Christina Stiles, 2012 ENnie award winner

MACE 2012 Interview

Hello, Christina and congratulations for your Gold ENnie Award for Best Adventure for Streets of Zobeck (Open Design).

Tell us a little about this project and your role in it.

CS: Thank you! I’m totally stoked! Streets of Zobeck was a patron project through Open Design/Kobold Press (Wolfgang Baur’s company), meaning patrons paying in at certain levels could anonymously “pitch” material for the book as contributions or contract work. I’d been a patron of a few other Open Design projects, but none called to me like the gritty nature of this one. I mean, with a motto of “leave the paladin at home,” how could I not want to have my name in it? Plus, I’d get to add my mark to the city of Zobeck!

I pitched my heart out on this project, getting in a few feats, magic items, and NPCs before the adventure rounds hit. At 5th-level, I jumped in with “The Fish and the Rose,” a heist adventure involving a hideous, singing fish painting that could foretell the future—think black velvet background ala the Elvis ones of the day mixed with the singing fish (“Take Me to the River” plaques that were popular in the 90s). It got accepted. Around the same time, I proposed “Flesh Fails,” a more risqué adventure involving blackmail and the high priestess of Marena, goddess of lust and torture (in this instance—she has other purviews in her portfolio in the Midgard Campaign Setting). This one didn’t get in immediately, and I had to re-pitch it. I rewrote it and sent it in for the 10th-level adventures, and finally won with it. So, I ended up writing two of the seven adventures.

Ben McFarland deftly led this project to the finish line, and other authors include Matt Stinson, Mike Franke, and the macabre Richard Pett. Ben did a great post about this project on the Kobold Quarterly Blog .

How many nominations is this for you? How many ENnies wins is this for you?

CS: Let’s see, I had to go back and check the Ennie list on this. The products I’ve had a big part in that have been nominated include: Faery’s Tale, SCION: Ragnarok, Corwyl: Village of the Wood Elves, Black Sails Over Freeport, and Streets of Zobeck. There have also been things nominated I’ve had small parts in (Sidewinder, Liber Bestarius, Testament, and the Penumbra Bestiary). Out of the main five products, however, Green Ronin’s Black Sails won a silver Ennie for Best Adventure (it won an Origins Award, too), and Open Design’s Streets of Zobeck won gold for Best Adventure; so two wins.

I actually edited the former title, so I can’t claim my adventure-writing skills added to the win, though I’m hoping to trend in this category in the future, as I enjoy writing adventures best.

What do you think made this adventure stand out from the rest?

CS: Its gritty, noir, urban nature played a large part in making it a stand-out adventure. It’s like something you could run in Freeport, but it’s made for Zobeck. It also includes magic, NPCs, feats, and locations, so that’s a big plus for running a campaign set in the city. It’s everything you need to play an urban campaign up to 10th level.

Are you going to do more work for this product line?

CS: Oh yeah! I worked on another Zobeck book for Open Design right after this project: The Zobeck Gazetteer for Pathfinder. Plus, I pulled together the Player’s Guide to the Crossroads (which hasn’t yet released). Then I pitched to lead some Open Design projects and won. We’ve just finished up Journeys to the West (it’s in layout and due out around late September), and Ben McFarland and I are currently leading the Midgard Tales anthology project of 13 Midgard adventures to complement the Midgard Campaign Setting being released around October of this year. The adventures will be out in 2013, though I don’t know the expected date yet.

Additionally, I’ve done articles on Midgard for Kobold Quarterly and for the KQ blog.

What are you working on now?

CS: Oh so many things… I tend to keep busy!

As of this writing, the Rogue Mage RPG Player’s Handbook, a game based on the Rogue Mage novels (Bloodring, Seraphs, Host) of NYT bestselling urban fantasy author Faith Hunter, has just released for sale in pdf through Misfit Studios. The print book will be available at Dragon*Con and then on via BellaRosa Books. In regard to that game, I’m still tweaking the freebie adventure that will go on the Misfit Studios website, and we are finalizing the Rogue Mage RPG Game Master’s Guide over the next few months.

For Open Design (aka Kobold Press), I’m working on the Midgard Tales Open Design project, and I’ve taken over the Dark Deeds Freeport project for them, as well. I am also the associate editor for Kobold Quarterly, and I’m finalizing the 4th issue I’ve had my hand in (one not credited). I’ve also got an unnamed side project for a class I can’t discuss at the moment—but it’s nearing completion.

Backburner projects include finishing the Savage SpirosBlaak book, and then doing a Pathfinder version. I think that’s all, but I could have forgotten something.

What future work of yours do you think will be in the next ENnie nomination list?

CS: I’m hoping Journeys to the West for Open Design makes it into the Best Adventure list, though it could certainly fit in a few Ennie categories. Seeing the Midgard Tales (if we get it to print in time for 2013) or Kobold Quarterly on the list would be great, as well. And, if Rogue Mage ever made it to the list, I’d be beyond ecstatic! Years of work went into making it a great game for fans of Faith Hunter’s Rogue Mage novels.

How does it feel to be recognized by the fans by winning an ENnie?

CS: Cloud Nine describes it. We honestly thought we were the dark horse in that nominations list for Best Adventure—not that we doubted we had a great product, but because we were in great company. I thank the fans for recognizing the heart and soul that went into Streets. This is just a stupendous honor.

Again congratulations and we look forward to seeing more great work by you.

CS: Thanks! Keep your eyes out, as I’m always busy on RPG projects.