Blue Rose Returns!

Blue Rose RPG

Blue Rose

Ten years ago we published Blue Rose, the roleplaying game of Romantic Fantasy. The idea was pretty simple. While Dungeons & Dragons and many subsequent fantasy RPGs drew inspiration from authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Fritz Leiber, a different sort of fantasy fiction began to develop in the 80s—what we call Romantic Fantasy—and there wasn’t a game built off its common themes and tropes. We thought there were a lot of fans who’d want an RPG inspired by writers like Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey, and Jacqueline Carey. And we were right. The game was conceived and published as a three book series, with a core rulebook, a world book, and a rules companion. Blue Rose was quite successful and for many years people have asked us if we were ever going to revisit it.

The short answer is yes! We are preparing a Blue Rose Kickstarter right now. Our plan is to do a new edition of Blue Rose powered by the Adventure Game Engine, the rules I designed for our Dragon Age RPG. Our goal is to launch the Kickstarter in April.

This is something we’ve been talking about for several years. The topic has come up at our yearly summit for the past two or three years. We all agreed we’d like to do it, but when and how were the questions that needed to be answered. So why now?

The biggest reason is that a lot of the issues we tried to tackle in Blue Rose have come to the fore in the public debate, in society generally and in nerdom. Diversity and inclusivity are now common topics of conversation, which was not at all the case in 2005. The idea that gay marriage would be legal in so many states in ten years certainly would have been a surprise to me back then. With the progress that we’ve seen in our politics and our art, a roleplaying game that lets you defend an egalitarian society without fixed gender roles seems like just the thing for the current day.

Of course, progress never comes easy. The simple idea that women should get equal pay for equal work—not to mention the opportunity to work in the fields of their choice—is crazed radicalism in the eyes of some. And while the Supreme Court may have declared that racism is over in the USA, anyone with an ounce of awareness can see that is manifestly not the case. That many of these issues are contentious is no surprise to us. Blue Rose itself was subject to a reactionary backlash from certain quarters. This sort of thing has just gotten worse, particularly in the video game arena, and politics in America has also taken an ugly turn. So while, yes, we have seen a lot of social progress, there is still a lot of work to do.

Now playing games is not going to change the world. That is down to grassroots organizing, voting, and political action. There is a saying though, that all politics is local and our neighborhood is tabletop gaming. We want this to be a better place and we think we can have some effect on it by publishing the right roleplaying game. We want there to be a welcoming place for women, LBGTQ folks, and people of color to enter the hobby. We want to promote the idea that roleplaying games are for everyone, that our hobby—our fun, creative hobby—is something that can bring us together rather than tear us apart.

So why now and why Blue Rose? That’s why.

This has turned into more a political statement than I had intended when I sat down to write. Rest assured that our goal here is to make a fun and playable game and we’ll tell you more about that in the coming weeks. For starters, I just wanted to let you all know about our plans and give you some insight into why we think this is the right time for the return of Blue Rose.

Chris Pramas
President, Green Ronin Publishing
Seattle, WA