Robert Adducci spends his days, and evenings, playing games. It’s his job, and he loves it.
“I am lucky that I get to play games and write for a living,” Adducci said. “It’s super cool being alive right now.”
Adducci is a “professional” in the world of Dungeons and Dragons and a variety of other tabletop role playing games. Currently working as a consultant, RPG designer and professional game master, he has been living in TTRPG fantasy worlds for over 30 years.Report Ad
FALLING IN LOVE IN EIGHTH GRADE
Now 44, Adducci first ran across the idea personified in D&D in 1989 when he and a cousin came up with a cool way to act out one of their favorite video games, The Bard’s Tale.
We just kind of made things up, and it blew my mind. But as far as I knew, no one had ever thought to take something like that off the computer. So I made my own game. I used 3×5 index cards and wrote down stats and equipment. I was just winging it.
– Robert Adducci
He explained it wasn’t until a few months later that he discovered someone had already thought of something similar.
“I was in 8th grade when I ran across D&D and started asking my mom ‘Can I get it?’”
At first, the answer was “no.”
“That was near the end of the ‘satanic panic,’ and my mom didn’t want me to have anything to do with that.”
THE ‘SATANIC PANIC’
In 1980, the story of James Dallas Egbert III hit the news. Egbert, a troubled fan of the game, had gone missing from his dorm room and later killed himself. This, couple with another young fan’s suicide, lead to attention by activist and the media. The game was labeled as promoting satanism, and the general public was subjected to a wide variety of false claims about D&D’s fantasy focus. Now referred to as the “satanic panic,” it took many years for the game’s public image to recover.
Lucky, Adducci’s mom eventually allowed he to get the game Dungeons and Dragons, and he began a love-affair with fantasy TTRPGs that now keeps him fully employed and “living the dream.”
If I had known back then that I would actually be able to make money at this — at playing this game and writing stories for it — I would never have believed it. It’s a dream come true.
D&D became a serious hobby for Adducci almost immediately. Luck was with him when he and a friend randomly ran across a few other eighth-graders who wanted to join a game.
“We formed a group and took turns running games. We were huge geeks.”
Adducci played avidly throughout high school. He did take a break from it when he took a job as a at-risk youth wilderness instructor while in the early 2000s. But he missed the game, and when he moved back to the city he reattached himself to it and hasn’t let go since.
ROBERT ADDUCCI – GOING PRO
In the mid 2000s, a friend of Adducci’s was working on an organized play campaign known as the Ashes of Athas and was looking for some help with the editing. It was strictly volunteer at first. But eventually he got hooked up with Tim Brown, creator of the Dark Sun series. Unlike typical D&D fantasy worlds, Dark Sun had a post-apocalyptic, desert setting. As a long time resident of Arizona, Adducci was drawn to it.
He began working with Brown and also started writing his own modules. Thus began his long career of writing and editing a variety of TTRPG modules. As part of his work to promote the Dark Sun series (he created the website), he was beginning to stack up an impressive resume. This turned into a full-time job with the biggest name in D&D, Wizards of the Coast (WOTC).
D&D ADVENTURERS LEAGUE
In 2014, Adducci took a job as community manager for the WOTC Adventurers League, which at the time was holding events and league play all over the world.
“I was one of six administrators and was on the community management team. It is hard to estimate how many were playing in Adventurers League games, but it was a lot. Games were happening all over the world, and the events were tracked via individual game stores.”
It was a lot of promotion, a lot of travel and a lot of personnel management. After he left the D&D Adventurers League Adducci started working as a consultant and is now heavily involved in social media promotion, community management and RPG design. He serves as lead administrator for multiple Facebook groups, including the “big” one — Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition with over 163,000 members. He works with multiple TTRPG companies, as a writer, editor and promoter.
THE DARK EYE
In January 2020, he began working for Ulisses Spiele, publishers of Germany’s most popular TTRPG, The Dark Eye. (Yes, its more popular in German than D&D.) It is now available in English and is on its 5th edition. He is currently working on starterset and is pretty excited about it.
“The rules are deeper. It is not class-based so you have more control over your character. And the world is not as high fantasy.”
Throughout all his time working on other people’s adventures, Adducci has been sure to keep himself in the game by working as a professional game master. He has a dedicated server and Patreon following.
“I don’t do any in-person games, but I still run a lot of games online — including two Dark Sun games and two Eberron games.”
There is no doubt about it. Adducci believes the future of tabletop role-playing games is beyond bright. He credits a number of factors for D&D’s seemingly non-stop climb in popularity, including the changes brought by the 5th edition. He explained that, Back in the 2000s, there was some fear the hobby was dying. But that all changed when WOTC came out with the 5th edition.
Wizards of the Coast went to the fans and said ‘what do you want D&D to be?’ And they listened.
He added that WOTC had done a “remarkable” job with marketing all the 5th edition expansions — publishing only a few books a year rather than the previous habit of publishing much more frequently.
Adducci is also very quick to credit the hit streaming series Critical Role for the current high level of interest.
According to a recent financial report released by Hasbro, who owns WOTC, D&D is outselling all other Hasbro products by a mile. And with Paramount and eOne’s untitled film adaptation of the game marked to be released in early 2023, D&D’s popularity is expected to get even bigger. All of this is good news for Adducci — who is looking forward to many more years of “living the dream” of that eighth grader so long ago.
Carla Bumstead, author of this article, serves as Managing Editor/Publisher for Dungeon Cooperative. If you know of a gamer who has been able to turn their hobby into a career, send her a message at email@example.com.