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Messages - Panjumanju

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A lot has happened in the last 5 years of gaming. As a publisher, I'm approaching this from an industry perspective, at least the slice of industry I deal with.

1. D&D: Paizo released a second edition of Pathfinder but failed to find an audience, even against their own first edition, which did more to cement Hasbro's market dominance of D&D than anything else.

2. The Darling: Powered by the Apocolypse is undeniably the go-to indie title, but moreso in a beguiling number of off-shoots. It, and Forged in the Dark, are filling the role that Fate did 10 years ago. It's a "darling" at the moment.

3. Power of the Platform: Kickstarter has continued to gain power in its role as a pre-order model for every major publisher less than Hasbro and Paizo.

4. Movie-Book-RPG: Modiphius has risen to dominate the lisenced market, acquiring just about everything from your childhood bookshelf, including Dune, John Carter, Conan, and more. They are part of a fashion-forward movement (as in, put all money into the art budget, the system is incidental.) Licenced games in general, including those from Free League, are more of a thing now than they were 5 years ago, with games released about Alien, the Expanse, the Witcher, and even a sweedish artist's robot pictures called Tales from the Loop. (When was the last repurposing lisence bubble? Mid-90s?)

5. Indie Rise: Usually when there's a lisence bubble it diminishes grassroots games, but this has not been the case. There has been a rise in "zine" like RPGs, like Trokia!, Mork Borg, and others that are considerably shorter (only upwards of 100 pages), their focus seems to also be on art and "style over substance".

6. Print Format Shift: As an extension of that, the 6x9" trade paperback format is now more welcomed by distributors, where once the 8.5x11" was a requirement for national distribution through companies like Alliance, now the market is opening up to stranger sizes. I have yet to see any data indicating that the sales are following, however. Consumer resistence to anything less than letter-sized has always been the distributor's concern over smaller sized RPG books, but since the fiction market (and the presses) have long been pushing a trade paperback or digest size (in part because the printers are all set for it already, and in part for the better marketup) the RPG publishing industry seems to be catching up. We'll have to see if sales follow.

7. Rules Repurpose: Like in the D&D 3e days, it seems every indie publisher wants to rerelease their system as 5e, just as a side market on their own game.

8. Boom & Bust: Over the last 5 years all the publishers were reporting better and better margins year after year. In 2019 you had to call that the industry was in a boom, both in terms of mainstream D&D, and in terms of a successful grassroots publishing industry. (There's some debate about how much the influence of youtube series' played a role in the rise in popularity, but what's most important is that it did translate into increased sales.) Then COVID hit. Now distributors are falling, FLGS sales have flatlined, and people's reliance on online marketplaces is even greater. Things still look kind of okay in terms of how many people are suspected to be playing, but sales are bad and many smaller publishers are dropping, and continue to drop.

9. Going Solo: During COVID, as can be expected, there is a huge rise in solo-RPGs, and a huge rise in subscription-based online gaming platforms. Honestly if you don't want to make any money with a RPG and all you want to do is a trumped-up Choose Your Own Adventure, this is the golden time.

10. Obituary: Perhaps you'll find it relevant, perhaps not, but it was an important point to me: Greg Stafford, author of King Arthur Pendragon, died. A new edition of Pendragon is supposed to be coming at some point.

That's a slice of the pie, anyway.


Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Re: Support Your FLGS
« on: January 24, 2021, 05:09:41 PM »
The FLGS' I have known have been both understocked and dusty. Even so, how do we expect to get new people into the hobby without brick and motor representation? YouTube videos? I say local stores need our support, not to be reminded they need to compete or die.


Does an animosity game require a larger group?

Yes. But to be clear, it's only as adversarial as people make it. They don't have to form cabals and little clubs and work against each other, but the character motivations (especially when egged on by elder Amberties) often put PCs at odds with each other when their goals conflict.

After a few sessions most Amber groups form into two or three little sub-groups with the occassional floater between them. So, yes, it requires a larger group.

Does an animosity game require a potentially world ending plot to keep the pcs even marginally together, role playing?

That is a common and fair criticism of Amber. The problem is power and motivation. With ultimate power, and differing goals, why would these people work together? Family ties help. The rule of not killing family (or not being supposed to) help. But generally you need something big to unify all the PCs periodically or they'll just continue in their separate cabals.

Typically you have the King or Queen or whomever is on the throne pull them together every once and a while and give them a mission by royal drecree, but you tend to lean on "universe-ending threat" to give a sense of stakes. In a game where the end of the world is no big deal, you walk to the next one, it's hard to drive the mission forward over multiple games without a common goal.


I think the way "retro" is being used here is just as a buzzword for "old" or at best "outdated". That's not really what it means, but, that's fine - the point I'd like to make is: I think we should be careful about drawing a distinction between "Amber has outdated game mechanics" and "Amber as a setting has outdated themes".

As far as I'm concerned the first one is entirely untrue, and where the second is concerned you can say the same about any 70s new wave SF story. Amber's themes have been constantly revisited by other SF authors since. To take Amber out of the time when it was written robs it of its meta-textual relevance,  but, it's a story about an infinite multi-verse...I'd argue it updates itself, even unintentionally. Thematically you can't help but update it as you go.

So I suppose in either event, mechanics or setting (at least on an in-play execution model) I'd say there's nothing retro about Amber at all.


Amber is an "anything goes" kind of setting, sure, but I'm not sure what you're trying to say. Because there are newer things from other properties that you could pull in Amber, Amber is then "retro"?


The visual guide is notoriously decried.

I don't think you can take it as more than a fancy.


I have to admit...I'm pretty confused how you're playing D&D, if the stuff you outlined actually matters. Are these games just one long gauntlet of combat? Do you not have down time? Is there nothing your character can do to interact in the game world, or is the sum total of this concern that you don't feel your character is as snazy in a fight as the rest of the party? If that's the concern, I'd just scratch my head. Some characters are better than others in some situations. If your game is all the same situations, all the time...well, I'd quit that group. Finding a time to shine, and a situation to shine in, is as much your job as the player as your GM's.


In-game I've resolved it a few times in a few different ways, but usually with a Mandor vs. Fiona spikard arms-race that pushes, provokes, and manipulates the PCs until they either conclude that the spikards need to be destroyed, or they gain mastery of the spikards, or a little of both.


Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Pocket Planes
« on: November 04, 2019, 11:49:14 AM »
Quote from: deadDMwalking;1112148
I thought it was about airplanes.  Which seemed weird, but sounded cool.

That was also my reaction.

Nothing against Pundit's actual product, but I kind of want this now.


Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1100347
Karate Kid
Conan the Barbarian
Clash of the Titans
Planet of the Apes
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Gone With The Wind
Total Recall

When you think of these, do you think of the original or the remake? And we could think of many others where most people never even heard of the remake...

D&D is the same.

Well...yes. You're correct. In my case. But, that's because of how old I am. What would a younger person, who only knows of the remakes, say about the same list?

People are most familiar with their first exposure. Anything before then is part of the history leading up to that conceptually seminal work and anything after then is a remake. I think the best example of this argument is The Legend of Zelda. The best Legend of Zelda video game is the one you played first when you were a kid. All others are part of that game's history, or its sequels. Independent merit is not a factor, because there can be no objectivity.

The kids now growing up with D&D 5e will think of it as Dungeons & Dragons. All other editions will be tangential, even if individually a person comes to appreciate or prefer an earlier edition, the semiotic representation of D&D will remain 5e.


Quote from: Ratman_tf;1100059
My thoughts are that the concept of decolonization is a way for white progressive activists to control and monopolize conversation. This reddit post is a great example of that.

Thank you, you've well characterized a long-standing sentiment I've had that I've never been able to put to words.


Other Games / Video Games: What are you playing?
« on: August 21, 2019, 09:37:40 AM »
Still playing Street Fighter II: Turbo.
May never stop.


Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Is GenCon Relevant?
« on: August 21, 2019, 09:29:35 AM »
Quote from: dungeon crawler;1100291
The last time I attended I was made to feel unwelcome by staff and other attendees due to my disabilities.

That sounds rough. I have some friends specifically interested in RPGs and disability studies. If you'd like to share what happened I'd be interested to know.


Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Is GenCon Relevant?
« on: August 12, 2019, 09:23:18 AM »
Quote from: Spinachcat;1099142
What game were you repping? Pimp it!

I work freelance for Pendelhaven Press as a writer and graphic designer. At GenCon I had a full dance card running their game, Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok, a viking RPG where you use runes instead of dice. Here's a link:

Basically GenCon was me having fun running games for days. I was pleased to run an adventure module (someone called me a grogonard for saying "module" the other day) called Dead Man's Blade, which I wrote and laid out, and should be out in print and on DriveThruRPG any day now.

I legitimately have nothing but good things to say about Pendelhaven. They're good people.


Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion / Is GenCon Relevant?
« on: August 11, 2019, 10:48:26 AM »
Quote from: Spinachcat;1099061
My friends who do D&D are always in a giant ballroom of noise and when I ran games at GenCon we were stuck in a rooms of a dozen plus tables and I wound up taking my groups to various other locales so we could hear each other. The only small-ish RPG rooms of 6-8 tables that I remember were assigned for game companies who were doing official games or demos.

Tell us more about these 4 table rooms! I'm glad to hear that's changed.

Four games in a room would be okay, depending on the other 3 tables.

Some points of disclosure:
* This GenCon was my first and so-far only GenCon, so my experience is limited
* GenCon is huge, I have no idea what goes at half of it (I didn't even make it to the stadium)
* I was in fact repping a company for their game (for whom I freelance) but the other three tables in the room were not

The 4 table rooms were in a hallway at the RW Marriot. Easy walk from the convention floor; starbucks on the way - not that I ever got through the line. Not all 4 tables were always occupied. Also - probably a lot more awesome than it should be - there was water, hot and cold, just outside the room. So I could make oatmeal and things. This was really important since I was in the room all day for two and a half days with only the food I brought.

Honestly it felt like the a smallest convention I've ever been to when it came to running tables, because I didn't go anywhere else until the games were done. Then I hit the showfloor to check in with out booth, and bam! more people than live in the city where I live. It was a bizarre juxtaposition.

Would game again.


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