Quick post: AFG Progress, Orders Open

AFG is going through its last production phases.

Here’s a little status report:

  • The transcription and playtest of the adventure “The Volcano and the Temple Beneath” is almost done.
  • Several awesome things happened during playtest sessions.
  • Volcano + cefalopods + cannibals + terrorbugs + jökulhaups = WIN
  • The book is now longer than my research thesis on both counts of words and pages. It will probably grow enough to justify perfect binding instead of staple.
  • People are reading the last draft and giving feedback. They like what they read. This is good.
  • I stopped tweaking the price lists because enough research on medieval economics and prices and baking is enough. The price list is now DONE, the Game Police will not wake me up and arrest me tonight because of inadequate price lists.

What’s left?

  • Go maniacally through the printed proof and see if there’s something even slightly off.
  • Ask another GM to playtest the adventure for me.
  • Make sure that the distributor and my FLGS will actually carry it.

Things are real now.

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By the way if you want the Digital release of AFG, inclusive of the current PDF, the final PDF and LaTeX source code for the book with all the future updates for free, email me at tsojcanth+afg AT  gmail using the email linked to your Paypal account; you’ll son receive a 4.50£ Paypal invoice. The digital version also gives you a 4.50£ discount for the Print+Digital bundle (which is expected to cost you 12£+s/h), making it free if you plan to get the hardcopy version anyway.

OSR Conservation Process: New Licence

After listening to authors feedback the OSR Conservation Process licence agreement for new uploads changed.

While the positive feedback is not worth mentioning (but always appreciated), the negative feedback is important because it might highlight problems that need to be fixed. Negative feedback revolves mostly arount two terms of the licence: irrevocability and modification.

Licence irrevocability means that a copyright holder can not unilaterally terminate the licence and take a document offline, making it unavaiable. The reason of the OSR Conservation Process is to stop this kind of loss to happen, without caring if the loss is accidental or deliberate. I believe allowing copyright holders to remove work is counterproductive to the aim of OCP and, well, there are plenty of websites ready to host your free RPGs (like RPGNow!) so authors can vote with their feet.

The modification termn, enabling OCP to change the uploaded documents, is a completely different matter. This clause made uncomfortable a number of authors, and rightly so. It’s been included to allow OCP to transform files from a format to another (allowing creation of ebooks) but it can also mean that in theory OCP could replace all copyright and author notices and entitle them to some “Odo the Bishop of Bayeux”. Or swap all interior illustrations.

Well, that’s not going to happen.

And it’s been countering the OCP growth.

So it’s been dropped. The “core” concept of the conservation process is to keep our gaming culture from vanishing. Automatic ebook support, while fancy, is not “core” and therefore it’s been dropped along the way. Finding out what’s important and what’s not is critical during critical times.

OSR Conservation Process goes live!

Some of you might have noticed that the OSR Conservation Process went finally live a few days ago.

UPDATE: the server hosting the site is running from my desk, using my home connection. The unexpected surge of usage makes it really, really slow when many users download files.

I started rambling about OSR conservation a while ago and, after pondering and trying and procrastinating and writing a dissertation, I finally built a prototype and asked people to try it. The site looks a bit janky, not only because you’re probably reading it on a Windows computer that uses Arial instead of high-browsed Helvetica (yes, I’m a typo freak), but also because I’m a lazy web designer.

The tests went fine, the code has been cleaned and secured and now it’s live, accepting submissions and serving files. In the past 6 days 17 files have been submitted and they’ve been downloaded more than 700 times. Leading the download counts is the never enough praised Miscellaneum of Cinder by Jeff Rients, while the latest addiction is the first issue of Fight On!, the other issues available through the official channel, as always.

There’s plenty of work to be done on the side. I’m working on inappropriate content notifications, user comments and “bookshelves”, and tinkering with crowdsourced tagging. I also badly need to talk with a IP lawyer to better define the poor excuse of a licence agreement that OCP uses at the moment. Feedback is, of course, always welcome.

In the future I’d really like to be able to offer deadtree versions of the files using print-on-demand, without of course turning a profit. To be honest I’d like copyright holders to release their free works with a licence that enabled everybody to print them and sell them, like it happens with software, public domain books and most Creative Commons content: there’s work involved in both writing and manufacturing and delivering books, but I really hope to be able to set up an automatic, markup-free POD integration at some point in the future.

Well, I hope this works. We can afford to lose retroclones and  as much as we could afford to lose the original games.

OSR Conservation Process: an update

A quick update on the OSR Conservation Process:

  1. The software is coming together slowly but surely. Nothing hard, it’s just a bit boring and, as I’m busy with other projects, it gets only a limited quota of my attention. I decided to write a barebones system that does what I think it needs instead of getting a Gallery installation that provides instant gratification but, well, doesn’t do what I need. Slowly but surely.
  2. “Nothing whatsoever” is sadly more or less the amount of attention the whole conservation initiative got from publishers and authors. I wonder if it’s because the site is not there yet, because I have scarce visibility in the OSR blogosphere or because it’s deemed not important by the cool kids.

Slowly but surely. If you build it, they will come. Blah blah blah. :)

OSR Conservation Process: first steps

Thanks to a linkon the OD&D Discussion Board I found, unbelievably, another RPG conservation project: PlaGMaDA.

PlaGMaDA focuses on maps, handouts and “manuscripts and drawings created to communicate a shared imaginative space”.

PlaGMaDa, in addition to be run by a very nice guy (Tim Hutchings is a total dude) that is answering to my nagging questions about the OSRCP and let me test Gallery to see if it’s fit, is also a huge repository for ready-made maps and house rules. Which is great in case you need some stuff for your game.

Anyway, yes, I’m most probably going to use Gallery to host OSRCP: there is just a couple of requirements I need to verify before starting to set up the infrastructure and to nag people to start uploading/licencing material. Unless you have better suggestions, of course (please comment).

OSR Conservation Project

Apparently my proposal for an OSR conservation project found some interested people out there.

People that actually publish stuff and know or are interested to know how to license products properly.

After May 20th (and my last exam this semester) I’ll start working on a permanent, resilient, free, legally sound online library to make available free OSR products forever.

A second stage in the library evolution will be more focused on indexing and tagging the material and make it searchable.

If you have advices on an existing technical solution or component, please comment below. Unless a turnkey solution is already available and deployed somewhere I’ll provide the initial infrastructure.

HOW TO HELP

We need:

  1. legal advice: the SRD is not easily combined with other licenses. We probably need both a license to cover redistribution and some criteria to decide if a products needs the SRD to be distributed or if can be covered by just CC BY-NC-SA or similar. Help from a professional would be extremely helpful. This needs to be done ASAP so that publishers can license products appropriately.
  2. licensed products from publishers: if you make available a free OSR PDF, be sure to send it to us and license it properly. This might mean adding the SRD or other applicable licence, and most probably supplying us with a redistribution license.
  3. awareness: if you have a blog, please spread the word.
  4. advices are always welcome! :)

If you want to contact us, just plop a mail at osrconservation (@) gmail (.) com

On the OSR and its legacy

We all know that the OSR managed, in a really short timespan, to create a huge quantity of gaming material.

A good part of this creative endeavour is at least of “good enough” quality. Which is way better than what got published in the early 2000s for the d20 system, IMVHO.

What I’m concerned about is its great fragility, scarce organization and searchability. The wiki is a first good step addressing the second problem, but we can’t stop there. Because server faults can make documents unreachable forever, like happened to Microlite 20, where a change of maintainer wiped all the available material off the web, except for what’s in the Wayback Machine.

What would be optimal would be a (possibly replicated) OSR archive containing all the gaming material created by the OSR, properly licensed and indexed. While I’m not arguing to actually save all blog entries (too much noise and faff), at least saving all collections, like Kellri’s CDDs, the various retroclones, and similar self-contained materials.

The SRD by itself doesn’t allow to save the published material to make it publicly available and I don’t really know how it would interact with Creative Common licences like CC BY-NC-SA.

The question is: can us, the community, afford to lose the legal access to useful game material without resorting to cloning it? For example Robert Conley’s Blackmarsh is a very good freely available sandbox setting, but some of its parts are Product Identity and therefore it maybe should be “cleaned” before redistribution, if Rob hadn’t cleverly published a stand-alone Blackmarsh SRD. Other authors haven’t been so thoughtful.

We don’t want to lose the OSR legacy and its artefacts to Internet obsolescence. Think of the children… :)