Friday, September 3, 2021

Concerning the OSR, Everything is All Right.

Over the summer and recently I seen posts and opinions on the direction of the Old School Renaissance or OSR. Just keep in mind that due to how it came about. A result of discussion and sharing on the Internet combined with judicious use of open content like the D20 System Reference Document. Because of this, differences in content, tone, and feel are not only expected but inevitable. 

Everybody has equal access to the foundational material and the situation is such that one can do quite a bit within the time one has for a hobby. Even when it something more involved like getting a work in shape for publication. 

The result is that the OSR is confusing kaleidoscope of many voices doing their own things. Which is a good thing in my book as this ensure that your voice will be heard if you have the interest and time. Plus thanks to digital technology it only take a few hundred folks interested in particular take to keep it going.

The downside is that if you have a specific interest and it not being handled by anybody then the only recourse available is to do it yourself. Encouragement or promotion might work but the only way to ensure that something gets done is for somebody somewhere to pick up the available tools and starting making stuff.

Which why what I said back in 2009 is still true today, the OSR belongs to those who do.

Finally remember what you see, including myself, is just a slice of a much larger effort. With nearly 8,000 items on DriveThruRPG alone, I would not trust anybody's assertion that the OSR is about anything in particular other than it that probably originated in a theme or set of mechanics associated with the various classic editions of the world's most popular roleplaying game. 

But if you look at specific groups and specific individuals, like myself, then that will not be the case, and that there will be a specific focus. For me it been mostly about sandbox campaigns, hexcrawl formatted settings, letting players trash settings ,and when needed using rules based off of Swords and Wizardry. Other folks have their own focus.

One particular thing I want to mention that matured quite a bit since 2009 are virtual tabletops. Even after face to face gaming resumes it former place, the development of VTT software, like Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds continue to allow people separated by geography or circumsantces to get together and play the games they like and love.  And the best part you can switch easily between a VTT and face to face when time and circumstances permit. Both start with the same material and require pretty much the same type preparation although there are differences in how the session are handled. 

As always Fight On! and have fun with the stuff. It yours to do as you will whether it is playing, promoting, sharing, or publishing. 


Sunday, August 29, 2021

August Roundup, Original Chainmail Reprint and Harn Kingdom Hardbacks

Chainmail

The other day I spotted the 3rd edition of Chainmail on print on demand at DriveThruRPG. This is a set of medieval miniature wargame rules written by Gygax and Perrin. It fantasy appendix was an important resource used by Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, and other in the early 70s before the release of Dungeons and Dragons. 

It price was pretty reasonable at $8.24 so I bought a copy. This is what I got compared to the original. I found the overall quality very good and the image scans to be quite acceptable. Overall the PoD version is a good thing to have if you want to give the wargame or the fantasy appendix as part of a regular campaign.

The interior with a illustration.

print on demand

original

Harn Kingdom Hardbacks

I also got in my Kingdom of Kaldor Hardback from the Columbia Games Kickstarter. In effort to expand the audience for Harn, Columbia Games has decided to release a series of hardback books each highlighting a kingdom of Harn. These books each contain key articles relating to the kingdom. Typically the Kingdom article itself, and it most important city.


For the Kingdom of Kaldor hardback it contains a 60 page article on  the Kingdom of Kaldor, and a 70 page article on the City of Tashal. Both articles are the latest versions which includes details on the personalities of Kaldor as well as geography and history. Kaldor in particular has a looming succession crisis when it king dies. 




The city of Tashal has a long history starting when it was the Elven city of Meyvinel, continuing through when it was Kelapyn-Anuz the eastern outpost of Lothrim the Foulspawner to the present where it is now the royal city of Tashal, the seat of the Kings of Kaldor. Like all recent Harn city it contains many detailed floor plans of various building.



While pricey compared to other RPG companies offering, the strength of the Harn product line is it general utility. It focus on medieval fantasy means that is serves as a good foundation of ready to use content for many fantasy campaigns.

I like the loose leaf format to keep thing organized for reference. But I got the books through the Kickstater because they are easier to use when reading. Plus now that got the Kaldor hardback it looks to be durable as well. 

The Kingdom of Melderyn

Soon after I got the Kaldor hardback, Columbia has started a kickstarter for the Kingdom of Melderyn. While Kaldor is very much a Game of Thrones ground type setting, Melderyn has a long tradition of supporting and incorporating arcanist and mages within it's society. It also controls the main port of entry into Harn and its capital city of Cherafir sees merchants and travelers from throughout the known world outside of Harn.



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!