Let’s get indie RPG publishers some attention. Writing, designing, producing and publishing a game is especially hard. Imagine trying to market it at the same time.
Take that challenge and throw in the spiky complexity of competing in a marketplace dominated by Wizards of the Coast.
Arranging this interview with Jörgen or Random Rambling Press raised another awkward challenge. Imagine also if the only emails you get from people offering interviews, exposures or anything that smells like marketing turns out to be a scam. It’s a real risk.
Fortunately, Jörgen was convinced. Thanks to Geek Native’s Patreons for making this possible. The RPG Publisher Spotlight this month is a chance to light up some interest for Random Rambling Press.
Getting to know Random Rambling Press
Jörgen is Swedish, and English is not his first language. My Swedish is awful, less than zero, and I can’t pronounce Mork Borg correctly. So, we compromised and conducted the interview entirely in English.
Who are Random Rambling Press
An old gamer, an artist at heart and a forever GM. Someone who loves to convey and tell stories.
How did you get started?
When I was introduced to tabletop role-playing games, the classic “Drakar och Demoner” (the Swedish version of “Dungeons and Dragons”), I started creating my things, both adventures and rules. I fondly remember the first rules a friend and I wrote, “Task of the Bounty hunters”. It’s based on our favourite character, Boba Fett, from Star Wars, when there were only three movies. Still have it, typed on an old typewriter and totally unplayable :)
Running a small RPG publisher
We’ve already discovered how hard it is for indie RPG publishers to get noticed. What’s it like being a solo publisher?
What would you like to be best known for?
I don’t know. I just hope that people find and use the stuff I do. That makes me super happy.
What have you learned on the way?
I have learned, among many things, that people don’t necessarily like everything you do, which is fine.
What makes a good RPG product?
There are so many good products out there from super-talented people. All are different and superb in their own way. I don’t know. It’s a feeling, something that resonates with me. It can be a fantastic backstory, plotline, illustration, or layout.
What’s the hardest thing about being a publisher of your size?
If I tried to live on it, it would be much different. Now I’m happy to be able to find the time to create. And finish things before a new idea pops up and demands my attention ;)
You’ve published several books as Pay What You Want. Do you think that model works for publishers?
Yes and no. I want people to use what I do rather than shy away because it costs. But people might shy away from something because it doesn’t cost. So it’s a balance. I have a problem putting a price tag on my work, knowing what it’s worth.
Random reflections on the RPG scene
It’s always an awkward question asking publishers to summarise whole scenes because it’s a hard ask. Worse, answers might flirt with disagreement with readers and stir arguments.
So, I asked them anyway.
What do you think about the role-playing scene in general?
I see the value of having a brand like DnD to make role-playing more accessible. I wish that DnD is not the only game people think about when they think about role-playing games. There are so many great games out there worth exploring. And I’m not too fond of labels. A role-playing game is a role-playing game. People don’t need to fight over what is right and wrong or best.
Can you tell readers about Dakuhausu – The Dark House?
Dakuhausu is a classic ghost story set in Meiji-era Japan. It started as a drawing that grew into an adventure. I had just bought Yokai Hunters Society, and they just clicked together. I wanted to support YHS, such a great game, so I included a guide for the Meiji era and horror gaming.
You’ve written a few books set in or inspired by Japanese history. What’s the attraction?
I have always been fascinated with Chines and Japanese history and culture, and I love the difference between our cultures and trying to understand and learn more about them. A lot comes from movies by Akira Kurosawa, Masaki Kobayashi, and Takashi Miike, to name a few. It’s a harsh and complex way of life but still filled with such beauty and love for small and simple things. And, of course, I have a very soft spot for Martial Arts in all its forms and shapes.
Looking forward a little, I have started looking at Finnish and Karelian mythology and culture, which is very fascinating.
Do you prefer a particular genre to create/write for?
Horror! I love horror movies and stories. It’s among the hardest, especially for gamemasters, but it’s the most rewarding. I also love to write historically based role-playing rules and adventures. I wish people would embrace it more. But it’s also a hard genre because people seem to believe they must get everything right.
Jump right in, dare to explore, making mistakes, that’s what I do :)
Role-playing games can be a great way to educate, not just in history, but in many things. Embrace that opportunity.
What’s the tabletop RPG scene in Sweden like? It seems pretty healthy, given the success of some publishers.
Sweden has a robust role-playing culture, resulting in some great publishers. It’s definitely a hobby that has good traction for the moment. Being one of the founders of KryptCon, a small OSR convention held in Gothenburg, I have had the opportunity to meet and work with some wonderful people. But I wish that we, as a community, were more including.
There is a lot of fragmentation between social groups. And it is less open than one might think. People tend to stick with their group of friends and use a specific set of rules. Trying to find players for more obscure things is hard.
Is it possible for a few publishers to be too successful?
Yes! I would love for people to discover the plethora of role-playing systems out there. There is a tendency for super-large product ranges to put indie things in the shade. But I guess it is the same problem on any Indie scene, whatever it is.
I always ask about the future. I want to take this chance to fish out a scoop. Let’s see how well I do with Jörgen.
What will Random Rambling Press do next?
People write game systems left and right without backing them up with adventures and expansions. It’s a shame and somehow unfair to potential players and GMs. I love supporting things like Yokai Hunters Society because I want that to stay around. And there are so many others out there and so little time :(
But I also have plans for some game systems. But we have to wait and see :)
For the moment, I’m working on a hack for the Firelights game jam by FariRPGs that I call Kunoichi. And as mentioned, a game based on the Kalevala, the Finnish and Karelia national epic. Folklore and mythology.
But there is so much more, too much to mention.
Random Rambling Press
- Random Rambling Press on DriveThruRPG.
- Random Rambling Press on website.
- Random Rambling Press on Twitter.
- Random Rambling Press on Redbubble.
- Random Rambling Press on Ko-fi.
Latest Random Rambling Press products
Random Rambling Press is on DriveThruRPG, so we can see where the latest updates to their catalogue have been made.
- 23st of January, 2023 Yokai Case File #2.
- 1st of January, 2023 Yokai Case File #1
- 16th of November, 2022 The Dungescape Issue 2.
- 13th of September, 2022 Incantamentum
- 10th of May (a fine date), 2022 Grave of the Last Warrior.
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