A Conversation With…Jess Hartley

This time we are joined by author, game designer, role playing enthusiast Jess Hartley.  Jess is a regular on Pulp Gamer Out Of Character and her blog, One Geek To Another, is nominated for an ENnie this year.

Thanks for joining us today Jess.

**My pleasure, Tom! I’ve enjoyed your commentary on Pulp Gamer’s Out of Character podcast, and I was honored that you wanted to ask me some questions.

Tell us a bit about yourself to start off.

**I’ve been working as a freelance writer for about 7 years now. Much of my work has been in the gaming industry, although I’ve also been working on some independent projects. I’ve written extensively for White Wolf Games, and the World of Darkness (both Old and New) are some of my favorite RPGs to play.

Beyond that, I’m a mom of 3, who loves to travel, cook and make things (from costuming and jewelry to replicas of medieval manuscripts). I’m an avid reader, I collect fairy tales, and I’m kind of an etiquette nut.

With regard to role playing games, what are some aspects of a good player?

**Good is such a judgment call. It can mean different things to different people. As for me, the kinds of gamers I like to interact with put the group’s fun on an even footing with their own personal success. They don’t mind when the rules take a back-seat to the story, or when something bad happens to their character if it means building a better story. I like playing with folks who laugh a lot, don’t nit-pick about the “small stuff” and who realize that a game is just a tool for having fun.

There is a lot of talk about social contracts among rpg groups.  What is your take on this?

**I did an entire presentation on social contracts in rpgs at the last Gamemaster’s conference – it’s a topic that’s very meaningful for me. I think most problems with social contracts at the gaming table comes down to one thing – a lack of communication. Expectations that aren’t expressed clearly lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Assumptions about acceptable behavior can lead folks to not realize they’re acting inappropriately. Fear of offending can cause relatively minor issues to fester into major ones. For most problems, polite communication is the key to resolving these differences.

Tell us about your most memorable gaming moment.

**There’s no way I could pick just one. Gaming has been such a big part of my social life over the last 20 years, it would be impossible to say “this one moment was the most memorable.” But some of them include things like… Making my first-ever dice roll and getting a critical miss, which banked a crossbow bolt off the helmet of a fellow party member. Getting to watch an IC funeral played out for one of my long-term LARP characters, including seeing players moved to tears in the depth of their IC sorrow for her loss. Meeting folks face-to-face for the first time after playing on a MUSH or MUD online with them for years. DMing my first game (Promethean: The Created) for some dear friends and fellow game-industry folks. Watching folks play the first adventure I ever wrote (The Rose-Bride’s Plight) in a LARP setting. I could go on for hours – I think anyone who’s gamed for long could. It’s such an immersive recreation, it really touches you deeply.
What are you currently playing?
**At the moment, I’m involved with several LARP games, all World of Darkness. I live in a very remote area, so I don’t have a regular table-top group, sadly. I play a little online, but much of my RPG fun over the past few years has been at conventions and events.

Tell us about your current projects.

**Well, I’m wrapping up work on the Shattered Glass Project (www.shatteredglassproject.com). It’s an independent fiction experiment based on a patronage model. The response has been pretty overwhelming so far.

I’m also still writing One Geek to Another, my etiquette and advice column blog. In fact, OGTA was just nominated last week for the ENnie Awards in the category of Best Blog (http://www.ennie-awards.com/blog/?page_id=784) – Voting opens to the public on 7/16/2010.

My serial fiction for Mind Storm Labs (The Adventures of Little Yoshida) is being released, chapter by chapter.  Folks can read a little more about it here: http://www.alphaomegathegame.com/index.php/permalink/little_yoshida_episode_i_rough_trade_is_now_available/

Other than that, I’m currently working on some independent fiction projects, and a game project or two that are currently still under NDA.

I can’t wait for The Shattered Glass.  Everything I’ve seen so far has me excited to read it.   One Geek is a lot of fun and useful.  And I voted for it by the way.  I haven’t read any of the Little Yoshida chapters yet.  But I’ll visit soon. Who would you like to see interviewed here?

Chuck Wendig, Monica Valentinelli, Matt McFarland, Boyan Radakovich, Cam Banks or John Wick – they’re all great creators and awesome people… I’m sure there’s a thousand others who I’m blanking on at the moment!

Those are excellent suggestions.

Are there any links or sites you want to direct us to?

Folks are always welcome to come by my website: www.jesshartley.com. One Geek to Another is hosted there, and there’s excerpts from a lot of my fiction and game work.

And, of course, come visit Out of Character podcast and the rest of the Pulp Gamer network: www.pulpgamer.com

This was a lot of fun.  Thank you Jess.

Everyone remember to head over to the ENnies website and vote for One Geek To Another.  Voting closes in a day or so.

I hope you are enjoying these interviews.  I’m having a great time doing them.  Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Go Forth And Game,


One thought on “A Conversation With…Jess Hartley”

  1. Tom, I meant to comment earlier, but yes I am definitely enjoying the blog in general, and the interviews in particular! Keep up the good work, and I’ll try to be a more active commenter in the future!

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