Here at Ten Copper we’ve been playing Pathfinder for the last five years — and over those hundreds of games we’ve consulted d20pfsrd.com tens of thousands of times. Filled with curiousity, we reached out to see who was behind this free resource that so many people use every single day. Here he is now…
Ten Copper: Can you give our readers a short background as to how you got where you are today, running what are broadly considered the authoritative, go-to SRD resources?
John: Sure! My name is John Reyst. I live in Royal Oak Michigan, a suburb just north of Detroit. I’m 48, married, and have three daughters, two dogs, and a cat. I used to work in I.T. for the banking industry, mostly specializing in “imaging” functions related to the mortgage departments. That means automating the process of scanning and recognizing mortgage documents etc. Pretty boring stuff. Around 2008 my personal gaming campaign was shifting from 3rd Edition D&D to 4th Edition, or rather, experimenting with it. While some members of my group were initially fans of the system, I was not.
We decided to go with the Pathfinder Beta rules that were coming out but we didn’t have a d20srd.org for Pathfinder, and since we all really appreciated the convenience of d20srd.org I went ahead and set up d20pfsrd.com. At the beginning it was just intended to be used by our own group to help gaming. I made the site public and word started to spread and traffic began to grow to ridiculous levels, to the point now where the site still gets 700-800,000 pageviews per day. It’s exciting also to see that traffic still increases month to month even with the release of 5th Edition.
Ten Copper: Can you describe a typical day in the life of John Reyst?
John: I get up around 7:30 or 8:00 am, let the dogs out and make breakfast. Breakfast is usually either toast with butter and strawberry jam or old-fashioned oats mixed with various nuts, raisins, chia and flax seeds and sometimes flavored with cinnamon. I crack open a Coke Zero and sit down at my desk after letting the dogs in. I work on adding new products to the Open Gaming Store (www.opengamingstore.com), or on the various SRD websites until around noon or 1pm.
The actually specific things I do vary from day-to-day depending on whatever is most pressing at the moment. I subscribe to a lot of Paizo products so as soon as a new book is released I get to work on adding it to the Pathfinder SRD. So then my afternoons are usually mountain biking from 2-5pm, dinner with family, walk dogs, then I work on the websites more from like 7-10 pm when it’s usually time for TV with the wife and off to bed around midnight typically.
Ten Copper: You work full time on PFSRD (and the other SRDs)? How is that working out?
John: It’s working pretty well. I’m not rich by any means, living in a 1000 square foot house and driving a 9 year old car, but I have freedom to do what I want, when I want. I don’t have a boss managing me or my time. I get to go mountain biking almost every day in the summer and several times a week even during the winter, weather allowing.
Ten Copper: What can people do to help?
John: They can become site editors on any of the SRD sites I manage, which includes D&D 5th Edition (5e), Pathfinder, Mutants & Masterminds, Swords & Wizardry, Traveller, 13th Age, and Dungeon World. Site editors do NOT change official words or rules but often add clarifications, FAQs, update rules based on official errata documents, or create their own custom content for the various systems. Potential editors should email firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “Help edit X SRD” (where X is the SRD they want to help with). It’s important to note that they need to have a Google account, or rather, they need to have an email address that they are able to log into Google things (like Google Docs, Google+ etc.) because the sites are hosted on Google Sites.
If you don’t want to edit a site, you can always support by shopping at the Open Gaming Store, or making sure you are not running ad-blocking software when browsing the SRD sites I manage. Google ads pay almost all of my bills so it’s really helpful to me not to block them. If you find intrusive ones, or really annoying ones, just email me and I can go into the app and block them.
Ten Copper: Do you still have time to play? What sort of games are you playing/running right now (or do you have a particularly memorable one)?
John: I’m currently in a bi-weekly 5th Edition campaign playing a female cleric of Mystra named Kali in the Forgotten Realms. Kali is the great-great-great-great (a few times over) grand-daughter of a paladin PC that was in a Forgotten Realms campaign I ran in the mid-90’s that took place during the Time of Troubles in the Realms. We’re about to hit 2nd level so I’m pumped. Before that I played in and ran a variety of Pathfinder campaigns from 2008-2015.
Ten Copper: You’re clearly a huge supporter of open gaming. What do open rulesets mean to you?
John: It means that people don’t have to reinvent the wheel if there’s a great wheel already created. It means that people can build off of each others work and drive a vast range of ideas. When there’s an open base rules set to start with you don’t have to recreate the basic functions of a game and instead expand on them in areas the original creators either didn’t imagine, or didn’t feel were right for them at that time. It encourages a massive level of participation from other creative types to tinker with things, and I think a good majority of DMs and GMs are natural born tinkers so open rules systems are a smorgasbord for them.
Ten Copper: What are your thoughts on Wizards releasing an SRD for 5th Edition and what do you think it will mean for the industry?
John: They intentionally released a half-formed SRD that is almost unusable as a rules reference by players because it is missing so much. The reality though is that the parts that are missing are easily recreated by other publishers, though the hardest-core players and DM/GMs may not accept content created by others. I created http://www.5eSRD.com based on the SRD released by Wizards of the Coast with the hope that it will grow over time to include tons of OGL 5e content that players will like and use. I’ve already added some stuff to it.
Also, the DMs Guild concept by RPGNow & Wizards of the Coast is unlikely to get major players (publishers) to participate due to the restrictive licensing involved as well as the really high commission of 50% on sales that they take. Look to see some industry news on this front in the coming weeks.
Thanks to John for talking to us!
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