Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q is for Quendor

OK, I'll admit that coming up with a "Q" involved actually checking the Wiki for potential candidates. And there is probably some Q that qualifies that I could use. But its a Saturday, you know, and they can't all be Oerths. So let me re-acquaint you with Quendor.

And actually Quendor does have a part in our gaming heritage. Here's the line you may remember:
 “You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.”
Yep, Quendor is the setting for Zork, originally called Dungeon before TSR put in a call in. One of the original text-parsing adventure games, it existed to that early generation of computer gameplayers as a puzzle to be solved, putting various things together until attains success, or one is eaten by a grue, which is the most likely outcome.

Zork, written between 1977 and 1979, presented in the ancient Fortran code, influenced by early D&D, built upon the bones of the earlier Advent (or Adventure or the Colossal Cave Adventure). Its parser was a little more advanced (to the point of complete sentences), but still it was a "guess the correct phrase" game of those early, pre-graphics days. For you pups spoiled on MMOs, this is but a novelty, but the computer gaming experience in those days was very much a protracted discussion with the HAL 9000 ("I'm sorry, Dave. I can't do that.")

However, it had the advantage of being one of the few games in town, and once it made the jump from the college ARPAnet to personal machines, it entrenched itself well and established its publisher, Infocom, as a leader in that particular space. And if anything, it improved the typing and spelling skills of most of its users.

I don't remember the name Quendor from the original, and it may be a later addition to the lore as the game continued in popularity. Further, I don't know if there was any intentional connection between Quendor, and the Amulet of Yendor (Rodney spelled backwards) that appeared in the later Rogue game, which took the stride forward of actually showing the area your character was in through ASCII characters. And I fear that this lack of knowledge on my part will soon get me lost, my torch will go out, and I will be eaten by a grue.

More later,

Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Paragon City

I thought about Pern and Pelucidar before settling on one of my favorites MMO setting outside of Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 - Paragon City, home to City of Heroes.

I admit - I was a latecomer to the Massively Multiplayer Online experience. In my defense, I would say I was a little busy, what with working on novels and comics and tabletop fantasy worlds, many of which had tropes and even mechanics that reach their sinuous tentacles into the modern MMO. So I missed Ultima Online and Everquest, but by gum, I got into City of Heroes.

I think part of my love affair with the game was the character generation, or rather, the costume design. NCSoft's Cryptic (later Paragon) Studios went all out on creating a system to recreate the four-color world of comics. Sometimes a little too much, with the abundance of Incredible Sulks and Wolv3rin3s in the group early on.

You know what Paragon City really needed?
A map like the London Tube, showing all the ways of
getting from one place to another. Just saying.
But what brought a smile to my face was the mechanism by which they justified the limited world of the MMO play space. Most fantasy MMOs throw up mountains and other impenetrable barriers around the borders of each region, forcing the player through smaller, more easily handled gates to get from place to place. The conceit in City of Heroes was that the city was the ground zero of an alien invasion (The Rikti), and large reaches of the city were still walled off by huge energy walls that surrounded the various districts. You quickly accepted this,in that you couldn't travel between zones except through underpasses that went beneath the energy walls, or by monorail (and yes, a group of costumed super-heroes waiting for the monorail was amusing, but also a chance to check out other peoples' costumes).

And the "Alien Invasion" trope was apparently deeply embedded into the superhero DNA, such that later games like Champions and DC Heroes went with it. But CoH did it first and best.

I really enjoyed the feel of the game, and there was a joy of movement in Doctor Samaritan leaping from building to building or the Crimson Moonbat sailed over the heads of a grateful citizenry. And I picked up a lot of things I liked and did not like in MMOs, which then influenced my thoughts on GW2.

Problems? Yeah. All the warehouses looked the same on the inside and I was never sure that I got crafting system right. And large battles with myriad effects going off caused me to declare that I was "Fighting the Rainbow" in any multiplayer battle. But in general, I really appreciated the feel it gave me as a nonfantasy world, with enough of the real world mixed in to give it a firm grounding.It was a great world, and I am saddened that it is no more, though a group is putting together its City of Titans, as a kickstarted, crowdsourced, groundswell movement. But it is a tough act to follow, as every other superhero MMO has discovered.

More later,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Oerth

O is definitely for Oerth, the home world for the continent of Oerik, the region of the Flaeness,  the Free City of Greyhawk and the Greyhawk campaign. It is a favorite place of mine, though apparently I am on record for hating it (more about that later).

First off, let's put this to rest - the "Oe" is pronounced like the Oy in "Oy Vey". So it is "Oith", not "rhyming with Fourth". The first time Gary used the term in front of me I thought he was just winding me up (and I was too timid a soul to question him on it), but he has used it often enough in other statement to determine that this is its full and true name.

All the Greyhawk I had at the time.
The big thing about Oerth, the World of Greyhawk, is its evolution. When I first arrived at TSR as an employee, I was interested in seeing the world itself. I had gotten a copy of the World of Greyhawk Folio (with its wondrous Darlene maps) a couple years earlier and I wanted to see the original maps. And I never could find them. I imagined a great vault beneath the Dungeon Hobby Shop that contained its secrets in some master file, protected by traps and probably a green dragon. There was a great vault (it was a bowling alley at one time), but no master file of secrets. Over time, I discovered that much of what I thought of as Greyhawk was created for that product.

Here's the story - there was a question early on in D&D whether players needed a published world at all. After all, the game encouraged people to make their own worlds. And while games like Empire of the Petal Throne had its own maps and locations, the idea of a more traditional world needed added stuff was an open question. Further, Gary was reportedly reluctant to open his personal campaign to the greater universe (it being a going concern with his own players), and was still experimenting to some degree (example - using the boards from Avalon Hill's Outdoor Survival game for overland maps). So when the decision was made to move forward on the what would be called the Greyhawk Folio, they started afresh - the immediate area around the City of Greyhawk looked similar to that of the Great Kingdom miniatures campaign, and Blackmoor was placed to the north (as presented in Playing at the World), but much was new, right down to naming regions after friends and fellow gamers.

In addition, there was concern about lettinh others put adventures in "official" Greyhawk, so that a lot of new modules (like the I-series) sort of floated out there on their own, worldless. Such concerns are understandable, but this in part laid the groundwork for both Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms, the latter being a hoover vacuum of a campaign, later sucking up previously orphaned bits of the canon.

Insert of Darlene's map.
Still love the hexes.
The idea of the Greyhawk Folio being different from its antecedent campaign, by the way is not all that unusual. For Dragonlance, Tracy laid out a map of Anasalon and then dropped a mountain on Istar to see how the final world would be broken up. The "grey-box" Realms has a number of additions that makes it different from Ed's own campaign, ranging from adopting such locations as the Desert of Desolation series to completely redrawing the Moonshae Isles (for Doug's books) to draining part of the Great Glacier (for the H-series of modules, creating the Bloodstone lands). But for Greyhawk, that Folio remains the best, first, document we had describing the world.

Which gets to why I hate Greyhawk (well, I don't, so this is the story of why it SEEMS I hate Greyhawk). I think Zeb was the one who put me under the gun, describing how, when he started work on "Greyhawk Wars", he asked me for what I would do with the world. I replied, "You mean, besides burning it to the ground?" Hence, Jeff Grubb, who was one of the crafty mechanics who helped launch the competing successful Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, had it "in" for Greyhawk. And this argument still shows up from time to time on Internet Forums.

Now, I don't remember this conversation, but it sure sounds like something I would say. Mind you, by that point I was fairly disappointed by some of the support material for the line (Castle Greyhawk is a project that would spawn several stories, and would require many, many beers to fully describe in its painfulness (and you're buying)).

And I have used the phrase "Greyhawk Death Spiral" to refer to the sort of frustrations engaged with working with the line. The Death Spiral functioned as followed - a) There was a fandom for Greyhawk so the line should be supported, but b) there were not enough resources to go around to do everything, so c) resources went to other projects, and d) the stuff for Greyhawk was notably suboptimal, with the result that e) the very fans who we were hoping to make happy in turn are upset with the line and the company that obviously hates it. Rinse, lather, repeat.

All the Greyhawk you may ever need.
Now, there have been numerous attempts to bring Greyhawk the attention it has deserved. Up From the Ashes was a radical attempt to recharge the line. The City of Greyhawk boxed set was an excellent and accessible city set. Sean Reynolds' work in the line, in particular The Scarlet Brotherhood, was pitch-perfect. And the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, despite the fact the typeface almost obscures the fact that it is a Greyhawk project (which sort of buries the lede).

Yet Greyhawk is home to some of the best-remembered adventures in D&D History, including the Tomb of Horrors and the foundational GDQ series (which, yes, I did a collected work and only added some connective tissue). It found an excellent home with the RPGA that resulted in Living Greyhawk, yet still, after all these years, toiled in the shadow of later lines. And while I am pleased to see that the Realms is (again) the center of the new edition, Greyhawk can be shown a little love as well.

What would I do with Greyhawk? Well, I wouldn't be caught dead saying that I would burn it to the ground or anything that daft. I would extoll its virtues as a low-magic world that still had strong roots to its miniature campaigns. Armies move in the background between rival nations whose claims on the map are greater than the reality on the ground ("points of light, anyone?"). Ancient ruins lay unexplored in shunned forests and jungles. It is a place where independent adventurers could plunder underground citadels with little influence from the powers that be. It would be an epic world without a single, overriding epic.

And I would stand on that early volume of the Greyhawk Folio as my source material, adding all the great stuff done by others in the years that followed, ignoring some of the worse excesses, and re-represent a world that the Castle & Crusade Society of Lake Geneva, circa 1975, would be pleased with.

More later,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Nehwon

Funny thing: I've been talking with friends about this A to Z challenge, and am surprised that I keep forgetting what I did for "A". I can remember Blackmoor, Calidar, Dominaria. Eberron, but the "A" just kept slipping my mind. It was Amber, which I forget because it is not so much as a gaming world as a fantasy world which had some gaming attached. But it a world with games, so it qualifies.

And similarly, Nehwon, home to Fritz Lieber's city of Lankhmar and its two most famous denizens,  Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.I think of this world from its text, not its games, but it has had a lot a gaming in it.
[Important Update: And in the original of this draft, I typoed the name. Yeah, that shows my level of attention, here. Thanks to Allen Varney for pointing this out and making this Important Update necessary,]

I encountered Leiber in those post-Lord of the Rings years, when I came off the original trilogy, read the Hobbit, and then say, what, that's it? Where is the fantasy? (yes, I'm going to tell you kids how easy you have it, these days).  We had Tolkien, we had Lewis (I preferred Silent Planet to Narnia), we had Moorcock boldly shouldering his way onto the scene with Elric and Hawkmoon, and we had ... who from the American side? Howard, though I never embraced Conan's textural incarnation as much as his comics version. Maybe Randall Garrett or Gardner Fox or Jack Vance or Clark Ashton Smith, but they were woefully under-represented on the spinner rack and at the book department at Kaufmann's. Frank Baum's Oz. And then there was Leiber with F and the GM.

Leiber comes out of that American Fantasy Tradition, which is darker and more horror-based than its European cousin. Lovecraft is its patron saint, and unifying point for the others, and HP's correspondence the American equivalent of The Eagle and The Child where Tolkien met. He communicated with Howard and Clark Ashton Smith and to Robert Bloch, and, yes, Leiber. And Leiber has done his Cthulhoid stories and studies as well, and was deeply influenced by the Providential master.

And Leiber brought Nehwon forward, with a pair of heroes motivated not so much from high gallantry as by more earthly matters of alcohol, women, and petty cash. Originally a set of short stories that were collected and reorganized into the paperbacks I discovered, it was another world, different from the epic nature of Tolkien or the moralities of Lewis and the Byronic antiheroes of Moorcock.

In addition, Nehwon was not a traditional world as we think of it. It had a "Death Pole" in the Shadowlands, home of death and a "Life Pole" where the other gods clustered. It seemed to be a hollow world, in that the stars themselves were on a far ocean, spinning within great waterspouts. It was fantasy adventures in a nonstandard world, capable of turning itself inside out for the purposes of a story.

And it had games. Early connections brought Nehwon into TSR's orbit, and it did not only a Lankhmar game, but added its pantheon without conflict to the D&D system. And it added adventures and source material over the years, the best probably being Lankhmar, City of Adventure, by Messrs. Nesmith, Niles, and Rolston, with a cover by Keith Parkinson, was a superior setting for urban adventures. And more recently, there was a Mongoose version using RuneQuest rules.

But the world is interesting for two completely opposite reasons - its urban setting in Lankhmar itself, City of Seventy Score Thousand Smokes (yeah, that would have been rough to put on the cover), but also its outlands, which were as wild and woolly and nonstandard as possible. And that made for both an excellent place for stories and a gaming setting.

More later,


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Minaria

Middle Earth? Nope. Maztica? Nope? Mystara? Nope (though there are tales of woe and intrigue on that one). Minaria.

Minaria?

Minaria!

I've already talked about Glorantha, and how my entry into that world was through one of the best fantasy board games I had encountered - White Bear & Red Moon. Now, let me move onto ANOTHER of the better fantasy board games - Divine Right.

I don't know how Divine Right fell into the constellation of TSR products - it was there before I arrived. But it was a collection of boxed games that TSR hit-and-missed with for years. Little Big Horn, William the Conqueror, War of the Wizards (another favorite, Tekumel themed), 4th Dimension, Lankhmar, all these shared the same compact inch-deep box. But Divine Right was one of the better ones. It had that White Bear & Red Moon vibe with a group of fantasy kingdoms forming alliances and marching out to beat each other up. Until WBRM, Divine Right was multiplayer, and you could control an alliance of disparate countries until randomly determined rulers.
Minaria! The Map of Divine Right.

But that's not why it was cool (though we should note it was a great game design from Glenn Rahman, the cover was by his brother Kenneth, and the map itself was by the late Dave Trampier). No, a series of articles that Rahman penned for DRAGON magazine for about 20 issues, going into incredible detail of these kingdoms. Called Minarian Legends, they were for a two-year period about the best part of Dragon, and, with Trampier's Wormy, part of the magazine's golden age for me.

Rahman went into (admittedly, nigh-opaque at times) detail on a particular kingdom or region, leaving no stone unturned, in a fashion that absolutely convinced me there was a strong, vibrant world. This was 1979 or so. In comparison, the World of Greyhawk folio, the first in-depth look at Oerth, was published in the late summer of 1980, so that meant for a short while, Minaria was a more detailed, fully-realized published world than Greyhawk itself.

So why didn't it make the leap from board game to RPG? It almost did, at least once. This is part of a larger tale, but TSR briefly considered Divine Right as a basis for a new campaign world. Oddly enough, this was shortly after it had returned all rights to Mr. Rahman, which sort of put the kibosh on that idea. Without that world, it instead went with another campaign to bring out a campaign of kings - that would be Birthright.

More later,

My Norwescon Schedule

We interrupt this alphabetical tour to engage in blatant pluggery. I will attending Norwescon as a guest, and have the following scheduled events:

Fantasy in Comics
Fri 1:00pm-2:00pm Cascade 5
Comics have great potential for fantasy as a visual medium. Fantasy comics range from traditional fantasy like Prince Valiant to the more unique Bone, and reinterpretations like Fables and Conan. Here's a look at some of the great work that has been done and what's being published currently, from comics to graphic novels, and how fantasy comics have evolved over time. 
Jeff Grubb (M), Clinton J. Boomer, Spencer Ellsworth, Duane Wilkins

The Gods in Our Fantasy Fiction
Fri 8:00pm-9:00pm Cascade 5    
From Kwll or Arioch in Michael Moorcock’s work to Anoia, Blind Io, and Offler in Terry Pratchett’s (not to mention everything in between), gods roam the worlds of our fantasy fiction. When building a religion for your world, how do you make it balanced and plausible without riffing off of existing religions? How will myth and religion impact your plot and motivate your characters? Why should there be several types of belief systems on a world?  How present should the gods really be?
Christopher Bodan (M), Bradley P. Beaulieu, Jeff Grubb, Brent Kellmer, Kim Ritchie

Autograph Session 1
Sat 2:00pm-3:00pm Grand 2
Our Attending Professionals are available to sign autographs. PLEASE NOTE: So that as many fans as possible can participate, we will be enforcing a three-items-at-a-time (or single-sketch) autograph limit.
Jason Andrew, Steven Barnes, Bradley P. Beaulieu, Carol Berg, 9k1, Kurt Cagle, Echo Chernik, Cassandra Clarke, Erik Scott de Bie, Cymbric Early-Smith, Elton Elliott, Erin Evans, Steve Gillett, James C. Glass, Jude-Marie Green, Jeff Grubb, Rhiannon Held, Frog Jones, Karen Kincy, Nancy Kress, Pat MacEwen, Edward Martin III, Lish McBride, Angel Leigh McCoy, Darragh Metzger, G. David Nordley, Margaret Organ-Kean, John (J.A.) Pitts, Kevin Radthorne, Jon Rogers, Mike Selinker, Sara Stamey, G. Willow Wilson, Gregory A. Wilson

An Exaltation of Drones: The Humor of P.G. Wodehouse
Sat 4:00pm-5:00pm Evergreen 3&4
P.G. Wodehouse may be considered the finest humorist of the 20th century. Author of 96 books, Wodehouse is best known for creating the characters Jeeves and Wooster (played by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie in the BBC series). Many of Wodehouse's stories and novels involve the English upper class. He poked gentle fun at them. The young men of the upper class in England were often waiting upon an inheritance with not much to do otherwise. In the Wodehousian world they belonged to the Drones Club (so like bees, males with no tasks), where they whiled away the hours chatting, drinking, playing toss the card in the hat and gambling. Modern fans of Wodehouse have formed their own Drones Club. This panel of Drones will discuss the works of Pelham Graham Wodehouse.
Pierce Watters (M), Wolfgang Baur, Jeff Grubb, Michael Moorcock, Brooks Peck, Mike Selinker

Come by and see me (particularly the Autograph Session - its been over a year since the last book, and I suspect things may be kinda quiet).

More later, as we move onto "M".

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for the Land of Fate

Shannon Appelcline, who writes a great deal on the history of RPG Projects, got in touch with me a few weeks back asking about Al-Qadim - any behind the scene stories and the like. Well, I had a few, and warned him that it would eventually show up in the blog. So therefore L is for the Land of Fate, and here is what I sent him.

1) Al-Qadim Arabian Adventures (1992) was conceived as being a companion piece to Oriental Adventures. While OA was put together and then glued onto the Realms (there was some shrinking of the map scale in the process - Zeb put in not one but two full-sized Chinas onto Kara-Tur's map), Arabian Adventures was planned from the get-go to be part of the Realms, and situated to the south of the existing Realms map. The name of the area, Zakhara, evoked the word "sahara", and went to the Z because Abeir-Toril started with an A. [Hey, A to Z reference!]


2) The name itself was a challenge, in that there were different needs from marketing (which wanted a name that said everything and didn't need to be explained) versus legal (which wanted new words which didn't have any other meaning). At one point the name was "Burning Sands", which everyone on the creative side just hated (though I was amused when it showed up years later as part of Five Rings CCG). I was armed with an arabic dictionaries, and came up with the Al-Qadim, which meant, according to my dictionary "The ancient".  I put it in some cool fonts and we sold that name in.

3) However, management was concerned that the name may have other connotations that we didn't know about. Maztica, for example, sounds like the Mexican word for "chew" (Doug had checked the name with other Spanish-speakers, but they were from the Caribbean, and as such did not make the connection). Since my Arabic dictionary was printed in New Dehli,  I went to the Internet User Groups for help, and got that the name meant ancient, old, venerable, and wise. One contributor noted that it meant old in the sense of stale - "This cheese is old". Not horrible, but we kept the name, and thanked David Hirsch and Daniel Wolk in the credits for their help.

4) Speaking of credits, the great hero of this project was Andria Hayday, who served as the editor but is credited with "Additional Writing and Development". She is responsible, with graphic designer Stephanie Tabat, for the look of the project. She fought for the style of the Karl Waller line drawings, the gold foil borders (a 5th color), and the end papers. More importantly, she wrote the bulk of what became the first chapter. Originally we were planning on talking about the society at the end of the book, much like we did for OA. But her work was so good we moved it to the front, and I argued to give her full co-credit. She passed on getting her name mentioned on the cover (she didn't want to get gaming questions), but I got her name on the back.

Zakhara, the Land of Fate. So what
am I going to do for the letter "z"?
5) Another unsung hero was Jon Pickens, who, when we first started talking about AQ (and it took a few years to put it on the schedule), started collecting books on the subject. When I started on it he delivered three boxes full of books to my office. My favorite was a Marxist analysis of Bedouin life, and it was from that volume I pulled the name "sha'ir" for our wizard kit. In addition to Jon's books, I had also been reading the Burton Arabian Nights and followed a lot of pop culture - Harryhausen movies and the like. We wanted the game to be a combination of history, mythology, and modern knowledge on the subject. 

6) This was an era when we did a lot of "kits", and with AQ the kits blossomed pretty much fully into subclasses. Many of them paralleled western classes, but their own flavor.  I think we had the first female-only kit with the Hakima. When I first wrote up the Corsair, I used the female pronoun because the art piece we used showed a female character. Andria changed it, which was probably for the best.

7) One thing that the Arabian legends did not have was the mixture of Tolkienesque races. As a result, Zakhara was created as a more cosmopolitan world, where species and race did not matter nearly as much. It made for a different flavor in the game.

8) Another big difference was Faith. Religion was and is a touchy matter, and we wanted the faiths of Zakhara to be evocative of the Middle East, but no more descriptive of living faiths than the Gods of Faerun are to western religion. As a result, gods themselves were gathered into pantheons as opposed to having their own unique clerics, which again made the world feel more cosmopolitan. We did break the priest classes of these pantheons into three broad groups - The Faith Pragmatist, The Faith Ethoist, and the Faith Moralist. These were based more on outlook on Protestant denominations (Unitarians, Presbyterians, and Baptists, if I remember right) than any Middle-Eastern group.

9) The concept of Fate worked well for a number of reasons - it gave us an overgod like Ao who would be evoked but not worshipped. It gave us neat little evocation ("We have no fate but the fate that we are given"). And it gave us a reason for what Ed had all of these Middle-Eastern style civilizations scattered around the Realms - Anauroch, Raurin, Thay, Calimishan, et al. In Ed'd campaign, he would always put these Arabian Night civilizations on the borders, and as his borders grew in his campaign, he just added more. We created a folk legend where the various peoples could not get along, so Fate banished them to the far corners of the world for a time out. 

Sorry, guys. I couldn't find a copy of the
Easley piece I described. Here's the cover
(pulled from the Wikipedia). I think its
a pretty good horse.
9) The cover was a bit of challenge, in that we asked for a horse. Jeff Easley is a great artist, but does not like drawing horses and has gotten flack for it from the fans (I don't get this - I like his horses). As an option we suggested a young woman opening a bottle and genie coming out. He created a very cheesecake piece (which was used in the "Women of Fantasy" calender that year) which looked like the young lady was ... um ... smuggling bowling balls in her vest. So we went back to the horse. 

10) The interior art was great, but Jim Ward was concerned about nipple rings on the ogres in one piece. We had that one fixed. However, we did get a letter after publication from someone who was angry about the "blatant foreplay" we showed in one picture. That would be the one of two genies (male and female) playing chess on page149. OK, we had a good laugh on that one.

11) The map of the world was designed to be broken up into components for the boxed adventure sets. If we did them all (we didn't), we would end up with a huge mega-map.

12) Andria and I conceived of the line as having a definite life span of two, maybe three years tops. We did not want to fall into the mode where we had to do an AQ adventure every year, regardless of sales (see OA or Greyhawk). We would do cool stuff, and once the sales trailed off, we would be done. I think we did two years, then they added a third, and then we were asked for a fourth (which would have included the Land of the Yak Men, which was going to be Tibetian in nature), but management changed their minds and so the line closed out

13) The big rivalry in-house was with another desert-based adventure - Dark Sun. Dark Sun sold better per units than AQ, but AQ didn't have as high a unit cost (we didn't do the ring-bound adventure books and custom boxes), and as such is remembered more fondly. Further, we pitched AQ very much as being a sequel to Oriental Adventures. DS was going to "Replace the Realms" which was a statement that often would be the kiss of death for a line. 

14) When we launched, we were supposed to run demos at GenCon Milwaukee. I got fezzes for our demo team, we had some play areas map up to look like desert terrain, and we ran short adventures (Andria and I actually came up with what the specific adventures were while driving to GenCon - I was going to make them up on the fly, while she wanted just a tad more structure). And I am the one responsible for the gong - I borrowed it from the Lake Geneva High School orchestra, and we were to ring it only at the end of the demo. The sales booth said later that every time the gong rang, they got more AQ books out of storage for sale. Other people running demos next to us did not like the gong so much, primarily because Jim Ward loved the gong, and would strike it whenever he was nearby. After the second day we started hiding the striker from him.

15) The books sold well - Dark Sun sold better, as I noted, and we got good reviews. I was told (but never saw the figures) that it sold very well in Israel, which is cool. I am very proud of what we did, and happy to have worked on it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

K is also for Kobold

Of course, all this discourse on fantasy game campaigns gets in the way of the normal broadcasts, which consist of local politics, collectible quarters, and shame huckstering for personal projects and those of friends.

Case in point, two new projects which have shipped out from Kobold Press, headed up by Wolf and Shelly Baur.

First up is the Kobold Guide to Magic, the latest in their award-winning series of collected essays on gaming topics. Your humble author has a small sojourn in the book, along with a few friends and colleagues (No, seriously, check out the author list - a veritable Algonquin Roundtable with d20s).

Also, the truly massive, kickstarted Deep Magic hardcover is now being distributed to backers, and it is a monstrous tome, filled to the brim with roleplayerly goodness. Here's a sample.

Both are worth checking out. And now we return you to your regularly scheduled worlds.