Monday, July 19, 2021

The popularity of tabletop roleplaying and explosive growth in digital sales. Interesting DrivethruRPG numbers yet again.

 So recently I visited a Barnes and Nobles for the first time in forever. While looking through the store I came across this.



and in a bit of a surprise there was a table full of merchandising much of it typical of folks trying to follow the latest fad. 


So DnD and roleplaying are a thing again not longer relegated (for now) to a single shelf in the back corner of the science fiction and fantasy section.

So this got me thinking about something I haven't done in a while. Crunching the order numbers from my sales to get a sense of how DriveThruRPG and other Onebookshelf sites are doing.

I posted on this back in February of 2014 and in May of 2015

So this weekend I went through my sales and pulled the numbers. Also I wanted to see what effect the pandemic had so I did a month by month starting in December of 2019.


It is rare that a day goes by that somebody doesn't download a copy of the free PDF of Blackmarsh. So for my data, I can get a order number on January 1st (or the first of the month) and produce the above. But keep in mind that this doesn't show absolute sales only relative sales. Many order numbers are probably internal orders used to manage OBS day to day business. And these order are across the various various OBS storefronts like Wargames Vault. 

So it looks like Covid pandemic had an effect as April of 2020 and May of 2020 showed sales well above the usual month to month growth.  With 1,086,556 orders processed in April and 828,972 orders processed in May. 

Year to year, digital sales have achieved phenomenal growth and has grown by an order of magnitude (10x) since 2008. 

If folks want to crunch the numbers for themselves I provided a link to the spreadsheet below.

Order Numbers for DriveThruRPG

Here what I see when I run a sales report. I blacked out the customer #. 


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Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Food for thought concerning MegaDungeons

James over on Grognardia talks about the list of upcoming Greyhawk products that can be found in Dragon #55. 


Later in the post he focuses on this tidbit

As with most extensive dungeon complexes, much is developed and kept in the head due to actual play, and some areas are so difficult as to be impossible for those not used to our DM style.

A while ago I talked about Minimal Dungeons inspired by my reading up books on the early days of the hobby and this picture of Gary Gygax refereeing where we see part of his notebook.

Minimal Dungeons

Minimal Dungeon Redux

As food for thought, perhaps a megadungeon "fit for sale" shouldn't be focus on presenting a product formatted like a tournament style dungeon. A dungeon map with every room keyed and written with a description. Rather a megadungeon should be focused on teaching the reader how the author ran the megadungeon. Accompanied by any aides the author used whether it is a complete map, geomorphs, or a sketch. 

Keep in mind that the work for a dungeon (or even one of my Blackmarsh style sandbox settings) grows by the square of the area covered. A map twice the size is not twice the work but rather four time the works if one try to format it like a tournament style dungeon.

When it comes to the Greyhawk Dungeon, we do know that Gygax was able to teach how to run it at least once with Rob Kuntz. My opinion that any thing we can do as humans can be taught or at least explained to other humans. 

Personally I was able to do a lot with the map to Tegel Manor because of the numerous notes and the room labels. The key served as a reference to specific content like monsters, and treasure. Occasionally a room would have a paragraph if it was a special encounter. What Tegel was missing was commentary and notes by Bob Bledsaw on how he ran the adventure. Plus a page or two page introduction for novices to running a megadungeon or for less experienced referees would be a good thing to have. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Adventures in the original Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

 I made another map. This one showing where all the known adventures and supplements were set in Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy prior to it first shutdown in the early 80s. 

Note that some of the great JG Adventures like Dark Tower, The Thieves of Badabaskor, the ADnD modules, etc. don't have a Wilderlands location and largely presented as their own thing. Even some of the locations depicted in Book of Treasure Maps 1 to 3 don't have a Wilderlands location. But all the ones that have a location are noted on the below map. Just open the image in a new tab to get the full scale view. 

Plus many of the above modules gained a location in Necromancer Games Wilderlands Boxed Set and Goodman Games remake for 3.5.  For example Badabaskor is located in Hex 2906 on Map 2 Barbarian Altanis. 

Link to Map Image



Friday, June 11, 2021

OSRIC - Available on DriveThruRPG

Over the years the sites and means of sharing digital content have changed and OSRIC was among the early adopters. The First Edition Society started with using its website and then shortly used Lulu

Now the First Edition Society has released OSRIC and Monster of Myth on DriveThruRPG.


I hope this raises the visibility of the one of the two critical rulesets that ignited the Old School Renaissance as we know it today.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Random OD&D Tables updated


 I updated the random ODnD tables on batintheattic.com to include the following

  • Updated Unguarded Treasure to the full range of level (1 to 13+)
  • Updated To add Generate Magic Sword Only
  • Added Dungeon Room Content Generation
Additional web based tools I have are

DnD Combat Simulator (only two folks whacking at each other but handles any edition)
Majestic Wilderlands RPG Tables (only treasure generation at the moment)

Enjoy!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Delvers to Grow: One of GURPS 4e long standing issues fixed


My friend Douglas Cole of Gaming Ballistic has launched a new kickstarter for GURPS called Delvers to Grow. It is a series of options and templates that allow players to quickly make GURPS characters at home and during organized play like conventions. It supports a variety of power levels Including "Exceptional" Character at 62 points, "Heroic" Characters at 125 points, as well as providing intermediate steps up to the 250 pt "Larger than Life" default of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG and GURPS Dungeon Fantasy.


So GURPS?

Let cut to chase, GURPS as a system doesn't have a great reputation within the hobby. It it largely viewed as being pricey, complicated and a lot of work compared to other system and other generic systems. My opinion is that the problem is not because of the system but because of presentation. Most hobbyists i.e. potential customers of GURPS, don't have time to sit down with a toolkit to develop the system they are going to use for their campaign. They want to learn a few things, make some characters, make some adventures and get on with the campaign.

Delvers to Grow I feel is a major addition to the work that been done in the past decade to make GURPS more approachable. By making character generation for the Dungeon Fantasy RPG and fantasy campaigns, fast, quick, and easy.

Background

 In 2004, GURPS 4th edition was released. In the new few years a series of excellent supplement was put out to support the major genres, like Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, and a major overhaul made superheroes campaigns in GURPS far more interesting than 3e. 


However the core books and initial supplements doubled down on GURPS as a toolkit. Which made GURPS 4e far less approachable than previous editions especially 2e. In addition GURPS 4e had a lot less of what I call ready made content lists compared to other RPGs, notably items like fantasy monsters and magic items. 


With 3rd edition this was largely solved by the shear scope of the line.


Starting in 2008 these issue were beginning to be addresed. The issue of ready made content was being covered by product lines like GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, GURPS Monster Hunter, and GURPS Action. While the accessibility issue was addressed in large part by the release of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.


Except for one fairly significant issue. GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and Dungeon Fantasy RPG were centered around starting out as 250 point "Larger than Life" characters. Whereas in previous edition and for more of the folks I knew who played GURPS the default was 100 to 150 point Heroic level characters. 

 
4th edition
3rd edition

This showed up in actual play when trying to use Dungeon Fantasy material especially the monsters. One had to be careful otherwise player characters would be overwhelmed. But overall both GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and the Dungeon Fantasy RPG were a win as far reducing the amount of work needed to run a GURPS campaign.

So Delvers to Grow?

Delvers to Go, make the Dungeon Fantasy RPG far more approvable. You decide on a basic approach to your character whether you are Swift, Strong, or Smart. Then start picking various packages of options to build up your final character. Unlike the the 250 point Dungeon Fantasy templates there are not a lot to write down for each keeping it manageable especially for first timers. 

For fans of starting out 250 point "Larger than Life" character, it an accessible way of customizing one character within the Dungeon Fantasy RPG.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

World in Motion: Breathing Life into your City State

 In my Majestic Fantasy Basic Rules, I touched briefly on the idea of that the setting has a life of it own. Most of I wrote was about prep, before and during the campaign. I didn't touch on things one can do at the table to breath life into the setting. This following is one thing that hopefully you find useful that makes players feel like they are part of a living breathing world with a life outside of what they do.

The specific issue I will be dealing with is life within a fantasy urban setting. The example I will be using will be based on Judges Guild City State of the Invincible Overlord.

One effective technique I use  is to develop a patter to describe what going on particularly in urban areas. I don't attempt to describe everything unless asked. I limit it to things that "caught" the attention of the PCs. The time you go downtown or to a crowded area look at what you notice as you go about your business. Then take a long look around at everything else. You will find that you have a natural filter that so that only certain things come to your attention. Because of this I feel comfortable in highlighting only a few details as the player traverse the city. If the players specifically want to observe in detail then I will paint the full picture around them.

To explain how I do this I made a graphics to illustrate what it is I do using the City State of the Invincible Overlord. The map I use is on the right and is fully keyed. The map the players see is on the right. Either laid out on the table, or up on the screen if using a VTT. There will be a marker on the player map to mark their current position.

The initial situation is that the party is current eating breakfast at the Seahawk Tavern. They decide to pay a visit to the Sorcerer's Supply House. I look at my map and figure out it would take four minutes to get there. Each square is a 120'. The party can move two squares a minute.

The urban encounter table I use has you rolling every minute. I will making six rolls: one to see if anything happens in the tavern while leaving, one to see if there anything going on outside of the tavern. Then four more to see what happens along the way. The reason for the first roll is that for the purpose of encounter the Tavern is it own thing. The reason for the second roll is that players don't know what they will find once they leave the tavern. So I roll to see if anything is going on when they exit. The rest are normal periodic encounter rolls.

I rolled the following.

  1. No Encounter
  2. Foreigner Urchins/Children To/from market/church/work Seeking/In a duel/fight/etc.
  3. No Encounter
  4. No Encounter
  5. No Encounter
  6. Thieves Guild: Pursecutting/Stalking a mark/etc.

This how it would play out.

click to view at full size

The players can deal with or ignore each of these situation as they see fit. It not uncommon for one or two players to decide they want to check out or deal with something while the rest of the party moves on. In which case I handle the split using a round robin technique. I will spend 5 to 15 minutes with a group and then turn my attention to the next group. Going back and forth as needed.

The Dots on the right hand map roughly marks where I would pause the party (or character token) and describe something.

It take some practice but highly effective in giving the players the sense they are part of a larger world. 

One problem I had until recently is the number of encounter rolls I needed to make. After running two campaigns using Adventures in Middle Earth, I really liked their journey rules. The most applicable part is where you roll for the number of events based on the length of the journey using a logarithmic scale. This means you will have journey 10 times a long before you get the twice the encounters. 

I am working on how this will work for a city adventure. The general gist so far is.

  • One the same street: 1d3-1 encounters
  • Within the same quarter: 1d4 encounters.
  • Across the city: 1d6 encounters. 

Afterwards I sprinkle the encounters along the player's route where they would make sense. Sometime it more or less evenly spaced. Other times they can be bunched up around a single block of buildings.

Hope folks find this useful.