Friday, June 22, 2012

Just do the thing!

I must start by saying that I am as guilty as anyone. Pretty damn new to the OSR scene, I have wanted a thing and tried to "crowd-source" it from the collected knowledge on G+ or the OSR blog community. I think this is valid when it's, "What supplement had x in it" where you're pretty sure x existed. Less useful when it's "I need x for this dungeon and I think everyone should write it!" or "That sounds like x you should stat it!" I've said those things. I should have just written the things instead of asking for them.

Jeff RientsZak Smith, JOESKY, the Dungeon Dozen guy, and [your favorite blogger if not one of them]* are who they are because they are clever, yes, and they are uniquely themselves, yes, but I'd say mostly it's because they get an idea and then write the damn thing out. We don't all have Rients' amazing collection of Dragon Magazine, sure, but who needs it? At one point, the cool thing in Dragon Magazine was an idea in someone's head. Jeff's amazing things are ideas in his head. You have ideas in your head. Write them out.

There are problem with this, yes. For most of us, I'd say its a scarcity of time and focus. Some of the great OSR bloggers have the time and focus to come up with cool shit because they have a lifestyle that gives them more time to think about gaming. My problem is often patience - I want to get my cool idea in front of you now, not in two weeks when I've edited it and straightened the fiddly bits (or made them weirder.) It is in all our interests, however, for me to be patient enough to edit the things but still damn post them, and for all of us to take the cool gaming idea and actually write it out and put it in the world. Don't wait for someone else to make it. If it takes you two months but you get the thing done, hooray!

If it's brilliant, congrats! You actually took an hour here and there to give us all a cool thing.
If it's flawed, but you made it the best you can and have edited it at least once, congrats! We [you are included in that 'we'] giant game nerds now have a thing to poke at until it works for our unique games, or ideas to talk about. This will lead some to think more about how the stuff works, or how it doesn't matter if it works because players actually enjoy the tension of running from the methane-breathing skull-faced poodle-manticore before the methane fills up the dungeon and takes away the breathable oxygen. Tick tock.

Awhile back, Dave Arneson's papers went up for auction, and it seemed like everywhere I turned, people were wetting themselves. I just kept thinking, why do we care? I mean, I know why the inimitable James Maliszewski cares, he is a valuable historian of the game, but why do most of us care? There may be great ideas in there from the game's formative years, but...rather than read Arneson's 30 year old castoff ideas, wouldn't you rather read 30 peoples' best idea from now?**
Maybe I'm a crazy and disrespectful. Maybe I'm a long-winded blowhard.

*James Maliszewski could have easily been in this list for me, but most of his actual game content stuff is understandably in products one pays for, and I'm mostly making a point about people posting free stuff in blogs/on G+. His blog is great, but he doesn't post tables, dungeons, or new classes that I recall. ("What I stole from the golbin-demon's ass, a d6 chart" or "New LL Class: Posteriomancer" are not things that would be on his blog in my experience.) Nor should he, if what he's doing works for him.

**I definitely think those papers should be publicly available both physically and in PDF and maintained by some open institution.

JOESKY TAX: I am too in the middle of other things to write the Posteriomancer or Methane-breathing Skull-faced Poodle-Manticore, but:

1. 1d20 Gold, covered with poo. Ew. Roll CON to keep from vomiting.
2. An elf finger with a magic ring that gives you absolute knowledge of the next magical item you touch, then the ring turns into a  normal worm.
3. A worm that eats magic. Left alone with any magic item or spell area, it will eat 1 level of spells per day. It will not eat in front of you. It will starve to death if not fed magic or eaten to live in intestines in 1d3 days. It can live in intestines indefinitely, but removing it kills a living creature.
4. A tiny spellbook. The highest and lowest level spells have been digested, but there is a middle-level spell you can learn. Roll CON to keep from vomiting, though.
5. A Goblin-beetle. Makes clacking noises when demons or goblins are within 100 feet. Will fly at their faces and try to go down their mouths/noses.

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