Saturday, December 5, 2009

Arduin Eternal Shipping

According to the Emperors Choice website, the Arduin Eternal Playbook is shipping at long last. For those of you not familiar with the ins and outs of Arduin history, this will be the third RPG derived from Dave Hargrave's legendary fantasy campaign. The first made its appearance in the Arduin Grimoire and its sequels, which were essentially hacks to OD&D. Later, there was a reworking of these books into The Compleat Arduin, which, as I understand it -- I've never seen the book myself -- was a little less quirky and made an attempt to step away from Arduin's implicit dependence on OD&D. Arduin Eternal is apparently a wholly new game based in the world of Arduin.

Arduin Eternal has been in development for a long time. I honestly didn't think it'd ever see the light of day. Now that it has, I'll admit to being intrigued, but, at 800+ pages and $74.95 -- a hardcover, admittedly -- I'm not sure I'm willing to take the risk. As I've noted before, my feelings about Arduin are ambivalent. I can't deny Hargrave's eccentric genius and there are many aspects of the setting I find pretty compelling. However, it's also a little too much of a mish-mash in places for my staid tastes. Hargrave nevertheless opened my eyes to the true potential of old school gaming, so I keep at least one eye on anyone who's taken up his banner in the 21st century to see what they've created and that's why Arduin Eternal interests me.

So, if anyone out there takes the plunge and buys this book, I'd love to know about it. The price is just too high for me to justify spending at this time and its length is certainly off-putting. I tend to prefer much shorter RPG products these days and, given that all of the original Arduin books, if combined, wouldn't amount to 800 pages, I'm curious as to what's actually in Arduin Eternal. Not curious enough to spend $74.95 sight unseen, but curious nonetheless.

34 comments:

  1. How much?

    Surely it should only cost that much once it's been out of print for 20 years, and been resold on ebay a couple of dozen times.

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  2. I've been an Arduin fan for close to three decades now, but there's no way in hell I'm dropping $75 for a RPG book (especially in the current economy). I wouldn't be surprised if they've completely priced themselves out of the market.

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  3. Actually I don't think its old. Having picked the 800+ page "World Book of Khaas: Legendary Lands of Arduin" you must realize that it is about two inches thick. Given what printing costs and fact he'll not sell many I can see pricing it at $74. I am sure he doesn't have the print run necessary to print it overseas like the big company who shall remain nameless, and even they want $40 for their latest two hundred page offering. I am ambivelent as to whether I will buy this offering as I have always found "Arduin" much better for mining campaign ideas than rules. I did not care much for the "Complete Arduin" rules at least the ones that showed up in the "Arduin Adventure" box set which I own. However, Emperors Choice did ship my last order promptly and even threw some free swag (playing cards, and monster stat cards for air sharks) to boot. I suspect I'll buy it just to keep my collection of fantasy roleplaying games compete. When I do I'll try and post a review on my blog "Forgotten Runes".

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  4. I've bought the original books from them recently, so I won't be picking this up. Cool to see it get some coverage, though. Cheers.

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  5. There is something basically wrong with an 800-page game, IMHO.

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  6. Looks tempting and great to see, but am afraid I'm tempted to agree with the observations on price and a bar to "sight unseen" purchases - and even when seen, perhaps.

    Compare with Starblazer Adventures ( http://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?mainid=10613 ) which was a 632 page hardback at £26.99 - $38.95 at that time - full pre-release price (with a loss-making £2.70 charged for p&p) and a copy of the .pdf sent in advance "on trust". And that for a product with non-zero IPR costs.

    I don't think the UK marketplace is /that/ much more competitive than the US. :/

    Pity; would've been good to have had a browse through, at least.

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  7. Although this may come across as snarky, I'd much rather that all the effort put into that 800 page complete new rpg system was spend compiling and cleaning up existing arduin material for oldschool D&D

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  8. Arduin is the grab bag of game systems. You really just take what you like from it and throw away the rest.

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  11. Gah! My previous comment made no grammatical sense. Apologies. What it should have said was:

    Perhaps they'll see the light and offer the material, split up into several books that are more affordable/reasonably sized.

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  12. At the least, they should put out a free PDF detailing the new system and give people a taste of what it's like just like every other publisher. Otherwise, no ones is going to bother except for the ten or fifteen direhard Arduin fans left on the planet.

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  13. > Otherwise, no ones is going to bother except for the ten or fifteen direhard Arduin fans left on the planet.

    /Way/ more than that.
    (And I'm not just meaning twenty. :)

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  14. You know, you guys aren't the first to comment on the price. Even the most die-hard Arduin fans out there, and yes, there are quite a few of them, have expressed, how shall I phrase it . . . negative impressions of the pricing model. However, the similarly sized Book of Khass was priced on the same level and I'd say without reservation that it was certainly worth it.

    As for the comment about Arduin being a grab bag of systems, that's simply no longer true. This new edition was created with the express intent to create a whole, unified system, and it's done that well I think. It won't appeal to a lot of grognards who view Old School as an exercise in simplicity, but it's definately not a bad game in my opinion.

    Yes, however, I agree that the publishers should really have considered alternate publishing models considering the availability of things like POD and the like. They should have, again in my opinion, followed the model that OSRIC did and create several different styles available for different prices. But they didn't, and we're not really in a position to do otherwise. Legally at least.

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  15. World of Greyhawk, Citystate of Invincible Overlord and the Arduin Grimoire were my campaign setting triumverate back in the day. I loaned a friend my Arduin books back in 1984 and haven't seen them since! Hope he's putting them to good use ;-)

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  17. @irbyz:

    Even if there's a hundred die hard fans in the world, that not even a drop it the bucket. In all my time I have never seen an Arduin book in a game story or seen an Arduin player at a con. I'm not saying there aren't a lot of fans of those books ( I am one afterall). But the numbers are so small their hardly significant.

    @Hamlet:

    I'm not talking about new system but the original books. Going back, the Complete Arduin which was hailed as a "complete" game, yet you still had to cut and pasted from other sources to make it wor especially if you used that loopy combat system nicknamed the " baffle factor".

    That said, I know the new system has been in the works for a long time and I do have to give credit to Emperors Choice for sticking it out. But why didn't they go the POD route with lulu or even put out a basic version like like Hargrave did with the Arduin Adventure? what could they possibly be worried of? They own the license afterall.

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  18. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but since Dave wrote his original grimoire, and then compiled another set which was out for a fairly short time before he died, how on earth did he manage to produce notes for another 800 pages?

    Is this yet another of those old school products where every modern "caretaker" have put their spoon in the soup as well?

    Like I said, I have no idea how this book came to be, but is it a Hargave interpretation or is it Arduin like he did it?

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  19. I am prepared to reserve judgement until I read a review, but 800 pages is allota pages!

    Ultimate toolbox is 400 pages, and it cost me $50, but as a compilation of random tables, I am already getting a great deal of use out of it.

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  20. I hate to say it's but that's a really ugly cover - I doubt that will help sales any.

    Say what you will about Compleat Arduin, but that Kelly Freas cover sure was pretty.

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  21. @ Hamlet

    "As for the comment about Arduin being a grab bag of systems, that's simply no longer true. This new edition was created with the express intent to create a whole, unified system, "

    I'm actually sorry to hear that. As someone who never saw Arduin in its original incarnation, and is now interested in it because of his Grognard proclivities, a new, unified system is not a selling point to me. I agree with whomever said the effort should have been put into cleaning up the original text.

    I have the same problem with Talislanta. I bought and enjoyed the original edition. Every time someone puts out a new edition, they monkey with it, taking it further and further away from what I originally liked; they keep adding to it and expanding it in the name of completeness, never realizing that I liked it the way it was.

    Granted, I haven't seen this new Arduin. But it sounds suspiciously like the same situation.

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  22. 'm not talking about new system but the original books. Going back, the Complete Arduin which was hailed as a "complete" game, yet you still had to cut and pasted from other sources to make it wor especially if you used that loopy combat system nicknamed the " baffle factor".

    I've used the battle factor system without trouble for years when playing Arduin. It's not really that difficult. Arcane, byzantine, and a bit obtuse, sure, but not that difficult to learn. Is it elegant and simple? Not at all. But it ain't high math.


    That said, I know the new system has been in the works for a long time and I do have to give credit to Emperors Choice for sticking it out. But why didn't they go the POD route with lulu or even put out a basic version like like Hargrave did with the Arduin Adventure? what could they possibly be worried of? They own the license afterall.

    The owners had their reasons for not going with the LULU POD option, though many of us pushed them towards it. I believe their rational was worrying about losing things to online piracy, which they had suffered with the release of their Black Grimiore spell book a few years ago when it was posted on the web before the book was even fully written. They got burned, and they're very hesitant to dip their toe into that method of publication now.

    There are other reasons, but I'm not going to air their dirty laundry here.

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  23. @ Andreas
    From what I gather, it's entirely new system and has very little ( if any at all) material by Hargrave. Normally, these sort of things end up being pretty awful but from what I gathered a lot of people liked the book of Kass and that was 100% entirely written by someone else. And yeah, that cover is a real eye sore.

    @ Hamlet

    I can understand their ( and any publishers) fears about piracy, but what are the going to do? Sell the book at such a high price that they know each and everyone person who ever purchased a copy? Besides,I think most gamers prefer to have hardcopies of their books then just using a PDF cause if that wasn't the case Pazio wouldn't of sold out on Pathfinder the first week it was published or Swords & Wizardry wouldn't get distribution.

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  24. @ Hamlet again,

    I'm sorry, but the baffle factor is a real cluster f*&k as part of the method to adding up a monsters defense score was including it's HP's. Which in game terms meant a 150 HP giant maggot was actually harder to kill then say a 100 HP Adamantine Golum.


    .

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  25. Oh, I'll buy it.

    Hmmm, as far as there not being market/too expensive, etc.

    > The first batch of the Arduin Eternal book is currently SOLD OUT.

    Well, got in on the 2nd print run, and the book of Kass. Was tempted by this map, really like the style, really have no use for it.

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  26. Hey, if they sold out all the better because putting together a 800 page book is no joke. Congrats to Emperor Choice and the people who worked on it.

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  27. > The first batch of the Arduin Eternal book is currently SOLD OUT.

    I guess latecomers will have to eat crow. ;)

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  28. Look, even if their 1st printing was only 10 copies, what matters is they sold out their product and hopefully made a profit. I own my own business so I know how hard it is to make a buck. I just hope it lives up to it's price for the buyers sake.

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  29. I would kill to have this. Arduin is fascinating.

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  30. I'm sorry, but the baffle factor is a real cluster f*&k as part of the method to adding up a monsters defense score was including it's HP's. Which in game terms meant a 150 HP giant maggot was actually harder to kill then say a 100 HP Adamantine Golum.


    Like I said, it never made a whole lot of sense in the grand scheme, nor was it elegant, nor tremendously great: but it actually worked and continues to work for those who use it. Maybe the faintest praise that can apply is "Hey, it's still better than Synnabar!"

    I can understand their ( and any publishers) fears about piracy, but what are the going to do? Sell the book at such a high price that they know each and everyone person who ever purchased a copy? Besides,I think most gamers prefer to have hardcopies of their books then just using a PDF cause if that wasn't the case Pazio wouldn't of sold out on Pathfinder the first week it was published or Swords & Wizardry wouldn't get distribution.

    Like I said, there were those of us who did push the publishers towards the less expensive POD model, and I largely agree with your reasoning. However, it was never anybody's decision to make except the publishers' and it is the way it is. It's really not any worse than WOTC's reaction, which was to pull everything and start leveling law suits.

    I'm not gonna argue that their business model in this case is a great and brilliant thing, merely that they had their rationale that they found compelling despite what we might have to say about it.

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  32. >Like I said, it never made a whole lot of sense in the grand scheme, nor was it elegant, nor tremendously great: but it actually worked and continues to work for those who use it. Maybe the faintest praise that can apply is "Hey, it's still better than Synnabar!"<

    And neither is as good as tried and true d20 rules.

    >I'm not gonna argue that their business model in this case is a great and brilliant thing, merely that they had their rationale that they found compelling despite what we might have to say about it.<

    Well, If there business model is to sell to only a few people then that's their choice. Either way, I don't think I need any more Arduin other then what has already been published 20+ years ago.

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  33. crow said:

    "I don't think I need any more Arduin other then what has already been published 20+ years ago."

    Yea, that's pretty much how I feel about it. About nine months to a year ago I started to remember this strange book I borrowed from a friend in grade seven over a weekend. That's the sum exposure I ever had until I bought copies this summer. It made an impression on me that I'd basically forgotten about. I couldn't articulate outside some statements such as " there was this kind of artificer class or technologist class in the same book as magic users." Stuff like that. A post of James's a while back made me think it could have been Arduin. It was. This exercise in memory excavation has really moved me. Same with the bestiary Timeshadows and another helped me recall. Both were things I saw for a veeeery short period of time in 1981. That's 28 years ago. It's exploring a surprise portal to my past that grips me so. The idea that Arduin has a new set of innovations for the future is not why I'm interested. It's a link to my past. FWIW the bestiary is called All The World's Monsters, vol. 2. It's available as a pdf from DriveThroughRPG for $7.

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  34. Finally finished the review. Bottom Line:
    Some great ideas However: Too many stats. Information too dispersed around the book. Too many different ways of doing about the same thing

    Imagination 5 stars
    Organization 2 stars
    Art work 3 stars (4 if you are an affectionato of black and white ink work)
    Playability 3 stars (some sections seem quite useable)

    Overall 3 stars

    You can find a detailed chapter blow by blow at: http://forgottenrunes.blogspot.com/2009/12/arduin-bloody-arduin.html

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