April Fool’s Fun

Some time last year I was browsing through stock art on DriveThruRPG when I found the Invisible Stalker.  What does a picture of an Invisible Stalker look like? I was expecting faint outlines, or a ghost like appearance, or…. well what I found was this. It is an invisible stalker.

And with that I discovered the joy and humour of April 1st product releases. There are a fair few out there, and some of them might even deserve a semi-legitimate spot at the gaming table (10 foot poles can be super useful).

I knew I wanted Dire Rugrat Publishing to be a part of the fun, and so we started coming up with ideas. Not just a gag, I wanted the release to be an entertaining read, and something GMs could use.

not so advantageous abilities coverWe’re big on role-playing here.  For us, it’s not just how the dice land, it’s not just defeating capable BBEGs, it’s about the flaws and decisions that create a memorable story: the plotting seductress who looses her cool and watches her carefully laid plans unravel because someone calls her boring; the bar owner who gets burned by an adventuring party and inadvertently becomes one of their greatest nemeses; the terrifying arbiter of justice who just can’t seem to save against those mind-affecting spells.

If you like building your 5e NPCs yourself, you might have checked out our Advantageous Abilities line of products.

This line provides Game Masters a toolkit with which they can easily add feature abilities to monsters and NPCs, giving their NPCs an advantageous edge (or just a little role-playing fun).

Each product in this line has more than 15 themed feature abilities, and instructions that allow GMs to easily customize existing creatures or create all new foes.

Currently there are three Advantageous Abilities: Humanoid Special Abilities, Charismatic Abilities and Savage Abilities.

Our upcoming April Fool’s release, (Not So) Advantageous Abilities, features twenty abilities for GMs to give their NPCs a custom Achilles’ heel.  Making the most of this weakness can add flavour and humour to a campaign, creating a memorable nemesis and a little role-playing fun. 

With a table indicating the challenge rating adjustments, this little product allows you to take a powerful, capable NPC and give them an exploitable flaw, making someone way out of your PCs league a much better fit.

Keep your eye out this weekend, and get ready to amuse your players!

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Glando the Pervasive

Some NPCs make excellent allies, others are debilitating nemeses, but some are just sad. In this series of posts we bring you Flawed Foes.  These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles.  Don’t let that stop you from enjoying some good old role-playing fun though!


Publisher's Choice Quality Stock Art ©Rick Hershey/Fat Goblin Games

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art ©Rick Hershey/Fat Goblin Games (https://fatgoblingames.com/)

Glando the Pervasive was born to a charming catwoman and a hardworking catman.  The young catfolk adored his parents, who worked tirelessly to provide their son with a good life, and remained jubilantly positive no matter what hurdles came their way. While Glando was cheerful and generally well-mannered, others in the village found it difficult to trust him; there was something about the young catfolk that seemed shifty.

Over time Glando’s parents began to drift apart, and though they did their best to keep their son’s well-being first and foremost, a change was eventually needed; Glando’s father no longer agreed with the rules of his clan, and decided to leave the village, but his mother refused to give up the life she had built.   As he neared adulthood, Glando was forced to make a choice – leave with his father, or stay with his mother.

The young boy was devastated.  As it happened, a travelling show came through his village that night.  Several of the visitors were adept musicians, sporting various instruments including the lute.  Glando was mesmerised.  The music spoke to him and soothed him.

Overwhelmed with the decision before him, Glando returned home where he collected a few belongings and, in the first rays of dawn, hid himself in amongst the wagons of the travellers.  It was not until much later that day he was found and, after some pleading, was allowed to stay on with the musicians.  The group wasn’t sure if they could trust him and kept their small coin purses close, but they sympathized with the young Glando and his desire to be on the road, his heart full of melody.

Each evening the party would create beautiful music and occasionally they allowed Glando to try.  He was horrible, but he persevered.  His companions offered words of encouragement and attempted to teach him.

For months he travelled with the musicians, from town to town.  He assisted them with their packs and instruments, he helped draw crowds, and always he dreamed of being one of them, but he was never allowed to play with them for events.

Glando soon decided they were jealous of his ability to play the lute, and when the party left town the next morning he bid them farewell and ventured off on his own with the small pouch of coin he had been paid during his time with them.  The aspiring bard made his way to a local merchant who was selling a lute. The lute, he was told, belonged to a capable and magnificent musician who met his end performing in front of a great crowd well into old age – no doubt, it could bring him the same fortune and luck.  And so, with nary a coin left to his name, Glando renamed himself Glando the Pervasive and set forth to conquer the musical scene of every tavern he could find.

Alas, after a year on the road Glando the Pervasive has had difficulty securing any shows and is frequently booed off stage. Due to his squirrely nature, Glando has not even had much luck hiring himself out to adventurers or merchants to provide a helping hand.  He has begun to consider returning home to his village, but he isn’t sure what he will find if he does, and he fears neither of his parents will forgive him for abandoning them.

Glando stat block


You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.

Open Game License


What did you think of this NPC? Did he make an appearance in your game session? 

vintage type writer

Why I Love Writing For Other Publishers

Ken and I started Dire Rugrat Publishing because we had an idea we thought other gamers might find useful.  Our line of Tangible Taverns has developed a bit of following with some people and we’ve had a bunch of repeat business as a result. The first time we sold a tavern was exciting.  The first time we sold a second tavern to a previous customer was just as exhilarating.  There’s something satisfying about knowing people don’t just like what you write, they like it enough to buy something else from you.

After our second tavern was released, I ended up sick in bed for a few days.  Really sick.  With no energy to get up and do anything, my laptop kept me company.  My mind couldn’t function enough to do my normal job or write any game material, and so I Facebooked.  I ended up making contact with a couple of people in the biz, and then ended up being offered work.

That was scary, but also really exciting.  Writing for myself didn’t feel real.  It was fun, but felt a lot like a hobby. And just a hobby.  Being offered paid work… that was a different kettle of fish. I love working for myself (most of the time), but writing for other publishers is pretty amazing, and here’s why:

They Pay

Writing for a company you own (when the company is teeny tiny and doesn’t make a lot of sales) means you don’t see a lot of income from your sales. Most of what we make gets poured back into stock art and other resources.  Writing for another publishing company means you get paid for your work.  Pay rates vary, as does the the time it takes to get paid, but there is a lot less financial risk in working for someone else. Plus, money = nice.


Cool New Art

lonely pony coverWe often use stock art, and I have a hand in picking it out. When we have custom art Ken creates it, and I see it each step of the way. But when it comes to writing for another publisher, I hand over a word file and the next time I see the content I wrote, it looks pretty in a layout I didn’t create with art I may have never seen. Some companies go above and beyond here with custom art (shout out to Playground Adventures), and that is even more exciting – the characters I created are there in full colour! Art and layout being done without me ever touching it really makes me feel like a professional, or like I “made it.”


Bigger/Different Client Base

We have a couple of avid fans (and we adore you!), but Dire Rugrat Publishing is far from a well known company.  Our customer and fan base are minuscule compared to a lot of RPG companies.  Writing for different publishers means there’s a better chance of someone new picking up something I wrote and enjoying it.  (And hopefully returning to pick up something published under our own company name.)

Hand in hand with that, the promotion for a project I participated in with another publisher is so much bigger.  I see posts and shares on Facebook.  I see emails showing up in inboxes.  People talk about it.  It’s really cool that there is so much more hype.


Experience

I don’t want to say we are making this up as we go along, but we are kind of making this up as we go along.  Ken has a lot of experience gaming, and I’ve thrown myself into it head first; I’ve always loved writing, and Ken’s been GMing for years.  But it isn’t like either of us any experience designing content on a professional level before we said “Hey, let’s share this tavern with everyone.”

Writing for other publishers is a great way to fine tune some skills, or work on projects I wouldn’t be up for otherwise.  Having a developer look over my work, and make suggestions (or full on requests) steers the work to a different place.  Their experience can make for a much better project, as long as I’m willing to not take the input personally.


Set Deadline

For awhile, when I’d write for Dire Rugrat I’d write until I thought the project was done. We’ve since made set word counts we aim to hit, but either way, sometimes life is busy, and the project takes a backseat. Sure, I could set a deadline for myself, and we are trying to stick to a pre-made schedule this year (a new approach for 2017), but it doesn’t always work out.  (There are some projects that were in the works far longer than I’d care to admit.)  However, if I’ve committed myself to someone else, I make sure I get the job done.  Blood, sweat, tears: it doesn’t matter.  I. Will. Finish.

As stressful as that can be, it’s also awesome the project doesn’t (usually) drag on and on.  I write it by the deadline, I submit it, and voila! It’s off my plate (until they need revisions, which can happen depending on the publisher). And I get paid. Done.  Apparently I commit myself better to others than myself.


Different Type of Work

Household Magic coverEvery company has a schtick. Or two. Or three.  But most companies aren’t all over the map.  There’s a cohesiveness to what they publish, often with specific lines of products.  Writing for other publishing companies means I can write content Dire Rugrat would never publish. Dinosaurs are awesome, but they have no place in our collection.  Magical items are super fun, but they fit better with someone else.  I loved ponies as a kid, but an adventure about them really isn’t Dire Rugrat material.  There’s some other fun stuff I’ve gotten to work on as well, and while it hasn’t been released yet, I look forward to the day it hopefully is.  These projects don’t fit inside the sphere of this publishing company, but they were a lot of fun to work on, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

And so finally, if you want to check out other work by me, you can find a list of it here, broken out by publishing company.


Have you written for yourself? Or someone else?

What are your thoughts on it?

inkwell and feather pen

February 2017 Reviews

In case you missed some of our products the first go around, or you’ve been sitting on the fence about them, we’ll compile the monthly reviews of our products into one blog post each month.

The full reviews can be found with the products (linked to in the product name), and in some cases, on the reviewer’s own blog (linked to the reviewers name).

Continue reading February 2017 Reviews