Tuesday, 15 September 2020

The Fourth Model

There are, I think, three basic models which DIY D&D publishers have divided between themselves. (I am talking about commercial publishers here, not the honourable ones who give things away for free.) 

1) The irregular-but-big model. Occasional megaprojects, basically, often done through kickstarters. See, for instance, Patrick Stuart.
2) The regular-but-smaller model, usually through Patreon. See, for instance, Michael Prescott.
3) The LLC model, meaning the creation of an actual publishing company with, like, a legal personality and stuff. See, for instance, LotFP. 

I wonder if there is a fourth. Let's call it the email newsletter option. 

You will be familiar, I hope, with the Fixed World, a project I have been working on semi-regularly for some years. The elevator pitch for the setting is that it is a world in which the sun is fixed in place, so that, depending on where you are, it will always be winter and night time, or autumn and dusk, or summer and dawn, and so on.

At the heart of the Fixed World idea is that it is really a love letter to paradigmatic D&D. It is about pushing that wide-eyed and slightly naive tone of the 2nd edition Monstrous Manual much further than it was taken back in those days, rooting the tone in 1980s high fantasy but expanding the palette a thousandfold - so that you get su-monsters owning vineyards, neogi heptarchs ruling over populations of puffin-headed orcs, ettercap queendoms, glacier cities filled with grimlocks, islands ruled by night hags, tribespeople who live off the bodies of dead dragons, and so on. 

In other words, it's big and strange and vibrant and weird when taken as a whole, but broken up into very small pieces it can be slotted into just about any 'standard' fantasy setting. 

That's where the newsletter comes in. What if the Fixed World did not come out as a book, but was released piecemeal to newsletter subscribers (for instance, via substack)? What if, say, once a week an adventure site or portion of a hexmap was released by email? And what if what was released was set nominally in the Fixed World, but could just as easily be part of any D&D setting? You could use a vineyard owned by a su-monster as an adventure site in your game, right? Or an abandoned heath-elf tomb? Or the ruin of a were-raven lord's keep? 

It's something that I am thinking about. Who knows if it will come to anything?

11 comments:

  1. Sounds like the approach Wormskin takes - https://necroticgnome.com/products/wormskin-zine

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    1. Or Mazirian's Garden. I guess the zine model would fall under #2. What noisms is proposing sounds like a small, online-only zine, something between the second model and honourable blogging.

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    2. Yeah, I am thinking of it almost as a micro zine that you get in your inbox once a week.

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  2. I think the world at large is just waking up to Substack, and their approach to paid subscription is almost effortless (or so it seems from the front end). A D&D newsletter distributed like that is a great idea. Where do I sign up?

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    1. In about 7 years when I finally get around to it, probably!

      Andrew Sullivan and Matt Taibbi are two of the best journalists around, so both of them being on substack indicates its potential.

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  3. I think my only concern would be that the emails would stack up and Get lost my already embarrassingly filled inbox. I like the idea of regular content but it would be nice to have one document, or easy access to the older entries in archive form. Perhaps I Just don’t understand how du stack works though.

    That said, I’d happily pay for new content from you in whatever form you choose to put it out in. Speaking g of which, I’m excited about the new version of Yoon-Suin. Still my favorite RPG - and most useful - supplement of all time.

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  4. i could get behind this idea!

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    1. If it ever comes to fruition I will post about it.

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  5. Hmm...I always figured the 4th model was my own: irregular AND small scale. I don't give stuff away for free, but I'm not crowdsourcing my projects either.

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