Tuesday, May 6, 2008

James Mishler Answers All

Well, maybe not all, but Adventure Games Publishing's president took the time to provide some comments and clarifications about XXXI, which I reviewed yesterday on these virtual pages. Since James is a nice guy and I really liked his product, I thought it only fair to quote his replies to some of my critiques here, which he has kindly given me permission to do.

The Name
Yeah, if I knew then what I know now, it would have had a different name. I've had so many people ask "What does the name mean?" that I've given up hope of Roman numerals surviving the current generation. Some even though the name of the town was actually "Xxxi" as in "Zhee." This year's Gen Con special will not be titled after the year of Judges Guild...
The Cover
Starting with the second issue of Adventure Games Journal we are going to a standard color cover. We are still working on trade dress... trying to figure out what looks good that hasn't already been used in the d20 morass is rather difficult. I was going to take a riff off of C&C products to tie in the product line, but now that they are going to different color covers, too, I'm not sure what we'll do yet. But color cover and proper page numbering is coming soon.
The Art
This was a time and space factor rather than a conscious design choice. We needed to get the product done and to the printers (one of more than a dozen products Peter finished just in time for Gen Con last year), and when my text ended up taking so much space and came in so late, rather than cut text to fit in quickly-drawn art we decided to simply go minimalist. AGJ #1 has more art, and as we move on down the line and bring in more artists, more products will have more art. I eventually want to get to the point where we have ~1/4 page of art ever two-page spread, on the average.
Grid-Like Streets of Tell Qa
Unfortunately, a huge swath of history got cut out of Tell Qa, which explains that the modern town was founded on a "castra" style encampment following the destruction of the prior town after a Tharbrian raid. It became law that the streets had to follow this tradition, and so rather than grow organically, as medieval towns and cities did, it grew under strict control. Tell Qa is notable in the Wilderlands of High Adventure for having such orderly streets. My modified versions of the CSIO and CSWE are even more jumbled than the originals...
Moldvay Easter Eggs
You are the first to comment on finding those! I gotta look around for your No-Prize... it's sitting here somewhere... :)
As mentioned above, full-color covers and more expansive art are in the works, though we'll never go full-color interiors (well, maybe if things take off huge and we can print 10,000 copies at a time at a non-POD printer... one can dream). Additionally, every product will have a thorough Table of Contents, and the larger, more detailed products will be supported by online indexes.
And there you have it. As I said yesterday, I was very pleased with XXXI and my quibbles were just that -- quibbles. They're the kinds of nitpicks I felt I could make because the product is so solid and well-done that I almost have to find something to grouse about, lest my objectivity as a reviewer be called into question.

Thanks to James for being a good sport. Here's to many more more great products from AGP in the future!


  1. IIRC, the Free RPG Day book from Adventure Games Publishing is the same as the GenCon limited edition adventure (??); in any event, I now have to go looking for some eggs....


  2. The Moldvay homages aren't deeply hidden in the text. I saw them right away on my first read-through, so I doubt you'll have any trouble finding them either.

  3. Allan,

    The Free RPG Day product included only the town of Tell Qa. The XXXI Limited Edition product included Tell Qa, 20 new encounters, Mycr and the Mycretians, the Mycretian class (complete with new Mycretian Gifts), and the Nguak and Liowan races for Castles & Crusades.

    The version of Tell Qa in XXXI has only a few minor edits from the FRPGD version, mostly based on changes made to the Mycretian class between the release on FRPGD and its final publication in XXXI.

    Also, note that while we are not participating in Free RPG Day this year, it is a matter of not being carried by retail at this time, not a lack of desire to support Free RPG Day. Next year I hope to be able to support Free RPG Day with a new product, as I think it is a GREAT idea.