Nope, it's got nothing to do with Cthulhu. I just did a video conversation with Iain Lovecraft, who designs 3D miniatures and terrain. If you're not doing 3D printing then this post probably isn't going to be terribly interesting.
Iain's one of the sculptors who distributes his 3D work through Kickstarters, like Fat Dragon Games, Hobgoblin 3D, and many others of the small companies that are rising to fill this particular niche in the tabletop aspect of games.
I won't go into the details of his Kickstarter -- if you're interested in seeing a bit of a summary and some discussion, I actually screen-shared to the Kickstarter site during the conversation and went through it item by item with my questions and comments on it. So that's a good resource, but mainly I want to share some interesting thoughts that got raised during the conversation.
3D Printing Effect on Traditional Market
First, it really looks to me like 3D printing is going to cause a serious problem for companies that mold and ship miniatures, like Games Workshop and Reaper. Frankly, I think Games Workshop is facing an existential crisis with 3D printing. Reaper, I think, will survive (and possibly thrive) because the Bones plastic still has a low enough price point to be a good product for seeing-and-buying at a game store. Metal casting as a primary source of miniatures is going to be dead in 10 years even though the detail on metal is sharper than either Bone plastic or 3D printing. I do, however, think that the companies (hurting right now) who produce highly-unusual metal casts are actually going to get a bit of a bump upward -- because their combination of "unusual" and "sharp detail" still remains an alternative niche to 3D printing, and at least some of the people who currently buy "ordinary" metal minis will stick with metal after it becomes price-prohibitive for the non-specialty stuff. I think we'll see more Kickstarters of unusual metal miniatures.
Art Drives Imagery
The other thing that I found really interesting in this conversation was Iain's point that the sculpting of 3D files is inherently an artistic process, and that unusual representations can drive the gaming imagination into places one wouldn't usually go. For example, his Meso-American city pieces and his Rome city pieces offer an alternative to the Tudor-type terrain that utterly dominates most tabletop representations of fantasy worlds. That part of the conversation, which is toward the very end of the video, got into a lot more nuance than I can really type in a reasonable period of time, so if it sounds interesting you'd have to go watch it take place in real-time. My fingers only have so much typing in them. One of my take-aways from that part of the discussion, though, was that with cheap 3D printing of terrain, it's definitely possible that the omnipresent Tudor look of tabletop worlds could very well start to be replaced by much more interesting and unusual mental settings and imagery.
Of course, his current Kickstarter's terrain section is ... Tudor. Okay, so there's the factor of what people want, too. Nevertheless, his older sets - Rome and Jungle Fever - are available on his site, which I'll link at the bottom of the post. And here's the bottom of the post, how convenient!
Link to Uncle Matt's RPG Studio Channel home page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwQ6cSVDLklOoQ8VSMsxp5Q
Link to the video with Iain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XN-j3_SY_0
Link to Iain's current Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1612773283/riders-of-the-storm-elves-dwarfs-miniatures-and-dr
Link to Iain's web-store for the past projects. (Note - I have purchased from Iain and received my files, so this isn't a blind link): https://i-lovecraft.com/
A little note since people have asked me about this. My video channel's not an advertising platform, so I'm not available for hire if you want to promote a Kickstarter. I don't take advertising money because that's not what my channel's about. On the other hand, as long as I know you or like what you're doing, I do in fact like to do interviews when people are mid-Kickstarter. Why? Because the moment of a Kickstarter is when peoples' heads are truly in the game, when there's a tangible expression of their passion for gaming, and when they're making actual contact with a wider fan-base than they normally encounter. The conversations have a lot more to "grab on" to, so to speak, because there's a focus, the Kickstarter, that represents real decisions made, with consequences for a product good or bad.
The same circumstances are also there when someone releases a free resource, and I'm even more interested in hearing about when you've just set one of your ideas loose in the world. If anyone wants to use me as a publicity source on a free product, I'm probably going to be happy to help spread the word. (As long as you're willing to do an interview, because that's how the show works).
To contact me about that, I'm: mythmere at yahoo [dot] com.
Last night I ran the most uncomfortable video panel of my life - not because of the content but because of the sneezing. When they tell you to wear a dust mask while cleaning enclosed areas with a lot of dust? Yeah, listen to them. I spent half the video off-screen and muted while having sneezing attacks.
Link to the Tegel Manor video where I am half incapacitated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLmOaPb1U7Q
The topic of the video was Tegel Manor, mainly focusing on the Frog God expansion of it that's an ongoing Kickstarter right now. I do have a small financial interest in this Kickstarter since I'm a partner in Frog God, but as you'll see if you watch the video, it's not a commercial. What I was aiming for was a set of anecdotal snapshots of the history of Tegel Manor in 1977 followed by the development of the Kickstarter from the deal to the contract and then into the art, writing, cartography, original D&D version, 5e re-structuring to keep the original feel in the 5e rules, and the overall management of the project by Zach Glazar.
Link to the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/froggodgames/tegel-manor-returns/description
Best quote of the night: "I came in through the appendix." - Edwin Nagy
Frog God's Tegel Manor follows the massive collapse of the Judges Guild City State of the Invincible Overlord, and while Tegel isn't a white knight project, the Judges Guild share of the proceeds is going entirely to the rescue of the City State Kickstarter. This is important to lots of fans who backed CSIO, and it was one of our requirements in structuring the new version of Tegel.
In the chat room, one of the big issues for people was the question of whether we were changing any parts of the original manor. The answer was no, but there is additional detail in those parts of the manor.
One area we only touched on briefly was the cartography of the new Tegel's presentation, because the cartographer, Alyssa Faden, wasn't available for the panel. To get an idea of the size and scope of the cartography, there are some examples on the project's Kickstarter page. It will be usable for 28mm scale battlemaps for those who want to use minis, and anyone familiar with the scale of the original map should at this point have pretty wide eyes at that statement. For those who play on a VTT, the map is also going to be available in the layers that allow hiding details from player view.
This isn't a review of the project because (a) I'm not personally a fan of haunted-house adventures, although I did enjoy Tegel Manor when I played it in 1981 or so, and (b) as I mentioned, I have a financial interest in it, however slight. But this video, I think, will be very interesting for those who want to see how a Kickstarter proceeds from soup to nuts.
My next video interview is going to be with Iain Lovecraft, who designs 3D-printable terrain. As with many of my interviews, he is also running a Kickstarter, so I'll note that I don't accept money for doing videos -- but it's easy for me to spot interesting people when a Kickstarter is launched, and it gives me a hook into what drives the gaming life of my interviewees since a Kickstarter is almost by definition a tangible expression of their core interests. If you're into 3D printing, the interview with Iain should be interesting to watch. He has done a couple of cityscapes in the past (Rome and a Meso-American type of city) and this Kickstarter involves some cool stuff. My favorite part is a funky-Gothic-Tudor set of buildings along a bridge. There are also elven tree-building (not my cup of tea) and some nice looking miniatures that look to be of pretty good quality.
Iain's Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1612773283/riders-of-the-storm-elves-dwarfs-miniatures-and-dr
Until then, no matter what kind of D&D you play, Imagine the Hell out of it!
So, based on the various realizations I talked about in the last post, what are the things I'm trying to do in 2018 that will boost the signal of the OSR and provide more material for us to use? As I mentioned in the last post, these two goals are highly linked, because a rising tide lifts all boats. More signal tends to create more material.
My plan basically has three parts to it, addressing a mix of the issues with each point. (Those points being a missing generation, different communication patterns in that missing generation, the community-building power of face-to-face contact whether by video, hangout, tabletops, or conventions, and then lastly that rising tide lifting all boats.)
Part 1 of the plan was to create a website that pulls together and links the various media sources of the OSR: blogs, youtube, facebook, G+, podcasts, and others. Those aren't currently shown in the same place anywhere as an OSR smorgasbord because social media doesn't link them in any useful way. That website is now up and running as Old School Gamer Radio (OldSchoolGamerRadio.com). As of today, we are still adding content and fine-tuning the functionality, but it's looking good for becoming the type of resource that will do what it's supposed to do.
Part 2 of the plan was to create an OSR youtube channel that does a few different things. First is simply to create that face-to-face feeling of community. I have been "interviewing" lots of people from the OSR, ranging from DIY stars like Matt Jackson up to publishers like Jim Raggi and bloggers like Tenkar. I'm including artists, cartographers, and a wide range of people. I have gotten LOTS of comments that these videos offer a much greater sense of connection to the community than a blog format (that's not a criticism of blogs, which are better at content, just the fact that video offers something more powerful at a different primary goal). The youtube channel is Uncle Matt's D&D Studio, and since it's been established longer than the actual Old School Gamer Radio site, it has pretty good depth of content already.
Part 3 of the plan was to get an actual example of old-school play into the mainstream of that "lost generation," since old school gaming tends to require "show," not "tell." So I am running an online Swords & Wizardry game called Swords of Jordoba, pointing out that it's the original version of D&D, and airing the episodes on the channel. The first episode is mission and marching order, so it might not be as engaging as the second episode, which is where the actual dungeoneering begins. Watching online games is a much more common pastime in the youtube generation than it is for us older farts. The game itself is still in an evolving technological phase, and I'm calling both of those episodes "pilots," but it should be up to full quality very shortly.
Funding is an issue for these projects, although this post is a summary, not a plea for cash. For those interested, the patreon for the website (still a very disorganized patreon presentation with no rewards or other whistles and bells) is at patreon/mattfinch, and the better-looking one for the Swords of Jordoba game is at patreon/Jordoba. Contributions are welcome, of course, but both these projects are still in formative stages.
Next post on this topic will be about what those who enjoy the project of growing the OSR can do to move that goal forward.
First off, the reason I say "If you want" in the title is because growing a hobby is a separate hobby, not a moral imperative for anyone in the hobby. Ultimately the whole point of the OSR is to improve the resources of a group playing at the table, not to grow for no reason.
So I'm talking here to the specific niche of the OSR that's got an independent goal and enjoyment in increasing the scope of the OSR as opposed to being an OSR player, which is the ultimate point of the whole thing.
As some people know and others don't, I have a set of resolutions to make 2018 the year of the OSR. Given the age of the OSR (ten years or more) it might seem like that's an odd objective. There's no particular reason to expect that there'd be any sort of development that's fundamental to the hobby in this year. We've had major watershed events like Gary's death and the release of 4e and 5e, but there's nothing like that, at least nothing visible right now, that's expected to happen this year from the outside. So why pick 2018?
Basically, it's an "out of nowhere" goal that I'm basing almost entirely on some of the observations I made in 2017 about ways the OSR can improve, rather than any sort of sense that we've got any critical problems. The OSR is chugging along nicely, although one of the themes of the last couple of years has been with it's interaction with the newly old-schoolish nature of the commercial edition of D&D.
The observations that I've made (and many of you will say "duh) are the following:
1) we are largely missing a middle generation, although the 30 year olds are extremely active. (see, e.g., Questing Beast).
2) That middle generation doesn't connect with the internet in the same way as our "older" generation. They follow twitter, they look things up on youtube, and in consequence our flagship communication vehicles of blogs and G+ tend to be areas they don't access due to spending time in other media.
3) Regardless of the above, we tend to have less face-to-face visual contact with each other. While for many people that's actually more comfortable than direct contact, I think the rising popularity of conventions indicates that we are all made happier by feeling more personally a part of a community.
4) In our hobby, based on looking at phases over the last ten or twelve years, I think it's clear that in all respects a rising tide lifts all boats. The more DIY content that's shared, the more people feel comfortable sharing their own. Similarly, the more that we have community events, the more that people feel a part of a community. Again, being part of a community is irrelevant to many, since they're focused only on game-benefits, the emails and comments I've gotten since starting the oldschool gamer radio website and my Uncle Matt's D&D Studio youtube channel have contained a huge number of comments that the contacts (especially the interviews) make people happier, and the reason for it is feeling more of a community spirit and/or a sense of less isolation in the hobby.
Next blog post I'm aiming at the idea of a general "what can we do, and what are the ways of springboarding off these observations. Those who have been following my videos already have a strong sense of what I'm trying to do, but I know from long experience that the assumption people hang on your every word is utterly incorrect. But it's the completely understandable viewpoint of a blogger from behind the blog-master screen.
So, more later.
I had an idea about how to "reboot" tension in the OSR G+ community, and then I scaled it back to just me and what I was going to do. Since I made some notes on the idea in general, here's what they are. Also, link to the video where I discuss it is below:
The idea was to do two things: a personal set of objectives for communication, and a set of objectives for content.
The communication objectives were (are):
1) Reward content with comments
2) Give only constructive criticism, and only if asked for.
3) Avoid jumping into any disputes.
The content objectives followed one rule: don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Post what you're working on already, not something designed specifically for posting, and don't worry about whether it's perfect.
The ideas I had for that were:
picture of gaming in progress
piece of art/sketch, good or not
a piece of art you like (Here I mean sharing a cool piece not your own)
a selfie of you and your favorite D&D thing. I have to dig out the plush bulette
Game Content: Not polished, but including as possibilities:
Mention and link to some favorite posters (not a top-ten type list, though)
positive review on a favored piece of work, even if from the far past
collaborate on written content with a sketch-person.
Overall focus is on fun value, not production value.
I think it shows how tired people are of political wrangling that the absolute most-active post on my facebook page is about cargo shorts. If you're going to wrangle, make it about Wranglers. Fashion criticism of yours truly brought to you in Technicolor by my much-more-stylish spouse.