Monday, June 8, 2009

Goodman Games' Big Announcement

For several weeks now, there have been hints that Goodman Games has been up to something of possible interest to the old school community. Now we know what it is: an agreement with Black Blade Publishing to publish adaptations of the Dungeon Crawl Classics line of adventures for First Edition fantasy role-playing games, starting with Secret of Smuggler’s Cove, adapted from Dungeon Crawl Classics #7: Secret of Smuggler’s Cove.

Black Blade is a new company, founded by Jon Hershberger (a name unfamiliar to me) and Allan Grohe (who needs no introduction). From the looks of it, the "First Edition Dungeon Crawls" will have new cover art inspired by the monochrome TSR modules from the 1970s, as well as new cartography. The interior art looks identical to the D20 versions published a few years ago. Of course, the game mechanics will be "fully compatible with the First Edition of the world’s most-popular fantasy role-playing game, any of the other early editions of that game, or any of their modern simulacra." I presume this means AD&D rules with the serial numbers filed off -- a pity they don't use OSRIC.

I'm of multiple minds about this announcement. On the one hand, adventures were the mainstay of old school gaming and having more quality modules available is a good thing, particularly for those who might want models for how to design old school scenarios. The Dungeon Crawl Classics line contained a number of superb adventures and I'm happy to own a large number of them myself. I suspect, though, that I'm not alone in this regard, meaning that many old schoolers might not be willing to buy the same module twice. One of the joys of older games is how easy they are to stat up on the fly, making these new releases largely redundant for me and, I imagine, many others. And given that the initial release is somewhat expensive ($16.00), I do worry that they'll have a harder time finding an audience than they ought to.

Still, I think it's a positive development to see an established game company like Goodman dipping its toes into the old school pond. I hope this presages more daring support both from Goodman and from other similarly established companies in the future. I'd kill to see Paizo try their hand at something along these lines, given both their terrific production values and their staff's clear love for the history and traditions of the hobby. I don't imagine I'll see it, but a guy can dream, can't he?

17 comments:

  1. I have to confess that I wasn't too excited by the announcement. While it is a firm and conspicuous acknowledgement of the old school movement, as products, these don't seem too impressive. By which I mean, the adventures are already designed to be old school in feel, and there are enough mechanical similarities between 3e and 1e/0e/Basic to make conversion relatively easy, so I don't see how these are really justified as new products. But maybe that's just me.

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  2. I agree,they were great modules but I have all of them already.And converting these adventures to AD&D is extremely simple.I have converted an entire DCC module to AD&D in about 2 hours myself.(and I'm slow)
    So if they created some new adventures for AD&D I would definately purchase them,but not simple conversions that I already have.Most old-school AD&D players are pretty adept at doing adventure conversions at this stage of the game. However its heartening to know that the market has been recognised.

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  3. FYI, Jon Hershberger is the man behind most (if not all?) of the existing Goodman Games 1e conversions to date, and Jon's excellent relationship with Joseph Goodman and Harley Stroh is what convinced Goodman Games to grant the the Black Blade license in the first place.

    More later! :D

    Allan.

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  4. Well, remember that the 3rd ed modules became unavailable. So, while I wouldn't rebuy one I have, there are many that I don't have.

    Also, I have noticed that many of flaws with the line are mechanical. OK, I never noticed that because I don't play 3.141, but demiurge's excellent thread at rpg.net, reviewing all of the DCC's, made that clear. So, taking that out might well improve them.

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  5. Well, complete apathy toward 3e kept me from buying the first run of these modules, so I'll be happy to shell out a bit of cash in their direction!

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  6. Since I wasn't gaming when these were originally released and I'm not keen on converting them either, I'm pretty excited about this announcement. I imagine I'll be buying a few of them here and there.

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  7. While I think this is great news, I too was disappointed by the price. I understand a publisher has to cover their costs AND make a profit, but being an international customer, I would probably have to double the cost when including postage, currency conversion, etc. Shame. Hopefully they release a cheaper pdf version later on down the track.

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  8. demiurge's excellent thread at rpg.net


    Link?

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  9. I'm with Fitzerman on this one...I skipped all the Dungeon Crawl Classics when I saw they were for D20. I might purchase them in the new format.

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  10. I bought the few DCC modules that were explicitly first-edition compatible. Excellent stuff. I'm very excited about this latest news, and will probably be buying them all sight unseen.

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  11. I, too, have only bought the "1e" DCCs in the past (plus the Dave Arneson one), and will gladly continue in that policy! I'm not a big spender, and almost everything I do buy is out-of-print, but this seems a worthy effort to support. I quite simply love modules that I can use without work. :-) Plus, I for one enjoy the fact that my game is still "supported"! (On that note, I think "1e" is a more viable brand than "OSRIC".)

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  12. I'll be supporting these. I don't need them by any stretch, but I love Goodman Games and I like seeing interest in earlier editions by one of the bigger publishers.

    I'd also love to see Paizo do something like this. However, given Paizo's love of dense story and the "adventure path" format, I can't help but feel that an old school product from Paizo would be decidedly retro-Hickman.

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  13. Well, remember that the 3rd ed modules became unavailable.

    That's a fair point.

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  14. Anyone who claims to support old school gaming, and doesn't purchase these, is simply blowing smoke. These are professionally produced 1E modules....Geez! Not to mention these are being produced by Allan Grohe and John Hershberger, two of the most respected names in this sort of endeavor.

    I've flipped through the DCC7 1E version, and there is a lot more going on here than just a few cosmetic changes. The cover is mono, the maps have been redone to match the classic "blue ink" style (looking very nice), and TacoJohn has done a great job with the conversion itself. It's very reminiscent of U1 in plot and tone....except it's better. It wasn't a surprise to learn from TC that author Chris Doyle is a huge 1E fan.....

    Not everyone owns the original DCCs, so most of the contents will probably by new for those that didn't collect them for the cool Otus covers. And since all I ever hear is that the old school community needs more adventure modules, I can't see any reason to pass them up. Frankly, if they were $20 each, I'd buy a pair of everything released just to show my level of interest in this sort of product...

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  15. I have most of the DCC modules as released in d20. But, I'm really looking forward to this and see it as a big positive! The more exposure it gets the better off it will be.

    Thanks Allan & Jon!!

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  16. For me, the port of a DCC to an older edition shouldn’t just recreate the 3e mechanics in disguise. For the most part, it should lose the 3e mechanics. Replace with the old mechanics when there is an old mechanic, but in other cases, it should be left to DM discretion or (probably even more often) just omitted. Instead of rolls gating access to information, the information is just included in descriptions. Instead of descriptions of rolls to perform routine actions, it’s just assumed they will succeed and don’t even require a mention.

    For me, this makes the DCC’s much more useful than the original d20 versions because it becomes short enough for my adult-onset attention deficit disorder. Making it shorter is valuable to me and, ironically, means shorter is actually worth more money to me than longer.

    So, I’ll be checking these out to see how they are done.

    I have nothing against OSRIC—and have praised it, but I’m glad they aren’t using it. I applaud people standing up and exercising their rights, as long as we still have them.

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