10 Questions with Martin Ralya.

Treasure Tables who is ran by Martin Ralya brings together a community of intelligent, passionate GMs who are interested in reading about and discussing a wide range of game mastering topics.

[1] Paul: Care to give our readers a short introduction about yourself and what you do?
Martin Ralya: I’m a general manager for a national parking company, and I do freelance writing in my spare time. I was born in France, grew up in NYC, went to college in Michigan and now live in Utah with my fiance, Alysia, and our Beagle, Charlie. Alysia and I are getting married in less than two weeks.

[2] Paul: What 5 words best describe you? Why these 5 words?
Martin Ralya: Man, I’m terrible with this kind of question. Can I slide by with A, And, The, This and But? Seriously, though, I’ll go with: Laid-back, Friendly, Smart, Stubborn and Tall. All of them are things you’d notice about me within a few minutes - except for Stubborn, which might come as a surprise later on down the road.

[3] Paul: You do quite abit of freelance writing… How did you get starting in the whole writing thingy? Is it a full time job?
Martin Ralya: No, very definitely part-time. I’m more of a hobbylancer — my goal is to pay for my annual trip to GenCon by freelancing, not to make a living. By comparison to other areas - like journalism, or writing articles for magazines - the pay rates in the RPG industry are so low that I can’t imagine trying to make a living at it. I got started back in 2004, when I reviewed a small press RPG product and was asked to help write the next book in that line. From there, I answered open calls from different companies, gaining experience whilegetting a chance to work on a range of products. There are more efficient ways to build up a list of published RPG credits, but I’ve had fun with this approach.

[4] Paul: Did you learn writing from someone or school?
Martin Ralya: I grew up without a TV, so I’ve always been an avid reader. That plus a knack for writing got me started, and three great English teachers — plus several excellent teachers in other writing-oriented classes, mainly in college — got me to where I am today. I’ve never taken any formal classes in writing.

[5] Paul: Any advices or lessons you want to share with us about writing?
Martin Ralya: Reading a lot will improve your writing — any author, any genre, as long as it’s not crap. The crap can be pretty instructive, too, but the older I get the less time I have to waste on it. ;)

I learn something from nearly every freelance project that I take on, which is part of what I enjoy about writing — there’s always room to improve. Recently, I’ve read a few very good books about writing, and learned quite a bit from them as well. They were: Bird by Bird, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop, On Writing and Robert’s Rules of Writing.

As far as freelance writing for RPGs goes, the single most important thing you can do is meet your deadlines. Do that, and you’ll be bucking an unfortunate trend that (understandably!) drives editors frothing mad. Self-editing is also a good idea — not just spellchecking, but reading the whole thing several times and cleaning it up before sending it in. The less work your editor has to do, the better — and the more likely they are to get in touch with you again.

[6] Paul: Any exciting new projects or writing we can expect from you in the coming weeks?
Martin Ralya: I wrote 11,000 words of The Mother of All Treasure Tables, which comes out this month. I wrote my chunk as a freelancer for Tabletop Adventures, one of my favorite RPG companies to work with, and I’m really looking forward to seeing it in print. I’ve got a couple of other very small projects in the pipeline, none of which have been announced yet. I'm also involved in a new endeavor that’s quite different from anything I’ve done in the past, but unfortunately that’s all I can say about it at the moment. Ooooh, mysterious.

[7] Paul: We are not going ask too much about TT or GM, that’s probably covered your previous interview. Has your favourite game changed since the last interview?
Martin Ralya: Nope, D&D and Call of Cthulhu are still my favorites. They’ve been my favorites for years, and while I like to play different RPGs, I don’t expect them to change anytime soon.

[8] Paul: Any games you would like to recommend our readers? Game we must play this lifetime.
Martin Ralya: I have a raging nerd-crush on Burning Empires, which came out a few weeks ago at GenCon. I just finished reading it, and it’s awesome - a fight-for-your-planet sci-fi RPG that’s all about character drama, high-pressure situations and tough choices. It’s written by Luke Crane, who created the Burning Wheel RPG, and based on the Iron Empires comic books by Chris Moeller. The setting is mix of original material and shades of Dune, Stargate SG-1, Battlestar Galactica (the new one) and Warhammer 40,000. It’s a brilliant book - well-written, gorgeous, satisfying and I haven't actually played it yet, but I see no reason why it wouldn’t rock on toast. It’s number one with a bullet on my list of games to play, and probably will be until I can talk my group into it.

[9] Paul: 3d6 is another blog of yours? What’s it about? Another websites you got but we dun know?
Martin Ralya: Yep, 3d6.org is one of my sites. It used to be my only site, and back then it was mainly a gaming site. Once I started Treasure Tables, I revamped 3d6.org to be all about my photos, although there’s a bit of gaming material on there as well. It’s strictly a personal site now, and there’s not much on it that I think would interest anyone outside of my family and friends. I also have one other small site, Utah BSG, which is dedicated to building the Battlestar Galactica CCG community in Utah. So far, it hasn’t been very successful.

[10] Paul: Finally, anything last words you want to announce or shout to our readers?
Martin Ralya: Thanks for having me here, Paul - I had fun with this interview!