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Thursday, April 19, 2018

More Thoughts on the Gygax Games / Fig Announcement (Snark Free)

Last night in Tavern Chat, one of the topics that came up was the Gygax Games / Fig announcement. As we were discussing, I received a PM with the following screenshot:

Talk about horrible timing. Not only is there no Gygax Games website to go along with the announcement that Gygax Games was to license IP for video games BUT the Gygax Memorial Fund website was down (still is as I type this)

So, why the apparently rushed announcement that Gygax Games was apparently NOT ready for? And yes, they weren't ready, as you can see from the Facebook commentary of one of the Gygax Games team members:

The announcement benefitted Fig but does little for Gygax Games. Fig needs "eyes on". It needs traffic. It needs incoming links. Sure, it's funded some huge IPs for millions of dollars, but these were well-known IPs / developers with huge followings. Compared to Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Fig is barely a fig leaf.

Here are some Alexa traffic rankings for Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Fig:

See the traffic rankings? I'll throw ENWorld in for comparison.

Just as important, if not more, look at the "sites linking in". Nearly 40k for Kickstarter. Over 18k for Indiegogo. 75 for Fig. They aren't in the same ballpark.

That's telling. It means that Kickstarter and Indiegogo are destinations unto themselves. Backers will go there to find projects. Few are going to Fig to find projects. Projects are sending folks to Fig.

So, yesterday's announcement was potentially huge for Fig. It got them press. It got them traffic. For Gygax Games, with no website, it means very little. No traffic from yesterday's announcement. Just an opportunity to piss off the established fanbase of Gary's work (why Alex couldn't you have avoided trashing TTRPGs?) Gamers have a short attention span when it comes to news in the industry, but insults tend to linger.

My advice, unsolicited as it is, is for Alex to start priming the "social media pump". For this endeavor to have any chance to succeed Gygax Games needs to have a presence on Facebook, in gaming forums (both tabletop and electronic), news articles, blogs, and Alex needs to be that face. He's personable enough in person. He can't be like Gail, a recluse, as that WILL NOT build up the fan base that will be needed for success.

Gygax Games needs a website like yesterday. Professionally done. Pleasing to the eye. It needs to be updated frequently with news related to this project. It needs to funnel Alex's excitement.

Anyhow, for comparison, below is The Tavern's Alexa statistics. We're no ENWorld ;)

Talking about ENWorld, the commentary on the relevant thread over there is worth the read.

Palladium - The Uninviting - Kevin Seimbeda no Longer Gaming Guest of Honor at Capricon

I guess failure has consequences. How many Robotech Tactics backers were left out in the cold?

Ah well, I'm sure Gareth is available. Or even Kenny if there is a film industry in Chicago ;)

Link to the Facebook announcement: https://www.facebook.com/capricon.org/

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Free OSR Rulesets - Fantasy - Swords & Wizardry White Box & Core - Editable Documents

I'm adding the Swords & Wizardry White Box rules in .doc format and the Swords & Wizardry Core rules in .rtf to the Free OSR Rulesets Fantasy page.

Perfect for those looking to house-rule or hack their own ruleset together based on the Swords & Wizardry engine.

Swords & Wizardry White Box

Swords & Wizardry Core

Free OSR Rulesets - Fantasy Page

Reminder - Tavern Chat Tonight - 9 PM Eastern - Whitman, Gygax Games - oh my!

Yep, I expect a lively discussion tonight at Tavern Chat, what with the recent Gygax / Ken Whitman announcements.

The link to tonight's chat is here:


9 PM Eastern on The Tavern's Discord Server.

Voice chat will be in the Open Bar channel. Feel free to lurk :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#ConManKen Goes on the Lam - Little Monsters "Sold" - Ken Looks for a New Community to Grift

It's been a busy day here at The Tavern. Beleive it or not, now we have some news from our very own #ConManKen that he posted on Facebook. Actually, I'm surprised it took this long:
As of 6pm tonight, I am no longer manager/owner of Little Monsters Games & Comics, LLC. I will be staying on till the end of the month to help with the transition of new owners. I will begin persuing a full time career in the motion pitcure industry as well as finishing up some unfinished kickstarter business. I appreceate all of you who have helped my time at Little Monsters an incredable experience.
Yep folks, its time for a new episode of ConManKen Goes on the Lam with Marcus playing the part of the chief enabler.

Mind you, all that follows are a whole bunch of suppositions. Strong ones, sure, but still suppositions.

Now, let us be real. Ken was NEVER the owner of Little Monsters. It was a shell game that benefited both Ken and Marcus UNTIL Ken was served last week with a lawsuit. The store being in Ken's name, even if only on paper, put Marcus in an awkward spot. Spotting Kenny a few bucks and giving Kenny a place to sleep (even if it was a cot in the store's office) is one thing - being on the hook to lose a whole business because of Ken's past shenanigans is a totally different ballgame.

Full time career in the motion "pitcure" industry? Where? He has a rep in Atlanta and it isnt a good one. The West Coast won't take him. Vancouver, maybe? He can claim refugee status in Canada ;)

As for the unfinished Kickstarter business - it's ALL unfinished. Not some of it - ALL of it.

Psst! Kenny - the business you sold may still be at risk from your current lawsuit, as the "sale" happened after you were served. Just a thought...

edit- I originally had "Lamb" instead of "Lam" in the post title. I blame it on Ken ;)

What's 10 Years Old and Losing Value Every Day? - The Gygax Trust (CRPG Games to be Licensed by the Gygax Trust via Crowdfunding)

How do you ensure the IP you are entrusted with withers on the vine?  Refuse to license it for 10 years.

How do you attempt to revive its value? Talk about the death of its original market and aim for a new one.

What am I talking about? Why, the Gygax Trust and the ludicrous attempt to get value from Gary's work, not from tabletop RPG but from computer games.

There are two articles floating around today about the Gygax Trust making a deal with Fig (some crowdsourcing program) to license CRPG rights to Gary's works to developers. Let us look at those articles, shall we? Be warned, there's a shitload of snark from your bartender, and I'm not referring to Alex Gygax...

First, from Polygon:

Dungeons & Dragons creator’s unpublished work to be turned into video games

Gygax Games and Fig announce open call for interested developers
By Charlie Hall@Charlie_L_Hall  Apr 17, 2018, 12:00pm EDT

It’s been 10 years since the death of Gary Gygax, the man who co-created Dungeons & Dragons. Now, Gygax’s family, through the auspices of the Gygax Trust, wants to bring his unpublished works to life as video games. (Here's the deal - Gail's hope to have movies / streaming services / multimedia from the deal with theTransformers producer in July of 2016 hasn't come up with shit and Gail / Alex need money - the rest of the family is NOT involved)

The Trust announced today that it has partnered with crowdfunding and investment website Fig (who the fuck is "Fig"?). Together, they will begin a global search for the right developers to carry the legacy of Gary Gygax forward. (this should have happened 10 years ago. The Gary Gygax legacy has withered on the vine)

To accomplish their goal, the Gygax Trust has rejuvenated Gygax Games (you would think they would have revived the website BEFORE the announcement)  and installed Gary’s youngest son (and Gail's only child), Alex Gygax, as the CEO.

“I was gaming since I could walk and talk,” said Alex, who was raised in the family home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. “My first D&D adventure I’d say was when I was four or five years old, running a solo campaign with my father on his work breaks. So I was playing D&D before I knew what any of that was.”

Alex told Polygon that at an early age he played an instrumental role in playtesting another creation of Gary’s, a tabletop role-playing game called Lejendary Adventure, which was licensed for a time to Troll Lord Games. The game is now out of print. (and why is it put of print? Gail. Yep, she's a real wizard at making money)

“I was playing in our Thursday group through the entire creation of the Lejendary product line,” Alex said, who is also one of the lead bartenders at a local pub called Sprecher’s. “Since then I’ve been working here in town, doing a lot of gaming, hanging out with the locals, going to my local game store. I’ve played everything from Xbox games to computer games, board games, over at my brother’s house or Magic: The Gathering events at the local game store.”

Alex said that his job will be to ensure that future projects based off his father’s work continue to retain the spirit of the original Dungeon Master. Right now the Gygax Trust is working to archive handwritten materials and Gary Gygax’s personal effects, some of which formed the basis for the creation of Dungeons & Dragons. Alex called the collection a “treasure trove.” (problem with this - anything Gary wrote before he left TSR is probably owned by WotC these days, whether or not Gary revealed it at the time. What does the trust have rights to? Lejendary Adventures, the game they refuse to put back in print)

Alex Gygax was one of the first playtesters of Lejendary Adventure, a role-playing system by Gary Gygax and published for a time by Troll Lord Games. You can still find the quick-start rules at their website. (Grab it before the Witch of the Mid-West demands it be taken down)

“One of the major ones that everyone knows about is his personal dungeon,” Alex said. “It was his personal D&D campaign that he had never released to the public. He didn’t want his game nights being destroyed by publishing his work and then having his group go out and buy it and find out all of his secrets. So that’s one of the main things that we have to use, and all the little side derivatives of that.” (not so sure where the rights for that actually lie, but whatever)

More than anything, Alex said that he’s excited to find his father’s original work a new home in the future of digital role-playing games.

“I grew up playing this and I’m also a huge video gamer, so I’ve always wanted to see my dad’s work because I thought that they were some of the greatest stories and tough adventures,” Alex said. “I’ve always wanted to see them put out in the next level. Pen and paper is a dying art. (There you go tabletop gamers. Get your Fucking Shine Box! Tabletop RPGs are hitting new highs but they're dead. Sigh. Alex, I had high hopes for you. Ever get your name actually on the GMF website as a member of the board or is that still "in the works"?) Computer games, video games, they’re the next generation, the next wave of games and I’ve always wanted to see them on that new medium (that's all fine and dandy, but why not tabletop too?) and I’ve always wanted to be working with someone who’s excited as I am about it.”

Alex said that many of the games that his father created were always meant to be digital properties, and the time is right to fulfill his wishes.

“He always had the intention of taking certain product lines and transferring them to the digital realm (I'm guessing this was in addition to print versions), it just never came to fruition,” Alex said. “There are a few lines that he created specifically with that in mind. So published or unpublished, there’s definitely the digital realm in mind with these lines. It’s something that has been talked about for a very long time, and I’m really excited to get this underway.” (sure it has been. So why is Gail finally giving it the OK? is the Trust broke?)

Fig CEO Justin Bailey told Polygon that his company entered into a licensing agreement with the Gygax Trust with the intention of finding developers to pair with it. Ultimately, the Fig platform will be used to run the crowdfunding campaigns that will in turn produce the games.

“We’re running a full green-light process with our advisory board,” Bailey said, referring to the team of experienced game developers who help curate games on that platform. They include Randy Pitchford (Gearbox Software), Feargus Urquhart (Obsidian Entertainment), Tim Schafer (Double Fine Productions), Aaron Isaksen (Indie Fund), Alex Rigopulos (Harmonix Studios) and Brian Fargo (InXile Entertainment).

“Any developer who wants to propose something, get it in through pitches@fig.co and we’ll review it with our green light committee and with Alex to make sure that it’s a good fit. Once Alex is able to get the Gygax Games website up, that will be another avenue for submissions.” (Holy Shit! See this? The website isn't up for Gygax Games - that's some shade throwing right there. CEO of a shit show don't mean shit)

So why did it take 10 years to bring these foundational pieces of Gary Gygax’s work to the digital space? Alex said that it was all simply a matter of timing. (LOL! Timing? The timing was lost long ago. This is a matter of desperation to finally get some cash from the rotting IP)

“It’s just a combination of things,” he said. “Technology. Having the right group of people there. (Mom being broke) Wanting to have the fans involved and being able to keep some creative control. Maybe not full control, because we want a developer to be able to do what they’re good at, but making sure that it’s done with Gary’s spirit in mind. So being able to keep his spirit with everything is I think one of the really big parts of why we waited so long.” (No, the reason you waited so long is Gail wanted a million bucks to even open the vaults. Now, she's willing to take coppers on the gold piece in the hopes of making some kind, and kind of money.)

Yep, fun times.

Now, from VentureBeat:

D&D co-creator Gary Gygax’s trust and Fig partner on video games

Video games owe a great deal to Gary Gygax, the co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons. In many ways, his game set foundations for the medium, and its mechanics and spirit branch out to all genres these days. But Gygax never created a video game that made it to market.

Alex Gygax wants to add video game development to his father’s legacy. Today, The Gygax Trust is announcing a partnership with the crowdfunding platform Fig to publish video games based on the unpublished works of Gary Gygax. Timing for the first campaign was not disclosed. (Because there IS no timing for the campaign. Judging from the lack of details, this probably just developed)

In an interview with GamesBeat, Paul Stormberg (I'm clueless) of Gygax Games said that the projects would deal with, among other things, the original home role-playing game campaign that Gygax ran. (Good luck on that - isnt that owned by WotC thse days?) “We’ll just say it’s something people have been waiting for a long time,” said Stormberg, who’s worked for years in the pen-and-paper RPG industry.

Alex Gygax said that the trust picked Fig as a partner because of the important role fans play in crowdfunding. (Huh? Correct me but wouldnt, I don't know, Kickstarter be a better choice?) Since they don’t have a development studio signed or a game prototype yet, they chose Fig to work with. This platform differs from Kickstarter and Indiegogo in that people backing products can get a piece of the action and a return on their pledges. (interesting)

“It’s a good opportunity to get some games produced and work with gamers and still be able to have some direction of where some things go,” Alex said, “making sure the spirit, the essence, of Dungeons & Dragons (bad Alex! Bad bad bad) and the RPG Realm is kept in mind.”

I asked if it was at all based on Castle Greyhawk, the megadungeon that served as the base for one of Gary Gygax’s home campaigns. They were a bit coy about it, but they did confirm that the projects wouldn’t involve Gord the Rogue, his character that appeared in novels after the D&D co-creators breakup with his own company, TSR, or the Castle Zagyg, a Castles & Crusades megadungeon that could be called “The Son of Castle Greyhawk.” (right, so is LA stuff that's been rotting for 10 years)

“We’ll just saw it’s something people have been waiting for a long time,” Stromberg said.

The Gygax Trust has had years to adapt Gary Gygax’s works into a game. So, why did they decide now is the time? It’s a combination of platforms like Fig and the advancement of in-game design and computer tech. (sure, and like I said above - Gail is finally desperate to make money off the IP - 10 years to late and a million dollars short)

“Video games have caught up” with the ideas and concepts my father played with, Alex Gygax said. “I think [the industry] has caught up with what we’re trying to create.”

Stromberg explained how over the years, the family has tried to work with studios to make games on Gary Gygax’s works before.

“Gail [Gygax, Gary’s wife] herself is quite familiar with the development of her husband’s IP for computer games, having worked with a number of companies over the years to do so. While the projects all had promise, some of them quite fantastic, the developers could never quite achieve the vision Gary had laid out,” Stromberg said. “However, now, with Fig, an amazing pool of talented developers, and some truly amazing advances in computer gaming, we know we can begin to bring the real jewels of Gary’s unpublished IP to his legions of fans and the larger gaming community.” (as a betting man? this goes nowhere)

As we chatted, Alex Gygax and Stromberg kept talking about the fans. It’s certainly the people who play, who create adventures and worlds of their own, that have been the key to D&D‘s longevity over the past 40 years. Poking around internet communities such as Reddit and forums devoted to RPGs, you find people still playing the old editions that Gary Gygax published decades ago. (so, there's a market for Gary's work, but they aren't going to market to the market...)

“[My father’s work] is something people love, and they stick with it. It had a very family like feeling to it, to everyone that has played or enjoyed it over the years,” Alex Gygax said.

On Reddit and those forums, you’ll also find people recounting their fond memories of encounters with Gary Gygax, who always made it a point to interact with fans at conventions and answer thousands of letters and emails. Alex Gygax even noted how his father would answer letters from prisoners.

And it’s that passion and goodwill that Fig and the Gygax Trust are hoping to tap for their crowdfunding campaign.

So, there you have it. Another deal from The Trust that will go nowhere. Beleive me, with 10 years of practice doing nothing with the Gygax IP, Gail is a master at the art now.

If I appear to be overly harsh in my assessment, feel free to make counter-arguments below. Note that Gail is a shrewd business woman, able to balance a Trust and a Fund and accomplish nothing with both of them.

Monday, April 16, 2018

White Star Galaxy Edition - 25% Off PDF Sale (Barrel Rider Games "Helping out a Friend Sale")

James Spahn / Barrel Rider Games is running a sale on White Star Galaxy Edition to help a friend facing eviction. Details below:


A dear friend of mine is facing some rough and rather sudden financial difficulties. To help them out, Barrel Rider Games is having a two-day sale. From now until Thursday, anyone using the link below can purchase the White Star: Galaxy Edition PDF at 25% off. All proceeds go to help out my friend, who has asked to remain anonymous. Get an awesome game and help out some awesome people.

Link to White Star Galaxy Edition:


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