“Why are you actually printing a book?”
This was the first response my friend had when I told him my plan. Not what I was expecting to be honest.
I responded “Well I want to self-publish something, have creative freedom…”
And he cut me off.
“Just make a PDF and save yourself the trouble.”
And it was trouble. Print on demand vs. Offset printing. Paper weights. Gloss or matte finish. International shipping. Various print technologies. Cost. How many do I print? All of this goes swirling around the decision to make a physical book, something that is in some ways a dying medium. It made me think about why I wanted to print something so badly, and what the physical form of a book meant to me.
Let’s face it, digital consumption and creation of RPG books can be pretty great. Of course it can have some issues, but the PDF and Print on Demand revolution have made indie RPG publishing so much more accessible. It has been great for consumers and creators. We have a more diverse and specialized market than ever before, with just about every taste catered for. But I wanted to do it the hard way.
It all goes back to inspiration, and ultimately the things I wanted to create. I was most inspired by the game books I had loved so much in my youth. This was the golden era for me of the 80’s and early 90’s and I stuffed my school backpack with well-worn copies of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons books, Middle Earth Roleplaying and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying.
While there was immense room in my brain and in my heart for all different games, physical space was actually extremely limited to a Jansport backpack and what my tiny shoulders could support to and from school. This meant there was a constant prioritization. What I loved I kept close, reading and rereading constantly whenever there was a spare moment. Getting lost in the illustrations, imagining exciting and different worlds. Now, as an adult, I wanted to create something that can illicit even a fraction of that emotional investment with someone.
Most of us have more room now in our lives than a simple backpack. But even with some more theoretical room, we are still constantly battling physical space constraints in each of our own personal worlds. I wanted to make something that could earn a spot in that world, and use that criteria to drive creation of something worthwhile. I’d like space in your backpack, and that has been the guiding star for this project. It has been the quality control that has drove each decision. This wasn’t something I could just throw up on DriveThruRPG as a PDF, I needed it to be more. Printing means additional cost, complexity and anxiety, but ultimately it provides the requirement to enforce higher quality, better art and a stronger more cohesive manuscript. Physically printing this book was guide, a sort of North Star that helped me stay the course, and the book is better because of it.
Ruin & Conquest is a system-neutral campaign setting for tabletop fantasy role-playing games. It introduces you to the world of Ealand, an island ablaze with conflict, tearing itself apart in the decaying shadow of its once great cultures.
Check it out here… http://kck.st/2P1U47Q