Thursday, July 30, 2015

Gen Con Day 0: This Is My Tribe

Arrived in Indy late last night, and despite the fact that I haven't really gotten a chance to participate in any events, I'm already having a wonderfully pleasant experience meeting and chatting with fellow gamers. Even on the flights in, it was pretty easy to spot who were "our people".

In the food court area of DCA, I met the creators of Dragoon (@playdragoon) and had a lovely chat about their Kickstarter and the experience publishing their new board game. They were terrifically nice, and I immediately felt that kinship that one has when chatting about one's shared love of games. I'm looking forward to test driving their game in Hall E. If you are here at Gen Con, I recommend checking them out.

I also had a nice chat on the flight with another gamer who was returning to RPGs after many years missing out and shared an Uber ride with Ben, a war gamer I met in the airport terminal. My room mates are even folks I met online through the Gen Con forums and we clicked immediately upon meeting.

This is my tribe. These are my people.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ryan Dancey Saved D&D

So, there's this thing circulating on social media involving a certain ego-maniacal RPG blogger saying that he "saved D&D". While this is a tongue-in-cheek joke, he's going ahead and printing t-shirts with that slogan to give away at Gen Con so he can thumb his nose at those who don't like him.

Normally, I'd ignore this kind of social media masturbation, but his printing t-shirts saying he saved D&D does bother me a bit, even as a joke... Not because it's just another example of his over-inflated, monster ego, but more because it does a massive disservice to those people who did actually save D&D... specifically Ryan Dancey.

Ryan Dancey Saved D&D

There is no doubt in my mind that Dancey's efforts (related to the acquisition of TSR and his spearheading the open gaming license at Wizards of the Coast) utterly, completely changed the landscape for the hobby.

This post on the Paizo forums from 2010 speaks volumes:
"I also had the goal that the release of the SRD would ensure that D&D in a format that I felt was true to its legacy could never be removed from the market by capricious decisions by its owners."
What Ryan totally grokked during the fall of TSR was that the future of D&D was uncertain at best. Any company could end up with the D&D intellectual property. As a brand, whoever owned D&D could build it up, destroy it, or even make it go away forever. However, as a game, D&D belonged to us, the players and DM's, and the SRD along with the Open Game License made sure that any publisher could create a D&D compatible product without fear of litigation as long as they followed the framework created by the d20 System Reference Document.

This made it possible for Castles & Crusades, Swords & Wizardry, Basic Fantasy, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Future, Pathfinder, Labyrinth Lord, White Star and dozens upon dozens of other D&D-like games to come into existence.

Yes, it would have been technically possible for these games to exist if they very carefully followed existing copyright laws and consulted lawyers against possible IP infringement lawsuits from whomever owned the D&D brand... But the OGL made all of that expense and risk unnecessary by clearly outlining what could and could not be done under license.

Without Ryan Dancey, it is uncertain whether the OSR (Old School Revival) movement would still exist... Or at the very least, it would look nothing like it does today.

Ryan Dancey made it possible for all of us to play D&D compatible games until eternity, because regardless of what happens to D&D as a brand, D&D as a game will forever live on.

Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson may be in the pantheon of gaming gods, but Ryan Dancey is a patron saint at the very least. Thank you, Ryan Dancey.

PS -- +Ryan Dancey, if you see this and are at GenCon this year, I hope to shake your hand and thank you in person.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Christmas in July Sale at DriveThruRPG / RPGNow

DriveThruRPG and RPGNow are having their Christmas in July sale.

There's a lot of good deals from well known publishers like Goodman Games (including the DCC and 5th Edition Fantasy titles), Kobold Press and Troll Lord Games to name a few of my favorites.

So head on over and browse their whole list of sale items. No doubt you will find something to strike your fancy.

Tell 'em the Owlbear sent ya!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Owlbear Milestones and Project X

Owlbear Hits 100K

A classic AD&D illustration by Jeff Dee
Last week, sometime early in the July 4th morning, Raging Owlbear passed 100,000 page views. This was a very nice milestone for a rising sophomore blog. I had hoped to cross that point in the first year, but did not due to my own lackadaisical publishing schedule. August/September of 2014 and January/February of this year brought in poor numbers due to my lack of consistent posting.

This fall I'm hoping to better at that. July and August of this year may not fare much better as I am in the middle of a move back to my native Maryland. Fondness for southern Virginia (and the beaches) grew steadily over the years, but I sometimes felt like it wasn't quite home. It will be delightful to be near family again among the rolling hills of Maryland.

In other news...

Why We Love RPGs

+Charles Akins of Dyvers started a blog roll project (dubbed Project X) to get a bunch of bloggers to describe what we love about our favorite RPGs. Many of these have now hit blogs around the interwebs. I hope I'm not stepping on any "official" announcement by Charles, but others in the group are already linking to each other so... here are some links!

Other Owlbear musings