Mar 4, 2009

The RPGBloggers Anthology...first impressions

Well then, today I was sent a link of a near final draft of the much talked-up bloggers anthology. After skimming it over, and gettin cozy with it, I have formed a few distinct impressions I would like to share with you.

As a Disclaimer: I chipped in a little money to help get this thing rolling, this was even AFTER my submission was rejected : ) No dickery here, I promise!

Since I can't get into too many specifics, I am going to break this down into a couple of categories.

ART- 4 out of 5 stars - The art was an interesting mix of silly characitures(?) and filler pieces, with a truly awesome full page center piece. While it may not appeal to the newest generation of gamers who expect everything to look like a WoW screenshot, I found that the overall effect was one of retro-cool. Besides, nbody buys a gaming sourcebook of any kind JUST for the art.

In addition, the pieces were all relevant to their articles, and while different in styles, never clashed with one another. My only gripe, and the reason for the lack of a fifth star was the sheer quantity of it. After a while, some of the pieces just felt like padding. A forgiveable offense : )

CONTENT - 4 out of 5 stars - Even without my brilliance, the rest of the RPGBloggers community really stepped up with some decent content. All of our "luminaries" are present (you know who you are) and the subject matter is top notch.

My only criticism here, well both of my criticisms anyway : ) First off, this hobby, and presumably the book itself is supposedly a PG type of atmosphere. We can argue all day about this, but the fact of the matter is there are no other published supplements out there with the word FUCK in them. After years and years of official publications, maybe it's just me being a prude, but still... My other issue was more with the timing of the submissions. 4E had barely gotten it's legs under it when the call went out, and you can definitely tell by the content. Otherwise excellent, hence an equivalent 4 of 5.

LAYOUT - 4 out of 5 stars - Let me be up front on this. I couldn't format my way out of a 10 X 10 room. As such, it doesn't take much to impress me. However with a B&W book as dense in text as this one is, a clearer seperation between chapters would have been helpful. Especially from the perspective of someone who (once again) was raised on official publications wherein the chapters usually include a full page artwork with a small text lead in. Maybe i'm just spoiled.

RELEVANCY - 5 out of 5 stars - Wizards of the Coast has become something other than what it was, that is, they seem to have forgotten that their way is not the only way. This attitude is not unique. White wolf and games workshop beat them to the punch long ago in the "deaf to all external noise" department.

This book, and what it represents is the independent voices that belong to everyone not sitting in a corporate boardroom, discussing percentages and dividends. This is how we ACTUALLY play the game that they make a living telling us how to play. This is the fixed rules we have trial and errored together. This is the cool concept we put together for our best friend as a favor.

In my humble, near-irrelevant, and totally untrained opinion, this anthology - and the ones that follow it represent a new perspective on everything from what we think a missing class should look like, to how to build a good gaming group. This is the stuff we had to learn ourselves, the hard way. This book is pure gold, and if you do not get a piece of the first run then yes, we will all laugh at you.

My humble opinion has been given. Do with it what you will : )
More information can be found here


Anonymous said...

That cover design looks awesome? How much old school ODD stuff is inside? It looks like a steampunk game book...

Samuel Van Der Wall said...

I kind of jumped into the roleplaying blog-sphere after this creation was already underway. I'm really interested in taking a look at it.

Donny said...

Don't let the cover fool you, the majority of the content is either older editions of D&D, or system neutral enough to fit anywhere.

@Sam - It's worth it :)

No idea what Jon is going to be charging for it, but if it is less than 20 bucks, it's a no brainer.

Jonathan said...

holy macaroni! what an awesome review! whoot! thank you!

no links to The Core Mechanic, so technorati didn't pick it up this post.. i just managed to find a few minutes to actually do some blog _reading_ and saw this post in my feed reader. THANK YOU !!!

@Donny - about the price. I recently responded to some comments over at The Core Mechanic about some of the details, and one of the things I covered was price. Currently, the book is scheduled to retail at $24.95. Before you blow my head off with some kind of blogosphere cannon -- please understand that the price was something I struggled with for a long long time - I wanted to sell the book for much less, like $10/copy -- but doing so (becuase of the way the publishing industry is set up with all these people taking their cut.. many layers) I would _NEVER_ be able to get a distributor, let alone a retailor, to pick up the book. Oh ... I'll just copy/paste what I wrote previously about this to clarify...

"Becuase I have decided to go "the distribution route" - which will hopefully push the book onto hobby shop store shelves - the book is going to list for $24.95. The price point was something I struggled with for a long time, but this was the price two people in the RPG industry _strongly_ suggested I sell it at. If you compare it to other 135+ page softback books on IPR or other sites (Amazon) hopefully you'll find it to be appropriate. The reason for raising the price (I wanted to sell it for $10/copy) was due to printing costs (small batches cost way more to print, and I'm NOT ordering 500+ copies at a time, which is minimum for an offset printer) and SHIPPING costs (oh my god.., don't get me started), and that retailors and distributors take a net total of ~60% off the list price. This leaves me with a very narrow margin. Considering I've logged over 200 hours of time working on this since october, I think its fair." -- from a comment at The Core Mechanic

hopefully you can see where I'm coming from ...

Donny said...

No blog cannon Jon :)

I have had a few LULU quotes myself, and figured it would be more than the anticipated 10-

I stand by my statement with the qualifier that It's still worth it.

At this rate, I'll be looking to YOU for help publishing MY stuff :)