More is better; Who Cares and What is the proper response?

Cut and Paste me!

More is better: First things first — I no longer feel obligated to post on every Old School Renaissance event or outrage, but in my web wanderings I frequently come across people expressing the sentiment that when hobbyist gamers sit down to write their ‘own’ rule book, they should write something new and different from what has come before. “Don’t give us another cut-and-paste job!” the masses scream en masse from the internets with the same rage that others reserve for dolphin killers and child molesters.

I think that’s dumb advice.  I think if someone sits down to write their own rule book, they should write it exactly the way they want to write it.  If that means that the only difference between your new ‘Towers & Trolls‘  and the original game written by Gygax & Arneson is the name and just enough of the text to stave off a cease and desist letter from Wizards of the Coast, then so be it.  In the scheme of things, who cares if ‘Towers & Trolls’ sells only 3 copies and never gets played? I’m under the impression most people in the OSR do this for fun and love rather than money… and, for most of us, if we make enough $$$ to buy a pizza and a sixer we can consider it a job well done.  Like collecting stamps or building ships inside bottles, rewriting games is a niche hobby.

I realize that producing yet another clone is probably not the winning strategy if your goal is to support yourself by selling games, so the true entrepreneurs who are out to sell books and games in order to make big money might want to avoid tossing yet another undifferentiated clone onto the heap of available games… but the few OSR-ers I’ve met via the internet who are doing this for money already seem to have figured that out, anyway.

One of the reasons why I think this is so cool is I have been reading these posts on A-Plus’s “Outland” game and think it is just the shiznit.  I wish I was in his group.

Who Cares?: Paul Jaquays is now a woman named Jannelle Allyn Jaquays (sp?).  If you follow that link and read the responses, you will find out that the fact that he is now a she makes some people mad — which is really fucking weird.  What are the angry people angry about?  I imagine them saying things like, “I played ‘Dark Tower’ back in 1982 and loved it… and Paul Jaquays wrote ‘Dark Tower’ so now I feel like my world has been rocked… how could he betray us by becoming a woman!?!” 

One poster wrote something like, “This cannot be true because I know he is a conservative.”  I didn’t know there was a single specific conservative viewpoint on gender reassignment.  Is there?

I’m reasonably certain Jannelle Allyn Jaquays will not read this, but, if you do, I hope all this works out for you.

If you are one of the people who is made mad by Paul Jaquays becoming Janelle Allyn Jaquays, please post why in comments. I want to know why someone else changing their gender harms you.

What is the proper response?:  A few days ago I posted something stupid about new years resolutions and old fruit cakes selling for big money at auction and how I ought to invest in fruit cakes since I could either sell or eat them if worse came to worse. One person responded to tell me something along the lines of, “For your new year’s resolution you could try being less of a douche bag,” or something like that. I deleted the response.  In your opinion, what is the proper etiquette in this case?


20 Comments on “More is better; Who Cares and What is the proper response?”

  1. Chello!

    Well, I just think that more retro-clones are silly. The best thing I’ve found was that single volume 0e pdf that someone put together. I find it very useful. For what it’s worth, I would that energy be put by the authors into modules and adventures, made even settings. (I’m really looking forward to “Mines of Khunmar” for instance. hint-hint)

    That said, retro-works like “Adventures Dark & Deep” for instance I find interesting because it’s an “alt” 2e. What of Gary had been able to do his 2e?

    As to deleting, I generally just let them stand unless they are completely expletive in content. YMMV. It’s your blog, do as you will.

  2. drsamsara says:

    Sure, you can do anything you want in Your Rule Book. But, from the audience perspective, I’ve gotten tired of seeing these things where it is really Bob’s House Rules (which is fine and dandy), but it presents as “Bob’s Game of Adventuring”. It isn’t: it’s Bob’s tweaks to an eminently tweakable game.

    But I would never told Bob he can’t put together BGoA; I just won’t look at it anymore (as I would have a few years ago when this was all a bit new).

    Re the comment: do as thou wilt. I would probably have deleted it.

  3. mikemonaco says:

    1- totally agree, the more the merrier, I’ve usually found a few great ideas in every variation
    2- don’t get it either, and am not affected by it in any way
    3- if someone shits on your lawn, you don’t have to leave it there, you are perfectly within your rights to clean it up

  4. I say it’s your blog, do as you wish. As for the clones: send them in! I have a bunch, and while I enjoy new systems and the like, I see no reason why people shouldn’t produce whatever they want to; if others don’t like them, they don’t have to buy or download them, do you they?

    And I too am confused as to why so many people get angry about so many things; but then a lot of what people do and say to one another confuses me 😉

  5. Brendan says:

    Re: clones. To some degree, I read the clones more like annotated commentary on the original game rather than something new (even games that are substantially different, like LotFP, are of interest to someone like me who plays one of the original games, mostly because they tend to be more explicit about design choices). Even if clones don’t add or remove substantive rules, they tend to emphasize certain things, and I generally find looking at those variations interesting. Just to give one example, the side-bar in the Swords & Wizardry Core rules “An Alternate Approach to High-Level Magic” is really well-written meta-analysis.

    People keep publishing new editions of classic novels too, either using a new translation or adding an introduction. Or adding new illustrations. All of those things are (potentially) value added. I see the clones as a similar phenomenon.

  6. Jack Colby says:

    I think you made an interesting point that “rewriting games is a niche hobby”… I don’t think I ever heard it phrased that way before, a hobby of rewriting games, not just writing. And you’re right. Regardless of whether people want to see new retroclones or play them, if someone wants to do it, why not? I’ve yet to see a perfect one…

  7. nexusphere says:

    Personally, I think the deluge of retro-clones is silly.

    That said, I find them all inherently satisfactory, and basically end up creating my own. And if I’m going to all that work, why not publish it, right?

    . . .

    People don’t choose their gender, any more then they choose who they are sexually attracted to. How miserable would it be to live life not comfortable with who you are. More power to her.

    Delete the shit out of that. This is your house, your rules. You don’t have to have a reason to delete a post.

  8. Rich Miller says:

    1. Retro-clones: Generally, I enjoy them. Mostly to see how the original game is interpreted through a different set of eyes, be it the art, rules changes/clarifications, additional rules, etc. That said, I think I have enough of them at this point that it would need to be a significantly new interpretation for me to buy another one. I’ve found the 2 clones that I like most, and those are the ones I’ll use when I run a game, the others I’ll just read for ideas or to pull things from when needed. But if someone wants to throw their spin on the rules again, more power to them. Maybe their version will be someones first look at a retro-clone (or at rpgs in general), and if it gets someone to play it’s worth having another version out there.

    2. Jannelle Jaquays: It’s really nobody’s business other than Jannelle’s and her family. If the change makes her happier than she was before, then the world is one person happier than before. That’s a plus as far as I’m concerned. Those who are mad probably get mad over lots of little things that don’t affect them.

    3. Delete it. It’s your blog.

  9. welshpiper says:

    Retro-clones: I’ve railed against the proliferation until I realised very recently that I was being an unreasonable prick. I tend to stick to a few games, so the glut is more bewildering to me than attractive. However, I think the bigger (and way more satisfying) point is that the very same glut demonstrates how firmly the hobbyists have wrested control of the hobby away from the hands of Big Dice. That’s gotta be a plus.

    Jannelle: More power to her. If the personal benefits of gender reassignment outweigh the stigma, confusion, and ignorance imposed by society at large, people should be applauding her courage instead of distilling the news through their own insecurities.

    Proper Response: Yeah, it’s your blog, so you’re the master. Personally though, unless the comment is blatantly abusive or hateful, I tend to leave it up so readers can judge for themselves (just how much of an ignorant douchebag the poster is).

  10. Brendan says:

    Another comment about retro-clones. Anyone who is familiar with the Linux community should recognize this as the same phenomenon as the proliferation of Linux Distributions. With a hobbyist community and an open license, everyone wants to make their own “one true version”.

    To get a sense of the scale of this, check this out:

    http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=popularity

    Each one of those is an more or less independent, more or less compatible retro-clone of the Unix operating system. 🙂

  11. Malcadon says:

    Not too long ago, I made a blog about folks making retro-clone/fantasy heartbreakers. I consider them works of art and a form of creative expression. These are projects where people use the old rules as a blank sheet, then they add their own rules, game materials, Much like Carcosa or Grindhouse version of the Flaming Princes RPG. And as a smörgåsbord gamer, I see a lot of potential of new and unique things at my own game table.

    I also like the boon of info the OSR movement has surfaced. This includes historical stuff to how every line and table from the old books and editorials gets scrutinized, interpreted, and crossed-examined. Its like a fresh new look at the same old game.

    That guy dont know what the hell he is saying! If you where less of a douche, I would loose interest. So keep up the good work, you magnificent douche-bag. 😉

  12. richard says:

    looks like there’s a consensus here on all 3 points. I join it.
    It might be more convenient for me if Bob said “I run LL but with Raggi’s encumbrance and a novel druid class – here’s the new stuff only”… but I didn’t pay Bob to do any of this. His corner of the web is his to enjoy, too.

  13. perdustin says:

    People have freedom of speech. If they want to express themselves via cut-&-paste D&D, that’s their right. Poag, there are people who don’t like some of your choices of artistic subjects (me included), but you should draw what you want. You can’t please everybody so you can’t worry about what some people think. There’s going to be someone who thinks you’re a douchebag no matter what and they can express that, but they can express themselves somewhere other than your blog.

    I wrote a post regarding the news about Jaquays. Guess what? People change; some people change more than others. Live and let live.

    • limpey says:

      I don’t know, Perdustin. Given the ‘hate on’ you have enjoyed at my expense elsewhere on the web, I wonder if you are serious about that “Live and let live” part. Just saying.

  14. Ed Dove says:

    “For your new year’s resolution you could try being less of a douche bag.”

    The proper response:

    “You first.”

  15. Aplus says:

    I’m glad you’ve been enjoying my game from afar. Just curious though, what do you like about it? It would be good to know so I can do more of whatever that is. Feedback is hard to come by sometimes.

    Also, I run the game on Google+ every other week, so you are welcome to participate that way. Even better, come to GaryCon. I plan to run a game there as well.

    • limpey says:

      My impression from the 2 session reports posted is that your games seem to have a lot of “player agency.” So the players decide where to go and what to do rather than sitting down every two weeks to try to finish a published adventure (which is what most of the game groups I am involved in do these days). Is my impression accurate?

      One of the things I miss is that we used to sit down to just ‘play’ D&D. What happened at the table was whatever the players wanted to get done. Sometimes it was, “I want to earn 100 more XP so my character can be third level!” Sometimes it was, “Let’s save the town,” or “Let’s rob the bank.” Sometimes we spent a lot of time just wandering around. There used to be a series of articles on the WOTC website about how one of the authors was teaching some of the employees old school D&D by running them through Tegel Manor using old school rules and it sounded like a hoot. I don’t know if the article still exists or even if any of the people still work there, but it was a fun read (edit: found it: Tegel Manor). Maybe I’m looking at the past through rose colored glasses.

      Your house rules seem quirky but fun… plus they are simple. The ‘random race’ table makes me wonder what kind of crazy demographics your fantasy world has, but hobbits, deodands, elves and goblins all wandering around together seems like fun.

      I probably can’t join your google+ game (will start a new job in the new year + other commitments) and don’t know about Gary Con, but thanks for the invite.

      • Aplus says:

        Yeah, I have a crappy map, I tell them “some guys went here and found this kind of stuff, a caravan saw this over here, no one’s been over here yet, so no one knows what’s there…” and then I let them decide what they want to do.

        That’s a great link. I’ll be checking it out and reading it closely. What’s funny about it too is that the haunted house in my game that everyone keeps going to has a lot of room descriptions that I lifted from Tegel Manor. I’ve since named my (much smaller) version “Nagle Manor”.

        My world is a jacked up mish-mash of everything. Fun trumps realism and cohesion in all cases. I hope some people decide to go into the ancient alien dungeon in the mountain soon. I know any excursions into that place will yield some great play reports.

        Grats on the new job! Take it easy.

  16. See Mike Monaco’s comment.. ditto. heh. Well and succinctly said.


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