Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When Looking Back, Make Sure Not to Stumble

With less than a week and a half remaining in 2009, I’ve been in a naturally retrospective mood as of late. I’ve reread some of my earliest posts on this blog and have reexamined the resolutions I undertook at this time last year. A week of looking back on those resolutions and gauging my success, as well as anticipating next year, will commence after Christmas.

In rereading my earliest posts, I’m reminded of why this blog came into being and what I hoped to accomplish with it. At the start of this blog, I had experienced a very profound change in my life and I was looking to redirect my energies in a new direction. At the same time that I was casting about for something new to do, I discovered the burgeoning return to the origins of this hobby of ours. These two facets of my life synched together nicely, resulting in "The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope."

What I hoped to accomplish with this blog was straightforward. I wanted to make a modicum of support to the old school movement by contributing a few ideas to the many that were already being tossed around. That was my primary hope for the SoTPR. Secondly, I wanted to document my return to the hobby’s origins by way of the creation of a classic megadungeon. That complex would be my long-overdue gaming dissertation, allowing me to enter the ranks of the old masters with full credentials. And while I never expected anyone but a small group of future players to experience that dungeon firsthand, I impossibly dreamed that perhaps someday whatever creation I came up with would have some small recognition in the hobby at large.

I’m the first to be absolutely surprised when I achieve what I set out to do. Yet, it seems that I’ve done exactly that.

Despite a tendency towards self-deprecation, I can’t deny that I have made a contribution to this “thing of our” with this blog, my articles for both Fight On! and Knockspell, the release of Stonehell Dungeon, and the upcoming Dungeon Alphabet. Perhaps not as big of an impact as some, for there are many other creative souls involved with the OSR whose works renders mine a poor shadow, but one that I hope encourages others to throw their ideas into the communal pool as well.

While it has yet to be finished, Stonehell is developing into my final journeyman’s design project. Hopefully, I will be celebrating its completion at this time next year. And while I dare not image that Stonehell Dungeon has (or ever will have) the name recognition of Castle Greyhawk or Undermountain or Tegel Manor, it does have some product identity in this tiny demographic of ours.

Speaking of small niche demographics, over this past weekend, Stonehell Dungeon: Down Night-Haunted Halls broke the 150 copies sold mark, officially surpassing even my most grandiose dreams of how the book would be received. While 150 copies are only about 10% of a “real” gaming book’s print run, I’m ecstatic that so many of you have had faith in me (or your contemporaries’ reviews) to plunk down cash for your own copies. I think this says more about the integrity of the OSR community than it necessary says about the quality of the book. Nevertheless, I humbly thank you. I will do my best to not disappoint you with the sequel.

After looking back on the blog and my accomplishments since its inception, I’ve come to realization that I can stop now. Having done what I set out to do, I can cease writing these missive and concentrate on more sizable (and perhaps profitable) projects for the hobby without guilt or a lack of closure.

I won’t, however. I would miss having an instantaneous forum for sharing my more oddball ideas and the semi-regular connections this site allows me to maintain with the online role-playing community. I will maintain my lack of a rigid schedule for posting in the future though, as I am finding that certain larger gaming-related projects do occupy my a bigger percentage of my time than they did at the start of this blog. Additionally, I’m experiencing the irrational “publish or perish” fear that many beginning writers go through. I think that if I’m not working on my next supplement, I risk losing any momentum I’ve built in the past year.

This is likely to be the only post for the week here. I’m in the final stages of a long-promised article for Knockspell and I’m laying groundwork for another unnamed project. I’d like to spend the holidays doing as little role-playing writing as possible, and concentrate on the opportunity to play during the week ahead. So let me wish a Merry Christmas to those of you celebrating this week and a “I’ll happily see the rest of you next week” to everyone else.


Rusty said...

Happy playing!

I have been working on my review for Stonehell, but it is not yet complete. I will say that it is--by far--the best RPG purchase I have made this year.

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the Dungeon Alphabet.

Merry Christmas to you.

David The Archmage said...

Pretty much what the Rusty Battle Axe said. I'm so glad I went ahead and got the print version of Stonehell!

Merry Christmas!

Timeshadows said...

Have a good time and get back to us when inspiration next strikes. :D

James Maliszewski said...

150 copies sold is nothing to sneeze at. I think you'd be surprised how few copies many "real" gaming companies publish of some of their products.

The Grand Wazoo said...

My group is back in the halls of stone hell and are all thrilled with a printed copy to take some of the blame when party members perish!

Merry Christmass and have fun with the snow on the island.

AndreasDavour said...

Yeah, like James said 150 is not bad at all. Soon I'll buy a copy of my own.

Happy holidays and thanks for this year, Michael!

James said...

I'm looking forward to the Dungeon Alphabet, as well as other, future releases. Merry Christmas.

Daddy Grognard said...

Very glad to hear that you're not going to stop posting - I enjoy your blog and have followed the inception, development and publication of Stonehell with great interest as publication is something that I and my good buddy Old 4 Eyes are thinking about doing ourselves. Your experience is showing us the way. Any guidance as to what mistakes not to make would come in handy.

The sales figures for Stonehell are really inspiring - not just copies sold but DMs getting their hands on a quality product and parties having a great time. I've not purchased yet but that's only for budgetary reasons - 2010 may well see both products heading my way. My player (Junior Grognard) will have to recruit some little buddies first though. My only concern is that Stonehell will be so good that I'll use it as an excuse not to work on my homebrew stuff - which I really need to do.

Anyway, a very Merry Christmas!


Flynn said...

I am very pleased with my purchase of Stonehell, and I will be posting a review of it within the next day or two. It's an amazing book, and makes me want to start a second campaign just to run it. Yeah, it's that good.

As a small print publisher myself, I have not had any of my books reach the 150 copies mark. I consider a book a success if it hits 40, and I've only had one so far that topped 100, so you have accomplished with Stonehell what I have been unable to do. Amazing work, there!

Enjoy your Holiday, and then it's back to the lower levels of Stonehell for you, my friend!

Keep Up The Good Work,

Flynn said...

My review is now up on my website:
Review: Stonehell Dungeon.

I also posted the contents of that review over on Lulu, as a review of the book. I don't know if it will help, but I know that it can't hurt.

With Regards,

Matt Finch said...

150 copies is a tenth of what USED to be a "real" print run. They are running at 500 for a "minimum real" print run these days, from what I understand.