Sunday, April 29, 2012

OK, now for some commentary...

So now, if the release of the new edition of the classic Dungeon! game is no longer a hoax, what are the odds that the posting of the Dungeons & Dragons v3.5 "With Errata" Dungeon Masters Guide, Players Handbook, and Monster Manual (i.e., "Provolone") were also a hoax? I'd say slim to none.

I'd say what happened with Barnes & Noble and Amazon was simply the classic "Book Trade gets new product listings six months ahead of time in order to enter them into their database, and adds them not only to their data base but also to their public sales system" slip. The kind of thing that drives the marketing people at the publishers stupid levels of crazy, as it totally messes up the message they are trying to feed to the consumers. Said message being "buy the thing we have out NOW, or at best, TOMORROW or NEXT WEEK, don't worry about six months from now, as that is a wholly different marketing plan."

So the guys at B&N and Amazon start posting the entries for the v3.5 "With Errata" products, people start going gaga over the entries, and the marketing guys at Wizards go, "Aw crap, not again!" and start covering their asses. The whole "It was a hoax" thing seems a bit rushed and heavy handed, the kind of thing to bite them in the ass later on, but then, as they have barely even really paved the way for the proper "exploitation" of the marketing message for the 1st Edition trilogy re-release, they definitely do not want the v3.5 release on people's minds... yet.

And people are now wondering, "why on earth would they re-release the v3.5 books again when they have D&D Next coming out?" Well, that's simple. It's a win-win for sales, and a win-win for D&D Next. See, the basic message about D&D Next is that with this new edition, we are supposed to be able to essentially "build any edition of the game we want." This pick-and-choose your options system is readily easy to develop; hell, that's essentially what 2nd Edition AD&D was like, what with all the different options presented in the PHB and DMG. So, D&D Next is really the "Choose Your Own Dungeons & Dragons Toolkit."

Secondarily, and I take this with a much bigger grain of salt (and to their credit the message has backed away from this a bit), is that with D&D Next, you will be able to "play any edition you want to play, with others playing the editions they want to play, all in the same game, at the same table, at the same time."

In any case, whether element two actually works with the far more realistic element one, every player is going to want not only the core rules of their "favorite" edition, they will also want the core rules of D&D Next, as the "conversion system" at the core of the system will enable them to more easily translate elements from any other editon back to their own "favorite" edition. Playing B/X D&D but find a cool class in a 3P book from the v3.5 era? Why try to do all the conversion yourself when you can simply plug and play using the class conversion system in the D&D Next PHB? Want to plug in unconverted 1E monsters from those old Dragon Magazines into your 4E game? Use the monster conversion rules from the D&D Next Monster Manual.

They are presenting D&D Next as the "one-in-all" system, or to use another's phrase, the "Rosetta Stone of Dungeons & Dragons Editions." So naturally, they are going to want to maximize the use of their existing stock of products... as D&D Next will open up all their backstock of products to all different editions, through the use of the three core D&D Next books. And as we gamers tend to be a lazy lot, why would we want to go around re-creating our "favorite" edition that we will most often use, using the D&D Next books, when we can just pay Wizards more and buy not only the D&D Next books, but also the needful core books for that "favorite" edition.

And then the big announcement... Wizards is releasing its backlist of products as a pay service through their new D&D Online system, accessible through Kindle or Nook or whatever. So now go through their eBook system, maybe even with a subscription service (exclusively direct through Wizards, of course, I forsee no PDFs through DTRPG), you get access to swaths of cool stuff from the backlist... much of which is most readily convertable to your "favorite" system through the use of the logarithms available in the D&D Next books. So every player buys their "favorite" PHB and a D&D Next PHB, every DM buys one each of his "favorite" trilogy and the D&D Next trilogy, and then dives into the extensive backlist... all for the cost of Wizards publishing their "Rosetta Stone" and making available in print the core "favorites." They've already announced the release of 1E and telegraphed the release of v3.5err. It is possible they will do 2E. They have no need to ever take 4E out of print, so to speak. I doubt they'd do BX/BECMI/RC, as I forsee the "core" of D&D Next being essentially similar to that system. So you will have the BX as the "core" or "Basic System" in the new D&D Next, with the building blocks and conversion systems of the other editions available in the D&D Next trilogy, plus core "favorite" editions in print for 1E, 2E, v3.5err, and 4e, and the whole lot of backlist items available in eBook directly and exclusively through Wizards...
Anyway, that's what I see coming up...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Presented without further comment... Dungeon!

Board Game
Wizards RPG Team
A classic board game of dungeon exploration returns!

Dungeon! is a fast-paced game where you and your friends can decide which way to go in the hunt for bigger and better treasure.

Will you stick to level 1 and clear out the Goblins and Kobolds? Or will you delve deep into level 6 and set your sights on the Purple Worm or the Red Dragon? Along the way, you’ll have to face off against such iconic monsters as the Black Pudding, the Drow, and even the Owlbear!

Featuring simple, straightforward rules that are easy to learn, Dungeon! is perfect for a fantasy game night, or a warm-up before your next epic game of D&D!
Item Details
Release Date: October 12, 2012
Format: Board game
Price: $19.99
ISBN: 978-0-7869-6298-3

What to write?

Lately I've been having some friends tell me I should get back into writing. Game stuff, or maybe fiction...

I love writing. LOVE it. The problem is, my time is dear, and unless it is a) something I can use in a game (which isn't happening now, as I'm on hiatus from running games) or b) something I can make money by writing, right now, there are other things I can likely better spend my time doing. So if I'm going to write for money (got all sorts of subscribers to pay back, yet), I gotta ask...

So what, if anything, is anyone actually buying these days? I peruse the blogosphere, and it seems like everyone and their cousin are doing fanzines again (hmm). Lots of megadungeons to choose from (and plenty of these are very good, I've bought a few myself). There are plenty of good, old fashion regular dungeons and adventures available (such as the adventures from Eldritch Entertainment, the folks of which have kindly sent me a couple PDFs to review). Even a few campaign settings here and there. And that's not counting the countless projects up on Kickstarter...

The RPG market seems saturated. I'm thinking of making the jump to writing fiction... as though, of course, that area were not already oversaturated. But it would be something different.. I'm thinking, maybe, a short story plus adventure material that would enable the reader to reproduce the events of the story as an RPG session/campaign. Maybe a short story or novella (10,000 to 40,000 words) along with the maps and game details about characters, locations, monsters, etc. (Labyrinth Lord and/or Castles & Crusades, I figure). This time, just go through DTRPG and LULU, no mucking about with self-publishing in print...

What genre would go over best these days? I've got a bunch of old campaign settings I can use...

High Fantasy (Arthurian-style)
Medium Fantasy (Greyhawk style)
Low Fantasy (Ice and Fire style)
Sword & Sorcery (Conan pastiche)
Sword & Planet (John Carter pastiche)
Post-Apocalypse (Mad Max style or Gamma World/Mutant Future style)
PA Fantasy (Thundarr/He-Man style)

Let me know what you think. Would any of you buy such a Frankenstein creature, half-story half-adventure?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

OMG! Dungeon Boardgame Returns?

Is this really the classic Dungeon board game?

"First released in 1975 and revised throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the Dungeon! boardgame lets you explore a multi-level dungeon in search of treasure guarded by terrible monsters. The deeper into the dungeon you go, the deadlier the monsters and the greater the treasure. The player who returns to the beginning chamber with the most treasure wins!

This re-release of the classic Dungeon! boardgame stays true to the original but incorporates several revisions made to the game in later editions, giving players the most fun experience possible."

No image available... what a weird WotC day!

Followup: Well, by some accounts, it was all a hoax; the D&D 3.5 w/Errata "reprints," and the Dungeon Board game. I'm not so sure; time will tell. Wizards denied all the rumors about 4E up until the day they announced it at Gen Con, so denials from them, frankly, mean nothing. Personally, I think a new print of an "updated" v3.5 is a good thing, and the release of a new edition of Dungeon would be an AWESOME thing. Frankly, from experience, I know it to be one of the BEST ways to get the younger crowd (ages 5 to 9) hip to the basic ideas behind Dungeons & Dragons. So I hope this is merely a case of Wizards "protesting too much"...

Monday, April 9, 2012

[Auction] Knights of the Dinner Table #1 to #10

Well, as some of you may be aware, Jodi and I have been through the wringer in the last month, medically speaking. [For those not aware, we've both had major knee issues: I tore my ACL and damaged the meniscus and missed two weeks of work, while she had to have orthoscopic surgury and missed, so far, five weeks of work.] Now comes the financial wringer, as all the bills come due. We have no insurance, so things are going to get ugly real fast. So I'm going to start selling some of the last, choice bits of my games and comics collections, such parts as are still actually worth something...

First up for bids is my Knights of the Dinner Table collection; well, the first 10 issues of it, which are the part that has any real collectible value these days. This also includes an issue of the Gameweaver and Shad comic book by Shadis/Knights of the Dinner Table cover artist George Vrbanic; as far as I am aware, there was only ever the one issue published, and it was rather limited production. I'll have pictures up soon.

The auction runs through April 20, 10pm Central Time. Send bids in to jamesmishler  at  gmail  dot  com. [Note: that is NOT the e-mail for Paypal payments.] Bids on the auction will be updated sometime around 9am and 9pm every day; check back here for the definitive current status reports.

Payment will be via Paypal (exceptions are possible on a case-by-case basis). Buyer is responsible for paying all shipping and any insurance costs. International shipping requires the BEST and SAFEST and SUREST shipping WITH insurance!

Last Update: April 10, 8:00pm CST. Updated bids are in bold red.
Note: I will be away from the computer from early Wednesday until Friday morning.

Knights of the Dinner Table #1
Current Bid: Bidder #2, $31

Knights of the Dinner Table #2
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $15

Knights of the Dinner Table #3
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $15

Knights of the Dinner Table #4
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $15

Knights of the Dinner Table #5
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $15

Knights of the Dinner Table #6
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $5

Knights of the Dinner Table #7
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $5

Knights of the Dinner Table #8
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $5

Knights of the Dinner Table #9
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $5

Knights of the Dinner Table #10
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $5

Gameweaver and Shad
Current Bid: Bidder #1, $25

Bidding works as follows: usually twice per day, as needed, I'll post any new high bids. When you send in a bid, if it exceeds the previous bid from a previous bidder, your bid becomes the new high bid; if it does not exceed the previous high bid, the previous bidder's bid changes to your current bid, pretty much the way eBay does it. I do not operate in increments of less than $1.

Thus, if you bid a maximum of $50, and the initial bid is $40, your actual bid is $40. If someone then bids $45, your bid becomes $45. If someone bids $60, they then become the high bidder and the current bid goes to $51...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

[Cool Game Stuff] Rory's Story Cubes

I was walking through the drugstore the other day when I stumbled on a sweet set of dice in the toy aisle: Rory's Story Cubes from Gamewright.

It is a set of nine 6-sided dice with icons instead of numbers. The basic idea is that you and your friends roll the dice, in various combinations, and using the images that are rolled, build a story. While the images are generally "modern," there is enough there that you can readily adapt anything you roll to be used even with a fantasy role-playing game. Need a quick adventure for your players tonight, but haven't a clue about what to do? Grab a couple of these dice to break your judge's block. Roll 'em all or just a few. Looking at the set I have sitting on the table next to me, I'm picking out:

Conversation Balloon: The party starts in a tavern, speaking with an old guy...
Alien Face: Okay, the bad guys are from elsewhere... let's go with goblins.
Key: The goblins have stolen a key... from...
Wand with Magic Sparks: a Wizard! So it is a magic key, and the old guy is a wizard. Maybe to a magical treasure?
Foot: The goblins got away and are now hiding out several days away.
Scarab: They are hiding out in an old ruined Egyptian-style temple. Maybe some zombies and mummies around, too?
Eye: They have spies watching out in case they are followed...
Comedy/Tragedy Masks: An ally of the players is not what he seems... the spy is in the midst of the characters? Maybe an assistant of the wizard sent with the characters?
Many-level Building: Turns out the temple has many levels... so yeah, a goblin lair on the first level of the dungeon, a mixed level on 2nd, and the mummies on the 3rd level...

There we go... judge's block solved!

They also have Rory's Story Cubes Voyages, which looks like it will be even more appllicable to D&D and other fantasy players. I'm going to have to hunt that one down... the regular Rory's Story Cubes is available through game distribution (at least through Alliance and ACD), so you can order it through your local hobby shop. I'm not sure if the Voyages version has made it into game distribution yet...

Of course, this will also be a lovely little game to play with children, too; it's a Dr. Toy 10 Best Games winner. They certainly have my recommendation; and I can't wait to find a copy of the Voyages set!

N.B.: I stumbled upon these in the store and bought the product with my own money. No one paid me for this review.