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Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 1:46 PM
Categories: Dungeons & Dragons
In his blog yesterday, Chris Perkins described the changes that were implemented in our department last week. I figured I'd take this opportunity to write a little bit more about what my new job is and what that means for me.
My new title is Creative Manager, which is actually the title that Chris held previously, but the job is not the same. Mine is a new position within the structure of the new half of the department, and in some ways it's still sort of nebulous. Ultimately, though, it's all about the story of D&D, in all the incarnations of D&D. I manage a team of creative geniuses (well, right now it's just me and Bruce Cordell, but expansion is planned) whose job it is, largely, to come up with cool new ideas. We're supposed to think up new stuff, flesh it out to the extent that particular idea requires, and then hand it off to other teams—Mike's RPG group, the board game folks, the D&D Insider studio, or whoever—to implement.
We're going to be doing most of our work very far in advance of products actually being announced, so pretty much everything we do is top secret. However, I think I can give two sort of generic examples.
We've already announced the D&D Gamma World game, and suggested that we're probably going to do more of these self-contained "genre" games. In the future, my team will be pretty heavily involved in fleshing out the story background of those games, freeing up the design team to concentrate on the game design. In fact, it's my hope that we can do some intensive brainstorming and come up with a whole bunch of ideas for future genre games. When the RPG team sits down to plan the next one, they'll have a whole file of fleshed-out ideas to draw from, and they can pick the one that's right for that year.
At sort of the other extreme, Bill recently called me in to help him come up with a name for an unannounced board game. We came up with a great name, and along the way came up with some amount of story that explains the name—and, to some extent, explains the whole game. As that game gets a little farther along, someone on my team (maybe me) will write some text to make sure that story is communicated in the rulebook. That's a pretty minor task and not something that requires a whole lot of big-picture, strategic thinking, but it's a clear place where having one team that's responsible for the story of the game is going to be really good—for us, for the game, and for our customers.
My influence is not going to disappear from the D&D RPG—not by any stretch. If nothing else, I have a standing lunch date with Mike Mearls every week, and we're not going to stop bouncing ideas around just because our jobs have changed. But more importantly, you should expect to see the influence of me and my team in any place where the story of the D&D worlds is reflected in the RPG. Campaign settings, super adventures, and setting books (like Plane Above or Underdark) are among the most important kinds of products I'll be involved in, but that's not all.
I'm hugely excited about this new position and what it means for all of D&D. I feel like the whole new business side of D&D R&D is an investment in the future, and I'm positive that it's going to pay off in really exciting ways. I can't wait until I get to unveil some of them to you!
I hope that helps clarify a bit more of what's going on, and particularly any confusion that might have arisen because of my taking over Chris's job title.
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Monday, September 14, 2009, 11:50 AM
I talked with the Newbie DM last week about DMG2, and the interview went live on the site today. Check it out!
And yes, that's me in a tux. The great thing about a tuxedo is that when you're wearing one, everyone else is underdressed.
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009, 1:57 PM
Live in the Seattle area? Like laughing?
Next month, I'm starring in Valley Community Players' production of the play Lend Me a Tenor, by Ken Ludwig.
The show opens on Friday, October 2 and runs through October 18. Performance times are:
Fridays at 8:00 P.M. (10/2, 10/9, 10/16)
Performances are held in Renton's Carco theater at 1717 Maple Valley Highway.
For more information, visit the Valley Community Players web site.
It's a hilarious show, a top-notch cast (leaving aside the question of whether putting me in a starring role was wise), and should be a great time. But note that it's a PG-13 sex comedy, not appropriate for young children.
Hope to see you there!
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 3:05 PM
Categories: Dungeons & Dragons
Hello and welcome. I'm the Dungeons & Dragons Design Manager at Wizards of the Coast, which means that I manage both our internal staff of game designers and the freelancers who do a lot of writing and design for our print products.
When I was at Gen Con earlier this month, I would introduce myself at seminars by explaining that I'm the guy who stands behind our designers with a whip, continually driving them on to more creative, innovative approaches to the design of the game. I don't think I'm really that bad, but it's a drum I've been beating for a while now: We should never do something just because it's what we (or our fans) expect us to do, because it's the way we've always done it, or because it's the obvious approach.
I've been at Wizards since January of 2000. In those years, I've written such products as Oriental Adventures, City of the Spider Queen, and the 4th Edition Dungeon Master's Guide. I contributed to dozens of other products along the way, from Monsters of Faerûn, Defenders of the Faith, and Deities & Demigods, to both editions of the Eberron campaign setting products, Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, and Pyramid of Shadows. I was one of the lead designers of the 4th Edition D&D game, and now as Design Manager I keep my fingers on just about every product our team produces, in some capacity.
I've also written four Eberron novels: In the Claws of the Tiger (2006) and the Draconic Prophecies trilogy—Storm Dragon (2007), Dragon Forge (2008), and Dragon War (2009). I don't have any more novels in the works just yet, but I suspect it's only a matter of time before I get drawn in by the siren song again.
I'm currently playing in four D&D campaigns and running one. I'm playing Baredd (human paladin of Erathis/champion of Order) in a game run by Bill Slavicsek, currently engrossed in Revenge of the Giants. In Andy Collins' Scales of War campaign, I'm Adrin (elf rogue/warlock). Jaeric (half-elf wild sorcerer) is my character in Jeremy Crawford's Oberon campaign. And at lunchtimes twice a week, I play Saman Bharat (human fighter/wizard) in a Greyhawk campaign run by Mike Mearls. Then Fridays at lunch I run my Greenbrier campaign, which is the subject of the Dungeoncraft column I write for Dungeon magazine. That means that in an ideal month, I play about 17 sessions of D&D, or about 38 hours of gaming.
Unfortunately, few months are that ideal. Lunchtime games in particular (and mine especially) are prone to cancellation. I'm also in a play at the moment which has taken me out of Bill's game for a couple of months, but once we open at the end of September, I'm looking forward to stepping back into Baredd's steel-plated shoes and slaying more giants!
Outside of work and gaming, I do some theater, sing when and where I can, and spend a lot of quality time with my family (wife and one son).
In addition to this blog, I maintain one at blog.aquela.com, and you can learn more about my novels at www.aquela.com. You might also want to follow me on Twitter, which I use primarily to talk about D&D, especially when I'm gaming.
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