So You Wanna Be an RPG Superstar?

One question a lot of people ask me is, “How do I break into writing roleplaying games?” There’s rarely a short answer to this. Most professional RPG writers made their way into the industry in their own unique way. Some start out running games at conventions. Others help in a publisher’s booth. A few throw caution (and more than a few bucks) to the wind and launch their own publishing company.

For the past three years, though, a company named Paizo has had a simple if dramatic answer: enter its RPG Superstar competition.

Paizo started out as the company that licensed the venerable Dungeons & Dragons magazines (Dragon and Dungeon, naturally) from Wizards of the Coast, and they published them until Wizards let the license expire in 2007. At that point, in an effort to gear up for the fourth edition of the game (D&D 4E), Wizards abandoned paper and brought the magazines online.

On the hunt for something else to publish, Paizo came out with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, essentially D&D 3.75E, and made a stab at keeping the third edition of the game going while Wizards moved on to the next version. This worked spectacularly well and transformed Paizo into the #2 RPG publisher in the industry.

Over the years, Paizo’s done many things, like start up a couple fiction lines and build what’s arguably the best tabletop games store on the web. They also launched RPG Superstar, an American Idol style competition in which hopeful RPG designers square off against each other.

The first round of the contest—in which contestants design magic items—opens December 3 and closes on the 31st. The top 32 entrants, as judged by a panel of four RPG pros—then create a class archetype. At this point, the public takes over the voting and determines who proceeds to the later levels.

The 16 best of those go on to create a villain. The top 8 of those build an adventure location. The final 4 submit proposals for a full adventure. The winner gets hired to actually write all 32 pages, while the runners-up chip in 16-page versions of their ideas instead.

There are lots of ways to break into writing for games, but few are guaranteed to grant you as much publicity on the way in. If you think you got what it takes, get your creative engines warmed up. Otherwise, just stop by to read the entries, vote on them, and see who climbs up the ladder to become this year’s RPG Superstar.

Matt Forbeck is the author of thirteen tie-in novels, most of them having to do with Dungeons & Dragons or Blood Bowl. Just this month, Angry Robot published his first original novel—Amortals—and his second—Vegas Knights—is due out this spring.


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