John M Stater – John M Stater

1. Can you tell the readers a little about yourself and your role as a contributor to Open gaming?

My name is John M Stater. In real life, I’m a father/husband/research guy (economics). I started playing D&D in 6th grade, continued with a couple gaps until now. About 7 or 8 years ago I moved from 3rd edition D&D to Castles & Crusades and then Basic Fantasy and Swords & Wizardry. I started a blog for fun, thought it might be cool to collect my writings each month and turn them into a PDF download and then that morphed into the NOD magazine I publish, and from there I started developing retro-esque games, most of them using the Open Game License.

2. What does Open gaming mean to you?

Open gaming helped make it easy for me to start publishing and to publish to an existing group of gamers and thus a larger potential audience. I love that there are scads of products out there that are all pretty closely compatible that folks can mix and match to get just the gaming experience they’re looking for. And because the OGL makes it easy for people to get into the act, we get a great multitude of visions and ideas floating around to choose from and be inspired by.

3. What Open games have you contributed to?

Besides my own products (Blood & Treasure, Bloody Basic, Tales of the Space Princess, Pars Fortuna, Grit & Vigor, Mystery Men! and NOD magazine), I’ve done work for Frog God Games on their Hex Crawl Chronicles line and S&W conversions for their re-released Tome of Horrors, and I’ve contributed to some other magazines and group projects.

4. What Open games do you most enjoy contributing to or playing?

Honestly, I enjoy messing with my own games the most – they provide the most freedom to do exactly what I want to do.

5. How do you think an Open game system you’ve contributed to can most be improved?

Well, in terms of my own stuff, editing is always a challenge, as is advertising. For Frog God Games – I think their stuff is pretty solid, so I don’t know what I would do to improve it.

6. What other contributors to Open gaming do you admire or respect the most (and why)?

I’m a big fan of Chris Gonnerman’s Basic Fantasy RPG, which probably did more to get me into doing my own games than anything else, and Matt Finch has made some wonderful things over the years. There are many more people who have done great things in the hobby – too numerous to list.

7. Is there an Open game that you wish had more exposure or appreciation?

There are many, actually. Because I write so much of my own material, I tend to avoid buying or reading other products to make sure I don’t unconsciously steal from them. If it has a cool cover and the person doing it seems to really have a passion for what they’ve made, I’d like to spend more time with it and get a chance to play it.

8. How do you see the future of Open gaming? Growing? Staying about the same? Shrinking?

I think the present is pretty secure since most open games speak the same or a similar language and therefore make it possible for a big group of existing gamers to publish/play/share material. I guess the future depends on the next generation of gamers and whether they pick up on it – and I guess on how large that group is. Spending as much time as I do research economics, I don’t want to make any predictions about that since I know they’ll be wildly incorrect.

9. Can you share any useful resources to Open gaming contributors that other potential contributors could benefit from? Such as good sources for art, editing, or the like?

The three things that helped me immensely, early on, were Google image searches (+ public domain) since I didn’t have the money to commission artists and there wasn’t much stock art on the market yet, Wikipedia, which gives just enough information to help inspire ideas for games and Google + and message boards that helped me find collaborators, artists, and all-around interesting people.

10. Anything we didn’t ask you that you wish we had? Tell us what is most important for readers to know about you, or your contributions to Open gaming!

The most important thing to know about me is that I’m in publishing to have fun, and I hope folks out there have had fun reading the things I’ve done and, especially, using those things in their games. Let’s all be cool to one another and keep the good ideas coming. If we don’t love one another and respect one another, we’ll end up with a whole lot of nothing.


About John Reyst

John Reyst is the owner of Open Gaming, LLC, and the Open Gaming Network, a group of rules reference websites for "open" game systems, as well the Open Gaming Store at He is married to the greatest wife in the world, has three awesome daughters, and two really cool dogs named Loki and Leo! When not working on the SRD websites he's likely out on a trail riding his mountain bike somewhere in southeastern Michigan.

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