Q&A with Frank

Quest for the lost city of Empyrea in Frank Mentzer's Aquaria Setting.
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by Angel Tarragon » Tue May 26, 2015 12:36 am

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Tue May 26, 2015 4:06 am

Tonight after dinner we popped out to the local ice cream parlor.
Very small, very quaint, very real; standalone building smaller than a garage.
My preference was Banana Cream Pie ice cream. The usual cone. They make both from scratch.
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by Bouv » Tue May 26, 2015 3:11 pm

Frank, I bought the first Lich Dungeon and I must say, I love it! Very "old school" feel and I like the bit with the money and treasure just disappearing!

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Tue May 26, 2015 3:21 pm

Lich L1 merely sets the stage. The level itself is minimal, very wide open.
A large part of the product is about the Entrance alone, with lots of possible wandering encounters.

L2 continues the theme, and is the only/last level that's relatively easy. ;> Be sure to hit the mall and get some Lich Dungeon souvenirs (with the (c) Logo, including garb, leather goods, and accessories)!

But the big problem I hit was the place itself, designed in the 1970s. Many of the rooms, monsters, traps, contents overall are very dated and now passe. At the time they were all new, but... :/ So this whole project became a tedious grind of rewriting everything, trying to keep that '70s vibe while replacing original bits with things that aren't stale and old-hat nowadays.

This has proved very trying, and a real obstacle. If I'm motivated, I crank out words. When I'm not, it's very hard to write.

But a solution has presented itself. I've opened the project to include my partners at Eldritch Ent., James M. Ward, Tim Kask, and Christopher Clark.
With some brainstorming I'm sure we, as a group, can easily fill in the gaps, replace old hackneyed ideas.
Then I'll give it all the final writeup and off we go.

So the Lich Dungeon engine has been restarted (after a horrible year-long delay caused by my lack of inspiration), and is near the top of the to-do list.

Previews (some sections of levels to come):
Level 3 Teleport Maze
Level 4: Lich Lake (surface)
Level 5: The biggest game of Roulette you've ever seen

F
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Tue May 26, 2015 3:25 pm

My goodness, I see I only have 275 posts at Piazza.

That'll change pretty quickly I think. ;>

Over at DF (dotOrg), my former cyberhome, I'm over 7100 in posts. Eleven years, great ride...

Please remember, DF is a great site. Incredible download area.
But the trolls are running high. The Mods will clean it up, they HAVE to... and you can ignore trolls. ;>

F

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by outlander78 » Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 pm

The deterioration of manners was getting a bit appalling. I'm glad you didn't leave all of the forums, Frank.

Since you are here ... any plans for the release of the next levels of the lich dungeon? Any other products of yours I should be looking to buy?
Please try my old school computer game and let know what you think.

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by RobJN » Tue May 26, 2015 5:57 pm

Maybe you could add (or rather, leave in and re-number) a level of the dungeon as The Dated Nostalgia Level, where passé is the norm, complete with shag carpeting and lava lamps? ;) (puzzles requiring iron rations and 10' poles mandatory)

I don't mean that as any kind of dig, Frank, but know how tedious the grind of re-writing can be. if its not fun, it's not worth doing!


And welcome (back, it's not like you really left!) to the Piazza. Now I don't need to go to Dragonsfoot quite so much.:) (Monkey poo aside, also look out for the giant space hamster droppings. I think the otyugh is on vacation...)
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Tue May 26, 2015 8:05 pm

outlander78 wrote:any plans for the release of the next levels of the lich dungeon? Any other products of yours I should be looking to buy?
I hope to finish Death in Wretched Swamp (a convention game staple for at least 3 years) within a month.

The LD project is still being formed (we meet on Thursdays), but L3 is half done, L4 is outlined. Don't want to commit to a date on either, as yet.
I'm aiming for 4 modules this calendar year.

Once upon a time I cranked out material per deadline. Now I write when I'm inspired. Far less money, lots more freedom and happiness.

F
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by outlander78 » Tue May 26, 2015 8:06 pm

I am looking forward to it.
Please try my old school computer game and let know what you think.

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by Bouv » Wed May 27, 2015 5:31 pm

ExTSR wrote:
outlander78 wrote:any plans for the release of the next levels of the lich dungeon? Any other products of yours I should be looking to buy?
I hope to finish Death in Wretched Swamp (a convention game staple for at least 3 years) within a month.

The LD project is still being formed (we meet on Thursdays), but L3 is half done, L4 is outlined. Don't want to commit to a date on either, as yet.
I'm aiming for 4 modules this calendar year.

Once upon a time I cranked out material per deadline. Now I write when I'm inspired. Far less money, lots more freedom and happiness.

F
Definitely looking forward to it. And that last piece is key...happiness!

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Wed May 27, 2015 6:25 pm

Would like to post chunks of the current Aquaria map (duly marked with my copyright and all that, but better shared than hidden).

As I understand it, I have to upload those somewhere and link; no local Library.
Correct?

And if so, is it feasible with this MB software to add a Library function?

F

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by Bochi » Wed May 27, 2015 6:59 pm

Welcome (back) to the Piazza from me too. Too many knaves and not enough knights in the other place at the moment.

Has Eldritch got any plans to go into 5th Edition? I am enjoying playing it although I can see that WoTC are less inclined to let all and sundry compete with commercial products.

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Wed May 27, 2015 8:21 pm

Bochi wrote:Has Eldritch got any plans to go into 5th Edition?
Not as yet. Big picture:

We've quietly started a project with Troll Lords to do Castles & Crusades game versions of all our fantasy stuff.
I'd like to do the same thing for Swords & Wizardry, Osric, and others, also through other established publishers who have Distribution.

I also get along great with some few WotC people, and most Paizo folks.
So neither 5e nor PF is out of the question for the future.

F
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by Buttmonkey » Wed May 27, 2015 8:45 pm

ExTSR wrote:We've quietly started a project with Troll Lords to do Castles & Crusades game versions of all our fantasy stuff.
I am a happy old schooler!

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by Ashtagon » Wed May 27, 2015 10:06 pm

ExTSR wrote:Would like to post chunks of the current Aquaria map (duly marked with my copyright and all that, but better shared than hidden).

As I understand it, I have to upload those somewhere and link; no local Library.
Correct?

And if so, is it feasible with this MB software to add a Library function?

F
Hi Frank,

While the forum software has the ability to allow uploads, the reality of hosting images internally within the forum system is that it would cause the database to bloat rapidly.

The website hosting account that the forum is based on has unlimited file space available, but strictly limited SQL database sizes. I chose early on to restrict file uploads to the forum to prevent that SQL file size growing too rapidly. Instead, I would recommend using one off the free image hosting services.
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by Angel Tarragon » Thu May 28, 2015 12:13 am

ExTSR wrote:
Bochi wrote:Has Eldritch got any plans to go into 5th Edition?
Not as yet. Big picture:

We've quietly started a project with Troll Lords to do Castles & Crusades game versions of all our fantasy stuff.
I'd like to do the same thing for Swords & Wizardry, Osric, and others, also through other established publishers who have Distribution.

I also get along great with some few WotC people, and most Paizo folks.
So neither 5e nor PF is out of the question for the future.
Awesome to hear. I love me some Pathfinder support. And since I may soon be buying into C&C, I am looking forward to seeing what it has to offer.
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by Le Noir Faineant » Fri May 29, 2015 10:07 am

ExTSR wrote:fwiw...

Things seem to be going sour over at Dragonsfoot.
For a couple of years now, there's no interest in old retired designers or their opinions.
Just the usual hot-headed rules arguments, with occasional barbs thrown at me.

Thus, I expect to transfer the flag to Piazza this Summer, making this my #1 site for Q&A, general notices, and new releases & related info.

More to come. :)

F
Hey, Frank!

Rafe here, the shy kid from RopeCon '11. Very sorry to hear that you left DF - but then, the atmosphere there has been rather toxic for a while. I still hope the guys find a way from completely wrecking their own vessel, though. ...But I would not bet on it, right now. :(

What I would be interested in hearing, right now, is - so, EE has been in business for a couple of years now. Leaving out any numbers, what would you say were the company's biggest achievements, and what were the biggest thresholds to overcome? I am asking as a fellow small press publisher, albeit in a different market (Germany), and a different area of expertise (non-fiction).

Also, I'd like to know if you're still actively developing your world of Aquaria, or if you stopped after, IIRC, the name was "your Tuesday-Night group", ended. Like, if you ever publish it, will the setting be advanced/amplified further from your actual campaign, or is this the project basically closed already, quite simply waiting for a clean-up?

Cheers from Germany,

Rafe

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Fri May 29, 2015 5:15 pm

Very sorry to hear that you left DF - but then, the atmosphere there has been rather toxic for a while. I still hope the guys find a way from completely wrecking their own vessel, though.
When you have Rules for the boards, and Gamers ON the boards, some gamers will seek the borderlands, the less defined areas, just to make trouble. Better I think to have Guidelines (ala my redbox), a clear expression of a desired goal (in this case, 'stop making personal attacks'), and free rein to the moderators to accomplish same by using their considerable experience and judgment with discretion (as opposed to 'with hands tied by rules').

It's a gamer thing. Some gamers, a minority, look for ways to break the game, to maximize their fun at the expense of others. In the game it may be an unexpected attack on (or theft from) your fellow party member, screwing your friend and ally. On the boards, it's trolling, snarkiness, and outright insult. And in the latter, they also scream about their Right to ruin everything... 'free speech' and all.

My point all along was (and still is) this: We (millions of tabletop gamers) have found that when a party cooperates, when players agree that cutthroat backbiting 'murder hobo' 'screw-your-friends-and-Win' style is not conducive to fun... then the game, the campaign, the whole social experience is maximized. Conflict and Player Personalities are innate to the medium, and provide valuable contributions, but are best mitigated (not eliminated, mind you) in pursuit of the broader goal: an enjoyable social pastime. Humans are capable of learning. We've learned what works best in RPGs, and what doesn't work so well.

Seems innocuous enough, right? But the haters & trolls claim they're being FORCED to cooperate, that the game isn't Fun if they can't make it UnFun for others, and that the game was designed specifically to facilitate this Anti-Teamwork. (True enough that if you choose to sit at my table, you will be 'forced' to get along with others. Deal with it, or don't play at my table. Very simple. :) )

(One part of the above is fascinating. In political discussions, I've found that some folks immediately extrapolate a worst-case, and then complain about that extreme. This mind-set displays an immediate focus on, and obsession with, the negative. Positive suggestions rarely come from such folks.)

I don't care what people claim about the roots of RPGs, and the 'intentions' within those creations. Given the limited existence of this medium, players didn't have any experience at roleplaying in 1974 (and darned few for years afterward). We've learned a lot and come a long way. Some insist on enshrining the 1974 'state of the art', and alleging that cutthroat play was intended from the beginning, and that no other way to play is 'right'. That makes as much sense as renouncing computers. We make progress, and we learn.

I have no great philosophical problem with PvP (player vs player) styles of gaming. I just think they burn out quicker, and piss people off. (I must also note that a preference for this may come from computer game habits, where you're all alone against the universe. Maybe the trolls are just ignorant, with bad habits, and don't know any better.)

We have four decades of experience showing that cooperation pays, in both enjoyment and character advancement. For most, it seems to be the preferred option. It is not mandatory, and lots of styles of play are possible.

Personally what 'hits my buttons' the hardest is when someone claims an adversarial stance is The True Way, or even the Best Way, to play RPGs.
The underlying precepts of that canard lead directly to this:

I refuse to believe that Fun is a zero-sum phenomenon -- that if You have Fun, it must be at someone else's expense.

Yes, that's the way boardgames and cardgames are set up... because RPGS hadn't been invented. Yet after 40 years, some folks still reject teamwork.

As long as the trolls have the Freedom to piss in the pool, I have the Freedom to refuse to swim in it.
Last edited by ExTSR on Fri May 29, 2015 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Fri May 29, 2015 5:18 pm

Le Noir Faineant wrote:Rafe here, the shy kid from RopeCon '11.
Heya. I remember you well. And in the future we're gonna talk about translations (tho I know you're a pro and presumably expensive). ;>

I excerpted your next comment for the ramble above. So continuing...
EE has been in business for a couple of years now. Leaving out any numbers, what would you say were the company's biggest achievements, and what were the biggest thresholds to overcome? I am asking as a fellow small press publisher, albeit in a different market (Germany), and a different area of expertise (non-fiction).
We had some special events that won't apply to you. In our very first year, both Jim and I had heart attacks. That can slow things down. :/

Our biggest challenge, tho, has always been ourselves. The four of us have walked very different roads to get to where, and who, we are. We all have <ahem> large egos, for we've all had our successes. We're accustomed to sinking or swimming all on our own, and the transition of teamwork has been challenging, especially since 3/4 of us are over 60 years of age. We've had to analyze our own personal traits and assets, and create methodologies of production to maximize the use of those assets while trying not to insult each other.
Also, I'd like to know if you're still actively developing your world of Aquaria, or if you stopped after, IIRC, the name was "your Tuesday-Night group", ended.
My Tuesday night game started in May 1992, and except for breaks (holidays and such) has run weekly for 23 years now. It's still going, but definitely in the final phase. Unlike some campaigns, this one has an 'End', and they're right on the verge of it, a preset chronological Event. (fwiw, there's some discussion elsewhere on these boards between two of my regular players, one current & one former.)

The campaign began in 1976-77, and many have expressed interest just because of its longevity. The other factor is who I've become: a former author with lots of friends all over the industry (many of them bossing companies). And I've never run a crowdfunder. So add all that up, and the signs point clearly to a major Aquaria KS in the future. When that happens I'll call everybody I know in the biz, and offer them a piece of it.

No timeline for this yet, far too premature.

F
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Who's the GM, anyway?

Post by ExTSR » Fri May 29, 2015 7:55 pm

One (okay, another) of the screwiest statements from the previous argument(s)...
At end of the board, a scurrilous Troll wrote:As a DM, it's not my job to decide how treasure and treasure experience are handled by players. If they want to shoot one person up to 10th level in theory, then OK.
This is squarely in line with a lot of 'new school' philosophy. Make Players the bosses, because Game Masters [fill in the canard]:
...indulge their whims to the detriment of all the players
...can't be trusted to have Discretion
...can't be trusted period.

As DM I hand out the loot and items but the party decides how to split them up. (google "Tontine", the Insurance part not the Banking part.)

But I, and only I, give out the XP. imnsho giving that to the players is like asking them "okay, who's got the initiative?" or "Did your attack hit?" and removing all the dice rolls, since the players are in charge, not the GM.

Sorry, not in my game.
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Re: Who's the GM, anyway?

Post by Havard » Fri May 29, 2015 8:16 pm

ExTSR wrote:One (okay, another) of the screwiest statements from the previous argument(s)...
At end of the board, a scurrilous Troll wrote:As a DM, it's not my job to decide how treasure and treasure experience are handled by players. If they want to shoot one person up to 10th level in theory, then OK.
This is squarely in line with a lot of 'new school' philosophy. Make Players the bosses, because Game Masters [fill in the canard]:
...indulge their whims to the detriment of all the players
...can't be trusted to have Discretion
...can't be trusted period.

As DM I hand out the loot and items but the party decides how to split them up. (google "Tontine", the Insurance part not the Banking part.)

But I, and only I, give out the XP. imnsho giving that to the players is like asking them "okay, who's got the initiative?" or "Did your attack hit?" and removing all the dice rolls, since the players are in charge, not the GM.

Sorry, not in my game.
Actually the biggest problem I see with this concept is that it has a great potential for abuse. Pool all the XP to one PC and then use the other characters as throw-aways.

However, I also find that how I rule things depends alot on who is in my game. With my core group, we are all friends from childhood. Most of the players have 20+ years of playing and DMing their own campaigns. We trust eachother and noone is interested in breaking the game. I would be more open to experimenting with alternate rules in such a group than if I play with strangers at conventions or online. How about you Frank? Do you find that you run things a bit differently when you play with people you know very well as opposed to games at cons and such?

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Re: Who's the GM, anyway?

Post by ExTSR » Fri May 29, 2015 9:30 pm

Havard wrote:Do you find that you run things a bit differently when you play with people you know very well as opposed to games at cons and such?
Only in the sense of the in-jokes, really, the extra things that arise when you get to know one another.
The general style is the same, when I'm DM.

F

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Re: Who's the GM, anyway?

Post by Bochi » Fri May 29, 2015 11:59 pm

ExTSR wrote:As DM I hand out the loot and items but the party decides how to split them up. (google "Tontine", the Insurance part not the Banking part.)

But I, and only I, give out the XP. imnsho giving that to the players is like asking them "okay, who's got the initiative?" or "Did your attack hit?" and removing all the dice rolls, since the players are in charge, not the GM.

Sorry, not in my game.
I agree with you, and there is a subtle difference between the players' right to divide the treasure up as they wish, and the DM's right to award xp as he thinks fit. This also takes care, to an extent, of issues surrounding thieves being thieves: it has never been a problem in my games because a selfish thief doesn't get any great experience benefit, and past a certain level, everybody's far more interested in the experience than money. But as long as the DM keeps control of the xp, he can prevent any conflicts from becoming acute.

I also detest the meta-gaming which is implied by players doing stuff because they are counting up experience points, which don't exist within the game world, only outside it. I much prefer playing with rules that minimise this, which is why I also don't much care for the min-max character builds of games like Shadowrun or 3e/4e. I suppose in the modern world people do map out their careers in great detail, getting the right qualifications and so on: but this doesn't seem to me to be the stuff of exciting fantasy stories.

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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Sat May 30, 2015 4:06 pm

NorTex
http://ntrpgcon.com/

I'll be at the North Texas RPG Convention next week. I go every year, missed only one in 2010 (when my father died). I even made it to the one right after my heart attack in 2012; they got me a nice scooter so I could get around.

However, pragmatically speaking, if you're not already registered you shouldn't go. They maxed out on size for the facility, closed Reg a couple of months ago, and are discussing what to do next year.

NorTex (as I call it) is notable for several things, but one stands out like a lighthouse in fog: One Guest Star for each 10 attendees (roughly). That's far beyond 'unusual, and very expensive for the con organizers. But that's what they want, so they make it happen. (Obviously it's the mother lode for many Autograph collectors.)

At most cons I run 2 games a day. At NorTex, only 1, because there are so many outstanding games, and so many Guests. At most cons, as Guests we are accustomed to running games and talking and signing and such. This is one of the few where they actually want us to Play things for a change... a very refreshing change.

Hope to cya there next year.
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Re: Q&A with Frank

Post by ExTSR » Sat May 30, 2015 4:18 pm

Over at Dragonsfoot, changes have been made, and the mods will have more discretion. The vast majority of members are upset at the troublemakers, and should help make things better.

One quick comparison...

At the upcoming NorTex con, imagine someone sitting down at my gaming table, chatting a bit, and then announcing "Frank, your version of the game ruined it. 1e was the pinnacle; BECMI is suck."

I think the troll would get thrown out of the convention.
Yet this happened at DF, and happens on a regular basis... apparently in the name of "Free Exchange of Ideas."

I see the usual excuses posted at DF. "The whole internet is like that! You can't fight change, just accept it..."
Disagree strongly. That's precisely analogous to saying "There's war in Syria, so carry a gun on the streets of Manchester!"

The great big wide world of the internet does NOT determine the nature of every little private corner of it.
We have the ability to rise above the crap, if we try.
Please try.
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