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Interview with Creighton Broadhurst of Raging Swan Press

I thought it might be a good idea to start interviewing some of the people behind the awesome products that are available for tabletop gamers. I contacted Creighton after really enjoying some resources I picked up for my campaign on Raging Swan Press’ site. I asked Creighton if he would be interested in telling us how first became involved with tabletop gaming and a little bit about Raging Swan Press too.

SHAWN: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


CREIGHTON: 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 first get into Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop RPGs?

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 clichés!) 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).

Are there a published settings you really enjoy or do you like to play in completely original worlds?

I love the World of Greyhawk – all my campaign have been set there since I was about 16. I dabbled in Forgotten Realms – which is a great world – but I’m a completist and I couldn’t keep up with the volume of material TSR put out. Hence, I retreated to the World of Greyhawk and haven’t looked back since.

Do you prefer being a player or a gamemaster?

I’m not sure I can answer that! I’m normally the GM – and I enjoy GMing a lot – but I also enjoy playing, when I get the chance. I think on balance I’d come down on the side of the GM, but it’s a close call.

When did you take on the challenge of being a gamemaster? How did it go? Any advice for new gamemasters?

I became a GM at the start of my second game. No one else had the rules and so I didn’t have a lot of choice. (That said, while I may have *owned* the rules, I’m pretty sure I hadn’t *read* the rules!) I have no real memory of that first (no doubt) wildly disastrous game except that we must have all enjoyed it as we kept playing for years. That first group only broke up when a friend moved away and the rest of us moved schools at the age of 13.

For new GMs: relax and enjoy it. Everyone is there is enjoy themselves and your players know it’s your first go. I’ve actually blogged about this before, because sitting behind the screen for the first time can be rather intimidating. Here’s a handy link: http://www.creightonbroadhurst.com/gm-advice-8-tips-for-beginning-gms/

What advice would you give to a new player who is about to sit down to play for the first time?

Relax and enjoy. You are about to start on an amazing adventure with your friends. It’s all good! Concentrate on having fun and less on the minutia of the rules.

How did you decide to start Raging Swan?

In 2010, I launched Raging Swan Press after the Living Greyhawk campaign came to an end. (I’d been on the Circle of Six for much of the campaign and it had been a huge part of my gaming life). 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.

Raging Swan just celebrated a birthday. How did you celebrate?

Every time we get to a birthday I run a sale. Because we were four-years-old we ran a 40% off sale. Next year we’ll be five, so it becomes a 50% off sale! I’m tremendously grateful for all the support I’ve received over the years from the Pathfinder community and I think it’s important to give back. On a personal note, I cracked open a bottle of Maker’s Mark bourbon. In one of my previous careers, I worked for the brand and more importantly discovered how much I loved it!

Raging Swan currently focuses on support for Pathfinder. Are you expecting Wizards of the Coast to be less restrictive with 5th edition and third party publishers than it was with D&D 4th Edition?

I’m hoping they’ll be less restrictive with 5th and that they’ve learnt the lessons of the GSL debacle. Gaming today is all about community – one of the strengths of Pathfinder’s success is the community Paizo have built up around the game. WoTC would be insane if they didn’t try and emulate that. They took the first steps with the open playtests – a first for them I believe – and so I hope they continue down that path. I think D&D 5 being a success is crucial for the hobby. D&D is such a strong brand and is so well known I think its success or failure will have a large impact on the hobby.

Running a D&D 5th edition campaign, I found some of your Pathfinder materials were actually really useful for world building. Do you see an opportunity to create materials that are more general than system specific?

Yes. I’ve been pondering that of late. Some of our recent print products (GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing, GM’s Miscellany: Urban Dressing and GM’s Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing) could be easily released as system neutral editions. It’s something I’m interested in pursuing, but at the moment (sadly) other priorities are taking up my time.

You publish materials geared towards gamemasters versus players. Why did you decide to steer clear of creating a ton of splat books?

I’m not a huge fan of system bloat. I think it adds cost and complexity, which are things I’m keen to avoid as they slow  game play and – in many cases – get in the way of actual roleplaying. A couple of years ago I watched the Paradox of Choice TED video, the basic principles of which are eminently suited to the gaming industry. It made me realise that while choice is good, having too much choice is bad for you.

To be frank, I’m not really sure what endless lists of feats, spells and new classes actually add to the game. Do you really need 100 classes to have a good time? If you do, all power to you, but it’s not for me! There’s more than enough material in the Pathfinder core rulebook to keep me going for years.

I’d much rather produce books a GM can use to craft an exciting, memorable play experience. Most of my gaming memories from the Good Old Days revolve around situations and adventures not the time I had X, Y, Z on my character sheet. On a purely mercenary level, I think books of feats, spells and classes have a rather short shelf life. However, adventures and sourcebooks are much more easily ported between editions. I still have all my old DUNGEON magazines and use them often in my campaign; on the flip-side I don’t use any of the 1st edition Complete series.

Are there any upcoming adventures or resources that you are really excited about?

At the moment, I’m live-designing a megadungeon, Gloamhold, over on my blog. I’ve always wanted to design a megadungeon, but it seemed like way too much time would be required to do it in the normal fashion – after all Raging Swan Press and my family take up a decent amount of my time. Doing it on my blog, and posting one article a week, means I can break the whole process down into manageable chunks. Give it a year or so and I’ll be able to release the first sourcebook!

Here’s the first paragraph I wrote about the place:
Glowering amid dark rumours and terrible stories of desperate adventure, death, betrayal and glimmering treasures squat the unutterably ancient halls of Gloamhold.This crumbling, benighted, haunted dungeon complex of unknown, but undeniably vast, extent is buried deep within the grim and brooding spray-drenched headland of the Mottled Spire. It is a place of legends, madness and death.

What games/rules are you playing right now?

At the moment I’m playing in a 5th edition game. A friend is giving me a break from GMing my Pathfinder Borderland of Adventure campaign (we are 81 sessions in and I could do with a break!) I’m also considering starting up a OSRIC game in the near future. I look back fondly to the halcyon days of my youth, and I fancy giving some Old School gaming a go. I’ve downloaded Barrowmaze by Greg Gillespie and hopefully we’ll start play in a month or so once I’ve gathered a group. (Sadly, due to work and family commitments not all my regular group can commit to a second weekly session).

Now that you have had a chance to play D&D 5th Edition, what do you think?

I think it’s a much better system than 4th edition, but I’m not sure it’s for me. This is very frustrating, mainly because I can’t make up my mind! With 3 and 3.5, I knew immediately the system was a great improvement over my beloved 2nd edition.

We’ve been playing it for a couple of months and some of the design choices baffle me. For example, I love the inclusion of rituals, but I hate the short and long rest rules. I love the more stripped down feel of the ruleset but the concentration rules irritate me immensely. I love that magic items cannot usually be bought and sold, but the inclusion of drow, dragonborn and warlocks (among other things) gives 5e a video game feel.

Perhaps I’m too old, or too set in my ways. I also think the release schedule didn’t help matters at all – I would have much preferred to have had (at least) the PHB and DMG at the same time. The DMG seems like a much more solid book than the PHB and having it from the beginning would have given our GM a much easier time of GMing. I think his frustration and confusion over how to handle certain parts of the game bled over into game play, which of course has affected our view of the system.

What’s your overall opinion of 5th edition and its impact on the hobby?

At the moment my feelings on the system are mixed.

I do think, however, WoTC’s approach to the new system and they way they are trying to reengage the community are tremendously positive and can only be a positive thing for the hobby.

Anything else you would like to add?

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 but a Raging Swan print product you can pick PDFs up to the value of the book you purchased.


Creighton, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions today. If you have any question or comments for Creighton, please leave them in the comments below. Vist their about page to  learn more about Raging Swan Press.

Creighton Broadhurst
Publisher, Raging Swan PressPrepare Quicker, prepare better with Raging Swan Press’s GM’s Resources. Join Raging Swan Press on Facebook or check out my daily blog on all things gaming.