Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Message from My Friend Larry David for the OSR


7 comments:

  1. I may regret asking this, but why are you so concerned about people freely exchanging goods and services for pecuniary reward? Are you a Franciscan? Is this motivated by genuine concern about artistic purity?

    If people want to gain beer money or whatever in exchange for hundreds of man hours of their labour, then good luck to them. It's also patently obvious to anybody who has taken any RPG product from the internet that stuff that is given away for free is often downloaded but sits unlooked-at on the hard drive, because it has no feeling of value, whereas stuff that has a small charge attached is valued more and hence carefully read and used.

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  2. Ive been over this a dozen times in the last few years and now am settled in a mature phase or stance of unobliged contempt. Nevertheless, here is a brief summary,

    The infrastructure of blogs and forums, and the ease of creating attractive documents, and the sharing of these at no cost, make money unnecessary for interaction with other gamers when exchanging ideas in any form.

    There was a missed opportunity as the community formed to aspire to something worthwhile, establishing an understanding that the attainable object for every group's DM is to create his own material, encouraging originality from each other and, given that we are grown men spending hours thinking about gaming and campaigns, treating the game as something of an art.

    Rather than Krautrock and Amon Duul, instead what has evolved is a grubby monetised talent show parading depressives, half-wits and other subhumans desperate to attain the artificial higher tier of 'publishers' since as soon as some attracted enough attention through blogs they sold their 'monster adventures' as a means of distinguishing themselves from others. The character of those who sell their wares is vain, they typically contribute nothing to forums because no-one pays immoderate attention to their views; deluded, they think highly of their work which tends to be wholly unoriginal and therefore easily cranked out; and hypocritical, they create their own material but want others to consume theirs.

    Ask yourself what is the difference between charging for the time it takes to write a module and charging your players for the time spent developing a campaign as DM?

    >> stuff that is given away for free is often downloaded but sits unlooked-at on the hard drive, because it has no feeling of value, whereas stuff that has a small charge attached is valued more and hence carefully read and used. <<

    The only explanation for this is that the majority of gamers in the osr are stupid. It is an ancient maxim that the stupid should be mocked. One of the few interesting supplements I have read is the current draft of Scott Driver's Dwarf Land which will be distributed free.

    The accompanying art is now the most frequent justification trotted out for the need to charge for material but I find these pictures irrelevant and distracting to deciding any worth inherent in material. Look at the adulation received by AS&SH which is entirely due to the art. Anyway what is presented hardly deserves the name 'art', being in the main rather literal depictions of fantasy cliches which can be found fistfuls at a time on the web.

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    Replies
    1. Ask yourself what is the difference between charging for the time it takes to write a module and charging your players for the time spent developing a campaign as DM?

      Well, you are calling into question one of the most basic assumptions of economics here. Ask yourself the difference between paying somebody for the time it takes them to fit your kitchen, and doing it yourself.

      I don't think the art is justification for charging money for something. The only justification is that you have produced something you think people will buy, you think your time and efforts are worth being paid for, and you are willing to charge money. I would be far more concerned about the people who buy shitty products than the people who make them - the latter are behaving perfectly rationally and will cease making shit for money if people cease buying it.

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    2. Your first paragraph doesn't address what I asked, you are merely harping on about getting paid for your time or idiots paying others because they are lazy. The question is if you think it is ethical and sane to charge for monster dreams written down and tidied up at an awful level of creativity simply because it takes time then why not charge players for the preparation time devoted by the DM for his campaign development.

      I point it out because the latter mentality would obviously be disgusting and so the former *should* obviously be disgusting too particularly in this lo-fi hobby which doesn't attract talented creative types.

      >> I don't think the art is justification for charging money for something.

      You might not but Im telling you that if you pay attention you will see that it has become the primary justification for the existence of the marketplace because it shelters the repulsive personalities of the pedlars from criticism.

      >> I would be far more concerned about the people who buy shitty products than the people who make them - the latter are behaving perfectly rationally and will cease making shit for money if people cease buying it. <<

      I agree with this. However those who attracted most attention to their views followed Raggi in establishing a culture where abusing your popularity and charging for crap was the way to cement their 'first tier' status and they are responsible for a community of hundreds of gamers amounting to nothing as far as I can see.

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    3. "Rather than Krautrock and Amon Duul,"

      Godammit Kent, you are one of a kind.

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  3. You may have been over it time and again but this is the most articulate, er, articulation of your position that you've produced to date. I might recommend it as a blog 'page' or permanent 'sticky' post, since it does a commendable job of explaining your position.

    Remind me - did you actually purchase Vornheim? I haven't but from what I can see it does appear to serve the goals of a) being its own thing, distinct from regurgitations of various archaic D&D products and b) encouraging a production of material in others, albeit by means which you may not approve of (randomise ALL the things!), nor which may produce results as potent as sitting through and thinking it out.

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  4. I didn't get through all of Vornheim. I found it too scatterbrained for sustained reading - too many uninvolving atoms of ideas which don't come together to grant a different perspective on the city. Some potentially interesting ideas are underdeveloped. The sinister bibliophile, with his thief-librarians and the snake skin books could have filled the whole volume if developed and we could learn about Vornheim indirectly in the manner of the Warhammer The Enemy Within supplements. Whether the author is capable of developing his own ideas to fruition is unknown. The maps are weak, more cluttered than complex but there is authenticity in being able to scribble illustrations to accompany your own work rather than pretending some other artist is imagining the same things as you. I would guess the author has little interest in imitating anyone else's ideas when he plays. It's inventive in a quirky way, particularly with randomisation mechanics (eg: street generation) although it is doubtful whether these are useful to DMs who enjoy creation and preparation.

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