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On the Zine
Good to hear from you, even more so that you want to help out. The best way to do this is to write something for us. Check out our guidelines, and with a healthy disrepsect, put pen to paper (or fingers to keypad) -- Ed.
Thanks for the feedback! We'll be sure to check out Cafe Press
A lot of people do it, a lot of people brag about it, but there are those tha just are it -- and it is good to recognise fellow true gamers who still find themselves up at 4am discussing "what is the actual chance of knocking someone out with a honey glazed turkey".
Found your mag and it is exactly what I am looking for, intelligent discussions of the genre - will be recomending it too all the gamers I know.
Keep "rolling-up" on your Editorial checks. :)
Thanks for getting in touch. You sound like our kind of roleplayer. So when do you think you can write us an article? -- Ed.
Responses to Articles
We received one flame for Alex and a heap of comments on Steve D's history series.
Thanks very much for writing in. We'll pass your kind words on to the author, Shaun Hately. We're sure it was a pretty trying time for all concerned and it's hard to appreciate now the furore that happened back then. -- Ed
If he had bothered to read reviews on the games he assasinated before allowing himself to be robbed of his money, he would have realised that they are possibly not the best examples of what CRPGs have to offer. Vampire was a failed attempt at something what only now is being given a decent shot by Bioware in the form of Neverwinter Nights. Diablo II is a hack and slash game. A great one at that, but I'm not surprised he didn't like it. Baldurs Gate I was groundbreaking for it's time over 3 years ago. The sequel is much more absorbing and refined in it's role playing elements.
However all of the above are still very combat oriented and not what an elitist such as himself is looking for. May I recommend Planescape Torment for it's fantastic setting and hours and hours of character depth creating drivel. I didn't like it, but I'm sure he would. Neverwinter Nights, the next game from Bioware allows DMs to control and manipulate the world around a team of players much like a traditional RPG experience. Morrowind, the sequel to the ambitious Daggerfall is set in a massive virtual world where he can essentially play the game through and never once touch upon the main plot if he so choose to. And if none of these take his fancy, then I suggest he get himself a fast internet connection and play one of the myrriad of massively multiplayer RPGs out there. Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Ultima Online to name a few. There he could nodoubt find a group of equally jaded roleplayers to sit around with and bitch about those big nasty corporations that are soiling his limited view of what a roleplaying experience can be.
Perhaps next time, he will do his research before shooting his mouth off about a couple of poorly made, outdated or irrelevant games, that quite frankly, do not make a good example of the genre that he is actually referring to.
Thankyou for you time,
I thank you for it,
Thanks Gonny! We have passed your words onto Mr Darlington who even now is spreading the joy of the dice bag across the Northern Hemisphere. That is, when he is not taunting out London staff about the fine weather in Florida. -- Ed.
One is where the general fantasy influence Gygax picked up on came from. As you mention L of the Rings was running through the bookstores and campuses of American colleges in the 60's and SCA type activities were begin in places like Berkley California at the end of the 60's. This influence was spreading well before SCA formed. I have never participated in any of their events but I saw and heard about it as anyone who liked Tolkien, and fantasy at the time did.
The C&CS (Castle and Crusade Society) had at least one player in their wargames who had seen or heard of the California live action games. I am sure this was a factor. It is interesting to me that live action games actually proceeded tabletop games but that it is little known. Most people believe that that live action evolved from tabletop. They are more likely creative cousins of the subgenre of fantasy that was forming against the backdrop of anti-war and the dystopian futures that all seemed to be just around the corner.
Steve's article, I think, rightly identifies the die off in the industry--that we are essentially struggling to survive. I liken it to prosperty lowering the need for involved entertainment. In the 90's America was fat, dumb and generally happy. They had short attention spans and didn't want to bother with anything complicated. Never mind that they quickly bored of the non-complicated stuff and moved on. This and the rise of the computer. You show that computers and role playing simulations moved along together. It is my supposition that real role playing didn't occur until you could interact with people in MUDS. To me it was three things that killed the industry.
Been there done that. Trully new ideas were far and few between. Sure there were some new trickery in mechanics but with Cthullu and Paranoia as the last real blossoms of RPG emersion innovations people turned to other pastimes.
Other media. Movies, Books and computers were providing a fairly rich fantasy experience in the 1990's and despite some tie-ins people largely continued to spend time in those passive media rather than spend the effort entertaining themselves with RPGs.
Low entry high yield games entered and took the marginals who were always on the sidelines of RPG games as marginal players but purchasers of materials. Let's face it most RPGs, even rules lite ones, take a certain concerted effort. When a game came along that only asked you to buy the pieces and play could start immediately with almost no preparation and last from 20 minutes to all day people were hooked and buying cards in droves. The interesting thing about those games is that they took more and more money in small increments than any form of gaming yet seen. Warhammer wisely capitlized on this trend early and made the game really about miniatures. And now Mage Knight has made it so you don't even have to bother painting minitured or looking up many rules. It's all on the minature.
Now Neverwinter Nights is out. People are spinning off their own adventures. Running worlds, games, or making them as free modules for others. If you want massive involvement games like Dark Age of Camelot, Everquest and others will fufill you.
I think the RPG industry is in serious trouble. WotC has now universaled gaming with D20 which has other small companies making marginal profits on D20 based materials. Even White Wolf has gotten in on the action.
If it is a business it is a difficult one. If it is an art form there are fewer and fewer audience members available. I wish I could see a rosy picture. Afterall I am in the industry. I have played RPG's since 1975 and had my Imagine system in one form or another since 1983. 5 years ago I went to press with it and it breaks even these days. It is rules heavy for one, in a rules light popular time. But I am not so much basing my feelings about the industry on my little company. We are doing well compared to some. Fasa is now gone. ICE lost it's Lord of the Rings license and is essentially barely holding on. Ral Partha (my favorite minatures company is gone). Just to name few.
I have a hope. It is that with the smashing success of the Lord of the Rings movies, and PnP simulations like Neverwinter Nights and massive scale involvements like Everquest that players will feel that familiar lack. That sense that drives us all to run our own local, face to face games.
That nothing beats sitting in front of friends and telling a story and seeing what they do and responding.
Thank you for your time and if you are interested I will send you free copies of my "retro" rules heavy system.
W. Michael Tenery III
Thanks very much for your long and interesting letter. Steve Darlington is no longer the editor of our zine, he's on sabbatical. I've forwarded your letter on to him.
Steve's history is still our most read series of articles. We get more letters about that than anything else. I've been urging him to get them up to date but that probably won't happen for some time. So I'm afraid that whilst we'll note your corrections we won't be making any changes to the text.
You make some good points about the RPG 'industry'. I say 'industry' because apart from the odd few companies it is really quite sparse, and always has been.
In spite of all the doom and gloom surrounding the popularity of CCGs and CRPGs, there's still a lot of new stuff coming out, plenty of it not d20 too - although it doesn't hurt to put the logo somewhere on your product!
The d20 cash cow may soon run dry. The profits still are quite sizeable for some companies. Atlas used its to fund Unknown Armies, Mongoose is still minting it. Hopefully they'll manage their boom times more sensibly than I.C.E. who forgot to save for the rainy days.
I don't really see Hasbro staying with WotC much longer. They have taken the licences they wanted and sold them on. Most of the computer licences are owned by Infogrames, GenCon has gone to Peter Adkison, the WotC shops to some goth clothing retailer and even Living City has gone, bought by Ryan Dancey himself. WotC may find the commercial realities a bit harsher as an orphan. As you said, they already laid off many.
There have been boom times, notably the 80's here in the UK (The zine is Aussie but I'm English) but on the whole, roleplaying is somewhere where the old cliché applies: to make a small fortune, start with a large one (I'm involved with the Dying Earth game where this very much applies). That said, wargaming is a 'hobby-est' pastime and yet that survives with a never decreasing popularity. I think they just realise that there ain't any gold in the hills. Production is small, production values cheap but quality survives. Roleplaying is not going to die out, they'll just be less product on the shelves in a few years time.
Unless of course, they start playing it on Big Brother!
Please do send a copy of your game. I'm not saying I'll do anything with it. I do prefer rules light games but I can appreciate good design when I see it. -- Steve Dempsey, Editor-in-Chief
Thanks for the feedback! We have passed it on to Mr Darlington. Thanks for the link; we are happy to return the favour. We look forward to your future essays. Perhaps they could be published here?<shamlessplug/> -- Ed.
I have been reading the history of Rpg's, and like one of the other readers, I too was overcome with emotion and had to unpack my cartons of rpg's that had been hidden for years in the dark recesses of my spare room. On a side note, I found my old 3rd Ed Gamma World boxed set, which brought back such fond memories that I went on a spending spree at e-bay, with my credit card sighing I now have all the editions and am working out which edition I prefer???
Now too find a bunch of guiena-pigs, I mean players :P
Errors and Ommissions
Straight from very first issue's rpg news, it is WRONG! prime directive is the rpg version of the wargame starfleet battles - and yes, they DO have a license for star trek - they just are not allowed to use the name "star trek", or any of the characters, and only the classic series. (ST:TOS) since they've added more to it, it is no longer compatible with the ST:NG or ST:DS9 timelines, but it has your romulans and klingons.
Prime directive 2nd edition is coming out using GURPS as its rule set... as the second major 3rd party company using it after GURPS CONSPIRACY X. imagine the joy of steve jackson when he heard that GURPS: KLINGONS was going to be one of the first suppliments for it. ;-)
For more information look under www.starfleetgames.com
Just so you know,
Thanks for letting us know. (For another take on the issue see Issue 10's Forum.) We're trying to persuade Steve Darlington to update his history and we'll tell him you've found him out. We reckon that means he owes you a pint. -- Ed.
Requests for Assistance
You could try our forum which links from the front page or you could try the others on www.rpg.net It's quite a thriving community with many RM fans. There's also a pretty good RM ezine from the UK. Otherwise, if you can put up with the pointless sarcastic remarks of certain people you could try advertising on one of the roleplaying usenet groups such as uk.games.roleplay (although you'd be better served with the US version whose name escapes me).
Oh, and this mention in our zine should help tremendously:-) Good Luck! -- Ed.
Sorry about that. Hunting with Google found this new reference. If you are looking for random name generators and the like, then a whole host of them is in the links page from issue #19, the best of which is probably Chris Pound's.
We finish with some of the nice words people have said in their susbcription comments. Thanks guys! It makes it all worthwhile.
I've read two of your articles and the what we are and who we are sections of your zine and I am hooked. Wish you lived in the USA in Arizona so I could
game with you. My friends and I don't approve of the 3rd edition though so
you'd have to play an amalgamation of 1st and 2nd AD&D with a bunch of house
rules thrown in for fun. I know, probably too scary to contemplate. Thank
you for putting out such an amusing and thoughtful zine.
You truly run a fine 'zine, thank you.
Motivating me to write publicly is difficult, but between Steve Darlington's encouragingly honest retirement article and a slow growing confidence in writing ability, I find myself typing. Well, I find myself typing, looking at what I just wrote, usually backspacing over it, and typing something I can stand looking at.
Anyhow, I first found this through a series of links when researching a paper for a college composition class. At the time, I was going to vehemently defend D&D and roleplaying games from the naysayers with black caps, bibles, and 'I love Pat Robertson' buttons pinned to their shirts. I then was directed by Yahoo to The Shame of the Game by Gary Pellino that singlehandedly destroyed my idea for an argumentative essay. I looked around a little beyond that point, and it's included as one of the places I try to visit regularly.
Ah, almost got caught up in reading another article, instead of focusing on this. Can't have it open all night, now. I remember one of my points.
I appreciate the focus on sensible, well written content for any kind of game. Even if I personally focus on 3rd editon D&D, your publication cannot and should not be so limited.
It gives me hope in becoming a 'professional' in the gaming industry in Australia, home to my heart if not yet my passport.
I look forward to reading future articles, and hopefully submitting some.
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