Riches & Ruins

I released Riches & Ruins (the first four books) today and as befits my latest releases, I seem to have something stupidly pretentious to say.

RPGs are an interesting art form, as we’re just permanently exiting the first-generation innovators and designers (Stafford, Arneson, Gygax, Miller, Perrin, et al), the second generation is near the end (this would be the late 80s/90s), and the third generation (late-90s to the late d20 boom era) is still active, but the largest voices tend to be fourth generation: whom I'd deem the crowdfunding boom/social media-powered RPGs (where I’d place myself). Exceptions to everything exist, but this works for me.

RPGs are (arguably) the newest form of creative expression that’s been developed in the last century and we’re not even really 50 years into it as a creative force. In many ways, those of us making RPGs right now are going to be the tail-end of the “first wave” when history looks back at us in 100 years (or more). We’ll be the last ones who meet the “originators” (as pop culture might call them), and only their work will stand going forward. All this context to say: losing what made early RPGs special and why it was such a powerful new creative form would be tragic. That's not to say we have to remain stuck to the past, emulating it constantly with no change, or only recreating the past. But, understanding the past helps us make a better future, even in gaming.

To that end, I often challenge myself to explore various mediums, ideas, or contexts that I might not understand inside the design paradigm, if only to better process and be able to enjoy the current present, future, and past of tabletop roleplaying. I set myself a goal of doing something that derived directly from wargames/proto-RPGs (Kriegsspiel, Chainmail, Braunstein) rather than built on the tradition of RPGs as we know it 50 years later. I tried to ignore what I’d internalized and started over.

It was an interesting and worthy exercise. It was also impossible.

I love learning new things, stretching my game design brain, and stepping back and trying to understand both how we got here, and what I can learn for tomorrow, and see where we might go in a decade. I can’t express fully how important tabletop gaming as a whole, but explicitly roleplaying games are to me on a deeply personal level. Not just because they’re my job and livelihood (dang, that’s still really cool), but because they’ve altered my life, for the better. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say, that I value RPGs as an art form, as a tool of creativity, as a community-building resource, and as a place of imagination, in a world where we often can lose sight of the wonderous and enchanted.

You can find the Riches & Ruins line on DriveThruRPG under Holy Offal Games, my experimental imprint at GKG.

You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

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