Friday, December 23, 2011

My New Blog Site; Christmas 2011 Update

Merry Christmas, folks!

I've maintained a somewhat infrequent blog for years over at, but since I am now a Free Agent, I figure it's time to establish my online thoughts in a new venue. In this blog I'm going to bounce around a bit from gaming and writing to politics and current events and the occasional reflection on the finer things in life. If you're a gamer or reader who just wants to keep up with my professional news and finds it annoying when a "celebrity" bludgeons you with his politics, please feel free to stop reading after the first part of my regular entry -- I intend to segregate out those thoughts for those who don't want 'em. My goal is to post around the 1st and the 15th of each month; we'll see how that goes.

Oh, and if you're curious about my old wizards blogs, you can find them here:

Who Am I Anyway?: I'm Richard Baker, a game designer (award-winning) and author of fantasy and science fiction (best-selling, once so far). I grew up on the Jersey shore, went to college at Virginia Tech (I was in A/I companies of the Corps of Cadets), served as a deck officer in the US Navy, married my college sweetheart Kim, and then went to work at TSR, Inc., in 1991. I've worked on D&D off and on for twenty years, and I'm also behind the Alternity science-fiction game, the 2010 edition of Gamma World, the Conquest of Nerath boardgame, and three different Axis & Allies Miniatures games. I now live in western Washington with my wife and our two teenage daughters.

Game Design and Writing News: Well, you have probably heard by now that Wizards of the Coast eliminated my position back on December 14th. I'm a little sore about that, as you might imagine. However, I want to make a couple of things clear for folks...
  1. I'm OK. Wizards offers a pretty enlightened severance package, and I now have a great opportunity to think about what I want to do next.
  2. I'm not particularly bothered by the "axed before Christmas" thing. It would kinda suck at any time of year, and Christmas is pretty much bought and paid for at this point. So I don't regard the folks who made the decision as peculiarly soulless corporate ghouls because of the timing of things. They're generally good folks, and I think they genuinely didn't want to let me go.
  3. I am planning to start off my new self-employed career with a couple of novel projects. Down the road I may contract with Wizards for some game design work. However, I now have an opportunity to write anything I want, and I'm going to take advantage of that.
  4. I am naturally exploring the idea of making the jump to game software, or sticking around in the analog game biz. However, I intend to take my time and make sure I make the best decision for my family. I am not in a hurry (see point 1)... but if the right position drops into my lap, well, I wouldn't say no.
Revenant Projects: In case you're curious, several new games and sourcebooks are going to come out in the next few months with my name on them. (I call 'em revenant projects because they're continuing on after I'm "dead" so to speak.) At Wizards, we often worked many months in advance of a game or project's release, so there are some things in the pipeline.
   Axis & Allies Air Force Miniatures: This new miniatures game of WW2 air combat will be out in February of 2012. I designed the game and the first sets of miniatures. You can check back at the Wizards of the Coast site for previews next month; if I see them start, I'll link them.
   Heroes of the Elemental Chaos: My next D&D sourcebook will be out in the first trimester of 2012. It's a look at characters who wield the power of elemental magic, co-written by Rob Schwalb. (Actually, Rob wrote most of the book, I did maybe 30 or 40 percent of it.)
   Prince of Ravens: My next Forgotten Realms novel is Prince of Ravens, an ebook release scheduled for the summer of 2012. This book returns to the character Jack Ravenwild from City of Ravens, which is a lot of fun. My author relationship with Wizards is sort of a separate deal from my employment relationship, so I may be taking on some new writing work soon.

Politics/Current Events: A short one to start... our presidential nomination process is ridiculous. Why are the parties constrained to put the matter up for a popular vote? Theoretically they're private organizations that should be able to choose and present the slates they want. Back in the day candidates were selected at the conventions. If they decided to choose candidates by drawing lots, taking tests, or having them compete in single-elimination unlimited mixed martial arts tournaments, that would be the party's own business. As matters stand, the fact that party political selection machinery is distributed through statewide elections processes seems to open the whole thing up to all sorts of nonsense. In 2008 Rush Limbaugh suggested "Operation Chaos," encouraging listeners in firmly red states to register as Democrats for the purpose of voting in the Democratic nomination process. Democrats have used similiar stratagems against Republicans. And, even more worrisome to me, making the nomination into an election rather than a selection means that the media plays an outsized role in deciding who the candidates will be. John McCain and Barack Obama were both pretty flawed candidates, but those are the choices the media narratives gave us last time. I think our nomination process would be better if it were more internal to each party, maybe even decided at the big conventions the way it was a long time ago. We would get candidates who more honestly represented their party's platforms.

The Finer Things: Trade Route Brewing Company's Jet Stream Lager. The Trade Route is a little hole in the wall taproom that opened up in a sort of industrial park just a mile from my house. A friend of mine is one of the partners behind it. Anyway, they brew several very good beers, but my favorite is the Jet Stream -- an excellent, crisp, tasty lager. I used to be all over reds and IPAs and ESBs and ambers, but in the last couple of years I've come to really appreciate pilsners and lagers again, and Jet Stream is one of the best I've ever had. As it turns out, beer makes me happy.


  1. Your doors are opened. Spread your wings and go. With the digital age of media fully upon us have you had any thoughts on publishing under your own name through electronic media only and selling your works directly under Amazon through there self publishing services?

  2. You Sir, are a good man. Glad to read your blog, Rich, and I'm looking forward to the entries to come.

  3. Hey Rich, I'm really glad you started this blog. I'm a big fan of your work and hope to see more of it soon :)

    On the political point you made, it reminds me of the parliamentary system where the party (parties) that control the parliament select a Prime Minister, as opposed to electing that person in a general election. Both systems have their ups and downs, but a hybrid of them might be a good compromise.

  4. I'm glad to see you writing here, and I'm glad to hear that you're doing all right. Welcome to independence!

  5. I'm personally hoping to see you doing some design work for Paizo for their Pathfinder system!

  6. Good to see you up and online - I hope you have a wonderful holidays. Thanks for all the fun you've brought with your design work!

  7. Rich, if you decide to get into game software, I'm all for it. Expand those horizons, man, the world is in dire need of great IPs. Also, really looking forward to Prince of Ravens!

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  9. Glad to see you back into the public again. Did you did see someone made a 'hitler rants about...' video about you. Hahahah.

    Good to hear about the severance, and I've got to say, you've been very professional about the whole thing.

    Have a Merry Christmas!

  10. Happy to see you blogging. As a big fan of War at Sea, it's my sincere hope we'll somehow see some more sets down the line but thanks for the work so far.

  11. I don't think a better name than Robot Dragon Battleship can be found.

    Re the party nominations, the major-party candidates are the only choices that the public as a whole gets when the general election comes. The major parties also have all sorts of advantages, both de facto (the sheer fundraising power that comes from their long establishment) and de jure (they get automatic ballot space in all 50 states, something no minor party gets). It's for that reason that we the public should and do get a say in who they nominate. The primary system is certainly far from perfect, but allowing a much smaller group of insiders to determine our choices in the general election would be a step backward, not forward.

  12. Hey, Rich!

    Robots aren't really sci-fi anymore. How about Alien Dragon Battleship? Space Dragon Battleship? Ah, never mind. Reminds me of those old sci-fi magazines, though. "Space Dragon Battleship will be the title. Now, go write the story!" :)

  13. Oops! I just noticed that you changed it to Atomic Dragon Battleship. Never mind what I said earlier. Atomic is perfect. :D