Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why Doesn't Someone Just Make a Rules-Light Pathfinder, BECMI-Style, Using The OGL?

Pathfinder already put out their Basic Boxed Set.  The general concensus, like, everywhere, is that Pathfinder is doing a great job, keep on the current course, people are happy, D&D Next may take a bit out of you at first, but like all things designed to cater to everyone it will likely please no one, and fizzle out, and 6e will be out in a couple years anyhow.  So all Pathfinder has to do is survive the RPG war of attrition they are in, which they are positioned to do easily.

The only complaint/wish I ever hear about the game from both people who play PF, and people who don't but might if this wish is fulfilled, is that they create a rules light version.  They already started down this road with their Basic set.  All they need to do is expand upon it with a couple more, in the same spirit of BECMI.  They refuse to do it though. 

Why doesn't someone just do this themselves using the OGL?  I think they are able to, right?  Of course, don't call it Pathfinder, but everyone will know what it is.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?  Who knows, if it's successful, you might even get an official one from Paizo. 

Seems like a huge untapped market/opportunity just waiting to be exploited, but what the fuck do I know.  I still think damn near everything +James Raggi does is nuts, yet he keeps making money at it.  Shit, what a show-stealer it would be if Paizo did it to coincide with the release of Next at Gencon in 2014.  :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Paper RPG Zines--What Do You Want Out Of One? A FLAILSNAILS 'Zine?

I've had this urge now, growing for months, to put out a good old fashioned paper 'Zine, related to, most likely, Blood Island and/or Flailsnails stuff.  The difference between this 'zine idea and some others out there or in print already is that I will not offer it in any electronic format.  There is something about a paper 'zine, strictly in paper, that gives it a certain rarity and specialness which I find appealing.  If you missed it, you didn't get to read it.  (Not that I think any content that I put in there is exceptional in any way.)  I like the retro feel of it all too.  I was even thinking about using an old typewriter font for it, to help capture that feeling.

Anyhow, one of the classic traits of a 'zine over a traditional magazine, whether electronic or paper, or any publication with many authors, editors, contributors, artists, etc, is the sense of it being a very personal artistic/creative expression.   How this differs from places like G+ threads and message board posts or chats is that it is in a permanent form, and therefore it seems to me that more well-thought-out articles on  things of more importance to the author ought to go in it.

How it differs from a blog is something subtler to me.  Granted, a blog is here today, potentially gone tomorrow, with a few keystrokes.  But still, it acts as a permanent repository of your thoughts on matter,s just by virtue of its accessibility and search-ability, as well as its permanence at a certain URL location.  It's more permanent than posts on boards, G+ threads, newsgroups and the like, because they just stream on by and if you miss it you can't generally go back and find what was discussed on June 11, 2010 with those things.  But because it can act as a space for an expression at any time, in any place, and because whatever is going on in your head can be laid out in it, half-formed thoughts or ideas, or just random fun stuff, a blog somehow doesn't seem as serious as something you are taking the time and energy and money to write up, print out, mail out, and make a permanent part of the world we live in, like a 'zine.

I guess I'm saying that though it may seem that all these different mediums of expression can be used to say the same things, I think the things that are the truest expressions of myself and my thoughts on matters which matter most to me ought to be in the most permanent medium I can use.  To me at least, fire notwithstanding, that has always been print.  (Can you tell I'm a book lover who resents what easily accessible online info has done to the world?  But that's a topic for another post, maybe even a 'zine article. :)  )   Since I don't have a printing press, and don't want to go the whole LULU route because I want to do the printing and mailing work myself, that means a 'zine.

I don't fool myself into thinking I'll have a huge audience or make any money at it.  As long as I can cover some basic expenses and have fun doing it, I think I'll be happy. 

Other random thoughts on the matter---I've been thinking about doing a 'zine in paper format only, in the format of a pamphlet or newspaper, for the FLAILSNAILS universe.  For this one I'd solicit contributors, and all articles and submissions would be written in the voice of the Flailsnails player character, not the player.  There would be classifieds, lost and founds, news, advertisements for the FS 'verse, bounties offered, gossip, rewards posted, missions and quests listed by DM's, interviews, etc.  Anything you'd expect to see in a newspaper in the old west, circa 1860's.  Plus I'd keep a running roster of DM's and their games, game times, summary descriptions of settings, a list of players and their characters, their levels,  what system they were created under, email or G+ contact info for all of the above, a death roll for those who have fallen, obituaries, etc.  All I'd ask is that the contributors don't cross-post anything they submit to the FS 'zine, so that it keeps it's sense of being a real newspaper people look to read.

Again though, only in paper, because even though it's not personal, as I've talked about above, and has many contributors, I sort of like the idea of a paper only publication covering news and info for an online only gaming environment.  Not expecting to make any money off the thing.  I'd give any contributor a free copy.  So basically I'd likely lost my shirt with every publication.  But I think it would be fun to put one out every couple of months.  :)
Anyhow, if I get any of these things going, it would likely be around the first of the year or so.  I need to accumulate the bits and pieces of equipment, office supplies, and software I need to make this happen first.

(Random thoughts--short stories serialized over several issues of the Blood Island 'zine?  Since I have zero drawing ability, I may publish other people's artwork if they want me to in the BI 'zine. Certainly so in the FS 'zine.  It's be nice to finally get all my BI classes and setting info for players in one booklet form for any interested in it.)

Anyhow, any thoughts you all may have on the matter are appreciated.  I'm still bouncing all this around in my head.  It's all way in the early stages.  Hopefully something good, and something fun, not just for me but for you guys too, can come of it.  :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Is RPG Game Design a Bullshit Profession?

I've been thinking about this lately.  As a lawyer I can tell you that a lot, if not most, of the profession is complete bullshit.  It's made to sound confusing in order to justify ego's and hourly billing rates.  I know +Zak Smith has said similar things surrounding the terminology and jargon thrown around in art circles.  I remember a conversation with +Rob Kuntz where he described a game, DnD I think it was, that he and a player were so into they continued it at a pizza place, sans dice, books, character sheets, paper and pencils, where Rob had the guy guess a number to determine success or failure.  It worked because there was a trusted conflict or situational resolution system that gave the appearance of stuff not being arbitrary.

At its core, isn't that what all RPG rule systems are supposed to do?

Look what we do with Flailsnails.  Isn't that sort of trust in the fairness of the dm at the heart of it?  Get 12 Flailsnails dm's together and give them a situation or conflict and likely there will be 12 different things made up on the fly to resolve that situation or conflict.  It's not complex, it's not rocket science, it doesn't even hang together as a coherent system.  But it's fair, trusted, and people have fun so it works.  

So why such complexity in RPG design?   I think it's so people can claim to be game designers and puff up the ego. Also, to justify jobs and new editions and a stream of revenue for the corporate overlords.

Read this, then come back and continue with my post:

The famous quote attributed to Gary Gygax:  "The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." maybe ought to be expanded to gamemasters and players, and seems to be the deep dark secret of the RPG game design industry.

Did we really need a Numenara, a game which deals with common themes in RPG's that have been around for decades, and just slapped a new resolution mechanic on all of it?  Do the rules really enhance the game that much?  Do they ever?  The only time I've ever seen rules impact the game is that the more rules you have the more the game sucks ass. 

Beyond a small pamphlet-sized booklet describing some basics, which is really a hobby level publication, not the sort of thing that would support a multi-million dollar industry, what else is really needed?

Also, without new editions there wouldn't be edition wars.  New editions really aren't needed.  Therefore edition wars are basically the fault of the industry pitting groups of people against each other over shit that doesn't matter in the first place, which coincidentally lends itself as a perfect distraction to get stop them from even wondering if they needed a new edition anyhow, while game designers pick their pockets for 40 bucks for a hardcover, unnoticed.

Sounds like a microcosm of the real life plutocracy we live in, now that I think about it.

(Got an comment that says this: "Would you mind adding a credit to "Alan De Smet" to the Gygax photograph, as required by the license? Thanks!")

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Rules Cyclopedia Reprint

Many many people thought that this was the best version of D&D ever made.  Coincidentally perhaps, it's not been reprinted like some of the other older editions have.  There is a petition at to reprint it.  Go there and express your opinion:

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jeff Rients Needs Your Help

He is forming an adventuring party.  Here is his contribution:

Here is mine, a Mage of Great Power.   What do you have to offer?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Blood Island: The Sack of Dirkenfuge Keep (a FLAILSNAILS G+ hangout event, Sun. Aug 11, 1 pm EST)

Recently the Settlan tribe, the second most powerful tribe of Vikings (some would have said they were more powerful militarily, but the current Hader kept them in check through political maneuverings) was handed a massive setback. They developed some alchemical technology which allowed them to make their longships lighter than air, and able to fly short distances. They ascended to the pyramid plateau, setting up a series of under-protected and overextended bases. These bases were overrun by Hobgoblins, wild elves, and on the plateau itself by the Delig. Sadly, the secrets of their alchemists have been lost.

This setback allowed the Hader to consolidated his power base, gathering more clans under his banner. He recently received the sanction of all three religious clans, and launched a major assault on the largest hobgoblin fortress on the eastern side of the island, named Dirkenfuge Keep. It was an expensive victory in terms of money, men, and political clout, but it paid off. Now the Hader is determined to consolidate his victory by all means possible.

He has sent out a call to all adventurers who are willing to fight, even sending word through the Tunnels of Madness and Myst for aid.

The Missions:

  • Clear out the tunnels under the Dirkenfuge Keep: Many hobgoblins fled into these tunnels as the fortress fell to the vikings. They need to be rooted out. Only for the stout of heart, all levels and classes are welcome, but those of second level and above will have the best chances of success.
  • Pursue the retreating hobgoblins into the lands around the keep. Many fled to the woods, to bolt holes or to the safety of unknown allies. Find them and destroy them. Report back on the lands surrounding the Keep. Due to the unknown dangers, this should only be undertaken by those of at least 5th level of ability.
  • A long long tunnel, of the shape and style of those made by the Hoor, has been found a mile outside of the walls of the keep. Someone needs to go into it to find where it leads. This is an extremely dangerous mission, which only those of 7th level and above should even consider taking on.

Join us, Sunday Aug. 11, 1 pm EST on G+.  Sign up for the event if interested.  What we do depends on the levels of the people who show up.  FLAILSNAILS welcome!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Numenera? Seriously?

Had a chance to glance at a friend's copy.  A sci-fi/fantasy mix, in a book 400 pages long?  Really?  It would take a full weekend to read and halfway digest this thing, when he could have just done an ODnD knockoff with extra weapons, equipment, and gear.  The Flailsnails 'verse on G+ creates, handles and otherwise deals with this shit daily, on the fly.  Do you really need 400 pages for it?

The art ain't that great either.