Sunday, September 21, 2008

Best or worst idea ever?

All gamers should publish something in print form... Any decent print shop, Kinkos included, can make the booklets, so write something, print out 50, mark them up a bit and set yourself up a Paypal button, and spam away on the boards! We're creators and participants, not passive entertainment receivers...
That's from Jim Raggi, at his always-intriguing blog Lamentations of the Flame Princess. I should point out that Jim is no hypocrite on this call to action. He's published the very cool Random Esoteric Creature Generator for Classic Fantasy Role-Playing Games and Their Modern Simulacra, which besides deserving some sort of award for longest title for a 28-page digest also happens to be a really cool random monster generator. And the designer's notes/manifesto/rantings are about worth the cover price alone. Goodman Games has picked it up for publication in the same "generic" line as Rob Conley's super-nifty Points of Light. The new version isn't out yet as far as I can tell and you can't have my copy! Jim is also working on a couple of modules that I can't wait to see.

Anyway, getting back to the quote above, I suspect it would be a complete nightmare if every gamer published their own supplement. The initial glut of knock-off D&D support and replacements had a lot of subpar stuff. Even Judges Guild (who pretty much got there first and did it best) has some drek in their catalog. And anyone who slogged through RPGNow during the hieght of the d20 boom knows what I'm talking about as well. Sure, eventually the distributed meta-mind of the internets would figure out who was good and who sucked, but how many turds would I personally have to buy to help out the cause? Keep in mind that I'm the kind of guy who sets the bar pretty low when it comes to useability of gaming stuff. But even I have my limits.

On the other hand, there are a lot of cool gamers out there that I'd love to hear from. And writing your own supplement or adventure is not an impossible task. Really, anyone who has a lengthy set of house rules or new stuff (monsters, spells, equipment, adventures, etc.) can clean up their notes and put it out. You don't even have to follow the formula James suggests. Releasing a PDF online (whether you host it yourself or through a cool outfit like YourGamesNow) can get more eyes on your work. And lots of very groovy stuff is coming out on Lulu.

Even though I might buy a few stinkers along the way, in the final analysis I have to come down on the side of supporting Jim's basic assertion that more people in the hobby should be publishing more stuff. I've seen too many situations where people thought my favorite gamebooks were crap to sincerely insist on any objective standard beyond simple readability.