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Topics - Benoist

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Hi there RPG Site.

Just a heads up that we released the material we built for a 6-Mile hex of Tenkar's Landing for free on the GP Adventures website.

The link:

From the product description:

This 22-page free digital module gathers the two maps and the key of the Stone Alignments of Kor Nak, a small sandbox setting the size of a standard 6-mile hex created for Tenkar’s Landing, the crowdsourced game setting sponsored by the Tavern of the same name.

GP Adventures wanted to show its support of the “Do It Yourself”, Old School Revival scene and thank all the support it has received so far from gamers far and wide. The opportunity came when Tenkar’s Tavern launched the crowdsourced project linked above. The concept was simple: each and every gamer could claim one hex on the map of the Landing, and describe it however desired, working with the other enthusiasts describing their own hexes around, so the whole ends up making some sort of sense, and is ultimately enjoyable to explore around a game table.

This free product describes the hex we designed for the Landing. It is relatively light on stats and other mechanical detail, using a default 0e/1e Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules format where deemed necessary. This makes the module readily compatible with most editions and variants of the World’s Premier Fantasy Role-playing Game.

The hex could also be used as a setting, as a prime location or alternate dimension or even a virtual world of some type, for many other tabletop role-playing games, as inspiration warrants.

Within, you will find the hex thoroughly described in a loose, inspirational manner. You will learn about the general features of the area, its history, the main inhabitants of the landmarks on its surface, along with an accompanying wandering monsters table and likewise detail. A sample Underworld map closes the hex’s description for those who would expand on the surface and use it as the top of an underground complex spanning one or several levels. Together, these elements can be used in any which way that would seem the most suited for your game table and play style.

We hope you enjoy the material. Thank you for your support, one and all!

What is your favorite D&D Japanese variant, AD&D and 3e Oriental Adventures, Ruins & Ronins, etc, and why?

How many such variants, based on D&D, sharing basic compatible d20 mechanics pre and post TSR etc, are out there?


At the core of the new D&D Organized Play experience is the D&D Adventurers League. Essentially, we’ve given the system a name, because we wanted to emphasize the connected nature of our public play programs. For the first time, we’ll have our entire public play taking place in the same ongoing D&D campaign.

As a player, you’ll create a character for the D&D Adventurers League. You’ll be using the same rules to play at a convention, a store, or any sort of public event. There will be a D&D Adventurers League Player’s Guide available to let you know how it all comes together. Through the different programs, the D&D Adventurers League will be inviting to casual D&D players, experienced D&D players, and players looking for ways in which their characters can impact the campaign world. We want players to find the play that best fits them, and enjoy playing for years to come.

Is that the mystery link?

Is that revolving around participation in Organized Play?

See The Escapist there:

The products announced are:

Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set (July 15, 2014); Fantasy Roleplaying Fundamentals; $19.99; Will include six dice, a 64-page rulebook with adventure, rules for characters levels 1-5, and 5 pregenerated characters.

Player's Handbook (August 19, 2014); Core Rulebook; $49.95; Looks like the same book it has always been - learn the game's systems from it, but it includes only basic rules.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen (August 19, 2014); Tyranny of Dragons Adventure; $29.95; The first of the Tyranny of Dragons adventures, looks like the kickoff of the big event at 96 pages. The Amazon listing says that this one was designed and developed by Kobold Press, a third party firm.

Monster Manual (September 17, 2014); Core Rulebook $49.95; Bills its game statistics as "easy to use" and is supposedly full of "thrilling stories to feed your imagination" - same old, same old with a chance of increased game fluff.

The Rise of Tiamat (October 21, 2014); Tyranny of Dragons Adventure $29.95; Looks like the battle against Tiamat will become "increasingly political" - which would be an interesting twist for a second game adventure. Also designed by Kobold Press.

Dungeon Master's Guide (November 18, 2014); Core Rulebook $49.95; Full of "inspiration and guidance" as well as the optional rules modules we've been hearing so much about, as well as all the magic items - so not an optional book at all.

Deluxe DM Screen (January 20, 2015); $14.95; This one is listed at Amazon without details and not yet listed by Wizards.

Do the players map the dungeon (or wilderness, or ruined castle, or cave system, whatever) as they explore it in your game?

News and Adverts / Goes Live!
« on: May 02, 2014, 07:20:05 PM »


LAKE GENEVA, WI – GP Adventures LLC is proud to announce the launch of its online store and website at

Following their critically acclaimed module MARMOREAL TOMB OF GARN PAT'UUL, the introduction to THE HOBBY SHOP DUNGEON™ campaign and setting, Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. and Benoist Poiré created GP Adventures LLC in order to publish game modules, supplements, and books of general interest for the tabletop role-playing games hobby, with the intent to bring the Lake Geneva gaming tradition into the 21st century.

"This is a big step for us," declares Benoist Poiré, co-founder of the company with Ernest Gygax. "We have multiple modules in the works, including Ernest's Hobby Shop Dungeon itself. The website gives us the legitimacy and presence online we require in the short term, allowing us to launch our business and release materials to gamers immediately, while at the same time guaranteeing our independence over the long term."

"We already have two main products available for customers,” adds Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. "The first is my family story, SAMMI-ZOWA VERSUS THE DUELING DRAGONS, which I am ecstatic to be able to share with gamers, and the Gary Con VI PDF preview of HAUNTED HALLS OF THE BEGGAR KING, which provides an entirely playable, self-contained inside look into our design process at GP."

Both founders rejoice at the idea to share their modules, dungeons and settings with gamers, regardless of boundaries, game system affiliations or play styles. "Everyone can enjoy the games. You don't have to choose between this or that version, this or that school. There are no age requirements, no purity tests, no discriminating factors at play here: We can all like a variety of games and play them with a variety of different people. All that really matters is a desire to have fun together around a game table."

The website and online store can be found at


GP Adventures LLC is the publishing company founded by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. and Benoist Poiré based in Lake Geneva, WI.

GP Adventures LLC aims at supporting the local gaming tradition that birthed the entire hobby of tabletop role playing games, and bringing it forward into the twenty-first century. To that end, GP Adventures LLC will bring forward multiple products and offerings, including fiction and non-fiction adding some context to the history of tabletop role playing games and the Lake Geneva gaming tradition, as well as game aids, modules and settings revisited with new, solid and fresh approaches that do the tradition justice and empower referees to take charge of their own games and unlock their imaginations.

For more information, visit the company's a website and online store at


THE HOBBY SHOP DUNGEON™ is an adventure game setting originally developed by Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. in 1978 while working as a clerk for the fondly-remembered Dungeon hobby shop of Lake Geneva, WI. Inspired by the many games and campaigns he played with his father and many friends, and aided by incomplete maps initially drawn by Terry Kuntz, Ernest came up with a large sprawling dungeon complex that could be used to run games at the store. Since then, thousands of players have explored its depths, including TSR alumni, family members, customers and gamer friends, up to 22 players per sitting! It has been played in a variety of venues including Margaret Weis’s and Don Perrin’s Game Guild, in California’s Dungeons & Dragons Entertainment division, as a special event for game conventions and many more besides.

This is this particular setting that GP Adventures LLC plans to gradually reveal to the gaming aficionado, first through a collection of modules taking place around the dungeon itself, and later through the publication of the many levels within.


SAMMI-ZOWA VERSUS THE DUELING DRAGONS is a family tale set in a feudal Japan-that-never-was, a legend about courage and growing up to face one’s own responsibilities in the world. It is a story rooted in the creative landscape that informed the creation of the world’s premier role-playing game which Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. wants to gift to gamers far and wide so they too can share it with their own children and families.


Please contact

One of the very good things about d20 was the OGL. At the beginning, post 2000, there was a boom of ideas and variants (both within WotC and beyond), tons of cool, different spins on the d20 mechanics, with stuff like Black Company and Arcana Unearthed and on and on with Etherscope, Spycraft, d20 Modern, CoC d20 and whatnot. Right now, we're still very much living into the aftermath of Wizards leaving the OGL in the dust. The OGL, besides the OSR cottage industry and the like, is very much gravitating around Pathfinder now.

I have this idea that things are going to go full circle at some point. That gamers are going to get tired of the one size fits all, that they're going to get bored with the optimization and everything is about the rules, and the extreme passion or hatred for everything d20, back to the beginnings, where it was more about publishing your own d20 spin for the hell of it, experimenting with this or that aspect of the system implemented on a different setting or genre, and seeing if anybody out there liked it enough to buy it.

Am I off base here? Do you think that we're going to see a sort of d20/OGL renaissance, a few years, or even decades, from now?

From ENWorld:

Quote from: ENWorld
At PAX East a panel took place entitled "What Is Happening to Tabletop Roleplaying Games?" It featured Ryan Dancey (CEO of Goblinworks which is producing the Pathfinder MMO, architect of the Open Gaming License, and one of the people who spearheaded D&D 3E), Luke Peterschmidt (CEO of Fun to 11), Derek Lloyd (owner of the game store 'Battleground Games and Hobbies'), Luke Crane (Tabletop Games Specialist at Kickstarter and RPG designer of Burning Wheel, Mouseguard and more), Matt McElroy (Marketing Director at DriveThruRPG/OneBookshelf and Onyx Path which currently handles WoD products) and Mike Mearls (senior manager of D&D Next). [83 comments]

It's well worth listening to the whole recording if you have an hour to spare, as it contains plenty of interesting summations of RPG publishing over the decades, plus a lot of discussion about how great Kickstarter is and why it's the latest of a series of industry expansions which included the advent of desktop pubishing, the Open Gaming License and d20 System License, and now Kickstarter. It also touches on the various times the RPG industry has almost died (from what Dancey says, the rise of World of Warcraft seriously hit the industry, and later surveys while he was at CCP working on Eve Online indicated that a lot of people playing these MMOs had once played tabletop RPGs but now played MMOs instead, not in addition to).

Ryan Dancey also goes into the various surveys from ICv2 over the last few years (those ones which have put Pathfinder as the world's leading RPG since 2010 or so, although he acknowledges that this isn't a great way of determining sales - they call a number of retailers and simply ask what their top five selling RPG products are within a given month; no numbers, just a ranking), which leads to an interesting exchange between him and Mike Mearls.

Dancey: ...some of those games we talk about being mid-market kind of games, they're on this list. Some of the games that are coming out of Kickstarter are on this list... you know, FATE is on this list, Exalted is on this list.. and then we've got this classic duel between Pathfinder and D&D. I wish I could stand up here today and say, like, you know, any given game you ask me and I can tell you how much it's sold, sales, I have no idea, it's impossible to tell. Y'know anecdotally I can tell you that most of the games on this chart, with the exception of Pathfinder and D&D, they're probably not selling more than 20,000 units of whatever their core product is, and some of them are probably selling less than 10. It's hard to say, especially with games that might have a lot of supplements and add-on products, what the total volume is for any one of these games. And ICv2 lumps them all under one category so every sale of Mutants & Masterminds is in that one line, not just the core books.

But here's the thing I want you to see... some of these games are the classic games, the games that we've seen, y'know, for four decades, and some of these games are relatively brand new games that no one's ever seen before, and they change. So the thing that was really interesting to me is that if we had looked at this data from the 90s - and I have data that's kind of similar to this that was collected by an out-of-print magazine called Comics & Games Retailer - and if you just looked at the top five games from like 1990 to 1995 they were essentially the same five games every month, month after month after month. It was very, very predictable. The frothiness, the rate at which these games change and appear on these lists and go away is new. And certainly the fact that D&D is not the number one game on this list is definitely new, that has never happened before in decades. So, there are some weird things going on in this market. We don't have any quantitative data, I can't put a number on it, but we have this kind of qualitative sense that there has been change, that it's easier to get success but it's harder to keep that success.

Mearls: Oh, I think what's interesting about this graph if you were to take the word "sales" off - I can't see the graph [something]... there's actually [something] well who's releasing the most supplements this actually maps almost perfectly to that measure. And I think the big change we're seeing is in the 90s there was a sort of expected tempo of .. for a tabletop roleplaying game you expected every month that you played Mage or Werewolf or D&D or some of the D&D settings, every month there's a new book. And what we're seeing now is that's not really, no longer the case for a wide variety of reasons. Really, outside .. I realise there's only one or two companies that are still able to do that ... we're not seeing the book-a-month pubishing pattern that we saw ten years ago. And I think that's one of the real big disruptions, where, you know, and there's a lot of questions and is that a good thing for the industry, is it a bad thing for the industry, and what does it actually mean for the ongoing tabletop hobby.

Dancey: And I think, one of the things you mentioned to me before the panel, too, Mike, was that this is really myopic, it's really only going to talk about retail sales, it's not capturing book trade, it's not capturing online, it's not capturing Kickstarter, it's a really myopic slice of the data.

The conversation continues amongst the panel about Kickstarter and the way companies use it to produce sequential different products rather than extended product lines - new games, not expansions.

Dancey: Yeah. Ok, so here's our last topic, which I suspect a fairly significant number of people in this room would like to hear Mike talk about.

(A short sequence of show-of-hand questions establishes that of the people there in the room about an equal number have played Pathfinder and D&D in the last month).

Dancey: OK, so here's my giant spiel. I do not work for Paizo Publishing. I'm not a member of the Paizo Publishing staff, and I'm not here to represent Pathfinder. I'm just moderating this panel. So, Mike is now going to debate an empty chair [laughter]... so, and, prior to this panel I sent the slides round to everybody and I said 'Hey Mike, this is kinda how I see, like, the next three years of life in the, at the top of the chart. Two big, muscular sluggers are gonna duke it out and when that's done one of those guys is gonna be laying on the mat'. And Mike said "I don't see it that way", so Mike, why don't you say what you told me about your theory.

Mearls: Yeah, so this kinda goes back to what I was talking about earlier about the change and about how we look at the ongoing support for D&D and how I think this ins actually interacting with tabletop games in general. So I kinda have this theory I developed, I call it the Car Wars theory. So back in 1987 when I was 12 I bought Car Wars, it was the game I bought that month, and it had a vehicle design system. And I spent hours and hours and hours building new Car Wars vehicles and drawing maps and just playing with all the things around the game but very rarely able to actually play the game, because in order for me to play the game I had to get my parents to drive me to a friend's house and then get that friend to actually want to play Car Wars and then teach him all the rules and all that other stuff, right? And in addition to having Car Wars, and D&D and other stuff, I had my Nintendo and I had my Apple, too. And I bought new video games at about the same rate, maybe once a month if I did chores or I had a little part time job, I'd get maybe one new game a month.

What has changed now is that a game like Car Wars can work very well if I'm not getting a new constant stream of games. Because I have all this time wherer I want to be gaming but I can't play a game, so I'll do all the stuff that exists around the game. But now thanks to, like, this phone... [something] smartphones, tablets, Steam, uh, XBox Live, PSN, I can buy games whenever I want. I mean, I was at the airport yesterday and I was bored so I bought Ten Million for my iPhone and I just started playing. Because I have other games on my phone, but I thought, nah, I'm sick of the games I have, I'm just gonna buy a new one. That would have been perfect time, back in the 80s, to like work on my D&D campaign, or read that month's D&D expansion, or work on new designs for my, uh, for for Car Wars. But what's happening is we have so many new games coming in that the amount of time that one game can take up without having you actually play that game, like World of Warcraft where you just log in and play, or you do things like in the auction house, thta's part of play, right, trying to get resources, you're selling stuff for actual money that's helping you play the game.

I believe that's what's really happening to tabletop roleplaying, is that it used to be a hobby of not playing the game you want to play. And there are so many games now that you can play to fill all those hours of gaming, you can actually game now, and that what's happening is that RPGs needed that time, we, a GM or DM needed that time to create the adventure or create a campaign, a player needed that time to create a character, allocate skill ranks and come up with a background, and come up, you know, write out your three-page essay on who your character was before the campaign. That time is getting devoured, that time essentially I think is gone, that you could play stuff that lets you then eventually play a game or you can just play a game. And people are just playing games now.

And what we're really doing with D&D Next is we're really looking at thriving and surviving in that type of market. If you've playtested the game, you see we've run much simpler with the mechanics, things move much faster when you play... one of our very early things was was to say, look, I was playing Mass Effect 1 or 2 at the time. I can complete a mission in Mass Effect in about an hour and a half. So why can't I complete an adventure in D&D in that time? Why does it take me 4, 8, 12 hours just to get from page one of the adventure to the end? I mean, yeah, you can have huge epic adventures but I can't do it in less than four hours.

Dancey: You didn't want to have 20 minutes of fun packed in 4 hours.

Mearls: Exactly, exactly, yeah. And so it's looking at the train and saying, well, things have changed, and tabletop roleplaying in a lot of ways hasn't changed with the times. We've been doing the same thing, the same way, that we were doing back in the 80s. I mean, the game mechanics have been refined but really until indie games [something] no one had taken a look at the core essence of what makes a tabletop roleplaying game tick and taken it apart and rebuilt it. And so in a lot of ways with D&D, and you know Ryan has the slide, that's really not how we see it at all because for me that boxing match, it isn't D&D against any tabletop roleplaying game, it's D&D versus the entire changing face of entertainment, of how a tabletop roleplaying game... that's the best thing you can do with your friends. But what about when you're home alone, or when you're online, or when you're waiting in line at the airport and you just want something on your smartphone. The big question for, specifically for D&D is, if you're a D&D fan, what can we do to fill that time in a way that's engaging and fun for you? To take those settings and characters and worlds, the Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, or whatever, and bring those to life for you in a way that we haven't been able to before. Because in the past it's always been.. we have a new setting, we have Eberron, we're gonna do the 300-page book, and it's gonna be for the TRPG and that's where it' gonna begin, and that's where it's gonna end. All of our back-catalogue and settings, if we're not publishing it for the RPG line, are we doing anything with them, probably not, that's it, all we do is the TRPG. And so for us, it's really been looking at the entertainment, not just tabletop roleplaying, but entertainment as a whole, everything that people do now to engage themselves in stories, thinking where can D&D thrive within that terrain? And what can we do, starting with the tabletop roleplaying game, to make it more acessible, to get that new generation of players in. And even the current generation who are strapped for time and have a million other options, what can we do to live within that environment?

The too-long-didn't-read version of that, I think (and this is my own interpretation of what Mike Mearls was saying) is that much of the stuff we used to enjoy around an RPG we don't do any more, and we do other entertainment-related things with that time instead. So D&D (as in its settings and characters) is focusing on doing those other entertainment things rather than just being a tabletop roleplaying game - the goal, obviously being that "D&D" as a brand flourishes. And, further, that that means it doesn't matter to them what Paizo is doing with Pathfinder, because D&D doesn't need to be the top-selling tabletop RPG (not that I'm saying it won't be - I expect it will be again come next year, though time will tell) as long as D&D as an overall entertainment property is doing a whole bunch of things.


To listen to the panel in its entirety:


Did you use a 4e module with an OSR game? Or a Pathfinder adventure path with 4e rules? Or the old 3.x Rappan Athuk with AD&D? What's been your actual experience doing this? Are all the games and variants of "D&D" really that far apart? How much effort does it take to use one module for a certain variant/game with another? Does it lead to satisfying game experiences?

For the sake of this discussion, I'd like to get away from theory and number crunching. What I really want is to hear from people who've actually done it, how hard/simple it was to prep and accomplish, and if you had a good time withe game.

Alternately, what could game modules provide in the way of advice to make this sort of thing even easier on the DM, short of full-blown conversions?

I think back about 3rd edition and d20. It didn't start with the circle-jerks about character optimization and everything is game mechanics and all that, but bit by bit in some corners of the internet at least that's the game culture that progressively took over until we had things like the Gaming Den and so on.

Now thinking about D&DN and its modularity. You'll be (hopefully) able to take a simpler approach to the game and will be able to ignore all sorts of different rules and modules to play what it is you want... but these rules and modules will exist nonetheless. What's to stop the powergaming CharOp crowd and the "everything is about rules" crowd to take over the discussion of the game once more?

Could be court intrigue or "whodunits", running an underwater adventure, or seeing a grand battle for the fate of the world in your game. Could be something with flying mounts as in Volant, a Space Hulk survival game or some fights in 0 G. What type of places, situations, themes and concepts would you want to run in your games but haven't for reason XYZ?

Which D&D monsters would you want to see more used in adventure modules, or at the game table, for that matter?

Fighting Fire is a generic, systemless fantasy adventure loosely inspired by the events that destroyed Ernie Gygax's home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It is written by Mark "CMG" Clover, includes a very cool map of "Gamington", and more than a few nods at the Lake Geneva gaming scene, Ernie Gygax, his friends and family.

I had the chance to playtest it as "Heidala of the Isles", with Mark as GM, Ernie playing "Ernesto Magnifico", as one could guess.

More information about the module and its context here:

How do you feel right now about D&D Next?

You can elaborate all you want. Poll forthcoming.


More information on the contest there:

Is that representative of how "the OSR" defines itself these days? Is this an attempt at creating a sort of "opposite of Paizo" thing with its own "superstar" contest? Or is it tongue-in-cheek and I am just missing the joke?

That is just bizarre, to me.

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