Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

I bet you were wondering if I would bring myself to post this Thursday, or if I would wait until the holiday was over. As it turns out, I've got just enough time while the rice pudding is in the oven to get this posted.

My playtesters have already received their Christmas present. The latest playtest kit is headed their way as we speak. Now to gift the loyal readers of my blog with a new Oz art preview.

This is the Tin Woodman as done by Brad McDevitt. This is copyright Brad and used with permission.

For those not in the know, L. Frank Baum wrote his own version of the legend of Santa Claus, called "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus". It is, interestingly enough, the only hardcopy Baum book that I own. Both Jared Davis and VoVat have extensive blogs on this tale, so I won't bore you by rehashing what they've already said. I will say that it's my least favorite of Baum's works. Not that it's badly written (Baum's worst book is still more readable than some author's best book), but the simple fact is that Santa does little throughout the book but make toys and deliver them. All of the conflicts and challenges that Santa faces are instead overcome by his fairy friends.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm on Youtube!

Just put together a quick little promo video for Adventures in Oz. Check it out! No clever little soundtrack for this one, but maybe next video I'll come up with something.

Also, I've got the Winkie Country preview uploaded to the site, featuring Bear Center and Oogaboo. Playtesters should be getting the rest of Winkie Country in about a week or two, as well as some changes to the game's rules. Some of it is closing holes that have been revealed by playtesting and some of it is stuff that I've been meaning to put in for a while but haven't gotten around to.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Onward to Adventure!

It may be that my worry 0ver supplements last week was overwrought. I was thinking that I would have to produce another setting supplement, with all the research, writing, and interpretation that would require. However, a thought occurred to me: Why not make an adventure supplement?

The first big reason is demographic. At least two major portions of my game's intended market are Oz fans (who may not have gamed before and might appreciate help coming up with adventures) and parents introducing their kids to gaming (who have many other things to do besides creating adventures for their group). A supplement containing ready-made scenarios would be a good thing on both counts.

The second reason comes from a rather different quarter. In many quarters of the RPG community, there are those who say that adventures generally don't sell well, except for D&D. Ken Hite (whom I have had the honor of meeting) goes a step further by pointing out that Call of Cthulhu has a rather successful adventure line. He even goes the step farther to explain why.

Because both games are designed with an eye to creating a specific kind of story, their customers are more likely to buy adventures that support that kind of story: "dungeon crawls" for D&D and occult mysteries for Call of Cthulhu. Oz stories also have a rather similar structure that could be fun and easy to emulate.

A few more bits of news:

Although one of my early goals was to have the game finished and ready by DunDraCon, that has become pretty much impossible. Although the game may not be for sale there, it will still be played. I have managed to get "The Magic Belt of Oz" on the schedule for the convention. I will be running the game as part of their kids program.

If all goes well, I should have the Winkie preview posted to the site by next week.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time vs. Money, Fluff vs. Crunch

A wise man once told me that time and money are rather interchangeable. If you don't want to spend money on something, spend the time to make it yourself. If you don't have the time, spend the money for someone else to do it for you. Art is a good example. It would be impractical for me to spend the time to produce satisfactory art for the game (my stick figures suck), so spending money is the most efficient route to cover that.

For a good portion of this project, I've had plenty of time. When I started blogging, I was unemployed, and I was not gaming. Then I got a job. Then I got a gaming group. Now I'm working overtime. Time is rapidly becoming a precious commodity. I'm wondering if I should hire writers to work on the rest of the material. Especially with the beast that is Quadling Country staring me down.

On top of that, some "conventional wisdom" in the gaming industry says that your first supplement should follow very soon after (within 3-6 months) so that your fans know your are serious about the project. Some publishers have even mentioned avoiding publishing their game for a time, in order to give the supplement time to be completed.

The trick is, in the highly competitive RPG industry, there's no assurance of success. If the main book turns out to be a loser, why should I invest on a supplement that will just lose money?

On the other hand, marketing is important. My opinion is that the reason so many games fail is due to marketing. This extends to the prepublishing process of market research, as well as the actual promotion of the product. And part of that promotion is creating the impression that your company is not a fly-by-night operation and that the product will be supported. It's one of the reasons I started blogging back in April.

Which brings up the next part of this week's subject: Fluff vs. crunch. For those not in know, these are terms that RPG fans use to delineate rules and mechanics (crunch) from setting information and Narrator advice (fluff). Books that offer solely "fluff" generally do not do well commercially, but that's largely the kind of book that it's going to be. Of course, depending on the material that gets covered, there may be room for more character templates, some spells and magic items, and maybe enough "crunch" to make it worthwhile.

Thoughts, guys?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day Everyone!

Those of you in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving Day, hopefully with your families. I hope everyone has a wonderful day today and has something to be thankful for.

I'm personally thankful that I've been able to make the progress that I have on this game over the course of the last year.

I am coming to realize that most of my vocal readership is actually from the Oz side of the fence. I'm not sure how much my dithering about the word "campaign" last week really made sense to a number of you. So here's a little glossary of RPG terms with some discussion and explanation.

Player Character (or PC): a character played by a player. This term is also useful for conflating player and character. Although my writing tries to separate the player (the person sitting at the table eating all your Cheetos) from the character (who is running from kalidahs), it can get confusing sometimes. Alternate terms: character, hero.

Game Master (or GM): A player who takes on the role of the world that the rest of the characters adventure in. They are often responsible for catalyzing the story by presenting a situation that the player characters must respond to. They also have to portray every character that the other characters meet, both allies and enemies. This isn't as difficult as it sounds, since the adventurers will only interact with one or two people at any given time. Alternate terms: Dungeon Master (D&D), Storyteller (White Wolf), Narrator (numerous games), Producer, Director (these are mostly from games based on television and movies). I debated using Historian, since L. Frank Baum was the Royal Historian of Oz, but decided that there were enough terms out there. Mike Conway does use Historian as the term for Game Master in his "Heroes of Oz" RPG.

Non-Player Character (or NPC): A character portrayed by the Game Master. Alternate terms: Narrator Played Character (uses the same acronym), supporting cast

Adventure: A story created by the players of an RPG. Also, a story structured to be told in an RPG format. Alternate terms: story, scenario. Published adventures are occassionally also called modules.

Campaign: A series of adventures connected by common elements, typically the continuing adventures of the player/characters. Alternate terms: chronicle (White Wolf), series.

As you can see, there is some flexibility in the use of the terms.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Work on the Winkie Country document proceeds as time and life allow.

One thing that I've been having difficulties with is how to make people want to play the game. Raising the bar on the setting material is something that I hope will help. What I'm thinking of doing right now is coming up with a number of campaign frames.

For those readers who are not gamers, a campaign frame is much like the premise of a TV show. It tells the viewer (or player, in this case) what the game is about. This can help a player create a character that will be appropriate and also give them an idea of what kind of adventures to expect. Especially with a setting as expansive as Oz, it can be daunting for a Game Master to use even half of what is out there. Here are a few examples that I've thought of so far:

Princess Ozma's Exploratory Mission: After the troubles with the Skeezers and the Flatheads, Ozma decides that she cannot afford to have so much of her land unexplored and uncivilized. She has commissioned a band of explorers to make diplomatic contact with every community they find.

Notes: This is probably an optimum campaign frame for most games. It gives the characters a very good excuse to explore Oz and stick their noses into all sorts of things.

Over the Rainbow: The characters are from the outside world and find themselves in Oz or it's neighboring fairylands. At least early on, the quest will be to find a way home, though the players may decide to keep exploring the strange places they encounter, or settle down in the Emerald City, in which case it becomes a rather different campaign.

Notes: This is the kind of thing people typically expect of Oz, so it certainly has it's uses. Character types are somewhat limited, as a Crafted Person or Large Animal will typically not make sense as part of the initial party (Hank the Mule is something of an exception), but they could certainly be added to the group shortly after arrival. This campaign is generally of finite length. Either the heroes will return home and the story will end, or they will decide to stay, in which case it becomes a different sort of game.

Any other ideas?

I am actually somewhat leery of the use of the word "campaign" in this context. It comes from the war-gaming roots of RPGs, where a campaign was a series of battles. While it makes sense for a game like Dungeons & Dragons, where the game is built around battles, it makes less sense for a game like "Adventures in Oz". White Wolf's World of Darkness games tried to propogate the term "chronicle" for an extended story or connected series of stories, but that just seems a bit pretentious. So is the World of Darkness, so I suppose it works. I find myself preferring the term "series" or "game", but for some long time gamers, I'm sure old habits die hard.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The future will be Interactive!

There is now one more way to get in touch with me and let me know what you think about the game. New on the site is a "shoutbox". As soon as I figure it out, I'll have it linked here too, so whether you're a browser or a blogger, you can make your voice heard.

Also, if you help promote the game on your site, I've put together a banner ad.

And if you're thinking that I'm throwing these fancy toys your way to distract you from the fact that I haven't been working on the project, you'd be wrong. The Munchkin Country document is very nearly complete and will be going out to playtesters within the next 48 hours. Then it's off to Winkie Country.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME!

Yes, today is my birthday. I have just turned 30 years old.

I'd like to apologize for my lack of progress on the project lately. It mostly has to do with the fact that I was robbed about 2 weeks ago. I left my leather satchel full of books unattended for about 10 minutes, came back and it was gone. No Oz stuff was in the bag. Just a bunch of roleplaying games, including the one that I am trying to run with my playgroup. So between trying to get replacements and just being mad at myself and the jerk who stole my bag, I haven't had much time to work on new material. That will hopefully change soon, and I will be able to devote enough time over the next week to have updated material sent out to my playtesters. Then the teaser for the Winkie Country, then the full Winkie Country. Then the beast itself, Quadling Country.

Quadling Country is the most explored country of Oz, and full of the strangest inhabitants. It's where Dorothy meets the Hammerheads and the China People in "Wizard", many curious communities were discovered there in "Emerald City", including the towns of Bunbury (full of animated baked goods) and Bunnybury (inhabited by rabbits). In "Patchwork Girl", the Quadling Country is home to the feuding Hoppers and Horners and the dreadful Mr. Yoop. And I'm sure I'm forgetting a few things as well.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween, everyone!

In honor of Halloween, here's a pic of a spooky (or not) Scarecrow. This one's copyright Bradley K. McDevitt and used with permission.

I had a preview of the Munchkin Country ready to upload today, but somewhere in between my laptop and my desktop computer, the file got messed up. And somewhere along the line, the original file got corrupted. I'll have to take some time to reconstruct the file, but I should be able to find the time today or tomorrow. I'll post a comment with a link as soon as I get the chance.

If you've seen the old Munchkin Country document, you might remember the Invisible Country. As I'm going back and rewriting everything, I'm realizing that there's not a whole lot to it. It's interesting as a traffic hazard, but there's not a lot of story potential that I see. What do you guys think? If you want to reserve judgment until you see what I've come up with for it, that's fine.

(For those who don't remember, the Invisible Country was one of the hazards faced by the heroes of "The Tin Woodman of Oz". Slightly more memorable may be the Hyp-po-gy-raf that they met there.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday is now the day

Just because it's working out better for me, Thursday is now the official blog day.

Not much news to report at this time. If all goes well, I should have a preview of Munchkin Country available by next Thursday. And since Munchkin Country is relatively unexplored, my playtesters should have an updated document for that, too. Meaning that my playtesters will have even more information that is not available to the general public. To get the latest set of playtest documents and any updates, send me an email at . If you're playing the game, send me an email to let me know how you're doing.

If we're lucky, I might even have a preview of Winkie Country on the site by next week. I know that Quadling Country is next alphabetically, but it is also the biggest chuck of the project. There are more locations described in the Quadling Country than any other section of Oz. Even the Quadling document currently on the site doesn't have everything and it's the largest of the setting files.

And I'd also like to apologize for my last few posts being a bit ranty.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stuff and things

Another late post. I'm thinking that I should move my usual blog day to Thursday just because it is becoming more difficult to find the time on Wednesdays.

Just a few random items this week:

I just found out that a couple of Baum's books are still under copyright. Apparently, Dover Publications bought the rights to these books while they were still protected and they are now the copyright holders of "John Dough and the Cherub" and "Queen Zixi of Ix". It will take some time for me to figure out exactly what my ability to refer to those works will be.

The good news is that I have plenty of time. As I've mentioned before, the setting info in the rulebook will focus on Oz itself, with the other lands going to a supplement. So I have at least that long to sort things out and round up any money needed.

It can't be too difficult, since Hungry Tiger Press recently published a new edition of John Dough, since Dover let it fall out of print.

Second item: For those who have been paying attention, I am calling my publishing enterprise F. Douglas Wall Publishing. There are two reasons for this. For one thing, this saves me having to file Fictitious Name Statements and the expense of that.

Also, it helps remind people to get my name right. The fact that I use my middle name makes things awkward enough, but people just can't get over the first initial. My high school yearbook gives my name as Douglas F. Wall.

More recently, I entered a video contest at The Fump. When the winners were announced (finally!) at Con on the Cob, Tom Rockwell AKA Devo Spice of Sudden Death got my name wrong. He simply said "F. Douglas". An honest mistake, I'm sure, especially since my partner in crime (and many other things) attached the name K. Green to the project. It's just that it's one of many mistakes made by many different people that makes it so irritating.

I try and keep my personal life out of this blog, because this is intended to support my publishing enterprise. But it's also oddly relevant. Notice that the original author of the Oz stories is named L. Frank Baum. Although his first name was Lyman, everyone knew him as Frank. In an article promoting an educational event about Oz in the local library a couple of months ago, the creator of the Oz books was none other than "Frank L. Baum." I wonder how many times that has happened over the years and if I'm the only person out there irritated by this.

In other news, work is proceeding apace on the new setting material. If I can find the time and energy, I should be able to have an update for my playtesters today, but by next blog update at the latest. Then it's off to work on the next tantalizing preview of the land of Oz for my devoted readers.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

6 Months In

First late blog posting in a while. Hope you're not too disappointed

For those who have been paying attention, I've been blogging for the last 6 months. When I first embarked upon this project, I thought I'd have something to show for all of this by now. While I don't have a product to sell, I do have a bit more wisdom than I did when I first started out. A few of the things I've learned so far are:

1) Things cost money. One of the biggest stumbling blocks I've come across is money. In as many areas as possible, I have attempted to get things done for cheap or free. Web-hosting on the site is free, this blog is free. The things that cost money are either happening later or slowly. The website is not pretty, but it costs money to hire a web designer. I would advertise more than I do, but again, it costs money. Art is getting paid for slowly. It doesn't help that I lost a job and had to go on unemployment for a while until I got another job and neither of them pay terribly well.

2) Other people are other people. No matter how much I've tried to build a community around this project, little has happened. To my knowledge, no one has played the game. For most of the time I've been working on this, I haven't had a gaming group of my own. I finally managed to get some people together a couple of weeks ago, but Adventures in Oz got voted down as our system of the moment. This may change; I'll keep you posted.

3) Thrive on deadlines. The weekly blog helps me set deadlines. If I don't have something meaningful to post by the time Wednesday rolls around, I had better come up with something.

If anyone is interested in being a playtester, feel free to give me an email at . You will be emailed with the Adventures in Oz playtest kit, and will receive updates to the system by email, as they happen. It contains all of the rules and setting material as they exist up to this point. While all of this material is on the site at this moment, this will change. That's right, sign up to be a playtester and you'll get access to exclusive content before anyone else. Also, playtesters who provide useful c0mments will get their name in the book and a free copy of said book as soon as physical copies are available.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Flathead Mountain and Skeezer Lake

New updates to the site.

First of all, I've brought "The Magic Belt of Oz" up to the new revision. A number of changes to the system were inspired by the needs of this adventure, so it should play better than it did before.

Also, I've uploaded the first bit of revised and expanded setting material. I'm trying to lean more on my own words and less on Baum's.

For those of you have read "Glinda of Oz": Is it just me, or do our friends from the Emerald City wind up doing little to nothing to stop the war? The Adepts are rescued by Ervic, then go to discipline the Flatheads. While they do manage to raise the Skeezer city from the bottom of the lake, they seem to be on the sidelines of the story's main conflict.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who's your Nome King?

For those of you who actually paid attention to my shout-outs last week and actually read Jared Davis' blog, you might have read a little bit about the famous Nome King. While he goes into some depth analyzing the character of Roquat/Ruggedo, the villain of "Ozma of Oz", "The Emerald City of Oz", "Tik-Tok of Oz", and "The Magic of Oz", it is worth mentioning that there was another Nome King in the stories. Kaliko started out as Roquat's chamberlain and chief steward in "Emerald City" (It might have been him in "Ozma", but he wasn't named until "Emerald City"). When the events of "Tik-Tok of Oz" caused Ruggedo to be removed from office, Kaliko became the new Nome King.

We see what kind of ruler he has become in "Rinkitink in Oz". When Rinkitink and Prince Inga arrive to rescue the King and Queen of Pingaree, who had been captured by their enemies and traded to the Nomes, King Kaliko delights in creating all sorts of dangers for them to face up against. It is only through the use of the magic Pearls of Pingaree that Inga and Rinkitink are able to survive their sojourn to the Nome Kingdom.

When Dorothy arrives to demand that Kaliko stop tormenting his prisoners, he is very petulant, like a spoiled child who's had a toy taken away from him.

Has power gone to Kaliko's head?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Time for a shout-out!

My first shout-out goes to Jared Davis, Oz Blogger extraordinaire. Also the mastermind of the "Wonders of Oz", a video series on YouTube detailing over 100 years of Oz in American culture. From the original story and it's sequels, to the famous film version starring Judy Garland, and even covering "The Wiz" and "Wicked". He also moderates the Wonderful Wizard of Oz Fan Fiction Forums.

Another shout-out goes to William J. Walton, webmaster of The Escapist, a gaming advocacy site. One of the neat features there is the Young Person's Adventurer's League, featuring resources for those grownups who wish to share the fun of role-playing games with their kids. To this end, he also puts out the Dragonkin podcast. Check it out!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Now! With more updates!

The updates just keep rolling in. The new, updated magic system got uploaded just a few days after the last blog. New today is updated versions of the characters that appeared in "The Magic Belt of Oz." Feel free to try out the adventure with the new rules, or simply play as your favorite Oz character. I know most people's favorites are in that document. If your favorite Oz character didn't make the cut, drop me a line and I'll see what I can do. Or you can stat them up yourself. Tell me about it and I might even put your material, or a link to it, on my site.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The new rules

New on the site, we've got the updated rules system. The combat system got the biggest facelift, since that was a lot of what sparked the redesign. Also included for your approval is the concept of the extended task, which can be resolved by multiple die rolls. The character creation document also got a slight touchup to bring a couple of traits in line with the new combat system.

Next on the list: Bring the magic system up to the new revision, and also see if "The Magic Belt of Oz" can be brought up to the new revision. After that, it's work on rewriting the setting material so that it's more my voice and a little less of Baum's. Something should be happening on at least one of these fronts by next week.

As you're browsing the page, you might notice that downloading the files just got an extra step added. This was included so that Google Analytics can pick up on who's downloading which files. Since I'm not getting very many comments or emails, I've got to find out what you guys want somehow.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Art and Analysis

Here, as promised, is a piece of art done for the project from award-winning artist Bradley K. McDevitt. It's the Queen of the Field Mice from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." One of my favorites, since she's something of a litmus test to discover who's read the book and who's just seen the movie. This image is copyright Bradley K. McDevitt and used with permission.

I might not be able to get much more art from Brad. He has recently accepted a fairly steady gig from Goodman Games which will prevent him from doing as much freelance work as he had previously done.

If you know anyone who might be able to fill his shoes, let me know. Either comment on this post or email me at

As I was updating the site last week with the new character creation document, I also inserted the tracking code for Google Analytics. Although I have only a week of data, it's still fascinating stuff. Just like the hit counter I installed here, the big revelation is that I get traffic at all.

Also surprising is that nearly everyone comes looking for me, instead of simply stumbling upon me. Only one hit came from a search engine, and the search terms that were used indicate to me that the user was clearly looking for me. One hit came from a link I posted on where I'm trying to start up a play-by-post RPG playtest. Every other hit was "direct traffic", people who came straight to the site.

Geographically, California is the top hit scorer this week, bringing in 5 out of 20 hits for the week. Runners up are Minnesota, Florida, Spain and the UK, all tied for 2 hits each. Yes, I'm getting international traffic. That surprised me, too. I'm just waiting until I get traffic from France, because someone there has published an Oz RPG and I'm curious how my project compares to it.

I should have the main rules section uploaded by next week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New Characters

The character creation chapter for the revised Adventures in Oz RPG has been uploaded to the Downloads page. You'll notice that I have implemented the "skill traits" that I mentioned in my last entry. I've also expanded on the "customization notes" entries for a number of the templates, trying to give them a bit more maturity and depth. Possibly more on that later.

Next week will be an art blog. This is not so much because I need to buy time to complete the next section (which I probably do), but also because I really want to show you what Brad McDevitt has done. It's some really good stuff.

It's been about a month since I put in the hit counter and I've already gotten 109 hits. It's not 10,000 hits, but I'm certainly not complaining. It's just good knowing that I'm not the only one reading this. Feel free to drop a hello in the comments, so I can know who you are and say hi back. Us game designers need all the encouragement we can get.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It ... But What If It Is?

The first thing that told me something was wrong with the system was actually when I was assembling the pregenerated characters for "The Magic Belt of Oz". The combat oriented characters had a Fighting skill of only 1. Sure, they all had Deadly Weapons to make the skill useful, but they weren't very good with it. Then I thought that Oz Points would raise that skill when it was needed, but a fight scene often has a number of rolls they would have to make, and Oz Points are a slowly renewable resource.

Something was going to have to give. I tried to give as little as possible, at first. My initial solution was to reprice the Deadly Weapon trait, so that instead of spending 2 points on Deadly Weapon and 1 point on Fighting skill, the characters would have instead spent 2 points on Fighting skill and only 1 point on Deadly Weapon.

It might have worked if that was the only optional skill. But if there were no master fighters, than there were no master craftsmen either. Or master poets. Magic proved to be the last straw. Since the magic system uses 2 optional skills, the fact that neither of them can be very high proves a very glaring error indeed.

If I had any kind of experience system, situations like this could be resolved in a session or two, once the character accrues enough XPs to buy off the deficiency. But the system as it stands does not have the granularity or the depth to really support it. Players would eventually buy up every skill to it's maximum level and all characters would be so similar and so proficient that they would be uninteresting. Also, there's very little character growth through the stories, so it's a little unnecessary when trying to model the fiction. The Oz Point and Friends List system should work to maintain interest and increase character depth over time.

I was wary at first of the idea of "skill traits". I liked the idea of having the variety and granularity that a skill rating provides. However, there didn't seem to be much of an alternative without adding too much complexity to the system. And simplicity is one of my design goals.

Since this change started with the Fighting skill, that leads us into the changes to be made in the combat system.

First of all, let's go back a few entries to where I mention my tenets for design of the combat system. One of them was "Not everyone is a fighter". So making the Fighting skill less useful was a good thing from that perspective. However, the typical gamer perspective is that "everyone is a fighter." A few people I talk games with will use the combat system of a game to get a grasp of it's mechanics. Whenever I mention something new that I'm working on or bought, the question is usually "How does combat work?"

No one wants to sit on the sidelines while everyone else is out being bad-ass. Everyone wants to contribute to the important parts of the game. Everyone must be a fighter. So I folded the Fighting skill into Athletics, which is a skill that every character has. I debated a "skill trait" for fighting, but then realized that everyone would probably take it anyway and then complain about wasted points.

Now it was on to the combat system itself.
The original iteration of the combat system was largely a statement of "You can fight if you want to." There was some basic structure, but nothing interesting. The updated combat system (which will be on the site in a few weeks) will have a selection of maneuvers. In no particular order, these are:

Painful strike: The default attack that anyone can do. Inflicts Wits damage.

Knockdown: A special attack that knocks the opponent over, as well as inflicting Wits damage. This is basically the same attack that Mighty Blow grants, but it allows any player to attempt it by taking a -1 penalty on the attack roll.

Injuring Strike: This is the attack that takes off limbs. Those with the Deadly Weapon trait can attempt it at no penalty, but someone with an improvised deadly weapon (taking down a sword from a wall display, perhaps) can make the attempt at a -2 penalty.

Impress: This one is new, but makes a lot of sense when you look at the source material. This is a challenge of Presence vs. Wits. Most of the fights in the stories were not of the "last man standing" variety that we see in RPGs today. In my previous blog entry on the combat system, I mentioned the idea of Tik-tok administering a spanking to the leader of the Wheelers. The Impress maneuver is typically used after a Painful Strike or Knockdown attack to exploit the opponent's now-weakened Wits rating, much like a parent spanking their child and saying "Don't do that again!" Even if the attempt doesn't get you what you want, it will often rattle your foe enough to produce a Wits penalty.

Defend: By taking this maneuver, your character becomes devoted to defense. They gain a +1 bonus to every roll they make to avoid an attack. They can also make a normal defense roll to protect those within arm's reach. (This is the "Shaggy Man" rule. In "The Road to Oz", the party is running away from the Scoodlers who are trying to put them in the soup pot. The Scoodler's respond by throwing their heads at the adventurers. The Shaggy Man catches every one and drops it down a chasm. You didn't think they were all aimed at him, did you?)

Cast a spell: If the character is a wizard, they may attempt to cast a spell with a simple ritual, or a complex ritual that takes a small amount of time. If a spell has no ritual requirement, they may combine it with another action (likely an Impress attempt).

Movement: This system is intended to be largely abstract. If a character wishes to move a significant distance, the Narrator may decide that such movement will take all of the character's turn to complete.

I should have a revised character creation chapter on my site by next week, which will reflect the revised character creation options that I've mentioned here, along with a few other tweaks.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Back To The Drawing Board

I guess the Tin Woodman didn't tell me everything I needed to know about combat.

I have gotten relatively few comments on the game itself. The best I've gotten are two people who said that it was a good representation of the stories, but not something that they wanted to play. When I pressed for details, one of them said that the game wasn't action oriented enough. The other one said that the game was clearly "kiddie".

While I realize that kids are likely to be a significant part of my target market, I'd like to do something to make their parents want to play, too. To that end, I am undertaking a revision of the system to make the combat system more interesting and likely to be used. Also, I'll be revising my setting information so that I am not relying so much on Baum's descriptions. Although he did really good stuff, I think that putting more of my own voice to that material will help increase the overall maturity of the work.

If you want to play the revised game now, here's what you do:

1) Eliminate the Fighting skill. All of it's functions are taken over by the Athletics skill.

2) Since the Fighting skill is gone, raise the Soldier template's Sneaking skill to 2.

3) All optional skills now become 1 point traits which allow use of the basic skills in new ways. For example, the Rhyming skill becomes the Poet trait which allows the use of Presence to perform improvised poems or songs. The Magic skill should probably be a 2-pointer, allowing the use of the Brains skill with the magic system.

Let me know how these changes affect your game, if any of you are actually playing it.

Next week may be another art blog, but that's okay, because I've started paying Bradley McDevitt and therefore feel comfortable showing off some of the work I've gotten from him.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Talented Amanda Webb

Things are going more smoothly on the art front. I have more art from Bryan Fowler (the guy who did that awesome Winged Monkey pic a while back) that I might show you at some point. But this week, I'm going to show you one of the pieces from Amanda Webb featuring the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger. She has the rest of the art that she has done for me on her website. She's available for commissions, so don't let her be a starving artist.

Edit: Amanda no longer features links to the rest of the work on her main page, so here are more direct links to these works.
Ozma and Inga, Scarecrow and Scraps, Dorothy and Button Bright, and Oz Soldiers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oz and Ends

Now that I've covered all of the major subsystems, let's get into some of the smaller details.

The basic mechanic: Why have 2 6-siders counted separately? Once I had divined the "size matters" principle for the combat system, the 1-5 size scale suggested itself almost immediately, along with the 1d6-low mechanic. The second die came in as I decided that I wanted to make success easier for younger players with fragile, developing egos. Patronizing of me, I know. It wound up correcting for itself, anyway. Now, if I want to give a character a roughly 30% chance of success, I set the skill level to 1 instead of 2. a 50% chance comes at skill level 2, not 3.

The contest and simple contest mechanics were in place before the 2 die system, but they converted over fairly easily. I originally used a "lower is better" style for contested actions, but it was pointed out to me that a "blackjack" (as high as you can without going over) method would require less math, which made it immediately more desirable.

It also created a viable "crit" mechanic in the form of double successes. I am rather fond of those "woohoo!" moments in a game where the dice let you "bat it out of the park." I had toyed with a few ideas for such a system with the one die, including something akin to the "confirm the crit" technique from D&D. The two die system allows the crit to be established with a single roll, speeding up play.

Templates: One thing that I wrestled with for some time was how to construct characters.
Not just a trait scheme, but how to populate that scheme. Combining attributes and skills was simply not viable with the scale of game that I had. So I looked to a couple of games already on my shelf. Notably "Dream Park" and "Pokethulhu", both of which featured traits that were not quite attributes, but were a bit more than skills. I came up with the final list by averaging out the lists of the two games and removing the fighting abilities (Remember a few posts back? "Not everyone is a fighter." I knew you could).

I decided rather quickly that I wanted a fairly closed character creation system. If I went too open, players were just as likely to recreate characters from their D&D game as they were to try something Ozzy. As I read the stories, I realized that the protagonists of the stories fell into a few major categories. These became the concepts that I would build templates around. Another upshot is that Dorothy becomes much more viable, if only to create party variety. Also, since the Dorothy template (Child in Oz) is based on the same number of skill points as any of the other templates, she should have just about as much to contribute. Especially with the high Wits rating that the template provides (Dorothy had quite a lot of perseverance and Trot was nearly fearless), a Child can stand up to just about anybody.

The Scholar template was one of the last additions. A commentator on noted that a number of my templates were "skill paragons", such as the Child in Oz template
being the "Wits paragon." But I didn't have a "Brains paragon." Reviewing my source material, I realized that a Brains paragon was highly appropriate. There was the Woggle-bug, who participated in the adventures in "The Land of Oz" and the Frogman who was featured in "The Lost Princess of Oz." Although both of these characters were very unusual, there was nothing so strange that a standard template wouldn't suit for either of them.

Character Advancement: There really isn't any. Dorothy is much the same character she was when she first arrived in Oz. While she doesn't accumulate powers and skills, she does accumulate friends. Thus the Friends List becomes an implicit means of character improvement. There are some exceptions, though. The Wizard of Oz began as a humbug wizard, but later began to study under Glinda and learned real magic. Since he doesn't use the stage magic after this, it could be argued that he "traded in" his Humbug Magic skill for true Magic skill. A more final version of the rules will mention this option a bit more explicitly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do you believe in magic?

This was actually the primary aspect that convinced me that Oz needed it's own system. Just about every ruleset that I was familiar with (which is quite a few, I'll warn you now), had battle magic, such as the obligatory fireball spell. While it's cool to allow wizards to be useful in combat situations, that's not how the Oz stories worked. Magic was very much a plot device.

The first question I faced was whether to use a freeform magic system, with no set spells, or a more structured system. Faced with the plot device magic of the stories, I chose to go with a freeform system, since all the magic users seemed to have the right spell at the right time. Unless they didn't, of course.

Now to give it some structure. One of the first things I knew was that there was no fireballs. While it's certainly possible for a wizard to make an opponent uncomfortable in a number of ways, there are no direct damage effects. That just left me to dig up exactly what kind of effects were appropriate.

"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" had quite a lot of magic in it. The Silver Shoes which enabled Dorothy to return home at the end. The Magic Cap which allowed the Wicked Witch of the West (and later Dorothy) to command the Winged Monkeys. The Witch's Silver Whistle which summoned wolves, jackdaws, and wasps. The Witch's plot to make an iron bar invisible so that Dorothy would trip over it.

Then there was the Powder of Life and the Wishing Pills from "The Marvelous Land of Oz." The Magic Belt from "Ozma of Oz." Are we detecting a pattern yet?

Most of the early magic was in the form of items with very little spell-casting. It wasn't until much later in the series that spells and such came to the fore. It's a fairly safe bet that the Wizard making a camp out of handkerchiefs in "The Emerald City of Oz" was the first onstage spell-casting in the series.

A case could be made that most of the magical items were used by wicked spell-casters, while good spell-casters were able to pull out whatever spell they needed. This tied neatly into my concept of friends and their relationship to Oz Points. Since wicked characters don't have friends, they don't have pools of Oz Points, and so must resort to other methods. Magic items are reliable, and the exotic ingredients required to make potions and notions help offset the lack of Oz Points.

And then there's the use of cute little poems. Many characters used poems and songs to some degree, but the Wizard used them a few times to use his magic. This led to the Rhyming skill and the means to use it to make magic easier. The Rhyming skill also made sense for a character like Scraps, the Patchwork Girl with all of her silly rhymes.

I still have one hurdle left. I need to figure out how to cancel spells. When Ozma reversed Mrs. Yoops transformations in "The Tin Woodman of Oz", she was unable to completely undo Woot's shapechange. A portion of the plot of "The Magic of Oz" revolved around the Wizard's attempts to free Trot and Cap'n Bill from a magical trap. In "Glinda of Oz", Glinda is completely unsuccessful in using her magic to control the Skeezer island and must resort to figuring out Queen Coo-ee-oh's magic to raise the island.

"The Magic of Oz" also brings up an interesting case. Before he can attempt to free Trot and Cap'n Bill, the Wizard must recover his Magic Bag, which has become lost. This bag also goes missing when Ugu the Shoemaker steals all of the magic in Oz in "The Lost Princess of Oz." Even the potent Yookoohoos may require magical tools of some sort. Mrs. Yoop needed none when she transformed the Tin Woodman, Scarecrow and Woot the Wanderer in "The Tin Woodman of Oz", but Red Reera used a magic powder for her transformations in "Glinda of Oz". That is why both of the magical character templates include the Magical Toolkit trait, but may buy it off.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I get by with a little help from my friends

The Oz Point system was one of the first and last things that I came up with. First in that I knew that I would need something like it, but last in taking final form.

I knew that I would have to come up with a certain level of bribery to encourage players to "keep it Ozzy." Not enough people are familiar with the Oz stories in any particular depth to simply trust that they will figure it out. Also, part of my target market is the typical Oz fan, not just the typical gamer. While this portion of my target audience may have the encyclopedic knowledge of Oz, they might not have the gaming acumen to pull it off.

Then I had to face the question of exactly what is Ozzy roleplay? That would only be answered once I answered the question: What is the theme of your game? It took some thought, but the theme of the Adventures in Oz roleplaying game is the same as the theme of the classic Oz stories: "Exploring Oz with your friends."

Think about it for a moment. Every Oz story has new places to visit and people to meet. And friends abound. It's not just the friends that you adventure with, but also the friends you make along the way. So Ozzy roleplay is about adventuring with friends and making friends.

The idea of having a specific Friends List did not come from MySpace, but from another thought experiment RPG I designed (and may eventually publish. Maybe). It was based around the idea that action movie characters become more badass when they are fighting for something they care about. So a character in that system featured a list of "Story Hooks," or things that the character cared about and was willing to fight for.

You earn Oz Points by helping your existing friends or by making new friends and adding them to your Friends List. You spend them to gain a bonus to die rolls or to call on a friend on your list for aid.

It wasn't until after I had this designed that I realized how Ozzy it really was. One of the most irritating moments in the Oz series, for me anyway, came from "Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz". Dorothy, the Wizard and company had been running from several dangers, from the vegetable Mangaboos, the Wooden Gargoyles, and man-eating bears in the Valley of Vo, to the dragonettes. Finally, they reach a dead end in a cave. The only way out is to go back through all the stuff that they've spent the story thus far running away from. Finally, Dorothy remembers that her friend Ozma checks in on her regularly and will take her to the Emerald City if she gives the signal at the right time.

As a reader, I found this quite jarring. They could have bypassed any number of the dangers they faced whenever they wanted to. They spent several days in the Glass City of the Mangaboos awaiting execution. Any one of those days could have been used to wish them all to safety in the Emerald City!

If this were a session of the Adventures in Oz RPG, it makes much more sense. The Narrator has thrown the party a situation that they have decided that they cannot handle on their own, so Dorothy's player spends an Oz Point to call on her friend Ozma (a friend she made in the last adventure "Ozma of Oz") to get her out of this one.

I did not design the system with that scenario in mind, but I was pleasantly surprised that what I designed fit the situation so perfectly.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Everything I need to know about combat I learned from the Tin Woodman

One of the first things I knew about this design was that the combat system had to be perfect. Any other element could be lackluster, but combat had to be especially Ozzy.

I know what you're thinking: There's no combat in Oz! And my answer is: You're partly right.

If you've only seen the movie, then you don't know how violent the story was. The Tin Woodman wound up using his ax to very good effect in the book. That mainly happened in the first book, with later stories being much more kid-friendly and not very violent at all.

So an Oz combat system should have two basic goals: 1) it should represent fights when they happen and 2) it should be used rarely. I think the final result (which you can download from my website) fills both criteria. It models Oz combats and is scary enough to encourage only minimal use.

The first few things that I noticed were that, in an Oz combat, "size matters" and "limbs go flying." In "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", the Tin Woodman defeats wolves and bobcats with ease, but even he runs before the sheer bulk of the kalidahs. Which is one of the reasons that Size is a trait in the RPG. I toyed with the idea of having Size equal hit points, until my understanding of the "limbs go flying" principle canceled it out. Then I had Size represent a "saving throw vs. limb loss", until I thought about "dice-flow"; the idea that one person should not make too many die rolls at one time. The current system only worries about relative size.

"Limbs go flying": This one goes back to the Tin Woodman's origin. His ax was enchanted to cut his limbs off one by one. As he lost limbs, he got them replaced with tin, until there was nothing left but tin. Then, in "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", the Tin Woodman dispatches many of his opponents by beheading them. No generic "damage", just a neat loss of the head. This was continued in Baum's non-Oz story "The Magical Monarch of Mo", which featured a chapter that revolved around the Monarch losing his head in battle with the Purple Dragon and his quest for a replacement.

One of the later items I discovered was "some things just hurt." In "The Land of Oz", General Jinjur's army conquered Oz by poking their opponents with knitting needles. In almost any other system, there would be at least some damage potential to this tactic. 1 hit point at a time, but with enough pokes, a PC could be reduced to a bloody mess just barely hanging on to life. But that was never the idea. The idea was to create a little bit of pain to encourage compliance. And in "Ozma of Oz", Tik-tok clobbers the leader of the Wheelers with a tin dinner pail. Again, this is not intended as a damaging attack. In this case, it's almost like Tik-tok was administering a spanking to the Wheeler (an approved parenting tactic in those days) to encourage him to behave. That's where the concept of Wits damage came in.

"Healing isn't easy" is another lesson I learned from the Tin Woodman. Since no one gets sick in Oz, there are no professional physicians. If you want to recover from your limb loss, you'll have to get creative. The Tin Woodman found a tinsmith to replace his parts. The Magical Monarch of Mo goes through several replacement heads, made of such things as candy and wood, before he is able to get his original head back.

And of course "Not everyone is a fighter." Even though it was Dorothy's dinner pail, it was Tik-tok who swung it.

So to sum up, my design goals were "size matters", "limbs go flying", "some things just hurt", "Healing isn't easy", and "Not everyone is a fighter".

Next week, I'll talk about friends and how important they are in Oz and how that impacted my design.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Why Oz?

Before I answer the question posted above, I just thought you'd like a little progress report. Gillikin, Munchkin and Winkie Countries are complete and available for download on the Adventures in Oz website.

If you've been reading my blog, you'll notice that I have large areas where my weekly post is just a lot of hooey letting you know that I'm still here. And it's a lot of hooey and not interesting reading. So I've decided to change that. Every week, I intend to offer you something. A new piece of art, design notes, or Oz commentary.

Now to the big question: Why Oz? Why try to publish an Oz RPG?
It all started when I bought some trade paperback comic books at a used bookstore some time ago. They were collections of a series called "Oz" published by Caliber Comics. It featured a very gritty story set in a dark Oz that was conquered by the Nome King. An interesting story, with quite a bit of researched detail (including some things that I didn't get until I started doing serious research). However, it wasn't very "Ozzy."

That just begged the question in my mind: "What is Ozzy?" Since I'm an avid gamer, the answers to that question began expressing themselves as RPG rules.

Publication wasn't part of the initial goal, since it was largely intended as a thought experiment. But as I thought about it, and did some checking, it became more and more possible. The original stories had fallen into the public domain, so I wouldn't have to pay for a license. Print-on-demand technology has reduced the need to shell out for massive print runs at the outset like in the old days. My only real expenses would be minor business and publishing expenses, and whatever content I couldn't generate myself. This last one is turning out to be a killer because I am not an artist. A single piece of art isn't too expensive, but the amount of art that a project like this will take lets it add up quickly.

It was out of this interest in being published that I attended a seminar on game publishing at DunDraCon back in February. There were two main bits of advice that I took away from that: #1 Don't bank on success. It's unlikely, and won't make you a millionaire in any case. #2 If you're going to do it, do it. If it's going to succeed, it needs to do so in the marketplace. If it's going to fail, it should probably happen before it becomes your baby.

So I resolved to put nose to the grindstone and get this baby published by the end of the year, so I can appear at DunDraCon next year as a dealer. While my timing may not be as good as I'd like, my dedication to getting this done has not changed.

Next Week: Combat

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Magic Belt has arrived!

It's finally here! "The Magic Belt of Oz" is complete and ready for download.

Well, not totally complete. I would like to make this a lovely debut product, with a sexy layout and all that jazz. But I'm not going to do that until I can be sure that it's a good product, so I need your feedback to help me out with that. Either drop a comment on my blog (you can do it even if you're not a blogspot member, so don't be initimidated) or send me an email at I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

It's coming, it's coming!

For those of you who are worried that my last few posts haven't had a whole lot of substance, I apologize. This is very much a one-man show here. While I am commissioning art from professional artists, I'm paying for them out of my bi-weekly paychecks from my drudge of a day job. And content generation is all me. It's easier with the help of a few online resources, but it still takes time and effort. And it's not the only thing on my plate at any given time.

There's also the fact that I want to do this right. I mean, anyone can put out a book these days, but if it's not any good, than people won't buy it. I want this little beauty to have the best chance it can at success. Which is one of the reasons that I'm compiling a fastplay adventure: to help market the game.

Once people see what I'm doing, I think they'll like it. I am trying to treat the whole Oz realm with the respect and detail that it deserves. I'm trying to make a game that will appeal to the casual Oz fan as much as the hardcore gamer.

Coming next week: The official announcement of the completion of "The Magic Belt of Oz." I'll probably put it up for peer review for a while. Once that's done, I'll get a layout guy on it, and try to shove it in as many hands as possible as a free download or handout.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Art Keeps Rolling In

For a long time, Bryan Fowler was the only artist who was producing art for me. You all saw his interpretation of the Winged Monkeys a few posts back. Now I've got two other artists getting started. Brad McDevitt has done some really nice pieces depicting the characters from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", from the Tin Woodman to the Queen of the Field Mice. The talented Amanda Webb has also gotten started on a few pieces. I haven't seen her final drafts yet, but her preliminary sketches look rock solid.

The main reason that you're not seeing any of this yet is that the pieces aren't fully paid for. Unfortunately, reality has forced me to fulfill my publishing dream by nickel-and-diming my way there. As I get this work paid for, I'll start posting some of it up here. I really want you to see this stuff.

The other reason that you're not seeing all the art that I have is that I don't want to give away the whole thing for free. If you saw all the art here, you'd have no need to buy my books when they arrive.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Building Character

The website now features characters for use with "The Magic Belt of Oz" fastplay adventure on the Download page. You can use them for any game you care to run with the system, but they will be included in the adventure to get players started quickly.

They are all canonical characters, but you may find some differences from what you expect. This is mostly because they are created as starting characters under the rules. It's as much a test of the character creation system as it is a test of any other mechanic. I think I did a pretty good job, overall.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

For the Love

I recently discovered that I have a competitor. At first, I was unsure how to respond to this. My first reaction was territorial. RPGs are a small market by themselves. Oz RPGs would inevitably be a much smaller market. Could 2 games survive in the same very small niche?

I sent off a very guarded email to the designer of the other game. He was not interested in being adversarial. He offered some comments on my game and I gave him some on his. We've decided to just make the best game we each can do and let the chips fall where they may.

I recently had a conversation with Brad McDevitt, artist, industry veteran, and all around heck of a guy, about the state of the gaming industry. He said that through much of the '80's and early '90's, the gaming industry was rather friendly. Then Magic: The Gathering came along. And Magic made money. It made mad money.

Suddenly, all of these guys who were in the business for the love of the game realized that there was an actual hope of making serious money. And the love of money drowned out the love of the game. Publishers became much more adversarial, trying to get larger and larger pieces of the pie and making sure that their former friends didn't.

I have realized that I'm doing this for the love. I'm doing this to see my name in print. I'm doing this because I want to be able to say that I did something with my life. I'm doing this to show the world that I can.

And that's what really matters, in the end.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, L. Frank Baum!

On this day in 1856, Lyman Frank Baum was born in Chittenango, New York. I can either copy and paste from Wikipedia or let you read it yourself if you want details on Baum's life and work. He would be 152 if he were still alive today.

For those who would rather watch, check out Jared Davis' Wonders of Oz series or this short video he prepared for Baum's 150th birthday 2 years ago to see the Baum legacy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Magic Belt of Oz

The fastplay adventure, "The Magic Belt of Oz," is proceeding well. I have a plot outline ready and am building characters. I'm including pregenerated characters for two reasons. 1) Fastplay adventures generally don't include character creation rules and 2) a lot of people will be playing for nostalgia, so being able to play classic characters is a boon. I should be able to post the characters to the website in a day or two, with at least a rough draft of the plot by next week's update.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Don't quit your day job!

Even though I'm pretty sure no one's reading this, I still feel the need to apologize for not updating yesterday. But then, there are those who say that a true test of character is what you do when no one is telling you to do it.

It does take a lot of character to make it in the gaming industry. Most publishers, writers, artists, etc. do not take home enough money to pay all their bills. This is especially true for me, as I have not yet produced a product to bring money in. So we all work the day job, and do what we love at night. And sometimes, they interfere with each other.

No new updates on the site. My latest phase of the project is a fastplay adventure, and I'll let you guys know when that happens.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Don't make me summon my Winged Monkeys!

I am very pleased to present the first piece of art to be completed for the Oz RPG. This piece is Copyright Bryan Fowler and used with permission.

What do you think?

Check back for new developments (and sometimes new art) every Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I've got part of the Quadling Country uploaded today. Just partially done it's on par with one of the other, complete, sections.

The hardest part is coming up with the adventure hooks. I'm sure experienced Game Masters can share my pain on this one. Coming up with one plot is hard enough. Coming up with several in a row is a huge challenge, but it seems to be the one I have set for myself.

Now, I'm asking for help. If you can come up with adventure hooks, story seeds, what have you, and email them to me at, I would appreciate it greatly. While I don't mind getting comments on this blog, I'd prefer to be able to contact the people who submit this stuff. That way, should I use your adventure hooks, I can give you proper credit when I publish, and possibly even work a complementary copy of the game or other stuff your way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

3 of the 4 corners of Oz

The big news today is that I uploaded overviews of Gillikin Country, Munchkin Country, and Winkie Country. For each major location in these lands, I've tried to come up with character options and adventure hooks to make each location useful in the game. I succeeded most of the time, but a few areas are in need of help. Feel free to send me your ideas either by commenting on this blog or by and email at If I use them, I'll put your name on the credits page of the final book.

Quadling Country is next on my list and it's rather scary. It's one of the most developed and interesting corners of Oz, featuring the Hammerheads, the Hoppers, Bunnybury, and a host of interesting places. That document, once finished, threatens to outmass the other 3 documents on the other lands of Oz.

By next week, I should have at least some Quadling material on my site @

See you then

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Munchkinland is boring

A few minor tweaks were made to the system this week, but the big news is the Overview of Oz that I just uploaded. It's starting fairly small, with only one location representing each of the four countries in Oz, but it will be expanded as my resources develop.

One thing I discovered is that Munchkinland is boring. All of the other lands of Oz are fairly well explored in the stories, but Munchkinland receives little attention. It's one of those places that everybody comes from, but nobody ever goes.

My target was to come up with 5 locations from each land, give options for players who wanted their character to be associated with each location, and give the Narrator some adventure hooks to lead players in exploring each area. Quadling Country was easiest, and Munchkin Country the hardest. While the other countries might merit supplements of their own, it's likely that Munchkin Country will exist primarily in the core book.

While it's true that later Oz authors did expand on all of the countries, not much of that material has fallen to the public domain. One of the benefits of this project is that it can be done on a shoestring, which is all I have at the moment.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Welcome to Oz!

Welcome to the official blog for F. Douglas Wall Publishing. I look forward to updating this blog weekly, so check back every Wednesday. If you need more frequent updates, check out the product site at So what you get here is more of a weekly "State of the Union" address.

Even so, feel free to comment. I do read them.

"There's more to Oz than the Yellow Brick Road." That's an idea that's very important to me. If you've only seen the movie, or only read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, you're missing out. There is so much more to see and to read. That's one of my goals in producing Adventures in Oz. If I can break even one person of the habit of thinking that there's only one story to Oz, that all Wicked Witches are vulnerable to water, and that "lion" means "guy in a suit,"then I'd like to give it a try.

Adventures in Oz is looking for playtesters. I want people to try it out, see what works, what doesn't work, and see how I can make it better. Do hurry, though, as the playtest period ends in June.
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