Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fight On! Victorious

It's not yet posted on Lulu.com, but Calithena has just announced that Fight On! won the March author contest. That's a rather impressive accomplishment and a testament to the strength and size of the old school community. I also think it's an indication -- one of several I could point to -- that there's something in the air these days. Despite all the naysayers and critics who would have you believe the old school renaissance is just about cranky middle aged guys pining for their lost youths, this movement seems to have managed to reach beyond its little niche and attract the attention of people who weren't even alive during the Golden Age of Gaming. That's an amazing and encouraging thing.

Congratulations to Calithena and Ignatius Ümlaut for this well-earned victory. Onward and upward!

42 comments:

  1. I don't know the exact ranking yet, but Swords & Wizardry / Knockspell Magazine placed within the top ten in this contest also. (and we intend to take first place in the just-announced May competition :) )

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's great!

    I wonder if LuLu will state the actual number sold, it'd be nice to get a general idea of how many purchasing old-schoolers are out there in a given month.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "this movement seems to have managed to reach beyond its little niche and attract the attention of people who weren't even alive during the Golden Age of Gaming"

    True indeed! I was born in 1981 and gaming since 1995. I'm fascinated with the ideas on oldschool sites and plan to run an OD&D campaign if I'll have the time and players! At the moment, I'm running a campaign in Melan's Fomalhaut using his "Kard és Mágia" (Sword and Sorcery in Hungarian) ruleset.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Helló, Hafi!

    Üdv a Grognardián, és örülök, hogy bejön a K&M!

    -LG

    (Excellent news, BTW! There is life in that old thing yet, and as someone born only a year before Hafi, I do not feel I need to be old to appreciate it.)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here is my theory:

    The old school renaissance exists because of three factors- the first is that Gary's death called up tons of nostalgia. That combined with very good word of mouth and blog based marketing set off the explosion. The third is WotC's complete and utter failure to market 4e correctly.

    I don't think the OSR explosion would have happened if WotC had been on their toes. In my opinion 4e (while it may or may not be true D&D) is a pretty good system that is hamstrung by marketing incompetence.

    I cite 2 exhibits- A: 3e was a super successful game largely because it mined nostalgia as the engine of its marketing campaign. B: The marketing of Pathfinder is a jet fighter compared to WotCs crop duster. Better art, better exposure, better community involvement than 4e.

    While I probably won't be using the Pathfinder system WotC seriously needs to fear August 13, 2009.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well, there was also the relentless blog and forum whoring. :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are right. I was born in 80 and I've been gaming since I was 8. I got really into 3rd edition, and while I like 4e, it's rules are so codified and solid that there is little room for improv and storytelling. Its a solid combat ruleset that is fun to play with, but it lacks that sense of exploration and the unknown that an old school dungeon crawl can do. Your site inspired me to whip up some very narrative and loose rules for a dungeon crawl that I plan on running in the next few weeks.

    I think people are now realizing that if they want codified rulesets that are balanced etc etc they can just play video games. Tabletop gaming's strength is the collaborative storytelling that can only happen with a group of people with overactive imaginations sitting around a table and winging it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Will the increased attention lead to WotC wanting a slice of the Old School pie? And how would this manifest itself? I wonder.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @James - or a testament that all 137 of us have very good jobs, deep pockets or second mortgages. (I'm teasing. It's awesome news. But I think our pockets are indeed a bit lighter these days because of the contest.)

    @Scott - you say that like it's a bad thing? ;)

    (Word verify: tromp - awesome synchronicity!)

    ReplyDelete
  10. @Scott - you say that like it's a bad thing? ;)Nah, not at all. But the Spontaneous Groundswell of Support was certainly aided by shameless and vigorous flogging of not only the regular offerings, but products that seemed to exist solely for the purpose of winning the contest.

    I think the win may indicate that there's more than the core 137 "old schoolers," but it's also a testament to the willingness of the 137 to buy things for the cause.

    Again, not necessarily a bad thing. It's cool that there are obviously committed customers out there who'll buy whatever. But there was a *lot* of "we slapped this thing together, buy it so we can win" going on.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Nothing wrong with some shameless advertising! Attracting "mainstream" attention can only be good - after all, the non-mainstream will always be there no matter what happens. Its not like they can come in and shut down the blogs and other old school community!

    ReplyDelete
  12. >>Its not like they can come in and shut down the blogs and other old school community!

    Hmm. I wonder...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good news indeed.

    But there is one thing that still bugs me. How exactly does one pronounce the terminal '!' of "Fight On!"?

    ReplyDelete
  14. But there is one thing that still bugs me. How exactly does one pronounce the terminal '!' of "Fight On!"?Ah, but see, that's the beauty of OD&D! You get to figure it out yourself! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Despite all the naysayers and critics who would have you believe the old school renaissance is just about cranky middle aged guys pining for their lost youths"

    Those are the guys with all the money!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "But there was a *lot* of 'we slapped this thing together, buy it so we can win' going on."

    You mean people who make books and magazines want to promote them? :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. "But there was a *lot* of 'we slapped this thing together, buy it so we can win' going on."

    You mean people who make books and magazines want to promote them? :)
    No, I mean people who make books and magazines churned out extra books and magazines that wouldn't have otherwise existed, then begged people to buy them so they could get extra ticks to win a contest.

    But hey, apparently it worked.

    And it's entirely possible that the jump in the rankings was due to the publicity campaign bringing in new customers for Fight On!, rather than getting forum denizens and bloggers to buy old issues repackaged, or "Art of the Old School Renaissance," or a campaign journal.

    Again, I see nothing wrong with this either way. But it's premature to conclude that Fight On! winning is a sign of broad-based or even increasing support for old school gaming. It could just as easily be a sign of commitment by old schoolers to support the community by buying whatever their peers put out. That's a laudable goal to have achieved in and of itself, but I think that boat docked in the harbor some time ago.

    ReplyDelete
  19. - I was born in 85', and I buy Fight On! because it's contents are superior to whatever WOTC has to offer for D&D.

    Think about the following...

    1) Who has played D&D for a longer time? FO! authors or WOTC authors?

    2) Who plays D&D more regularly? FO! authors or WOTC authors?

    3) FO! is driven by pure love of the hobby, submissions are done for free. No deadlines, no creative pressures. Is that true for WOTC?

    - Zulgyan

    ReplyDelete
  20. Scott, if you're unhappy with your copy of "Art of the Old School Renaissance," I will buy your copy. I gave mine to one of the contributing artists who missed the time window, and I'd like to have one.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I deal with the "!" by shouting "Fight On!" at people. Works for me.

    And I happen to know that there are at least a few people "who weren't even alive in the Golden Age of Gaming" buying Fight On! and Swords & Wizardry last month. And if my plans go well, pretty soon we'll have a few more.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am one of those people not even alive in the golden age of gaming. I was born in 1980 and started gaming in 1991 with the AD&D second edition ruleset. However, our group got started when my friend's older brother bought a collection of D&D stuff from another kid in town which included quite a few original D&D adventures, so I cut my teeth on some old school locales even if my character was 2d edition. I mostly create my own material for my campaigns, but I stumbled upon this blog recenty and have become quite excited by all the old-school stuff brewing on the interwebs. I am going to check out Fight On! and Swords & Wizardry, and may soon become another subscriber from a younger generation.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Scott, if you're unhappy with your copy of "Art of the Old School Renaissance," I will buy your copy. I gave mine to one of the contributing artists who missed the time window, and I'd like to have one.
    Man, I am seriously not unhappy with anyone about anything. I have no dog in the fight, and I'll just bow out now, as I've clearly come across as saying "y'all suck" when what I meant was "y'all rock, but possibly not at the order of widespread rocking magnitude one might surmise at first blush." :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. @Scott - How can we email you?

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great to hear! I purchased the art book as well as FO issue 4. Great stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  26. @Scott - How can we email you?coldhandinmine at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Apologies ... apparently that address is not longer active. Try driver dot scott at gmail dot com. :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. The last minute push and products meant to swell the last minute push - big deal. The fact is that before the push, FO was already in the top 3. As far as this attracting untoward attention from legions of lawyers from a particular large corporation - no way. Paranoia.

    I'm interested to see haow the winnings are re-invested into the project. Erol Otis On!

    ReplyDelete
  29. The Swords & Wizardry / Knockspell money (the "profits," since we didn't actually win an award) is going into a t-shirt purchase so that we can do giveaways to people attending cons and events. And if people buy them, they'll cost about half what they would at cafepress since we ordered in bulk. I'm a strong believer that old schoolers attending cons and events should get free crap tailored to their interests, just like the newer-schoolers get free crap tailored to theirs. It's part of the convention experience. :)

    ReplyDelete
  30. "I am one of those people not even alive in the golden age of gaming. I was born in 1980 and started gaming in 1991 with the AD&D second edition ruleset."

    Same here. I'm 30 and started in the 90s.

    Maybe it helps that my first ever D&D rulebook was a copy of Moldvay basic that I found at a thrift store and that I fell in with some older 1E enthusiasts after that. :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Having just finished reading Knockspell #1, I can safely say that Fight On! is going to have some serious (albeit friendly) competition on its hands. This is a good thing as it will likely lead to a continued increase in quality for both of these already great publications.

    Something in the air indeed!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I was born in '79 and I've always been more into Call of Cthulhu than D&D, but I love Fight On!, and am always happy to contribute, even if it's only pictures.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Congratulations and well done to Fight On !

    ReplyDelete
  34. I myself just finished placing an order for all four issues of Fight On! I can't wait to compare them to the Knockspell that I purchased earlier this month.

    I'd like to see more reviews of both mags for sure. Maybe I'll write some.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Don't let them bully you, Scott!

    I had similar feelings. How long before it's less about fun and more about units sold?

    Pick your favorite cliché about history repeating itself.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wanted to add myself to the tally of people following the Old School Renaissance who weren't alive during the Golden Age - I was born in '85 and only discovered that there was still a community devoted to older editions of D&D a few months ago.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I think the explanation for the continued popularity of old school gaming is pretty simple:

    A lot of those old games, Marvel FASERIP and AD&D are *really* freaking good.

    The reasons they were pulled from active syndication had nothing to do with time passing them by.

    Those games were pulled for other reasons, such as licensing (in the case of FASERIP) or because the company made a business decision that a new edition every 10 years did more for its bottom line than continuing to support the old model.

    So, like classic cars classic music and retro clothes, you have some people who think the old stuff is still really good.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks for all the well-wishes, folks!

    We're very happy about this and plan to keep bringing you more good stuff in our pages, as long as people keep sending it in.

    Best,

    Calithena

    ReplyDelete
  39. How long before it's less about fun and more about units sold?I don't think there's much danger of that here. Calithena can speak for himself, but the odds of Fight On!'s becoming the basis for a hugely profitable business are slim to none. This is still a labor of love and will likely remain so. I don't think there's anything the least bit sordid about taking pleasure in having won the contest.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Fight On! itself will remain a fanzine. If we start getting tens of thousands of regular purchasers I'll let you all know (and start paying contributors!). Otherwise...

    I admit I pulled out all the stops to win the contest. I think that benefits all of us to some degree though. For example, Matt may have just missed the top three (I think he's in fourth), but there are a heck of a lot of people who know about Knockspell who didn't before because of our shared promotion of Art of the Old School - my network benefitted both of us just like his product idea did. Also, in general we serve notice that we're a vibrant niche of the hobby. I think that's great.

    Anyway, what's done is done and now I need to lay out #5. We're back to the usual around here!

    - Calithena

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.