Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Raggi Grabs Headlines -- Again

In case you haven't heard, James Raggi has again announced some very interesting news, namely that he will "will be releasing the Vornheim City Kit by Zak Sabbath of “Playing D&D With Porn Stars” and The Escapist’s "I Hit It With My Axe." Here's Zak's sales pitch:
The Vornheim City Kit will be a guide to the city that my campaign is based around, but way more than that, it'll be a tool for running open-ended city adventures anywhere. I'm not going to be Mr. PR here and claim I'm sure it'll have 'Everything You Need To Run A Campaign In A Fake Medieval Urban Setting' but I am sure it'll have everything I need, because this is actually the stuff I use when we play.

The Vornheim City Kit will feature: oddities of the city; maps of major locations; a souped-up version of the "urbancrawl" rules for creating fully-stocked labyrinthine streets while players are actually being chased through them; and loads of tables for creating taverns, merchants, libraries, decadent aristocrats, and other accoutrements of urban living in a split-column format allowing the DM to generate functional details on the fly or mix-and-match results during adventure prep in order to create more individualized environments.

The emphasis will be on creating instruments you can actually use, rather than burying the DM under masses of pre-imagined information. This won't be a big, fat, where-the-fuck-did-I-put-that-bookmark encyclopedia of every loose toothpick and manhole cover in the city. This will be a little book that you can put on your table and say to your players "Ok, it's Friday night in 1200 AD, what are we doing?" and be confident that you have an environment ready to roll with any punch the party throws. The pictures will be helpful, the maps will be clear, the tables will be fun to roll on, and it will all be easy to find."

The kit will also include notes and commentary on how the tools in the kit can or have worked out in actual play from James Raggi, Zak Sabbath, and the 'Axe' girls.

Look for it Winter 2011.
I don't know about anyone else, but I think this sounds like a really intriguing product, one I'm looking forward to seeing, if only because urban adventuring is a staple of swords-and-sorcery stories and it's not been well supported in the hobby in many years.

If the book is even half as good as it sounds like from Zak's spiel, then it's going to be very awesome indeed. I also expect this announcement will raise yet more eyebrows among those who were already clucking about Raggi's plans to publish Geoffrey McKinney's Carcosa in an expanded, deluxe edition next year. Looks like 2011 is going to be a hopping year for Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Here's hoping other old school publishers can produce some similarly cool stuff.

21 comments:

  1. I'm assuming by "headlines" you mean "a post on several blogs"? :P

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  2. As you can imagine, I have a special interest in city-based products, so this sounds intriguing. One of my favorite supplements is an old Chaosium product, "Cities," which I've found useful time and again when I needed a quick encounter or the players asked "What's on this street."

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  3. Scott,

    Of course! Does anything any of us do in this hobby "real" headlines anywhere else?

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  4. Of course! Does anything any of us do in this hobby "real" headlines anywhere else?

    I'm just piss-taking. Zak seems like a solid guy and hopefully this'll do well.

    I don't know, however, that I would include the word "fuck" in a product announcement. Maybe that's the litmus test to ensure that buyers won't be the sort who get the vapors.

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  5. LotFP is heading down a direction I probably won't follow. He's reprinting Carcosa, a product I have no interest in, as it codifies rules for sadistic behavior (presumably for player use, or why bother writing it? it's like saying the Duelist was an "npc-only" class to claim otherwise).

    Pointless vulgarity is another thing I can't stand in writing. It's intellectually lazy. Compelling statements can be made without resorting to dropping profanities. I read Zak's blog a few times and was put off by it.

    My impression now is that Mr. Raggi is trying to brand LotFP as an OSR "shock" content publisher.

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  6. You got a point Scott,but then then again Mr. Sabbath isn't your typical game designer.

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  7. Anthony: I agree that the Midkemia Cities supplement is completely excellent. Matt Finch's City Envounters is also quite good. I hope that Zak's will be better still! Bravo for LotFP.

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  8. Scott said:Maybe that's the litmus test to ensure that buyers won't be the sort who get the vapors.

    I am generally neither pro nor con the word "fuck." It's a word I generally reserve for moments when other words won't do, and perhaps I fear casual dropping of the F-bomb will cause it to lose its potency.

    But I look at the original D&D as having started off as a somewhat shadowy, underground, secretive word-of-mouth kind of thing. Then it hit the big time and all of the sudden all sorts of branding and marketing folks got involved and they sanitized it and made it more family friendly. Rainbows and unicorns and Tanaari. Blargh.

    I want my "OSR" content rough around the edges, like the old pulps and Heavy Metal Magazine and Richard Corben comics. I don't want it to look or sound like something that Hasbro put out... if I'm buying a book written by a guy who plays D&D with porn actresses, I'm not going to be shocked by strong content. Having 'fuck' in the product announcement will hopefully keep those who like something more mainstreet away from it.

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  9. I'm hoping this will turn out well. Zak seems like a bright guy; I also like the idea of a book I can use in real-time at the table to keep city adventures (which can be a challenge) rolling. Hopefully he'll be doing a lot of illustration for it. I really like his pen and ink art.

    Here's another vote in support of "Cities" by Chaosium.

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  10. @Pat: "My impression now is that Mr. Raggi is trying to brand LotFP as an OSR "shock" content publisher."

    Or he wants to brand LotFP as the publisher that won't censor itself, for better or worse. Anyway, I don't see how a city supplement is going to be "shock content".

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  11. @limpey: Pretty much in agreement with you. Folks familiar with Zac should know he is coming from a decidedly punk-rock angle to the hobby... something that delights me to no end! It is refreshing to know that D&D can reel in a varied assortment of humanity with differing tastes, all unified in their enjoyment of the game. On top of all that, Zac is intelligent, a very talented artist, and has great ideas for the game.

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  12. Maybe that's the litmus test to ensure that buyers won't be the sort who get the vapors.

    It's funny: I was thinking the same thing. Somehow, I don't think it's going to stop the usual suspects from complaining, though.

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  13. I want my "OSR" content rough around the edges, like the old pulps and Heavy Metal Magazine and Richard Corben comics.

    At the very least, I think there's definitely a place for that sort of content within the OSR. Not everything produced has to be fit for consumption by 10 year-olds and the expectation that it ought to be, lest the entire hobby be tarnished, strikes me as a tad ridiculous -- and I say this as someone who had, and still, issues with Carcosa.

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  14. Anyway, I don't see how a city supplement is going to be "shock content".

    Nor do I. I rather strongly suspect that Zak's book will in fact be a lot less "shocking" in its content than many products from the old days were at the time, but I could well be wrong.

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  15. I am glad that Raggi is doing this. I think Zak's city work (as detailed on his blog) is original in approach and I wanted to work up something based on it for Fight On! in collaboration with Zak eventually. Now that Jim is taking the lead I don't have to; it will get out there anyway.

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  16. @limpey - I totally agree with you: its nice to have an edge back in rpgs. While I haven't read any of Zak's stuff, I am completely enamored wiht Jim and Geoffrey's work. Ironically, I feel these guys may actually stand the best chance of breaking out of the OSR niche and becoming comercially viable.

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  17. its nice to have an edge back in rpgs

    Zak's gaming material that I've seen is good but not particularly edgy. It feels like some people have more of a problem with him and his players personally than with anything inappropriate in the material.

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  18. Zak's gaming material that I've seen is good but not particularly edgy. It feels like some people have more of a problem with him and his players personally than with anything inappropriate in the material.

    Correct. Zak's stuff is quite "mainstream" within the old school continuum, probably even pretty tame compared to stuff in, say, Arduin or Empire of the Petal Throne. All the uproar makes no sense to me.

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  19. Since I got a peek at Jim's plans when I met him last month, guess how hard it have been to keep things like this to yourself? :)

    BTW, I posted about city based fantasy a while back (with a pretty stupid title to the post, come to think of it), and I am curious about gaming in cities. Who even decided that there were dungeons, wilderness and then cities? Cities have been very poorly supported and it will be interesting to see what Zak have to show.

    A few times I've tried to set my game in cities, and have found it hard to make them feel big, or to make them feel coherent when they are big. Otherwise they tend to be the tavern and other "supply centres" or just a maze of things with no sense of fitting in.

    If this product generates some good posts on city gaming, then I'm very happy.

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  20. If this product generates some good posts on city gaming, then I'm very happy.

    I wouldn't go as far as to say it was "good", but I obviously sensed that something was happening when I wrote this the other day! I like the idea of urban adventuring, but have never played in a city-based game, so I'm looking forward to Zak's book.

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  21. I ran big chunks of my campaign in CSIO. My group and I developed a feel for the city, and we could easily spend session after session without ever leaving. I always thought of city-based campaigns as a staple of gaming.

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