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Green Ronin Publishing

Ronin Roundtable: Charting the Expanse

Dec 11 2017

As you may well have heard by now, Green Ronin Publishing has licensed The Expanse science fiction novels by James S.A. Corey to produce The Expanse Roleplaying Game, an AGE System game set in the world of the popular series (the seventh novel, Persepolis Rising, was released on December 5th, in fact). The Expanse is one of a number of different AGE System products we’re working on, including Modern AGE, the modern action-adventure equivalent of our Fantasy AGE rulebook, and Lazarus, based on the comic book series created by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (soon to become a television series as well). Just how are we handling The Expanse in relation to what has come before with the AGE System and what is currently in the works?

Green Ronin to Produce The Expanse RPG

First and foremost, The Expanse is a stand-alone game. It will share a common system with other games, making it easy for AGE System veterans to pick it up. The core book will be self-contained and all that you need to get started playing your Expanse series, much the same way Blue Rose is a stand-alone game, even while it shares systems in common with Fantasy AGE.

Second, while The Expanse uses most of the common elements of the AGE System, our design philosophy has always been to tailor the system to suit the setting and story rather than the other way around, so the game will feature elements particular to The Expanse novels, setting, and style, such as replacing the Health score with a Fortune score, measuring more of a character’s luck in terms of staying alive in a fight or other dangerous situation. A twist on Fortune is you can spend it on things other than damage, but you run the risk of not having as much of it when you’re attacked or encounter other hazards. Likewise, the spending of Fortune affects “the Churn,” an in-game measure of how perilous and complicated things are: Eventually, the Churn can boil over and—as fans of The Expanse novels know—things can get really complicated really fast.

Third and final for this preview, The Expanse core book starts out with a setting in the nearly year-and-a-half between the events of the first novel, Leviathan Wakes, and the second, Caliban’s War. It is after a significant shake-up in the solar system, when major events are beginning to portend even larger changes in the future. It provides us—and your Expanse game—with a convenient starting point without the need to detail every event in the entire series. Plus it allows you (and us) to follow along with the series as major events continue to unfold. You can play in parallel to the events of the novels (it’s a big universe, after all, with a lot going on) or put your own characters into the roles of the crew of the Rocinante in some of the later stories of the series.

We’re still in the early stages of development, working with initial drafts of the text for The Expanse core book, so we’ll have more previews and news for you as things develop. For now, our goal is to ensure your own stories in The Expanse are exciting, fast-paced, and character-driven, with plenty of complications and a universe where even the sky isn’t a limit for very long.

Ronin Roundtable: Charitable Giving in 2017

Dec 4 2017

Earlier this year we made a commitment to take a more structured approach to our charitable giving. Since then we’ve run a series of sales in our online store to benefit various charities. We have supported causes like environmental protection and immigrant rights, raised money for hurricane relief after a terrible storm season, and stood up for science and the scientific method (something whose need beggars belief in the 21st century). I’d now like to report the results.

In general, we ran fewer sales than we anticipated but ran each one for longer, so the donation would be meaningful. We rounded up in all cases to kick in a bit more and give each donation a nice round number.

Union of Concerned Scientists: $350

National Immigrant Justice Center: $400

Natural Resources Defense Council: $930

Houston Food Bank: $500

Houston Humane Society: $500

Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund: $600

We’ve also been involved in other charitable events throughout the year. Chris Pramas ran a special Blue Rose adventure on Hyper RPG’s 48 Hour Charity Drive for the Halo Foundation and their work helping at-risk and homeless children. He was also a special guest at the Worldbuilders fundraiser on the JoCo Cruise. We donated books to the Extra Life Nerds for their charity stream last month. We participated in a Bundle of Holding to benefit Reading Is Fundamental.

As this year ends things seem even darker than they did in 2016. It can all feel overwhelming and as if there’s little we can do as individuals. More and more often, empathy is portrayed as weakness, bullying as strength. It is our empathy that makes us human, that makes us strive to make the world a better place, not only through our words, but through our actions. We will continue our efforts at charitable giving in 2018 and beyond and we hope you will support us. Today we are launching a new sale to benefit the Trevor Project, a charity that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. We are putting the Blue Rose RPG on sale for $40, and $10 of each sale will go to the Trevor Project.

 

Thanks for your continued support and may 2018 be a better year for us all.

 

Ronin Roundtable: Modern Ork!

Nov 27 2017

No, that’s not coming out. But wouldn’t it be a hoot?

I’m contracted to act as “Developer at Large,” for Green Ronin, because is suits my role working on whatever needs to be done. Ork! The Roleplaying Game (Second Edition!) and Modern AGE are on my mind, as varied elements of my job, with one thing in common: They’re both in production. Ork! got there in September, and Modern AGE entered that stage earlier this month.

I developed both games, but their respective processes were very different. With Ork!, I followed in the steps of Jon Leitheusser, who did initial development, which in turn was based on the original game by Chris Pramas and Todd Miller. As Todd Miller is basically the ork god Krom, and all iterations of Ork! are intended to follow his mayhem-soaked vision, it was my job to make sure the project was properly . . . soaked. Spattered? Maybe that didn’t come out right.

 

Modern AGE put me in a more traditional role, developing the book from start to finish. Chris Pramas had ideas for how to make a classless, contemporary Adventure Game Engine RPG. I carried those into an outline, selected writers, sent nagging emails to writers (they didn’t need them, I’m just insecure) developed multiple drafts, directed playtesting, and adjusted everything. It’s hard to find landmarks for a game designed for wide open, multi-genre play, so in the end I went with the systems and ideas I wanted to see combined, in a single package.

What does “in production” mean? That the final drafts have been written, edited and put through a pre-layout proof. Using techniques I’ll call “sorcery,” (Note: I do not do layout) the layout person (often Hal) turns these drafts, which are .rtf files with markup Adobe software recognizes, into book-like PDF files. Meanwhile, artists submit sketches based on my art notes, and along with other folks, I approve them or request changes, until they end up as finished pieces.

My art notes could be better, as they’re the aspect of the job I have the least experience with, but they’re coming along, and sketches are coming in. For Ork!, that means reviewing Dan Houser’s humorously brutal illustrations, like one of an prideful ork getting crushed by Krom! (This is basically how the game’s mechanics work, by the way.) For Modern AGE, I’m helping artists get the looks of iconic characters just right. Modern AGE uses a common set of characters, players and an “iconic GM” in illustrations and examples, so it’s important to me that consistent visuals follow.

Once the finished art is added to the prototype layout we go over everything again, and check the files for technical issues too. At that point, as someone who is on the creative side of things, I assume the finished files float into the stars as wisps of fragrant mist (I also imagine the wisps are purple—maybe Blue Rose wisps are blue though) and by divine providence, materialize as books in warehouses. There are Ronin who apparently do work related to this; their tasks are a mystery to me. I must ask them what color the wisps are and also, why are they always annoyed with me for asking stupid questions?

The upshot of this is that both games are on track for an early 2018 release. This is how they got there—at least, as far as my part of it goes. Now, onward. Forward. There are new projects in line. Modern Ork! is, sadly, not one of them, though who knows? The idea is starting to grow on me.

Flash! Ah-ahhh!

Nov 22 2017

We’re always happy to see members of our extended Green Ronin family do well, and today one of them has blasted into space! Scott Woodard, co-author of the terrific Cinema & Sorcery: The Comprehensive Guide to Fantasy Film for Green Ronin, is the author behind Pinnacle’s Flash Gordon RPG Kickstarter, which launched today and has already funded. Congrats to Scott and the crew at Pinnacle!

A followup and clarification to yesterday’s statement

Nov 9 2017

Yesterday, Green Ronin’s leadership made a statement about allegations regarding the freelance developer of The Lost Citadel.

Valid concerns have been raised about the tone of our initial response, and for this, we apologize. We absolutely believe victims. Full stop. We always have, and we always will.

Our initial reactions were complicated, due to previous issues related to this matter (we will, once leadership is back in-office, release a timeline to clarify the sequence of events.). As new information became available to us, we have tried to adjust course as quickly as possible.

We put our foot in it when we did so. We have been rightly criticized for the way it was phrased and the way our tone cast blame at the concerned folks who felt we weren’t doing enough to manage the situation. Those critiques are fair, and we’ve listened.

The fact of the matter is that this is on us. We could have, and should be, handling this better. We will be, going forward.

Green Ronin remains committed to diversity, safety, and respect for all, but that does not mean we are perfect. What we can do, when we make a mistake is to take the situation and learn from it. We hope to use the dialogue surrounding these accusations and responses to create an industry that is truly safe for women and minorities, as well as continuing to improve our own responses, personal and professional.

We believe, passionately, in doing the right thing, and that sometimes the right thing is an evolving situation that we will have to adapt to as we go, making difficult and time-consuming decisions along the way. We will be instituting an external anti-harassment policy (applicable to our freelancers and volunteers) to accompany the internal employee policy, as well as working with our contractors and anyone who represents Green Ronin publicly to ensure that they meet our standards of respect, consent, and response.

Thank you for your feedback, and for your patience as we figure out how to prevent such issues going forward. We will continue to try and do better, and to earn back the trust that was previously placed in us.

Sincerly, Green Ronin’s Staff and Owners

A Message From Green Ronin Leadership

Nov 8 2017

By Nicole Lindroos, Hal Mangold, and Chris Pramas

Recently a contractor that we’ve been working with, CA Suleiman, was accused of sexual harassment. We were in the midst of an internal investigation and had decided nothing as yet when this was taken to the court of public opinion. There is a lot we could say about the events of the last few days and the recklessness with which people who have no connection to the incident or even the game industry have acted, and perhaps later we will, but here is the point. Green Ronin is a progressive company, full stop, and loudly so. One need look no further than our games or the causes we support through charitable giving to see that this is so. If someone brings allegations of sexual harassment to our doorstep, you’d better believe we take it seriously. In light of these accusations, we have made some decisions.

CA Suleiman has been working with us on a single project. The Lost Citadel was a Kickstarter we ran earlier this year and we will be publishing it, as we have an obligation to the backers. We will be assigning someone else to oversee the project moving ahead, however, and we will not be working with CA on any future projects.

As a point of clarification, CA was never in charge of the talent search for women and non-binary writers that we ran earlier this year. That was a company effort, spearheaded by co-owner Nicole Lindroos.

The leadership of Green Ronin will be meeting off site over the next few days to discuss these matters. If you have any relevant information you think we should know, please send it to custserv@greenronin.com. Thank you.

Ronin Roundtable: Convention Season

Nov 6 2017

When I first got into the game industry in early 90s, there was a convention season that generally lasted from late May to early September. There were some shows in other parts of the year but the focus was on the summertime when students were out of school and families planned vacations. Companies scheduled their biggest releases of the year for convention season, typically debuting them at GenCon. And for the most part that’s how things were into the early 2000s.

In the last 15 years or so things slowly changed. Convention season was still a phrase we used in the industry but it seemed to get a little longer each year. Some old cons faded away but far more new ones were born. Some of this has to do with the infiltration of geek culture into the mainstream. More and more, gamers wanted conventions in their local area, and where they didn’t exist people made them. At the same time traveling to other cities and even countries to attend conventions became more common. When I flew from New York City to Milwaukee for my first GenCon in 1989, that was a fairly unusual thing to do. People routinely travel much farther to attend conventions today.

On the publishing side of things, we used to have the better part of nine months to concentrate on designing and producing games, then three months with a lot of travel that cut into design time. To show you how things have changed, here are the conventions and trade shows I’ve been to this year.

OrcaCon in Everett, Washington in January.

JoCo Cruise to Mexico in February.

GAMA Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada in March.

Salute in London, England in April.

ACD Games Day in Madison, Wisconsin in May.

Enfilade in Olympia, Washington in May.

Origins in Columbus, Ohio in June.

GenCon in Indianapolis, Indiana in August.

PAX Dev and PAX Prime in Seattle, Washington in September.

Alliance Open House in Fort Wayne, Indiana in September.

Next week Green Ronin will be at the inaugural show of PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

That will be my final convention of 2017. As you can see, that’s quite a bit of travel and I could easily do so much more. At this point I could probably attend a convention somewhere most weekends of the year, with the exception of Xmas season. Or to put that another way, convention season now lasts 11 months! Now obviously we can’t attend every show. There are certain staples, like GenCon and GAMA Trade Show that we always attend. Others change year to year. In 2018 we are the spotlight publisher at

Norwescon here in Seattle in March, and we’ll also be featured at Chupacabracon in Austin, Texas in May. Then in June we should be attending our first UK Games Expo in Birmingham, England. Will we make it back to Essen Spiel in Germany or finally go down under for PAX Australia? Maybe! When it comes to conventions these days, we are spoiled for choice. And while all that travel can be exhausting, it is worth it to be able to talk to so many gamers and game retailers face to face. To find out what shows we’ll be at, you can check out our events calendar and keep an eye on our various social media pages. See you on the convention trail!

Free Spooky Preview: The Chindi From Freeport Bestiary

Oct 31 2017

Freeport Bestiary for the Pathfinder RPGNeed something spooky to scare your players for Halloween gaming? Green Ronin’s Freeport Bestiary is full of things that go boom in the night! As a free preview we’re offering a single creepy critter, the chindi–an undead created to terrorize its victims as it pursues a mission of vengeance!

Freeport Bestiary PDF Preview

(Psst! If you don’t have the Freeport Bestiary yet, you might want to also check out the Deadwood Tree, for additional free, creepy, Halloweeny preview goodness.)

Ronin Roundtable: Nisaba Press!

Oct 30 2017

Hi, I’m Jaym Gates, Line Manager for Green Ronin’s Nisaba Press. We’ll be publishing fiction tied in to the Green Ronin properties, both short fiction and novels. I was given three missions: make a great fiction line, make sure it was a great diverse fiction line, and find some great new voices for both fiction and RPGs. That’s pretty much the most exciting mission plan you could give me, for anything. Why? I got into editing because I discovered how amazing it was to find those incredible new voices that no one else has found yet. There is also something intensely rewarding about taking a good piece of fiction and refining it to its best form.

As we’re releasing our first batch of regular stories, I wanted to talk a little bit about tie-in fiction, and why Nisaba.

First off, one of the best things about tie-in fiction to me is that it gives fans new stories and elaborates on beloved settings. Flavor text in RPG books is great, but sometimes you really want to go on an adventure with characters. See the sights of Emerald City, smell the sweet reek of Freeport, maybe feel the wind on your face as Rezeans gallop across the plains. While we can’t LITERALLY give you all of that, fiction gives windows to the new and existing characters in our settings. Maybe they’ll inspire new adventures, show up in your existing adventures, or just be a brief excursion with a fictional friend, but any way it goes, we love giving fans the chance to interact at more length with our settings.

It’s also a great way to get your RPG fix if you don’t have time to game, are playing another game, or can’t get a good group. It’s like talking to an old friend you don’t get to see often enough.

Secondly, tie-in fiction is a great way for new fans to get involved. There are a lot of settings, a lot of rules, and a lot of history. It can be scary for someone to just jump in at the deep end with no idea what’s going on. A short story or novel takes away that overwhelming feeling of “SO MUCH STUFF” and gives the reader a gentle introduction to a new place.

And last but not least: because the world is made of stories, and stories allow the creators to develop things that might never come up in the RPGs, or that might just not have been thought of. Narrative is a unique thing that forces you to think of so many angles that you might not otherwise see. The scents and sounds of a world, the interplay between character and their religion, questions of morality and honor. A story fleshes out what the RPG has built to a level that flashes and flavor text can’t approach.

So that is “Why tie-in fiction.” I’m really thrilled with the stories I’ve already been working on. We have Anthony Pryor’s My Night in Freeport, Lindsay Adam’s tale of an Aldean agent and a Jarzoni priest-adept, Eytan Bernstein’s story of Kid Robot’s first day of school, and so much more. All of these are original fiction set canonically in the settings you know and love. My hope is that they bring another aspect of engagement and joy in the setting.

And keep an eye out, we’re planning to host an open submission period in a few months, so if you’re wanting to write fiction for Blue Rose, Freeport, or Mutants & Masterminds, get plotting now!

Short Fiction: My Night in Freeport

Oct 27 2017

Today we present a new short fiction piece by Anthony Pryor, set in Freeport: The City of Adventure. In “My Night In Freeport,” a naive cabin boy goes ashore in Freeport for the first time, and learns important lessons about life in the big city, why attention to proper knot lore matters, and about the sailors’ code.

For just $1.99, you can download this rollicking tale in your choice of PDF, ePub, or mobi (Amazon Kindle). Or all three! We’re not the boss of your reading habits.

About Nisaba Press

Nisaba Press is the fiction imprint of Green Ronin Publishing. Nisaba will be publishing novels, anthologies, and short fiction tied to the rich and varied worlds of Green Ronin’s tabletop roleplaying properties. Current plans include stories of swashbuckling horror in the fantasy world of Freeport: City of Adventure, tales set in the romantic fantasy world of Aldea from the Blue Rose Roleplaying Game, superheroic adventures set in the world of Earth-Prime from Mutants & Masterminds, and chronicles of fantasy survival-horror in the world of The Lost Citadel.

“My Night In Freeport” by Anthony Pryor

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