Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mutant Future: Revised Edition now available!

The revised edition of Mutant Future is now available at our print store and electronic store!

Got the proofs today and they look spectacular!

The Goblinoid Games forums have moved!

The time had finally come to host my own forums. The ads on the free forums were just too intrusive to keep the boards on the old site. In addition, I learned that the owners of the free site will not allow me to back up the old forums at I figured that it was better sooner than later to move them.

The old forum will remain up as an archive, though since it is hosted by another company it could disappear at any time. All current play-by-post games will remain on the old forums so as not to disrupt them. Any new p-b-p games will start on the new forums.

Because of the nature of this transition, all members will have to register again. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mutant Future: Revised Edition coming in late December!

As promised earlier this year, Mutant Future will enter traditional distribution! To prepare it for its debut, it's getting a face lift with an all new cover and a lot of new interior art (but not all, the stock art and public domain art will be replaced, which is quite a lot).

In the meantime check out the new cover art by Mark Allen!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

[Petty Gods] Offer for contributors

Most people reading this are aware of James M's Petty Gods project. I just wanted to post a quick note that I have given James some RPGnow coupon codes to give out to contributors of art or writing (or layout, etc., anyone who helps out with the book) so that they can get a free copy of the PDFs with full art of Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Companion!

So if you don't have these PDFs yet and you want to contribute to the Petty Gods project, whip up a God and send it on to James!

Need an idea for a God? Here are a few topics I had brainstormed (but I sent in a God of a different type than these):

Pit traps
Underground waters
Tentative investigations (using 10’ poles to find traps, etc.)
Torture devices (maybe even a god for each device, how petty is that!?)
guard dogs
dice games
dried rations
frugal dungeoneering
watered down wine
hireling and henchmen fodder (the god of red shirts)
suspicious idols

Friday, October 15, 2010

Orcus Posters For Sale!

A bit ago Mark Allen announced that he is now selling the Orcus posters (see the blog post below). I understand he has sold several, and there is a limited supply at this point, so be sure to grab one now while you can!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Unapologetically Old-School

Here is a poster Mark Allen illustrated. This poster will be going out to retailers, especially those who are hosting games from the Labyrinth Lord Society. If you are interested in purchasing a print, please contact Mark.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Goblinoid Games Facebook Page

Hi all, just a heads up that there is a Goblinoid Games Facebook page. If you're on Facebook drop on by!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Report: The ACD Trade Show

I drove down to Madison yesterday for the ACD Games Day (ACD is one of the big game distributors, and a nice bunch of people), which is a trade show for publishers to tell retailers what they have going on and so that retailers can get ideas for what to stock in their stores, etc. This was my first time at an event like this, and it was a blast. Very educational, also. I spoke to far more retailers than I thought I would and was able to let them know about Labyrinth Lord. I also met a number of retailers who are already stocking Labyrinth Lord, and it was great to hear that it's a steady seller for them. I came away from the trade show armed with a lot of new information that will help me a great deal in getting Labyrinth Lord out there to an ever wider audience.

One of the things I found so exhilarating about the experience was the enthusiasm of the retailers. It was fun to meet so many people who love games so much. If anyone is out there who I spoke to, thanks for dropping by and I look forward to speaking with you again!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ACD Games Day, Madison WI

This is just a heads up that on Thursday, August 26th, I'll be at the ACD Games Day in Madison. I'll be there at the booth with Impressions Advertising & Marketing, which is my agent for selling to distributors. If you're a retailer who is attending the convention please drop by!

Labyrinth Lord new print run on the way

If you've been having trouble getting a copy of Labyrinth Lord at your local game store, have no fear, a new print run is on the way! The print runs are selling out faster than anticipated, so there has been a gap of a few weeks here and there where distributor orders can't be fulfilled. I anticipate the Advanced Edition Companion selling out again soon too, but I plan to get a head start on that one.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Product vs. Service and Brand Dilemmas

Hello gentle readers, welcome to the latest episode of the Armchair Marketeer! In this installment I want to set up a purely theoretical problem. A thought exercise, if you will. As I sit here with a glass of cognac, puffing my cigar in front of a roaring fire (ok, it's actually 8 AM on a July morning and I'm drinking coffee, but go with the imagery, ok?) I can't help but let my mind attempt to unravel great mysteries that have plagued mankind since he stepped down from the trees and discovered AC/DC.

I was reading a post on Joethelawyer's blog, and remembering a previous post of my own, which got me to thinking about a brand and product problem.

Ok, let's say you own a brand. This brand is for a product that is traditionally viewed as static and non-consumable. What I mean by that is it's not like a bag of potato chips where your customers keep coming back for more. It's static in that the product is what it is and it's bought one time. Theoretically a customer could buy your product one time and be set for life unless it wears out.

But here's the thing -- you'd rather if your product behaved more like a consumable item, something with a shelf life. That way, people would come back to spend more money. The problem is that in order to do that you need to have a product that is less static, it needs to change, and it needs to change in a way that makes customers want to buy it to keep up with those changes. The obstacle we need to overcome in this situation is that since customers historically view this product as "static," we need to find a way to reduce product loyalty and increase brand loyalty.

What does that mean? Well, let's look at an example. I decide I haven't read The Hobbit in a while, so I go to the bookstore and pick up a copy. I'm buying the book because of the content, not the title. If they changed the title to "Short People Doing Cool Things," I might be annoyed because it's harder to find on the shelf compared to what I'm used to, but the content is the same so it ultimately doesn't matter. Another example might be if I get a headache and need a "Tylenol". I'm after the content, not the name, so I might just as easily buy the store brand.

Now, what if I go buy a book called The Hobbit and discover that Bilbo is no longer a hobbit, but instead some new race of muscled brute with horns and the ability to fart a fireball? What if I crack open a bottle of Tylenol and discover jelly beans?

I didn't get what I was expecting from the product.

That is a problem for a company that needs to change a product to increase sales. We need to somehow change the way our customers think about the brand. What if we could make it so that people come looking for the brand instead of a specific product? I don't mean we entirely change the nature of the product -- people come looking for Mountain Dew and they still get a sweet, carbonated beverage -- it's just that we can alter the product in various ways that are irrelevant if the consumer is after the brand in the first place, and the flavor second.

From now on when you buy Mountain Dew you’re getting a general genre of product, and the taste may change from week to week. In fact, as a consumer I want you to keep buying each week so you can keep up with how the flavor has changed or what new element we've added. After a while you're thinking about Mountain Dew less as a specific, static product but instead as a consumable experience.

As a company we can create added incentive in the minds of our customers. Why should they keep trying our product week to week? Well, it's not just that we're changing the product at a whim. We convince our customers that we're improving it with each change. That's right, if you (the customer) don't keep up, the last product you sampled was inferior to what we're offering this week. All your friends have tried it this week, and if you don't you're behind.

This example isn't perfect.

So let's talk about what we're really talking about. Let's say we own the Dungeons & Dragons brand.

What if "Dungeons & Dragons" were less about a product and more about an experience? What if we can dispel the entire idea of "editions" from consumers of Dungeons & Dragons? The edition angle worked for a while, but the mileage on that is running out. Is there really going to be a D&D 10e? No, it just won't work. The whole paradigm of editions suggests a "reboot" and the expectations that customers will have to buy the exact same material again and again, though retooled for however the rules have been changed. I think we can convince people less often that our new edition is "the best ever" every few years. This seems to lead to a significant proportion of consumer resentment. We have to reconcile the need for consistent consumption with the customer expectation of a static product.

So, instead of producing a game that's marketed as done, complete, and improved from before, we simply market D&D. The very nature of the game itself will remain in flux to facilitate a subscription-based consumption plan. This way, customers always expect to be paying money and so long as the content changes can be integrated into the subscription plan there are few problems. Customers need to be retrained to think of the game rules and character options as less fixed. That way they expect the game to keep changing and they return to the brand no matter what form it's in. We still give them a static product -- we always call it Dungeons & Dragons -- but customers are loyal to the brand, not the product.

I don't know, sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Friday, July 16, 2010

ENnies voting has started!

There are a number of old-school publishers represented this year, so be sure to go vote! James Raggi has a module up, and there are several publishers up for fan's choice for best go make your picks here! Note that you can select several publishers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friday, July 9, 2010

Labyrinth Lord Gets an Honorable Mention for the Ennies: Best Game

As anyone who follows the ENnies knows, the category of Best Game always has very tight competition. I entered Labyrinth Lord: Revised Edition into the ENnies this year. It got Honorable Mention for Best Game, beating out a lot of other fairly high profile games, such as Hackmaster Basic. I'm very grateful and humbled by this, and I thank the judges for the mention. I think this just further shows that our collective work and efforts to preserve old-school games is being recognized more and more. Thanks in no small part to everyone's wonderful support of Goblinoid Games and Labyrinth Lord, making it just one representative of old-school gaming that is picking up traction each year. Speaking of which, the print run for the Advanced Edition Companion is almost sold out -- better order some more!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Labyrinth Lord: Revised Edition Third Printing Now Shipping

I just wanted to give a heads up to everyone that the third printing of LL has reached the warehouse and distributor back orders will now be filled. If you've been waiting for your local store to be able to order it you should be able to do so soon. Alliance and ACD, among other distributors, are carrying Goblinoid Games products.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Goblinoid Games First Quarter Report

James Raggi said in a recent post that I have "taken [an] absence away from the scene." I'm assuming he means that I have taken a hiatus from Goblinoid Games, but nothing can be further from the truth. He also mentioned that Labyrinth Lord wasn't my #1 priority, which is only partly true. Goblinoid Games, as a business, is second to graduating with my Ph.D. this summer (I haven't spent the last 14 years of my life in college for nothing!) and finding a job, but I do take it very seriously nonetheless. It just doesn't pay the bills right now, even though it is generating a significant income that will allow Goblinoid Games to grow in coming years. So to clear up any confusion I just thought I'd post an update on current Goblinoid Games happenings. I've been busy with a whole bunch of things, many of which actually are for Goblinoid Games, so if there are periods when I don't post as often on forums or blogs this shouldn't be construed as me taking an absence from things. Things still continue to happen behind the scenes. So let's do a first quarter report for 2010.

1) We just released our 5th monthly Labyrinth Lord Society Newsletter, which began in January. We're continuing to get a great variety of contributions from Society members. Thanks everyone! The LLS has been a major priority as an effort to build a tight community around Labyrinth Lord, Mutant Future, and now Starships & Spacemen. We're up to almost 200 members and growing each month. Of course this couldn't be done without all of the hard work of David Macauley (Greyharp), the LLS organizer, who keeps things running.

2) So far in 2010 Goblinoid Games has released the very well received Advanced Edition Companion. The AEC entered distribution last month and is selling very well in distribution and POD alike.

3) We purchased the rights to Starships & Spacemen, which is in preliminary development for a second edition. The original book was redone (by me) by scanning the original book and then recreating the original layout. It was made available in PDF and POD format. It has sold more copies now in the last month with Goblinoid Games than it sold in the last 6 years it was available from FGU. The second edition is looking promising!

4) In addition, I recently finished working with four new authors, and we have three new Labyrinth Lord modules and one Mutant Future module all written and in various stages of playtesting and editing. This will come out interspersed throughout the rest of 2010. We also have several other authors with manuscripts in various stages.

5) We struck a deal with Otherworld Miniatures for licensed Labyrinth Lord miniatures. Look for those starting this summer!

6) The ball is getting back to rolling for a campaign supplement that will be for Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Companion, which I have been working on slowly for a few years now. I'm bringing in some other talent to help me get this project out the door. It is mostly all written, we just need some final fleshing out.

7) Labyrinth Lord has sold through two print runs in distribution, and I'm now ordering a third. I continue to build direct to retailer relationships as well.

So, if that is what you call a hiatus, man, I'd like to see what I could do if this was a full time job! ;-)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

S&S hardcover now available

I got the proof for the S&S hardcover today, and it looks great! You can find it at my print store.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Starships & Spacemen perfect bound now available!

I got the perfect bound proofs in today, and they are now available at the Goblinoid Games print store.

I should get the hard cover proof in by early next week.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

YouTube Review of Labyrinth Lord

I just wanted to offer a friendly shout-out to Samwise for his YouTube reviews of Labyrinth Lord. I always find it interesting to get the perspective of a gamer who is more accustomed to post-2e D&D. Here are the links to his two part review...

Part 1.

Part 2.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Goblinoid Games takes you on a trek to the stars.

Back in 1978 the second sci-fi RPG ever to be published was released by Fantasy Games Unlimited, Starships & Spacemen, by Leonard H. Kanterman. Inspired by many sci-fi influences, Starships & Spacemen trekked new ground. You could play a Tauran with a machine-like, logical mind, and adventure in space hunting for alien treasures on unexplored worlds. You might face the aggressive Videni who resembled Taurans in appearance, but not intentions. Against that backdrop one might reach an uneasy truce with the militant Zangids.

Fast forward 32 years later. Goblinoid Games has purchased the Starships & Spacemen property, and plans to continue these classic voyages today and into the future! The original core rule book will soon be brought back into print through print on demand, and is already available at our online electronic stores in PDF format.

In the near future, we will release a new revised second edition of Starships and Spacemen, expanding character information and planet-side adventuring. The system will be adjusted slightly to make it fully compatible with Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord. If you are a big fan of the original rules, have no fear. Those rules will remain in print, and future modules and supplements will have stats for both systems (though they are very similar to begin with).

Join us as we carry out missions in the final frontier. The Federation of Allied Worlds is recruiting. Join the Federation Space Fleet, explore exotic new worlds and make contact with alien civilizations!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

AEC shipping to the warehouse

The print run for the Advanced Edition Companion shipped off to the warehouse yesterday, so we are a little ahead of schedule! So you should be seeing AEC in hobby shops earlier in May rather than later. I also will have copies on hand for sale direct to retailers, so look for Noble Knight to be restocked probably by early next week.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Star Trek: Forehead Proliferation

I've been on a Star Trek kick ever since I met up with Steve Zieser a while back at a convention and we played Federation Commander. I'm a big fan of the original series and the animated series. Granted, the acting is strained at times, dare I say a bit exaggerated? But nonetheless there is just something about it that seems so much more interesting than a lot of the later series. Part of it I think is that the crew went on adventures.

Sure, the props are hokey sometimes, but they get an A for effort. The hallmark of the original series is the crew going planet side to engage in various shenanigans. I actually do like The Next Generation in many ways, which is why I started watching it from the beginning again recently. I hadn't seen as many of the earlier episodes for a long time, and I was struck by how much the first season and a lot of the second season actually did have a lot of that original series feel. The women even wore similar short skirts in the first few seasons. Even though I think there are a number of excellent episodes in later seasons of TNG, the overall trend became less about going on adventures and more about unusual situations on the ship, mostly cerebral sort of problems, with a very heavy reliance on making up more and more technobabble to create a problem to which the crew needs to find a solution. So what I'm getting at is that rather than go to new worlds more often (and they do sometimes, don't get me wrong) where they find adventure, instead we are introduced to more and more exotic made up radiation, particles, etc. that wreak havoc.

And, we cant forget, forehead proliferation. In the beginning of TNG it was neat in a way how the makeup looked. But after a while I started to cringe whenever a new alien is invented, because they always are completely human except for a weird forehead. It starts to get ridiculous, and I can image a bunch of writers and makeup specialists sitting around trying to figure out how many sorts of unique forehead prostheses can be made. It just became too silly. I could submit a number of other criticisms and present arguments about how I think a lot of TNG is actually more racist than the original series, and promotes an incorrect perspective of cultural and biological evolution, but I'll abandon that for the moment. I have to write academic stuff often enough that I feel too lazy to do it here.

Coming back around to the subject of RPGs though, I think the original and animated series of Star Trek are great models for how one might set up a sci-fi campaign of this type. Hmmm, come to think of it I'm not sure I've watched all of the episodes yet from my animated DVD series set. I better go do that!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

LLS Newsletter reminder!

Just a reminder that the LLS April newsletter will be going out this weekend, so if you are a Society member and you have an essay or some other contribution (new monster? new magic item? recipe for kobold burgers?) send it on to me for inclusion! I'll need contributions by Saturday (April 10) morning. Also, if you are a publisher with an announcement, calls for playtesters, or have an ad you want to run drop me a line. These are always free!

...and if you're not a Society member yet, what have you been waiting for? Don't make me send the Recruitment Squad of Orcus to your door. When they knock they have more to deliver than just pamphlets!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Advanced Edition Companion off to the printer!

I got the printer all squared away for the AEC print run that will go into distribution. It took longer than I expected, but these things always do. Look for a release of the AEC into your local hobby store sometime in May!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Writers wanted!

Hey all,

I'm looking for module submissions for both Labyrinth Lord and Mutant Future. There is some great talent out there, so send in your submissions! I'm very happy to work with new authors, as long as you're patient and don't mind working with me (I may or may not have advice for revisions as we go through the process), so lets get some great stuff out there together!

Visit my submissions page for some basic info, and then drop me a line! I like to look at proposals from new authors but if you are experienced or already have a manuscript ready send it on over for me to look at.

About 9 years ago I got my start by writing fan material for Eden Studios (and then a couple of publications through them). Chances are, if you are a good writer and love doing this kind of thing, you can write a good adventure. So lets do it.

Note that I'm looking for site-based modules at the moment (keyed rooms sort of stuff), not so much looser wilderness stuff. I may look at things like that later. I'm especially looking for lower level adventures, with preference for equal to or lower than 5th level.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gaming myth? Was the Mentzer boxed set really easier to learn?

One piece of accepted "truth" in the world of old-school gaming is that the D&D boxed set edited and revised by Frank Mentzer was "easier" for kids to learn. In discussions on the internet about this set this idea seems to be repeated over and over as if it is a mantra. But I wonder, is it actually true? If you cracked open the first set by Mentzer would it be easier to learn than the set by Moldvay? I have my doubts.

The first set I encountered was the Mentzer set. In all fairness I have to state that at the time I was about 9 years old or so. We played this set every day the summer we discovered it, and a lot thereafter, but the way we played hardly even resembled the "true" way it is supposed to be played. So were we able to learn the game despite how well written the introduction was? No, not at all.

A few years back I read the first Mentzer set and the Moldvay set as a comparison, and even now I had a heck of a time getting through the Mentzer set. There's no doubt it was intended for young people, but even as an adult I don't know if it would be easy to decipher the game (doable, but not intuitive). The realization I've come to is that even though the Mentzer set was designed to hold your hand and lead you through the process of learning what the game was about, it was just too damn wordy. Even now reading through it I find myself thinking "ok get to the point already!" So I wonder if the game really succeeded at its goal of being more instructive or if people just keep saying it was because everyone believes it was. When I think about it, I have never heard anyone say they actually played any version of the game the "real way" it should be played when they discovered the game as a kid.

What I do know is that what Moldvay's set had going for it was that it was much more concise. It goes in, tells you what's what and gets out. It takes pages upon pages of explanation in the Mentzer set for what should be a simple concept. It's too much reading for one thing to cover a few basic points, and if the audience is younger kids for the Mentzer set I think its failure is in requiring not just reading comprehension but the ability to follow an "argument" so to speak over the course of many pages. In other words, I wonder if an instructional bent to the rules would benefit more from being brief and to the point. In all honesty I think that when revisiting the set by Moldvay they hit the nail on the head right away. It was designed for young people and adults, and is easy to jump in to. With the Mentzer set I think they were probably identifying a problem that was real but they chose the wrong approach to correct it. The problem was of how to make the game more understandable to kids. As it turns out, making a lengthy instructional book was not a solution that worked.

To approach the topic from a slightly different angle, we can think of it this way. How many 8 year olds can pick up a game of Monopoly, read the rules, and start playing it exactly as intended? I have a feeling that not too many can. It's not because kids aren't smart enough to learn the rules, but it is the way they are delivered that matters. We usually learn these games from other people, which is a very different delivery method than reading the rules on paper. Now consider that D&D, even before AD&D, is far more complex not just in rules but in overall concept compared to Monopoly, and I think what becomes clear is that probably no matter how you try to word it a written introduction to the full game is only going to lead to failure if the goal is for your young audience to read the rules and play the game as intended without the guidance of people who are already familiar with it.

So what's the solution? I'm not sure. I think people forget that the complexity of the rules as represented even in original D&D to Moldvay's set were never really written for kids anyway. Keep in mind that the rules in Moldvay and OD&D are nearly identical (and by extension, Mentzer's set). Today people tend to think of "basic" D&D as the kids version, but that's only because of the marketing attempts of the 80s. In retrospect I'm not so sure how "good" for kids it really was since I've never met anyone who was introduced to any version as a kid who was able to figure the rules out on their own. We might want to take a step back and ask whether any version to date is actually a very good version for young kids at all. Sure, if it is being taught and run by older kids or adults there is no question that young kids can figure out how to play. But if the goal is for the game to be picked up and played by younger kids without the outside influence of older people, should the game be made simpler in the first place? I wonder.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Goblinoid Games and Otherworld Miniatures team up!

This Summer, Otherworld Miniatures and Goblinoid Games will launch a partnership project. Starting in August 2010, a range of boxed sets of ‘Official Labyrinth Lord Miniatures’ will be available, featuring 28mm figures made by Otherworld Miniatures. Most of these models will come from Otherworld’s existing ranges, but some will be designed and sculpted specifically for the new Labyrinth Lord sets.

These boxed sets will be level specific, with the first sets featuring the weaker monsters found in the upper labyrinth levels. Later sets will contain progressively stronger monsters which dwell in the deeper levels. Some wilderness-themed sets will also feature woodland inhabitants and creatures found in a marshland habitat.

This range of boxed sets will be tied together by a set of mini-adventures which are included in the boxes. Individually, they’ll make an entertaining evening’s adventuring, but together they make up an exciting mini-campaign. Adventures will be written by some of the best writers of the old-school gaming scene, including Jeff Talanian, James Maliszewski, Rob Conley and Michael Curtis, and many others.

“I have been a role-player and miniatures enthusiast for over 30 years. Otherworld Miniatures now produce the figures that I wish I had been able to buy when I first started gaming. They are inspired by old-school imagery, but we use modern sculpting techniques and production standards to make miniatures that would never have been possible in the early years of our hobby. Goblinoid Games follow similar principles with their Labyrinth Lord game, and I think that we’re ideally suited to work as partners.”

Richard Scott
Otherworld Miniatures

“Richard started Otherworld Miniatures right about the same time I started Goblinoid Games. Over the last 3+ years I’ve been totally blown away by the figures they have produced. Not just because of their quality, but also because they truly do produce figures that capture that period of time in gaming history when everything seemed new and dungeons were filled with gritty danger. I’m very excited at this partnership. Our companies have both come a long way since 2006, and it seems only natural for us to team up now to promote our mutual goals of keeping the old-school torch burning.”

Daniel Proctor
Goblinoid Games

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Advanced Edition Companion and Idol of the Orcs at Noble Knight

Just a quick update to let people know that Noble Knight Games has the Advanced Edition Companion and Idol of the Orcs in stock. So if NKG is one of your preferred online vendors (and they do have great service) and you haven't had a chance to pick these books up, check them out! They even list them at a discount, and their shipping is better than Lulu!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Skills in a class-based game...thoughts?

The traditional complaint about the thief class in earlier versions of D&D is that it adds a new class of abilities, skills, to the game. As D&D went through more editions, proficiencies were added, which are skills but they are not percentage-based like thief skills are. People have proposed alternative "skills" for thieves, but from my perspective simply changing the dice used, to say 1-2 on 1d6, is simply a different way of presenting a probability, not really a different fundamental solution.

I never liked the way skills were handled in AD&D 2e, or 1e for that matter. They took a different path with the Palladium system and fully embraced percentage-based skills and integrated them into classes. The Chaosium system, which shares a definite heritage in OD&D, integrates percentage skills but does away with classes altogether, defining what a character is by his/her collection of skills.

The only point to this is that I'm curious to get peoples' different perspectives about these ideas.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ran Mutant Future at Gamicon...

...and I'm not gonna tell you about it! heh heh. I had a to speak...but I plan to make some adjustments to the adventure, add to it and publish it sometime in the near future so I'll keep the details to myself.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Advanced Edition available!

Advance the Game
To the next level of play

The advanced first edition game as you remember it.

Labyrinth Lord gives you the play experience of the old editions of the world’s most popular fantasy roleplaying game! The Advanced Edition Companion is a handbook of advanced player and referee options. Play the race and class possibilities from the “advanced” first edition 1978 rules. Introduce the essential first edition monsters, spells, and magic items to your Labyrinth Lord game. All of these options are fully compatible with the core Labyrinth Lord rules, so that you can continue to play race-classes right along with all of the advanced classes and races.

In the deepest level of the underworld the Demon Lord of the Undead, Orcus, awaits you. He watches from his throne of human bones and commands his undead minions. Will they defeat you on your quest in the labyrinth, as you seek fantastic wealth, defeat horrible enemies, and unravel unholy secrets? Take the first edition challenge. Fight your way to the deepest level. Defeat Orcus...if you can.

In this book you will find...
  • A complete player’s guide to advanced play
  • Additional core first edition monsters
  • The full range of first edition spells and spellcasters
  • The essential first edition magic items
  • Optional advanced rules for greater depth of play
Welcome back to the first edition game table.

We saved you a seat. Right next to Orcus.

This book is not a complete game. You will require the core Labyrinth Lord rules to play.

Find the electronic book at our e-store.

Perfect bound and hardcover version can be found at our print store.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Somewhere out there a time traveller is embarrassed...

Nice food for the imagination...

Link to article.

AEC preview is out!

If you are a Labyrinth Lord Society member you should have the advanced preview no-art version of the Advanced Edition Companion in your email.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Gygax quote, offered without comment

I offer this quote by Gary Gygax. This was written a short time before the 1e DM guide was released, but after the players guide and monster manual had already come out. There is a lot that could be said about this but I think I'll let each reader digest it for himself/herself.

From The Dragon #22, February 1979

An excerpt from “Dungeons & Dragons, What it is and Where it’s Going,” by Gary Gygax

Fanatical game hobbyists often express the opinion that DUNGEONS & DRAGONS will continue as an ever-expanding, always improving game system. TSR and I see it a bit differently. Currently D&D is moving in two directions. There is the “Original” game system and the new ADVANCED D&D® system. New participants can move from the “Basic Set” into either form without undue difficulty— especially as playing aid offerings become more numerous, and that is in process now. Americans have somehow come to equate change with improvement. Somehow the school of continuing evolution has conceived that D&D can go on in a state of flux, each new version “new and improved!” From a standpoint of sales, I beam broadly at the very thought of an unending string of new, improved, super, energized, versions of D&D being hyped to the loyal followers of the gaming hobby in general and role playing fantasy games in particular. As a game designer I do not agree, particularly as a gamer who began with chess. The original could benefit from a careful reorganization and expansion to clarify things, and this might be done at some future time. As all of the ADVANCED D&D system is not written yet, it is a bit early for prognostication, but I envision only minor expansions and some rules amending on a gradual, edition to edition, basis. When you have a fine product, it is time to let well enough alone. I do not believe that hobbyists and casual players should be continually barraged with new rules, new systems, and new drains on their purses. Certainly there will be changes, for the game is not perfect; but I do not believe the game is so imperfect as to require constant improvement.

Monday, January 18, 2010

AEC advanced access to LLS members!

I'm very close to being able to order a proof copy of the Advanced Edition Companion! Likely this week some time. Normally I would wait to release the free no-art pdf and the for pay electronic version until after the paperback is approved, but as soon as I get the proof ordered this time I plan to send the no-art version out via email to Society members so that you can get an extra week or two weeks jump on seeing what's inside!

So, if you are already a Society member, just sit back and you'll find it in your inbox before too long. If you're not yet a member...what are you waiting for? Don't make me send Orcus after you...

Information about the Labyrinth Lord Society can be found here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

What is Labyrinth Lord really?

If you've read the foreword to Labyrinth Lord then you probably know where I'm coming from. In another post at some other time I may discuss what I think may be happening as we continue on emulating the old-school games, but right now I want to post a link that is a reminder of where it all started.

Labyrinth Lord and the Advanced Edition Companion that will come out shortly are an effort to bring old-school gaming back onto game stores and back onto the modern gamers' tables. But the thing I hope we never lose sight of is that Labyrinth Lord is a tribute.

(For those unfamiliar, you may have to investigate TD a bit to really get this. Nothing beats Stairway to Heaven. IMO old-school D&D is the Stairway to Heaven of RPGs)

Here's another version.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Riffing on Mike Mearls' post about game balance

Mike Mearls recently posted on his blog about issues of game balance, primarily in relation to 4e but also in relation to post-core 2e D&D. I just want to pull one small piece of that out to comment on here. He said:

If you do like combat, though, then game balance is very important. A DM needs the system to provide some framework for building encounters, or at least judging their difficulty. If each class has wildly different combat abilities and the game doesn't account for that, the system falls apart and the DM's judgment and experience have to take over. That probably means lots of trial, lots of error, and hopefully a patient enough group that a DM learns to balance the game using his own set of metrics. Of course, if a few PCs die and classes rotate in and out of the group, the balance act starts all over again.

There's some part of me that recoils at using the term "paradigm" when it comes to gaming, but in this case I think it fits. In earlier editions of D&D classes do have wildly different combat abilities. The default assumption is that different archtypes are better at different tasks, and it is absolutely assumed that combat will mostly be the job of fighter types and clerics secondarily. One of the things that is interesting about this quote is how the burden of balancing combat is entirely on the DM. There certainly are guidelines in earlier editions for balancing encounters, but this is relatively a loose balancing effort (since it is based mostly on raw HD and encounter numbers without much in the way of considering monster special abilities) and a lot of the time the players have to make the right choices and have a strategy because taking on a combat head-to-head will often result in character deaths. In later editions, or "new-school" D&D it is the burden of the DM to balance an encounter in a way that a party of multiple classes yet of equal fighting ability can attack head-to-head and have a reasonable chance of success.

The old-school approach can weather a fuzzy game balance issue because the duty is nearly as much on the players to decide what they can handle, when to fight, and when to run. Another interesting thing is how "DM judgment" seems to be mentioned as a bad thing to have to employ, as if the DM needs a concise formula for crafting encounters. Again, I think this illustrates a difference between new-school D&D and old-school D&D, but of course in older editions of D&D it is within the context of game balance being present but a fairly loose thing. As far as D&D is concerned it is a relatively new philosophy that "balance" means equal class abilities. In the past, balance was only approximate and across archetypes while acknowledging different class capabilities. This left room for player innovation in play. In the old-school there is a definite feeling that anything around the corner of the next dungeon hallway could spell doom, and thus style of play takes that into account by being cautious, asking lots of questions about the environment and what is seen, etc.

I'm not implying any sort of value judgment to this analysis, and the only reason I found it noteworthy to discuss was because it struck me as to how alien post-2e D&D is to me, especially 4th edition. For example, in old-school D&D if you choose to play a magic-user there are a host of weaknesses you enroll in, that you agree to undertake, which means you will have to adopt a certain play style that is different from fighters in the group. Not everyone liked to play magic-users because of their weaknesses, which is why multiclassing is probably so popular, but nonetheless when you choose to play a class that is not a fighter you find fun in the way that class is played. You may not get to stab at orcs in from of the line but you'll be doing other things to try to help the party when your spells run out. It's just a different mentality about how to "have fun" when playing the game. On some level I can appreciate the desire to have all characters be able to take about the same damage and deal about the same damage, and participate in the game in the same ways, but to me this new-school approach to characters takes a big chunk of the fun out of trying a different class that comes with different strategies to survival. But then old-school D&D is very much a game of adventure and survival, whereas new-school is in some ways superheroic, so there is more than just a paradigm of balance at issue here, there is an entire shift of genre.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Labyrinth Lord Facebook Page

It's long overdue that I point everyone to the Labyrinth Lords Facebook page. If you are a Facebook member, drop on by and join up! Thanks go to Moritz Mehlem for setting this up some time back.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mutant Future now at Noble Knight Games!

If you're looking for another retro-game to add to your next Noble Knight order, they now have Mutant Future in stock! I see they already sold the Labyrinth Lord revised edition books they had in stock, but I'm sure they'll get more soon!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Advanced Edition Companion Preview: Demon and Devil Art

Many people have already seen the cover preview from a thread on the Goblinoid Games forums. I wanted to share with you the art for the demons and devils. Sean Aaberg contacted me a while back about doing art for Goblinoid Games. He does underground comics among other funky projects, and I thought his style fit perfectly for this project.

He has the art posted on his flickr account here.

You'll need to look at the first three pages or so to see them all. Enjoy! I love all of them but I really like his take on Orcus. I've always felt (and this has been said elsewhere by others) that the old game books had a sort of underground comics feel from the art style, so I'm delighted to have Sean on board to inject that old-school love.