Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2004

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the fifty-ninth issue of The Guild Companion, and a Happy New Year to all our readers!

HARP at Dragonmeet

On the 13th December 2003, I journeyed down to the Dragonmeet convention in London, armed with a low-resolution printout of High Adventure Role Playing (HARP) {courtesy of the good folks at ICE} and my notes for "The Defense of Marnockham" scenario (see this issue). Despite a delayed opening of the doors and a mad dash to buy some d10s (guess who didn't pack his dice the night before), the first session of Marnockham still started on time with five players ready to take up arms against the goblin raiders. With panache and skill, they routed a goblin attack and staged a successful assault on the foes in their lair. After a short intermission for lunch and a browse around the exhibition hall, a second band of six heroes put themselves in harm's way to protect the innocents of Marnockham. In spite of a few tricky moments and my voice beginning to fail through overuse, they also emerged victorious.

None of the eleven players had seen or played HARP prior to Dragonmeet, although some had experience of MERP and/or Rolemaster. The evidence on the day (as well as reports appearing on other online forums) suggest that the players enjoyed HARP, particularly the simplicity of the system (compared to Rolemaster) the potential lethality of combat (though with the safeguard of fate points) and the scalable spells. One player commented that it was "more fun than Rolemaster", while another thought that HARP combat was "as fast as D&D".

If you haven't already got your hands on HARP, you are really missing out on a great game.

Consternation 2005

Although demonstrating HARP was a major reason for attending Dragonmeet this year, it was not my only purpose. The evening was dedicated to the first meeting of the Consternation Committee.

You may recall that Cambridge has played host to a series of gaming conventions (Baroquon in 1999, Rocococon in 2001, and Conjuration in 2003). In order to ensure that this grand tradition continues, Phil Masters has assembled a team of volunteers (including myself) to arrange the 2005 convention.

So here are the details so far.

The name of the convention is Consternation. The location will be the delightful college of New Hall in Cambridge. The dates of Consternation will be August 12 to August 14, 2005. Advance membership can be currently purchased for a mere twenty pounds (this price will remain fixed until August 2004), and onsite accommodation can also be reserved now.

More information will be appearing on the Consternation website at http://www.consternation.org.uk

TGC and the Jinx

In the December editorial, I talked about the current state of the industry and the problems engendered by the front-list phenomena. I also promised that I would discuss the status of TGC's commercial module program and TGC's response to the current RPG marketplace.

Let's deal with the latter first. TGC's commercial arm is, fortunately, an electronic-only publishing activity. This means that we short-circuit the whole distributor and retailer tiers, and our risks are much more manageable as a consequence. However, PDF publishing has its own "front-list" problems. Vendors such as www.rpgnow.com are all but bursting at the seams with new products every week, making it very difficult for existing products to maintain visibility and hence attract new buyers. You have to shout very loud to be heard over the din.

We have considered the logistics of setting up our own e-commerce store, but the numbers don't add up to make it viable for us. Simply put, we would need more products to sell and we would have to sell more copies of them faster. We're not, however, interested in churning out new modules regardless of quality. We are interested in producing high-quality support products that meet the real needs of gamers.

Which brings me neatly round to the status of our "works-in-progress" and the "jinx". I've become very quiet on the progress of all our commercial projects for a simple reason - every time I report good news, something goes wrong with one or other of them. Due to our much higher reliance on volunteers, amateur and semi-professional writers, it is much easier for the real-world to derail or delay our efforts.

So to minimize the risk of triggering the jinx again, I'm only going to indicate their status:

Dun Cru, Aaron Smalley's RM-d20 adventure module sequel to City of Archendurn, has yet to reach a complete first draft.

The Shadow World Master Atlas (d20 Edition) is well underway. Terry Amthor, Robert Defendi, and I have had discussions on how to maintain core concepts of Kulthea such as its distinctive magic system, and Robert is working very hard on implementing these.

The updating of the electronic editions of Essence Companion and Castles & Ruins is still in progress. Joe Mandala is as keen as I am to complete the loop on these two projects, but it is a matter of getting Joe, the files, and the right software and hardware into the same place for long enough to get the job done.

John Rodriguez and Jason Ruvaldt are busy writing up the first draft of Nightfall: The Ivory Kingdoms, a brand-new fantasy world, compatible with both Rolemaster and d20.

Andrew Ferguson is scheduled to write a Rolemaster-only adventure module for us. This module has been inspired by and will support Construct Companion.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.

Farewell (for now ...)

I must return to writing College of Magic (for HARP), so Iíll leave you to enjoy this monthís issue. Our next issue will be published in February 2004, but until then ...

Keep gaming and have fun!
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion