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?