Friday, August 5, 2016

My Author Bio Page

Art by Folkvangar

In her Batman persona known as Kismet Rose, Patricia Willenborg writes articles and books for tabletop roleplaying games.  This is a special part of her life and hobby that she indulges whenever she can, since she is not a full-time writer.  She offers a large selection of material for free on her web sites, archives other free gaming web sites with permission, and has six published works for Pathfinder that are currently available for sale.  She usually switches between writing about D&D, Pathfinder, and World of Darkness games, though she hopes to add others to the list.

Gaming History

Kismet roleplayed naturally throughout her childhood without knowing what such games were called.  She played that way without rules or instruction because she lived on stories and imagination.  She began roleplaying in earnest in October 2nd 1995, with her first character Kismet Rose and her Storytelller and partner in crime, Nate (who has become her partner in crime and Storyteller once more, many years later).  

She started out with Vampire: the Masquerade, which she played one-on-one and in group games online (on AOL's chat rooms and via private messages).  She started her fan web site for Vampire circa 1999.  She stayed in the World of Darkness exclusively until around the year 2001, when she was introduced to D&D (second edition).  Not long later, she began to run her own games for the first time in D&D's 3rd edition (and started her fan web site for it in 2002).  She has been gaming fairly steadily - usually taking the DM's role - ever since.  

Over the years Kismet has tried some different tabletop games - Stargate SG-1 (which she made a small web site for, since so few existed), In Nomine, Pathfinder, Delta Green, and a few others - but hasn't tried for an exhaustive variety, and there's plenty that she has yet to play.  She isn't much of a LARPer, board gamer, wargamer, or a card player, though she supports those cousins to tabletop and has some familiarity with them.  She loves miniatures even if she doesn't use them very often and is absolutely enthralled by maps.  

She has gamed in stores and in other people's homes a bit but prefers to play in her own home, surrounded by her books.  The largest group she has been a part of had six people in it, including the DM; her normal group size is four people (usually with her three most favorite people in the whole world).  She has steadily written in play-by-post games since about 2010.  While she was able to run once a week for a number of years in college, in more recent years she's run about twice a month (and gotten to play twice a month; joy!).

Hobbies, Interests, and Degrees

Kismet has had a natural love of history, mythology, fairy tales, folk tales, fantasy art, writing, reading, the art of film, horror, the supernatural, the Gothic, cities (and Los Angeles in particular), fictional places, and so on for most of her life.  She studied a number of these interests in college while majoring in English literature, in which she obtained a Masters degree from California State University, Los Angeles.  She brings all of her background to bear when she writes, along with a sense of poetic rhythm.

She lives and loves in Southern California with her two cats and her partner in everything, Nate.  They are all native fauna to the area and Kismet has never lived anywhere else.  She has a demanding job in higher education that she loves because it is always a challenge.  In whatever time she can spare she enjoys game design projects she might never finish, walking, swimming, the art of conversation, watching the many amazing shows that are on television, going to the movies (especially to support horror films), reading, building communities online, arranging big family-style dinners with people she enjoys, and a number of things she has probably forgotten that she does all the time.

Guiding Design and Writing Principles

There are a few key pillars Kismet maintains in all of her game writing, and in her roleplaying in general.  (She also looks for these qualities when she buys gaming books):

More Options, Fewer Mandates: She aims to give players and game masters more choices they can use as they wish, and to make it easier for them to tweak or discard what they don't like.  She might present strong themes and she has her own vision of how her materials can work, but she would rather her readers feel inspired instead of constricted, even if it means that readers only use her work in pieces or in other ways.  Ironclad dictates are not her cup of tea, particularly when it comes to telling game masters how to run or players how to play.  Each group is an organic assembly that has its own desires, experiences, and boundaries and she respects that.

Gameify It: She feels that it is very important for a gaming book's "fluff" to be reflected in and supported by the "crunch."  This means that the fiction and descriptions should be translated into game mechanics whenever possible so that gamers have ready access to how they can work.  She strongly feels that it is not enough to just describe something cool in a game supplement and leave it at that.  Part of what people are paying for when they invest in a gaming book is immediate usability, as well as strong examples (from which they can make their own adjustments, if they want to).  This is especially true for gamers who are strapped for time, of which there are many.  Gameifying what is written also showcases the game's system and helps everyone become more familiar with it.

Adults Making Games For Adults: Over the last two decades, she has covered a broad variety of grim, difficult, and complex situations in gaming, regardless of the system.  Having grown up with roleplaying, she believes that while some games should be aimed at children and others should be open to them, more adult concerns should be directly addressed and more mature options should be offered.  This does not mean that she writes graphic material; on the contrary, she believes that even the darkest subjects can be presented calmly and without gratuitous nastiness.  But her target audience has always been discerning adults.

Sacred Cows Aren't Sacred: She has no allegiance to "sacred cows" in any game and is willing to change or slay them outright, as needed.  This is not out of disrespect for the concepts, original creators, or fans, but to offer more options for those who want them.  Strictly speaking, D&D doesn't need to have dungeons, elves don't have to be modeled after Tolkien's version, and vampires can have sex if they want to.  Sometimes all it takes is a change to one aspect of a game that everyone takes for granted to open up a new world of fun.  Those who want to keep the old ways will, but those in search of novelty deserve support, too.

Awards and Accolades

I have been very glad and humbled to receive in-depth 4 and 5 star reviews on the products I've contributed to and written on my own.  I've used any feedback on things that could be improved to edit any PDF products that were still able to be updated.

I have also been deeply surprised and pleased to have Kismet's Dungeons and Dragons nominated for an ENnie award in 2016, in the "Fan's Favorite Publisher" category.  It is the only category for which you do not have to submit material yourself and can be nominated by others.  It was the least thing I expected to see when I went to vote, and I will always be touched by it.  It seemed completely appropriate since that site was what brought me to the attention of 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming, a little gaming company that gave me a chance to live my dream of being paid for writing, and being paid to write for games.

Currently Working On

Right now, I am in the midst of crafting Drow of Porphyra, the longest gaming book I have ever attempted.  It is being released chapter by chapter and has a number of entries left on the horizon.  It is the sort of project I had been wanting to do for over a decade and it fell into my lap after I'd done some work for Purple Duck Games, which purchased 4 Winds.  I am still excited about it and striving to eke out time and energy to complete it.

Would You Like To Know More?

If you have questions, reactions, constructive feedback, or other concerns, you can always email me.  I have always enjoyed interacting with folks who happen across my sites and books, and although my days are rather full, if you have a writing proposition, I will certainly hear you out.

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