Interview with Creighton of Raging Swan Press

In today’s world we are under constant pressure to add new options to our games. New mechanics and options aren’t the be-all and end-all, though. Whether you use random tables or not, concentrating on the flavour and style of your campaign is far more important, and much more likely to create memorable, fun game sessions—which is what it is all about at the end of the day.

This time answering questions is Creighton of Raging Swan Press

Q&A with Creighton of Raging Swan Press

How did you get into creating random tables?

It grew out of my campaign. I was just about to start running a modified Shattered Star campaign, and part of the first adventure involved the party traveling back and forth between the shore and dungeon by rowboat. The adventure glossed over this travel, but I thought it would be fun to add in some randomness to proceedings.

Thus was born the first of my 20 Things articles. My players seemed to enjoy the tables, so I kept writing them. I then realised other GMs might find them useful, and the 20 Things line was born! (In fact, even to this day, you can somewhat get a feel for the events in my campaign by keeping an eye on what tables we publish!)

What random tables are you most proud of creating and why?

The lists I’m most proud of are somewhat atypical in that I don’t get to use them very much, but when I do I can have some fun, and they can make for interesting, memorable role-playing!

10 Side Effects of Returning from the Dead

10 Side Effects of Being Dominated by an Aboleth

What is the most fun thing about creating random tables?

Random tables are fun to use and they are fun to write. Writing a random table is different to writing “normal” adventure text. Because random tables are modular you can explore different ideas and concepts, and it’s a fun challenge to provide succinct, flavoursome descriptions of the thing, person, discovery or whatever.

I also love finding inspiration in the strangest places—it’s amazing where it can come from, and what you can use if you keep your eyes open.

How have random tables helped Raging Swan Press?

It’s not much of a secret that I’m not a huge fan of endless new options in my games. I don’t think vast amount of new feats, spells, magic items, classes and races add much to the game beyond clutter, bloat and confusion. Luckily, it turns out I’m not alone in that belief and so I get to write random tables as part of my job. That’s awesome!

Raging Swan Press has a Patreon campaign, and one of the perks of the campaign is the monthly free (to patrons) 20 Thing book. Patrons get the book free as a thank you for their awesome support; it’s a great feeling to both reward our patrons with a free book and to know they are using it in their campaigns to have fun with their friends.

How do you use random tables yourself?

In-game during virtually every session!

I use random tables for many things: to slow down the players if they are wandering off in the “wrong” (read “unprepared”) direction, to add flavour, depth and verisimilitude to the area they are exploring, and as inspiration to build on in game.

I like the unpredictability of random tables. As the GM, I’m rarely surprised by anything but the characters’ actions. I know what’s down the corridor, lurking at the top of the stairs and where the traps lie. Random tables—like wandering monster tables—add surprise back into the game for me. They also present a welcome challenge. If the characters get excited or intrigued by something they find as a result of a random roll play might go off in an unexpected direction which keeps me on my toes.

What is the most interesting random table or tool you've seen?

I’ll be showing my age here somewhat, but the random dungeon design tables in the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide hold a special place in my heart. When I was a teenager, we lived in the middle of nowhere and during the long summer holidays I had no one to play with. I have fond memories of running myself through many dungeons designed with those tables.

I still have my original DMG and just a few years ago we ran a short campaign—The Deeping Halls of Arbitrary Malevolence—using nothing but the random dungeon tables. I’ve still got the maps around here in case we fancy exploring those halls once again!

What are your next big projects (rpg or otherwise) that you can talk about?

Raging Swan Press turns ten-years-old next year, and in celebration I’m revisiting, expanding and updating several of our oldest and most popular products. I’m particularly proud to be releasing new editions of The Lonely Coast and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands. I’ve learnt a lot about design and writing over the last ten years and updating both books is proving immensely satisfying. I’m proud of the original version of both books, and I sense I’m going to be even prouder of the expanded and revised editions!

Where can people find you on social media?

Raging Swan Press is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Of the three, I’m most active on Facebook where I share daily 20 Things articles and the like. We also post new 20 Things-style articles to The Raging Swan Press blog. All the articles are free to read and easy to cut and paste into your GM’s toolbox.

Is there anything else you would like to talk about?

In today’s world we are under constant pressure to add new options to our games. New mechanics and options aren’t the be-all and end-all, though. Whether you use random tables or not, concentrating on the flavour and style of your campaign is far more important, and much more likely to create memorable, fun game sessions—which is what it is all about at the end of the day.

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