Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010: The Year That Was

Now that Christmas is past, it's time to start looking back on the previous year and looking ahead to next year. This post is going to be focusing on 2010, while next week's post will be my resolutions for 2011.

Unlike previous years, there are two categories of achievements: Those for the blog and those for the game itself.

The most popular blog entry this year (based on Google Analytics data) is How I Spent My Winter Vacation, my blog recounting my experiences at DunDraCon. Among the number of photos I snapped that weekend, I managed to snag a picture of a minor celebrity (other than Ken Hite). It turns out that this is not just any girl in a chainmail bikini, but is in fact the geek superstar Chainmail Girl. My fiancee, however, insists that she's the prettiest girl in that blog post. I'm inclined to agree.

The most actively commented blog for this year was Adventures in Oz Now Available! in which I announce the availability of the print version of the game.

My favorite blog post of this year has got to be Firing Characters (Out Of A Canon!). For one thing, I think the title was a pretty good joke. Plus the comments really got me thinking about the difference between tabletop gamers and what I called "fanfic roleplayers." I haven't drawn any conclusions yet, but some definite food for thought.

This was also the year I actually put out a podcast. I definitely enjoyed the experience and would like to do it again. I'm currently on the lookout for anyone or anything to talk about. If there's something you'd like to see covered in the blog or as a podcast, drop me a line at adventuresinoz (at) thegame (dot) com.

Now for the accomplishments of the book.

It looks like I'm closing out the year with 108 sales, with slightly over half of them being from the PDF market. But that's not whole picture. That only represents the people who paid me money for the game. About 30 print copies of the game have gone out to playtesters, artists and reviewers to get some goodwill and press for AiO.

And then there was the Doctors Without Borders fundraiser put on by OneBookShelf. Not only did a lot of money get raised to help flood victims in Pakistan, but around 2500 people downloaded Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road. To a certain extent, this was a good thing. While the fundraiser was going on, print sales over at Lulu surged (for a given value of "surged") and I got a nice little bit of good press. I am particularly proud of this review, not only because he gave me 5 out of 5 stars, but because he's someone whose books I own. Jason Levine is the author of GURPS Psionic Powers and the Assistant GURPS Line Editor over at Steve Jackson Games.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas To All And To All A Good Night

Perhaps my Christmas posts have been a little too cynical this year, what with having to hawk a product and all. So I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all of that good stuff.

I recently received a pretty nifty gift. If you were a fan of the Adventures in Oz Facebook Page, you would have seen that last week, I finally sold the 100th copy of AiO. Which officially makes me a schmuck.

Just in case Santa is reading this, here's my Christmas wish list: A print copy of Tik-Tok of Oz (for research purposes), The Dresden Files RPG: Our World (the setting book for the game. I got the rulebook as a birthday present for myself last month), GURPS Low-Tech (their latest hardcover release), and a netbook (so I can do more writing without having to fight the fiancee for the desktop).

What's on your Oz/gaming wishlist?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Are You Afraid of The Dark?

Probably not an appropriate topic for the Christmas season, but it's something that's been on my mind lately.

For one thing, why take Oz dark? Why not simply make it more realistic or consistent? I think it's because people tend to view Oz as a bright, pleasant place and the easiest way to create a contrast is to go all the way dark.

Another question that is relevant to ask is: What makes something dark? For those of you who don't know, it takes more than vampires to make something dark.

Darkness in fiction (and gaming) has to do with the role of evil in the story. If evil is winning, or has already won, it's dark. If the heroes live in the Good Kingdom and fight against the armies of the Evil Kingdom next door, you've got a fairly light situation. If the heroes live in the Evil Kingdom, and are rebels against the Evil King, then you've got darkness.

Both Caliber Comics and Disney produced a dark version of Oz by allowing it to be conquered by the Nome King. While this technique is effective, and lets your favorite Oz characters become heroic freedom fighters, it's a pretty severe change to the setting.

Another way to "darken" a setting is to apply a "dark mirror," taking things that are normally good and making them evil. A dark mirror Oz may have the Wizard, or Ozma, or Glinda in charge, but they are dark versions of their literary selves, harming others for their own self-gratification. Wicked uses this technique, casting the Wizard as the antagonist and Elphaba as a crusader for Animal rights.

With all this dark Oz stuff going around, I'm wondering if I should try and come up with a supplement for AiO with advice and suggestions for running a dark campaign.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

If You Thought Star Wars: Episode 1 Was Bad...

...well, I'm right there with you on that one.

On a completely different subject, I have completed my first podcast. The Adventures in Oz Podcast Episode 1 is now available!


While I had wanted to do a podcast for some time, getting it together proved to be something of a challenge. For one thing, I wanted a co-host, or at least someone to talk to. I find podcasts more fun to listen to if it's not just one voice, especially if there's a little banter and crosstalk going on. But it never really presented itself. Sure, I could have asked someone, but where's the fun in that?

I was nearly giving up when the whole Oz: Dark and Terrible thing came up. Having managed to get my hands on a copy (I actually traded someone a copy of AiO for it), I decided that my review of it would be long enough that it would probably be boring to read, but probably a good length for a podcast.

So once I had everything written and recorded, then began the arduous process of editing. I had no idea I was such a Shatner. So many pauses! Thankfully, I was able to trim them out and shave about 10 minutes off of the recording time.

Just a little commercial here: The Big 25 Sale is still going on at RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, and On top of that, Lulu is offering coupon codes out the wazoo this holiday season. Until December 14, you can get free ground shipping with the coupon code HOLIDAY305. And they're also giving out a new coupon code every day until Christmas here. And remember, these coupon codes are cumulative (not sure exactly how, but they are) with the Big 25 discount of 25% off.

The Big 25 sale is ongoing through Christmas Day, so if your favorite Oz fan or gamer gets forgotten by Santa, it's easy to fix. Just check out one of the participating sites and order the instant gratification download and start playing the sample adventure, "The Jaded City of Oz."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Oz Character of the Month: Zeb Hugson

Something of an unusual choice this month. I already did Santa Claus last December, so the easy one is done.

Name: Zeb Hugson
First Appearance: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
Template: Child in Oz

Size: 2

Athletics: 4
Awareness: 4
Brains: 1
Presence: 2 (horsemanship)
Sneaking: 3
Wits: 3


Friends List: Jim the Cab-Horse
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