RPG Bard: RPG Book Creation for GMs, Writers, and Fans
RPG Bard: RPG Book Creation for GMs, Writers, and Fans

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Adventure and campaign setting creation software for D&D Next, 4.0, 3.5, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, and other systems.

RPG Bard is a cross-platform, mobile-friendly RPG publication tool that allows users to quickly and easily create professional quality formatted role playing game materials and save them out as a PDF.

  • automatic system-based formatting of text and images
  • selectable design "theme" libraries
  • robust cover designer
  • pre-populated and user-created stat-block libraries
  • pre-populated and user-created artwork libraries
  • database import for stat-block libraries
  • integrated 300dpi PDF export

  • employee and freelancer account management
  • real time product review and feedback mechanisms
  • inter-company sharing of company-only stat-block libraries
  • inter-company sharing of company-only artwork libraries

1. Select a system (1 minute) This will set your core cover designer, interior layout, fonts, and colors to set your general look and feel.

2. Select a theme (1 minute) This will further modify your cover designer and interior layout, as well as set all fonts, colors, and other variables to make them theme specific.

3. Customize your front and back cover (10 minutes) Import your cover images, create (or import) your logo, and set your title, subtitle, supplement type, author(s), and any other information for your covers. At this point, your publication should now look something like this:

4. Create your pages (5 minutes) Create your publication structure and associated pages.

5. Import your stat-blocks (10 minutes) Import your monsters, items, and traps from your personal stat-block libraries.

6. Import your art (10 minutes) Import your interior maps, charts, illustrations, and photos from your personal media library or upload them directly from your computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

7. Write your text (variable) Quickly add your interior cover, credits, and table of contents text, then focus on what is important, the story, taking as much time as you need.

8. Create your PDF (1 minute) Save your finished publication as a fully-styled, print-ready (300 dpi) PDF by clicking the "Create PDF" button.

All game system material tends to have common design elements that help tie those materials together and format things like stat-blocks into system-specific ways. This is how you can easily identify one game system’s material from another and, such as for Dungeons & Dragons, often tell one version of the same system apart at a glance.

A theme further customizes those design elements and is generally used to tie together material based on a product line, a campaign setting, or an adventure or module series.

Each system implemented in RPG Bard will have its own theme library, made up of individual themes you can choose from to quickly customize your layouts, colors, fonts, stat-blocks, etc. These themes can then be further customized using the cover designer, which will not only update the cover but also the corresponding interior content to insure design consistency throughout your release. You can then continue to use this theme for other publications, creating your own product lines and adventure series.

For our inspiration and yours, we have assembled over 1,500 examples of cover art into system-based libraries for:

Ruxed is the Seattle-area design and development company founded in 2012 by Shyloh Wideman and Dan Steeby. Trusty Sword is our gaming division, focused on enhancing and expanding the tabletop gaming community through development of:

  • software and apps that facilitate tabletop game development and gameplay
  • mobile versions of tabletop games for small and independent publishers

Shyloh Wideman, Creative Director, PMP is a certified Project Management Professional and brings over 20 years of design and management experience in integrated strategy, design, communications, and marketing for IT product development, deployment, adoption, and support.

Dan Steeby, Development Director brings over 15 years of lead development experience designing, developing, and maintaining corporate and government software, websites, online applications, databases, and servers.

Clients include Microsoft, Sony, Amazon, Amtrak, Washington State Government, Chicago Public Schools, Outward Bound, the Experience Music Project Museum, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Xprize Foundation, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Chaosium Inc. (Charlie Krank and Mike Mason) is one of our corporate backers and we are working with them to make RPG Bard fully compatible with Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, which is on schedule for release later this year. This means you will be able to use RPG Bard to create official material for Chaosium’s Miskatonic University Library Association monographs series, where the author also acts as their own editor and layout artist. Through these, Chaosium can offer their most loyal fans new content and evaluate the potential of these works for release to the wholesale market. Call of Cthulhu is a Registered Trademark of Chaosium Inc., and is used with permission.

Wolfgang Baur, editor-in-chief of Kobold Quarterly, winner of five ENnie Awards and the Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming, and author of the the ENnie award-winning “Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design”, Origins award-winning “Kobold Guide to Board Game Design”, and ENnie nominated  “Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding”.

Matthew Spange, owner of Mongoose Publishing, and publisher of Traveller, Legend, hundreds of d20 titles (including the Slayer’s Guide, Encyclopedia Arcane, and Quintessentials series), and author of “I am Mongoose, and so can you! Or working with RPGs for fun and profit”.

Jennifer Brozek, winner of both the Origins and ENnie awards for her contributions to RPG sourcebooks for Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS, and author of “Industry Talk: An Insider’s Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies”.

At these levels, you will be able to create adventures for the systems listed and save out your finished publication as a PDF. Each system will come with a theme library with up to 5 selectable cover and interior page “themes” and a robust cover designer. You will also be able to create your own monster, item, trap, artifact, and artwork libraries which you can then drop directly onto the page you are working on and have permanently available to you for reuse in other publications.

Our baseline funding goal of $30,000 will allow us to provide these features for Dungeons & Dragons 4.0.

At these levels, you will also be able to create campaign settings, character sheets, pre-generated characters, player guides, game master guides, monster guides, race guides, class guides, and any other type of RPG core book or supplement.

In addition, we will add up to 5 new themes to each library so users have even more options for formatting their content just the way they want it.

At these levels, we will be adding new features that expand RPG Bard’s capabilities and provide additional time savings.

  • Enhanced Cover Builder with expanded font support, image layering, layout control, gradients, opacities, and more
  • Database Import for import of your D&D 4.0, 3.5, Next, Pathfinder, and Call of Cthulhu stat-block databases and spreadsheets
  • Pre-Populated Stat-Block Libraries of more than 1,000 official Open Game License (OGL) monsters, items, and traps for Pathfinder and D&D 3.5
  • Free Art Libraries for D&D 4.0, 3.5, Next, Pathfinder, and Call of Cthulhu
  • Company Accounts with employee and freelancer account management, real time product review and feedback mechanisms, and inter-company sharing of company-only stat-block and artwork libraries

Funding of $200k and higher will unlock new system and feature stretch goals.

Backers at all levels will get to vote on the next three systems to support! Choose from Warhammer 40k, Star Wars, Dragon Age, Iron Kingdom, Fate, Shadowrun, Mutants and Masterminds, Savage Worlds, Traveller, AD&D, GURPS, etc.

You will be able to write in your candidates if we do not already have them listed as an option. Votes will be "weighted" by backer level and by first, second, and third choice. Based on your selection, we will follow up with the companies that own the game systems you selected to see about adding them as supported systems.

Please note that we cannot guarantee that all backer’s choice systems will be implemented if licensing requirements apply that cannot be met. In this case, we will continue down the list of top-picks and implement the next possible system. See FAQ for "vote weight" details and an example of how it is calculated.

Additional stretch goals may include:

  • an open community site for distributing free fan-based content
  • how-to videos
  • additional types of stat-block libraries
  • multi-system book creation
  • additional export options for EPUB and MOBI file formats
  • publication submissions
  • integrated art sales to writers
  • integrated book sales to consumers
  • software localization for Deutsch, Español, Polski, and other languages

We will also be soliciting new feature requests from backers, with the ones rising to the top being added as new stretch goals.

A lot of thought was put into trying to create a reward package appropriate for backers of a project that was neither a game nor a book in and of itself, but rather a tool allowing backers and new users to create their own RPG materials.

We have brought together a collection of five books from three award-winning author/publishers. These books address game development and the RPG industry from different angles, providing a comprehensive set of tools and information for prospective and current game developers, publishers, and writers.

PDF books are included in the $50-999 pledge levels and AUTOGRAPHED BOOKS are included at the $1000+ pledge levels. (See individual pledge levels for specific title inclusion.)

Industry Talk: An Insider’s Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies by Jennifer Brozek covers freelance writing for the RPG and science fiction/fantasy industries.

I am Mongoose, and so can you! Or working with RPGs for fun and profit by Matthew Spange addresses RPG publishing and self-publishing and includes cost and sales projection tools for both print and PDF releases.

The Complete Kobold Guide to Game Design, The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design, and The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding, all ENnie or Origins award-winning titles from Kobold Press (Wolfgang Baur), provide extensive information on all aspects of RPG and board game design and building compelling environments and story arcs for your customer base of publishing companies, game masters, and players alike.

We will also be releasing a packet of never-before released D&D, Pathfinder, and Call of Cthulhu adventures, artwork, templates, and other RPG resources (such as a free font bundle pack and downloadable style guide), that you can use at the game table or in developing your own content not only in RPG Bard, but in other software applications such as Word or Photoshop.

As part of this pack, we will be soliciting material from Alpha and Beta backers for inclusion in the Adventurer’s Pack and the “examples” area of the RPG Bard site. Selected material will be professional illustrated, mapped, and laid out on our dime in the style of whichever system the submission was for. This is a great way to give back to the community as well as instantly create a professional portfolio piece for authors new to the RPG market.

The Beta Monster, Beta Character, and all Alpha backers will also be invited to contribute a monster, item, or trap; a pre-generated character; or a combination of both. These will be included in the Adventurer’s Pack and may be illustrated as well.

Other rewards include:

  • invitations for early access to the alpha and beta release
  • invitations to contribute community resources
  • invitation to submit an adventure to the Adventurer’s Pack that we will have professionally illustrated and mapped
  • 3-month to lifetime RPG Bard access
  • x2, x6, and x10 account bundles
  • custom theme design and system development
  • special Kickstarter backer badges that will appear on your author profile pages
  • custom wallpapers
  • and our most heartfelt thanks and listing in the Adventure's Pack and RPG Bard credits!

See chart below or individual pledge level descriptions for specific backer rewards.

This product is a proud participant of Brian Fargo's Kicking it Forward program, where 5% of this project's profit will be used as pledges for other Kickstarter projects.

You can also follow us on Pinterest.

At the base funding level this project is relatively straight forward but it has the potential to grow very large, with the addition of many new systems and themes, supported book and content types, features, resource libraries, and other supporting products. As projects grow, there is the increased risk that things will take longer than expected.

However, we lack most of the risks associated with an average game or software project:

  • we have developed prototypes of nearly every feature or have implemented the features for our other clients, allowing us to verify the technical viability of the project as well as obtain accurate cost and timeline estimates
  • we are working directly with system creators and publishers on some of the supported systems to insure final PDF output meets official design standards
  • all backer book rewards have already been published so there will be no delays caused by manuscripts waiting to go to the printers
  • we are experienced software and web developers with a 16-year track record in product development and project management (prior clients include Microsoft, Sony, Amazon.com, Amtrak, Washington State Government, Chicago Public Schools, Experience Music Project Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Outward Bound, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America)
  • we will be using Agile project management so all systems, book types, themes, and features will be fully functioning from the day they are implemented; this way, even if we are funded far beyond our current stretch goals, we will still be able to keep to our current alpha, beta, and public release dates, continuing to roll out new systems and features even after public release with no break or delay in service

How does "Vote Weight" work?

In determining which new systems to support, we look at two things: backer pledge level and whether the system was the backer’s first, second, or third choice.

  • Backer Weight is 1/5 pledge level (so x1 for a $5 pledge up to x2000 for a $10000 pledge)
  • Choice Weight is x4 for first choice, x2 for second choice, and x1 for third choice

As an example, a backer at the $20 level would have their votes calculated as follows:

System: Backer Weight x Choice Weight = Total Votes
First Choice: 4 ($20 pledge /5) x 4 = 16 votes
Second Choice: 4 ($20 pledge /5) x 2 = 8 votes
Third Choice: 4 ($20 pledge /5) x 1 = 4 votes

When can I start creating my own books?

This depends on your backer level which determines if you have Alpha, Beta, or Early Bard access:

  • Alpha access will start September 2014
  • Beta access will start December 2014
  • Early Bard access will start when RPG Bard is publicly released May 2015

If we are able to publicly release prior to May 2015, Alpha and Beta backers will get an additional month of access for each month we launch ahead of schedule.

Will RPG Bard be available in other languages?

Not at first, but this is in the "features we want to implement" cue. If multi-language support is requested often enough, we will elevate it and included as one of our new stretch goals for this Kickstarter campaign.

Do you have larger cover art examples?

Yes! The following samples represents a handful of styles that will be available in RPG Bard's cover designer if that system gets supported.

Defence of the Fey artwork by Yuriy Chemezov (Portfolio, DeviantArt).


Equipment Guide artwork by Tamara Bakhlycheva (DeviantArt).


Stronghold Designer artwork by Dean Oyebo (Portfolio, DeviantArt).


Book of Races artwork by Chris Johnson (Portfolio, DeviantArt).


Return to Castle Evermore artwork by Jorge Jacinto (Portfolio, DeviantArt).


The Count of Desmodus Island artwork by Consuelo Pecchenino (Portfolio, DeviantArt).


Legacy of the Unaussprechlichen Kulten artwork by Joseba Alexander (Portfolio, DeviantArt).


Cthulhu Rises artwork by Wes Jones (DeviantArt).


Soldier's Guide artwork by Gonzalo Murillo (Portfolio, DeviantArt).


Combat Robots artwork by Gonzalo Murillo (Portfolio, DeviantArt).


Merchant Alliance artwork by Christian Rodrigo Quinot (DeviantArt).

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