Ronin Roundtable: GenCon GMing for Green Ronin

GR-Gameroom1If you are a publisher, you of course want people to have the opportunity to play your games at GenCon. You can run demos at your booth but the exhibit hall is no place for long form RPG adventures (it’s super loud and booth space is limited). Those are better handled as scheduled events. Finding good and reliable game masters for your RPGs can be challenging though. In past years we’ve had mixed success with our GenCon events. What I really wanted was a dedicated area filled with Green Ronin games. To get that, you have to have a certain number of events. Coordinating that is a job in itself.

Enter Donna Prior, Green Ronin’s events manager. I told her what I wanted and wow, did she deliver. We had over 90 scheduled events this year and GenCon gave us a dedicated room for them on the second floor of the convention center. Going into that room and seeing tables full of gamers playing Fantasy AGE, Dragon Age, Mutants & Masterminds, and A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying was amazing. Read more

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Thanemages of Freeport (PDF)

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Thanemages of Freeport (PDF)

Pathfinder Short Cuts: Thanemages of Freeport (PDF)

Today we resume our Short Cuts series of Pathfinder-compatible PDFs. These are tightly-focused PDF products that look at a single topic relevant to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. All Short Cuts are appropriate for use with Freeport: The City of Adventure, but can also be easily used in any Pathfinder RPG-compatible campaign setting.

Short Cuts: Thanemages of Freeport is a 7-page pdf that presents a new base class designed to operate in Freeport, but appropriate for use in any Pathfinder Roleplaying Game-compatible campaign setting. Thanemages are warriors who also study arcane secrets, combining armed might with magical skill to sometimes devastating effect (especially against supernatural foes). They are combatants first and foremost, but have learned that against some foes magic is the only effective weapon. This flexible approach applies both to their spellcasting (requiring them to prepare spells in advance, but allowing them to choose from among all their prepared spells when deciding what to actually cast), and the supernatural powers they learn to turn against horrifying eldritch foes.

Get the Pathfinder Short Cuts: Thanemages of Freeport PDF today for just $2.95!

Ronin Round Table: The Art of Art Direction

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By Hal Mangold

Today’s Ronin Round Table draws back the curtain on some of the behind-the-scenes parts of creating our products. Art is an essential part of the look and feel of most games, and it’s the role of the art director (that’s me) to make sure all that art gets created. To give you all a little insight into the job, we’re going to answer a few common questions about what being an art director is all about.  

What does the art director do?

As the art director, my responsibility is to make sure that all of the art that goes into Green Ronin’s games and publications is up to the standard we’ve tried to set over the years. I select the artists, assign and approve the art, and herd cats to make sure it all comes into our hands by the deadline necessary for publication.  

How does the art direction process work?

It all starts for me with scouting out the artists who have the right style to fit the project. Games like Mutants & Masterminds have a radically different art style than Dragon Age or A Song of Ice & Fire. I contact the artists I want on the project, see if they are available during the timeframe I need them, and get them contracted if they’re interested in working on the project. Ideally, this is done about 4-5 months ahead of time, but circumstances often compress this a bit.  

The art order or brief comes next. This is a description or set of descriptions for the piece of art needed for the product. These can be written either by me or, more often, by the developer of the product, with my role being more to tweak or jazz up those basic descriptions. Sometimes the descriptions are general, sometimes really specific, and different artists work well with each type. In general, I try to art direct with a light touch when I can. I’m hiring the artist for their talents and inspiration, after all. I try to give them as much room to improvise as I can.   

The next step is to take that art order transfer it to the artist or artists. For a cover piece, this part is simple. For interior work with multiple artists, it’s a bit more involved of a process. The art assignments get broken up between the artists, taking into consideration both spreading the artists throughout the book for a unified look, and assigning the right pieces to the right artists based on their relative strengths.

Next the artists submit their sketches for the assignments. I review them to make sure the composition is as strong as it should be, that the basic look is right, that any characters depicted have the correct look, and so on. If revised sketches are needed, the artist submits them, and once everyone is happy with where the piece are going, the artist takes the piece to its final state.

If the project is for a licensed property, there’s one extra step: approval by the licensor. Most licensors require us to submit all of the original art we commission to them so they can make sure it depicts their world and characters properly. Some licensors want to see sketches, and some just care about the final result.

There was a time when there was another step: the artists physically shipping their work to us for scanning. Fortunately almost all artists today (even those working in non-digital mediums) submit digital files. Considering the international nature of the artists we work with, that’s especially fortunate today, with international shipping costs being what they are.  

Once all the art is approved, the art director gives it a look to ensure it’s in the proper color and file format, and that it will reproduce properly when actually printed. After that, the image file is handed off to layout for insertion into the product. The art director’s work is done.

Where do you find artists?

Anywhere and everywhere! The Internet is a fantastic source, of course. Sites like DeviantArt, Artstation and DrawCrowd give artists a place to put their portfolios, and I browse around on them quite often. Sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are also fantastic art resources, both for finding new artists, and building “mood boards” for how I want a particular project to look. It sometimes takes a little internet detective work to find out who created an image found that way, however. Not everyone is great about tagging sources for what they post.

Conventions are another great source for artists. Whether it’s a comic, gaming, anime or just overall sci-fi show, I always keep an eye out for creators whose style might work with one of our games. If we’re actually displaying at a show (like GenCon, for instance), portfolio reviews are another great source for me.

And finally, email submissions come in all the time, and have provided me with some great people I might not have noticed before.

Can I submit my art to Green Ronin?

Absolutely! Anyone is welcome to submit their work (or a link to an online portfolio, preferably), to art@greenronin.com.

Green Ronin in 2016

By Chris Pramas

Happy New Year, gaming comrades! I hope you all had a good holiday, and got some quality gaming in with friends and family. As has become a tradition here at GR, I’m here to spill the beans on our plans for the coming year. Last year was a bit awkward because in January I could not yet announce Titansgrave or the fact that we were designing D&D books for Wizards of the Coast. This year will be much less cryptic! So what’s have we got in store for you? Rather a lot, actually!

Read more

RRT: Moving Day – Adding Freeport to Other Campaigns

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I was chatting online the other day with a GM who is running a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, when she noted that as much as she liked the look of Freeport: The City of Adventure, she was running a game set in another publisher’s campaign world. She felt that meant that as much as she liked Freeport, she didn’t have any use for it.

I noted that I was a huge fan of the other publisher’s campaign world, and thought Freeport would make an excellent addition to a chain of pirate islands her campaign had. She liked the idea of adding Freeport, but was concerned it might be too much work. I talked to her about that idea for a bit, but really the fact that anyone thinks adding Freeport to their fantasy campaign might be too difficult means I have failed in my job as a Freeport developer.

The City of Adventure is DESIGNED to be added to other campaign settings. We even open Chapter 14: Beyond Freeport with the line “Freeport is written so the city can be easily dropped into just about any fantasy world. The book keeps the number of assumptions to a minimum, so Game Masters will have an easy time adapting Freeport o their chosen campaign setting.”

Even the World of Freeport-themed pdfs we’re releasing (starting soon!) are intended to be 100% compatible with whatever Pathfinder Roleplaying Game adventures and settings you’re already using. As long as you like the ideas of pirates, ancient inhuman civilizations, eldritch evils, and a big, highly-detailed urban game setting, Freeport: The City of Adventure is for you!

So, let’s talk a little about ways to move Freeport to wherever you need it.

Just Add Water

Freeport is an island-based city-state, so it’s easy to drop it into any ocean in any fantasy campaign. If you don’t want to make any changes to Freeport’s background, you can also drop its primary rival (the slaver-port of Mazin) and its primary trade partners (the nations of The Continent) into even more far-off oceans. With this set up, Freeport becomes the midway point between whatever lands your campaign already has, and the nations mentioned in Freeport: The City of Adventure. This allows any references Freeport itself has to foreign lands to be used unchanged, but those lands are so far from your main campaign setting they have no interaction with the existing kingdoms of your world.

There are lots of advantages to this set-up. First, it’s easy. While there are some political plots and npc histories mentioned in Freeport that tie back to Mazin and The Continent, none of them are crucial to using the city itself. By making Freeport a major trade stop between your main campaign setting and Freeport’s own background locations you both get to use anything from Freeport without having to change campaigns. You also get the benefit of a new set of distant foreign lands people only hear about in vague stories and old captain’s logs. Very few campaign worlds are so well defined that there isn’t room for another small continent, far from the action, that a GM can use in the same way the New World or the Far East were used as placed people knew about but rarely went in many legends and fables.

Take What You Want, Leave the Rest

We called Freeport: The City of Adventure “The Ultimate Urban Campaign Setting” for a reason. In this 544 page book there are just 10 pages of campaign history, 15 pages of notes on the world beyond Freeport, and a whopping 303 pages detailing the city itself, its districts, shops, gangs, taverns, and newspaper (including numerous headlines that can be used as plot seeds, rumors, or just background color). There are discussions of favored drinks, narcotics, communication, markets, schools, legends, notable NPCs, and of course businesses – all the things that make a fantasy city feel like more than 12 encounter locations outlined for a single adventure. Even if you don’t want to incorporate all of Freeport into another setting, it has hundreds of pages of material that can easily be plucked and placed into any fantasy city your players are exploring. If a chase scene breaks into a building you haven’t detailed, rather than shrug and tell PCs it’s another tavern you can use entries in Freeport: The City of Adventure for Death’s Spoon, Kellamog’s Bell Shop, the Society of Lobstermen, Santori’s Hat and Haberdashery, or scores of other shops and guilds. If players want to contact the local thieves’ guild and your adventure doesn’t mention one, Mister Wednesday and his Canting Crew will be more than happy to step in. If they suddenly decide to take an ocean trip, the Freeport Docks has details on ships from the infamous pirate vessel Dirty Swan to the humble trading ship Rotten Apple.

Very few fantasy cities have ever been described in the level of detail we provide in Freeport: The City of Adventure. While we think that makes it awesome enough you’ll want to use the whole city, even if you don’t want to add it to an ongoing campaign it can be used as an excellent resource to fill out elements of almost any fantasy settlement you are using.

By the same token, the new Pathfinder base classes (freebooter, monster slayer, noble) npc class (cultist), races (azhar, island trolls), archetypes (corsair, crime boss, grenadier, inquisitor-mage, musketeer, sea dog, survivor, witch hunter), feats, traits, weapons, spells, and magic items in Freeport: The City of Adventure can be added to any Pathfinder-compatible game without having to add all of the associated Freeport background.

Some Adjustment Necessary

Another option is to grab Freeport itself, and just swap anything from Freeport mythology and history to match an appropriate option within your existing campaign world. Mazin can be traded out for any city well-known for slaver ships. The Continent is replaced with the main landmass you are already using.

Firearms can become crossbows with ease, or can be restricted to just Freeport and one other nation where they were invented. The serpent folk empire of Valossa is swapped for any ancient fallen inhuman empire, and the ancient god Yig becomes a stand in for any ancient sleeping elder horror of a god.

The details of Freeport itself are new and lovingly crafted, but the bedrock it’s build on are classic ideas with near-equivalents in many fantasy campaigns. If you don’t want to add Mazin and The Continent to your campaign world, just don’t! We focused on the fun stuff within the city of Freeport proper, so it’s easy to drop the city into any setting without worrying about the exact politics, trade rules, and religions of all the other nations around it.

Use Everything

Or you can take all of the Freeport mythology, and use it to combine as many campaign worlds as you want! One of the underlying assumptions of the World of Freeport is that rather than being a section of a round Earth-sized planet with all the normal rules and physics of the Earth, it is instead part of the body of Yig, an elder god. When the universe was created, Yig formed an island to command from the cosmic soup of possibility. Later, he sent coils of power out to draw in other realities to his own, which were in turn conquered by the serpent folk who worshiped him. Though Yig now sleeps, the World of Freeport is still built from his coils, the medium through which different lands are connected.

One advantage of adopting this cosmology is that it allows a GM great flexibility with what finds its way into a campaign. It’s perfectly possibly to set up anything from any books as independent worlds unrelated from one another, but connected by the strange effects of the coils and the power of mystic navigators to allow ships to sail from one campaign world to the next. This may be something easily accomplished by anyone who knows the trick (“second star from the right, and straight on ’til morning!”), or it may require the same sorts of foci and power needed for plane shift and similar magics.

Or, of course, perhaps all sea routes lead to Freeport. Anyone can sail from their home campaign world to Freeport without difficulty, but it’s harder to get from Freeport to anywhere but back to your native reality. This makes Freeport the ultimate melting pot, with its own backstory and related islands, but also filled with travelers from dozens of different realities, all arguing about who has “correct” sea charts and which set of islands and homelands are real and which mythological. As the Port at the Center of Reality, Freeport can become a nexus for adding anything the GM and players find interesting, or even an option for low-level characters to engage in a bit of planar adventuring from the deck of a ship.

In Conclusion

There are lots of ways to use Freeport: City of Adventure in any fantasy campaign, and we’re not going to try to tell you which one is right for you. Even this list is just a short selection of the easiest ideas, and we hope it sparks your imagination on ways to use the book to add more fun to your gaming.

Or at least throw your players a curveball.

Ronin Round Table: Within the Coils – The World of Freeport Expands

Freeport: The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG

Freeport: The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG

Freeport: City of Adventure is the biggest book Green Ronin has ever produced, and is a huge part of the Freeport Kickstarter we ran. While that Kickstarter still has a few straggling items to be fulfilled (we’re working on the Hero Lab files, the serpentman figure, Return to Freeport, and all the other rewards people still have coming), we also need to look at how we’re going to support the Freeport line going forward.

So far Freeport: City of Adventure is one of two big Pathfinder-compatible hardbacks we’ve released in the past few years, the other being the amazingly popular Advanced Bestiary. While those big books have been a lot of fun to produce and extremely satisfying to complete, they also take a lot of time and effort. Especially with a number of things taking longer than we’d hoped, it doesn’t seem like a good time to plan many more 300+ page books in the near future. But we DO want to continue to explore and expand the world of Freeport, and support the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

So, starting this winter we’ll begin releasing some short World of Freeport pdfs. These will be general Pathfinder-compatible products that present a wide range of game material (ranging from advice on campaign themes to new weapon enhancements and even new character classes) and detailing how that material can be used to expand the world beyond the City of Freeport. This will allow us to both offer new products to our Pathfinder fans, and see which of the places that we’ve only mentioned in passing in previous Freeport books our customers want to learn more about.

We DO have plans for more big, beautiful books ranging from a bestiary to possibly an expanded campaign setting, but rather than make everyone wait months in between every big release, we hope to establish some smaller, easier, more manageable options fans of both Freeport and Pathfinder can enjoy in regular doses. I’ll be watching fan feedback on these releases more intently than usual, so I can see if some concept or region becomes an early frontrunner for more products and greater expansion.

The World of Freeport is an amazing and dangerous place. We’d like to start to share more of it with you.

Owen K.C. Stephens

Pathfinder RPG Developer

Ronin Round Table: Green Ronin at Gen Con 2015

Titansgrave​ is coming to Gen Con! Make sure to login to your Gen Con account and look for SEM1582558 to reserve your spot! Presented by Green Ronin Publishing and Geek and Sundry

Titansgrave​ is coming to Gen Con! Make sure to login to your Gen Con account and look for SEM1582558 to reserve your spot! Presented by Green Ronin Publishing and Geek and Sundry.

 

This year is going to be an exceptionally strange and exciting time for us at Gen Con. Not only is Team Ronin headed out in force, but we’re sharing space with Geek & Sundry, highlighting Fantasy Age and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana! We’re so excited to have such great games for Gen Con.

Before I get into the fun things happening, I want to kindly let you know what our Customer Service & Sales responses will be slow, as we’ll be dependent on whatever internet we can find while traveling and while we’re all working the show. Online orders for in-stock items (or PDFs of course) will continue to go out on the usual schedule.

For those of you lucky enough to be attending Gen Con, stop on by and say hello at Booth #1509! We’ll be running demos of Walk the Plank, Love 2 Hate, Icons Superpowered Roleplaying, Dragon Age, A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, Mutants & Masterminds, Ork!, and of course, Fantasy Age and Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. Geek & Sundry will be featuring a photo booth, along with some great merchandise and surprises!

We also have volunteers running games at Gen Con, and we have some Seminars you don’t want to miss. If you didn’t get into a game, be sure to bring Generic Tickets to see if a spot opens up! There are quite a few sessions of games run by various GMs & Gaming Groups, and we have a list of the officially submitted games run by myself or our Freebooter Volunteer GMs! For the Seminars, there are currently spaces, but you’ll definitely need to pick up free tickets to attend!

Thursday:

  • RPG1575877 Blood in the Streets – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
  • RPG1575473 An Arl’s Ransom – Dragon Age RPG (at ConTessa!)
  • RPG1573267 Hell Comes to Squishy Man Town! – Ork! 2.0 The Roleplaying Game
  • RPG1576447 Fate in Freeport; The 1000 Year Storm – Fate System
  • RPG1575933 Shadows of Tanglewood – Blue Rose/True 20
  • RPG1576439 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1576440 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • SEM1578318 News & Updates on Green Ronin Publishing’s AGE System

Friday:

  • RPG1575878 Blood in the Streets – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
  • RPG1573275 Hell Comes to Squishy Man Town! – Ork! 2.0 The Roleplaying Game
  • RPG1576446 The Truth of the Fifth Blight – Dragon Age RPG
  • RPG1576441 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1576442 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1578320 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • SEM1578319 What’s New With Green Ronin Publishing!
  • SEM1582558 Titansgrave Q&A with Wil!

Saturday:

  • RPG1575905 Operation: Zandia – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds
  • RPG1573282 Hell Comes to Squishy Man – Town!Ork! 2.0
  • RPG1575934 Shadows of Tanglewood – Blue Rose/True 20
  • RPG1576443 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1576445 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age
  • RPG1578321 Titansgrave: The Rust Wastes – Fantasy Age

Sunday:

  • RPG1575906 Operation: Zandia – DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds

Thank you for your support, and we hope to see you at Gen Con!

Shark Week! Freeport’s Tranquil Shark Protection Agency

#sharkweek Bill Sangapulatele

Bill Sangapulatele of Freeport’s Tranquil Shark Protection Agency

Shark Week’s Wednesday freebie is the Tranquil Shark Protection Agency from the pages of Freeport: City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG. Positioned on the edge of Drac’s End, the oddly named organization exists to meet the security needs of Freeport’s less affluent citizens. Headed by the smiling Bill Sangapulatele, the Tranquil Sharks use martial arts, community connections, and plain old common sense to defend their clients from assassins, debt collectors, and other enemies. The PDF includes general material on Drac’s End, too.

Apply for Protection Today!

Tomorrow, it’s back to superheroes with a shark-themed villain for Mutants & Masterminds.

Buccaneers of Freeport: Free 3rd Era and True20 Web Enhancements

In 2008 Green Ronin released Buccaneers of Freeport, a system-less sourcebook detailing some of the cunning rogues and ruthless cutthroats that ply the waters around Freeport. You can of course create your own game stats for the characters presented in the book using the information provided, to use in your RPG system of choice. However, today we present two free web enhancements that aim to give you a hand by doing all the heavy lifting for you. One contains complete 3rd Era* stats, and the other complete True20 stats, for the characters in Buccaneers of Freeport.

* As with all of our 3rd Era products, these game stats are fully compatible with edition 3.5 of everyone’s favorite fantasy RPG.