Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gaming Without A License

A recent review of my game wondered why I had chosen to slap a copyright on my work, rather than opening up my game with an Open Gaming License or Creative Commons license. This was something that I had pondered when I was releasing the game, but I ultimately decided against it.

For one thing, just because other people can reference my work is no guarantee that they will (or won't). Back in the early days of the Open Gaming craze, Gold Rush Games released their Action System as a universal game engine released under the OGL. It failed to take off and Gold Rush Games is no longer a going concern.

And since I'm just a guy with a dream, I had no expectations that I would make a big splash in the world of gaming (and my sales numbers are bearing that out). Certainly not enough to hitch my wagon to the idea of everyone being inspired by my work.

The other reason is quality control. As many long-time D20 players will tell you, there's a lot of crap out there for the D20 System. And I do mean crap. Because when the OGL was unveiled (back in the year 2000), suddenly everyone and their dog (especially their dog) tried to make a million dollars riding the coattails of the D&D brand.

Having a single official source for AiO material means that you can expect consistency (if not quality) out of the product line.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fording the Amazon, that is.

In last week's update, I mentioned that CreateSpace had finally accepted my files and that I had ordered a proof copy. It arrived last Friday and passes muster. As of this writing, it is available directly from CreateSpace, with Amazon following shortly. Once it hits the main site, a link will be posted forthwith. EDIT: Here it is!

Also, it seems that Lulu is closing down certain elements of their site. Such as their multimedia section. Which just happens to be where I stow my PDFs, since they don't seem to mesh with what Lulu calls an e-book. But since Lulu was kind enough to convert my PDF over to an e-book (EPUB format) for the iBookstore, I can also sell that over in the e-book section of their site (like so).

With so much news, I don't have room for my usual natter. But I'm sure it's only temporary, so I'm accumulating natter for when the news dries up.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oz Is All Around!

Here's a bit of good news. I have recently begun work on Adventures in Oz: Beyond the Deadly Desert. You know, that supplement that I've been meaning to work on for about a year and a half.

What's been keeping me? A number of excuses, really. But the big one I like to point at is the fact that my old laptop died. Well, its floppy drive died. And that was the only way to get information off of it. That left me with only one desktop computer to share with my wife and not enough time to squeeze in everything I wanted to do. Enough to keep up the blog, but not enough to get any serious writing done.

So in the aftermath of the wedding, we got a nice little infusion of gifts and money. Enough to get a little something that I had wanted for quite some time. A cute little netbook. Enough computer to get me writing again, but not enough computer to distract me with MMOs. And I do loves me some D&D Online.

Also, you will notice that the blog is growing a few tabs. This is because I've gotten enough digs at my old site with my lack of HTML skills and poor updating habits. So I'm going to try to flesh out this blog into an actual site and have redirect straight here. Let me know if you have any tips or suggestions for this process or any content you want to make sure is included.

If you caught the blog a few days ago, you'll know that I got a couple of local shops to carry a copy of AiO. Not long after that, I got a notice from Lulu that they had completed the process of converting my book into an ePub and placing it on Apple's iBookstore. Although I had mostly given up on CreateSpace (their file review process is finicky and at least a little inconsistent), I finally got them to accept the files for AiO there. I've ordered a proof copy and it should show up sometime in the next week. If it passes muster (I have reservations on that front), customers will be able to buy Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road from that site.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the poll off on the right. It's helping me get a view on my readership. The majority (4 out of 11 responses) of you seem to have gotten the game from Lulu. This could be because it's where the link on my homepage sends you, or the fact that it's been up there the longest. There are two of you who have not purchased the game yet. I hope you guys are finding value in the blog, even if you don't own a copy. And as for the guys who voted "other", I'm curious where you picked it up if not from an official outlet. If you're pirates, it's clear that you were impressed enough with the game to track down the blog, so I'll take that as a compliment. If you picked up the physical book on the used rack at your local gamestore, I'm just a little curious as to where this store is. Maybe they'd like a few copies to put on their regular shelves.

I'll try to have a new poll up by next week, giving me a better picture of my fanbase. Thanks for participating in this one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Now Sold In Stores!

Well, kind of. I finally got around to scouting some somewhat local book and game stores (a little farther field than I normally go) up in Arcata, California. It's another city, so it's not a commute I like to do regularly. Another reason it's taken me this long is that I was afraid of getting turned down. For quite some time, there has been only one creditable game store in the county. And it's a game store that had lost my business many years ago (long story). Also, there was another local publisher several years ago (Vajra Enterprises, to be exact, though the fellow is no longer local), and I don't know if he got any respect from this game store. I saw a copy of his first game (Fates Worse Than Death) on the used rack at this store, but never on the regular shelves.

But then I recently heard of a new game store (specifically NuGames) in a nearby city. It's primarily a LAN arcade, but they do have regular Magic: The Gathering tournaments as well as supporting the D&D Encounters Organized Play program (though or some reason it's not mentioned on their site). The store's owner was very nice to me, but did warn me that it might be a tough sell. She did accept a copy for consignment sale.

My next stop was at Northtown Books. When I had been asking around my hometown of Eureka, this was a store that had been mentioned to me as someplace that was supportive of local authors. They asked remarkably few questions about the book and set about getting a consignment set up for the copy I had brought along.

So there are now two stores that have Adventures in Oz available on a consignment basis. Please tell people to buy them so that this can become a regular thing.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Marshall the Troupes!

No, that's not a mis-spelling. This post is going to be talking about what is often called "troupe-style" roleplaying.

The most common style of play in RPGs involves a player playing a single character until that character dies or retires. Then they create another character and plays through their adventuring life and so on.

Troupe-style play gives each player multiple characters to choose from for any given adventure. So if you were playing a Star Trek RPG, you would play your Starfleet Marine for a combat mission, but bring your Diplomacy Corps officer for a diplomatic mission. Or maybe your pilot who just happens to speak Romulan, since the diplomatic mission takes place near Romulan space.

For those following Barking Alien's Muppet RPG as he's posting it on his blog, you might notice that each player begins play with multiple characters. While each player participates in every scene/sketch, they do so as different characters.

Old School gamers already did something like this back in the day, pulling out one from a binder of character sheets depending on the difficulty level of the dungeon and the specific roles that need to be filled. MMO gamers do something similar with their "alts," bringing in their "tank", "DPS", or "healer" into play as needed.

It can also be used on a short term basis in a regular game to give all the players something to do. For example, in a recent D&D session (a friend of mine is running the game, not me) 3 of the 6 characters were called on to serve as the prosecution, defense, and judge in a trial. Which left 3 players (including me) with nothing to do as this trial scene played out. So my friend gave us witnesses to play so that we could be part of that dramatic scene, even if our regular characters weren't there.

Troupe-style play is also very Ozzy. While some series maintain a consistent core cast, there is very little consistency in the cast of an Oz story. While everyone remembers the classic adventuring party of Dorothy, The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, that grouping has never occurred since. In fact, no more than 2 of these characters have ever adventured together again in the Baum canon (typically the Tin Woodman adventures with the Scarecrow, or Dorothy teams up with the Lion).

Baum would even change up the cast in mid-story. In The Patchwork Girl of Oz, he trades out the Woozy and the Glass Cat for Dorothy and the Scarecrow (an odd exception to the pattern noted above). So if you've got a player who is having a hard time settling on one character, you might want to let them create two and let them play in alternate adventures or find points in the story where they can switch off.

And one of the cool things about doing this in AiO is that even if a character isn't present, they can still have an influence if they are on another character's Friends List.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Oz Character of the Month: Tip

Before we tackle our main topic today, I just wanted to take some time for some announcements.

First of all, a number of you Oz fans are going to the Oz-Stravaganza over in Chittenango, New York. I wish I could be there, but the budget does not allow me significant travel (like across the country) at this point. However, the budget does allow for me to send a few books in that direction in the care of James C. Wallace II. So if you've gotten tired of reading me shill this book on the blog and want to see it for yourself, seek him out on the Author's Alley.

Second, there are only about 2 more weeks to take the poll over on the right. If you are a follower of the blog, or just keeping up with it, please post your answer. The more I know about my customers, the better I can take care of them. Once this poll wraps up, I plan on posting another to help me get more information on you guys.

And now for a new Oz character. As a number of you are aware, June is Pride Month. For some reason, Oz connects very strongly with the gay community. Quite a few of the Oz fans I have encountered on the internet are gay or otherwise queer. Many people point to Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman as a gay couple, especially when you see their relationship presented in The Tin Woodman of Oz (though how they are gay when they don't have a sex is a conundrum). But one thing that not everyone notices is that there was a transgendered Oz character.

In The Land of Oz, the main character is a young boy named Tippetarius, but the story ends with his transformation into a fairy princess.

Name: Tippetarius
First Appearance: The Land of Oz
Template: Child in Oz

Size: 2

Athletics: 2
Awareness: 3
Brains: 3
Presence: 2
Sneaking: 3
Wits: 3

Traits: Craftsman (Wood)

Friends List: Mombi

While Mombi may seem an odd choice for a friend, the appearance of the Wishing Pills later in the story seems to fit the plot device nature of how Oz Points work. And since he got them in something he took from Mombi, that kind of makes her his friend.
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