February is Black History Month! Black voices, be they in the RPG industry or in other creative mediums, are helping create amazing stories and we’re proud to share some voices from our community, in their own words. Enjoy these profiles as well as some previews for art from the upcoming Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse!
Jahmal “Mad Jay” Brown (he/him)
Jahmal “Mad Jay” Brown is host of the Diceology podcast, Professional GM at IntoTheMadLands.com and freelance writer with credits including PRIME Supers for Cortex Prime, Pathfinder’s Mwangi Expanse and his own By Acer’s Light for Burning Wheel and Dungeon World. He likes games and stories about outsiders and underdogs. Jay games with his kids and loves his momma but she doesn’t game yet. He is easily found on Twitter @madjayzero or www.madjayzero.com.
Allie Bustion (she/her or they/them)
Allie Bustion is an independent and freelance narrative and tabletop game designer, working for Paizo on several upcoming and previous titles, Wizards of the Coast, Guildhall Studios, and Green Ronin as well as their own projects, HEIST and Misbehavin'. Away from the table, they play video games. Sometimes, even on Twitch. On Twitter, you can catch them talking about wrestling, storytelling, and their cat.
Devinne Caples (she/her)
My name is Devinne and I am the HR Generalist for Paizo. I am also a wife and mom to three children. I wear a lot of hats. I enjoy working in Human Resources and working at Paizo has given me the opportunity to work in a very diverse work environment. Working at Paizo has opened my eyes to the RPG world and how beneficial it can be to be part of such a community, especially during these uncertain times. These communities connect individuals and provide a means to still feel a part of something bigger than themselves while in isolation. I admire what we do here.
Travis “Rabbit” Lionel (he/him)
Travis, circa 1994. Writer, gamer, black guy. Growing up, I was always told I wasn’t black enough or I was trying too hard to “act white” due to my hobbies and interests. I always loved games like Final Fantasy and became invested into tabletop games such as Magic: The Gathering and Pathfinder 1st Edition by the beginning of high school. However, I never let these things stop me from loving my blackness, my history and my hobbies no matter how far removed. Okay, that’s partially true; I did have some identity issues. Now, I’m in a position to not only show that black people can participate in these hobbies, but centralize themselves into the hobby as well. I was blessed with the opportunity to work with Paizo on Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse in 2020. I wanted this to be a chance for an African inspired setting to have a black voice on it as often we have so few chances to make African settings anymore than mud huts. I also wanted to show little black children that tabletop games and other hobbies are not the exclusive domains of white people and that everyone is welcome.
I love love love, 2nd Edition Pathfinder and I hope to continue playing and working on it in the future. In addition, you can find me on Twitch (https://twitch.tv/eightbitrabbits) giving lots of opinions about games of both the tabletop and video variety here.
Erin Roberts (she/her)
I'm a new(ish) freelancer for Paizo, but I have been a writer for some time, telling stories of impossible magic, maybe-one-day technology, and all-too-real things that go bump in the night (feel free to check me out on Twitter at @nirele). I am also a child (and current resident) of East Coast cities like New York and DC, with roots in the Deep South and Panama, who grew up in a family that ensured that the lessons and pride and continued journey of Black history were a fundamental part of who I am.
One of the reasons that I enjoy writing so much is that I love to tell a good story, but also that I love to think about the story beneath the story, the iceberg that the tales we spin are only the very tip of. After all, even the silliest, most ridiculously fluffy pieces of creative work teach you a little something, from who gets to shape the world to what places make interesting backdrops to which stories are worth telling. Part of why I love my creative work is that I have the opportunity to bring who I am to the page, to add the people and places and stories that I know from my experience as a Black woman to the undercurrents of the collective tale we’re telling, and to lift up the power of community, the fight against injustice, the distinction between race, culture, and destiny, and the deep importance of collective joy.
Isis Wozniakowska (she/her)
I’m one of Paizo’s newer freelancers. I’ve written for the upcoming Secrets of Magic book and my first Starfinder scenario, #3-21: Frozen Ambitions: Renewal's Blight, was just announced. I’ve been involved with Organized Play off and on for five years, but I’ve really become a more active member within the past two. I also both play and GM Paizo APs and adventures regularly. You might have even heard me in the most recent Starfinder Society special voicing Luwazi Elsebo, a role which I’d be happy to reprise anytime (wink wink).
I’m the daughter of a Black woman and a Polish immigrant man. My mother is a Blues musician, and a former belly dancer, which ended up giving me a Black music and musical history education in my childhood. She has also always been a major science fiction and superhero movie nerd. She and her siblings loved watching Star Trek as kids and seeing a Black woman like Uhura on screen each week inspired all of them.
The first time I showed my mother a picture of a Black elf in one of my Pathfinder books she got so excited that she bought elf ears for herself for Halloween because she’d never seen a classic fantasy race that looked like her. I’ve gotten my passion for science fiction and fantasy from her, and I can only hope to recreate more moments like this for her and other Black people in the future through my time spent participating in Organized Play, and through further work in writing for RPGs.
This year, we’d also like to highlight the following charities focused on Black authors and communities, which we encourage you to support as you are able.
Celebrating Black History Month!
Tuesday, February 16, 2021