Sunday, April 3, 2011

Black Blade to Publish Castle of the Mad Archmage

Looks like Black Blade Publishing is undertaking the most ambitious megadungeon project to date by publishing Joe Bloch's Castle of the Mad Archmage, including two new levels (which brings the total levels to 14). While there have been other megadungeon projects prior to this point, what makes this one especially interesting to me is the format Black Blade has chosen to adopt for its publication:
  • A 220-240 page hardcover containing the encounter keys and level by level detail for all 14 levels
  • Full-color poster maps on heavyweight stock for all 14 levels
  • A folio or folder to organize and store the poster maps when they're not in use
  • A deluxe box or slipcase for storing both the level key hardcover and the map folio with all of the poster maps
I can't recall a megadungeon product that ever gave so much thought to its physical presentation, which, I think, combined with the terrific creativity of Joe's megadungeon (especially the maps, which are just awesome), will make this one of the stand-out products of the old school renaissance. I honestly can't wait till it's released.

18 comments:

  1. Very awesome news. I'm excited for Joe and I can't wait to see the product when it comes out.

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  2. That sounds interesting. I'm a sucker for a well presented and laid-out book/set, so long as the content is equal to it.

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  3. Hmmm, when they say 'poster maps' I wonder how big they are talking. As a GM, any map larger than 8.5x11 inches is near useless to me at the table.

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  4. I'm a little worried about the current "collectible over utility" riff going through the OSR publishing community right now. With the new Tome of Horrors going for $100, I would suspect this spectacular production will go for that or more. I'm wondering if the vast majority will be used for play, or stuck away in a box to sell at a profit. Nothing wrong with that, but it would be great if a few of these productions were made to be used around a gaming table and not just put on display on a glassed in shelf.

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  5. I'm on the fence about this announcement... I loved the PDFs of the Castle, but have concerns about a hardcover high production megadungeon. I've run quite a bit of Stonehell, and can tell from experience I was constantly writing in it and updating it - though I suppose the point is to have a collectible artifact.

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  6. I admit it, I'm a sucker for this sort of stuff. I agree with Badmike, though: seems like a lot of material is being cranked out to cash in on the increasing popularity of OSR-type games. I bought Stonehell Dungeon, put it on a shelf, unopened. I'll probably do the same with this. Many of us "old school" gamers have much deeper pockets than we ever did when we first started playing, so it's almost as if I want to buy stuff to make up for not being able to in the past.

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  7. Badmike said: I'm a little worried about the current "collectible over utility" riff going through the OSR publishing community right now... [snip] it would be great if a few of these productions were made to be used around a gaming table and not just put on display on a glassed in shelf.

    and Beedo said: I've run quite a bit of Stonehell, and can tell from experience I was constantly writing in it and updating it - though I suppose the point is to have a collectible artifact.

    Our intent is to design for utility at the gaming table, as well as to provide a high-quality product that we feel backs up the quality of work and imagination that Joe has put into the Castle of the Mad Archmage. Therefore, for example, we include folio to store the maps so that they're easy to refer to and find during play, and a box to store it all in one place so you don't end up missing pieces and parts while you're lugging the castle around to your games.

    If you choose not to write in your copies, that's your call, but we're trying to maximize their ease of use at the table, rather than in a glass display case guarded by lasers ;->

    And, while we haven't worked out final pricing on the product yet, we have also discussed various lower-cost alternatives as part of our publishing plan for Castle of the Mad Archmage.

    Anyway, I hope that info helps to ease some of your concerns.

    Allan.

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  8. Well I there are few I trust more in the gaming community than Allan and Jon, and they are both gamers first and foremost. I think the mention of a low cost alternative is a good solution; the example of Stonehell Dungeon is a good one. Joe's dungeon is a spectacular achievement that deserves a good showcase; however, my thought is (for example) limiting the product to the tricked-up version that is north of $100 doesn't do much to get the product in actual gamer's hands, and with the example of Tome of Horrors (and to an extent the S&W limited edition that sold out in one day) I think the OSR as a whole suffers. After all, how many more people would be playing Castle Zagyg if the product weren't insanely collectible and worth $300 a pop unused (not to mention very limited in production making the chance of ever finding a backup copy virtually nil).

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  9. I would like it to be spiral bound so it could lay flat on the table.

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  10. It does sound very good. I can see myself using this with Gygax's "Yggsburgh". I'm no longer a big fan of C&C though - at least the printings I have, the presentation, layout & standard of English is much weaker than in the better retro-clones.

    I could always use it with Labyrinth Lord, though...

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  11. Actually, TBH I'm also interested in the "Pathfinder Basic Set" coming out soon - I might just use it with that!

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  12. UWS guy said...
    I would like it to be spiral bound so it could lay flat on the table.

    Hear hear.

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  13. I really hope it doesn't have crappy blue maps. Just say no to dysfunctional nostalgia.

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  14. I'm a little worried about the current "collectible over utility" riff going through the OSR publishing community right now. With the new Tome of Horrors going for $100, I would suspect this spectacular production will go for that or more. I'm wondering if the vast majority will be used for play, or stuck away in a box to sell at a profit. Nothing wrong with that, but it would be great if a few of these productions were made to be used around a gaming table and not just put on display on a glassed in shelf.

    I think that's a very fair concern, Mike. I can't say I'm very fond of the trend toward very expensive "premium" old school products either, but I'm also a cheapskate, so that may very well color my perspective. :)

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  15. Don't care what it costs... getting it!! Also getting Dwimmermount; any word on the release time-frame for that?

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  16. Also getting Dwimmermount; any word on the release time-frame for that?

    No specific one other than "sometime between now and summer's end." It's a labor of love project, so it's done when it's done.

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  17. I don’t buy many game products, but this one? I’ll gladly pay $100+. --Falconer

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