Ruty Rutenberg is not only the author of DM’s Guild Adamantine best-selling “Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron”, “Morgrave Miscellany” and “Xanathar’s Lost Notes to Everything Else” among others, but also a decorated US Army Veteran, Actor, Writer, and more! Talking about multiclassing! Ruty is the voice behind Durnan, the famous bartender of the Yawning Portal for the Neverwinter game, but more importantly, he is the mastermind behind the Maze Arcana titles “Orphan Echo”, “Peanut Gallery”, “Fury’s Reach” and “Inkwell Society”, a series based on our favorite setting. He is also a big fan of Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss and their works “The First Law” and “The Kingkiller Chronicles”.
Ruty, welcome and thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview.
Thank you for taking the time to shine a spotlight on the setting and game that I love.
Tell us how you learned about D&D.
I probably learned first about D&D the way most of us did back then, word of mouth. I played a couple of times but didn’t really have the support network to make any longstanding campaigns work regularly. However, Los Angeles was a different story altogether, and when I was invited by some of my Actor, Producer, and Writer friends to playtest D&D Next in 2013-14 it quickly became a cornerstone in my life, and I have grown in so many ways just like that.
Who in the history of roleplaying games would you like to play with, DM for, and to be DMed by?
I’ve been pretty fortunate to play with or run games for, most of the highest-profile names in our industry. I’d probably have to say I’d like to experience Gary and Dave’s original crew. I’ve met some, played with others, but I never got to see more than two of them in a room at the same time (and that’s likely to wait until I make my way from the material plane).
As an army veteran, how important D&D can become for someone like you?
Personally, D&D has been a major cornerstone of my life, and a wealth of positivity for my health, since getting involved with it as heavily as I did back during the playtesting. I could go on and on about the benefits of roleplay therapy to treat anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc., not just for veterans but, in fact, I feel as though it’s sort of my mission to spend a lot of my time conversing with, and doing panels for, the TTRPG community as a whole. Our mental health, as a society, can benefit greatly from the communication and communal problem solving that D&D offers as a byproduct. The best part is that it mostly happens as a happy accident alongside the fun we get from the game itself.
Do you remember when and how you found out about Eberron?
I do. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Eberron by Keith Baker, the creator of the setting, and we became fast friends as my enthusiasm for the setting became unbridled. Eberron was the setting I had desperately been longing for but never really knew existed. Given the close proximity to which Keith and I have now worked on the setting through different content we’ve produced together, I’d say that it has better shaped my view of what fantasy can be, in general, but also with such specificity. It’s even helped to inform the writing I’ve done for video games, film, and television. Also given that I’ve worked on a great deal of Eberron official content at this point, and understanding it from the headspace that Keith provides, I think we can safely say it’s easily my favorite setting.
If a PC of yours could be turned into Eberron canon, who would that be?
Who’s to say it hasn’t? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see… 😛
Name your favorite Eberron…
…feature: Artificing & Psioncs
…monster: Warforged anything
…Dragonmark House: Cannith
What book or movie makes you think of Eberron?
There’s just too many. Carnival Row is probably the most recent but I also drew inspiration from Altered Carbon and a ton of other high-concept art forms through the last few years.
How did you feel when you found out you were going to be part of the first generation of Guild Adepts for the DungeonMaster’s Guild?
Honestly, it’s one of the few things that left me speechless. The way things moved as a result of the love my team put into Maze Arcana, Orphan Echo, Inkwell Society, and the other productions we’d been producing, it has been one of the biggest highlights of my RPG career.
What is the thing you created for Eberron you feel most proud of?
I’d say Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron, followed by Morgrave Miscellany. Both of those products have been received extremely well by the Eberron faithful, and I was a Co-author with Keith on both of them, so a lot of what you see in those will be represented in official content in the near future, and I’m ecstatic to have been asked to be involved from the beginning.
How was Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron born? What was your reaction when the title reached Platinum Seller status in just a few days?
WGtE was a result of the resurgence in fan appreciation for the setting when WotC put out the feelers. They gave Keith the opportunity to put it together. I just happened to be at the proper intersection of expertise with the Game Design mechanics and a firm grip on the knowledge of Eberron’s lore. Further, the report we had established at that point had him bring me on board to help guide the design and make sure it was all worded appropriately and worked with the current 5e content that had been published but didn’t overlap with anything else in the pipeline. My eyes dropped out of the sockets each time it jumped, first to Platinum a few days after launch, then Mithral, then Adamantine all within the span of a week or two. Absolutely mind-blowing. Morgrave has been met with the same fervor from fans and I am always impressed to see its numbers continue to rise. If you want a solid update to the lore of Eberron, and a huge chunk that wasn’t yet included in previous editions (and might not be in 5e for some time), Morgrave is a direct pipeline into Keith’s brain.
What are you up to these days? Do you have any secret plans for the near future you want to share with avid Eberron fans?
Well, besides all the usual stuff, I’d say I’m pretty excited about presently being the Lead Narrative Designer & Writer on a top-secret video game project from one of the biggest game publishers in the world. I can’t say anything more about it just yet but I’ll be sure to clue everyone in as soon as it’s announced.
That’s a wrap. Any final words?
I truly believe that TTRPGs can change the world to be a better place by allowing everyone to take the time to explore the world through other people’s eyes and, hopefully, learn a little empathy for each other along the way.
* Kessler is a gnome bard in Sharn who often wears a beautiful suit of red and black glamerweave. A sporty black cap hides his short dark hair, and his beard and mustache are carefully trimmed and waxed. His deep blue eyes study everything around him and he laughs merrily. He shows up in the sidebar in page 68 of the “Sharn: City of Towers” supplement and also in Eberron Unlimited. He is also quoted in the “Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron” entry about humans.
If you’re curious about Ruty’s canonical PC in Eberron, or the mysterious video game he’s up to, follow him on Twitter as @rutywoot and become one of the first ones to find out!