Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Well That Was Interesting: Followups

It's been an interesting few days. The hit counter for the site has lit up in a major way, and so have people's tempers.

Ahhh, like the old days. I actually got private hate mail! No death threats though. +358449558316 (so I think it's 011 358 449558316 that you would have to dial from a phone in the US) if you want to call one of those in (emailed death threats are lame). It's been about a decade since my writing inspired one of those, so get cracking! (that's a cell phone number, so it'll be a tad expensive...)

It was the two posts I wrote Saturday that did it. "Role-Playing is not..." got linked over at Enworld and almost derailed what was a cool a thread there. My response when people seemed to gloss over what I was saying:

It's like pizza. You can customize it as you like, a nice deep dish, or stuffed crust, with the works or maybe just veggies or a selection of meats, but a plain cheese pizza is still a pizza.

Now then, the other one. I am an awful cheerleader. When being blatantly encouraging, I can't help but feel like Rob Schneider making a cameo in an Adam Sandler movie (You Can Do It!) or feel like I'm imitating some scene from Leave it to Beaver or something. It's just corny, and feels wrong to do it. Such things don't move me to action, that's for sure. And action is what I'm trying to kickstart. And like the message of I Hate Fun was not that I indeed hate fun, the message of Don't Care was not that I don't care. (the original title for that post was originally going to be Old School Renaissance = Fail, but I couldn't twist that to mean different things...)

So far, it seems that some understood it, more took a look at their own net projects and blogged about why they do what they do, and in one case there was anger. One advantage to my writing style is I never have to worry about whether someone's holding back when they respond to me. :D From my clarification underneath the angry guy's post:

The point is I fear we're building a faddish and transitory "renaissance" here and that would be a tragedy considering the creativity and talent of the people involved and the quality work they're doing.

Content is the hard part, yet people are doing that readily. A more enduring (dare I say legacy-enabling?) presentation is easy after that.

Blogging and pdfs and how the web and computers are used is all very *now*. We have no idea at all how things are going to look in 5, 10, 15 years.

Yet books have proven to have lasting quality and have survived numerous shifts in cultural trends and pop culture. Disregarding print is not a good idea.

My dislike of POD (well, Lulu anyway) is simply that it is expensive and slow and poorly suited for the task, not to mention subjects the vast majority of the printed output of the renaissance to the whims of a company that really has no stake in what we do. See their recent sudden and inexplicable change in shipping rates and policies for one example. And people are reporting quality issues with certain types of artwork now...

My girlfriend pointed out that I've been doing self-publishing for over a decade, and (keep in mind she doesn't read the blogs and was just hypothesizing) perhaps I forget that most people haven't ever done it, so they might not know how easy it is. Or at least how not-daunting it is. I thought that view might be a little condescending, but I'm throwing it out there anyway.

One guy suggests a publishing how-to guide. I have ideas and directions to go in and know some of the basics of what needs to be done, but my own RPG publishing efforts have been riddled with errors and missteps, and my only real attempt ever at making money (as opposed to breaking even or just losing some) with my writing was sort of hijacked when two weeks after I released it, a bigger publisher approached me about re-releasing it for retail. I have things to contribute (mistakes and non-profit-seeking publishing do teach lessons) but a publishing guide with my byline would not be credible. That's for someone else to do.

I've got a couple of projects on my plate that are a tad more serious than FFV, and I'll be putting my suggestions into practice and putting the previous lessons learned to use. But I apparently work at a glacial pace these days. More of us making mistakes and achieving successes and sharing the hows and whys of them will only make it easier for everyone, and now that the playing environment has been nurtured a bit, it's time to lay down the lasting monuments that will be what this Renaissance will be remembered for in a couple decades' time.

Now go look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls.

11 comments:

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


    Sarah

    http://www.lyricsdigs.com

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  2. I agree with Greyhawk Grognard that you are totally wrong with the "unfinished product" argument line.

    With that reasoning, you can declare Tegel Manor, most JG and Gygaxian modules utter crap. Carcosa should also be utter crap under your reasoning - 1 line per hex, OUTRAGEOUS!

    I think you have been very insulting and very unfair with people who have contributed to the hobby and to old-school much more than you do. And your rant are rather counterproductive.

    - Zulgyan

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  3. Jim, you know, you have a point, but it's lost when you express it in the blunt way you express it.

    It's funny, but on an unrelated tangent, the loss of so much information is a worry of archives, libraries and historians EVERYWHERE - I'm fascinated by the subject, but we've not found anything more permanent than what was done thousands of years ago - carve into stone/clay. Books are a bit more permanent, but with a lifetime that is probably maybe a generation or two. Our D&D books are probably going to vanish a lot more quickly.

    People always lose the message when it's given in blunt, inflammatory words. I know you're OK with that, but I had to say it.

    It would be nice to hear of your lessons learned. That's a legacy that would help the 'OSR' a lot more and possibly get you to where you want to be.

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  4. Rather than a point, I think he is totally missing the more minimalistic approach to old-school module and rules design.

    What he has published have not called my attention at all. And when in Fuckin Fantasy Vietnam he say that most old-school stuff is not play tested, that is also unfair, false and without proof.

    If he wants to be of any help to old-school right now, he should refrain from those kind of insulting comments that only divide an already small community. And do himself what he says the rest should be doing.

    70s D&D, as claims himself to be, was not about complete books. It was about 3 little booklets, some supplements (all unfinished under his perspective) and the rest driven by fanzines.

    - Zulgyan

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  5. It is disingenuous of you to disown your business acumen (whether you make money or not). You are an accomplished agitator and amongst the craftiest of attention seekers.

    Why are you obsessed with publishing? What kind of DM needs to use someone else's material?

    If you think you are a distinguished DM and are looking for praise then prove it on your blog with examples from your game. You'll get plenty of feedback by way of comments, something you won't get from paper publishing.

    Isn't it obvious that the better the scenario a DM creates for his campaign the less likely it could be reproduced?
    This focus on bland generic material that can plonk into any campaign is the daft legacy of the rubbishy TSR modules. Creating random tables as gaming scaffolding for other DMs is a form of crude patronising hand-holding.


    Gaming should be more like your favourite restaurant not yet another burger franchise.

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  6. Kent:
    " Creating random tables as gaming scaffolding for other DMs is a form of crude patronising hand-holding."

    Screw you, Kent. I like random tables.

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  7. Gentlemen, gentlemen, please! Raggi's going to pass out from the enormous ego-boner you're giving him with all this embattled debate.

    Think of the poor man's health, for god's sake!

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  8. I don't get why as individuals we get so hung up on other people's 'contributions' or lack thereof.
    Unless Monte Cook (or someone similar) is lurking under one of the pseudonyms here, we are all amateurs.
    I go back and forth about what is or is not a good and useful bit of gaming material. These days I think 'less is more' is what I prefer, with wide margins where I can write in all my own crap.

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  9. >>Rather than a point, I think he is totally missing the more minimalistic approach to old-school module and rules design.

    As I wrote elsewhere: "I consider In Search of the Unknown, Village of Hommlett, Tomb of Horrors, and Keep on the Borderlands (among others) as "old school," and all of those are quite fleshed out (Keep uniquely so; no names for the NPCs yet there's the detail of the guild house, for example)."

    >>And when in Fuckin Fantasy Vietnam he say that most old-school stuff is not play tested, that is also unfair, false and without proof.

    Did you really look at that "marketing" and take it as anything other than sarcastic?

    >>If you think you are a distinguished DM and are looking for praise then prove it on your blog with examples from your game.

    I don't find such posts interesting, with rare exceptions.

    >>Creating random tables as gaming scaffolding for other DMs is a form of crude patronising hand-holding.

    One of the purchases I did just make was the Ready Ref Sheets, as well as the C&C Engineering Dungeons which I hope is full of random dungeon tables to go with the DMG, OSRIC2, and Central Casting: Dungeons stuff.

    I love random tables. It takes off the boring effort when my main ideas have already been placed and I still need to fill things out. I hope to find many more handholding patronage.

    >>It is disingenuous of you to disown your business acumen (whether you make money or not). You are an accomplished agitator and amongst the craftiest of attention seekers.

    Not so accomplished, if I can't direct that agitation towards goals I agree with. :P And the attention seeking doesn't mean much if the agitation nor "business" is in order.

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  10. @S'mon:
    Randomness is good but using a random table detailed by someone else is a little passive. If you don't have time to
    detail your own table then perhaps the theme of that table is trivial.

    @Jim
    I can admire the Ready Ref Sheets sheets as an insight into the details and structure of that author's game but DMing to me means creation and not reading out someone else's ideas to the players, listening to the players intentions and then reconsulting someone else's notes. I'm clearly in the minority here.

    >>if I can't direct that agitation towards goals I agree with

    :) A politician then!

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  11. Can I just say that the very reason I read this blog and not, say, any of the other OSR stuff (ex. Grognardia and JRients) is because Jim lot fup is about the only dissenting voice among the old-school community?

    Keep it up.

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