|Image from wizards.com|
Wizards of the Coast is reprinting OD&D! From the site:
Each booklet features new cover art but is otherwise a faithful reproduction of the original, including original interior art.
If they play their cards right, they will release a hardcover compilation and then PDFs at staggered intervals. If that’s a real wood box, I’m sold. And who am I kidding? I’m pretty sure I will pick one up even if it’s not.
The only real downside: Chainmail is not included.
It looks fake to me. That’s not the same box, or the same paper, and those are definitely not the same dice. It’s in different ink, from different machines, with data that’s been through who knows how many storage systems since. It’s not the same world it was then, or the same game really. It may in effect be the least accurate retroclone yet, perhaps the least ‘honest’, whatever that word might mean in 2013. It looks to be more for worship than play. Hobby time and budget blown on this may do the spirit of what this tries to package real damage. The game has been well out of that box for long years now.
Fake how? Obviously there are many other rules options now, but the text is the text is the text, you know? I must admit I don’t understand the “least accurate retroclone” comment at all.
But then, Authenticy with a capital A is not something I care much about. In RPG products, I like interesting rules (either from an immediate or historical viewpoint) and good production values. This set seems to satisfy those desires.
That’s also one of the reasons I like the products put out by LotFP: they often cost a bit more, but they also know how to bind books.
By ‘it looks fake to me’ I mean I sense artifice. This is not the world in which the game first appeared, nowhere near, and for all the reasons given in the first comment it’s not the same product, but the suggestion seems to be that it is, down to the use of a pointedly traditional, classic, solid material like wood. ‘Authentic’ is a good word for the implication.
This ties in with the retroclone point. By ‘it may in effect be the least accurate retroclone yet’ I mean that the retroclones reflected the nature of the game in more than just the letter of the rules. They reflected the act of adapting, making new in the spirit of the old, creating, which is what the original game did, as the mentions of Chainmail here suggest. A release more or less as is of a game almost 40 years out of context is missing even that accuracy, despite the presumably copy-paste element. It could be thought of as a sore thumb. The lack of truer creation is the elephant in the room.
I don’t want to argue more against your personal justifications. I worry only that every $150 drop in sales of other materials will hurt the community, make the publishers for love feel the pinch more than they might otherwise, and maybe discourage them and reduce their output or end it. If WotC can simply rerelease everything TSR once did – and if it does, because it’s easy money for them – is there a line we reach, before the TSR antiques run out, at which the support for this approach stops or is it a slow death for this general and increasing independence we’ve seen in the past few years?
Porky wrote: I worry only that every $150 drop in sales of other materials will hurt the community, make the publishers for love feel the pinch more than they might otherwise, and maybe discourage them and reduce their output or end it.
That’s a fair point. A dollar I spend one place is a dollar I can’t spend somewhere else.
I’m not sure the TSR material can ever really run out though, as it’s almost costless to keep it available using sources like RPGNow. Further, like Linux, once the OGL-derived games are out there, it’s not really possible for them to go away. And practically, people are going to continue publishing for Labyrinth Lord, Swords & Wizardry, OSRIC, and other clones due to trademark concerns, even if more and more people will use TSR editions like B/X, OD&D, and AD&D to actually run games.
Ultimately, I think people who publish material for love of the game will continue to do so irrespective of returns. As I understand it, the industry part of the OSR is not particularly lucrative to begin with, and actually I would be surprised if people picking up the reprints doesn’t drive more traffic to the community discussion spaces for old games and thus also to the community produced simulacra work.
Or put more bluntly: I bet B/X being rereleased results in more LotFP and Labyrinth Lord module sales. This prediction could be wrong, of course. We will have to wait and see.
Re the TSR materials, my worry was the opposite, that the longer the rereleases go on, and the longer they stay available, the more distractions there are from the non-industry and cottage-industry material.
I see what you mean about driving new interest, and your bet seems a reasonable one, but this stream of easy rereleases could also prove to be a glut that soaks up the bulk of the hobby funds and the interest over many months – long enough perhaps to lead new gamers directly into a rebranded ‘neo-retro’ fifth edition with barely time to pause for breath.
That would seem a good plan from WotC’s perspective, and the company presumably isn’t where it is today for not making clever decisions.
I’m also not sure that players drawn in by the rereleases will even come into contact with the more recently developed materials, or know where and how to look for them, or even think to look for them at all. How many would believe the OSR could thrive the way it has? Have a read of SandWyrm’s comment here at Known World, Old World:
The awareness of the true creative power they have may never have entered the minds of many people, perhaps because of the danger it represents to bottom lines, perhaps just because it takes time to discover and develop.
Maybe Chainmail, and the wilderness survival maps, will be available in PDF.
Yeah, it does seem like they are going for the collector’s market. It would be nice if there was a more affordable option to encourage use at the table as well.
According to Mike Mearls on G+, it does look like the box is real wood, so it should be at least more durable than a cardboard box.
Not all that surprising really considering the $60 per 2nd edition books for book that were about $20 when released originally and, from what I can tell, all they did was put a prettier cover on them.
Wizards is about profit, which really feeds into what was said earlier about the difference between the world now and then. I’m not sure Gygax really saw the entire business world opportunity that would erupt from putting out these little pamphlets back in the day so much as “this is a cool evolution for Chainmail”. Its a pretty enough set but it isn’t $150 worth of pretty IMH(and poor)O…
Are those d10s I see!? UNACCEPTABLE! A true reproduction would include d20s printed with 1-10 twice!
This is an outrage! I call for a boycott of WotC!
A true reproduction would come with cheap dice, not fancy ones!
I have to agree that for $150, this set needs Chainmail, and Swords & Spells added to it.
Swords & Spells neither.
Yeah, true. I can see the logic for leaving out Chainmail and Swords & Spells (they might be even more confusing to a newcomer), though it still would have been nice to have them.
You know what I really hope they include? A well-written companion that puts the set in context.
Personally, I am glad they are rereleasing them. It will give a chance for this generation to see how sparse and badly organized a roleplaying game can be. I think $150 is a bit steep, I would have rather seen them released as $5 .pdfs. I think they are interesting from a historical perspective, but if you want an actual playable game I would look for Empire of the Petal Throne instead. Same mechanics but written in English rather than “chart”ese $11 .pdf at drivethru rpg.
I enjoy reading the original Empire of the Petal Throne as well. In fact, I think I’m one of the few people that is more interested in EPT’s mechanics than in its setting. EPT is an excellent example of a specific referee making OD&D his own (particularly in the technological artifacts and demonology).
@imredave: Actually the mechanics of EPT are not the same as for OD&D. A couple key differences are that EPT is percentile based for attributes and has skills. From what I have been told by people who knew Gary Gygax and Professor Barker, Gary felt EPT was a superior system.
I guess I should have said similar system. I had forgotten about the percentile attributes. I think the skill system was a great innovation. I was not enamored of EPT’s random spell acquisition system, but OD&D Greyhawks percentage change to learn a spell is not better. I am afraid I don’t think of OD&D as one system as every DM I played under had a different method for plugging the holes in the rules. I think EPT unlike OD&D is a game you can learn from reading the rule book and play.
imredave wrote: I don’t think of OD&D as one system as every DM I played under had a different method for plugging the holes in the rules
For me, that’s one of the primary features of OD&D, actually. It prompts creativity and campaign uniqueness by leaving strategic gaps.