(The majority of this news is taken from my Examiner.com RPG news roundups – if I’ve missed something, please put it in the comments and I’ll make sure it gets added in an edit/update to this post.)
There was a lot of cool, exciting news in the Old School RPG world this December – as 2009 winds down, the OSR is going out with a bang.
At the end of November, LotFP Publishing released their new module, The Grinding Gears, to many good reviews. Created for just about any original/old school game, Grinding Gears is a classic “challenge the player’s wits” module.
December started with news of an amazing supplement to Swords & Wizardry being released. Setting material from a personal 30 year campaign was published: The Majestic Wilderlands by Rob Conley. What is unique about this setting is its status as a licensee of the old Judges Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy property. Created for the Swords & Wizardry OD&D retroclone, this source material is perfect for old school and OOP D&D use.
Robert Kuntz of Pied Piper Publishing announced that he is releasing a color module of the first 3 levels of the “Castle El Raja Key.” This dungeon setting was used, according to Robert, to play-test the original D&D and had a hand in spawning the famous Greyhawk campaign and original D&D Greyhawk supplement. This is a very interesting development, given this year’s brouhaha regarding Troll Lord Games, Gail Gygax and the “Castle Zagyg” series which was cancelled. This isn’t the last time we’ll hear PPP making announcements in December.
The imaginative standard-bearer of all things “pre-1990”, Fight On! magazine, has released their 8th issue. It’s jam packed with material for games like “Empire of the Petal Throne” as well as another adventure from Gabor Lux and lots of things old school and wildly imaginative.
Joseph Bloch over at the blog Greyhawk Grognard released another installment of his megadungeon “Castle of the Mad Archmage”. Joseph’s CotMA has been an underground hit with the Greyhawk fans and definitely worth a look for an example of excellent 1979 D&D play.
Noble Knight Games has earned a solid reputation for quality customer service in providing new and out-of-print games. They were very busy right before Christmas by announcing that they’ve become the exclusive distributors of Pied Piper Publishing games and materials. They’ve also started distributing the ENnie award winning Swords & Wizardry D&D retroclone game, Knockspell Magazine and other Mythmere Games products produced by Black Blade Publishing.
If John Carter of Mars or the pulp “Swords & Planets” type of adventures gets you fired up, the new supplement written for Swords & Wizardry might interest you. Savage Swords of Athanor mixes pulp science fiction with fantasy to give you a whole new set of adventures and worlds to explore.
Randall at the blog Retroroleplaying.com has been offering contests and giveaways in exchange for contributions to help him with a set of devastating medical bills that his family has incurred this year. He recently gave away a set of original Dungeons and Dragons books and supplements to a private donor. He received word that this donor auctioned off those books in a “20th Century Rarities” charity auction for EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS! That’s an amazing amount of money for the LBBs.
Here’s to a wonderful 2010 for the OSR and traditional gaming!
Back in September, TARGA announced a reboot with the goal of figuring out just what we can do, can’t do and where we should go in 2010. That is due, in no small part, to the continued enthusiasm and effort of people like Zach Houghton, Victor Raymond and Aaron Kesher (our new standard bearer – aka. “The Guy out front…”) who have been putting their brains together with mine to see where we need to go. We’ve had some very spirited debates and I think everyone’s hearts were in the right places with the discussions, even if they did get heated at times. The end result – we believe that we have expectations and goals for TARGA that will fit with the things that we believe we’re seeing.
Aaron is going to be updating the blog/wiki in a few days with the mission statement and we’ll be getting on with our plans for 2010 shortly, but I wanted to talk philosophy and what we (the people who are trying to organize this) are hoping to achieve with the help of you, the TARGA supporters.
The first thing is to identify what we are and who we are aiming to reach out for. This may be the first controversial part, but it’s not the active blogosphere that we’re aiming our efforts at. It’s not the Internet forums or the people who already are doing so many good things for their games. No, we are shooting to reach out and network with the people who have NO IDEA who the hell we are, what a “TARGA” is or even that the letters “OSR” have a meaning behind them.
We’re targeting the people who go to conventions with their old school books, their old school games and their old school preferences. We’re targeting people who go to the game store and are looking for something different, something simpler, something that appeals to them more than dropping $100 or more on a box or set of books that takes a website to manage. We’re looking to reach out to people who keep the faith in their games, on the odd weekend or every couple of months go play them and wish they could get a bit more interest, or a bit more support for their XYZ system that we in the active blogosphere/forumosphere/Interwebosphere are so excited about!
In essence, what we want to do is let these people know about YOU (blogosphere/forumosphere/Interwebosphere) and that there is a continued love and interest. We want to encourage every convention we can put a game referee at to run old school games. We want to encourage every game store within reasonable driving distance of a TARGA supporter to know there are people who write/love/support games that could still bring in dollars to those stores. We want the people who look at their books falling apart and wonder if there are any other fans still out there to know that yes, there are and you are not alone – in fact, the love of old school style play is still burning bright and even brighter after a fantastic 2009!
Some of the more vocal in the TARGATalk discussion group question what can TARGA do and why should it even exist? Well, for those people who are currently running the games, or the people who are publishing/creating freely, what we can do is put butts in chairs to play games. Your games. Your modules, The stuff that you love is the stuff that we want to let as many people know about.
So while the wiki is great, while the blog is a good way to communicate, while the email list is key for us to organize stuff, it’s not the be all, end all. No, the games that we play and the butts we put in seats – that’s what matters.
Now, do any of us have expectations that we’re going to be an RPGA or some sort of huge deal? No, not really. If we end 2010 having someone run an old school in the world once a week at a game, convention, store or event and let their players know they’re not alone – that TARGA is networking people like them, that would be the cake and pie and all the ice cream. If we attract 1 new player from the thousands of people per event, then that’s a new butt in your chair at another game, or that’s another sale for your retroclone, or that’s another person who had fun at a convention and will come back next year.
Realistically, we want to have people run old school games/events at as many conventions/game stores/events as we can. We’ll be the organizers/game referees/motivators/helpers. If you don’t need us, great! But let your players know that TARGA is going to try and run other events and give your players the chance to reach out and connect to other old school games.
We’d like to have a really cool International Traditional Gaming Week somewhere between the anniversary of Gary’s passing (Mar 4) and Dave’s passing (April 7th) so probably the third or fourth week in March. We’d like to start reaching out to gamestores and interesting game masters in January to set things up, so that TARGA can have a “marquee” event.
We’d like to have some presence at Garycon, Origins, GenCon and other large events (I’m looking at you NTRPGCon) in terms of games, perhaps a seminar or event to bring more publicity and focus to old school gaming.
That’s it. That’s what we’re aiming for…