Colin McComb wrote: Big Mac wrote:The Imperial Navy
: You call this the "Elven Imperial Navy", but in earier Spelljammer sources it is called the "Imperial Elven Navy" (if it is even named at all - some authors refer to it without naming it or call it the "Elven Navy" or "Imperial Navy"). SJ fans have debated which is the correct form of the name. (I think someone got a Chinese burn in the scuffle.
) Do you recall anyone telling you to change the wording of this organisation? Or was this something that you were told to include, but not given the name of?
As far as I recall, this was probably my mixup. Some people say "Imperial British Navy", others "British Imperial Navy." I don't know which is the more proper; the navy refers to itself as the Royal Navy, and other sources mix it up. So no, there was no mandate from on high, nor from the side. This was me thinking I wanted to include it, and for anyone seriously injured in the ensuing battle, please remember: I was acting out of ignorance, not malice.
Well, to be fair to you, although I think* you are the only person who said "Elven Imperial Navy", the name "Imperial Elven Navy" wasn't really consistently used by earlier authors, so it must have been very ambiguous.
* = Unless someone with more geek-fu than me can tell me otherwise.
At the moment my main objective is to pick the most logical name for the articles that go up on Spelljammer Wiki
**, but I'm sure your clarification will aid my pitchfork army as we run over to the other side of the SJ fandom and hand out a few Chinese burns. Given that the three words in the name, and the two shortened versions - that drop either "Elven" or "Imperial" - are all in English, they probably represent the Common (or Human) translation of the organisation's name. So a High Elf name might be better than any of the name variants that have been used.
** = Spelljammer Wiki is an encyclopedia of SJ canon, that hopes to provide full citations showing the book and page that every SJ factoid comes from and who wrote it. So far, nobody has gotten around to writing the Colin McComb article.
Colin McComb wrote:
Big Mac wrote:The Elven Homeworld: Various SJ sources speak of homeworlds for races, but (as far as I recall) your reference here is the only reference to an elven homeworld. I've always wanted to go with this (as gospel), build up an Elven crystal sphere around the small throwaway reference you have given us. Other SJ fans dislike the concept of single homeworlds - I believe they see it as potentially conflicting with the canon of individual campaign settings. However, I can't see a better way to explain the Imperial Navy than to make the world you touch on into the centre of an Elven Empire that once dominated the Known Spheres and have an Emperor or Empress. Was there ever any more to this sort of thing?
This one I remember. Backstory: Jeff Grubb, Thomas Reid, and I used to take lunches and kick around the idea of a world of pure elven hegemony. This was a reference to that, playing it out further. I thought the idea of an elven sphere was incredibly cool, but because of the issue of core canon, it didn't go any further. Making decisions like this without the consent of the affected groups would have earned serious bad consequences. Instead, I got to make an allusion that could be interpreted without definitively saying "THIS IS HOW IT IS".
That being said, these are your campaign worlds. Once they left TSR, they were designed for you to play with as you wanted. There's no reason you couldn't take the idea and make it whatever you wanted.
(though again: Elves defending their sphere against beholders and illithid invaders, fleeing across the Known Spheres is a damn cool creation myth)
I think this is definitely an idea that a number of the fans want to pursue. Beyond the Moons has official site status and we could turn a number of unfinished TSR outlines into netbooks and seek approval for Beyond the Moon canonisation. At the moment, I'm gathering facts for the wiki in an attempt to make sure that everyone that wants to work on fanon has a full understanding of where the original canon leaves off. It is a bit of a slow (and sometimes boring) process and I keep getting busy at work, so I've not as much progress as I would like to. I could actually spend less time doing this and more time churning out concepts for fanon, but I have made minor continuity errors in my LARP work in the past, and they bug me to this day. So I would rather see the maze of canon simplified instead of made more confusing. Hopefully, one day soon, I'll be able to get enough of the big picture together to start inferring a ton of new fanon from unrelated canon that just asks to be connected.
But I would like to know more about "a world of pure elven hegemony" (if there is any more). Perhaps it might be more appropriate to make a thread about this in the Spelljammer forum (instead of hijacking your Q&A thread for questions about this implied world/sphere).
One of the things about the creation myths (the generic ones) that you have in the Complete Book of Elves is that they don't really work if you have elves springing up on different worlds...but if you have some sort of shared
root (as your tree-like diagram suggests) then the early elves can have a shared mythology. You can justify a single set of gods and all the nuts and bolts stuff that go with it. And the same sort of thing applies to elven legends (like the story of Jarsali and the Treant). If a GM runs a game that uses more than one planet, I think the only way to deal with those "shared legends" is to invent that world that you spoke about with Jeff Grubb and Thomas Reid.
I suppose that an alternate plane is another way to go for a source of elven origin myths. I think that is what 4e has been trying to do with the Eladrin. But I would much rather lift the various "elven worlds" that you suggest in Chapter 13 of PHBR8 and stick all six
of them into a single crystal sphere. A sphere like that could probably find a way to milk every single
suggestion out of your sourcebook and give each concept a bespoke land, country or place where the setting fits the story like a glove. If that was done, then even stuff that might not be appropriate for Dragonlance elves, Forgotten Realms elves or Thunder Rift elves is going to be totally
appropriate in the context of a bespoke sphere is built entirely around your work. Even things like your Undead Slayer kit can be reverse-engineered to infer a land, continent or moon where the forces of undeath are the main threat to elven life. And the one single linking mechanism could be Celenaress (your grey elf city from page 64) which could, over time, be the capital of a nation, continent, world an entire sphere and then the Known Spheres, themselves.
I think the only thing missing is a "scattering of the elves" myth. Something that shows the elven gods wanting their people to see the entire universe...or somesuch thing. But perhaps that sort of thing could be left a bit vague in order to allow the creation myths of D&Ds various settings to be slowly woven together.
Colin McComb wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
Frustration aside, this is one of my all time favorite "Complete" books and I'm sometimes a bit sad that some of the other racial books don't have all the same sorts of sections that you put in.
Aww, thanks. It was one of the books I really wanted to write, too. When I saw it on the schedule, I campaigned for it and was overjoyed when I got it.
Well, you did a knockout job. But with these books being modular things that expanded on classes, races, and (in the case of things like CGR1) campaign settings, I really think that they should have been treated a little bit more like Monster Manuals. Obviously this was something that couldn't possibly have been known until you lot pioneered the way, but if someone ever does a retro-clone of AD&D, I really hope that they take concepts like the kits and give them the same sort of design focus as monsters get. Because kits are to classes what monster races are to player character races.
Colin McComb wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
I've never really thought of the "office space" thing. But I have seen several small companies appear in the UK, put out a fantastic cool service, expand too quickly and then die from cashflow problems. I suppose once TSR (and then WotC) grew to a certain size it would have a need to gobble up a certain amount of income to sustain its new size.
I suppose that must be what people are flagging up when they say "too many campaign settings". I'm glad that Ghostwalk managed to squeeze under that anti-setting barrier and make it to the shelves.
This is something I never really appreciated until I took part in a number of startups. Consider: In addition to the human resources cost (that is, in addition to salaries-to which I add that everyone always wants more-you also have to pay benefits, provide office space and equipment, AND at a certain number of employees, you need to add more support staff like admin, clerical, and IT), you've got the equipment for all those people, you've got utilities to pay, rent on the building... yeah. TSR reached a point where it had an enormous monthly cost just to break even. It didn't help that the high muckety-mucks were all dramatically overpaid.
True, true. I think that I'm finally seeing the logic of this.
But although I'm coming around to the need for a big company to avoid small sub-product lines, I do have to say that I think that WotC really failed to capitalise on their vast portfolio of settings.
If WotC had made more of an effort to do the same sort of licensing deals they did with Ravenloft, Dragonlance, Diablo and Warcraft, they could actually have pushed out far more settings and sub-settings and done some sort of profit-sharing deal that enabled them to turn more of the third party d20 System market into a licenced D&D campaign setting market.
I think that if they had done that, then they would have created a situation where some other company would assume the risk of something small (like Thunder Rift) and then try to hunt down and hire gurus like yourself to write 3e conversions of the thing they are licensing. That would cost the 3rd party publisher R&D money, but not cost WotC so much. However it would have created a trickle of profits back to WotC. And if WotC had worked on a micro-payment deal, they probably could have got many more settings onto the market (without needing that big office budget). I know that there would have had to have been a guy in an office to look after this, but if it had been done in a similar way to the ESD rollout, it could have been kept as cheap as possible.
And the beauty of it is that if a specific author really loved an out of print setting, they would have spoken about it so much that they (and the setting's cult following) would have generated a lot of the publicity. And even if a 3e Thunder Rift Campaign Setting had been tiny (when compared to Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting...or even Dragonlance Campaign Setting) you would still have a bunch of Thunder Rift Players that would need to buy a WotC PHB.
Maybe I'm still not seeing some stuff (as I've had plenty of people argue that my RPG utopia would not have worked) but as far as I can see, market forces would make all "bad" licenced conversions hit third party companies and make all "great" licenced conversions drive cash towards WotC.
Still, this didn't happen with 3e and WotC are unlikely to confess which settings they definately don't want to bring back for 4e and then farm them out.
Colin McComb wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
We have another author (Allen Varney) who has D&D files that he can no longer easily access. I'm sure that some of this stuff is getting lost every year. (I know there is a related issue of people struggling to open old computer files that were saved by applications that no longer exist.) What a shame. I wish there was some sort of central resource for role playing authors, where they could get their old inaccessible notes given back to them in a more modern format.
There must be plenty of authors who have old unused ideas they could reuse in new RPG products. Or other authors who (if they were not blocked) would be generous enough to put up "cutting room floor" material onto their websites.
Whoa, you're blocking authors now? Man, I've got to watch my language.
Excuse my poor wording. I'm not blocking any authors...and nether is anyone else here. What I meant was that it would be nice if authors could share any old notes they wish to share with gamers...provided that they have not signed into some sort of legal contract that forbids them from discussing their working out.
I know that plenty of authors sign non-disclosure agreements before working on things, but thought that they would expire after the work has been completed.
Colin McComb wrote:Anyway, I've just been digging in my machine, and apparently I transferred lots of my 3.5" stuff to this machine. Now I just need to get a converter for a file type that's, oh, 13 years out of date. I'm not seeing any Thunder Rift in here, though... this is primarily from 1994 and later, so chances are slim that it'll yield any good pickings.
Even if this stuff is mostly notes that are only good for your personal brainstorming, I think that it might be something that could remind you how you came up with particular ideas or something that inspires you to write notes that tell fans to find new ways to use your old books.
Colin McComb wrote: Big Mac wrote:
Hmm. Beyond the Vault of Souls looks like it has the beginings of a "Planescape for Pathfinder" going on.
Yeah, and Todd Stewart has been doing a bangup job writing their planar materials as well. HIGHLY recommended.
I'm almost at the point of wishing I could be an archlich, so that I will have enough time to not only read - but learn
- Pathfinder, every D&D campaign setting ever written, every third party d20 System campaign setting ever written and things like the historical and cultural campaign settings (implied by Legends and Lore and the historical Complete books).