Last year, I ended up reading a bunch of RPG rulebooks. One of them was DURF, a
rules-light dungeon-fantasy RPG in the vein of games like Knave, Troika! and Into the Odd. And like many indie RPGs, it’s available with a permissive license to build upon or transform, in this case with a Creative Commons license1.
I’m not exactly sure what drove me to translate this exact RPG2, but it’s now available in Finnish on itch.io. There’s surprisngly many elements in addition to just translating the words to get a translation out, and I’ll shortly go through my workflow in this post.
In some previous translation projects, I’ve used Crowdin and I’ve found it pretty great. It has a free tier, which allows for unlimited public projects, and also one private project. It’s default machine translation can be way off, but what I like is the ability to define terms and otherwise have a “memory” of the past translations. This helps to stay consistent.
I mentioned in my last post about SRDs and the open licenses (like OGL or Creative Commons) many pen-and-paper role-playing game have. This helped a lot on my translation project, because it meant I could benefit from other translations. In this case, the core rules of Basic Fantasy RPG had already been translated, as was the SRD for D&D 3.5e. These sources gave me more “canonical” translations for core terminology.
Last, but not least, I got to revisit my ancient desktop publishing skills to then take my translation and try to fit the translated words into a publishable PDF. The original work was done with Adobe InDesign, which my Affinity Publisher3 didn’t directly support but fortunately DURF’s Italian translator had done the conversion job so I could again stand on the shoulders of giants and benefit from what others had done and shared.
However, having the final work as PDFs on just my computer isn’t that useful - although with many hobby projects that might be an ok end result. So, the actually last part was to put the new translated work on itch.io, where the original work and many of the translations are being distributed on as well4. Itch.io is essentially Bandcamp for indie videogames and tabletop role-playing games.
So, not only did I end up translating a bunch of words, but to also go through the workflow of publishing something on a digital marketplace. Although it’s insane how easy it is to put something available for the whole wide world, it does still require mastering a bunch of different skill sets to get to the finish line5. It is also kind of mind-boggling how much of this is enabled by free/open source and similar permissive licensing so one doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel but can leverage others’ work.
In my opinion, the internet and WWW exists for stuff like this to happen.