Illustrating for Pinnacle
Pinnacle is always looking for freelance artists to illustrate our games. PEG purchases primarily color art but black & white grayscale and line art will be considered as well. Interested artists should email our art director, Aaron Acevedo (firstname.lastname@example.org), with an introduction and a link to an online portfolio.
Writing for Pinnacle
You can check a style guide for general grammar rules (we recommend William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White’s The Elements of Style), but there are a few common mistakes we see over and over again that you should avoid.
Plot Point Campaigns
Wondering what a “PPC” is or how to write it? Try this!
Referring to Characters:
We don’t use the terms PCs. If it’s important to distinguish between PCs and NPCs, you can spell out “player characters.”
Readers get tired of reading the same pronouns over and over, so try to add variety to your references. Player characters can be referred to as the party, characters, team, heroes, investigators, and so on. Certain settings have additional options, such as gumshoes for Noir, Wanderers for Solomon Kane, posse for Deadlands, or students for East Texas University.
You can also use situational pronouns. For example, if the group is entering a strange new land, you could call them strangers, invaders, explorers, or interlopers on occasion.
For NPCs, we sometimes write it out if it’s important as “nonplayer characters,” or use the term “Extras.” Usually, you should just refer to the group itself. As in: “The heroes can bring their followers along should they choose.” (Note that it doesn’t require the phrase “NPC” or “nonplayer character” before followers.)
Pinnacle keeps things PG-13. We don’t do graphic sex or violence. We also don’t glorify smoking, and in general try to avoid it all together (yes, even in Deadlands Noir). Harming or killing children is also something we tend to avoid. There are exceptions to every rule, but if it’s not critical to your story, please adhere to our rules.
You also need to watch your political, religious, and anti-religious statements. If it’s important to the story and we approved your outline, it’s probably fine. If you’re slipping in a dig at someone or something, please don’t use our products to do it.
Use Body Text for the body of your work, Chapter Header for chapter headers, Header01 for the start of major sections. Heading02 is for section headers within a given section, and Heading03 is for individual descriptions within subsections.
If you need a further breakdown, place a descriptor in bold with a colon, like this:
The Merchant: Silas is polite and responsive, but knows nothing pertinent to this adventure.
Active, Not Passive Voice
Use an active “voice” to make your writing more vibrant and exciting to read. A passive voice is less direct and sounds hesitant. When used sparingly it can be effective, but when overused it can be difficult to figure out who’s doing what.
Here’s the rule to recognize passive voice: If you need to insert “by zombies” at the end to understand who’s taking the action, the sentence is probably passive.
Here are a few examples of passive voice:
“The newspapers are delivered.” (by zombies?)
“The car is driven.” (by zombies?)
“The brains are eaten.” (by zombies)
Here are the same examples, but written in an active voice:
“The mailman delivers the newspapers.”
“My mother drives the car.”
“Zombies eat the brains.”
Present, Not Future Tense
Authors tend to think of an adventure as happening in the future because it hasn’t been played yet. Although it’s a longstanding tradition in RPG writing, we studiously avoid it. Think of your adventure as happening in the present. If you use the word “will,” you’re probably wrong.
Don’t say “The adventurers will see a shiny object nearby.” Instead, use the present tense: “The adventurers see a shiny object nearby.”
Another problem is thinking in terms of the theoretical future or past, typified by some forms of “be” (may be/maybe, was being, had been, have been, might be, should be, could be, will be).
• Do a Find for the words “will” “being” “should” “could” and “may” when you’re done. 99% of the time you should get rid of it.
• Also look for “that”—most of the time the word “that” just needs to be deleted!
“That and Who”
Try not to mix these two up. “The man that saved my life” should be “The man WHO saved my life”.
Always indent the first line in a paragraph. Do not do this by using a tab. Instead, set your Body Text Style to give you an automatic, first line indentation (.03″ is good).
We only use one space between sentences or after a quote or a colon or whatever. Using two spaces is a holdover from the typewriter.
If you need more space between letters or words, always use tabs. This is especially true for tables. For tables, set your tabs so that things look good. This is entirely subjective, so just do your best. We’ll be reformatting this kind of thing in layout anyway.
Although most style/grammar questions are answered in Strunk & White, here are a few we want to highlight. Also, scan this section even if you’re an English teacher: we have a couple of idiosyncrasies we practice with punctuation marks.
Apostrophe: When you drop letters out of a word (which we often get in “Prospector speak” for Deadlands), you usually type in a single quote mark: ‘. Most computer programs do this automatically for you. Unfortunately, you really want an apostrophe: ’.
- Get ’em!
- Not: Get ‘em!
You put apostrophes before partial years too, as in ’76.
Commas: Use them sparingly, but know when to use them. We use the serial comma. This means that when you’ve got a list of several things and the last bit’s separated from the rest by the word and, you put a comma before the “and.”
- They shot my wife, horse, and dog.
Also, always use commas to set off whole sentences joined by a conjunction.
- Ronan drew fast, but DuChamp shot first.
Don’t bother with using commas at the end of sentence that have inclusive terms like too or as well.
- Stone shot his mother too.
Dashes: Don’t put a standard hyphen in front of numbers (the minus sign on your keyboard). Instead, use an n-dash: –. So it’s –1, not -1.
Also, don’t use the double hyphen for a break. Use an m-dash: —. When using an m-dash, don’t leave spaces around the dashes. Microsoft Word automatically changes a double hyphen to an mdash.
- The steam wagon dashed along the main drag—conveniently named Main Street.
Funky Characters: There are lots of characters that your computer can make for you that you shouldn’t try to replicate in another way. These include: ª, ©, ¨, É, •, °, ¢, and so on. Sometimes it’s not obvious where they are, but a little digging can find them.
Parentheses: Keep punctuation outside of a parenthetical statement unless the entire sentence is in parentheses.
- He strode along (down Main Street). (Don’t you think Main Street is an overused street name?)
Possessives: Don’t put another s after a possessive apostrophe that ends in an s.
- Cuss’ gun misfired. Not: Cuss’s gun misfired.
Quotations: Put the period or comma inside a closing quotation.
- “Hey there, Bob,” said Ronan.
- Not: “Hey there, Bob”, said Ronan.
Question marks come inside a quotation only if they’re part of the quote.
- “What do you mean, ‘Kill him!’ ?”
Spelling: Always use standard American English spellings. One common error is to add an s onto the end of a word like toward. Toward, forward, backward, and so on, do not end with an s.
- Gray, not grey.
And please don’t forget to use your spellchecker before you send anything in. If you’re confused on how to spell a word that we use in our books, just find it in our books and spell it the same way.
Numbers: For numbers one through nine, spell them out. For anything higher or lower, use digits instead.
Never start a sentence with a digit. In that case, type it out.
- Twelve men shot 23 bullets into one target.
Always use digits for game statistics.
Never write “0;” Instead spell It out “zero.”
Subject-Verb Agreement: Make sure the subject and verb agree. Remember, the word posse is singular, not plural. Also, the pronoun for posse is it, not they. You’d be surprised how many folks mess this one up.
- The posse enters the canyon from the west. It can then move to the north or south.
- Or: The heroes enter the canyon from the west. They can then move to the north or south.
The Well-Abused Gerund: In Deadlands, skill names that end in -ing usually drop the g. So fighting becomes fightin’. This may not always be true though—some of the kung fu skills in The Great Maze don’t follow this convention—so pay attention.
Wordiness: Try to be succinct. Say what you have to say and move on. You can often drop the word “that” from a sentence. Try it both ways. If it works without it, then drop it.
The same goes for “in order to.” You can almost always reduce this to just “to.”
Shorter paragraphs and sentences are easier on the eyes and thus more likely to be read.
That: The word “that” is highly overused. Don’t say “The room that has the golden statue is the one that is trapped.” Instead, say “The room with the golden statue is trapped.”
One of the trickiest things about writing for games is getting the formatting right. For Savage Worlds:
- Edges, Hindrances, and Skills are written in upper-case. Agility, Shooting, Frenzy.
- Spells are written in lower-case italics. bolt, blast
- See the books for how to format stat blocks, making sure to place skills in alphabetical order. Just put them in Body Text. We’ll reformat their styles in-house.
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