Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mirage Arcana Podcast

If you don't always have time to catch up on all the blogs but maybe have a long commute then this looks like a good way to listen in on a bit of the wide world of gaming. The most recent podcast (#25) covers the Rules Cyclopedia.



Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our House Redux

Since the first take on this subject turned into a mess, and with apologies to Lord Gwydion for deleting a fine comment, I have decided to take a second shot at this.

Text as follows:

I have to say I have been pretty shocked at the lack of knowledge within our community concerning the OGL and the many items that go with it over the last 2 days.

Across this and other blogs a conversation has ensued that leaves me queasy. I wonder how other publishers feel about this.

Does it concern you, as a publisher, that there are so many violations of the OGL in our community?

Does it bother you that your trademarked or Product Identity items are being used, I can only presume, without your permission?

Or that the procedure for documenting use of your copyrighted material is being ignored to a great extent?

I would like to have other publishers weigh in on this. Frankly I am very concerned.

Also, do you see any of this as a threat to the OGL? An example being WotC going to court citing a high number of violations of the license to be reason to revoke the license and thus effectively end the OSR as we know it as well as Paizo.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Facts From The FAQ

Excerpts From The WotC FAQ

Open Game License:
Frequently Asked Questions

Version 2.0 -- January 26, 2004


(edited: the link connects to all that was listed here.)

Clarification of the OGL topic

It seems there is a lot of confusion as to the use of the OGL, when it is needed, appropriate or necessary.

First Rule. If you are creating material for any game that has the OGL in it then you HAVE to include the OGL license in your work and abide by the license clauses.

This is not a matter of courtesy. It is the license.

Second Rule. If you are dealing with the OGL you can't use any other form of license process on the work. No CC, no standard copyright, etc.

Third Rule-This is not about money or intentions. If you create something to use in you local game then it's not necessary. But if you publish your derivative work in any manner it has to include the license and be properly filled in.

I'm not making this up or trying to spoil anyone's day. But if you are part of this scene and you haven't read the OGL you really need to. It protects your work, tells others the status of the work for re-use and satisfies the powers that be.

Doing The Right Thing Part 2

This grew to large for comments so I just decided to post it whole here:

Ok, as for market share the latest numbers I've seen put the market at 47% play current edition D&D and 53% play 'other'. That 'other' gets broken down to about 3-5% playing 'classic' D&D (OD&D-AD&D2e) with the other 50% being players who play some variant of 3x.

Since most OSR is based on the SRD that places them in the 3x crowd. Unless you are playing only an original TSR product then you get lumped in with everybody from Paizo on down. So I think the total old school is a larger number than what is just represented by the 3-5% spread.

I have addressed some folks about this subject as I run across them and just thought it would be good to do a post on it.

As for what requires a license, unless you are creating something completely independent of all current OSR games (S&W, LL, C&C,etc) you HAVE to post the license. I see some doing this with blog content by declaring that the text that follows is OGC and hot linking it to a page on their blog that is the OGL. That is very good for the blogosphere.

I'm not going to name names or point fingers. I understand some may not be clear on the OGL requirements but ignorance, as a judge would say, is no excuse for violating the license. If you are going to put up in public either a document or a post you HAVE to do it. Also, I don't want to make a roadmap for others to follow to compile violations.

Here is the license in rtf format:


Notice that the license isn't predicated on whether or not you are Paizo making and selling a product or just a hobbyist posting variations of a SRD monster for free. You have to follow the license regardless.

I am a (soon to be) publisher and really don't want the rug snatched out from underneath a year and a half of time and money spent on development because WotC compiles enough evidence of violations to revoke the license.

And it's not my point...it's a legally binding license by a company who wants to see us gone. Let's not give them the bullets to shoot us with.

For the good of the community I'm just asking that everybody keep these things in mind.

That's all.

The Lair of Bloodtide: The three types of GMs

A bit of PaleoBlogging but good information

The Lair of Bloodtide: The three types of GMs

Doing The Right Thing.

I just wanted to take a moment and cover something I have been running across throughout the blogosphere of late.

The majority of people in the community of the OSR are using the OGL and some variant based on the SRD. Lately I have noticed an increase in folks not doing a proper license page at the end of the document or on their blogs and this could have potentially harsh repercussions for the rest of the community.

We are being watched by the majors on at least a casual basis. WotC would love nothing more than to pull the SRD and the OGL and have us go away. And before you say they can't do that just remember-with enough money and enough lawyers a sympathetic judicial ear is all they need to ruin everything that has been built. Showing that people are not following the license properly is enough to have the license overturned.

And when I say being watched I mean for example Mike Mearls posting his proper email address out at Planet Algol the other day and Erik Mona posting at Sword & Shield about their no-show at GAMA 2011 and why.

These can be found at:

You Need a Wizards.com Account to Email WOTC?!?!


GAMA 2011 Report: When the king abdicates the throne...who will rule?


So they are paying attention. And I think they understand, especially Wizards, that we amount to more than the 5% +/- market share that we think we represent. I would almost guess 25-30% is closer and that gets everybody's attention. Paizo has the most to lose because it would destroy them and by using us as the example it makes everyone look sloppy.

So I implore you, please please put your proper license notice with your work. And if you need help just ask. This is one of the most knowledgeable communities of its kind and the most talented group of people I have had the pleasure to engage with. Let's keep it that way.

We're here to help and anyone who can post anything I've missed please feel free to do so.

Thanks for the eyeball time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sham's Grog 'n Blog: ORIGINS of a HOBBY


A chronological study of some of the most important events leading to the first published modern RPG, TSR's Dungeons & Dragons, 1974.

Sham's Grog 'n Blog: ORIGINS of a HOBBY

That begins in 1893!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

GRUBB STREET: Secret Origins-Jeff Grubb's On Some Gaming History

GRUBB STREET: Secret Origins: "Marvel Super Heroes"

GRUBB STREET: Realms and Remembrance

GRUBB STREET: Spelljamming (Innnn Spppaaaaaace!)

Inside look at gaming history. Good reading.

Possible Explanation For The Rise Of D&D

So, I'm reading the morning posts and start thinking about dice. Now, I've never been a big fanatic about dice, but I do have a fairly large collection and have studied the concept of the origins of those that are unique to gaming.

As I often do I decided to check in at Wikipedia and do a bit of background when my eye caught something on a secondary page:


And then it all began to make sense. The rise of D&D, how nothing could seem to beat it and how the games based on the common 6 sided die were always just a bit behind.

Note to William S. Burroughs-Viruses....they're not just for language anymore....

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Rant

Apologies for the Robo-Posts lately. I have been trying to re-arrange my work space to speed things up and have nothing left to write with when done in the evening. I promise Story Time has several drafts in the works and I will get the series back on track asap.

I'm pushing hard to have my starter for Forsaken Souls at the GenCon OSR booth (if they'll have me :) ) . I'm just learning Hexographer and have so far designed 2 maps- Cow Flop 1 and Cow Flop 2- so need some more work there. I'm finishing the Combat section (hopefully) today and proofing as I go for the first alpha.

If anyone knows of a VTT software that lets you input a custom system into it and doesn't require a degree in programming please drop a link to it in comments. I would like to play test it on VTT as part of preparing the beta.

Ok, it's book shelf moving time..ugh .


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

GAMA 2011 Report: When the king abdicates the throne...who will rule?

I think this pretty much confirms the suspicions I had last year about where gaming is now and where it is going on the RPG front.

I especially found the WotC information to be like a prophecy fulfilled.

Read the whole article. It is a bit of an eye opener.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Artifact RPG - Store32 | DriveThruRPG.com

"The Artifact is an epic science fiction RPG. The full game is available for free as a download or for sale as a printed book....

The Year is 2085 and long range teleportation technology has made faster than light travel possible, In an attempt to find habitable planets earth’s governments send out probes into deep space.

They found something. . ."

Find it at:

The Artifact RPG - Store32 | DriveThruRPG.com

(And no, I'm not an affiliate and yes I should be) :)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Lands of Ara: 2D Barcodes as Mapping Inspiration

If anyone wonders what thinking outside the box means here is a 21st century version of 20th century DIY spirit

The Lands of Ara: 2D Barcodes as Mapping Inspiration

Friday, March 11, 2011

Agree or Disagree-Opinion Poll Time

So I'm scanning down ESCAPE and spy this:

Sneaky Fourth: Hero Points
Under New Rules, the Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide introduces Hero Points. These are very similar to my house rules of Action Points from the Eberron setting in 3.5. Essentially, Hero Points give players more options, as well as some control over when things like character death happen. I like this in particular because it gets rid of the 'meaningless death' issue in many fantasy RPGs - where the player fails one roll and her character plummets to her death, or is killed by the save-or-die spell, in a way that doesn't further the story whatsoever. Screw that.

It got me to thinking and I was wondering how this concept sits with others.

I mean, isn't the point of the game that you have a chance at great wealth or success or whatever your character motivations are and at the same time a chance at dying, possibly a horrible death?

Share your thoughts if you would please...I'm curious how others feel about it...


Get'em while you can-all 9 issues available at Lulu for free:

Get issue #9 from here


1-8 available here

ZX81: Small black box of computing desire

I think this article, although it doesn't deal directly with the OSR, speaks of a different mindset and mentality at a similar time.

Back then if something didn't do something you wanted it to do you fixed it, at least to your satisfaction. RPGs were the same way. I will say that everything TSR printed was a trainwreck to some degree in everyone's eyes, but that's not a value judgment. As the old hackers would say you just need to kluge it a bit and everything was ok.

Gaming was about consensus. The DM talked to a potential group, laid out (or handed out if lucky) any house rules and then the game was underway.

Now when you say house rule to most modern gamers they retort 'if I just wanted to make something up I wouldn't bother with buying the rule books'.

I think therein lies the fundamental building blocks that make up the difference between old school play and new school.

One group is happy to make something there own, inspired by many different things and the other want to buy a pre-packaged entertainment product and consume it. I guess there's nothing wrong with that and I don't want anyone to think that I believe this is a flat footed 100% across the board situation. Younger gamers are trying out different methods of gaming, which I whole hardheartedly agree with, I just think it underlines some of the basic misunderstandings between the different groups.

Anyway, enjoy the link to a flashback from the BBC. In the States you might remember this little guy as a Sinclair or Timex-Sinclair (the ads used to run in OMNI magazine every month).

BBC News - ZX81: Small black box of computing desire

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fabled Lands: This Tin Man's got heart

"Gamebooks are alive and thriving in 2011, as you can see from this dramatic trailer for Tin Man Games' upcoming iOS gamebook Catacombs of the Undercity, the fifth in their Gamebook Adventures series that began with An Assassin in Orlandes."

read the complete post at:

Fabled Lands: This Tin Man's got heart:

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

gamemastering | The Essential Guide for Roleplaying Gamemasters

Over 300 pages of comprehensive techniques for Gamemasters of face-to-face roleplaying games.

Packed with dozens of useful tables, adventure ideas, tips, tricks and goodies.

Works with all game systems.

Buy the book on Amazon.com now or Download the ebook (PDF format)

for more information and linkage go to:

gamemastering | The Essential Guide for Roleplaying Gamemasters

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fighting Fantazine #5 drops

"The fifth issue of Fighting Fantazine - the Fighting Fantasy fan magazine - has finally hit the web! "

Get all the details and linkage here:

Fantasy Game Book: Fighting Fantazine Issue 5

RPG Diehard: Introducing 5 new players to Song of Blades & Heroes

""Normally introducing just one or two new players to miniatures gaming is a weighty task — there's the rules overview, the introduction of the miniatures and the explanation of the stats, plus turn-by-turn questions about various situational stuff..."

read the complete post at:

RPG Diehard: Introducing 5 new players to Song of Blades & Heroes:

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Vision Of The OSR

Rather than try to comment my concept in the post before this one I will just put my 2 cents here.

The R seems capable of standing for many things...Rules, Role-Playing, Renaissance...

To me it stands for Reborn. The rebirth of a style of gaming that was all but gone in the modern scene.

The Old School, for me, represents gaming from about 1974 to around 1985, right before the 'industry' really began to take hold. And for me my game will always be AD&D 1e. It was my first love and for all of its warts will always hold a special place in my life. I know everyone has that defining moment that is what makes them gamers to this day. AD&D is mine.

And it doesn't just represent RPGs to me. It's also Wargaming, Chess, obscurity's like 3M's Feudal and board games like Chopper Strike and Carrier Strike.

The rebirth is not dependent on any particular set of rules. To me it includes everyone from Runequest to Tunnels & Trolls, Empire of the Petal Throne to Traveller.

And modern games like Labyrinth Lord and Osric, Microlite to Swords and Wizardry and more.

I myself have latched onto the Microlite concept as being the most flexible and sharing the better aspects of the New and Old School and am basing my own project around the fine work that many have contributed to the little (3 page) game system that could.

(And all you guys are getting credit in the front of this beast when it's ready :)

In the months to come I hope we can continue to have open dialogue about this hobby and what it means to each of us. There are no wrong answers. There is no wrong way to play.

And I want to point out that I am not against new games or styles. There is some very impressive work being done out there and to all the bloggers who bring us all the news a hearty thank you. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would ever see tabletop gaming have such passion directed at it again. But I'm glad I was wrong.

Enough babbling from me. It's still the weekend in many places around the world and I hope your day is going well and that your game is rolling right..natural 20s to everybody.

Talk Of The Old School

The last few days have been interesting in the world of the OSR after the whole 'Ampersand' dialogue.

It appears that something that seems like a group playing under a common banner are really thinking completely different thoughts when it comes to exactly what old school is.

For some it would seem it only applies to the Original edition rules, to others it means a time period in history.

To some it only applies to one product line from one company, to others it's the beginning of the hobby and the many games that followed it during the growth spurt that turned into an industry.

Today, looking out across the blogosphere it seems that everyone has resumed business as usual.

But have they?

What are your thoughts about the OSR?...what does it mean to you? What would be your perfect vision of the OSR be?

Oubliette Magazine: Issue 5 Now Available for FREE Download!

Oubliette Magazine: Issue 5 Now Available for FREE Download!

It's finally here. Check it out!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bat in the Attic: Wizards needs to take leadership.

Mike Mearls has an interesting column called Legends & Lore . In short the article is about how we are all playing D&D and how we have more in common then we have different. And that it is important to consider where we been while building the future. That throughout its history D&D shared common elements that has appeal to all fans of D&D regardless of edition."

Musings on the 'unification speech'

read the complete post here:

Bat in the Attic: Wizards needs to take leadership.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Joethelawyer's Wondrous Imaginings: This is a Pretty Cool Con Development for OSR Gaming

"I was checking out the details on TotalCon, and noticed that they had a subsection for Old School RPG's. A good chunk of the games are being run by Frenk Mentzer, Tim Kask, and Jeff Talanian, but there are also other DM's running various older and clone systems. It's nice to be able to look in one place for all the old school games, rather than dig for a few in a list of hundreds..."

read the complete post at:

Joethelawyer's Wondrous Imaginings: This is a Pretty Cool Con Development for OSR Gaming

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Original Dungeons & Dragons

I was crying by the time I got to the end of this. If you haven't read it make it a to do...if you are sensitive about the game...well...

The Original Dungeons & Dragons

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog: Microlite74 Version 2.0 for the Nook and the Kindle

RetroRoleplaying: The Blog: Microlite74 Version 2.0 for the Nook and the Kindle

Now available in even more formats. The goodness keeps growing :)

RPG Diehard: Play report: Song of Blades & Heroes

"I downloaded Ganesha Games' Song of Blades & Heroes last month with much anticipation. Here, I thought, was the miniatures game I was looking for: fast, rules-lite and beholden to no particular manufacturer of miniatures. I could paw through my miniatures collection, scrape together a motley handful and create a warband in 10 minutes flat.

All these expectation were exceeded in my first game..."

read the complete post at:

RPG Diehard: Play report: Song of Blades & Heroes

Bat in the Attic: Bat in the Attic

Bat in the Attic: Bat in the Attic: "What is a Bat in the Attic"

Love this story