Travis Legge of Aegis Studios is a DMsGuild/DTRPG publisher, RPG developer and twitch steamer! His notable works include the Contagion RPG series, Dungeons Tales #1 and #2, the DMs Guildhall interview series, and the amazing Yearning to Breathe Free campaign. I’ve had the honour of appearing on the DMs Guildhall, and have worked with Travis on a number of other projects, including Monsters of the Guild. You can find Travis on Facebook and Twitter.
What drew you to publish on the DMsGuild, and what was your first published product?
I used the 3.5 OGL when I was developing Contagion for Aegis Studios. I never really got into 4th edition, but when the starter set for 5e came out, I picked it up and ran through it with my wife and kids. I absolutely loved the new system. I heard about the Guild just as it was getting started, so I thought I’d give it a try. I published Cottage on the Long Road In January of 2016. Since then I have published around 50 products, and Cottage on the Long Road has been translated into Spanish and ported over to Fantasy Grounds.
What inspires your projects?
Lots of things. Almost anything can be the seed for a product. Sometimes I’ll be reading a D&D book and I’ll find a little hook to build on. My latest product, the Lady of Trollskull Priory came from reading Waterdeep Dragon Heist and seeing that there was a space to add some flavor to the Trollskull Alley setting. The map had a number of unoccupied buildings, and I thought it would be cool to try and populate one of them. I then revisited an idea I had been simmering for a while about one of Strahd’s brides escaping Barovia after the events of Curse of Strahd, and the whole thing sort of just fell into place. I decided to make the building an abandoned priory as a nod to Carfax Abbey from Dracula. The whole storyline is about examining and subverting vampire tropes, so it kind of made sense to toss in a few nods to Dracula, even if they are a little on the nose.
Out of all your products, which is your favourite and why?
That is an exceptionally tough call. I am extremely proud of the work I did for Xanathar’s Extraordinary Vault but honestly I think my favourite of my own works is Yearning to Breathe Free.
What was your motivation behind writing Yearning to Breathe Free, and what distinguishes it from other DMsGuild adventures?
I saw the political situation in the U.S. taking a rather horrifying turn in 2016. I had grave concerns that we were heading in a direction that would end up with people in concentration camps and that racism and white supremacists were seizing power, openly injecting their deplorable rhetoric into society. Yearning to Breathe Free was a reaction to that. I wanted to explore the plight of the oppressed in a fantasy context, because that’s the medium I work in. I’m not a politician. I’m a storyteller. So, I figure my best shot at impacting the world in a positive way is through my art.
What is it about tieflings that drew you in? Why not use another disliked race such as half-orcs or drow?
Tieflings are my favorite playable race. They are misfits, generally assumed to be evil. They can be whatever they choose, but in the D&D multiverse, evil is a palpable cosmic absolute. You can go and visit the Nine Hells. You can literally drink tea with the devil. So, tieflings give an opportunity to play out a nature vs. nurture conflict writ large. I think the best heroes are the ones who start the furthest away from the finish line of “being a hero,” and tieflings come into the world at a disadvantage in that regard. I was also drawn to the fact that the tieflings of the sword coast have no cohesive culture. I wanted to examine what a new settlement and developing culture founded by tieflings might look like.
Do you think D&D is a good place to tell stories like yours that focus on social justice?
Absolutely. I think fantasy is an excellent genre to explore potentially upsetting content and try to experience perspectives beyond your own experience. I think D&D absolutely can be played that way and I think that the experience can be very rewarding. I think examining social issues through metaphor and allegory is a large portion of what science fiction and fantasy have always done, and I see no reason not to include such in D&D.
Having said that, if you just want to play Yearning to Breathe Free with your party being murderhobos and fighting the Inquisition that way, you can do that too.
Have you got any advice for new authors on the DMsGuild?
Get an editor. There are plenty of folks on Twitter and in the Dungeon Masters Guild Creator’s Circle on Facebook who will edit your work for you or a very affordable price. Listen to your editor. Also, read the FAQ. Beyond that? Go nuts! Make cool stuff! Have fun! That’s the point of all this, isn’t it?