This all started because someone asked John Adams (he of Brave Halfling Publishing) over at the Swords & Wizardry forums about doing the old S&W Core Monster Book as a Whitebox release.
Something snapped in my head - it was painful - and over the past couple of days, the following blog post wrote itself in the cockles of my heart. So here you go...
I think we (the people who actively support/write/advocate old school style of play - call it what you will) can, we should, be doing better.
Look, I know John Adam's gonna do what John's gonna do to make a buck. And yes, 90% of our little band of 137 grognards are going to snap up WB Monster Book, WB Advanced Classes and all the other stuff that people want in order to either have the latest and greatest of the brand or because they want to show support to the little press. At the end of the day, I really don't begrudge John, or Matt Finch, or any of the small press / old school related guys making a buck. I know I made a buck or two on my Ref Sheets, as Bullette pointed out over on that forum thread and that's OK.
I think we can and should be doing better.
Where's our EPT? Where's our Blackmoor?
Where is the truly different and unusual that will have people really rolling? The only one that really pushed boundaries, so far, has been Carcosa. No matter what you think of the subject matter, the point is that Geoffrey took D&D/OD&D and went somewhere very different with it. I loved it. I've used a lot of it as stuff to prod my games along. That's why I love the crazy and wacky from Fight On magazine. That's why I have orcs with guns, fallen shiny spheres, crazy creepy dolls and a whole bunch of other stuff that my players might never see, but it's there because I'm inspired to put it there.
I may think Raggi's an ass, but I dammit sure respect him for trying to do something other than a retread. I may not buy his stuff, but I give him props. There's little other stuff coming out that I want to buy though, because it really is more of the same. Same orcs. Same plate mail. Same Stinking Cloud (except when Matt Finch forgets to include it) and just more restating of the same stuff we've been doing for the past 30 odd years, but with a shiny new name on it.
Say what you will about Alexis over at Tao but at least he's trying to perfect the craft of AD&D and push it into areas that some of us just back up and say "Woah, you are one crazy mofo... now how do I do that?" It's new, it's fresh and it hews true to the old school camp while taking us places where we need to go.
Where's our EPT? Where's our Blackmoor?
We should be doing better. We've been doing this little old-school stuff for what, almost 5 to 7 years now? We have retroclones of virtually every D&D flavor you can think of up to 1989. We have a retroclone of a Chick tract, for cryin' out loud! Are we really that tapped out that we can't do something different?
An orc is an orc. We can describe the same orc in 50 different retroclone ways, or we can do something new with this orc. Mash him with Mr. T. Put a laser in his hands. Put a laser on his head. Do *SOMETHING* different with the orc but please don't restate him with WB stats, then with Complete stats, then with OSRIC/AD&D stats, then with Holmes retroclone stats and on and on and on...
Look, I love the style of play that the original editions give us, but I also hope to see inspiration and movement to something that explores the places we haven't gone. OK, I may be derivative myself, but at least with Ultima RPG, Modern OD&D, I was trying for something new. That's why Tombs of Hultep Koa remain hidden. It's retread shit and I don't want that.
At the end of the day, I hope John makes a buck. If he does that with the same Orc with a shiny new label, Gods bless him and I hope it does well.
I just hope he does something different... or SOMEONE does something different. Otherwise, I think we're just going to end up cutting the same game into tiny pieces and saying the same thing until it just doesn't matter anymore.
I want 2011's EPT.