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Interview with Wolfgang Baur

Interview with Wolfgang Baur

Wolfgang Baur - Kobold KingWolfgang Baur, “Kobold in Chief” for Kobold Press, has been writing, editing, and designing professionally since 1991. He was editor at Dragon magazine and an assistant at Dungeon magazine. His work appeared in many places, including the Al-Qadim setting for TSR and the Alternity science fiction RPG for Wizards of the Coast. During the d20 era, he contributed to Frostburn, The Book of Roguish Luck and the Age of Worms adventure path, among others. He was co-author of Iron Kingdoms: Five Fingers Port of Deceit, which won a silver ENnie in 2007. His expertise is valued, having served as a judge for RPG Superstar, and he is a regular guest on convention panels.

Ten years ago he started Open Design, which would later become Kobold Press. As publisher, Kobold Press won readers and accolades. In 2008, he was a co-winner of the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming for incorporating the patronage model into the industry. The ENnies have recognized Open Design/Kobold Press many times. Deep Magic was a judge’s spotlight winner in 2014, the Kobold Guide to World Building won two golds in 2013, Streets of Zobeck and the Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design won in 2012, the blog won a gold in 2010, and Kobold Quarterly won for best writing in 2009.

Q: Where should we start this story? It’s 2006, close to seven years after you’d left Wizards of the Coast. You had submitted roleplaying game material as a freelancer in the interim. But what was going on in your life and in the industry at-large that compelled you to start the enterprise that was Open Design?

Boredom and parenthood compelled me. I was writing things for Wizards of the Coast and for Paizo Publishing as an occasional freelancer, but I wanted to do some items for myself, projects grounded in European fantasy. And my eldest daughter was born that year, so I had my share of late nights burping and feeding and generally tending to her—and late nights with a burpy baby lead one to consider one’s ambitions, perhaps.

I put up a tip jar on my LiveJournal (yes, really, it definitely was 2006). In the morning, there was about $30 in it, and I said YES, I CAN DO THIS. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I certainly thought I was ready for the challenge! It was one of the rare moments of my life where I just jumped into something.

Q: Open Design’s first project, Steam & Brass, was out. What did you think of the final product you’d hatched and the collaborative process behind it? Was the exclusivity model the patronage project was based on viable? What would need refining?

I am still grateful to Jason Engle for doing an awesome cover for Steam & Brass (and I congratulate him on his thriving career!). The final book version of Steam & Brass was . . . an exciting first step. I had no illusions that the adventure and the setting in it would set the world on fire; there was essentially no budget for art and maps and layout, so a lot of it was volunteer work and people getting their feet wet.

But there was also a real excitement from the patrons of the book and from me about it. It was a maker moment, if you like, where I realized “Hey, I can MAKE these!” I had spent my career to that point handing text off to other people to develop, edit, illustrate, lay out, print, ship, and sell. I had no idea what was involved in any part of the business after the text left my hard drive, but I knew that Monte Cook was publishing amazing things at Malhavoc Press—and I wanted to learn to do all the post-design parts of the business. At the very least, I wanted my next book to be better than the prior one.

Exclusivity was a selling point to backers, but it quickly became clear that people would not pay five times more for an adventure just because it was not available in stores. I really still like the idea of making some things for a limited audience, things that aren’t immediately pirated and shared but that are secret treasures if you will. RPGs found in a flea market, print books that have not been scanned, a sense that this book has a strange history and that its readers are part of a secret club. If I could have kept that exclusive vibe and published books of quality I would have, in a heartbeat. However, professional artists, cartographers, editors, and art directors (not unreasonably) want to be paid for their work.

So the model had to change, basically because I wanted better maps.

Q: Over the next two years, the landscape in fantasy gaming would change. Wizards of the Coast was developing what would be 4th Edition. It did not renew with Paizo its license to continue publishing Dragon and Dungeon magazines. Wizards’ plans for digital versions of Dragon and Dungeon were largely a mystery. And Paizo needed bankable freelancers to write for its adventure path.

Clearly your freelance services, especially as an adventure designer, were in demand. But something about the final print run of these venerable gaming magazines must have tugged at your heart. What did you, who once had been a magazine editor at TSR, do next?

I launched Kobold Quarterly (without consulting my wife, Shelly, who has never quite forgiven me), because I felt that any vital and engaging hobby—and especially one as creative and fermenting as tabletop RPGS!!—deserves a record and a box of wonders and surprises delivered to readers. Magazines are still one of my favorite forms of entertainment, because they are aimed at a particular audience and strive to inform and entertain that audience, no matter how niche it is, with all the love and passion that a fandom can generate—and then to sharpen that passion for a topic into the best writing, art, photos, and look possible. Magazines are about giving dreams a shape, basically, and getting fans to say “Hey, that is cool!”

So yeah, I still daydream about doing a B&W magazine available only by subscription. I have a title picked out for issue #1, and a list of designers and artists I would like to work with. The problem isn’t issue #1—it’s issue #11 and #111. Maybe I’ll bring it to GenCon and sell it for cash only. Might be a hell of a collector’s item, no?

Q: I think it’s fair to say that KQ and OD stuck with D&D 4th Edition, providing support for a long time, even as it printed plenty of Pathfinder, which was in its ascendency. All that time you were also giving a fair shake to 13th Age. Can you talk about KQ’s editorial mission in that way, and the benefits of not anchoring the company to any single game.

Ah, the Switzerland of gaming! Yes, I hate seeing the way that fandom divides up into mutually antagonistic tribes sometimes, though I understand the impulse to say “Our way is best!” is a very human impulse. Gaming purity tests annoy me no end; people should play what they want to play, and love the games they love.

Kobold Quarterly tried to show that there are good ideas and good designers working in many systems. The right system for one person might not be the right thing for someone else—and really, I think system monotheism is a bit like trying just one flavor of ice cream, declaring it the best and only true ice cream, and sneering at those who prefer other flavors.

Change is hard, I get that, especially when change involves buying and reading a glorious new book of RPG toys. But maybe a magazine or a website can broaden people’s horizons a tiny bit, and get them to try a second flavor of ice cream. I hear butter pecan is actually totally awesome, despite what you read about it on the Forge.

Q: How was the adventure “From Shore to Sea” a milestone for Open Design?

Our first partnership, and what a doozy! That adventure, written by Brandon Hodge, was part of a patron project called Sunken Empires, but was published by Paizo Publishing. It looked great—and it has the Open Design logo on the back. Paizo has been such a source of inspiration to me and the kobold crew; they understood how hard it was to keep Kobold Quarterly afloat (having done such excellent magazines themselves), and they have been an inspiration on both the creative and business side.

Plus, it’s the best RPG retelling of the Dunwich Horror ever. Still available at the Paizo Store today!

Q: As a creator, was there any reluctance to putting your home game, Zobeck, out for publication, making it the centerpiece of Midgard? Did you want to protect your home game from the vagaries of RPG publishing? Or was it time to share it?

Yeah, a home game is always quirky, and about the players as much as it is about the GM. Putting my own game out there just wasn’t something I was ready for, because I knew that the moment Zobeck got a canonical version, I’d see it locked into amber, and develop in new ways I might or might not like. RPG publishing isn’t really about producing a home campaign—those require huge resources for maps, art, hardcover printing.

That Midgard setting was the height of the brainstorming and crowdfunding model on the Kobold forums, I think. Brandon Hodge and Jeff Grubb were primary contributors to the setting, as was editor Michele Carter, but there were dozens of others who took it from a small European river town to a continental setting of vampire kingdoms and dusty wastelands and. . . . Well, yes, sharing it made it more wonderful and strange, and yeah, I didn’t like all the changes. But that was the minority, a few missteps that irked me, but ultimately don’t count for a featherweight against the delight of seeing the setting grow.

In the end, sharing the fun of it to a wider audience was one of the best decisions I ever made. I wanted it to become a truly shared world, and it is.

Q: You’ve described yourself as a “meat and potatoes” roleplayer, which I presume means an emphasis on fantasy adventures and a dose of Lovecraftian horror / Dark Matter thrown in. But is there a genre or rules itch you haven’t scratched as designer, player, or publisher? If so, what is it? (and will KP go there soon?)

I like card games. And yes, Kobold Press will go there someday soon.

And for RPGs, I think it would be wonderful to do a story about Loki and the ravenfolk and a band of undead reavers. Wait, no, that sounds very meat-and-potatoes . . .

Further afield, I am considering a home game for my daughters that involves Tinkerbell and ponies and massive IP violations. Kobold Press definitely isn’t going there, but I think it will be a good time.

Q: Within adventure game publishing, KP is part of a cottage industry. I wonder if people understand how much KP is a kitchen table production. What are the advantages to publishing at this scale; what are the core challenges? How does it influence the products you choose to make and the form they take?

Finding time to do everything is very hard. If I do good customer service, am I shorting the contracting and business paperwork? If I spend time on business paperwork and striking a new deal with a partner, am I shortchanging the feedback requested by an editor or developer? There’s a sense that it’s all tradeoffs at this scale, and that your tradeoffs are all going to collapse if you don’t juggle harder. I keep practicing two phrases: “That would be a good project for another company” and “That sounds like something this other person could help with.” If I didn’t delegate, I’d have exploded years ago.

The influence on products is pretty clear these days: Over time I’ve tilted toward more ambitious projects that I want to see made, because there’s just not enough time to make them all and you might as well go big. At the same time, big and lean is beautiful. I’ve learned to at least sometimes ignore the voice or the well-meant suggestion for “You should add Thing X to this project—in hardcover!” Because feature creep is the devil.

I want fewer, bigger, better-made projects rather than lots of small and shaky ones. I guess I’m learning to pick my battles.

Q: What factors went into the decision to end Kobold Quarterly’s run? Did the magazine accomplish its editorial goals? As someone who loves periodicals, has it been a difficult separation?

It was mostly when I ran the numbers and realized that I was spending four months a year on something that was a sort of break-even hobby, and I could spend that time writing my own books or helping Kobold sourcebooks become hardcovers. The magazine was devouring so much of my attention that I couldn’t get traction on anything bigger. So that was a major factor. At the same time, my second daughter was born and parenting taking up more time, so. . . . It was time.

The timely arrival of Gygax Magazine took some of the sting out of the separation (though that one is now gone as well). As I mentioned earlier, I’ve got a title and some ideas for a new digital magazine, but. . . . It ain’t gonna happen. I will daydream about the Patreon or the lottery that lets me tackle it as a gentleman of letters in my retirement.

Q: One of the rewards of being a small publisher is creating something like the “Kobold Guides to …” How gratifying has been the reception to those books?

It’s been amazing! I love that they are used at Digipen and Full Sail University and colleges all across America to teach game design. I love that the Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding has helped a lot of people with their homebrew settings. The Kobold Guide to Combat and Kobold Guide to Magic have been useful to novelists as well as gamers. These books have all done more and gone farther than I expected.

I am a big believer in brewing your own worlds and making an RPG experience yours. Game Masters and DMs make a session come alive, and my own best gaming experiences have involved the right blend of improv, preparation, great players, and a GM who has confidence in his or her skills. If the Kobold Guides help even a little with that, they’re so worth it.

Q: Kickstarter was a game-changer in terms of scale. Walk us through how Kickstarter has changed your approach or elevated your projects?

Before Kickstarter, you could count on a Kobold Press book being in softcover and in black and white. It was what we could afford to produce with the budgets we had. After Kickstarter, you can now count on a Kobold Press book generally being a hardcover with full-color interior. That is the first thing: Because the publisher keeps more of each sale in a Kickstarter, it is possible to put that money into a better product. It has fueled my ambitions, especially with Deep Magic and Tome of Beasts, both of which broke new ground in art, graphics, and in how I approached the game design.

Now, it hasn’t made it possible to compete with billion-dollar-behemoths on a level playing field. We’re not quite as sophisticated as a company like Wizards of the Coast or Paizo, and we don’t print tens or hundreds of thousands of books. But we can print thousands of high-quality books with sewn bindings, and get them to customers.

That sounds like print-centric thinking, but the shift goes well beyond that. Kickstarter made possible new cartographic techniques forged and coded by Anna Meyer for the Southlands campaign setting map—and video flyovers of the terrain! Kickstarter made possible the creation of data files for Hero Lab, something impossible for the Kobold crew to do on our earlier budgets.

Finally, we can take some bigger risks on specialty or niche items, such as offering handbound leather books, or minting coins or creating 25 digital battle maps with both new and established cartographers. Kickstarter means we’re not eating as much ramen, and we can do better work with less hardship.

There’s no way to overstate how much Kickstarter has changed what’s possible. It’s still not easy, but hardcovers, posters, and software are within reach, when they never were before.

Scale can be intimidating as well, of course. Sometimes I’m tempted to try a much smaller Kickstarter. The big ones are a little scary by the end, because people are counting on Kobold Press to deliver so much. (And we have! So far! Eeep!) Most of all, Kickstarter has forced me to grow beyond a very small press outfit, to something like a mid-tier publisher.

Q: Video pitches are part of every Kickstarter rollout. For Kobold Press, these videos have you casting fireball spells, clambering aboard stone camels, hiding out from monsters “Jurassic Park”-style in your garage. What’s it like making those videos, from conception to execution, and what were your memories of making them?

My memories revolve around what the viewer never sees: the cameraman, the pyrotechnics folks, the audio engineer, and video editor working their magic. I just have to walk and talk—the whole crew is keeping it together and turning it from a home movie into a reasonable promise to the viewer.

The process itself is get a script, learn my lines, ad lib a little, try to make sure the microphone is working, re-record audio when it doesn’t (stupid street noise!), hand it all off to production, and keep my fingers crossed that people like the results. Really, I think the magic ingredient is that years of GMing make me comfortable in front of an audience, and loving the projects.

And passion matters in this forum. As my friend Mike Selinker says, “The right time to launch your Kickstarter is when you can’t stop talking about it.” You need to propose a project that you care about enough to make it through the tough days when things go horribly wrong. If you don’t love it and can’t tell people about that. . . . Well, your video can have a lot of whizz-bang costumes and crisp audio all day long, but potential backers can tell if you just don’t care very much about what you are making. I’m told sincerity is hard to fake.

Maybe I should film the next one indoors with a mic stand and no weirdness? Naaaaah. (I’m too excited for that!)

Q: I met you for the first time when you were a VIP at GenCon. At that time, you were touting Deep Magic and hopeful about fifth edition D&D. What do you see as KP’s role at conventions, in general, and GenCon in particular?

Kobolds have a mixed record with GenCon. I like the show very much as a guest and as a speaker, but I sort of loathe it as an exhibitor.

The show is a great chance to meet fans, show off some new books, and drink a pint with the Kobold crew of freelancers, regulars, and playtesters. Really, I approach it as a social event much more than a marketing event; people come to the Kobold Press seminars to hear about breaking into the business or to gather some solid GM advice, of course, but GenCon in particular is so big it’s tough to take it all in. I’m happy to meet some old TSR chums every year at GenCon, but increasingly the smaller publishers like me can’t make the finances work for a booth.

And it’s not just Kobold. It says something that Wizards of the Coast is no longer attending GenCon. Kobold Press won’t have a booth there in 2016, and it’s clearly no longer the RPG-centric show it was 10 or 15 years ago. I think GenCon is doing a great geek culture show, with terrific support for Magic: The Gathering, boardgames, and cosplay. Kobold Press’s role there is to fly the flag at seminars and events, provide scenarios and run a lot of gaming tables, and slink around the edges. I just can’t compete for booth space with companies like Mayfair, Chaosium, or Fantasy Flight. Small press outfits gotta hustle pretty hard to be heard above the noise.

It’s a little sad but it’s too big a show for us in many ways. I’ll still go to the ENnies and hope to hang out with Kobold fans at a meetup. Will I ever run another booth? Don’t count on it!

Q: You also have a long association with PaizoCon. How is that convention different for KP? How has maintaining ties with Paizo been a key part of KP?

It’s in my backyard, and it’s wonderfully manageable. I attended the very first one, held in a single room of a hotel with Paizo staff and freelancers doing panels for about 50 attendees. Even as the convention has taken on a huge role as a meeting ground of the Pathfinder Society hardcore, I feel like Paizo has secured space for the smaller publishers to meet and greet artists there (Jason Engle was a guest in 2015! Synchronicity strikes!), and sometimes those connections work out really well. I’d been publishing Richard Pett’s work for years but figured I’d never meet the man because he lives in the UK—and then, boom, there he was at PaizoCon a few years back.

PaizoCon is a glowing exemplar of the kind of specialized, smaller convention that is doing so well right now. GameHoleCon, GaryCon, Lock & Load, and OrcaCon might be examples of the breed of smaller, friendlier, and more affordable conventions that are growing these days, but PaizoCon was there very early, giving Pathfinder fans a great preview of what’s coming from Paizo, plus a chance to game like mad, hang out with artists, and generally make the kind of personal connection that are no longer really possible at the big shows like San Diego Comic-Con or GenCon. It’s accessible in that wonderful way small and medium-size shows have. Plus, booth setup there is pretty much painless.

Paizo has frankly been very good to Kobold Press, and not just because I’ve written a lot of articles and adventures for them over the years (and heck, Shelly wrote reviews and blurbs for Dragon as well). They’re good people who help small companies; that makes them shine with a golden aura of gaming goodness in my eyes.

Q: KP was the first outside studio to provide a hardcover adventure for fifth edition. Being first matters. What was the good part of that association? What are you most pleased about Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat? How has 5E’s reception influenced the direction of Kobold Press?

Getting to design for the Realms again was a blast, and the Wizards/Hasbro crew offered a chance to do a meaty adventure path in a short time frame. It was a glorious challenge, and the whole Kobold Press time rose to the challenge. We really upped our game in design, cartography, layout, and even continuity work—it was a big step up for the company to deliver at that level. It’s a minor miracle that we pulled it off, and yes, people made some real sacrifices to get there.

I’m so happy that Hoard and Rise have been so well received and continue to enjoy a surprising amount of play almost two years after their release.

The good part of that association was, yes, being there at launch and putting down some of the early take on how fifth edition playstyle differs from 4E or Pathfinder. Steve Winter and I were pleased to inject a little old-school sensibility into parts of it, and to show off the Realms in a new way.

The strong reception made it possible for Kobold Press to afford a GenCon booth in 2014, which is no little thing, and it made it possible for us to crowdfund the Tome of Beasts with a lot of credibility as a third-party publisher. We have a few copies of the signed copy of Hoard left, I think, and mine has a place of honor on my shelf.

I’m happy to have helped launch a new edition of D&D. Who wouldn’t be?

Q: Deep Magic is a special player accessory. Nearly every PC and GM can use a good book of spells. To me, Deep Magic ranks right up there with Malhavoc Press’s Book of Eldritch Might and Paizo’s Advanced Player’s Guide for its utility and influence in the d20-sphere. Share your thoughts about this engaging product.

Thank you! Paizo developer Amanda Hamon Kunz and Kobold regular Ben McFarland worked very hard to make Deep Magic a real treasure trove of new ideas and new magic. We looted every prior Kobold Press sourcebook for material and then we added some spells written by backers and by the best freelancers we could find to top it all off. Deep Magic has gotten more play-time and more email thank-yous than any other product we’ve done—the Hero Lab files are a huge hit, and players and GMs alike have more interesting games with Deep Magic than without.

It’s the first book where I think we really got the potential of Kickstarter and captured that for players.

From my perspective, it was a breakthrough in art quality, in page count, and in scheduling (there I go, talking like a publisher again). There are a couple missteps in the book we fixed in errata and in the 2nd Printing (just shipped at DriveThruRPG and the Kobold Store). It’s also the second hardcover from Kobold Press to have that level of interest in a 2nd printing (Midgard was the first). I can’t imagine the poor fools who have to play without it (players locked into Pathfinder Society, I guess).

Oh, and also: I managed not to burn all my hair off in the making of the video, which I see as a big plus.

Q: Clearly, Southlands is Midgard’s answer to Al-Qadim, the 1992 Arabian Nights adventure series from TSR that is close to your heart. But, Southlands is much, much broader in scope, both in terms of geography and by how it incorporates other cultures and mythos. Please share the editorial decision-making behind a more expansive approach.

Al-Qadim was pretty closely scoped as the Arabian Nights for 2nd Edition D&D. There’s a lot of joy to be had in adapting Ray Harryhausen and Thief of Baghdad and Sindbad for an American audience, but it’s also quite limiting, almost as if you said you were going to do just British high fantasy. You can, but why not aim for a wider palette?

For Southlands, I wanted to cover more than that single cultural touchstone, and include elements of nomadic culture, pyramid builders, the great African kingdoms, piratical shores, and high fantasy elements derived from Midgard lore. I think we did well, especially by including two major non-human cultures (gnolls and tosculi) along with the human ones.

That expansive approach had a few detractors, whom I consider wrongheaded. For instance, I insisting on including a valley of dinosaurs in the Southlands, because it is a time-honored trope of the genre and I love Isle of Dread. No regrets: One valley of dinosaurs on a map as large as the Southlands is barely a Jurassic Park, and frankly it’s always fun to see players figure out where they are when you are describing the “large lizards” and “ostriches without feathers” and so on.

So . . . yes, the goal was to do for tropical adventuring what Midgard does for temperate cultures: go beyond the most obvious elements to bring a few other myths and legends to the fore, and create a huge buffet of adventuring. There’s a lot there to explore, and it’s definitely struck a chord with players who think that European fantasy is a bit too familiar, but who don’t want to go all Planescape or Dark Sun in the tone.

Q: What does having the fifth edition SRD, the Open Gaming License, and the DMs Guild mean for Kobold Press?

It means we have a slate full of fifth edition releases planned for 2016! The SRD takes a lot of the uncertainty out of publishing for fifth edition, the OGL means it is easy to put material out for widespread remixing, and the DMs Guild means that Kobold Press can publish adventures or supplements for the Forgotten Realms (it’s got some serious issues around royalties and ownership, though, so I’d strongly advise other designers and publishers to be cautious in putting non-Realms material on DMs Guild—the proper home for that material is creator-friendly platforms like DriveThruRPG, and so on).

Q: Could you spend a few moments talking about the Kobold Press site, the role of the blog, the online store, the Courier, and its community? 

Sure, the Kobold Press blog was initially just where we posted creatures and product announcements. Under Scott Gable’s tenure as web editor it did some amazing things, including interviews with Dave Arneson and others. It’s a place to post content that isn’t big enough to be a book, a place to expand on Midgard with characters or adventures, or to share design tips. It’s also where we host our yearly contests, like Monarch of the Monsters.

The online store is where we hope everyone buys their Kobold Press books and PDFs. Seriously, a sale there means we see almost the whole sale (minus credit card fees), where at Paizo we see 50 percent and in hobby stores we see maybe 35 percent or 40 percent of the cover price. Having a store is a must for a small press—customers who buy direct from a small publisher support dreams of hiring part-time help or hiring a stellar new artist. Those sales really matter to us.

The Courier is our newsletter, which is closing in on 100 installments, roughly once every 3 weeks for the last 5 years or so. It delivers a summary of what’s new, what we’re planning, plus weird stuff from the Internet that totally fascinates foolish kobold trapsmiths and wise lorekeepers alike. If you want the latest news about our design contents, where to buy a hand of glory, store sales, and the Russian Medieval MMA, this is the newsletter for you. We hate to be boring! The signup is at the bottom of the page at KoboldPress.com (waaaaay at the bottom).

Q: It’s the tenth anniversary. Any hidden gems at the Kobold Press store? What are some good “gets,” for collectors and those with a sentimental bent?

Yes, indeed! I put a handful of copies of Peculiar Alchemist of Alpentor (for the anniversary only!). The Southlands dice are on sale. I am sure there are a few other items of interest there. . . . Oh, and the Fantastic Maps Pack is stellar deal.

Because heck yes, we love our backers, supporters, and players.

And if you are feeling sentimental, we have copies of Dwarves of the Ironcrags for D&D 3.5, and even a print book or two that I won’t reveal.

Q: Tome of Beasts. The biggest single monster project ever? Not only has it been embraced by Kickstarter backers, but its release is highly anticipated by the fifth edition community. What makes Tome different, besides the quantity of creatures?

I think it’s got a couple of things going for it, one being that it draws on years of monster archives for some of its ideas, and another being that a full twenty of the monsters in it are designed by the project’s backers. But beyond those elements, I’m happy to confirm that it offers a lot more high-CR creatures than the existing Monster Manual does, and it also brings some Lovecraftian horrors and some truly demented fey to the mix. It’s reaching out far beyond the meat-and-potatoes of the first fifth edition Monster Manual.

We’ve been beating the playtest drum very hard with this book, and the art is coming in well. We’re ambitious, and I am excited to share it beyond the playtesters we’ve got right now.

Oh, and racial templates and nice range of standard NPC types. We just keep adding stuff that we find useful, and improving on the design with every playtest report. That’s always been part of the secret of our success, and we’re sticking with it.

Q: Who knows what the future holds? The first backers learned about Open Design through a Livejournal post. Today, Kobold Press has innumerable ways to communicate with customers and to sell and deliver its products. Wipe that smudge off your crystal ball, sir, and gaze within. What do you see?

OOOoooooh, shiny! I see the new editions of the best of Kobold Press, I see a new Kobold Guide aimed squarely at GMs, and I see . . . Argh, I see creatures of the Great Void coming to Midgard, and attack ships on fire off the coast of Capleon! The Dragon Empire convulsed! Glorious new treasures and immortal fame for the heroes of the realm! This crystal ball is set to 11—dial it back!!!!

::fumbles with controls::

Whew. I see new magic for fifth edition, new cults for Pathfinder, and . . . Oh yes, I see a vacation in Germany for me and the family, our first family vacation in many years. It’s been a glorious first decade with Kobold Press, and I am excited to launch the next 10 years. Thank you all for your support, your comments and feedback, and your brainstorms, reviews, and encouragement these ten years. It’s been an honor and a pleasure, and we’re just getting started.

8 thoughts on “Interview with Wolfgang Baur”

  1. Sorry about the crystal ball. I keep it at 11 when you have me chasing playtesters. There’s this one who’s always on fire, staring back me…

  2. Why don’t you just keep your crystal ball on ‘9’ normally, and then turn it up to ’10’ when you need a little extra scrying power?

    … blink …

    This one goes to ’11’ …

  3. Janna Silverstein

    It’s been a complete and total delight working with you, sir. Happy anniversary! And maybe there will be more projects for us to work on…?

  4. Great interview! My favorite part:

    “I really still like the idea of making some things for a limited audience, things that aren’t immediately pirated and shared but that are secret treasures if you will.”

    We all like secret treasures.

    I feel privileged to have played a small part in your world for the last six years (six years!), and I look forward to whatever comes next.

  5. Happy anniversary! If you need any more “demented fey”, you know where to find me…. ;-) (Assuming Kindly Lord Petty is not available….)

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