Saturday, October 24, 2009

Greyhawk Fetish

James and Joseph posted recently about how Gary Gygax never published a full megadungeon, and have differing views of whether publishing a megadungeon is even possible.

To me there are really two issues in this discussion. The first, whether a megadungeon can be published, I think can be answered with "yes." The followup question is whether it would be a product people would want to buy. I would envision the "best" format being maps with some keyed rooms, but with a lot of tables for random encounters, random placing of weird phenomenon, generation of treasure and other situations or encounters idiosyncratic to a dungeon level or even subsection. It would very much be a campaign book rather than a ready to go dungeon. In many ways I think writing such a book would actually be harder than a fully fleshed out dungeon, but would the payoff be there? Do people even want it?

This leads to the other issue in this discussion, which is the (non-sexual) fetishism of Greyhawk and Gary Gygax in general. If we take a step back for a second I think what people really want is a megadungeon published by Gary, or maybe even one of the other TSR guys, but not by anyone else. If anyone else publishes one, then by definition it will not be the "real thing." The only authority that will be accepted by a certain crowd is the product penned by an exclusive, very small collection of people.

I do agree that just for fun, and from a historical perspective, it would be cool to see Gary's actual notes and hand drawn maps published. Do I think there is any deep insight waiting in those note that will revolutionize the way we play? No, I actually think that's a silly idea and more of an idea that comes from the phenomenon of fandom than anything else. It is interesting how the people who played in Gary's regular home game do not seem to pine away for those materials to be published as much as other people do. I only played in one short session Gary ran in his Greyhawk dungeon. He had a three-ring folder with his maps in it, and paper with room keys and other notes. It looked just like any other gamer's way of doing things to me. I did catch a glimpse of some of the maps, which looked just like other gamer's hand drawn maps. There is no deep method of play waiting there guys. It is the same stuff everyone already does.

So in the end what people really want is to share the actual experience of playing with Gary, but people won't get that from his notes even if they were published. I might be a heretic for saying this, but it seems to me Gary would scoff at all the fetishizing going on because it hearkens back to what he talked about before about how so many people looked to him and other folks at TSR for "official" ways of doing things. The truth is that those guys at TSR were just gamers like everyone else, and the way things are done at your own game table is just as creative and works just as well. When enough people would write or call to ask for a way of doing something, they might crank out an "official" system of doing it, but that system would not likely be the way they did it at home. At home, they played like everyone else did. The idea that you can take Gary's home game notes and use them to play "the way the game is supposed to be played" if only they would publish them is not only untrue but tragically misguided. We already have so much that Gary published. We already have the tools to play the way he intended, with countless archived message board posts to guide us in addition to all the material from the old rule books and modules.

That's as close as anyone will ever get to Gary now, and even though the psychology of fandom seems to pine away for more I think it would be far more productive to write the things you want yourself instead if wishing they existed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I'm still around, just busy with a "real life" writing project that will be underway until spring. So, if I haven't responded to you're email please forgive me. I probably flagged it for a later reply and didn't get back to it. If you need an urgent response please try me again!

The Advanced Edition Companion is still underway, just running slower on it than I had planned. Editing is still underway but were plugging away at things. I'm starting to make requests for art.

The print run for Labyrinth Lord is underway. We're still on schedule for distribution in November. I will have some copies of LL and Mutant Future on hand for direct sale to retailers. The Mutant Future print run is behind because I had to get a new cover proof. The error was on the printer's side of things, but nonetheless it cost us a few weeks.

There are some upcoming announcements about foreign editions of Labyrinth Lord. We're not yet ready for saying anything official but keep an eye out.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Skirmisher Publishing supporting Mutant Future!

Some readers may already know that Skirmisher Publishing released a supplement a while back for Mutant Future, called Creatures of the Wastelands.
They have been releasing more new products recently. For those of you out there who have been itching for more Mutant Future support, here it is!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mutant Future podcast review

There is a great deal of retro-clone coverage in the latest podcast of All Games Considered. They have a nice review of Mutant Future in there.