Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What I'm Up To

This Summer is shaping up to be a busy time for me project-wise, but this is good, since many of these projects are things that have been percolating in the back of my brain for months (or longer) and it'll be good to get them out of my skull and into written form. Here's what I'm working on:
  • Dwimmermount: This will detail six levels of my campaign's megadungeon, but I'm presenting it in a style somewhat akin to Mike Carr's In Search of the Unknown. So, you'll get maps, background, wandering monster tables, room descriptions, new magic items, etc. along with advice/suggestions/commentary on how to place them within the overall complex. There will be a few "set piece" rooms, like the Moon Pool and the Cleric Tree, as well some keyed monster encounters, but, by and large, it'll be a "megadungeon starter kit" rather than something more ready to use "out of the box."
  • Dwimmermount PDFs: Quite a few people have asked me to collect and expand upon some of the rules and setting information from my Dwimmermount campaign. I originally didn't think much of this idea, but I've warmed to it over time, particularly since it lets me keep the megadungeon product free of some (though obviously not all) of the setting specificity that might limit its appeal. So, I'm working on the first of several short PDF products that present my house rules and setting information for use with Labyrinth Lord. The first will treat dwarves and gnomes and I have ideas for others about elves, goblins, alternate classes, and the like.
  • Labyrinth Lord, the Dwimmermount Edit: This is something I may make available just as a free text file and it might be sometime before it's fully done. Basically, it's a reorganized version of the LL rules that reflects all the little idiosyncrasies of the way I run my game, like the altered saving throw charts, the "target 20" hit system, the revised spell and monster lists, and so forth. It's not meant to be a full treatment of everything from my campaign rules-wise, but instead a look at how I've adapted the basic rules of LL to suit what happens at my table.
  • Thousand Suns Revision: As some of you may already know, I wrote a SF RPG called Thousand Suns several years ago. While I am happy with what I created, I think the game needs to be better and more concisely presented. It's a simple, expansive game that's overwritten and desperately needs better organization. So, that's what I'm planning to do: give the game a solid spit and polish to make it as good as it should have been the first time out of the gate.
And that's what occupies my writing time these days when I'm not composing new entries for the blog.

24 comments:

  1. And isn't there a new supplement for Thousand Suns coming out soon?

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  2. There is! Starships is available now as a PDF and will be in print shortly. It was written to be consistent with the revisions I have in mind, so it won't be invalidated in any way by the new rulebook when it comes out.

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  3. I thought so!

    I do own the set of TS books, but haven't convinced either of my gaming groups to give it a try...although my Exalted group is a better bet because one of them is a former Traveller player and H Beam Piper fan like me.

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  4. I'm very much looking forward to reading all of these!

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  5. Definitely looking forward to the Dwimmermount stuff.

    I had forgotten that you had written Thousand Suns. Looking forward to its revision.

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  6. I'm presenting it in a style somewhat akin to Mike Carr's In Search of the Unknown.

    I'm very pleased you are doing this. I've been under the belief that the OSR is the perfect audience for this type of adventure and, quite frankly, I'm surprised that no one has attempted to write a module using this format (or one akin to it) so far. I had it in my head to do exactly that after I completed the second Stonhell book and had gone as far as sketching out ideas for the adventure. However, if you're going to venture into these waters, that absolves me of having to test them myself, a fact that my already overburdened "to do" list gratefully thanks you for!

    I suspect you're on the right track in resurrecting this style of adventure design and I look forward to seeing the fruits of your efforts. Good luck!

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  7. < chant >
    Shadow, Sword, and Spell!
    Shadow, Sword, and Spell!

    < /chant >

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  8. Shadow, Sword & Spell is done and on its way to being printed as we speak. My contributions to it are small, so I don't really consider it "my" game in the same way I do Thousand Suns. That said, some of the ideas behind the game are mine and based on my thoughts about pulp fantasy.

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  9. "So, you'll get maps, background, wandering monster tables, room descriptions, new magic items, etc. along with advice/suggestions/commentary on how to place them within the overall complex."

    Honest question: What do you feel is the advantage of this approach?

    I ask because I shuffle around encounters in published modules all the time. But I've never run B1 because mandatory prep work is exactly the opposite of what I'm looking for in a published product.

    So when I hear that you're selling me work, Dwimmermount immediately fall off my "Must Buy" list. (Onto the less prestigious but hardly vicious "Probably Buy" list.)

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  10. James, will the new Thousand Suns include artwork (updated or otherwise?). Just wonderin'.

    Also looking forward to all the Dwimmermount products!

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  11. @Jay. Thousand Suns will have new art. The original art will still be part of it, but there will be more art. If you look at what we did with Foundation, Piper and Starships (out this month) you will see that I am going for more art.

    @Jvstin. Starships is due out this month, but you can pre-order it now from Rogue Games' website.

    @bighara. Shadow, Sword & Spell is at the printer now, and will be at GenCon.

    @James. Dude, don't downplay your work on SS&S. How many hours did we talk on the phone while we worked on it. ;-)

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  12. Honest question: What do you feel is the advantage of this approach?

    I don't see any "advantage" so much as a presentation that appeals to me and that we haven't seen much of in gaming these days. Matt Finch's Tomb of the Iron God adopts it and I liked its use there, just as I did in B1 thirty years ago. Much as I like wholly "pre-fab" modules and often mine them for ideas, I much prefer a more toolkit-like approach to my gaming materials. Plus, I want to encourage people to make Dwimmermount their own rather than hanging on my every word so they get it "right," if that makes sense.

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  13. Richard,

    I'm not downplaying my contributions; many of the game's ideas come from things I suggested or imagined. However, I didn't actually write all that much of SS&S and felt it important to make that clear.

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  14. "the 'target 20' hit system"

    Pumps fist in air. Right on.

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  15. Hoping not to come off too contrary here, but isn't a "megadungeon starter kit" a pencil, graph paper, dice, and the monster/trap/treasure tables in your rulebook of choice?

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  16. By which I mean to say, you can start with that or something more finished like Joseph Bloch's Castle of the Mad Archmage.

    I just can't see any practical advantage to starting somewhere in-between. You'll learn even more starting from scratch and you'll save much more time with a finished product.

    Even if you'd be selling the product for just the maps, free dungeon maps are about as rare online as grains of sand at the beach.

    I'm just not sure there's an answer to "Why pay for this" other than "I like reading Grognardia."

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  17. I am so look forward to dwimmermount. I am wondering if I can switch things for empire of the petal throne.

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  18. Damn. Another edition? I like TS. Imperial sci-fi is a good genre, and TS is good toolbox ruleset. In fact, in the days before MgT (Mongoose Traveller) came out, it satisfied my itch for that genre. Even though I am gathering MgT books as they come out (although I have abandoned the 3I setting and I rebelled against Dilettante), I still like TS.

    Oh well. More money out of the old bank account.

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  19. I'm so excited about this, James!

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  20. @ John. I do not want to speak for James, but the Revised Thousand Suns will be a better editing job and a little refinement. The goal behind Revised Thousand Suns is to not replace what has come before. You can still play the game with the older edition. We never make anyone buy anything and one of the major goals is to not invalidate.

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  21. Will,

    Your points are absolutely fair and, for a lot of people, there is absolutely no reason why they should care about a product like the one I'm producing. Frankly, I'd be really happy to learn that gamers had rejected Dwimmermount because they'd rather make their own megadungeons.

    But experience teaches me that most gamers either can't or don't want to do that, so I figure that, if they're going to buy a "pre-fab" megadungeon product anyway, I'd prefer that it be one that requires them to become a co-creator with me rather than merely a passive consumer of what I've already done.

    Maybe I'm crazy in thinking this. If so, it wouldn't be the first time.

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  22. John,

    The revised TS will be 95+% compatible with the old. It'll mostly a reorganization, re-writing, and re-editing of the original, dropping some of the unneeded verbiage in the name of concision and clarity. It'll have a new layout and art, but will be functionally the same game. There's no necessity to buy it and anything new included in it (rules-wise) will be made available for free on the Encyclopedia Galactica wiki.

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  23. what the release schedule for these?

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  24. Adrian,

    The Dwimmermount PDF should be out sometime next month, while the printed megadungeon book should be available in the late Fall/early Winter.

    The Thousand Suns revision should be available in early 2011, while the LL Edit has no schedule, since it's a side project that I'll finish in my spare time.

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