These are examples of the depth of detail, or lack thereof, one might expect from each gazetteer entry in the Dwarf-Land supplement.
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Fantastic! Evocative enough to convey a sense of the place but leaves a lot of space to elaborate. To me it’s striking a tone between ER Eddison and Lord Dunsany.
BTW, welcome back to the blogosphere with the recent uptick in the activity around Dwarf-Land.
“ER Eddison and Lord Dunsany”
It’s good to be working on something again. Hopefully I can sustain it for a while this time.
Cool. I look forward to seeing more Dwarf-Land.
Nice, there is seed for adventure in each. Those already make me think of adventures and how I would present them for my group. For example the Dragon of the Lake makes me think that what if the Flonkrons feel some sort of perverse national pride about “their good old dragon and protector” and there is unexpected difficulties for would-be dragonslayers.
That’s the level of detail I find useful in a supplement – roughly what one might find in a classic Judges Guild product. One of the irritating things about the Forgotten Realms was Ed Greenwood’s endless bloviation about the smallest minutiae; the only thing more depressing was that so many gamers apparently wanted him to do it.
I actually liked the Forgotten Realms, lot less would have been sufficient but there was plenty of room to define what would be my groups version of the Realms, but over time the Realmslore started to accumalate supplement by supplement and as DM I really started to feel the weight of it. Partly because I was as youth too keen on running it “properly” as I thought at the time and nobody just thought that maybe our own campaigning was good enough and we really should have not retconn things to way they were in supplements the minute someone in the group bought it.
I like your level of detail, it looks like cool springboard for every Dwarf-Land DM to go their own weird ways.
What text editor do you use and what is the font called?
I use OpenOffice. I believe that’s the DejaVu Mono font that comes packaged with OpenOffice, but I don’t remember for sure and it’s hard for me to tell on a small screen. Will confirm when I get home today.
I thought the layout on your draft was clean, well balanced and easy to read. The above snippet looks good too.
The name of the font is ProFontWindows, available free here: http://www.fontspace.com/carl-osterwald/profontwindows
Where will you place the Dark Carnival?
Chris Robert looks like a doofus. It’s like his beard is in charge of his face.
I’m guessing you clicked on the icon to get a closer look, and that says more about you than it does about me. (Riposte modeled on your style, how’d I do???)
ok for a beard brain.
Scott, what do you have left to write up after you have finished the gazetteer entries?
Very brief overview of Castle Blitzendrang and Dwarf-Town – some representative establishments and neighborhoods, with detail for each entry somewhere between the Tegel Manor village and the CSIO.
Short blurbs for some representative NPCs.
Very brief overview of some of the military units each culture might field.
Maddeningly vague, essentially statless thumbnail sketches of a few monsters and gods, e.g., Gnoles, Gibbelins, the Great God Pan, Vroonops, some unique Wights and Draugr, etc.
Maddeningly vague, completely statless thumbnail sketches of some infamous or otherwise significant dungeons and ruins.
Most of these entries will be two or three prolix sentences. None of them are essential but I like doing them.
A few shambolic “miscellaneous” digressions I happen to have lying around.
Then I need to edit it and redact or revise some of the language that now strikes me as risible.
I’m trying (so far successfully) to knock out a couple of entries per day on most days. Sheer accretion should finish it by the spring, but I’m pretty erratic and there’s no reason to have a lot of confidence in that projection.
Ah, I thought you were nearly finished. Your use of language is superior to most in the rpg field so I wouldn’t fuss too much about that but that list seems important otherwise. I can only suggest you work from a *finite* *unalterable* list because rpg *ideas* can easily and continuously outgrow their *implementation*.
Yeah, it’s a good idea at this late stage to work from a concrete checklist. I do have a habit of trying to chase two rabbits and catching none.
Here are some broad questions for you to which you might respond with a post at some point. Why did you choose OD&D as the dwarfland core or base to be transformed into your supplement? Do you think OD&D just happened to suit the development of this particular faerie campaign or do you think it has qualities which make it the perfect starting place for all kinds of new gaming campaigns. Which other venerable gaming supplements influenced how you conceived the structure and layout of your book?
[Personally I prefer working from a notional base of AD&D for my own campaign but I can see how there may be advantages to working from OD&D when creating a campaign for *others* to use.]
Something else I am wondering about is the difference between presenting ideas on a blog and in a supplement. Did you find it hard to resist presenting the material piecemeal on the blog? Does it feel like more of an achievement to organise the material into a book?
It’s tempting to put every single thing on the blog. I have put up a good bit, but I’ve hopefully reserved sufficient material to give people a reason to open the envelope. I also revise things so much that the embryonic, more or less jotted ramblings on the blog may not resemble the final product. E.g., the current entries for the castles bear little resemblance to what went out in the March draft, either in presentation or matter.
I haven’t finished it yet, so I’m not sure how I’ll feel when I do. I don’t personally have a precedent for this kind of project. I’m not a self-congratulatory person and it’s not a work of any great weight. I’m sure it’ll feel nice to actually hold a discrete physical artifact that I can share with like-minded weirdos.
1.) Why OD&D?
I like AD&D 1e. I’ve definitely played AD&D, or something recognizably similar, more than any other system over the last 31 years. I plan to play AD&D again. I didn’t even start playing OD&D until (I think) 5 or so years ago.
But OD&D and Tunnels & Trolls are now my systems of choice for homebrewed settings and have been for some time. (I was also a late adopter of T&T, and find it an excellent way to do something like D&D but with a fresh set of assumptions. T&T probably bears another post at some point, as it’s been unfairly maligned for decades.)
OD&D is maddeningly incomplete and, in practice, requires addition. AD&D 1e is maddeningly baroque and, in practice, requires redaction.
AD&D isn’t actually hard to alter to one’s specifications, as the various subsystems are modular with no unified mechanic, so it’s easy to tinker with one aspect of the rules without an unintended cascade effect – e.g., one can dick around with the Thief class tables without throwing the rest of the game off-kilter in any noticeable way.
Unfortunately, a downside to the myriad subsystems, subclasses, and DMG pronouncements is a much greater sense of an implied setting and tone, however vaguely sketched. If I want something that feels different than “regular D&D,” it’s easier to work from OD&D, which has very little implied setting or tone.
The corollary to that downside stems from my own cognitive bias. I find much easier to add my own things to a skeletal framework than to subtract from an intricate one – one with which most older players are intimately familiar – and then add my own things back in. This bias is, I think, reflected in many players – they can more easily process and accept “here are a few changes to these vaguely written pamphlets, including a bunch of cool new options” than “here are the 75 things I’ve changed about the minutiae of the subsystems of this ruleset, including a bunch of cool old options you can’t exercise.”
2.) What other gaming supplements influenced the structure and layout of the supplement?
More than anything else, classic Judges Guild products, which are charmingly discursive and, more importantly, evocative in their brevity. I look at a couple lines about the poltroonish current Lord Rump or the evil Temple in the Tegel Manor booklet and am more inspired than by reading about every last privy in some buttfuck district of Waterdeep.
I also like being able to launch off on some weird tangents, or give some entries far more attention than others, or devote significant space to silly things that nonetheless add character, such as whether a particular prostitute is wearing a schoolgirl outfit, or the likelihood of being hit by fecal matter in a particular district.
For the Gazetteer portion, I’m inspired by the original World of Greyhawk folio. Its gazetteer had a few sparse sentences or paragraphs about most realms and major geographical features and then it mostly shut the fuck up.
Finally, I’m tonally indebted to both the Judges Guild and T&T for not taking things too seriously. I happen to like corny 70s gamer humor.
Aesthetically, I just like low-fi, non-standard presentations on actual paper. I realize it’s silly and precious and I don’t care. My aim here isn’t to produce something I expect other people to use, it’s to produce an example of how I do things and what I think is cool.
Reading over that much of it seems familiar, I must have asked you in bits and pieces before.
I didn’t mean to emphasize the AD&D/OD&D duality. I was trying to get you to describe the magic you see in OD&D but I now sense it is the spaces in that version that appeal most.
Do you work with the OD&D booklets beside you? Which version of Tegel Manor are you referring to, the tiny original or the gamescience edition? I really like the map of the region around the Manor.
>> Aesthetically, I just like low-fi, non-standard presentations on actual paper. I realize it’s silly and precious and I don’t care.
Ive said before that your care with language and layout produces something which is superior to my eyes so Im not buying the “lo-fi” hipster advertising. No-one says novels are lo-fi because they aren’t smeared with distracting rubbish. No, all the content is in the words. It’s Hi-fi baby.
>> My aim here isn’t to produce something I expect other people to use, it’s to produce an example of how I do things and what I think is cool.
I think that is a higher aim, and perhaps the only worthwhile one at this stage, even if you don’t.
Do you work with the OD&D booklets beside you?
They’re on my bookshelf along with the few other gaming products I still own, but I rarely consult them while working on the supplement. When I run a game, I have them to hand. I’ve been using them for several years now and know most of the important stuff.
Which version of Tegel Manor are you referring to, the tiny original or the gamescience edition? I really like the map of the region around the Manor.
I’ve used the Gamescience edition in a game before – when I didn’t own the JG edition – but it’s inferior. (In the same way that Peter Jackson’s Tolkien adaptations have “new and expanded material” and are vomitous.) I love the maps for both the manor and the surrounding region. I no longer own either version because I don’t see running them again, and I think I sold my first print JG and gave away the Gamescience.
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