Keeping JG World Alive
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Poll: If new JG adventures were produced would you buy them?

Yes 60%       60%  [ 26 ]
No, I like the original stuff 9%       9%  [ 4 ]
Might, I'd like some previews if possible 30%       30%  [ 13 ]
Total votes : 43

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:28 pm 
 

the professional feel and finished polish to the product is very importand. They typesetting, proofreading, illustration and cartography are all critical. They need to in keeping with the JG style

So, what you're saying is that in order to meet the JG standard they need to be barely proofread, done an an amateur layout, with goofy art and then placed on an indifferent map.


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:51 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:the professional feel and finished polish to the product is very importand. They typesetting, proofreading, illustration and cartography are all critical. They need to in keeping with the JG style

So, what you're saying is that in order to meet the JG standard they need to be barely proofread, done an an amateur layout, with goofy art and then placed on an indifferent map.


Heh, I was going to say the same thing. JG wasn't exactly up to the level of the TSR products, but the writing and imagination were otherwordly.

  

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:59 pm 
 

Exactly.  With the exception of the Wilderlands and City State maps, Judges Guild was not a standard for quality.

Judges Guild set the standard for scope of imagination, particularly in the early days, when they were publishing adventures far beyond the imagination level of the average TSR product.  Not even close.

Adventure in Hell?  Got it.

Ships and the sea?  Yup.

Entire fantasy city covered on a building by building basis with lots of room for adventure ideas?  Check.  Multiple examples, in fact.

First Fantasy Campaign?  Covered.

World map?  Yes.

Hex by hex descriptions of large areas?  Sure.

Occasionally funny as hell?  Absolutely.

High quality layout with professional art, covered with prose that is a delight to the human ear?   No.


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:17 pm 
 

To be fair to TSR, there were no Judges Guild products that approached the imagination of some early Gygax creations.

For instance, there was no Judges Guild equivalent to Tomb of Horrors.

Tomb of Horrors, in fact, nicely illustrates the difference between the two companies.

TSR published a tomb module, full of intricate traps and supported by highly expensive art that illustrates the adventure.  A side note says that the tomb is in the middle of the Vast Swamp.

Judges Guild would have provided a hex by hex description of the Vast Swamp, with a minor side note stating that a given hex is the location of a liche's tomb.

There is, in fact, a very real example of this in the Judges Guild Book of Ruins, which is an almost pathetic rag with "maps" and "descriptions"  of mostly rectangular old buildings where hobgoblins might or might not be hiding.  There is one ruin that has a secret door.  The text says that this leads to the dungeon of a liche but that the author did not include the dungeon in the Book of Ruins because he hadn't had time to playtest it yet.  Seriously.

The G and D series modules not only set a standard for adventure gaming...they created the concept of the drow as we know them.  Dark elves were an idea from folklore before Gygax made them into the ebon lords of a subterranean kingdom of evil.  Fantasy fiction has been dealing with this Gygaxian archetype ever since.

What Judges Guild did very well was catch you up in the sweep of possibilities alive in an entire fantasy world.    That isn't just a river...it's the Roglaroon Estuary that leads inland to a major city and flows down toward the fully developed town of Modron where a sea monster under the control of the Invicible Overlord guards the river bar with an underwater adventure and road connections to a dwarven citadel or over the sea to the pirate city of Tarantis or north to the land of the giant amazon women who insist on wearing fur bikinis that pop off or south to the realm of the green alien who masquerades as the tyrant of the City State of the World Emperor or east to the enchanted magical elven lands or down into the fully mapped dwarven mines or northeast to the Valley of the Ancients or under the City State of the Invicible overlord and a book of treasure maps can lead you on multiple quests across large sections of this terrain which is all described or you might just visit the ant god's nest for some reason and then die.

*pauses for breath*

I mean that sort of scope of imagination.


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Last edited by FormCritic on Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:42 pm, edited 4 times in total.
  

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Post Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:22 pm 
 

FormCritic wrote:So, what you're saying is that in order to meet the JG standard they need to be barely proofread, done an an amateur layout, with goofy art and then placed on an indifferent map.

No, what I'm saying is the JG product line developed over the years, and you need to maintain the standards now set by the JG brand name if you want to succeed in that line.

That's not to say I wouldn't buy a mega-dungeon banged out on newsprint in a pulp fiction stylee. I most certainly would. Buy such a product would be a pastiche, and would need to be packaged and marketted as such, and that sort of genre is a whole different market from the one the JG brand currently emjoys. I don't thing NG could have sold CSIO in a newszine format, and if they had intended to, I doubt they'd have secured the license to do so. The current crop of JG products are very professional in presentation, from the NG offerings right down to the Majestic Wilderlands line.

JG stepped away from the pulp news product during their 15 year hiatus, and realised they couldn't go back there. Taking them back there for the wont of a quick buck, or through a lack of interest in professionalism would be a big mistake IMO, and deffinately an error in judgement for whoever owns the JG name.


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:53 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:No, what I'm saying is the JG product line developed over the years


I'm really not just trolling you, Ian.   You do have a point.  :salut:

The Judges Guild product line actually decayed over the years, particularly when it devolved into the Universal Role-Playing System and batches of not-slick-at-all public domain pickup art.

In 1982 there was the final bright flare of the largely still shrinkwrapped and unread Tarantis  publication, but the rest of the trajectory was distinctly down.

I guess that layout might have been better for the final publications like Book of Treasure Maps III or Prey of Darkness, but the adventure quality was gone by that point.

There were intriguing possibilities raised by the three map-centric modules Restormel, Demons of Dundurn and Ravenscrag, but the writing just wasn't there.

Still, I'm talking about publications that I treasure and have no intention of selling.  I am quite serious when I say that anyone designing a campaign setting needs to acquire and read Verbosh.  Quality? No.  Genius?  Yes - I think so.


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Post Posted: Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:12 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:Taking them back there for the wont of a quick buck, or through a lack of interest in professionalism would be a big mistake


Yes it would. However it would be possible to repackage the original-gangsta look'n'feel of a JG product, but in a more presentable way.

Look at Demons of Dundurn, a late effort where they try for a richer version of standard JG style. There's no visible gloss on their color illos, giving them a nice texture which you don't see anymore. One could pick out the best of it, & use said elements more frequently than was done for the originals. Lots & lots of full-page color pictures (colorize the existing pics in the style of the original covers, blow-up & crop as tastefully necessary), lots of faux-parchment maps with multiple textures of sepia-on-sepia inks, plus more old lithograph public-domain drawings.

Give the original text an elementary edit: double columns in a slightly larger font size, trimmed to make it a more entertaining read. It could be done, although that would require matching the right editors to the right IP owners to the right financiers, so it will never happen.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:29 am 
 

sauromatian wrote:Yes it would. However it would be possible to repackage the original-gangsta look'n'feel of a JG product, but in a more presentable way.

You see I don't think that'd work. I think refaking the originals only created a pastiche of of the past. If you want to present a pulp magazine comic book style dungeon on newsprint, why not do it under your own brand name? Or do you need the JG name to make your sales? If so, that says more about your product than about anything else. Conversely, if you are bringing new vigor and interest to the JG world, then why not step up and stand alongside the writers and publishers who have already breathed life back into the brand over the past five years? For me, if a writer were to set themselves apart and decide to publish JG but present in a mock up of the old cheap newsprint style, especially if they were gonna just copy and paste the original artwork and colorise it for the sake of saving themselves a few bucks, and even if they were goint to try to polish old bits of work, what would result would more than likely just be abominations of poor quality writing and/or re-editing. What you've outlined smacks of a fishing exersize to try to claw money off the back of an existing company's name. There is a big difference between professionalism, and fan fiction. I'm just suggesting the owners of the JG brand encourage professionalism and keep out the hobbyist alsorans. They can do that by setting the bar at an acceptable level of quality reight across the board, and don't let those of us who can't achieve those standards whack a JG label on our own writings.

I do think the one page dungeon format would transfer well onto the big single page of folded newspaper like the old JGJs (or even direct translations of Le Dernier Circle line od advenures), but if I were to market a product line in that form, it'd be under a different publishers label I wouldn't burden the JG brand with the possibility of a negative image. I'd rather be seen as 'copying' JG style of old or knocking out JG ripoffs, that submitting substandard product under a good brand name and denigrating it.


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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:12 pm 
 

Ian, you make some good points.

But let's talk turkey (serious) if we're going to address keeping the "style" alive.

How many DM/GM/Refs/Judges are confident enough and have the minimum level of grammar skills and balls to actually write and publish their own adventures? From my limited experience, I do not see a sea of hobbyists flooding the market with mediocre product. Perhaps I need to "get out" more... :lol:

But I do see a lot of serious attempts by some very skilled and educated gamers, with more nerve than they probably should have (myself included  :oops:  ) putting out product/s that are comparable in quality to "those old days".

I don't know what the answer is.

The point of the thread is, NOT to flood the market with a bunch of hobbyist crap out of fan-love, but to ask, "can we do this?" from a group of designer-writers with proven record in the OSR community.


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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 1:34 pm 
 

mbassoc2003 wrote:You see I don't think ..and denigrating it.


A classic of mbassoc rhetoric - each point is spring-loaded with an obvious disagreement for me to make. Well I am easily manipulated, so I'll just dive right in.

Why reprint any old JG stuff at all? Because some of it's really good. But as FormCritic pointed out above, it's not put together very well. Someone has to go searching for the right out-of-print titles, then spend hours poring over them to find the better parts.

Your definition of professionalism brings up a good point as well. Look at all the bazillion styles of art in a sci-fi/comic-book store. Some more realistic, some cartoony, some abstract. Then look at the selection in the RPG/wargaming section - the same styles have prevailed since 1983. Does it need to remain that way forever?

  


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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:16 pm 
 

No to pastiche. No offense guys, but not a fan of either the Necromancer or the Mayfair versions. If I wanted 2E/3E modules, I'd buy 2E/3E modules.

No to most reconstructions, expansions or sequels to the original material.

Yes to new work from Bryan Hinnen, Creighton Hippenhammer and company. I'd love to see what they've been up to and how they tackle the material now.

Yes to new work from anyone as long as it's drenched in creativity, shoestring elan and innocence of three decades of "industry" convention.

No to boxes, hardcovers, maxiskirts, anything longer than it needs to be to cover the subject.

Yes to microproducts. You could run any of the Wilderlands hexcrawl books on a twitter subscription and never feel the urge to pad it by a single extraneous detail.

  

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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:29 pm 
 

Thork N Hammer, Esquire wrote:How many DM/GM/Refs/Judges are confident enough and have the minimum level of grammar skills and balls to actually write and publish their own adventures? From my limited experience, I do not see a sea of hobbyists flooding the market with mediocre product. Perhaps I need to "get out" more... :lol:.

The real question is, how many DMs now have the intelligence, vocabulary or balls to run a game based on a skeletal dungeon design or adventure thread that JG used to provide. The backbone of the JG product range was brief ideas, hooks, and stat blocks that provided just enough for a DM to wing it on the fly, and only elaborating at keyed locations to establish structure. I think the skill of DMing in that style, without having a complete adventure pre-written for you, is something that has been lost as the game developed into 2E and onwards. TSR and WotC, and a lot of third party companies have stepped forward and started doing the thinking for the DMs, but all that has done over the years is really dumb down the game on the DM side of the table.  

Thork N Hammer, Esquire wrote:But I do see a lot of serious attempts by some very skilled and educated gamers, with more nerve than they probably should have (myself included  :oops:  ) putting out product/s that are comparable in quality to "those old days".

The problem as I see it is that knocking out product comparable to what was knocked out back in the day just doesn't cut it anymore. Quality is so easy to achieve with modern printing and DTP packages, that the only commercial value to the sort of product people self publish is FREE. Very few people have what it takes to be a professional quality publisher themselves. But I don't htink a ;ot of publishers see that. I honestly think some people pick up their own little module and pick up something by FGG or GG and think to themselves, "Well mine's as good as that."

Thork N Hammer, Esquire wrote:The point of the thread is, NOT to flood the market with a bunch of hobbyist crap out of fan-love, but to ask, "can we do this?" from a group of designer-writers with proven record in the OSR community.

It can be done, but the talent pool has to be right, the products have to be right, and the standard has to be just as high as any of the established publishing houses are putting out. I didn't have a problem with NG's CSIO and Wildelands. They're up there in my top twenty D&D products of the past 10 years. I didn't like Badabaskar. Don't recall who put that out, but I didn't like that one, and the issue was primarily one on incongruity and a sort of cheap dirtiness to the presentation, rather than anything more fundimental about the product. It'd never be a success because it just felt like a nasty product. Real products are visual feasts and tactile experiences, and too many people just don't get that.


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Post Posted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:39 pm 
 

Compare the sci-fi RPG Starblazer Adventures
http://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?mainid=10613
to the fantasy game from the same product line, Legends of Anglerre
http://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?mainid=15930

The former is a brilliant use of old graphics, while the latter (a modern cover painting done in the ubiquitous modern style) is just blah.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:13 am 
 

You could very well say trhe same thing about the penchant FRPs have for anime style art. It's not wrong per se, it just does not fit with the JG brand. And if a publisher doesn't have the ability to make his own brand style work, what he shouldn't do is take someone elses brand, one that has been rebuilt and carefully cultivated, and then drag it back to it's pulp fiction roots without knowing that's what the brand owner wants.

But there is no reason why a cartoon pop art cover and interior graphics shouldn'y work under ones own brand name and publishing house. The real question is, @Why does a writer need to use the JG brand name?". Is it because he believes it brings in customers and the name bestows upon his product a certain expectation and credibility? And if si, he then must meet the expectations and quality expected of the customer. I have no issues with pulp covers, but JG have already set their presentation and quality bar much hiher than that. Modern works need to be done with commissioned artwork on the cover, or no artwork at all.


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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:40 am 
 

That's preposterous. This is your opinion, not fact.

Case in point:
http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php? ... s_id=85053

Commissioned artwork? Sure... anything approaching the Mayfair products? No chance.

I'd argue that there was a time in the 90s when the judges guild products licensed out their materials to a company that didn't get what made JG products desirable, and instead fell into the trap that WOTC finds itself now spending ridiculous cost on artwork, instead of good RPG material that made your mind grow with the possibilities.

Concentrate on making your product have value in it's ideas, make it's not filled with typos to further that clarity, get an editor to make sure you aren't running off the rails (everyone needs an editor), and get it out there.

Are you going to threaten the print runs of Paizo or WOTC itself? No, chance. Will you create a loyal following, like JG did back in the day?

You bet your ass.

  

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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:50 am 
 

So why did James stop publishing JG stuff? He was putting out good quality stuff, in both hardcopy and PDF, and he wasn't splashing on commissioned colour artwork etc. He also wasn't plagues by excessive typos or poor editing, had devent mapwork and professional typesetting, and I'm pretty sure a lot of people here were buying. I was picking up 10 copies of each. So why stop publishing? What can a new publisher do differently to improve upon, or alter, James' publishing model?


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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:27 am 
 

You mean James Mishler's Adventure Games Publishing? He explained his reasons in detail when he closed shop. In a nutshell: dwindling sales for each new product. ("100 Street Vendors of the City State, barring a handful of sales of Noble Knight Games, sold a grand total of three print copies").


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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:36 am 
 

100 Street Vendors of the City State is a great candidate for a pdf product costing $1 or less.  It was never likely to sell many hard copies.


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Last edited by FormCritic on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
  

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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:39 am 
 

I wonder if we're talking about the viability of small publishing efforts...

or

Or the legal possibility of publishing small print runs of products with a Wilderlands tie-in.


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Post Posted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:22 pm 
 

Zenopus wrote:You mean James Mishler's Adventure Games Publishing? He explained his reasons in detail when he closed shop. In a nutshell: dwindling sales for each new product. ("100 Street Vendors of the City State, barring a handful of sales of Noble Knight Games, sold a grand total of three print copies").


James also took money for subscriptions he never filled and never refunded.  He was also unemployed and trying to derive some income from his publishing.  We probably shouldn't look at AGP as a model for success in spite of the quality of the product.

  
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