In a close-run vote, Geek Native’s patrons voted Legendary Games into the RPG Publisher Spotlight.
In just about an equally narrow squeeze, Geek Native managed to speak to Jason Nelson of Legendary Games, write everything up and publish this piece before the end of the month. Phew!
Balance comes up a lot in our chat; the balance between getting loads of great art into a book versus keeping the cost of the book down, the work-life balance when work is a hobby too, and even your own needs and those of other people.
We also find out what’s next for Legendary Games with a quick tour of upcoming projects.
Who are Legendary Games?
We are a roleplaying game company that started up in 2011 and that makes game expansions of truly legendary quality! We do adventures (from one-session mini adventures to 700+ page massive sagas), bestiaries, magic items, spells, class expansions and brand-new class options, campaign settings, and more for all genres from sci-fi to high fantasy, pirates to ninjas, ancient Egypt to fantasy Asia, horror campaigns to forest faeries, beginner products to card games and more. We started off doing Pathfinder RPG content but released our first D&D 5E products at GenCon 2014, when 5E debuted, and have released over 100 more books for 5th Edition since. We’ve branched out into other game systems since then, including Starfinder, Pathfinder Second Edition, and Savage Worlds, and we’re always working on something amazing to help Make Your Game Legendary!
How come there’s so many of you?
We started out with just a few people, all of whom were regular Paizo freelancers. That was part of the initial sales pitch: top-quality, beautiful RPG products from the same authors who are writing lots of the official PFRPG stuff you’re already using. Not sure about 3rd-party products? You can trust THESE products to be awesome, because we’re only hiring the best of the best. Probably 2/3 or more of Paizo’s Adventure Path adventures have been penned by LG contributors.
But as time goes on, some people drop out of the regular rotation and others come in. Different people have different availability at different times and for different reasons. Plus, we kept adding more game systems, D&D 5E, Starfinder, Pathfinder Second Edition, Savage Worlds, and a few others here and there, and again different people have expertise in one system or another.
But once you’re on Team LG, you’re on it. We embrace everyone in a team atmosphere of collaboration and making cool stuff happen. So, people who do stuff with us tend to come back around again because they enjoy the experience. Plus, when you work with LG you get a stake in what you create. You get paid royalties down the line. What you make is what you make, but you don’t just fire and forget it; you continue to be a part of it.
What are Legendary Games best known for?
Probably our “Ultimate” lines of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and D&D 5E supplements, which deal with expanded subsystems to introduce and expand different parts of the game outside of the adventuring life: things like kingdom-building, mass combat, constructing strongholds, relationships with NPCs, factions and intrigue, ships and naval combat, and that sort of thing.
We’ve also done over two dozen class expansions and redesigns for Pathfinder RPG, and those continue to be popular even over a year into the lifespan of Pathfinder Second Edition.
That, and our biggest product ever, the massive Legendary Planet Adventure Path (now complete for levels 1-20 for Pathfinder, Starfinder, and D&D 5E); the 5E version at 748 pages holds the record for LG.
What do you wish Legendary Games was best known for?
Selling LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS of books, so many that we couldn’t ever even keep them in stock! (kidding)
I think LG *is* known for what I wish it was, which is making amazing books for multiple systems, with creative and exciting and expertly crafted rules and ideas that make your game more fun. We’ve worked hard for 9 years to earn that reputation and I think we keep it there by continuing to make great stuff. I wish *more* people knew us for that, as more eyes on the product means more royalties for the contributors and more ability to keep making even more great stuff in the future. To that end, I certainly appreciate your folks voting us their publisher of the month!
What does a good RPG supplement look like to you?
It should be fun and clear. The rules should make sense and be not just coherent but also aligned with the expectations and norms of whatever system it is using. It also should do something interesting. That’s in the eye of the beholder, but rules can be clear without being fun, they can be fun without being coherent, and they can be coherent without aligning with system norms, and on down the line, but a good supplement should have each in good measure.
I grew up with AD&D in the early 1980s, so I appreciate a sparse layout with line art and pen and ink illustrations, but I also appreciate the fact that people buy books they might never actually use at the table, in part because they like to collect and peruse and experience them, so the prettier, more art-heavy RPG books of the current era certainly catch my eye as well.
It’s a bit of a conundrum, because as a publisher fancy art-filled books are obviously WAY MORE EXPENSIVE to create, but at the same time I decided early on that LG was going to create a premium kind of product, and whomever wanted to buy it would buy it. For those who want something very bare bones, that’s just not what we make.
Your About page has an ethical declaration at the bottom. It’s increasingly common to see pro-BLM, pro-diversity, pro-environment and occasionally anti-slavery statements but the issue Legendary Games tackles is special treatment from other publishers. Why is this a particular topic for Legendary?
I think it’s an important topic for everybody. I’m a cishet white English-speaking male who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s mostly in rural and small-town areas, so I could have plenty of excuses to have a more prejudicial outlook and just say “that’s the way I was raised.” But that’s baloney, because how you were raised only tells you where you start; it doesn’t have to define where you go from there. Be curious and learn from others, and learn that you don’t have all the answers because other people’s experiences are different than yours. Being involved in the “black church” for over 30 years has certainly been educational, as has being married to Asian and Black women and having multiethnic kids. I haven’t experienced life the same way they have, but I’ve done my best to learn from their experiences and perspectives.
Beyond personal experiences, I also believe in working to make a better world, however small our contributions may be. My undergraduate degree is in History and my doctorate is in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, focusing on social and cultural foundations of education and how and why we do what we do in society and what impact that has. Everyone has a vested interest in working to create a society that is more loving and caring to all its members, that is woven into a garment of mutuality. This is both a religious ethic rooted in my Christian faith but also a humanistic ethic that recognizes the fact that we are all here together on this Earth and have a responsibility to one another to make this life and this planet the best we can. I frankly don’t understand the “Screw you, as long as I’ve got mine” mentality that drives certain social and political movements. The urge to dominate, the desire to push others down and out to try to aggrandize yourself; my mind just doesn’t work that way.
How do you manage the work / life balance?
It’s actually a little tricky when your work is also your hobby. When are you working on something that’s really for work and when is it just noodling around with ideas for fun? It helps to have some specific time points to just get off the computer and make sure that you are there with and for family, mealtimes, and all the rest. With so many people doing Zoom meetings and the like for work, a lot of us feel more sucked into our computers than usual, so having time away from the computer screen is good. Even a weekly RPG game, though, kinda feels a little more like “computer work” when you’re just gathered around the screen rather than around the gaming table.
Add to that things like church activities that used to be a major thing for me to get out of the house and see people and engage there, and when the church building has been closed for the last 7 months suddenly those things aren’t there. We still are doing a lot of the ministry work online, but again it’s a different kind of thing than actually going to church or going and teaching classes and so on in person.
Getting outside the four walls around you is important. FInding mileposts that mark time is helpful, so that every hour and every day doesn’t just blend into the next. Family and even pets are helpful for that. Make sure you are making contact.
How have the events of 2020 impacted Legendary Games?
They definitely cut down on our plans for convention attendance, but the bigger difference has been for contributors. Some people have lost jobs or had reduced hours and have had more time to work on game products, while others have had increased responsibilities and have had less time. As a business that always has been virtual, with most of our communications happening via email and cooperative work-sharing websites, that part of things hasn’t really changed much. I’ve worked from home since 2014, so having a regular and stable job that I control as far as hours and that isn’t reliant on face-to-face customer interaction has been helpful.
It has raised a lot of uncertainty around crowdfunding campaigns and the like, since people’s financial priorities can change in the midst of a pandemic and related job changes, but so far those cases have been the exception more than the rule.
We’ve seen the rise of virtual conventions this year. Is this an area Legendary Games could do more with in 2021?
We’ve done some virtual conventions in the past like AetherCon, but this year with many conventions going virtual we expanded that somewhat. It’ll be interesting to see how things progress in the next year, and if virtual conventions become a more standard feature for all gaming conventions. We definitely will be interested to expand our virtual offerings down the road, as it helps us get our products and contributors out in front of new players who we might not have been able to meet in person.
What’s next for Legendary Games?
We are about 2/3 done fulfilling our current Aegis of Empires Adventure Path Kickstarter project, again one we did for three systems (D&D 5E and both Pathfinders), and while work on that continues apace we are ramping up for our next crowdfunding project, a massive collection of over 700 magic and technological treasure items and more called Ultimate Treasure. It also will include rules for making magic items, creating treasure hoards, and what to do with all that gold! This project is planned as 5E only, though we might circle back and make Pathfinder versions at some point down the road. Early next year we’ll be following up with Horror Campaigns, which is exactly what it says on the tin.
We’re also working on a condensed, unified, and revised version of the 1st Edition Pathfinder RPG called Corefinder, which looks to synthesize a basic version of the game that plugs naturally into genre-specific modules like Corefinder Fantasy, Corefinder Space, and so on. Our talented team is already hard at work, and we intend a public playtest later this year or perhaps in early 2021.
Thanks for all the great questions and I hope everyone’s game out there is truly Legendary!
- Legendary Games website.
- Legendary Games on Facebook.
- Legendary Games on Twitter.
- Legendary Games on DriveThruRPG.
- Legendary Games also have a Discord, which you can email a request to join.
Latest Legendary Games products
The publisher is also active on DriveThruRPG where we can see their latest additions.
- On the 13th of September, Legendary Ninjas
- On the 11th of September, Cold Mountain (Pathfinder Second Edition)
- On the 25th of August, Legendary Planet: The Assimilation Strain (Pathfinder Second Edition)
- On the 21st of August, Power Armor (5E)
- On the 18th of August, Legendary Planet: To Kill a Star (Starfinder)
A thank you to the Geek Native patreons who made this spotlight possible.
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