Monday, November 28, 2011

Cold Snow Bloggery

Okay, back to work.

Now that the Seahawks have tanked for the season, I can get back to work. Not literally, of I have the day off (though I've been watching my boy all morning; he's asleep right now). And I think it's high time I returned to a bit of B/X madness...specifically with a wintery twist.

Before I explain exactly what I mean, I'd like to make a note of JM's recent post over at Grognardia. I didn't get involved in the discussion (and, frankly, stopped reading the comments after the first 60 or 70) because he specifically asked folks to be polite and respectful and I'm not sure I could have been such on something I consider to be a fairly silly topic.

What do I mean "silly?" Well, there seems to be an implication (and JM's own comments lead me to infer this also, not just the initial post) that there is a greater value to RPG material ("product") that arises organically from play. James isn't just talking about product that's been playtested versus product that hasn't...he's talking about "the origin of the content."

To me, the whole discussion is ridiculous. Look, there are folks who fancy themselves designers and publishers (like myself, in my own admittedly poor, small fashion) and there are those who simply "play." If the latter are creating material/settings/adventures, they probably are NOT interested in publishing their stuff (i.e. for money or "professionally"). If the former, than most ANYthing they create is given at least a cursory glance with an eye for profit.

I know I do...whether it's a one-page micro-system or an adventure for bar-hopping gaming group, there's a part of me that says, "hmmm...should I type this up and sell it as a .pdf for a handful of bucks?" That's just how it is. And when writing adventures for said game group, there's always the idea (in the back of one's mind) that this might be, or could be, a "future product."

Now, perhaps Mr. Maliszewski himself wasn't originally intending to publish appears this was originally more of a thought experiment/blog stunt to see how the whole OD&D/megadungeon thing works. Maybe he never intended it (in the beginning) to be published and it is only now that he has amassed a substantial amount of material that he sees potential (monetary) value in a Dwimmermount product.

Fine and dandy...but most of us in the publishing business (and, yes, I again count myself as one of these, despite having printed only a single book) have more definite objectives in our own adventure creation from the outset. Why? Well:

- few of us have the resources to devote to game design full time
- time to actually game/play is limited
- writing and playtesting takes time as well
- the best way to kill two birds with one stone is to make sure your game/play time is being used to playtest that which you've written

Again, only so long as you consider yourself a game designer/publisher. If you don't, than play/game whatever the hell you want.

Anyway, having said that, I'm interested in writing up a little something-something on the blog for those folks who are into the B/X thang...specifically a series of posts detailing a possible world setting for a B/X campaign. This will, of course, be done with an eye towards future publishing (for the reasons outlined above) rather than for any particular game I'm running (since I'm still intent on playtesting my space game at my weekly session). However, if the series is never compiled/printed, that's fine too...this ain't something I'm particularly attached to, and it IS something of a thought exercise; I'm just not ruling out money as a background motive for the stuff I write.

Jeez...I do live in the real world after all.
; )

So, right...there are two ideas I want to postulate/discuss on this post ('cause I'm not sure how I want to approach them in the series):

Idea #1 - The Setting

My setting is going to be a very specific one, rather than a generic World of Greyhawk/Forgotten Realms/Etc. It's going to be set in a cold and snowy environment...something like the planet Fenris from the WH40K fluff/novels. This is due to my own interest/fear/fascination with things snowy, arctic, and mountainous. Monsters, characters, rules, magic, etc. are all going to be adapted/skewed to this setting. Here's the part I haven't decided: Do I make the default character assumptions one of Norse Mythology? Or do I do something more in line with MZB's Darkover novels (including ancient space colonists and psychic powers)? I have an attraction to both styles of "snow" and can see value in both, but to keep the setting specific, I feel I need to keep on a single tract. Since this is going to be published in installments on my blog, what would readers like to see?

Idea #2 - The Style

A while back I started working on my own Fantasy Heartbreaker, just to get the damn thing out of my system (basically, "knocking off" D&D with my own "fixes" or "what I would have done different from Gygax & Arneson"). While I made quite a bit of progress on the thing (about 30 pages, last count), it remains backburnered at this time because A) it's a FHB, and B) I have non-FHBs (i.e. potentially lucrative products) waiting in the wings. However, there are plenty of things about "my system" that I like...prefer in standard D&D. Should I incorporate some of them? A new setting book is a great time/opportunity to throw in some "house rules" that are setting specific. OR should I make the game adhere closer to the standard B/X rules? Or Labyrinth Lord for that matter...I could toss an OGL on the thing and see about making it a semi-official supplement for LL rather than a setting for an out-o-print game system. Again, the only plan at the moment is to post the thing up on my blog (I have one or two other books that need printing before this one)...what style would my readers be interested in? Do you want Vancian magic and Gygaxian combat? Or something different entirely?

All now you know what I'm thinking about/plotting. Depending on feedback, I'll probably start the posts this week.

And whadya' know...I finished my post and the baby is still asleep! Maybe I'll take a little nap!
: )


  1. Look forward to the world posts. On the other note, as I mention in my post today, that if you want to publish something and get a few bucks. It's okay to do even if others day it isn't. If its a good enough product then those words get drowned out by the sound of your paypal account sending you notices.

  2. Red Tide seems to have done well as a setting for Labyrinth Lord, so that might be one to look at for tips, in terms of how much you want to change and add to LL itself; as far as I'm aware it doesn't mess with the core system much, if at all.

  3. Ancient space colonists all the way.

    As for FHBs/house documents, I really like the approach taken with ASE1: Anomalous Subsurface Environment. It's sold as a megadungeon level, but the first 33-50% is house rules and setting info.

  4. I agree with Brendan on both points. Space colonists and house rules are the way to go!

  5. I would probably go with LL just for the audience it will bring.

    I know that you explicitly said one track, but why not have space explorers and Norse mythology? Like a better version of the recent Thor movie.

    I wouldn't deviate from the combat system too heavily, but a psionic system or alternative spell casting are always welcome.

  6. If you want a product that turns a profit you might want to consider making it compatible with Pathfinder. That system is becoming a Juggernaut. Though I do so like B/X

  7. @ TImothy: Much as I respect the folks at Paizo and Pathfinder (really), I am soooooo done with that game system. However, if my setting is neat enough, maybe they'll approach me to license it for their system (for a nominal fee, of course).

    @ Mike: You're right...I CAN have my pie and eat it, too! Right on!

    [by the way, I just managed to see the Thor film within the last couple weeks and I liked it quite a bit...I forgot all about the "Asgardrs as Aliens" thing. That bit was cool]

    @ Brendan: I've yet to get SAE, but I don't think this will be an "adventure" in any sense of the term.

    @ Kelvin: Well, I'M going to mess with it.
    ; )

    @ Tim Shorts: I hear ya', man.