The First Cohort Emerges

The word mentorships written on a piece of paper, surrounded by mandarin oranges and cedar branches

Friends, goblins, hello! When I announced the Emerging Designers mentorship program midway through December, I was blown away by the response. 67 applicants in less than 48 hours! It took me a little time to work through those applications and whittle the list down.

In the end, I reached out and offered mentorship to six people. One more was added to a waitlist. A few applicants had exciting projects that were outside my expertise, and I worked to connect them with other designers who might steer them in the right direction. Finally, I offered a number of one-hour consults, draft critiques, and other bits of support here and there. (One of these designers was David Collins, who recently released a D&D5e supplement featuring five custom races – check it out!)

But now, on to announcing the first cohort of Emerging Designers that I’ll be working with! So excited!

Brandon turns left to look at the camera. He's a young black man wearing glasses, headphones, and a stylish hat. His eyebrow is raised.


Brandon O’Brien is a queer spoken word poet and science fiction and fantasy writer living in Trinidad & Tobago. His work has appeared in Uncanny MagazineStrange HorizonsArsenikaReckoning, and other outlets. He is also the poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. His project, a fantasy RPG about music magicians using the power of song to defend their neighbourhoods and square off in a Battle of the Bands, is his first foray into game design! 

A picture of a man with long hair, wearing a burgundy shirt, standing in front of a minimal, impressionist mural of a character from Peanuts.


Edward Castle is an artist roaming the deserts of southern California. He loves drawing monsters, ghosts, and making things — usually food.  His (non-food related) project is Travelogue, a drawing and world building game about travel.

Jada is a young Serbian woman. In this picture, she is smiling at the camera, wearing magenta lipstick.


 Jada Alexander is an emerging game designer from Serbia. She’s relatively new to the hobby, having participated in, hacked, and drafted games for about three years. Her current project, a science fantasy game about a group of people escaping the clutches of politically hardline societies to do some good doesn’t have a name yet, but she hopes to figure that out soon (as well as many other things) through this mentorship.
A picture of a game designer named Jacob Leftin


Jacob Lefton is an artist and a peacebuilder living in central Germany. He has been exploring games and how they can be used to build peace and make positive change in conflict contexts. His game (in early development) is about political animals, and explores polarization and social cohesion through the founding stories of communities and the agendas that interpret them.

A picture of Z, an agender teenager wearing a bowler hat and black-frame glasses, standing in front of a collage.


Z is a homeschooler, blogger (, ocean conservationist (, cook, and game designer. They’re agender and proudly feminine (pronouns: she/her or they/them). They love to play card games such as Nines, Egyptian Ratscrew, Speed, Stress, Presidents – as well as a love for Scrabble! Z’s current game design project is a two-player game called The Drawing Game.

A picture of Josie, with wavy, swooped bangs across her face, standing outside on a sunny day.


Josie Siino is a burgeoning game designer and character artist from the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s been playing and designing games for a little over a decade, and is looking to publish a game for the first time. As a trans lesbian, she is always seeking to roleplay aspects of the human condition through the lens of queerness. Her current game is called Astrophobia (working title), a sci-fi horror game about delving into personal fears and drives.

Eager to support the Emerging Designers mentorship? Check out the Goblin Friendship Club, a seasonal subscription that helps carve out resources for me to run this mentorship program, offer low-income discounts, and work on scrappy side-projects.

A ramshackle village, with a crumbling shed in the foreground and misty mountains in the background.