Tuesday, December 30, 2014

State of Rite Publishing 2014

Lost in Dream 
Illustration by Jason Rainville

One of Our Best Years Ever!

This year really fought hard to be out best year ever but it was just impossible to surpass the success of the Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Kickstarter from 2013.  It was however still an amazing year.  

Here are some of our highlights:

We won an ENnie award our first ever for The Demolished Ones (FATE). I can’t say enough about the amazing folks who made this happen, but especially author Brian Engard.

We saw the Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (Diceless) product line surpass our 3rd Party Support for Pathfinder over all in terms of direct sales, as the core book has become a very powerful evergreen product for us.

The big geeky fanboy in me got to publish products by Matt Forbeck, Rob Donoghue, Cam Banks, and Andrew Peregrine further strengthening the Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (Diceless) product line.

Matt Banach not only introduced an amazing line of products with our Gossamer Worlds (Diceless) series, but also wrote our first novel (Lost in Dream), which we released this year.

We released Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Icon Deck with some amazing artwork, and had a successful Kickstarter for a second deck of NPC cards.

Just when I thought the 3rd Party Publisher Pathfinder Roleplaying Game market was slowing down In the Company of Dragons (PFRPG) by Wendall Roy comes along and blows away all my expectations.

1001 Spells (PFRPG) even 2 years later it is still our best selling product.

Book of Monster Templates (PFRPG) went platinum on DriveThruRpg, our only product to have done so.

Faces of the Tarnished Souk: An Npc Collection (PFRPG) our largest book ever, with over 300 pages, is in the proofreading stage and we are planning to start fulfillment to our Kickstarter backer’s next month.

We produced another 12 issues of our free Pathways e-zine, bringing us to a total of #45 issues so far.

We started a new product line the Rite Map Packs with cartography but the amazing Tommi Salama.

We continue to have amazing success with our Hero Lab product support (Thanks Andrew!).

We continue to be a part of the Bundle of Holding website and participated in two specials there this year of which I was quite pleased (Thanks Allen).

We branched out to support new product lines beyond PFRPG, FATE, and Diceless,  we introduced products for Dungeon World, 13th Age, and even 5th Edition using the OGL (in the same manner Goodman Game used for 4th and 5th edition support).

We are now playtesting the first Card Game we plan to publish!

We saw the fulfillment on 4 different Kickstarters, and the successful launch of two others, one of which is in proofing so we plan to start fulfillment next month.

Low Points:

But as anyone will tell you, one cannot have peaks without valleys, and while Rite Publishing’s victories far outnumber our failures we do have them, here they are:

Adventure Quarterly #6 (PFRPG): Although its very late, it is done, and it will release in January. The lesson I learned here is that we have certain bottlenecks in our production process, because I over rely on extremely talented people who always deliver. Then when they have an issue beyond their control such as a death in the family plus a medical issue, I wait to long to bring in a substitute to do the work while they are out. I won’t do that again, but I hope I don’t run into that kind of issue anytime son.

The Martial Arts Guidebook (PFRPG): the book that has taught me never to use IndieAGoGo for a Table Top Rpg  Crowdfunding project, it was an experiment and it failed and continued to fail. However it now has a finished and edited manuscript,  a mock layout has been done, along with a new trade dress, we will be sending out art descriptions to our lead artist next week and plan to release it in March/April of 2015.  This is our oldest project on the books, and one I want it off my plate

Questhaven Campaign Setting (PFRPG): my pet project saw only two major updates this year, this is entirely my fault as I  have spent too much time and too little time writing. So I have set up one day a week where I will be doing nothing but writing for this project, it is another one I want off my plate.

Kaidan Campaign Setting (PFRPG): I will never start a Kickstarter again without a finished manuscript. This project is overdue, but we now have laid out, and art orders made, we still have chapters though we are still awaiting some finished chapters from the lead author (I have written a chunk of one chapter myself), again this is my fault, and the fix is hiring freelancers to come in and assist the lead writer.

The Long Walk: Life Along the Grand Stair: I had hoped to have this big diceless adventure/supplement for folks to play out by now, but its in editing, and will be out by April/May 2015 so I am quite happy with it right now. 

Distribution: The collapse of our print/distribution partnership with Chronicle City, my failure to move right away into getting our books into the traditional distribution channels, something I plan to correct in the coming year.

My friend and colleague Joshua “KTFish7” Gullion of AdventureAWeek.com died. He was an awesome person who I miss talking to.

Personal Highs:

Did I mention my company won an ENnie award!?

For the third year in a row, I am living the dream, and get to do this as my day job!

The two packed seminars I gave at Gencon!

I got my work published in my favorite monster book the Advanced Bestiary (PFRPG) by Green Ronin Publishing!!!

While at GenCon this year I was hanging out with a fellow game designer/publisher who I am a fanboy fan of, and whom I consider not only a mentor but a personal friend, while walking back to our hotel he and his wife mentioned how proud they were of me, and what I have accomplished. Damn but this room is dusty!

Final Thoughts:

This year reminded me why I started Rite Publishing, because I was ticked off at other publishers for doing things wrong. I have learned many things since then, but I continue to strive to do right by our customers, our freelancers, and by myself. I am reminded every day of how lucky I am that I have a job I love and of how successful we are both critically and commercially. I love every time I get to talk to a freelancer, colleague, customer, reviewer, or fan. I even found a perverse joy in firing an unreasonable customer because it was the right thing to do.  

This year also reminded me of what I wanted Rite Publishing to become, and while I still have goals that I have yet to achieve (like a stable form of traditional distribution), I am very much where I wanted to be.

Thank all of you for helping me get here!

Steven D. Russell
Rite Publishing

Monday, December 15, 2014

37 things Rite Publishing is working on.

Card Game
  1. Code Name: Erlking , in second playtesting phase, additional cards added, some cards updated 

  1. Lost in Dream a novel has been released.
13th Age Roleplaying Game
  1. The Breaking of Forstor Nagar  in layout.   
  2. 101 Mystical Site Qualities in conversion development
Fifth Edition Done Rite
  1. The Breaking of Forstor Nagar  in layout 
  1. The Demolished Ones: Fly in the Ointment  mock layout complete, waiting on art.
  2. Making The Demolished Ones available on Amazon.com

Lords of Gossamer & Shadow
  1. The Long Walk manuscript complete, in editing, art complete. Expected release March/April
  2. Addendum: Shapeshifting in development by Jason Durall. 
  3. Threats: Threshold Ghosts in development by Jason Durall
  4. No Beast So Fierce adventure by me, manuscript in playtesting/development, art is complete. Next stage after that will be using this to run my online game for backers
  5. Icon Deck: NPCs: Art Descriptions in development. 2 pieces assigned to artists.
  6. Gossamer & Shadow Adventure Path/Campaign Saga in development 
  7. Threats: Secrets of the Annunaki  in editing.
  8. Lucien’s Guide 3 in development by Rob Donoghue.
  9. Gossamer Worlds: The Black
  10. Gossamer Worlds in development by Clinton J. Boomer. 
  11. Gossamer Persona: Delayed in the Development Pass stage.
  12. Gossamer Worlds: Planet Fiction a 32 page full-color Print and PDF project in development.


  1. In the Company of Dragons: The Lost Isles (In Development).
  2. Pathways #46 assigned to writers.
  3. Adventure Quarterly #6 Coming in Jannuary.
  4. Faces of the Tarnished Souk: An NPC Collection  300+ pages in proofing, coming in March/April.
  5. Martial Arts Guidebook waiting on art, doing mock layout.  (print)
  6. Rite Map Pack: Regional Map (working title) by Tommi Salama in development.
  7. 101 Not So Random Encounters: Desert manuscript in development
  8. Summoner of the Jade Oath manuscript in development
  9. Kaidan Campaign Setting in mock layout, final chapters to be written, art orders being placed.
  10. The Secrets of The Divine: Death, Healing, Law, & Madness in development.  
  11. Questhaven Campaign Setting in development with me writing. 
  12. 1001 Magic Items mock layout complete, cover art complete, needs interior art
  13. Ultimate Monsters Hero Lab (Book of Monster templates, 101 not so simple monster templates, 101 Monster Feats, 101 Variant Monsters etc.) assigned to the Rite Coder.
  14. Book of Kaiju assigned to Riters
  15. 10 Wizard Magic Items releasing today.
  16. A print on demand version of Breaking of Forstor Nagar
  17. A print on demand version of Coliseum Morpheuon

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Game Mastering in 30 minutes or Less.

Game Mastering in 30 minutes or Less.
You worked 80 hours this week, you got sick, or you were just plain lazy, whatever the reason is, you have people who want to game, and they will be here in 30 minutes.  What do you do?

1.      Map It: You could do it with an overland map, a dungeon map, you are a GM I am sure you have some lying around. If not, I have some for sale. But for now let us keep it simple you can find one by browsing the Cartographer’s Guild, something you made while messing around with Campaign Cartographer, or maybe you loot it from Jonathan Roberts’ website. In my case, I am publisher so I get to use a map I commissioned and use it for something else so let us take the level 3 map of the Ruins Perilous.  

Now we are not going to have time to write a bunch of description for each room so we need to pick a theme that we can constantly build off, something that is constantly challenging your players, creating an environment tension. It could be that every surface is covered with some unique ooze, it could be an influx of chaos or wild magic permeates the area, perhaps it is just underwater and subject to strange currents and shifting tides. So for this case we will change the appearance of the dungeon, it will be underwater, in the arctic,  parts of the dungeon will be iced over, and there will be unpredictable currents and tides.

2.      Iconic Monsters: Don’t get crazy and hunt down the latest bestiary, these need to be monsters you know how to run already. Use good old standby monsters and adapt them to your environment.  You want your players to have a emotional reaction and you need to get the monsters together in less than 4 minutes. So we have a cold and underwater enviorment. Any Undead and/or Constructs, they don’t have a problem with underwater. Sharks of all sizes. Shapechanges, they can adapt to the environment. Gargoyles they are stone, don’t care about cold or water, Orca will scare them, they are worse than sharks. Trolls and Deep Ones because who does not love Cthulhu.  You can even bring back an old foe (see Don’t Explain It below).

3.      Make it Unique: You have a list of encounter locations, and a list of creatures to encounter, now take that list and make a short phrase about each encounter that makes it unique.  You don’t want it to just be a 10’x 10” room with a monster in it.  For example the Orca will be, awakened by a druid, uplifted by technology, or is from a world with intelligent killer whales, regardless it will be extremely intelligent and use extremely intelligent tactics. The big circular room in the center, its “floor” is covered in broken up ice sheets and there is a hole in the center. The currents cause it to spin. The Orca baits the area around the hole with bits of treasure frozen to the think ice pack (its an orca what use does it have for gold, it wants fresh meat), when it is time to fight it simply rams the thin ice and makes it very hard to get back to the doors.   Therefore, the note would be: Intelligent Orca, Broken up rotating ice floor with water underneath, hole in center, frozen treasure.

4.     Fudge It: Don’t be a slave to stats or dice, they are just a guideline, what you are looking for is a dramatic encounter something that is not long and not to short, when it is time for the villain to die have him die. Add hit points if you have to or increase/decrees the challenge as needed. The magic holding the undead creature together fails or is renewed. The contruct is malfunctioning but could get a surge of nananites to repair it. There are more sharks where that came from but they could feed on each other. The shapechanger has a one-winged angel form but its form couldbe unstable. Did you not see all the other stone statues they are gargoyles too, but perhaps they have grown brittle from too much time in salt water. The trolls and deep ones just keep coming, most of them panic at the very sight of fire. Therefore, the note for the orca could be: The Orca has a mate or has weak lungs and could easily suffocate underwater.

5.      Don’t Explain It: If someone asks you as the GM how did this place end up underwater, way-out in the middle of the arctic, say “Your character doesn’t know”. If they ask an NPC have that NPC give his opinion, state various theories, and let that NPC be completely wrong. Let the player characters put forth there theories.  If you hear the beginning of a theory you like, drop a clue to that effect to encourage it but never give them Word of God confirmation. The same can go for the old adversary you recycled for this adventure he is here looking for the McGuffin that will let him get revenge on the PCs, but when asked how did he survive being disintegrated and his ashes cast to the four winds, say “Your character doesn’t know.”  He might be his ghost simply animating his armor, or a shapeshifter mode locked and implanted with the memories of the PC’s adversary but the players don’t need to know that, and right now neither do you. Again let the PCs and NPCs put forth their own opinions and be wrong or write as the whim strikes you.  You can do the same thing with a the mysterious McGuffin, let the players lead you to what it is, the ultimate mystery magic item, or piece of indecipherable future tech. It’s a Rorschach blot, it only has the meaning the GM and PCs apply to it.

6.     Roleplay It: Have the NPCs ask the PCs questions, keep asking questions, get them talking. Before the PCs can leave on the adventure they get invited to a dinner party where all the major NPCs of the region will be attending because everyone loves the inn keeper so much, they will even put aside hated feuds. If the PCs attack someone the whole dinner party defeats them, and they have offended everyone.  Do you have a questionnaire for PCs? Let different NPCs ask questions from it. Are the PCs famous perhaps a Bard or a Report tries to ask them questions as they travel?

7.      Impersonate Someone: So you need an Npc for the PCs to interact with, and you can’t come up with one. Do an impersonation of someone your players don’t know. Players might recognize you impersonating your best friend (who is sitting there at the table) but do they know your grandmother, your boss at work, or even that special someone you had a crush on in school?  I love impersonating my mother to folks who never got to know her.  Imagine a hunchbacked bespectacled woman with curly brown hair at an Inn who takes care of your every need, treats you like her own children, never asks you for anything, but is constantly talking about her friend’s spouse who was checking out the report of a suspicious occurrence that sounds like your PCs nemesis. Moreover, when the PCs go to find out more, she does not want them to be bothered, and will not discuss it anymore until after dinner as she has work to do. She then invites the aforementioned friend, whose spouse is missing, to dinner.

8.     Puzzle It: I have a big book of riddles sitting on my shelf right next to big book of puzzles, you can also use an internet search engine to find a near infinite number of riddles.  Or pull out a puzzle game like Jenga (find the specially marked piece), Mastermind (for every wrong answer X happens), or Chess (sacrifice pieces sacrifice PCs).  Perhaps the Ghoul did it, the pleasures of the flesh don’t matter anymore, but pleasures of the mind do; or maybe one of the monsters hoards riddles and puzzles like a dragon hoards treasure, or perhaps it is just a riddle that is the clue to the password or magic word like “Open Sesame” or “1234”. Modern and future games make this fun if the riddle is two personal pieces of information you need to know about the original inhabitant. “What is the name of your first pet? What is your mother’s maiden name? The PCs then have to do research or talk to Npcs; the undead creature might know stuff about the places creator, and that painting we saw might have his pet's name. 

If all else fails have someone come to the dungeon to hunt the PCs down. Hey it's that Nemisis again.