What was the early era of Midgard development like?

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What was the early era of Midgard development like?

Postby Big Mac » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:54 am

I know that Midgard was created as part of something called Open Design, which Kobold Press moved over to doing Kickstarter projects.

I've found a Live Journal page for Open Design and page about Open design on WolfgangBaur.com, so I can kind of see what was happening, but I'd love to know more about "what it was like" back in that era.

For example, it looks like Midgard was a fairly late project and that there were already other projects before that. So that makes me wonder if Wolfgang Baur created a bunch of mini-settings (based on the desires of the patrons) and then used Midgard to pull all the earlier work into a unified whole.

I'm also wondering if there are some Open Design Projects that are specifically not part of Midgard.

I would love to know from backers, or designers, about when they knew that this thing was Midgard and how it evolved.

Was Midgard always there, from the very start (as a background theme) or have some of the early products needed to be retconned a little bit, in order to make them fit better?

How do some of the early Open Design products compare to later Kobold Press revisions? Is there a clear process of evolution to the product line?
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Re: What was the early era of Midgard development like?

Postby thorr-kan » Mon Aug 24, 2015 3:09 am

Migard was Mr. Baur's home campaign world. It was centered around Zobeck at first (I think). The first OD project, Steam & Brass, was set in Zobeck.

Most OD projects are set in Midgard, but the patronage projects made an effort to have some portability. But there were non-Midgard products, too. Off the top of my head:
Shore to Sea, an adventure in Glorian, authorized by Paizo, including Organized Play Rulres.
The Red Eye of Azathoth, a Call of Cthulhu adventure.

ETA: And Dark Deeds in Freeport, courtesy Isuru's memory prompt.
Last edited by thorr-kan on Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What was the early era of Midgard development like?

Postby Isuru » Mon Aug 24, 2015 5:06 am

Dark Deeds in Freeport is also an Open Design project not set in Midgard.
While Freeport could be incorporated into Midgard, this seems like a Freeport publication first and foremost, thus not a Midgard-centric book.
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Re: What was the early era of Midgard development like?

Postby ben_mcfarland » Mon Aug 31, 2015 6:18 am

Early projects used a patronage model-- it shared the 2008 Diana Jones award with Grey Ranks. It was Kickstarter before Kickstarter, but with the added component that we had discussion of posts, provided some input and feedback on elements, even helped brainstorm portions. Wolfgang posted a few design essays, many of which became the kernels of the Kobold Guides to Game Design-- in fact, one of my posts to the essay on mystery design became a sidebar in the first Kobold Guide. He put up polls and we would all vote and stump with each other on various topics. The whole thing was a Master's Class in RPG design with a great community feel. I went from playtesting in the third project to contributing an adventure in the fifth project, to running a later project, but my project was the first to move from Livejournal to the Kobold Quarterly forums, which have now been closed. The Livejournal page still gets an occasional post. The Open Design projects have been called a "guerrilla training camp for RPG designers" by Colin McComb, and I can tell you that the people who run Ondine Publishing, Orbis Games, Purple Duck Games, Rite Publishing, Stormbunny Studios, as well as at least three established freelancers, an editor, one very well-known cartographer, and one Paizo developer all cut their teeth at Open Design. We pushed boundaries on mechanics and encounter design, spun our own monsters when necessary, and pulled from OGL sources when appropriate.

The three mentioned projects were not set in Midgard, but Shore to Sea, and the gazetteer companion, Sunken Empires, were written with Midgard in mind. In fact, Sunken Empires is pretty much a Midgard book, and vril has been used all over the place. Red Eye of Azathoth is a Call of Cthulhu anthology, and set on Earth. It is decidedly not Midgard. Finally, Dark Deeds in Freeport is not Midgard, but it does have suggestions for where to put Freeport in Midgard with regards to the Western Ocean. I think it could go on the coast of Ishadia, too.

The Lost City was a 4E adventure that could be anywhere, but I believe it was intended to be set in the Crescent desert.

Projects were initially meant to be setting neutral, with the idea that Zobeck could drop into any world. Wolfgang would regularly state that Zobeck was a good fit for the River Kingdoms of Golarion. However, the projects built up a dedicated following, and we kept pushing for projects to spread outward from Zobeck; by the 7th or 8th one, Wolfgang realized he had to the Midgard Campaign Setting book.

Patronage projects are fun, in my opinion. You see the most interaction in the first two months of a project, and then patron participation can really drop, as patrons decide to chase other interests. However, I think it's a really good project model, and I have tried getting Wolfgang to do it again. It can be very tough with a much larger audience that Kobold Press projects now attract, so my suggestion was to limit participation to 100 backers. We'll see how it goes.

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Re: What was the early era of Midgard development like?

Postby Big Mac » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:46 pm

thorr-kan wrote:Migard was Mr. Baur's home campaign world. It was centered around Zobeck at first (I think). The first OD project, Steam & Brass, was set in Zobeck.


Interesting. I didn't know that Midgard was Wolfgang Baur's homebrew world. Does this date all the way back to when he was working for WotC, or TSR or earlier than that?

thorr-kan wrote:Most OD projects are set in Midgard, but the patronage projects made an effort to have some portability. But there were non-Midgard products, too. Off the top of my head:
Shore to Sea, an adventure in Glorian, authorized by Paizo, including Organized Play Rulres.
The Red Eye of Azathoth, a Call of Cthulhu adventure.

ETA: And Dark Deeds in Freeport, courtesy Isuru's memory prompt.


...and...

Isuru wrote:Dark Deeds in Freeport is also an Open Design project not set in Midgard.
While Freeport could be incorporated into Midgard, this seems like a Freeport publication first and foremost, thus not a Midgard-centric book.
Blog Announcement: http://www.koboldpress.com/dark-deeds-i ... inder-rpg/
Store: http://koboldpress.com/kpstore/product/ ... inder-rpg/


Have any Midgard fans ever looked into how easy it would be to "reboot" any of the non-Midgard OD projects to relocate them in Midgard? :)

Presumably, a Dark Deeds in Freeport to Midgard conversion would require a Midgard city that could sit in for Freeport. So I guess the initial question would be to ask if Zobeck could stand in for Freeport, in that adventure.

ben_mcfarland wrote:Early projects used a patronage model-- it shared the 2008 Diana Jones award with Grey Ranks. It was Kickstarter before Kickstarter, but with the added component that we had discussion of posts, provided some input and feedback on elements, even helped brainstorm portions. Wolfgang posted a few design essays, many of which became the kernels of the Kobold Guides to Game Design-- in fact, one of my posts to the essay on mystery design became a sidebar in the first Kobold Guide. He put up polls and we would all vote and stump with each other on various topics. The whole thing was a Master's Class in RPG design with a great community feel. I went from playtesting in the third project to contributing an adventure in the fifth project, to running a later project, but my project was the first to move from Livejournal to the Kobold Quarterly forums, which have now been closed. The Livejournal page still gets an occasional post. The Open Design projects have been called a "guerrilla training camp for RPG designers" by Colin McComb, and I can tell you that the people who run Ondine Publishing, Orbis Games, Purple Duck Games, Rite Publishing, Stormbunny Studios, as well as at least three established freelancers, an editor, one very well-known cartographer, and one Paizo developer all cut their teeth at Open Design. We pushed boundaries on mechanics and encounter design, spun our own monsters when necessary, and pulled from OGL sources when appropriate.


It does sound like I missed something there. Kickstarter has a high profile, so I bet that it makes it easier for designers to find a big audience, but they do take a cut out of the money raised for projects.

I've been saying for a while that I wish that Wizards of the Coast had done some sort of internal crowd funding system, to bring out of print D&D worlds back in print...insead of the DDI program that converted Dragon and Dungeon magazines into online web articles. It seems like the Open Design project did exactly that sort of thing and created Midgard from nowhere. WotC could (and should) have been doing this too.

ben_mcfarland wrote:The three mentioned projects were not set in Midgard, but Shore to Sea, and the gazetteer companion, Sunken Empires, were written with Midgard in mind. In fact, Sunken Empires is pretty much a Midgard book, and vril has been used all over the place. Red Eye of Azathoth is a Call of Cthulhu anthology, and set on Earth. It is decidedly not Midgard. Finally, Dark Deeds in Freeport is not Midgard, but it does have suggestions for where to put Freeport in Midgard with regards to the Western Ocean. I think it could go on the coast of Ishadia, too.

The Lost City was a 4E adventure that could be anywhere, but I believe it was intended to be set in the Crescent desert.

Projects were initially meant to be setting neutral, with the idea that Zobeck could drop into any world. Wolfgang would regularly state that Zobeck was a good fit for the River Kingdoms of Golarion. However, the projects built up a dedicated following, and we kept pushing for projects to spread outward from Zobeck; by the 7th or 8th one, Wolfgang realized he had to the Midgard Campaign Setting book.


I'm glad that Zobeck turned into Midgard. I am far more interested in Midgard, as a concept, than Zobeck, as a standalone-concept.

There was a big push to make "generic" content in the 3rd Edition D&D era, but I find that most people start adding in non-generic things, like deities and bespoke laws of nature, that move the content away from being generic and that would need to be removed and replaced with something else.

There is a topic over in the Ghostwalk forum (Ghostwalk and other settings that I think illustrates the problem of using the city of Manifest in another campaign setting, without loosing what makes Ghostwalk special or introducing radical changes to the themes of another setting by transplanting it there. Were there any specific themes in the early Zobeck content that inspired the fans to push for more and more detailed development? Has the city changed radically, or has it just evolved slightly?

ben_mcfarland wrote:Patronage projects are fun, in my opinion. You see the most interaction in the first two months of a project, and then patron participation can really drop, as patrons decide to chase other interests. However, I think it's a really good project model, and I have tried getting Wolfgang to do it again. It can be very tough with a much larger audience that Kobold Press projects now attract, so my suggestion was to limit participation to 100 backers. We'll see how it goes.


I think the other issue with Kickstarter is that it encourages companies to develop big projects that suck in a ton of cash and promise a ton of rewards, where I think that a person wanting to work on a world could just as easily get the cash in for a single book, work exclusively on that book (with fan discussion and playtesting focused on that one book) and then move onto the next book, after that is finished. If more designers were available, I guess a small team could launch two, three or four projects at the same time, but if they didn't have the Kickstarter structure pushing them to make ever bigger projects, they wouldn't get so much money coming in in one go that they were pushed into extending and needing to hire in people who were less familiar with the project.

I have seen Kickstarter where they have slots that are only open to the first 100 people, so I guess you could go down that route, if you want to find a way to try to get back to the Open Design feel with Kickstarter.

Have you considered doing anything similar to an organised play campaign, so that you could make adventures for that, get them playtested at conventions and then collect them up into a Print on Demand book at the end of the year. I wonder if Paetron could fund the cost of creating downloadable freebie adventures that could be used at conventions.
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Re: What was the early era of Midgard development like?

Postby thorr-kan » Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:16 pm

Big Mac wrote:
thorr-kan wrote:Migard was Mr. Baur's home campaign world. It was centered around Zobeck at first (I think). The first OD project, Steam & Brass, was set in Zobeck.


Interesting. I didn't know that Midgard was Wolfgang Baur's homebrew world. Does this date all the way back to when he was working for WotC, or TSR or earlier than that?

Based on commentary from the Open Design LJ, I believe Mr. Baur used Zobeck and Midgard for 3ED.
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Re: What was the early era of Midgard development like?

Postby Angel Tarragon » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:40 am

thorr-kan wrote:
Big Mac wrote:
thorr-kan wrote:Migard was Mr. Baur's home campaign world. It was centered around Zobeck at first (I think). The first OD project, Steam & Brass, was set in Zobeck.


Interesting. I didn't know that Midgard was Wolfgang Baur's homebrew world. Does this date all the way back to when he was working for WotC, or TSR or earlier than that?

Based on commentary from the Open Design LJ, I believe Mr. Baur used Zobeck and Midgard for 3ED.

Indeed. The early issues of Kobold Quarterly as well as a couple of early Midgard books were written for 3E.
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Re: What was the early era of Midgard development like?

Postby ben_mcfarland » Tue Feb 02, 2016 2:32 pm

The 3.5 books were:

1. Steam & Brass
2. Castle Shadowcrag
3. Empire of the Ghouls
4. Tales of Zobeck/Zobeck Gazetteer
5. Six Arabian Nights
6. Halls of the Mountain King/Dwarves of the Ironcrags -- this was also the first conversion to 4E.

After this, we more or less plunged into a Pathfinder/4E split until Journeys into the West, where projects went almost completely with Pathfinder (and 13th Age conversion).

There are two Midgard 4E-only source books, Soldiers of Fortune, which covers mercenary companies, and Defenders of Midgard which had some character-specific elements. Lost City was a 4E only adventure that was written concurrently with Northlands and Tales of the Old Margreve.

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