Allen Varney here

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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:51 pm

Big Mac wrote:Just to confirm, did Jeff say he couldn't remember anything or not get back to you with an answer either way.

Jeff didn't answer at all.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Chrysalid » Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:43 am

Do you know someone who know Jeff ? (who could ask him directly ?...)
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:11 pm

Chrysalid wrote:Do you know someone who know Jeff ? (who could ask him directly ?...)

The fact Jeff didn't answer my email would indicate to me he doesn't care to answer the question, so I'm not going to push it.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Sun Jun 19, 2011 7:26 pm

Allen Varney wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Just to confirm, did Jeff say he couldn't remember anything or not get back to you with an answer either way.

Jeff didn't answer at all.


Thanks for your help Allen.

(If he has hunted around and turned up a blank, I was going to ask you to thank him for me, but if he didn't get back to you, I guess that would seem weird.)

Allen Varney wrote:
Chrysalid wrote:Do you know someone who know Jeff ? (who could ask him directly ?...)

The fact Jeff didn't answer my email would indicate to me he doesn't care to answer the question, so I'm not going to push it.


It is awesome when professionals have the time to talk to fans but nobody is going to remember every little nerdy detail. This was always a long shot. I suppose this is just one of those things that is lost in time.

I guess the fans will need to make their own version.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Idabrius » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:06 am

Allen, on a totally unrelated note to the rest of this thread, I just wanted to thank you for tweeting my blog entry about uncertainty and unstable truths in roleplaying games; It owes a lot to Paranoia!
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:30 am

Idabrius wrote:Allen, on a totally unrelated note to the rest of this thread, I just wanted to thank you for tweeting my blog entry about uncertainty and unstable truths in roleplaying games; It owes a lot to Paranoia!

That was a delight, Idabrius. For those who haven't seen it: "Roleplaying and Doubt" at the blog "The Signe of the Frothing Mug."
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby rabindranath72 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:07 am

Allen Varney wrote:
Idabrius wrote:Allen, on a totally unrelated note to the rest of this thread, I just wanted to thank you for tweeting my blog entry about uncertainty and unstable truths in roleplaying games; It owes a lot to Paranoia!

That was a delight, Idabrius. For those who haven't seen it: "Roleplaying and Doubt" at the blog "The Signe of the Frothing Mug."

That's a very nice post there; lots of food for thought.
In hindsight, I always introduce uncertainty and unstable truths in my games, in one form or another. It might be the different interpretations of Law between two Lawful characters; it might be about a distant past, and the perceived slights of one race vs. another; it might be about the nature of the gods and how they interact with (demi)humanity (do really gods grant spells to clerics?) etc. I find it always adds depth and verisimilitude to a game.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby RobJN » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:58 am

Nice blog post!

My Mystara project is entirely based on the Uncertainty principle: truths, half-truths, multiple interpretations, alternate explanations... Rather than come up with the One True Reason, I've challenged myself to come up with Other Possible Explanations. And while the next arc will involve settling a number of mysteries of the altered setting, it will (I hope!) raise even more questions.

Still, it's a delicate balance, as some players either want to KNOW, or want there to be Just One Explanation for something, and get frustrated with more uncertainty.

But there's a certain satisfaction as DM of just shrugging my shoulders and telling the players "Well, that's what it seems to be."
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Hugin » Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:24 pm

Idabrius wrote:Allen, on a totally unrelated note to the rest of this thread, I just wanted to thank you for tweeting my blog entry about uncertainty and unstable truths in roleplaying games; It owes a lot to Paranoia!

Nice little article, I quite enjoyed it. Some good food for gaming thought.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Morfie » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:29 am

MODERATOR NOTE (by Big Mac): Moved to this thread from the Talinie Map thread in the Birthright forum.

Mr Varney,

This is not Birthright related as it pre-dates it, but I was wondering if you had considered bringing back the Allen Varney Games imprint? :o :twisted:

Sorry, couldn't resist.. I had just read an old Dragon magazine letter you wrote about this.. :x
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Justinov » Tue May 28, 2013 8:01 pm

Just wanted to say the the Hollow World blood-brethren trilogy was a real delight to play as a GM, so thanks for giving my group that experience. Certainly in my top three of best Mystara adventures.
After that we all had a lookout for your name! Also I played as a solo game PC the "player's secrets of Ariya" for Birthright quite extensively as well. Great experience and ultimately very deadly.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Tue May 28, 2013 9:20 pm

Justinov wrote:Just wanted to say the the Hollow World blood-brethren trilogy was a real delight to play as a GM [...] Also I played as a solo game PC the "player's secrets of Ariya" for Birthright quite extensively as well. Great experience and ultimately very deadly.

Justinov: Thanks much for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the Blood Brethren adventures. The Ariya domain pack was my favorite of the three packs I wrote for Birthright (the other two were Talinie and Binsada). The Ariya city map just about killed the TSR staff cartographers!
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Justinov » Wed May 29, 2013 3:54 pm

Allen Varney wrote:
Justinov wrote:Just wanted to say the the Hollow World blood-brethren trilogy was a real delight to play as a GM [...] Also I played as a solo game PC the "player's secrets of Ariya" for Birthright quite extensively as well. Great experience and ultimately very deadly.

Justinov: Thanks much for your kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the Blood Brethren adventures. The Ariya domain pack was my favorite of the three packs I wrote for Birthright (the other two were Talinie and Binsada). The Ariya city map just about killed the TSR staff cartographers!


Thanks for replying. :D great to hear about your own favourites!
I find that maps are so important for any published material, since you rarely have time to make a city layout yourself. So was it because it had to be fitted into the book on a fairly small scale with a lot of details or did TSR have a dislike for maps because it took time and/or was costly?
So what made Ariya more interesting for you than the other two realms? Did you have a choice of picking an area to write about or were you just handed the job?
Did you ever playtest any material yourself as GM or player? Or did you have other groups to do it for you?

Anyway Ariya was really a realm where you as a lone PC-regent are in major problems from the beginning. All my diplomatic skills and attempts to strengthen the realm before Aftane came rolling. We used between game time for making long diplomatic letters and replies that was great fun. But it was just constant and relentless pressure with internal crisis and external reports of danger put on by my GM. When expensively bought and greased allies (off course since they are not stupid) deserted me when war started it was really gloomy in the end; but I'm proud to say that Ariya went down in glory the final battle. Aftane won barely.....with almost no army to speak of afterwards. All these allies that deserted me clapping their hands and ready to take over after two kingdoms more or less annihilated all their field armies and finances.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,/But I have promises to keep,/And miles to go before I sleep,
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:56 pm

MODERATOR NOTE (by Big Mac): Hi Allen. I found an (off-topic) question to you in a thread about Lucky Rob's Talinie Map and have moved it into this thread. It appears a several posts up-thread.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Wed Jul 17, 2013 6:02 pm

Taking off my moderator hat, I also noticed in the Talinie Map thread that you said to Thorf that you designed maps that were passed to TSR's cartographers:

Allen Varney wrote:
Thorf wrote:regarding map design at TSR, was it a collaborative design with the cartographer? Did you just provide the names, and leave the terrain up to the artists, or did you have some more input into how things came out?

No, designers had to draw detailed maps -- at least I did -- which the in-house cartographers would then render, following the design precisely. The maps I drew for my three Birthright domain packs weren't particularly challenging, with one exception: Ariya, the big two-page center map of the whole giant city, with its three sections and many, many small buidlings. Editor Carrie Bebris told me, "Those mappers were dying, Allen!"


I found Sean K. Reynolds sketch map for his Ghostwalk Campaign Setting back in 2011 and it was really interesting to be able to compare the details on that to the details on the "official map".

Do you still have any of your sketch maps (either for Birthright or any other setting you worked on)? And would you be willing/able to share them, if you do?
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:41 pm

Big Mac wrote:Do you still have any of your sketch maps (either for Birthright or any other setting you worked on)?

Egad, no. Those maps were part of my turnover packages to TSR. They may still exist somewhere in the dustiest reaches of Hasbro's archives.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby night_druid » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:47 pm

Allen Varney wrote:Egad, no. Those maps were part of my turnover packages to TSR. They may still exist somewhere in the dustiest reaches of Hasbro's archives.


Why do I now get a vision of Allen walking out of TSR headquarters muttering, "fools; they don't know what they have." Maybe he needs a leather jacket, a fidora, and a bullwhip... :mrgreen:
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:59 pm

Allen Varney wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Do you still have any of your sketch maps (either for Birthright or any other setting you worked on)?

Egad, no. Those maps were part of my turnover packages to TSR. They may still exist somewhere in the dustiest reaches of Hasbro's archives.


I hope they still exist, but I know that a ton of art got dumped. ;(
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:14 am

My 1990 AD&D Spelljammer adventure, SJA1 Wildspace, is now available in .PDF from the Wizards of the Coast D&D Classics website. I loved writing this module, which set a record that still stands as the single largest dungeon (at least in surface area) TSR ever published. Sure, my asteroid dungeon has only 12 rooms, but each one is at least a mile on a side, and together they measure nearly 100 square miles.

http://www.dndclassics.com/product/1724 ... ldspace-2e

And before you ask -- the entry mentions a whole chapter I had to cut from the manuscript. No, I don't know where that chapter is, though I probably have it archived on some 5 1/4" floppy somewhere.....
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:33 pm

Allen Varney wrote:My 1990 AD&D Spelljammer adventure, SJA1 Wildspace, is now available in .PDF from the Wizards of the Coast D&D Classics website. I loved writing this module, which set a record that still stands as the single largest dungeon (at least in surface area) TSR ever published. Sure, my asteroid dungeon has only 12 rooms, but each one is at least a mile on a side, and together they measure nearly 100 square miles.

http://www.dndclassics.com/product/1724 ... ldspace-2e


Thanks for the heads up, Allen. I've updated the page SJA1 Wildspace on the Book-House on The Piazza.

Allen Varney wrote:And before you ask -- the entry mentions a whole chapter I had to cut from the manuscript. No, I don't know where that chapter is, though I probably have it archived on some 5 1/4" floppy somewhere.....


I remember you talking about that before. Some of us were talking about the possibility of building a retro-computer that could be sent to you and used to recover the data from old disks. :)
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Wed Jul 09, 2014 1:41 pm

Morfie wrote:Mr Varney,

This is not Birthright related as it pre-dates it, but I was wondering if you had considered bringing back the Allen Varney Games imprint? :o :twisted:

Sorry, couldn't resist.. I had just read an old Dragon magazine letter you wrote about this.. :x


I don't know what this means, Morfie, so I'm not sure if your post was serious or a joke, but have you seen Bundle of Holding? That is a games company that sells collections of PDFs. I'm more into dead tree stuff myself, but if you like PDFs, you should bookmark the page and visit it on a regular basis, as the collections that are on sale change over time and you might be able to nab a lot of the PDFs you are trying to buy in one go.
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Allen Varney » Wed Jul 09, 2014 3:00 pm

Don't know where the Morfie comment comes from -- I don't see it upthread in this topic -- but he's making a cheeky allusion to a large-scale prank played on me in 1986-87 or so. At Gen Con that year, Lisa Stevens or somebody made a passing remark in conversation that somone else misheard, or misinterpreted, to mean that I was starting my own company. This rumor spread quickly, aided by a cabal of mischievous friends and associates of mine, probably spurred by (I still suspect) Mike Stackpole. My cranky denials only fanned the flames. It became a running gag, as various people claimed they were the "Allen Varney Games" editor-in-chief, art director, marketing director, IT manager, etc. Total strangers, people who had never heard of me, started asking me about my new company. I suppose I had no reason to be intemperate, but I was generally intemperate about most things back then, so I wrote a formal denial for Roger Moore to publish in the Dragon Magazine letters column.

The prank culminated that October at the ArmadilloCon science fiction convention back in my home town of Austin, Texas. A dozen of my friends secretly printed cute AV Games business cards and shanghaied me to a business presentation. In retrospect it was all pretty wonderful, and now I recall the whole episode fondly. I wonder what happened to those sheets of business cards....
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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Havard » Thu Jul 10, 2014 3:15 pm

Wow, what a curious story. I had never heard any of that before. Some epic practical joke, eh?

Thanks for sharing! :)

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Re: Allen Varney here

Postby Big Mac » Sat Jul 12, 2014 2:20 pm

Allen Varney wrote:Don't know where the Morfie comment comes from -- I don't see it upthread in this topic


The post was not originally in this thread. Morfie posted an off-topic question to you elsewhere. I put my moderator hat on moved it into this thread and posted this moderator note because it went up a few posts from the end (at that time) and I thought that you might miss it. Morfie's actual post is here.

Allen Varney wrote:but he's making a cheeky allusion to a large-scale prank played on me in 1986-87 or so. At Gen Con that year, Lisa Stevens or somebody made a passing remark in conversation that somone else misheard, or misinterpreted, to mean that I was starting my own company. This rumor spread quickly, aided by a cabal of mischievous friends and associates of mine, probably spurred by (I still suspect) Mike Stackpole. My cranky denials only fanned the flames. It became a running gag, as various people claimed they were the "Allen Varney Games" editor-in-chief, art director, marketing director, IT manager, etc. Total strangers, people who had never heard of me, started asking me about my new company. I suppose I had no reason to be intemperate, but I was generally intemperate about most things back then, so I wrote a formal denial for Roger Moore to publish in the Dragon Magazine letters column.

The prank culminated that October at the ArmadilloCon science fiction convention back in my home town of Austin, Texas. A dozen of my friends secretly printed cute AV Games business cards and shanghaied me to a business presentation. In retrospect it was all pretty wonderful, and now I recall the whole episode fondly. I wonder what happened to those sheets of business cards....


That is a really elaborate joke. It seems a lot more work than everyone wearing name badges that say their name is "Jeff Grubb". (I have one person who runs around Facebook telling everyone that I have interns making me Spelljammer stuff. :lol: )

You have done a lot of roleplaying work over the years. Have you ever considered turning the joke on its head and actually making a company with that name?
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