Our Publication Process Revisited

Our Publication Process Revisited

When we publish a new roleplaying game product there is a regular process that we go through to ensure that it meets our quality standards. A few years ago I blogged about this process, but I think an update is long overdue.

This is particularly relevant now, as the funding period for the Age of Ambition Kickstarter recently concluded, and an influx of new backers is likely wondering just what to expect as the game goes through production.

The steps we use to produce a game are detailed in order below.

  • Outlines: Before we begin writing a new roleplaying product, we first make an outline of what we want it to include. This helps us estimate word count (and thus production cost). If we are hiring a freelance writer, it also helps communicate our expectations for the work.
  • Writing / Content Production: This is often the longest step in the publication process, but as it involves creating the central part of the product, that is to be expected. In this step the writer completes a draft, we inspect it, make some notes and then any requested corrections are made. For products that aren't primarily writing - such as poster maps - we use this step to represent the bulk of the content production, whatever that may be.
  • Editing: Once the writing is complete, we go over the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb. This involves both proof-reading, as well as editing for content, making sure that the product does not contradict the rest of the game line and maintains a consistent tone, etc.
  • Initial Layout: With the edited text in hand, we can begin the initial layout. The focus at this point is fitting the text onto the pages with the right amount of room left for artwork and other content. It's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. By the end of this step we should have the final page count and and an idea of how much space we need to fill.
  • Art & Space Direction: With the text more-or-less set to each page, we begin filling the remaining spaces with art, sidebars, pull quotes or other content. For longer works, such as a core game book, we will commission art in several waves. For a shorter works, such as a small adventure, all of the art will be added at once. Often the commissioning process overlaps with the previous two steps.
  • Digital Proofing: With the layout almost complete, we go through the document once more with a fine-toothed comb, looking for any errors that slipped through the production process. At this point we also add the final page references, as well as generating the table of contents and index. Finally, we export the document to PDF.
  • PDF Published: With the PDF put together, we release it to DriveThruRPG. The work is published, but our work is not quite done. For larger products, such as a core game, we will wait a period of time for the PDF to be corrected. For smaller supplements, we sometimes omit the next step.
  • PDF Corrected: Once the initial PDF is published, we wait a month for feedback to come in. Even with the best practices, the many eyes of our customers are better than our few at spotting any lingering typos or other small errors. By waiting a bit, we can get these issues fixed in the final release, updating the game's files before they're committed to print.
  • Printing Proof: The document updated, we then order a printing proof to ensure that the files have arrived at the printer without error. This process takes a couple more weeks, which can be frustrating when waiting for the print version of the game to become ready, but it also ensures that no one gets a buggy print run. This has helped prevent some pretty massive headaches for us in the past.
  • Finished: Finally, once we've received the printing proof and okayed it, we flip the switch to release the final print version of the game. We then begin fulfilling physical orders.

Age of Ambition Update

It has now been exactly only week since the Age of Ambition Kickstarter ended. As is usual for this point, we're still waiting for Kickstarter to send the funds, but in the meantime we're hard at work on the game. We've also set up the preorder store for those who missed the Kickstarter. Here is where everything currently stands:

Core Rulebook

  • Initial layout is complete. The final page count, with the expanded background stretch goal, comes to 320 pages.
  • We have two artists hard at work on the game with active commissions. The final pieces that need to be commissioned are being outlined.
  • Meanwhile, we've started making our way through the book to fill in blank spaces and insert spot art.


  • Out of Shackles adventure
  • Time Forgot adventure
  • Rise to Power adventure
  • GM Screen Inserts
  • Consequence Cards

Writing / Content Production

  • Player Options supplement
  • Campaign Options supplement
  • Bestiary supplement
  • Poster Map (map commissioned)


Missed the Kickstarter?

No problem! Preorders for Age of Ambition are now live!

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