Writing for RPGs – TotalCon 2016 Panel

Will be live blogging the Writing for RPGs panel from TotalCon 2016.  Industry guests Mike Pondsmith, Michael Curtis, and Jeffrey Talanian are featured on this panel.


The film The Gamers (affiliate link) is highly recommended by Mike Pondsmith as an advisory tale for those wishing to write for RPGs.  He says “a really well done game is a cool toy you get to play with and then hand it over to someone else.”Gamer's_Cover


“I was never trying to explore or exploit a market niche I thought I could make money from.  It came from my passion.”-Jeffrey Talanian


“Build on a plot line or theme that you’re passionate about…because you have this passion about this topic or plot line the passion will come through in your writing.”-Mike Curtis


“If you’re going into digital development start by learning paper.”-Mike Pondsmith

It gives you the necessary foundation to move on.

“Anybody can code but you guys are gonna build world.”-Mike Pondsmith


Good things can be a result of simply getting your foot in the door.  Have to read everyone else’s stuff to have an informed opinion of the company and to be sure it is a good fit all around.

Be sure to know the company’s products and how you will jump off from there.  You’re golden if:

  1. You can get the stuff done
  2. Know the material
  3. Meet the deadline



Do your research.  Look at what is done by existing designers and companies and give your spin on it.  Keep your pitch short to be not more than two or three pages long.  If it is too long they’ll be turned off by the quantity.


“I’ve hired people over the years at Talsorian because they did stuff [by putting it on the net].”-Mike Pondsmith

“People in the industry are always looking for talent.  It’s better if they approach you.”-Mike Pondsmith

“I had been designing campaigns and adventures for my friends since I was 10 years old.  Never imagined myself getting into game design.”-Jeffrey Talanian

A recurring theme is being a RPG writer won’t make you rich.  Have to do this because you love it not because you want to be rich.


“If you don’t mind sleeping under your desk for a little while you can make more money writing for digital but you’ll have no life”-Mike Pondsmith


“We’re working on a video game version of Cyberpunk….imagine a science fiction scale Witcher.”-Mike Pondsmith


“Castle Zagyg is basically Castle Greyhawk with the serial numbers filed off”-Jeffrey Talanian



The panelists are here!


Starting to fill up here.  Two industry guests have arrived and four other people in the audience.  Should be a fun panel covering a topic of which I am not familiar.


Getting ready to go live with the live stream. Hope you enjoy!

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This game teaches babies that items don’t go away simply because they can’t be seen. We show the bees to my daughter. Then they get put in the beehive. We ask her “where are the bees?” She then has to find the bees and take them out.

Bees jingle or make crinkly noises. Can you tell she loves this game?



Catherine, my 9 month old, decided to try Prison Architect for herself. What do you think? Do I have a future gamer on my hands?




Now it is time for some Prison Architect. This game will make an appearance in my live stream later today.

An added challenge is playing while my 9 month old daughter sits on my lap. She likes to play with daddy’s computer too.

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Began my day at 8am playing Angry Birds 2 on my iPhone 5s. Beat the final boss of the first stage, which allowed me to move on to the second level. Very exciting!