Inside the Echochamber

Over on his blog, Mythmere announced that he added another version of ‘Swords & Wizardry’ to his Lulu shop which differs from the current version in only one way: This 4th edition S&W has the same font on the cover as previous editions… of course, 4th edition versions without the ‘retro’ font are also still availible.

He said that he did this in response to the emails he got from a number of people who all said they liked the older font better than the new one. That’s one of the advantages of print on demand like ‘Lulu.’ It probably wasn’t too hard for Mythmere to put the old font on the new book and now everyone can get exactly the font they want on the cover of their book.

One of the interesting things I once heard from a marketing executive was the idea that happy customers seldom communicate their happiness… and thus the unhappy customers can come to dominate the thinking of many organizational strategists. Sometimes, as in the case of Mythmere’s font options, it’s relatively easy to offer multiple solutions that will make everyone happy. Maybe it’s the sites I visit or the people I talk to, but I’ve been a bit surprised at the level of ‘negativity’ directed at the products being produced by the OSR in general (and the DCC RPG in particular lately). My hope is that the producers will not just listen to the negative criticism; hopefully they will also remain true to whatever idea drove them to create whatever it is that they are making in the first place rather than changing everything up in hopes of making some grouchy pants somewhere happy.

As one example, I’ve heard a lot of people bitching that Swords & Wizardry or Labyrinth Lord are ‘too much like old D&D.’ “We already have circa 1982 D&D,” these naysayers whine. “It’s just the same old game with a new cover and a few superficial changes. We can play the Moldvay version original… we don’t need a facsimile.” I guess that’s true… but even if Mythmere (or anyone else) never make a dime off of Swords & Wizardry, what if the process of putting it together was gratifying for him? What if that book gets people to pick up the dice and play? We probably don’t really need any RPGs… at least not the same way we need food, water and oxygen. I’ve had about enough of ‘uber-grognards’ carrying on like the existance of the ‘retro clones’ are somehow ‘bad’ for people who like playing games or ‘dillute’ the community. Prove that point or shut it.

It has also reached my ears that people are really bugged about the screwy dice in the new DCC RPG. What a silly arguement. Other people are bitching about the ‘tone’ of the book (too confrontational, assumes the reader has already played D&D, too elitist, too nihilist, etc.). I, for one, am glad to read an RPG book that reads like it was written by a person with some passion rather than a technical writer. They don’t like the ‘wizard patrons’ and moan about the ‘race as class’ thing. Others complain about the art (“too retro” or “not different enough” or “more cowbell”).

I, for one, hope that the writers of the DCC keep the screwy dice, the retro art and the tone. If Goodman follows all the advice he has been getting, I probably won’t be interested anymore. I like the game, funnel and all.


7 Comments on “Inside the Echochamber”

  1. 'More cowbell” HA!

  2. Well said, you capture my thoughts exactly. I LOVE the idea of crazy ass dice for DCC. I mean, it helps recapture a bit of the wonder. I remember the weird ass dice being part of the attraction of D&D for me as a kid (up until then I'd never seen anything other than a d6). I like the art in DCC. So far, it has done a good job of establishing a sense of wonder in me.

    Of course I know others out there that would violently disagree with me. Ah well, different strokes and all…

  3. kaptainvon says:

    “Maybe it's the sites I visit or the people I talk to, but I've been a bit surprised at the level of 'negativity' directed at the products being produced by the OSR in general (and the DCC RPG in particular lately).”

    People tend to focus on and accentuate the negative, I think – it seems to be part of the blogger-as-citizen-journalist-I-can-tell-it-like-it-is ethos, and part of the gamer-ish love to criticise everything, and part of the desire not to be perceived as a witless fanboy who thinks everything's awesome.

    I hope DCC remains committed to pleasing some of the people all of the time. The alternative is pleasing all of the people some of the time… and that implies a 'rest of the time' in which there's something to put anyone off.

  4. Erin says:

    I've had about enough of 'uber-grognards' carrying on like the existance of the 'retro clones' are somehow 'bad' for people who like playing games or 'dillute' the community.

    For me, it's a bit more nuanced than that.

    On one hand, it's great that these vehicles exist for the purpose of people having fun playing them. I mean, you could say that about any game that people enjoy–if it serves its purpose and everyone has fun, than who cares if it's a derivative?

    On the other hand, it's hard (for me) to get excited about yet another version of D&D. You can dress it up with some decent house rules and make up tables with funky dice, but it's still D&D.

    I guess my carrying on isn't about OSR stuff being 'wrong.' It's more about it being 'meh,' and I don't really see much substance behind the style. But that's pretty subjective, too, so maybe I am just a cranky ass…

    (Who would have thought that the day I realize I sound like my father, the topic would be RPGs?)

  5. To me, the really intriguing thing about the OSR/Retro movement is that it presents an opportunity for us to reclaim a hobby that has gradually diverged from our interests over time. We can set the clock back 30 years, not out of nostalgia, but to explore an alternate evolution of role-playing gaming that is driven by us the players, rather than TSR, Hasbro, or whatever other big money interests that have been wallowing around in RPGs for the past three decades. Now that the elephant parade is over, there is finally room for the small, personal, and idiosyncratic to flourish. Clones can generate real creative gains because they allow for an infinite variety of design voices but within an established framework, a common frame of reference, that we are all familiar with.

  6. maasenstodt says:

    “I, for one, hope that the writers of the DCC keep the screwy dice, the retro art and the tone. If Goodman follows all the advice he has been getting, I probably won't be interested anymore. I like the game, funnel and all.”

    Having played in one DCC RPG session and run another, I couldn't agree more.

  7. Aplus says:

    I think Mr. Goodman understands that a lot of the criticism is coming from people who have already decided, for whatever reason, that the game isn't for them.

    I still have yet to see a report from anyone that has actually played the game that didn't have a lot of positive things to say about it. Not to say that such an opinion based on actual play doesn't exist, but I have yet to see it.

    One thing Paizo does well with their Pathfinder playtest stuff is that they come out and say right away that they aren't really interested in people's opinions based on reading the text. Go play it, tell us how it was, and we'll listen. That's a stance I can get behind, and based on some of Joseph's responses on the Goodman forums, I'm pretty confident he gets it, too.

    P.S. – Your work in DCC is pretty badass. Big thumbs up!


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