A Fork in the Road

As I’ve been writing and writing (and writing) for Adventures Dark and Deep™, a thought has steadily lingered in the back of my mind. A question about the ultimate direction of the project.

Specifically, ADD could be its own, stand-alone game, thus entering a crowded field (and indeed one that’s going to be getting only more crowded, especially as things like the upcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games see print). Or, ADD could be published as a supplement for an already-extant game (or games) such as OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord (much like the LL Advanced Edition Companion).

To date, I’ve been aiming for the former, so no real big changes there. Three books, followed by adventures and the usual accouterments. But if I go for the latter, then it would look like a single book, with the character classes, new spells, new rules for combat, and addenda for whatever monsters exist in the rules already (mainly consisting of a table to handle alterations to the hit dice and adding morale, if necessary).

I should point out that this is a question entirely occasioned by business concerns. Printing an entirely new rules system is a massive undertaking, requiring quite a bit of financing. Printing a supplement to an already-existing rules set is much more modest by comparison, and would allow me to get the salient points into print, even if the secondary goal of having everything consolidated back into three rulebooks is lost.

I’ll go where my muse leads, of course, but would like to hear others’ opinions on the question.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

12 thoughts on “A Fork in the Road

  1. For what it's worth, my vote is to go your own way. What intrigues me about the project is that it's your singular vision of Gygax's lost second edition. If it becomes simply an add-on to another game, I fear this will be compromised in some way.

    Also, at least in my experience, it's a hundred times more preferable to have everything you need rules-wise in one book (i.e. the ADD player's guide) as opposed to needing some other book for the rules (ie Osric) and then modifying it with another book (in this case the mused ADD conversion book).

    That forces players to have both books out when they play and to remember which rules are in which book when referencing them. It may be less work from a design standpoint but it's certainly more work for the players – especially with the likelihood that some of the rules from the original system will be changed and some will stay the same.

    Personally, I rarely even use errata documents for this very reason; even if the rules are slightly worse off, at least they're in one place and easy to reference.

  2. I second everything baronkohinar said. While I understand the difficulties linked to publishing a complete game rather than a supplement, I think that what you are undertaking is so unique and original in the field of Old-School gaming that it will, in the end, be totally worth it.

    I can't wait to hold the final product in my geeky sweaty hands… And what I've seen so far is great. Keep up the good work!

  3. I'm with the Baron. Your original intent to put together the 2nd Ed that Gygax would have seems to me to be the direction that the project should proceed in. It is a pure vision and you have many people, myself included, who will back you in that endeavor.

    Going in the other direction strikes me as, and you'll forgive me for saying this I'm sure, "I'm really bored with this, so I'm going to just publish what I have and be done with it." As someone with a definite obsessive-interested-bored attention cycle, I'd urge you to stay the course and move on the path that you have started down, especially considering all the work you've done on the project so far.

    I'll help in any way I can, and the ultimate decision is only you're to make, but I'd like to see you stay the course.

  4. I think it depends. Is what you are bringing to AD&D just new character classes etc. or do you want your game to have a particular tone or style that sets it apart from other D&D clones (like Hackmaster and LotFP do, for example)? If the latter, then you ought to publish it as a complete game. It also depends on how much of the rules you intend to change from AD&D.

    And for what it's worth, I preferred Emprise to Adventures Dark and Deep.

  5. Entirely selfishly, I can say I wanted to see them as their own set, stand alone and unique. I think the vision you have for the project itself is also unique and , while you constantly have to smack me back into place for suggesting outlandish and stupid things, I have a great respect and admiration for your imagination and creativity.

    I want to see it as it's own monster. But my opinion is best summarised by quoting a wise old sage with a hammer I sort of know:
    "I'll help in any way I can, and the ultimate decision is only yours to make, but I'd like to see you stay the course."

  6. If the printing price is the main concern, perhaps it would work better if you started with the Player's Guide (which would contain all the classes and all the rules – i.e. everything you need to play, if I recall?) and decide where to go from there.

    This would effectively be the best of both worlds; you only need to worry about the overhead for one book, and your eager public gets what they seem to want (i.e. a self-contained system) as well.

    Since everything's theoretically compatible with 1st edition as it is, players can borrow anything we're missing for the time being. Then, depending on how that goes, or how you feel/how much money you have down the line, you can move on to the DMG, MM, and mass combat books as you see fit.

  7. "Actually, Mjollnir, it was occasioned by getting a preliminary price quote from a printer, and the subsequent eruption of my eyeballs into flame at the price…"

    Oh, I have no doubt that it ain't cheap. But, as the Baron said, you can limit to the PH first, and maybe a limited run of that. See how the sales numbers are and then see where you want to go.

  8. Jaerdaph: I would very much like to see ADD in conventional distribution channels, and POD sort of nips that in the bud.

    However, I've not given up on the notion of starting with POD, and if the sales are strong enough, moving over to a more conventional publishing venue.

    Lulu.com would come in at about $30 for each hardcover and $20 for each paperback. Not bad singly, but remember there are going to be three books in the series.

    $90 is a pretty steep buy-in…

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