Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Body Count: 1

Tower of the Stargazer went well, with 5 of the 7 levels explored (only 28 total areas, not a huge thing).

It was the same crew that did the Insect Shrine last fall, minus one, but with one new guy as well. He says he just has prior experience with World of Darkness.

There were a lot of close calls with saving throws throughout the night, but... the new guy's character was the only one who died. By a poison needle trap in a treasure chest.

He made a new character and rejoined the exploration. He says he'll be back next week though, so slaughtering him didn't seem to affect his enjoyment.

The adventure performed well, I think. It's still all on note cards so there were a few things I forgot to mention in their proper place ("Oh yeah, there's also a podium with a book!") but otherwise everyone seemed to enjoy the Weird Science aspect.

The rules at this point still have more holes than Swiss cheese, but that was to be expected. It would be great to just write the stuff and print it, but in the real world all this stuff needs to be played (and in the case of rules, a decent bit!) between those two steps. It's being done as it should. The next version of the rules should be a considerable improvement. (keep the comments coming, I read them all and keep them handy when revising things)

No game on Sunday (Easter... bleh), but we'll be back Wednesday to finish this adventure up.

I'm about 2/3rds of the way through Dan Simmons' The Terror, which is more fitting for my purposes than I had thought going in. Lots of juicy details about the running of ships. Two large books came in yesterday from Amazon UK, and of course I've got all the links you guys posted here when I asked for help, so development on that adventure should be happening quite soon too. I won't need all this detail, not by far, but having it in mind should allow me to make an exploration adventure (and maritime rules) that aren't completely bogus.

Should be plenty of time still to get that written and played before press time though.

... and I still need another revision of the Tutorial book, and the first completed draft of the Referee book isn't finished

Lots has been done, and lots still to do!

Today: Tower of the Stargazer!

Five players will be coming over later today to play the Tower of the Stargazer adventure, which will be the "introductory" adventure in the box set. Not bad for announcements going out, what Sunday morning?

I hope they realize that "introductory" means that I'll have a lot of hand-holding for new Referees in the text (and a lot of "classic" dungeon trappings), not that the adventure will be easy or anything. :D

See how he glides
Why he's lighter than air...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sounding the Call Part 3: Character Sheets

Can you design character sheets?

I'll need character sheets for LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing.

If you can design an attractive and useful character sheet, I want to hear from you. If you end up making the Official LotFP Character Sheet, you'll get a free copy of the box.

I don't have all my specs ready yet, but I have the general ideas and I know which bits may still change a bit. But it's time to get started so it's not all rushrushrush at the end.

It'll be a rather busy sheet, and it needs to look good both in A4 format (as will be downloaded from the site) and in A5 format (as will be included in the box).

Interested parties send samples of previous character sheet work (low-res files please, I don't need 5 meg attachments in my email) to lotfp@lotfp.com.

We Are Not Alone

After the recent controversies, the number of daily visitors to this blog have increased around 50%.

Even on those days that I post something game-related or not at all dramatic or particularly entertaining. Even on those odd days that I don't even post.

I've heard from a few other bloggers that they've experienced an increase in visitors lately as well.

I can understand visitor spikes during controversies, because everyone loves a good car wreck. But why would the visitors keep coming afterwards?

Perhaps the blogs have become a daily stop for people in hopes of yet another soap opera breaking out, and they hope to be in on it from the beginning.

Or maybe, just maybe, people are looking past the shitslinging, see that there is some substance to this whole traditional gaming thing which inspires such passion in the first place, and are sticking around for that.

Whichever. Welcome, new people! Start or join a gaming group! And try the Death Frost Doom... er, the veal!

Monday, March 29, 2010

On TARGA

hmmm. So I've decided that spending 50€ for me and the wife to see Gamma Ray and Freedom Call, just because I loved Gamma Ray's work from 1999 and before, when I really don't like anything they've done in the following eleven years, and thinking that Freedom Call is so awful that I'm rather rude when someone tries to play any of it around me, is not a great idea.

Yeah. Stay home and write. After we go to IKEA because the wife wants new curtains. From IKEA.

My life is just full of class and old money values.

(And how mellow I've become. Not too long ago I'd be wishing for a ferry accident or a plane crash if that's what it took to keep Freedom Call out of my ears. But I'm now mature enough to realize how counterproductive such ideas are. If they died on tour, I wouldn't be rid of them. Their deaths would transform them from fourth-rate power metal no-hopers into metal legends. So no longer do I wish for things that would benefit the band's legacy like that. Wishing a pack of groupies with a particularly virulent case of herpes to descend upon the band, that would be legit. A sudden mass outbreak of carpal tunnel syndrome for everyone (and throat nodules for the singer) might be legit too. But no sinking boats or crashing planes. I'm better than that now.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah, pissing off all the people who think blogs should be all about gaming. Because I want to be the online equivalent to the guy at the game store telling me all about the awesome things his character did last session.

Damn it, I'm being sidetracked.

Only fifteen more minutes before the wife's finished walking the dog and I have the great pleasure of watching her look at curtains. In IKEA.

At least the IKEA snack bar has the vanillaest ice cream in town.

So: TARGA.

I haven't been so involved in TARGA stuff for awhile, mainly because I've been busy with my own projects, and it seemed for awhile that TARGA was moving along with a purpose and getting on just great without me.

Recent events have shaken things up again, and so I thought I'd get involved in the upcoming conference call. I'm still busy, but it promises to be interesting.

There are two things I'm interested in:

TARGA's public awareness. TARGA organizes some cool things, donates a good deal of money to various projects, and what's the most common thing I heard after the latest controversy? "What's TARGA?" Ouch.

There are a ton of people with the viewpoint, "If it doesn't knock down my door and play my game with me in my house with the group I've had since 1731, why should I care? I don't need any of this to have fun!" I'm not saying that's an illegitimate viewpoint (although I wonder why they're reading a lot of this stuff or commenting on it to begin with if that's their attitude), but TARGA does need some recognition of its own.

(in unrelated news, someone's home got broken into somewhere, and they were robbed. "Pffft... what do I care?" I go out of my way to tell the victims, "My shit's fine.")

I mean, how can TARGA promote and encourage if nobody knows about it in the first place?

Standards and Practices of TARGA. I couldn't think of a better way to put it. Should TARGA be family friendly? Where should the line be drawn about what TARGA promotes and doesn't promote?

I of course am in the " --

(crap, ran out of time. I'll continue after returning from IKEA, if I still have a brain left after looking at curtains. At IKEA.)

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh IKEA Espoo wgah'nagl fhtagn

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh IKEA Espoo wgah'nagl fhtagn

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh IKEA Espoo wgah'nagl fhtagn

Just got back. That took two hours!

Those IKEA stores are laid out in a rather non-euclidean manner, don't you think...

Taking the trip seriously, we both wore our lounging-around-the-house gear, looking like we were auditioning for the People of Wal-Mart site.

And the curtains. THOSE CURTAINS. How hideous. All of them. Especially the manga designs with the cutesy boy and girl and Godzilla rampaging through Tokyo. (people buy that shit?) I was hoping for one of those gay TV home designer fellows to show up and BURN THE PLACE TO THE GROUND for the blasphemy against taste that it is...

I was all in favor of just picking something and getting out. "Whatever you get, it can't be worse than the curtains we've already got." The ones that look like they rose from the depths of the ugly 70s, maroon in color with sparkly mirrors on them.

Wife gets annoyed. "Those are expensive silk curtains! I bought them in 2007!"

There's no hope. Our windows will be dressed in fabric too horrible for human minds to fathom no matter what. (my vote was to get the orange and blue fabric and make Denver Broncos colored curtains. If you're going to be garish anyway, then go all the way! Or should that be a 1970s San Diego Padres color scheme?)

She has another great idea. "Let's eat at IKEA!" she says. OK. Her motivation is that she wants to finish up a coat tonight, and she'll get that done much quicker if she doesn't have to do the cooking.

"So," I point out, "you are escaping the kitchen in order to do some sewing. Woman's Lib at work!"

She made a rather funny face at that point.

phaugh. People are lucky I'm so patient with them!

So I think I was talking about TARGA?

Yeah.

TARGA is not, and can never be, an authority.

TARGA is not, and can never be, a gatekeeper.

Attempting to be either would make it a pitiful joke.

TARGA's job, as I see it, is to be a reflection of the current traditional gaming scene. Not a whitewasher, not a filter, but a magnifying glass. To me, that means that if all the old-schoolers suddenly took to smoking crack and clubbing little cutesy wootsy baby seals while gaming, TARGA's job would be to point out how the old school gaming scene involves smoking crack and clubbing little cutesy wootsy baby seals. Report, publicize, but don't mold.

Remember (and I made this point on the TARGA blog), OD&D and AD&D had all sorts of gratuitous nudity, and implications of male rape (that stuff in the charisma description in book 1 of the OD&D box and the dryad description in the Monster Manual). Even if TARGA decides that content must be this clean to ride, and I don't expect that to be the case after certain resignations, surely the rules won't be so stringent that OD&D and AD&D would fail to meet those standards, right.

Right?

Right.

That said, I also think that TARGA would be most useful if it also actually did stuff rather than just try to get TARGA stamped on things people were already doing. Things are happening, for example with the auctions of the past months to sponsor the Gygax Memorial. TARGA gave Luke Gygax a $350 check.

TARGA is doing stuff.

But there's more that can be done, things that can be done that will benefit everyone playing these old school games, whether they give a shit about what happens beyond their gaming table or not.

And I've actually got some ideas. Can't wait for Saturday.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

d6 Based Thief.. er, Specialist Skills

(I don't see the "thief" class as a "thief," and in the case of the game I'm putting together, I very much think of the Specialist as the only normal guy of seven classes. Yet, obviously, 35 years of the "thief" kind of makes it roll off the tongue... but I've always thought of him as an Indiana Jones type. Professional explorer rather than criminal.)

Right now, in the LotFP rules, I'm using percentile skills for the thief, as has been done for a long time.

I've renamed a couple skills, combined two of them, and am using the 2nd Edition "allocate points" inspiration because otherwise, the "thief" means "guy who can climb walls and do shit else for a bunch of levels."

But some of this stuff should be able to be done by everyone. That's one of the complaints against the thief class, right? Makes it sound like nobody can sneak, nobody can climb, because it's this guy who has the skills and the rules for it.

So how to address that?

Well, one of the things I'm already doing is giving the Specialist is a 2 in 6 chance of finding secret doors (like an elf), instead of the usual 1 in 6.

Why can't all the skills be like that?

How's this sound?

All Specialist skills (Climb, Find Traps, Read Languages, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Tinkering) start at 1 in 6. In fact, all characters can do these 1 in 6. The Specialist will then get however many points to allocate at 1st level, and more every level they gain, just like thief skill percentile points now. You know, "I put one point in Read Languages so I can do that 2 in 6 now."

The secret door thing can then be one of the skills. Everyone starts at 1 in 6, but the Specialist can choose to be better at it. Eventually, he can be a 6 in 6 secret door finder if he so pleases, but of course at the expense of other things.

This would solve a few things: The idea that the very existence of "thief skills" takes away things that all characters should be able to do, and that thief skills are the only rule that uses percentile dice.

Fighters would be the only characters that get better at fighting. Clerics get their spells. Magic-Users get theirs. And so the Specialist will be the guy that improves at having skills.

(my only initial hesitation is Read Languages, maybe that should start at 0 in 6 because any old guy rolling to see if they can read the ancient text written in a dead language seems wrong).

I don't think this would hurt compatibility, because in oldschool play and modules, how often are modifiers really given to skill use? Not much as I recall, and I know I never really call for modifiers.

I know this is not an original idea. Others have done d6 thief skills. But am I on to something here?

Hey You Helsinki-ites! (Helsinkins? Helsingforcers?) Listen Up!

(You Espoots and Vantaans can read this as well, I guess)

I run games on Sundays 2pm and have for over a year and a half now. We're in the mid-levels now.

I'm also starting a new game Wednesdays, 5pm. This will start at first level and will start by playtesting the new modules that will be coming out with the box set.

If you want to join us, get in touch.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

RPG Resource Review The Grinding Gear

Read that here.

Two Notes of No Consequence

I'm off to the interior of deepest, darkest Finland today to try to convince someone with reputed artistic ability to do some work for me. Wish me luck.

Also, I keep seeing this fear from a couple people around the forums. It goes something like this: "I think this Grognardia project is all about Maliszewski eventually writing a book on the subject." Like that would be a terrible thing.

One, I hope he does write a book. I have no idea if that's a real plan he has, but I hope he does. It would be a shame if all that stuff he's written over the past couple of years ends up existing only on the internet. That would be a waste.

Two, even if the worst fears are true... what if Maliszewski is a fake, a fraud, a White Wolf writer in old(school) sheep's clothing who infiltrated out movement in 2008 for the evil purpose of profiting off of us by writing a book about us?

So fucking what? One, he's running an OD&D campaign for crying out loud. Playing one of these games is pretty much the only requirement to be "one of us." No matter where you came from, what you did before, doesn't even matter if it's your favorite sort of game. You play the game in good faith, you're one of us, and fuck anyone who tries to impose greater "membership requirements" than that.

And let's say he is a big faker outsider poser who never actually even heard of an old school game before 2008. What, two years of musings and discussion and hypothesizing and playing, with all the back-and-forth that has gone along with it, isn't enough research to write a decent book?

How perceptive some people are, seeing the conspiracy and fraud that the rest of us are too blind to see. That Grognardia guy's going to laugh all the way to the bank after he's written that book, and we were all too blind to stop him.

For fuck's sake.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Blogs Come and Go

Four blogs on the blog roll over there to my right have disappeared, or will be disappearing soon. A few former powerhouse blogs that are still around aren't updated nearly as much anymore.

It's like a campaign. If you run your game long enough, the original players will eventually drop out one by one, but there will be new people cycling in (not to mentioned character turnover).

It's like a music scene. Old bands break up, new bands form in a constant and continuous cycle.

I've added over half a dozen new blogs to my blog roll in the past couple days. Half are ones that have been around a bit that I just haven't bothered adding until now, and the others are brand new (or at least I just found out about them).

This is all normal, this is all good.

Feeling Like a Kid Again (non-RPG post)

Well, at least like a late teenager.

I got interested in music late - after graduating high school.

The first band I ever anticipated buying a new album from was Cathedral in the summer of 1993. I was 18 at the time (oh man, that's just about half my life ago!). The Ethereal Mirror was and is an awesome album.

Today is the release date for Cathedral's new album The Guessing Game. Double album!

In a half hour I'll be heading down to Keltainen Jäänsärkija, Helsinki's finest record store, to buy it.

They better have it, dammit.

And it better be good. I haven't heard a note. I find previewing an album I'm already planning to buy completely destroys the experience of the first listen.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Quit

for the day. I can't keep my eyes open anymore. I'm off to bed. See you all tomorrow.

LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Status Update

Things are moving swimmingly.

What the box set will contain as of right now:

Introduction sheet
Tutorial book (48 pages, full color cover)
Rules book (48 pages, full color cover)
Magic book (48 pages, full color cover)
Referee book (48 pages, full color cover)
Recommended Reading pamphlet (12 pages, no cover)
10 character sheets
5 graph paper/hex sheets
1 set of 7 polyhedral dice
1 pencil
2 ad sheets promoting other companies' products

plus two adventures:
Tower of the Stargazer (16 pages, color cover) Beginning Dungeon Adventure
as-yet-unnamed maritime adventure (16 pages, foldout color cover)

Looking at a retail price of 40€ locally, and somewhere around $65 in the US (not including sales tax in both cases).

(good news on that, we'll see where we're at come June/July)

The first print run will be 610 copies. I expect the assembly and packing and shipping of these boxes to be such a pain that this will probably be a one-time-only limited run, but we'll see about selling these 610 before worrying too much about what would come after.

Artists:
Cynthia Sheppard, box cover artist
Martina Münch, Tutorial cover artist
Laura Jalo, interior art and photography for the Magic cover
Peter Mullen, Tower of the Stargazer cover artist
Kevin Mayle, maritime adventure cover and interior artist
Dean Clayton, interior art
Ernie Chan, interior art

The two adventures will be available separately for those of you that don't need another full game. The Hammers of the God adventure and the 3rd printing of Death Frost Doom will also be printed the same time as the box set.

The Rules book will have the box cover art as its cover. The Referee book cover is still undecided; my wife's aunt is apparently an artist of some ability and we're visiting her this weekend to see if she is suitable and able to do something over the next month or so. If not, a Clayton pieces could be done up in color and used as a few are thematically suitable.

I'd say actual written work is 50% done, but that unfinished 50% is represented by a ton of outlines, notes, past discussion and such to where it's more a matter of organizing what's been done rather than coming up with anything from whole cloth (maybe 20% needed for that, and a lot of that is the maritime adventure).

Tower of the Stargazer (think Dio and Blackmore's collective career high point) will be an introductory adventure, hand-holding the Referee's hand through running a module. Think of the methods used in B1, B2, B3, and the Mentzer starter dungeon.

I'm also having two logos made. Both will use the current LotFP logo as the base (really, just adding some text under it), but LotFP will officially have two product lines:

LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing will cover rules and supplements specifically for the game (no supplements currently planned) and will use the OGL.

LotFP Adventures will have include adventure modules and any non-system dependent sourcebook type deals. They'll use the format you're familiar with from LotFP, they'll be compatible with all the usual suspects plus the new game (and keeping the more generic type of stats), and they will not use the OGL.

Playtesting for Tower of the Stargazer, using the new rules, begins Wednesday.

We're still looking at probably a month on the box cover art, which drives me nuts, but at the same time, everything I've seen as far as the prelims for it give me full confidence that it will sell copies all by itself.

Back to work!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

[My Google Skills are Crap] Sailing Ships

I can't delay any longer on getting the sea exploration adventure together, but I'm still quite unconvinced by the OGL maritime rules out there and wish to do some research on the subject.

Unfortunately, my ability to find anything on Google that doesn't have entries on Wikipedia or videos on Youtube is astonishingly awful.

(and being in Finland, going down to the library is a very iffy proposition for this sort of thing)

I need info on sailing ships from about 1400-1700. Size, minimum crew, speed, cargo capacity, cost, that sort of thing, for merchant ships, warships, exploring ships, etc. Not that I'm going to have realistic!!! stuff in the game/adventure, but I'd like it to have a relationship to reality.

Recommendations for websites or books to buy work well for me.

A Little Perspective on the Internet and Blogging

Hi. My name's Jim.

In my heyday as a music critic, I've been yelled at and insulted by total strangers both in person and in print. I've had editors of major magazines with general newsstand circulation bring the hammer down on me in print. I've had record label executives call my house and leave messages telling me what a shithead I am, I've had many more emails from record label personnel telling me how awful I am. I've had angry phone calls and emails from professional musicians daring me to come to their next show so they could do all sorts of unpleasant things to me (the one singer threatening to piss on my head was the most amusing). My crowning achievement in this area was receiving an anonymous death threat. I came home one day and checked the messages on my answering machine and there it was: "You better watch what you write or you're going to get your throat cut."

All because of my writing about albums and bands.

Our little blogging community has had a 1-2 punch of flamewar scandals, and people seem to be demoralized and worn out over it.

At first I didn't understand why, and then I began to suspect that people don't really understand the position they put themselves in when they start a blog.

I think people might find the following primer useful:

1. You Are Not Among Friends
We share a hobby. We play old style D&D. I don't even think any of us even plays it the same way, but there's our common bond. Old D&D.

But I suspect people confuse their online D&D buddies with their real-life buddies. Even worse, maybe they associate their online olde tyme D&D compatriots with the people they played with in their personal golden age of gaming.

No.

We share a hobby. That's it. The people we're actually playing the game with are not the people we're blogging to. Different people. Different relationships. There is no other automatic commonality other than the game. We might be a different age, gender, nationality, religion, sexuality, have radically different values, and we'll never know if all we do is talk about the game.

The people in your real life, they're your friends. All us online people? We don't really know each other.

2. Nobody Cares About You Or Your Feelings
Let's say you are one of the luckiest and most blessed people on Planet Earth and have 1,000 people that love you and are loyal and friendly and deeply care about you. That leaves, in a best case scenario, 6,810,099,000 people in the world (according to US Census estimates) that really don't give a shit.

And let's continue to be charitable and say that only 0.01% of the world's population are assholes. Only one in ten thousand people is really not a great guy. That's still over 680,000 people in the world whose sole joy in life is pissing you off and making your life miserable.

Does anyone believe that only one in ten thousand people are assholes?

This is important to remember because:

3. You Are Making Yourself a Public Figure
A blog isn't your front porch. You don't have privacy. Yes, you can set up a closed blog with only readers that you invite, but that's not why you're starting a blog, is it?

You are making yourself a sub-Z level celebrity when you open up a blog. You ever talk shit about an actor? Politician? Political pundit? Newscaster? Some dumb shit on an incredibly degrading reality TV show?

By starting a blog, you are opening yourself up to such criticism. Inviting it, even, because you're saying "Here I am, here are my thoughts!" and you're broadcasting that to the world.

Even if they don't comment, any number of people are going to click on your blog and think, "What a fuckin' MORON. And so ugly, too!"

And all of this is only a problem because:

4. Blogs Are Very Personal Things
Most of the bloggers in our corner of the web are fairly prolific. They blog hundreds of times a year. The amount of time spent doing that is staggering. I think I'm more aware of how much time my blogging takes than most, because I always update the timestamp so it matches when I hit "Publish Post" and not leave it at where it was when I started typing.

When you spend that much time blogging, which really is an ancillary activity compared to the real hobby of actually gaming (or publishing), no matter how strictly you think you're staying on topic, you're going to reveal a lot about yourself. And most bloggers don't stay on topic that strictly. We talk about our jobs and family and health and everything.

We are exposing ourselves.

#3 and #4 are a bad combination for most people, especially when they forget #1 and #2.

I don't say this to discourage people from blogging. People just need to be prepared and have that armor-plated skin and not act legitimately hurt and surprised when there's controversy and drama on the goddamn internet.

Because it's going to get worse. Much worse. As this old school thing grows, we're going to get a lot more cool people and ideas and material, but we're also going to attract assholes like flies to shit. That's what happens when something gets popular. If you get 1,000,000 devoted fans, you also get 10,000,000 people devoted to tearing you down and telling you how much you suck.

Does this sound awful? Does this sound like something you don't want to deal with? Maybe you should keep your heads down and just play the game, because sticking your head up makes you one of the targets.

Me, I wore that death threat like a badge of honor.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Have Made Two Decisions

The next update to the LotFP: RPG rules will have only ascending AC, with a base unarmored AC of 12.

My group has been using BFRPG since is started in July 2008 (and a Vaasa group I had earlier that year used it as well), and ascending AC works well. I think it's easier for new people to pick up, and is essentially the same mechanic as descending AC anyway (Die Roll +/- Modifiers must equal Target Number), just computed differently.

If the major clones had a unified presentation of armor class, I would have followed suit. However, Swords & Wizardry AC is different than Labyrinth Lord AC is different than OSRIC AC is different than BFRPG AC, so my goal of compatibility wasn't going to be helped no matter what I did.

LotFP adventures will not change their stat format. I will still use "Armor as Leather + Shield," for instance, instead of marrying the adventures to my new rules. The adventures will still be as compatible with one rules set as another.

Conversion notes for using descending AC from modules and the other games will be given in the Referee book.

My Marketing For the Box Won't Say "Old School"

Nor anything intimating it. Not on the promotional posters, nor the back-of-the-box text.

The insides will still be full of old-school references and links and ads (included at my expense) for other clones and companies in our scene. But in accordance with my "We shouldn't act like a persecuted gaming minority," attitude concerning the OSR and the greater RPG hobby, I'm going to present this based on its atmosphere and "color," not its "politics," if you take my meaning. The plan is to get this into stores, and get it in front of people who aren't up on all the internet RPG happenings.

Whether it works or not, who knows. But if the only people that buy this are people that are on all the usual blogs anyway, you won't need to be told it's an "Old School" game to know, so it's not like I'd be missing vital marketing info there.

So whatcha think?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

When Did It Become a Bad Thing To...

... get an Ivy League degree?

... give to charity?

... get paid? in a job that wasn't your usual 9-to-5?

... be partly responsible for a video game website moving some of their focus to traditional tabletop gaming? (I thought we wanted to create interest in what we do in those that didn't have that interest before... or is it bad because they have money or currently play different games?)

All those things sound pretty damn rad to me.

You want to grow the hobby? You want to grow our part of the hobby?

How about not trying to trip anyone involved in taking steps towards doing just that?

(although granted, the excuse for the 3.ish elements of the rules is pretty lame, but we'll see what comes of it)

Friday, March 19, 2010

LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing Version 0.04 Now Available

Here.

(and all comments, etc, I'd rather see here, because this post will be buried in a matter of days on the blog)

Yes, the rapier is still there and doing the same thing. :P

I have three requests.

Ascending AC alongside descending, keep it or dump it? It's a bit messy throughout the text, but if I keep both I'll make that cleaner, so don't let that influence your decision. (the modules will be statted as they always have been, "Armor as Plate and Shield," instead of numbers)

Break the Encumbrance system. Show me how is sucks and how it doesn't work. I need to get a character sheet made soon and I want it to have a cute little checklist that's right there using this system. Kill it, beat it, torture it. I love the idea and my group will test it, but the more people that attack it, the better. Tell me how to make it better.

The spells... I was starting to get repetitive and stupid with giving all the spells weird descriptions. I need help! You've got ideas out there (and this book is the All-OGL, Free-on-the-Web stuff so feel good about contributing. :D), help me out. Let's make this good and weird. The only restrictions are the spell has to do roughly the same sort of thing as it traditionally does, and of course the name has to stay the same.

So, have at. I'm going to make another run through the Tutorial and address the comments my Asst. Editors have made about that. They've been suitable pains in the asses so far (it's what I was wanting!), so here's hoping I can make things better!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Huge Announcement Concerning the Box Set!

Around 1981, when I was 6 or so, some time after my my parents had split, my father brought me a present: A big old crate of comic books he'd found in an apartment he had just moved into.

They weren't just any comic books, they were a big old stack of Conan the Barbarian and Savage Sword of Conan.

I remember being absolutely scared to death turning those pages and seeing the horrors inside: The first part of People of the Black Circle, with the man whose bones were vaporized and the man who impaled himself on his own spear (and I never saw the remaining parts of that until the current Dark Horse reprints - there wasn't a full collection in the crate, and many were missing covers), the grotesque butchery of Shadows of Zamboula, the sorcery of A Witch Shall Be Born, and so much more. I was genuinely scared (and feeling naughty - it had NUDIES and I was SIX!), but couldn't resist turning that next page to see what came next.

(also in that stack was Conan the Barbarian #14 - my first experience with Elric!)

I soon discovered that I could get more of these things every month at the local convenience store. Soon enough this turned into "regular" comic book collecting, and a few years later, when introduced to Dungeons and Dragons, I already had the ideas of sword and sorcery in my head.

Before this, there was Star Wars, but that just led to me playing with toys. Fun, but that passed. That crate was the beginning of my interest in fantasy, which led to my love of reading, gaming, and writing. Dad wasn't around so very much before he died, but it's interesting to think about how strong an influence he had from things like this that cannot possibly have meant very much at the time.

For all the opinions I have now, when I was a kid getting into Dungeons and Dragons, I didn't much notice who did what art. Some of it scared me (my first experiences with the Monster Manual echo that of my SSOC experience - scared of the pictures, and feeling like I had to hide the insides from Mom so she couldn't see I was looking at TITS!), but really, the art was the art and I couldn't have told you the difference between Otus and Trampier and Elmore, not until years of involvement in the hobby had passed.

But I knew the SSOC artists. Buscema, Marcos, Alcala, Smith, Kane, deZuniga, Chan, Adams, (and later Kwapisz, Eaglesham, Mayerick, etc etc)... not to mention the cover art of guys like Jusko, Vallejo, Norem, Redondo, etc. I knew them, knew who I liked more than other guys, could compare and identify by their work, even as a pre-10 year old.

You can imagine how excited I am to announce that Ernie Chan is doing a piece for the LotFP: Weird Fantasy Role-Playing box set.

ERNIE CHAN IS DOING ARTWORK FOR ME.

HOLY SHIT.

(How's that for a professional press release?)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rewriting Spells Takes a Lot of Time

Paul Di'Anno in concert Wednesday night, Blood Bowl down at Puolenkuun Pelit on Thursday. I still expect the new rules version to be done Friday, but if the "quick" layout takes as much time as it did last time, it won't post until Saturday.

Until then, another peek, because I need to know whether I really should be pleased with myself or if I'm just being self-indulgent (because there is the fine line I often cross separating 'inspired stuff' and 'too much, dude').

See, when I said "Weird Fantasy" I'm drawing upon Lovecraft's definition of Weird here. Lovecraft's own brand of cosmic horror doesn't much frighten me. I like the stories, and find a good deal of them suitably atmospheric and effective, but I know there are no monsters in the center of the universe and no squid guy sleeping under the Pacific. The fact that man is unimportant in the universe is not a source of horror either; it's the truth as I see it.

So how to inject some of that existential horror into a game that isn't about that, that stays true to the Weird atmosphere without recreating Lovecraft's specifics?

Speak with Dead
This spell rips the spirit of a corpse from the afterlife and returns it to its body. The habitation is imperfect, and as such the spirit is only able to move the body’s lips and tongue, and thus is able to answer questions.

The corpse’s knowledge is limited to what the person knew during life, including the languages it spoke (if any). Answers are often brief, cryptic, or repetitive.

People that were decent, honest, innocent, or at least devout in their religion (not all gods care about morality), they will be anxious to answer questions and remain on Earth for as long as possible. They have learned that the afterlife is nothing, simply a void with no effective consciousness and no sensation but for the numbing awareness of passing time. They know that being alive, even inside a rotting corpse for the briefest sliver of time that leaves them in agony as the decay of their physical form leaves every nerve transmitting unrelenting pain, is better than being dead.

Cads, scoundrels, and heretics, on the other hand, were pleasantly surprised to not find eternal torture waiting for them in death. Only the vicious and undeserving find this peace in death, and they will be furious about this peace being disturbed. This allows them a saving throw versus magic to resist answering questions.

The spell allows a base of three questions. If the death occurred more than a day ago, one less question. More than a year, one less question.

This spell does not affect a corpse that has been turned into an undead creature. The head of the person to be spoken with (or at least the mouth), even if it merely a skull, must be present and intact for the spell to work.

Note that there are no Raise Dead, Resurrection, or Reincarnation spells in the game. Also, various spells having to do with death or the afterlife (Animate Dead and Commune, for two examples) will give contradicting information about the hereafter. I think I slipped and made one of the possibilities pleasant. ;)

(how many points from TSR's Code of Ethics does this one spell violate?)

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Version of the Rules: Friday

I'm going through for another clean-up, and getting the text a bit more flavorful.

For example, the current description for the Fighter:

The fighter is a master of battle. Also known as warriors, soldiers, knights, barbarians, and other names, fighters are able to use any weapon and any armor without restriction. Fighters are the only human character class that improves in fighting ability as they advance in level.

zzzzz...

New description:

Man’s history is one of slaughter. Every new era is defined by the cruelty man inflicts upon man, or the victory fighting against it. To those in power, soldiers are but tools to shape the populace to their whims. The price that is paid to enact their desires is irrelevant to those giving the orders.

In battle, man maims man. Horribly wounded men scream for mercy as their life’s blood pours out from cruelly hacked wounds. Their cries are ignored and their lives extinguished by those too cruel or frightened to listen. Poets and politicians speak of the honor of battle for a just cause, but in battle there is no honor and there is no justice. There is just death from metal implements that crush, slash, and stab.

To be willing to slaughter at another’s command in the name of peace and nobility, to be hardened to the deaths of loved companions, to be immersed in this worthlessness of life, that is the life of a soldier.

Fighters are these soldiers that have seen the cruelty of battle, have committed atrocities that in any just universe will damn them to Hell, and have survived.

Yeah.

For example, the current Aerial Servant spell description as replicated from Swords & Wizardry's open game content:

Aerial Servant
This spell summons a powerful creature from the elemental planes of air to fetch and return one thing (or creature) to the caster. Only a creature with a Strength of 18 can fight its way from the servant’s grasp, and even then the chance is not likely to be greater than 50%. The servant can carry up to 500 pounds in weight. An aerial servant has the following attributes: HD 16, AC as plate, 1 attack for 4d4 damage, Move 240’. If the servant is frustrated in its efforts to bring the desired object to the caster, it will become insane, returning and attacking him.

Not exactly zzz, but simply a dry explanation of something that should be more than that for a game looking for a specific flavor.

Adjusted:

Aerial Servant
This spell summons an extra-dimensional force that manifests as an entity which appears as a grotesque reflection of the caster’s id. The caster then announces what he desires most in the world, and the creature will go forth and retrieve it. The object of desire may be a living thing.

The caster must make a saving throw versus magic (WIS modifiers apply). If successful, the entity will retrieve the announced desire. If the save is failed, the Referee must make a judgment call and decide what the caster really wants most, in general and not at the particular time of casting, and the creature will attempt to retrieve that instead.

The creature can fly and is invisible to all but the caster. Objects will be automatically seized unless defended by extraordinary means. Only a creature with a Strength of 18 can avoid being collected by the creature, and even then the chance is not likely to be greater than 50%. The entity can carry up to 500 pounds in weight. If combat occurs, the thing summoned by this spell has the following stats: HD 16, AC as plate, 1 attack for 4d4 damage, Move 240’, ML 7. If the servant creature is frustrated in its efforts to bring the desired object to the caster, it will become insane, returning and attacking him.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Art


This isn't the whole piece, but just a teaser to show you what I've got cooking for the box interiors.

Sounding the Call Part 1a

I need another Assistant Editor.

Not a proofreader, but someone to look over my drafts (of not only the rules, but the other stuff I'm working on that's not being previewed publicly).

Point out where it's ineffective or poorly organized, and basically argue with me about what I'm doing so I have to defend it and maybe think of better ways.

Can't pay, but you'll get a free copy of the box.

Interested? Contact info is over there on the right.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sounding the Call Part 2

I need a bit of help.

I am going to have a Recommended Reading pamphlet in the box set. Unfortunately, my skill at describing particular authors turns out to be pretty crappy and it's become frustrating me to sit down and try. I am not a succinct literary critic, and this is hardly the section of the project to bog myself down in.

So, you can do it!

Here are the authors to be profiled:

Clive Barker
RE Howard
Fritz Leiber
HP Lovecraft
Edgar Allan Poe
Clark Ashton Smith
Jack Vance
Jules Verne
HG Wells

(I've got Tolkien covered; that was easy.)

What I want from you: 350 - 500 words with notes of who the author is and the relevance of the author's work to fantasy role-playing, in particular highlighting the weird elements, along with a selection of recommended stories.

What you'd get from me: 5€ per entry, paid on acceptance of the text or as a discount off the box when it goes on sale, your choice. Sorry, can't provide full contributor copies for this. (and 1 cent/word is not an unheard-of rate in this business...)

Contact me before writing anything! I'd of course be sticking my editorial hands in when appropriate.

Contact info over there on the right below the sales pitch. (The hotmail address is not for email.)

Totally Worthless Post

Mr. Old School Rant needs to open up his comments. Having to respond to his stuff like this just seems lame. Ah well.

  • I have only a passing familiarity with the Tharizdun module. Would it really have helped for me to respond to that post with "I have no idea what the hell you're on about"?
  • No, I didn't take you off the blog roll. Are you delusional or just paranoid?
  • After yesterday's post, I logged off, walked to another printer, talked with them for a good while, and walked back. Note that first comment was posted more than two hours after the post itself. While the dog makes working from home a pain in the ass sometimes, it also means I don't have to keep office hours and can take a mid-day rest if I damn well please.
  • Yes, I could use some help, which is why I'm farming out all the artwork and cartography (which is all paid work, if meagerly) and now have two editorial helpers volunteering in exchange for finished product. I'll announce other "open positions" when appropriate (anyone want to write entries for my Reading Guide? :P).

And if you wonder why I bother to respond, well, the 'twat' thing triggered a 33% increase in blog traffic which has continued even through days with no arguments and no posts. So let's see what this one does. :P

Friday, March 12, 2010

Being a Publisher Is Not All Fame and Willing Women

Walked to one printer this morning to pick up a few extra copies of Death Frost Doom (so the 2nd printing now has a 2a printing of 4 copies) that was a correction after they'd screwed up the job a couple days ago.

Then packing envelopes and walking to the post office to mail in my ENNIE Award submissions. Around the corner is a printer's office, so I went for a visit. All their salespeople were out to lunch. So, walk home. Walk back. Talk to someone. Oh, they only do books, not booklets. At least this person spoke English, which seems to be a great rarity in Finnish printing houses. But this person did recommend another press.

And I like to go to the printers in person, not call or email first. The lack of English skills that I've discovered so far makes calling a silly idea, and my emails are often not answered. Or if they are, they've misunderstood something I said, and I have to clarify, and then not hear back for days again. Pain in my ass. I'll be printing at the very least 4000 booklets in the coming months, plus a ton more stuff related to the project, and I can't get quotes from people unless I show up on their doorstep to bug them?

Insane.

Oh, and the site for this recommended other printer is down right now, so I can't find their address. Lovely!

I need the exercise, so I probably shouldn't complain, but man oh man... this is not how I planned to spend my day.

The dogs next door never stop barking, so my dog-in-law (my wife's dog, and I claim no direct relationship to it) is barking continuously. Not to mention my wife bought a toy for one of her friend's children, and the dog thinks it should be his toy, so he sits outside the closet where it's kept and whines and whines and whines.

You can imagine what this does to my ability to sit down and write.

Artists...

Artists. I think my interior art problems may be solved. I am trying out a new local artist here, but his first samples to me weren't what I was looking for. These are a couple of the nudes, and they're supposed to look appealing. They weren't.

So I went down and talked to him yesterday, showed him examples (which I hate doing, I want work that looks "realistic," not like other artists), and this morning I had a new version of one of the pieces in my inbox.

It so was different that my wife didn't recognize it as the same work. This guy can do what I want done. Yeessss...

Of course, I still have adjustments I wish him to make. But this is how bloody strange it is to be a publisher and deal with artists. When you are dealing with a nude piece... OK, let me not generalize. When dealing with a nude piece, my eyes go straight for the naughty bits. And I think they need some adjusting.

It's not unusual to ask for a touch-up or redo on a piece of art. I am a tyrant, an asshole boss, and I'm always sending work back. I don't know if other publishers just accept what an artist wants to deliver...

But when I sent this email right after posting this, I'm actually going to be sending an artist a note of how I want him to adjust his tits and pussy.

("Zak would have gotten it right the first time," I've keep thinking. Of course, Zak is expensive because he's an actual artist for art people and not just a guy slumming around doing RPG art. I've also been wishing that I could have my releases look like those early issues of Savage Sword of Conan, but you know, a lot of those guys are dead. Then again, others aren't...)

I am a tyrant because most art I see in old-school releases nowadays sucks. And I don't think my projects are good enough until I feel they can piss on similar types of releases from a great height. I'm not here to participate, I'm here to excel.

There, I said it.

Whether I can accomplish that, well, my budget is tight. Finnish subsidy yeah (ends next month), but also no actual job earning money and many thousands of euros just in printing bills looming ahead to make this project a reality. Art is important, but where's the money for it?

I've also approached an old school artist legend or two, and try to delicately say I'd like something that looks like their good work, not some of the not-so-great work I've seen from them recently. That goes over like a lead balloon, but I'm not after their names for publicity purposes, I'm after the quality that earned them a name in the first place.

String me up for caring about what I put my name on if you'd like.

(speaking of which, I guess I should find out who Otherworld plans on using for art on my level...)

It's crazy days. I tell you, Maria deserves a fucking medal for putting up with me lately.

OK, break's over. Time to hit "Publish Post," send that email to the artist, and hit the pavement again.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again, because I mean it.

Death or Glory.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Devil's In the Details

Many PC Backgrounds Invented by Players are... (roll d4)
  1. Created completely for their own satisfaction and amusement because my adventures are written to conform to a certain concept, not for any particular PCs.
  2. Wasted because the second I develop an adventure hook specifically for a certain character, the character promptly dies in some horrific way.
  3. An excuse to be able to do things not in the rules.
  4. Probably ruined by random character generation so all I ever see is something thought of off the top of the player's head while buying equipment.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The RPG Pundit reviews The Grinding Gear

Read that here.

Status Update

  • Completed the Tutorial draft and sent it for perusal (my players will also get copies next time)
  • Received a costume sketch last week, and just this morning a few full concept sketches of The Cover. Waiting until both models take a look at them before making any decisions.
  • Beginning the search for printer options, as I got some scary info from my usual printer yesterday
  • Started the process of recruiting some other interior artists
  • Began work on the Referee book. At end of day Friday I'll put that down and take another gander through the rules and do a cleanup.

Busy busy. Having completed drafts of everything by the end of this month looks very doable.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Professional Goals

  1. Produce Quality Material That I'm Proud Of and That Makes People Go "Wow!"
  2. Make Money Doing So
  3. Become Important Enough to Get Name Billing When Involved in Projects Like This

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cart Before Horse

Amusing moment from today's game:

The PCs found a plant creature choking up a stairway in the dungeon today. As this is the "sequel" to Death Frost Doom, they were a bit cautious. The cleric had a Speak with Plants scroll, and decided to use it.

Great idea!

The cleric's first question?

"How's life?"

First Draft, First Draft (chant)

One of my great weaknesses as a writer, and certainly the main thing that prevents me from writing in an efficient and timely manner, is the concept of the draft.

I expect excellence in both ideas and the expression of those ideas to be perfect as I type them; if they are not, then I'm not ready to sit down at the keyboard yet, am I? I'm too good for "drafts" and rewriting, thinks I.

Getting this Tutorial booklet finished should be easy.

"Here are the ideas I want to express, I should get them down in whatever form, maybe not the best way to put it, but then I do something else and then come back to this with a fresh perspective and clean up the writing."

That's what I should do.

In practice? I agonize over three paragraphs all day because it's not tutorial material, it's doublespeaking gobbledygook that contains the ideas I want to express but sounds way too pretentious to ever go to press. I should just write it and move on for now.

Case in point:

What is a Campaign?

The common use of the word “campaign” in role-playing generally means the collection of sessions involving the same general group of players and characters. It is understood to mean that there is continuity between sessions and events of previous sessions act as a background and history for the current session, which in turn lays the groundwork for future sessions.

But a campaign is so much more than that. The Campaign is not just the description of the game as played by a Referee, as the Campaign is larger than the games played within it. The Campaign is the Referee’s concept of the game.

A campaign is the structure that encompasses all in-game activities. It is the milieu designed by a specific Referee. It is the very concept of the game the Referee runs. A campaign is not limited to a specific group of players, it is not defined by the use (or avoidance) of published material. The campaign towers over genre, style, setting, and the participants.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Elves Suck

"Oh, look at me, I'm a prissy pants elf and I don't have to worry about dancing in and out of your tackle zones! Teehee!"

I broke one of their collarbones, at least.

Actually, the Blood Bowl game was fun last light. I hope it keeps going as a league. I was one of two rookies playing last night, but the other one didn't even know what a "touchdown" was at the beginning of the night.

Europeans scare me sometimes. :P

Time to study this site, I guess...

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Review of The Grinding Gear

It's pretty long. Read it here.

Oh That's It

"Raggi claims to be a spokesmodel for the OSR"

This is repeated multiple times over night.

We're being trolled by dumb shits with no interest in arguing in good faith. I said I'm not interested in engaging in their arguments, because they haven't made any that were ever intended to be seriously addressed.

My blog isn't going to be a platform for their shit.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Inspirational Gygax

"The spell lasts 4 melee rounds for each level of experience of the druid casting it, i.e. 4 rounds at the 1st level, 8 rounds at the 2nd, 12 (1 turn plus 2 rounds) at the 3rd, etc."

hmm.

OK, maybe I shouldn't randomly select my inspirational quote.

"Authoring these works means that, in a way, I have set myself up as final arbiter of fantasy role playing in the minds of the majority of D&D adventurers. Well, so be it, I rationalized. Who better than the individual responsible for it all as creator of the 'Fantasy Supplement' in Chainmail, the progenitor of D&D; and as the first proponent of fantasy gaming and a principal in TSR, the company one thinks of when fantasy games are mentioned, the credit and blame rests ultimately here."

My Totally Mature Response to a Blog Post That Others Have Already Responded To

This one here.

My response to that blog and the one commenter:

Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat stinkypoopoohead Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat John Jacob Dingleberry Shits His Twat is My Twat Too Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat Twat.

Call us juvenile again after that. I dare you!

Funny enough I'm doing the first draft of "the meaning of story within role-playing" today for the box, so... yeah, should be a good day!

The Future of D&D

Or RPGs in general.

This is a response to the comment here.

Talking about the future of D&D, RPGs, or anything at all, is pointless.

Because the future doesn't exist, and will never exist. By the time you get there, it's not the future anymore, and you think of all the things that happened that never could have been predicted between the time you made the prediction and now.

Or, to be more grounded and to the point of the presentation I'm thinking about, the future of D&D or of RPGs is irrelevant.

I haven't been participating in the future of RPGs for what, decades now? Never once played Vampire and never was interested in the White Wolf thing, never have played WoW or any other MMOWTFLOL or whatever the abbreviation is, played Magic: The Gathering all of one time back in 93 or 94, played Rifts just once, never played D&D 3.x or any variation thereof, never played 4e.

I've done the Skype thing a couple times for gaming (Death Frost Doom playtest) and while it was certainly functional, I was so enamored with running games for people that weren't in front of me that I've done it so many times since.

I don't buy pdfs anymore (went through a spurt a few years back), I've never even met anyone with an ebook reader (and I haven't even made the move to mp3s for music, so I think I can safely say I'll be dead and gone before I make use of electronic fucking books as a replacement for the real thing).

I see beautiful young girls and think they're really wrecking their looks with all the piercings and tattoos. Women are beautiful, soft creatures, and this gives them that rough, hard look that age will bring in time anyway. Why accelerate the process?

So I've turned into an old man somewhere along the way. That in mind, what the hell do I have to say about the future?

Whatever the future is, it's not worth worrying about, because it will pass.

Or it will pass unnoticed. Just as I am ignoring the present and future (and the last couple decades past) of the RPG hobby, so have many other people, successfully, without doing it the same way I have. This was going to be my commentary on the Erik Mona video. His future is irrelevant, for even if it comes to pass, there will be many that are not doing it that way, that are "behind," that will be successful because the key is the product, and its vision and ability to inspire, not its platform or delivery. Prime Example: Rifts. There never is the future, as even a future will not be shared by all, or accepted by all, and all those differing viewpoints will still stand side by side. So Mona's speech was not "the future of RPGs," but "The future of Paizo as best as they can guess in their planning meetings between preparing all their upcoming releases for press on that outdated paper shit everyone seems to be so convinced nobody will want to use pretty soon."

Even if the game I'm making is the answer for the popularity of "old school" exploding within the hobby, it's irrelevant, because it would be yet another passing fad for RPGs, it would pass, and I wouldn't adapt to what came after. I'd be working my ass off beyond all reason during what everyone else would come to call my "glory years" and after the fact just remember the bitterness and panic of the end of the gravy train. I'd just be the irrelevant dinosaur has-been of the industry, the same way I'm presently a never-was of the industry with a dinosaur point of view.

Or it'll flop out of the gate and won't that be a good time.

(somehow I don't see a reasonable middle ground of "It'll do OK." I'll reach the moon or explode on the launch pad, that's my thinking.)

Fuck the future.

Hmm. Yeah, I think I'll skip that part of the lecture.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hey Artists, Get an Online Portfolio, NOW

More helpful advice from Uncle Jim.

Lots of artists out there don't have an online portfolio, not even at a place like Deviant Art which is free.

This sort of thing is vital. A couple months ago I put out a call for artists. I got all sorts of contacts, but many of the artists, instead of linking me to portfolios with an example of their work, sent me some examples of their work as attachments to their email.

Were they the best examples of these artists' work? Or just the kind of thing they assumed I wanted to see? If I don't like what I see, I have no way of knowing if the artist does other things that I may like, so their emails and samples go straight in the trash.

Let me use an example that goes the other way.

When I saw Cynthia Sheppard's work, I was instantly enthralled. I've spent less money on round trip plane tickets between the US to Finland that I'm paying her to do my cover art.

But after hiring her, I found out that she'd previously been hired to do work by Wizards of the Coast. As her blog put it:

Tomorrow is d-day for three pieces for Wizards, and I'm pretty happy with how they've turned out. Getting used to working within the constraints of the D&D brand has been an amazingly cool experience in itself. Being a tall slender creature, visualizing the stocky ideals of D&D weaponry and armor came slowly, though I've internalized that if there's any question at all whether or not it's in-brand, the weapons are probably not big enough. ;)

She just linked to one of her WotC pieces yesterday. It's here.

If I'd seen that first, I certainly wouldn't have been so enthralled. Obviously that's not a knock on her talent. She's giving the client what the client wants. But if she had been one of these artists that had just sent me a few sample pieces, and perhaps thought "Oh he's doing something like D&D, I should send this D&D stuff as examples of my work," she wouldn't have been hired, because that's not the kind of thing I was looking for.

But luckily she didn't do that, luckily she has an online portfolio so I could see what she's done instead of what she thought I might like to have done.

By the by, I've received some of the prelim sketches from Sheppard, concerning the background and wardrobe, and even though some of the details need tweaking, just the paper doll sample lets me know my money is being well spent. If and when this gets into stores, the cover art alone is going to move copies.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Giving a Presentation About Old School

So I've been thinking more and more about scheduling a presentation at Ropecon about the whole Old School thing, D&D in particular.

If I were to do it, I'd certainly wouldn't want to waste everyone's time or just badger the audience. I'd want it to be informative and entertaining. I'd need enough material for 45 minutes.

But if I am going to do this, there is no two ways around it... I'm going to have to put my foot down and say "This is old school" before talking about the Renaissance.

Critique this outline that I spent 15 minutes on:

  • What is an Old School Game?
    • Random Character Generation
    • Character Backstory Optional, Perhaps Wasteful
    • Focus on Player Skill, Not Character Stats
    • Slow Leveling
    • “Eternal” Campaign – No Predetermined End
    • Rules and Expansions are for GM, Not Players
    • GM as God of the Game

  • Dungeons and Dragons
    • OD&D
    • “Basic”
    • AD&D1
    • Dragonlance and Unearthed Arcana
    • AD&D 2
      • Splats
      • Settings

    • The Collapse
    • WotC D&D

  • The Old School Renaissance
    • Dragonsfoot
    • OGL
    • Castles & Crusades
    • The Clones
    • The Blogs
    • Self Publishing

I of course would be spending so much time on D&D because, well, I really am not the guy to talk about Traveller or Tunnels and Trolls or Call of Cthulhu.

So rip it apart. :D

Death Frost Doom New Milestone!

It's gone Silver over at RPGNow.

Thanks everyone!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ropecon 2010 July 23 - 25

Finland's big RPG convention is at the end of July.

This is the hard deadline for having everything ready and out. Just four months and three weeks? yikes.

I'm booking a vendor table. I'm interested in carrying some stuff from other OSR publishers on a consignment basis for the con - contact me if you're interested.

This year's themes for the con, if I'm reading it right, are Horror and the Future of the Hobby. I'm all for the one, and ready to fart on all the pundits' thinking on the other. No word yet on guests of honor this year as far as I can see.

There is a possibility of scheduling a program for the con. Due to my vendor table duties, I don't think I'm going to be up for running games this year (maybe my midnight Tomb of Horrors, for just a small group this time rather than the circus-like groups I tried corralling in years past)... but doing a presentation on Old School sounds like an opportunity.

... probably an opportunity that I shouldn't take. I mean, I'd want to simply use half the occasion as a promotional vehicle, which would be rather rude, and I'd want to use the other half to just bait the diehard White Wolfers and LARPers who wouldn't be attending the talk anyway so it would be pointless. Then again I always just want to say, "Rocks fall, you all die!" in a game just to say I have, but I've never done that.

Someone convince me of a format I can use so it would be a good idea to do this (the presentation, not the baiting or the self-promotion).