Saturday, September 20, 2014

3PP Interview: Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan

In my latest interview, Creighton Broadhurst talks about Raging Swan, publishing and freelancing. Creighton also blogs about game design, freelancing and other interesting stuff, check it out, too!

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

I started roleplaying a few days before my 10th birthday when my older cousin introduced me and my sister to Basic Dungeons & Dragons. My sister died a horrible death (chortle), but I survived my battle with the Black Prince. (Looking back on it, the dungeon was riddled with clich├ęs!) The very next day, I purchased the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook and my long journey into the deep recesses of geekdom was well underway.

The next few years were fairly typical for a young gamer: rainbow coloured dragons, 1,000,000d6 lightning bolts (the DM didn’t like me), killing everything in Deities & Demigods and some very high-level characters (all totally, 100% legal played from 1st-level).

I live in Torquay, England where, apparently, the palm trees are plastic and the weather is warm. I share my ramshackle old mansion with my two children (“Genghis” and “Khan”) and patient wife. I’m famed for my unending love affair with booze and pizza and am an enduring GREYHAWK fan.

I won an Ennie for Madness At Gardmore Abbey and have worked with (among others) Expeditious Retreat Press, Paizo, Kobold Press, Rite Publishing and Wizards of the Coast. I believe in the Open Gaming License and work to making Raging Swan's products as fun and easy to enjoy as possible for all participants. Reducing or removing entry barriers, simplifying pre-game prep and easing the GM's workload are the key underpinning principles of the products I now releases through Raging Swan Press.

I blog daily at creightonbroadhurst.com. 

How did you get into RPG design and what kind of projects have you been working on? What have been your best experiences?

I fell in love with the Greyhawk setting during my early gaming years and in 1999 (just sixteen short years later) wrote my first freelance module (Shadows Under Scant, for the RPGA). Getting involved with Living Greyhawk was inevitable and I became a Triad member for the UK shortly before the release of 3rd Edition. Membership of the Circle of Six quickly followed as did several articles for Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine. For the next six years, I busily slaughtered countless Living Greyhawk characters while writing many Core and Core Special events for the campaign. 

During this time, I landed my first freelance writing gigs for Expeditious Retreat Press, Paizo and Wizards of the Coast. My work has included contributions to several 3.5 and 4e hardbacks, supplements, adventures and a few adventures in the on-line Dungeon. 

In your opinion, what makes a good Pathfinder RPG compatible product? 

The same as any product, really. A decent RPG product has to fulfil a specific need for a specific gamer. That means understanding you need to understand the target gamer and what they want out of the product.

When and how did Raging Swan get started?

In 2010, I launched Raging Swan Press after the Living Greyhawk campaign came to an end. A big part of my goal launching Raging Swan Press was to dodge a proper job as long as possible. I'm also a stay at home dad, so the idea of running a business I could fit around my family life was particularly enticing.

Dedicated to producing reasonably priced, quality, easy to run products for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Raging Swan Press enables me to share stories and create engaging, dynamic adventures and situations while dodging a proper job.

What can you tell about Raging Swan's products? 

When I launched Raging Swan Press I decided to only producing products I'd use in my own campaign. That's tremendously selfish, I know, but that desire encapsulates both the style and flavour of my products and also serves as my quality control. I like to keep things simple, and if I'm in doubt about a product - or facet of a product - I simply ask, "would I use this?"

At Raging Swan Press, we believe the GM's job should be as simple and painless as possible. We believe a GM should not have to spend eight hours preparing for a four-hour session. We believe GMs should spend less time worrying about the minutia of the game and more time plotting awesome adventures and campaigns. 

We craft GM Resources designed to help GMs prepare quicker and prepare better. We don't deluge you in gobs of extra rules or options that just add complexity, confusion and bloat to the game. We simply publish richly detailed, easy to use material designed to be compatible with almost any GM's campaign. 

Can you give us an exclusive teaser about a future product? 

I'm working on a new mini-campaign setting that will be more awesome than The Lonely Coast! It's going to be dark and gritty. 

What are the best things about your products and what type of players or GMs would you recommend them for? 

I think I accidentally answered this at least partially in the previous question. I'd add though, that I'm distinctly old school in my games. Of course, that's a rather nebulous phrase, but I loved the 1st edition/2nd edition feel to games and I try and capture that in Raging Swan's products.

Our products are almost exclusively for GMs (mainly because I almost always GM in my group and I find it a great time saver to both work on Raging Swan and my campaign at the same time!) 

What are the current goals for Raging Swan? What are the biggest challenges? 

The biggest problem I face is making people aware of Raging Swan Press. At this very moment, we have over 250 Pathfinder compatible products available at the Paizo store, but I still run across people who have never heard of us. That's incredibly frustrating. In fact, I'd challenge anyone reading this who haven't tried out offering to email me and I'll send them a free supplement.

I've been very lucky, in that Raging Swan Press continues to grow year on year. We've moved forward every year and I plan to continue this trend. This year we've produced over a dozen print products including the gigantically epic GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing that clocked in at over 300 pages! Frustratingly, also, it seems a fair few people swear off 3PP products because of perceived quality issues. I'm tremendously proud of Raging Swan's products, that's why we offer a 30-day money bank guarantee on all our products. 

Is there anything else people should know about Raging Swan? 

At Raging Swan Press we are insanely proud of the quality of our products. That's why we offer a 30-day money back guarantee on all our products. I think we are the only Pathfinder publisher running such an offer. 

We also run quite cool free PDF promotion for customers buying our print products. Basically, if you buy a Raging Swan print product you can pick PDFs up to the value of the book you purchased. 

How do you generally find new freelancers to work for you? What is the application process like?

I've run two competitions to find new freelancers recently and the response was tremendous. For each competition, prospective freelancers were challenged to write a 1,500-word encounter and I published the best ones in Random Encounters: Wilderness and Random Encounters: Wilderness II.

I'm also happy to entertain proposals from freelancers, but only for short products that fit into one our existing lines. I don't like getting sent complete products to review. At the end of the day, reading through a proposal is much easier than reading a full product. I've actually blogged about how to make a successful pitch, in my snappily titled How to Pitch a Product post. 

What are the main requirements for a freelancer to work for you? What other skills and/or experience are useful? 

I've previously blogged before about this very subject when I talked about the Golden Rules of Freelancing! A good freelancer follows guidelines/book briefs, hits word count, keeps in contact, understands his work will be edited, hits deadline and plays the game for which he is writing. He also accepts and values feedback.

Can you describe a typical assignment you give to new freelancers? What steps does the process typically include from the freelancer's point of view? 

Most of Raging Swan's products are in the 10-page range so they are relatively easy to handle even for a new freelancer. Huge projects can seem particularly daunting. Historically, new freelancers might work on the various Dressing ranges we have (Dungeon Dressing, Urban Dressing or Wilderness Dressing) or a Village Backdrop.

Typically, for a freelancer a Raging Swan product has three phases:
  1. Design Brief: In this phase, I send out the design brief to the freelancer. He then works up a proposal and we have a back and forth until we are both happy with the direction of the project. 
  2. Milestone: The freelancers turns over about 30% of the project so I can see it's on target and on theme. This allows me to spot potential problems early, which means we rarely need any large rewrites. That's good for everyone involved. If I'm working with a freelancer I know and trust, I skip this phase. 
  3. Turnover: The freelancer hands over his final work and it enters editing/development. At the end of this phase, I might send feedback or suggestions depending on the quality of the turnover. If it's really good I immediately hurl another contract at the freelancer!
What advice would you give to aspiring freelancers? 

Keep going and keep improving. A depressing amount of people seem to give up writing far too quickly. Accept that getting into the industry overnight is very unlikely to happen. It took me around seven years of hard work to land my first proper writing gig with Wizards, although I'd managed to sneak into Dungeon and Dragon magazines previously. Work hard, and don't give up.

3 comments :

  1. I got back into RPGs early this year and chose Pathfinder over D&D e4. I was lucky that I found Retribution and Shadowed Keep On The Borderlands when I went looking for first level adventures. I've found Raging Swan stuff to be really helpful and brilliantly put together. If readers haven't tried it I'd really recommend it.

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    Replies
    1. Glad to hear you've enjoyed Raging Swan's products!

      From what I hear from freelancers, Creighton is also great to work with, so I was very pleased to have a chance to interview him. :-)

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  2. Good post and interesting interview, Mikko. I enjoyed reading about Raging Swan. Creighton seems like he has a great outlook and approach. I'll be browsing products from RS sometime soon.

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