Friday, May 22, 2009

Blog Launch

Well, all, here we are: the first blog for Elf Lair Games on Blogspot. Some of you may be aware I was doing semi-regular updates on Lulu when they had a blog function, but they killed that functionality, so I've been hem-hawing about doing another. I decided what the heck. It's nice to give people a place they can keep up with the goings-on as we try to build Elf Lair into a real publishing company.

At this point Elf Lair is about 70% me, and 30% Timothy Brannan, who's done a lot of behind-the-scenes work, been an invaluable sounding board, and is doing "free" writing (that is, he's working for copies at this point) for me. He may come on board as an official partner at some point, but we have to work that out, still.

So, what's new? The (very) limited-edition boxed sets of Spellcraft & Swordplay have shipped, save two that I have to send out today. Then I'm going to contact the 3 or 4 holdouts from whom I haven't yet heard, and I may still have a few for sale (I've already gotten four requests, though, so we shall see!) James over at Grognardia gave a wonderful review of the set, and as always I'm grateful to him--he's been a supporter ever since S&S first game out.

The sales of this boxed set are going directly towards setting Elf Lair up as an official business and producing an actual print run (ISBN and all) of Spellcraft & Swordplay, which we hope to see on game store shelves within the year.

On that note, I'd like to address something. We've taken some flak from certain vocal members of the Old School community for not making S&S free like other games such as OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry, and Labyrinth Lord, but I'd like to clarify that S&S is not a retro-clone like those games. It does NOT seek to reproduce an old system. Rather it is heavily inspired by the early days of roleplaying, but it is very much its own game. This is not to say I have anything against the guys producing S&W, OSRIC, or LL--indeed, Dan Proctor is a longtime acquaintence of mine from my freelancing for Eden Studios, and is a stand-up guy all around (and LL is probably my favorite of the retro-clones). S&W and OSRIC are absolutely phenomenal products and I'd heartily recommend them to anyone who enjoys old school gaming.

But what we are looking to do is build Elf Lair into a full-fledged game company, and S&S is our first flagship, which we hope to use as the basis for many products in the future, such as adventure modules, campaign settings (which may or may not be full games unto themselves) and even other genres. I have likened it to OD&D as Troll Lords' Castles & Crusades is to AD&D. So if you lay out C&C, OSRIC, and AD&D on one hand, and S&S, S&W, and OD&D on the other, you get an analagous relationship, with S&S filling the C&C role on the OD&D front. Same feel, very different rules.

I am currently working on a Science Fantasy/Space Opera game that uses the S&S system as its base. Don't want to say too much about that right now as it is in the early stages of construction, but I think fans of S&S will be more than pleased. I think the ideas flowing out are just a great deal of fun.

It won't be OGL, but will be compatible with S&S, this accomplished mostly by simply renaming the same concepts (ability scores, for example, are Strength, Agility, Toughness, Intellect, Willpower, and Presence, all of which have a direct parallel to the OGL abilities).

We had thought to call the S&S System the O.G.R.E. System (Old-school Generic Roleplaying Engine) but I am told that may conflict with Steve Jackson Games, who have a game called OGRE. So we may have to come up with a new acronym.

Thus, we are going to call the system the Old-school Roleplaying Core System (O.R.C.S.).

Well, I guess that's about it for the first blog. I'll try and keep updates here as I have them to post, and welcome! Don't forget to visit our store at and our message boards at


  1. It seems a little silly to me to grouse over producing an old school RPG commercially. Sure, there are tons of great free old school games available, but if something's worth buying, its worth buying. The boxed set of S&S is a great example - if opening that box for the first time is a rush you like to have, you'll never get it from a free PDF. you just won't.

  2. I've been saying for a while that we need a Space opera in the OSR movement for a while now. Sounds great to me.

    Love the system name, BTW>

  3. Makes me wish I still had time to game, let alone still had a gaming group to play with!

  4. Don't worry about it Jason. There are plenty of reasons for and against releasing a core book as a free download, and I wouldn't even bother trying to justify it. My reason for Labyrinth Lord, though, was two-fold. Since it is a retro-clone, it felt like the "right" thing to do. As a hard copy, I sell them at a more typical retail price for people who want to support my efforts. However, an entirely other factor is that these days it's tough to get the word out or get people to check out "yet another fantasy heartbreaker," so offering it as a free download gets more people to look at it. Whether that translates into more sales or not, I can't say for sure but I don't think it has hurt.

    Anyway, I think it's great what you're doing and if I can ever help with anything please let me know!

  5. I second the need for a space opera game based off the ORCS engine. There have been a lot of old school fantasy games, but very few science fiction ones. Some old school blasters, robots and spaceships would go down about as well as a Murphy's after a plate of chips.

  6. Well I can say (and I hope this is cool), but Jason is very excited about the idea of a space opera game. I think it would be great.

  7. Umm, yes please to a Space Opera game... my beloved FGU Space Opera boxed set is my pride and joy, but those rules!?!

    I can't believe I ever played it, much less ran it.

  8. First, I'm glad you decided to go ahead and use blogspot (as I think I nagged you about some while ago), which seems to be the place of choice for the OSR.

    Second, re commercial sales. It seems to me that the obvious difference is that the true retro-clones were not supposed to really be sold so much as to be the legal fiction for writing other new material. Rather unexpectedly, I think, everybody ending up wanting to buy and play those games, but that wasn't the intention. S&S, as has been said over and over, isn't a retro-clone.

    Now, some folks are putting out amazing free things (The Castle of the Mad Archmage, for example), but that doesn't mean that everyone has to or should do.

    Finally, ORCS. I don't know if you saw, but, not that long ago, James M and I were talking about him doing an S&W rewrite of the psionics rules and my doing a setting (a far future Antarctica at the end of human history using psionics as the only magic system). Well, he got distracted by Mega-Dungeon and never finished. I set up a blog for what I was tentively calling "Hypernotus" (homage to Hyberborea), but didn't get that far after the psionics rules petered out.

    All that is said because I think you might consider using some version of the psioncis in ORCS. I never liked psionics in naddtion to magic, but I felt it was a nifty system by itself.

  9. Most definitly; psionics or magic, but never both. They just don't play nicely together.

    As for the Antarctica project...sounds cool!

    As for the sci-fi thing Jason refers to, he's dropped a few idea of it on me and I have to tell you guys, I want like hell to play this game. We need this game.


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