June 21, 2009

I am a gamer ...

As many of you know, I'll stop posting on The Core Mechanic on July 1st, since I'm going to be focusing all my efforts entirely on Nevermet Press. So, I've been giving a lot of thought to what my last post will be - and what I've come up with is a sort of an audio montage modeled somewhat like the NPR "This I believe" project. I think, if we can pull it off, it would make for a great last post.

So, I have less than two weeks to collect as many responses as I can. I'm looking for any one of the following, all of which should begin with the phrase "I am a gamer...":
  1. An .mp4 or similar audio file, edited however you want but under 15 - 20 seconds in length.
  2. Send me a link, or leave a link below in the comments, to your own blog or to the location of your audio file on the net somewhere.
  3. Write it out in the comments below and I'll have it read aloud by one of my Fey Minions. Please keep it less than 5 or 6 sentences.
  4. Tweet me  @thecoremechanic with something short and readable using the hash tag #IAMAG
If you are a blogger, please spread the word about this. Links from your own blog, pointing your readers here would be great! The more voices and viewpoints we get, the better. It would be awesome to get dozens or hundreds of readers viewpoints and voices together and share the reasons behind our passion for gaming. I'm also working on getting a few "figures in the industry" to participate as well.

Once the project is done, I'll make the file available for download as part of my last blog post.

June 18, 2009

Old School New / School Survey Results!

We got 78 responses to our Old School analysis survey which is just awesome! I can't thank you guys enough for your input which is really really interesting. We definitely have some trends that can be examined though I think in hind sight I should have made the first question: What sort of games do you prefer?
Which would have been infinitely valuable to me as a game designer because if all I have to do is include some randomly generated background tables to make 62% of gamers get that nice old school twinge of nostalgia, then I'd do so in a flash because really, that sort of thing doesn't compromise setting or system integrity and GM's never really have to use them.

So without further adieu, the Results!

Old School 24 31%
New School 7 9%
Not Old School or New School 36 46%
Antiquated and Obsolete 6 8%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 5 6%
Other 0 0%

This first result was really interesting, the fact that 6 people said character levels are antiquated and 5 people said they're fundamental is fascinating to me. I personally think they're antiquated but I understand they have their up-sides. I'm not sure what to make of people saying character levels are new school, though the fact that almost 10% of the voters do is telling... maybe they are people who are used to point-based systems and see level advancement as a carry over from computer games. The Old School and "Neither" results are about what I expected, but they really do showcase the differences in opinion on what Old School is very well.

Randomly Generated Character Backgrounds
Old School 48 62%
New School 2 3%
Not Old School or New School 20 26%
Antiquated and Obsolete 6 8%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 1 1%
Other 1 1%

These are pretty much clear cut. The vast majority of you guys believe that randomly generated character backgrounds are Old School, which I agree with. Not a lot of people consider them obsolete but I'd be guessing that those people that do are fairly strong narrativist gamers. I think this is an important result for any game designer looking to create an old school product because there isn't a lot of agreement at all on what defines old school but this is one of the few items there's a majority agreement on.

Open-Ended Variety of Skills/Abilities
Old School 13 17%
New School 23 29%
Not Old School or New School 32 41%
Antiquated and Obsolete 6 8%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 3 4%
Other 1 1%

These results surprised me because this is a trait all the games I consider Old School have. To me the idea of finite and set abilities is a new thing but I'm in the minority. This is a tough question and one I don't know if I asked correctly, it certainly could warrant another post to explain further and get more feedback.

Hit Location Mechanics
Old School 23 29%
New School 8 10%
Not Old School or New School 42 54%
Antiquated and Obsolete 5 6%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 0 0%
Other 0 0%

Another interesting result. As a medic I'm a big fan of hit location because I honestly believe it models damage better, but it is an extra level of clunk so not very good in a game that's meant to be played fast and loose. I think this question could benefit especially from a question of people's preferences as well.

Random Encounter Tables
Old School 62 79%
New School 1 1%
Not Old School or New School 8 10%
Antiquated and Obsolete 5 6%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 2 3%
Other 0 0%

These show another obviously Old School consensus which I agree with. Personally I feel that Random Encounter Tables have some value in exhibiting the common wildlife in a region but they rarely represent the actual behavior of such animals. Thus I find the balance between a realistic system of encounters and one that's actually playable lies in the "just leave it out and make it GM's discretion" territory. For those of you who disagree please leave your flames in the handy comment box at the bottom.

Crit Tables
Old School 33 42%
New School 4 5%
Not Old School or New School 36 46%
Antiquated and Obsolete 4 5%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 1 1%
Other 0 0%

These results are fairly odd, if I could hazard a guess I'd say the even divide between the Old School and "Neither" results are from people that have only played versions of D&D and no other games and thus marked Crit Tables as "Neither" being some oddity other games had, and the other crowd that remembers all those old games with the crit tables and figures they're old school and voted accordingly. I could be wrong, but that's my only explanation for such weird results.

Detailed Example Adventure Module
Old School 8 10%
New School 12 15%
Not Old School or New School 33 42%
Antiquated and Obsolete 1 1%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 24 31%
Other 0 0%

I've noticed in more than one pet peeve questionnaire that "lack of an adventure module" is usually mentioned several times so game designers need to take heed there. As a side note I think that game supplements that are just one adventure storylines have a distinctly old school feel to me.

Boxed Sets
Old School 47 60%
New School 0 0%
Not Old School or New School 20 26%
Antiquated and Obsolete 9 12%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 1 1%
Other 1 1%

If I could find a cheap manufacturer of for a line of boxed sets you can bet your mother's apple pie that I'd go that direction.

Multiple Core Books
Old School 10 13%
New School 20 26%
Not Old School or New School 36 46%
Antiquated and Obsolete 4 5%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 7 9%
Other 1 1%

The validity of multiple core books ultimately depends on the setting and game design principles in my opinion.

Highly Detailed Maps
Old School 19 24%
New School 9 12%
Not Old School or New School 37 47%
Antiquated and Obsolete 1 1%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 11 14%
Other 1 1%

I think that some maps have a more old school look than others. I love maps. Game books don't have enough of them.

Social Interaction Mechanics
Old School 5 6%
New School 49 63%
Not Old School or New School 19 24%
Antiquated and Obsolete 4 5%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 1 1%
Other 0 0%

This is perhaps the most obvious but also the biggest surprise for me. The idea that social mechanics are decidedly new school is pretty much the universal consensus it seems... but the fact that only 1 person called them fundamental surprises me greatly. I consider social systems extremly important for a balance role-playing experience. But I'm a simulationist. Makes me wonder if I could do a gamer political satire article about how Old schoolers are the gamer equivelant of Libertarians, Narrativists are Liberals, and Simulationists are Republicans... I must dwell on this further... I think there is much humor to be made there.

Emo Elves
Old School 4 5%
New School 39 50%
Not Old School or New School 22 28%
Antiquated and Obsolete 8 10%
Fundamental in All Games Old and New 4 5%
Other 1 1%

The species Ellifus Saddius - or "Emo Elf" as it is colloquially known - is an offshoot of the Ellifus Gaius which originated in the Tolkeen novel The Hobbit, both of which are far removed from their distant cousin species the Ellifus Chrismatica.

The first sighted Ellifus Saddius was in a dark hole depicted in a R.A. Salvatore. Dark places are the Emo Elf's natural habitat, though they do venture into the light occasionally to gain further Emo'ness because sunlight makes them sad. They gain an especially sublime sadness from sunrises and sunsets.

The primary food of the Emo Elf is goblin guts seasoned with the Emo Elf's own tears, though the Ellifus Saddius is also known to derive sustenance from Orc's frost giants, and demons, never humans or other Ellifus genii.

Emo Elves can interbreed with normal humans, the offspring of such unions is always an Anime or Manga protagonist. It is believed that these offspring are sterile, but this cannot be proven because none have ever been witnessed actually breeding.

June 17, 2009

Nevermet Press Founding Member Departs

Today, Nevermet Press is sad to report the departure of one of our founders: Quinn Murphy (aka gamefiend). Quinn has decided to strike out on his own as a game designer, and to continue the development of his excellent RPG blog At-Will. If the quality of his blog, and the rapid expansion of his ambitious 4Etopia community forums is any indication of his future success, his future looks as bright as ever. The reasons for his departure are not the result of any internal conflict or "issues", but more that he simply wants to focus on his own personal development as a game designer and author. His input, opinions, and suggestions were pivotal in helping shape the core values underlying Nevermet Press, and we would be lying if we didn't say this came as a surprise. Needless to say, we are disappointed to see him go. We wish him all the luck and success we can and hope to continue working with him in the future.

"Good Luck, Quinn! We will miss you! And we hope you find your hearts desire!"

Now, for everyone who is looking forward to Nevermet Pres, this news does not in any way affect NMPs future! We will continue to push forward and launch Nevermet Press on schedule in July. We've already gathered over 20 highly enthusiastic writers and artists and are always looking for more. One of the cornerstones of Nevermet Press is community development and engagement. So, if you are an RPG blogger who wants to get involved, please contact us!

Jonathan Jacobs & Michael Brewer
Nevermet Press

June 16, 2009

@ Nevermet Press - We Want You!!!

(Original Art by Matt Lichtenwalner • dragonbones.net)

I've received a number of emails from several readers and other bloggers in the RPG blogging community wondering what the heck is Nevermet Press and what our plans are for it. I guess this is the part where I spill the beans.

Together, we want to change the way roleplaying games are made. There is a vast storehouse of creativity locked up in the community of gamers who play RPGs. We want to build a meetinghouse where we can all work together to unlock that creativity and drive the development of new, innovative material for roleplaying games of all styles and genres that everyone can enjoy.

It's an ambitious plan, but someone has to try, right? Enter Nevermet Press...

Several months ago we started working together on various projects, it naturally evolved into thinking "Hey, we should start a small press publishing company!" I love challenges, and tend to get way over extended before saying no to anything, so of course that is exactly what we did: Nevermet Press was born.

Being that all three of us are avid RPG bloggers -- we wanted NMP to offer something different to the gaming community. So, we put on our CrazyHats and started brainstorming. In no time, three "cornerstones" of Nevermet Press took shape (in true to form blogger style bolded list... oh and we are still looking for that missing forth corner...):

  1. Community Developed & Supported- The strength of Open Game Table is that it draws from a host of writers that don't represent the "industry" (for the most part), but instead represents gamers, the fans, the "end-users" of what the RPG industry produces. Nevermet Press will seek to emulate that same core value by working with RPG bloggers and blog readers in the gaming community (that means YOU). We want to produce great games, but we want to draw on the community as a whole to develop them. An important difference from NMP and Open Game Table is that we will also be implementing a profit sharing mechanism for the most active content developers contributing to any one project. Our creator revenue sharing program will cover both content contributed by authors and artists alike. Everyone's contribution will count. Thus, Nevermet Press eventually be able to field potentially multiple projects supported by dozens paid content developers.
  2. System Independent & System Optional- What games do you play? How many systems do you enjoy? Chances are you play many games and enjoy multiple RPG platforms. What doesn't change is the social gaming experience. Nevermet Press wants to develop game products that are independent of any one system. We will aim to publish stat'less books that can be used with any game system. All system specific statblocks, rules and mechanics, etc will be made available from our website. All them will be paired with a host of multiple systems as well, so we will not be focused any one system. We believe thisinnovative approach will help us stay focused on the creative aspects of RPGs. Our first major printed book: tentatively called "The Villain Manual", will be completely statblock free. You'll find tons of backstory, maps, encounters, adventures, campaign arcs, and other materials about dozens upon dozens of villains for a variety of campaign settings. This book will be supported by our website - where you will be able to download all the statblocks and "crunchy" system-specific details for all your favorite games. Found a cool villain, and want to run him in Savage Worlds? No problem. 4E D&D? Done. d20 Modern? OD&D? It will all be available through NevermetPress.com.
  3. Stuff You Can Use Today - In the blogosphere, content is king. And much is the same with games. On NevermetPress.com, we are going to provide USABLE content every day. It's a very tall order, but think about it: new villains, new monsters, new equipment, new adventures or campaign hooks every single day of the week for multiple game systems. We will avoid advice on how to play (don't you know what's best?). You wont find definitions of what is or is not old school (do you care?). No reviews. No 'fluff'. None of that. Just stuff you can use for your game tonight. All Content, Everyday. Period.
That's basically the gist of it. The biggest challenge to Nevermet Press is going to be gaining the trust and involvement of the community. But... we are not looking for free hand outs. We want community whom we've come to know in the last few years to come together and for everyone to mutually benefit. We also recognize that this is an ambitious plan. Basing an entire company on "crowd sourcing" might even be considered risky by some. Nonetheless, we want to try. Michael, Quinn and I will be acting as owners, content developers, and (most importantly) project creative directors. The final shape of those projects, however, will greatly depend on the level of involvement from the RPG blogging community.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I'm looking forward to working with all of you.

If you are interested in climbing on board, and want to start working with us, then please by all means shoot me an email. I'll get back to you as soon as I can with additional details.

I can always be reached at jonathan.jacobs@gmail.com

Best Regards,

Jonathan Jacobs,
with Michael Brewer and Quinn Murphy.
from Nevermet Press

June 15, 2009

I'm NOT old school blog!? Curse you Evil Bunnies!!! And random $10 prizes...


Some very EVIL bunnies seemed to have infiltrated my blog. And now they are forcing me to post this non-sequitur survey in the wee-wee-wee hours of the morning. AND they stole all my waffles!!!

Ok, it's thinly veiled... but that's the point, right? I'll give away a $10 gift certificate to RPGNow.com to one lucky entry... but I'm picking the winner using an algorithm that strictly depends on Hidden Markov Models and Eigenvectors... so.. Good Luck!

Also -- anyone interested in the Old School gaming "movement" should jump over to Chgowiz's blog and take his survey. (http://oldguyrpg.blogspot.com/2009/06/id-rather-ask-for-answers-than-argue.html)

So THIS is what happens when you blog at 2:45 AM...

June 10, 2009

Villain Survey Summary...

A while ago I ran a survey about villains. The survey is currently closed, but I thought I would provide a summary of the results; for anyone interested. But before I do that... I need to announce the winner of the random drawing for a $20 RPGNow.com gift certificate.

Brandon Leon!!!

Wonder what he's going to do with all his winnings? According to Brandon, "I'm definitely going to be getting Hard Boiled Cultures and Hard Boiled Armies (I'm a big fan of One Bad Egg stuff).  Other than that, I will likely be spending it on primarily 4th edition classes." Sounds like a good time to me!

Now, on to the results...

1. What kind of content would you prefer for a Book of Villains?

Large collection (over 100) of lightly developed villains that reads much like a D&D monster manual, only it includes villains and their minions.10%
Smaller collection of more deeply developed villains where each entry might include multiple art pieces, maps of lairs, encounters, fully developed minions, etc.25%
A mixture of #1 and #2 where a few some villains are more developed than other.54%

2. In addition to villain write ups, what other features would you like included? (may total more than 100% becuase people could pick more than one)

Chapter on the nuts and bolts of villain creation62%
System for randomly generating villains on the fly47%
Maps and encounters for villains62%

3. Which of the above choices would be most important?

None of them8%
Chapter on the nuts and bolts of villain creation38%
System for randomly generating villains on the fly18%
Maps and encounters for villains32%

4. What format do you think a new "Book of Villains" printed book should take?

More expensive, full color interior printed book20%
Less expensive, B&W interior printed book65%
Cheap as hell printed B&W book with only a few illustrations6%
None; I have no interest in a printed Book of Villains9%

5. What genre's of RPGs do you enjoy playing?

SciFi / Cyberpunk59%

6. Which RPGs have you played in the last year?

Dungeons & Dragons (any edition)93%
Savage Worlds27%
Mutants & Masterminds14%
Star Wars Saga Edition18%
d20 Modern11%
World of Darkness22%

7. What would make the best addition to your existing RPG collection?

A new game15%
A new campaign setting12%
A supplement for a game I already own36%
An adventure or adventure series17%
A folio of generic maps for a variety of settings13%

8. How likely are you to purchase RPG products from small-press (aka independent) game companies?
1 -
Not a chance. I prefer to save my money
5 -
I can't get enough of it

10. How likely would you purchase a Book of Villains for your favorite RPG (in print, PDF or Kindle)?
1 -
I wouldn't even pick it up to browse
5 -
I would preorder it the day it was announced

June 8, 2009

Around the blogs... Villains in RPGs

Over the last few weeks we've seen a number of excellent posts about villains and other general badasses. From articles about how to run villains, to developing back stories, to actually playable NPCs to drop into your game, there's been a ton of writing about it. Not to mention we've also seen a bunch of new, and very fine I might add, artwork from several up and coming illustrators. Here's a round up of what I've read and helped craft myself.

(btw - the villain survey/random drawing for RPGNow gift certificate has closed; but we'll release the results later this week. I'm waiting to hear back from the winner).

Playable Villain NPCs
Villain Toolbox
The Generic Villain
Ravyn, the blogger behind the RPG blog Exchange of Realities, has been long running an excellent series titled "The Generic Villain" wherein each post details some aspect of "villainry". Here's a short list of some recent posts, but head over there to see the whole series.

Did I miss anything? If you have an article or blog post that you think should be added to this list.. please leave a comment and let us know!

June 5, 2009

REVIEW - Nobis, The City States

"High-fantasy... with guns."

I was given a review copy of "Nobis, The City States", a new campaign setting that will be released on July 1 by Pantheon Press for the d20/OGL D&D community. This is a high-fantasy campaign setting staged in a world where technology is rapidly advancing and the effects are being seen among the people in terms of culture, religion, governance, and warfare.

First off, was is new and different about Nobis? Well, that depends on your point of view. You might be thinking, "Firearms with swords and magic? Yawn." But don't be so quick to judge. What I found very cool about Nobis was not the firearms, but the impact their presence has on the campaign setting. The authors of the setting did an excellent job downplaying heavy armor and "classic" D&D weaponry in favor of lighter more deadly fighting systems for melee combat. I'm talking about FENCING. Yeah, Nobis has it's own completely internal d20 system for fencing, and it is very slick.

Nobis Has Fencing
Fencing is broken down into four schools: Modern, Marist Martial, Form of the Leopard, and Traditional. Each of these schools, or styles, of fencing is accessible to characters who take a feat to gain access to them. Once trained in a particular fencing school, a whole host of new combat manuvers become available, such as Balestra, Felche, Lunge, and Riposte (to name a few). Although these specific manuevers remind me of "powers" in 4E D&D, it didn't bother me as much becuase they are available to all characters so long as they qualify for the feats required to learn fencing. What's the benefit of fenciing? Well, it depends on the school your character would choose. Each school has one "signature move" (a specialized combat manuver) which influences the flavor of fencing you prefer. For example, Balestra is the signature move of Form of the Leopard (think near-eastern scimitar fighting, rather than men-in-tights). The Balestra maneuvar is a running, jumping charge that adds the results of a Jump skill check as a damage bonus to your attack. Each of the other schools also have their own specialized manuevers. All in all, this is a nice surprise to the campaign setting and (frankly) could be developed further and even sold as its own stand alone PDF. I really thought the fencing section was cool.

Nobis has Cantrips for the People
Simplecraft is a cantrip system that is "purchasible", small innocuous spell like effects that are sold in stores throughout Nobis City States. What's cool, and potentially funny, about Simplecraft is that its 1) unstable; and 2) unstable. Basically, any time you use a Simplecraft spell you roll a d20. Roll a 1 and a debacle happens (something bad). What's worse, si that Simplecraft has a shelf life. It goes bad after a few months; so there's a strong possibility of buying or finding "bad" simplecraft as well. Unstable (expired, rotten, unusable) Simplecraft is even worse. It's like nitroglycerin. Shake it - BOOM. Drop it - BOOM. There's a table of disasters that can happen if your PC's handle unstable Simplecraft (random teleportation is my favorite). The list of things Simplecraft can do is limited only by what the GM allows, but Nobis includes a few pages of suggested spells - from the basic "Torchlight" spell to the "Lighting Strike" (yes a real attack cantrip), it's all there.

Nobis has Reputation
Finally a good, simple to implement Reputation system for 3E/OGL games. The basic idea is that each PC would decide on a Path (Artisan, Criminal, Merchant, Statesman, etc etc). Each reputation path has its own leveling system that is independent of class/character level. You gain reputation points at a rate of 2 to 4 per character level. Your total reputation points determines how advanced you are on your path, and your rank on your path conveys benefits to specific skills associated with that path. For example, the Clergy path has the associated skills Diplomacy, Knowledge (Local) and Knowledge (Religion). As the characters reputation goes up, these skills become class skills and the PC gains bonuses to using them.

The Bad Stuff
It's easy to talk trash about other people's work. I know how hard it is to produce shining examples of perfect products (OK, I don't... but you get my meaning), and Nobis is not perfect. You have to dial back your WotC level expectations for a minute and expect something a bit more Indy. The artwork is good, but only a few examples are great. My main issue was with the art direction - from full color illustrations to (literally) stick figures, I was a bit surprised to see the stick figures. The cartography was also not as good as I would have hoped (it looks very software driven, not artist driven), but the world map and map of The Gates was still good enough for any GM to run their own campaign in. These are minor points really. Most of the artwork was good, full color portraits or landscapes -- there was just some examples that seemed very out of place (stickfigures? OK... it was funny... but... ). Maybe this was just becuase I recieved a pre-press copy that may have had some of the artwork missing. Let's hope that the image below will be replaced with a "real" image in the final book.

EDITORS NOTE: The producers of Nobis have assured me that the stick figures were mock ups. NOT original artwork. Although I'll leave the art below (it's kinda cool in its own sorta way), I want YOU the reader to know that the final product will not have any stick figure art. See comment section below.

Plus What's Expected
Finally, this is not a 300+ page behemoth of a book. It's ~79 pages long but still manages to include all of what you would expect in a 3E campaign setting: a "thousands year history", a world map, the city states and how they came to be, a detail of The Gates (the major city state; includes a city map and many points of interest), a section on other lands and kingdoms of Nobis, a chapter on organizations and guilds, and the usual chapter on the gods, new feats, a new race (Mongrels), new equipment, and a page chock full of adventure hooks to get your campaign started. All of this I was expecting. And, if it weren't for the inclusion of some the other elements to the game, I might have given Nobis a much worse review.

I would say "go preorder a copy now", but I'm not sure how much it will be sold for or even where you can buy it from. It's coming out July 1st from Pantheon Press (linked above), and I would expect it to be listed on RPGNow.com as a PDF at the very least. At nearly 80 pages, it might also be seen in print, which would be nice. If you are looking for a new campaign setting that has a bit of rennaisance flavor, fencing, gun play but still keeps to a high-fantasy tradition... then Nobis would be a good place start it in.
Want to learn more about Nobis? Read on...
Drop by Pantheon Press and pre-order Nobis today!

June 4, 2009

One of the best posts in a long ass time...


Yeah... go there. read that. I couldn't agree more.

Assessing the Relevance of Reviews on Tabletop RPG's

In any medium where developers are offering creative intellectual property for money there are reviewers, reviewers are necessary and helpful, they tread ground before the average consumer and they let people know if there money is well spent there. Reviewers are usually entertaining in their own right, and they have to be these days because the internet is full of them all clamoring for attention.

In Tabletop RPG's Reviewers are especially important, but nearly every one is balanced towards one side of the RPG industry by their very nature. See, unlike most other forms of entertainment; Movies, Music, Video Games. Tabletop Role Playing requires a significant investment of time before the game can even attempt to be played, and once people are at the play stage there is inevitably a period of interpretation ("Does this work the way I think it does?") before everyone is in the swing of things. This is a reality of the hobby, if gamers wanted quick fix roleplaying, they be playing MMORPG's like World of Warcraft or City of Heroes, and many do. But still the TTRPG world pumps out more books so obviously someone is buying them. To achieve more than a computer game fix, or a board game RP experience like Clue there needs to be a degree of sophistication in the rules, and if the game is going to have the legs to pull off a long term story it's going to need even more sophistication which means more content which means more to read, interpret and play out in order to get an accurate impression of. To a reviewer this is simply not desirable.

Reviewers need credibility to earn the trust of their audience, and to develop that credibility they need to establish a rapport by reviewing a lot of stuff and doing so in a consistent manner. That means regular reviews and thus the simpler the game the more likely the reviewer will like it because it makes his job easier.

Therein lies the crux of the issue. Games that lend themselves to extended gameplay which is the ultimate goal of any GM and player, are generally more complex than those that aren't. More complex games require more time and effort to get an accurate impression of, and by devoting more time to one particular game the reviewer becomes invested and loses impartiality.

This means that the games where the most time and effort towards an intricately balanced setting and system have been invested will not get the appropriate review from an impartial source, while games that are more simple will get all the attention.

This makes me wonder... how can designers of intricate and detailed Role Playing Games successfully market their games independent of the reviewer? Honestly I don't think it's possible, but what game designers can do is support forums and sites that attempt to do fair and detailed reviews with plenty of balance. Good RPG reviewers need to be supported not because publishers want good reviews but because to get proper reviews a reviewer needs to devote real professional time along with 5 other people to give a detailed game a fair shake. That requires commitment and funding because quite frankly it's a lot of work.

So here's a question to the RPG bloggers out there:

PublisherHow much would you donate to a professional reviewing platform?

Everyone else: Who do you think does reviews good enough to go pro?

The Face of Old School

Egged on by comments from yesterday's The Face of New School (which was in turn inspired by Zach's post), I had to do a follow up...

June 3, 2009

The Face of New School...

Inspired by this excellent post over at Zach's RPG Blog II, I just had to poke fun at myself and everyone else with this ...

June 1, 2009

TCM Will Go Silent on July 1st

Today, I have some news.

First, I wanted to formally acknowledge my thanks to each every reader who has subscribe to this blog (THANK YOU!!!). Many of you I have worked with in the last year directly on collaborations, many of you are silent "lurkers" whose participation is only marked by webstats and feedburner subscriber counts. All of you, however, have made a major contribution to my motivation level as I have worked hard to keep plugging away at this blog since July of last year. The fervor and general camaraderie of the community has been really incredible and generally a very big positive point in my own life. I don't think without all the support I've received from everyone, I would have been able to finish Open Game Table nor push my blog to wherever it has ended up. Where are we now?

But, all good things come to an end, right?

Between my day job as a research scientist, my family, gaming when I have time, maintaining Open Game Table and The Core Mechanic, and (now, recently) Nevermet Press... you might say I'm a bit over extended. Thus, I've decided that I can no longer support all my extracurricular activities. So, after exactly 1 year of blogging about RPGs at The Core Mechanic; I've decided that TCM will go silent on July 1st.

It's been a fun ride.

This is not to say my days of writing about RPGs are over. Hardly. In fact, I'm closing down TCM so that I can focus my energy on writing more game content. One of the biggest obstacles for TCM was coming up with more or less original viewpoints on topics that have not been covered to any great extent by the rest of the RPG blogosphere. The RPG blogging community has the tendancy to be somewhat of an "echo chamber", as do many social blogging communities. This major problem of topic saturation that has also largely gone unaddressed by the rest of the blogging community, although I suspect that many of the other RPG bloggers out there may have recognized the same issue. The "pillar topics" of our hobby have all been covered ad nauseum by multiple blogs with many, often overlapping, viewpoints. This is not a bad thing; only I don't feel a compelling need to add my one small voice to the cacophony of dozens of others about the same topics. My contribution to the community might be better made by producing usable game content, rather than continuing to blog about GM advice, game reviews, or other oddities of the RPG hobby / industry. I looked at my list of future topics and said "most of these have already been covered by some other awesome RPG blog in the past". What remained were topics of game content and news/journalistic topics about the industry. Both of these are surprising minority topics in our community (if you survey the vast number of RPG blogs out there). So, instead of continuing the trend of topic saturation; I'm going to focus on developing and publishing usable game content (since I'm certainly not a journalist; I'll leave that to The Game).

I'll be doing this by working on getting Nevermet Press off the ground. NMP is a new company, a collaboration, between Michael Brewer (Mad Brew Labs), Quinn Murphy (At-Will) and I. You'll be hearing more about NMP in the next couple weeks as we get everything off the ground and running. Much of what I did with TCM will continue on the future NMP website/blog. In fact, I'm hoping that you will also perhaps be interested in working with us in the future as well. In any case, starting in July, all my writing efforts (in so far as RPGs are concerned) will be focused through the NMP lense. We will also be looking for additional writers and artists to help support all our projects both online and off.

So, in the meantime, for the next 4 weeks, my posting schedule on TCM will be somewhat random. I have half-a-dozen draft posts saved in my Google Doc's; so I'll be sure to roll those out before the months end. I'm also sure there will be some more suprises along the way!

Oh, and there's that survey contest! We still need like 20 or so people to hit our goal of 200. Then all the results will be made public and I'll announce the winner of the $20 RPGNow Gift Certificate! So if you haven't yet answered our survey about Villains; please do so today!

Questions? please leave a comment!