Thursday, October 28, 2010

What do I do for an encore?

Thanks to everyone who purchased the charity bundle from RPGNow. Over $60,000 was raised to help Doctors Without Borders as they provide relief to flood victims in Pakistan.

But now I've got an interesting problem. Over 2,000 people have downloaded my game (even if they bought the bundle to get their hands on big name games like Icons, Exalted, or Starblazer Adventures) and I have nothing to follow it with. No supplements, no extra promotional items.

Typically, when you give away something for free, it's because you want them to buy a product later. Give away a free sample of cereal to get the customer to buy a box of it. Give away a core rulebook to encourage people to buy supplements.

But my supplement plans are proceeding slowly. I do have a fairly quick and easy project in the works, but I've had such bad luck with announcing release dates that I don't want to risk it right now. In the meanwhile, if you came here looking for supplements, sourcebooks or adventures modules (Take that, Google!), you can always find a new Oz character posted here every month.

To all the people who found Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road in their bundle: Tell your friends about this game. The more people buy the game, the more ability I will have to produce those supplements for you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gareth-Michael Skarka is full of crap

Gareth-Michael Skarka has been in the RPG industry for quite some time. And so he knows lots of stuff. But sometimes, he drops the ball.

In a recent blog, Gareth predicts the upcoming death of the tabletop RPG industry. A startling claim. His evidence? The Dresden Files RPG sold 3,000 books in the 3rd quarter of 2010. "Back in my day," I can hear the old man voice creaking "3,000 copies was a solid initial order."

But what does this really prove? Not as much as Gareth thinks it does. It proves that the RPG industry works differently than it did back in the 90's.

Because in the 1990's, the only way to get an economical price on book printing was to buy a lot of them. Only printing one or two at a time was an insane proposition. You had to order in volume. At least 1,000. 3,000 isn't too far off. Thanks to print on demand technology, those low per-book prices can be had at a much smaller volume.

Also, once you printed up your 3,000 copies in the year 199x, the next step was to sell to a distributor. Once you had done that, your involvement with selling those books was essentially done. It was now up to the distributor to sell the product to retailers, who then sold it to the end-user.

But come the year 2000, we got the 3rd edition of D&D and the resulting d20 glut. Gareth calls it an "explosion", but really, it was a glut. Too many people were trying to hitch their wagon to the d20 brand, publishing their old D&D campaigns and modules and trying to make a million dollars. Some of them might have actually done it. But they did so at the expense of the distributors. Distributors and retailers wound up saddled with literally tons of stuff that nobody wanted as customers realized that the d20 System logo was not an assurance of quality.

Fast forward to now and you might find a distributor who'll buy 3,000 copies of your game, if you're lucky and have an established track record. They've learned their lesson on that one.

So today's RPG publisher is leaner and meaner than those of yore. Instead of printing 3,000 books that will probably still be sitting in a warehouse somewhere six months from now, they are able to print a few at a time, responding swiftly as demand increases and scaling back when it doesn't happen.

Nothing's going away. It's just changing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

In which I invoke a meme

Just a reminder: The Pakistan Relief Bundle at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow is only going to be available until Monday, October 25 at 10 AM EST. It's only $25 to support a really good cause and get some cool schwag in the process.

Since everyone else in the gaming blogosphere is doing it, I guess I'll have to do it, too. Here is a list of the 15 games that have inspired me as a player, Narrator, and game designer. And I have only 15 minutes to come up with them all.

2. Exalted
3. Ironclaw
4. Dream Park
5. Dungeons & Dragons
6. Cartoon Action Hour
7. Palladium
8. Pokethulhu
9. World of Darkness
10. Ars Magica
11. Great Ork Gods
12. Feng Shui
13. Big Eyes, Small Mouth
14. Burning Wheel
15. Spirit of the Century

Monday, October 18, 2010

Adventures Without Borders!

Back in January, OneBookShelf held a fundraiser to help Doctors Without Borders provide relief to Haiti after that country suffered a massive earthquake. Now they're doing it again. This time, it's to help flood victims in Pakistan. This time, Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond The Yellow Brick Road is there. I have donated the PDF version of the game to the bundle of free product you'll get when you donate $25 to DWB through OneBookShelf.

Please give your support to this fundraiser. Links here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oz: Dark and Terrible

As I try to keep abreast of both roleplaying and Oz, this particular item got my attention.

As I said in my interview with Blair Frodelius over at the Daily Ozmapolitan, I don't generally care for dark takes on Oz. I think they're missing the point. It seems to me that they're trying to make Oz more "grown up" and "mature", which really isn't necessary.

For one thing, although Baum did include a lot of whimsy and silliness in the stories, he always treated his characters with respect, never sacrificing them for cheap drama or cheap jokes. Danger was always real and escape was always earned. Oz was never a land where major crises were resolved by some last minute deus ex machina, and The Nome King would never allow himself to be defeated by Delicious Fruit Pies. So they should pass nearly any test of "grown-up-ness" you'd care to apply.

"But it can't be mature until there's sex, violence and lots of explosions!" seems to be the opinion of a lot of people. "If it's not rated R, it must be kid's stuff." But not C.S Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia. In fact, he once wrote: "Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."

I do wish them the best, and I hope they bring some new people to Oz. My main criticism is on "dark Oz" in general, not Oz: Dark & Terrible is particular. I'll save comments on the game itself for after I have actually seen it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oz Character of the Month: Ozzy McTavish

In honor of Halloween, that wondrous day when we all like to dress up like people we aren't, I present a character that originally (and up til now, only) existed as a costume. Those of you who attended Winkie 2010 might have seen Eric Gjovaag wandering the convention with his Emerald City jersey and big plastic bat. Now Ozzy McTavish can be a character at your gaming table!

Name: Ozzy McTavish
First Appearance: Winkie 2010
Template: Wanderer

Size: 3

Athletics: 4 (Baseball)
Awareness: 3
Brains: 2
Presence: 2
Sneaking: 3
Wits: 2

Traits: None

Friends List: Emerald City Green Sox

"I was blown away," says Emerald City Green Sox manager Henry Gale of sensation Ozzy McTavish.

Sports fans were certainly blown away last week as the Green Sox triumphed over the Wonderland White Wabbits in the Fantasy League Playoffs. A McTavish home run in the 6th inning earned him 3 RBIs and gave the Sox an unbeatable 8-3 lead against those wascally wabbits.

McTavish wasn't the only hero in that game, though. Second baseman Hip Hopper bravely attempted to counter the fancy footwork of the Wabbits, but wound up pulling his (only) hamstring trying to tag the Cheshire Cat on his way to/through second base. Sal Shaker, traded up from the Utensia Knicknacks, stepped in to relieve him and particularly shined as a pinch hitter.

Fellow Knicknack Clay Jugg stood firm on the pitcher's mound, pouring out a steady stream of strikes against the visiting Wonderlanders. Although Joe Candy was strongly favored as pitcher by the Championship Committee, it was revealed that he took the performance enhancing drug zosozo and was therefore ineligible to compete.

(Thanks to Eric Gjovaag for letting me do this.)
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