Other Open Gaming Thoughts

Besides the buzz about D&D Next possibly being OGL, there’s other news in game licensing land.

First of all, the GUMSHOE system used by Pelgrane Publishing in many of their games is released under both OGL and Creative Commons! You can download the SRD in Word format there. Very cool.

Second, Numenera has a license and it’s not quite open. One product has been released so far though, Celestial Wisdom. But here’s why this concerns me.

Numenera is an innovative game in a very weird setting. A setting that could benefit a LOT from third party material. It’s going to be intimidating to some people to actually run, because of the weird nature of the setting and adventures.  The more the better, and any bars there limit it somewhat.

In conjunction with that, the Monte Cook brigade are now off on their second Kickstarter for a similary ambitious game called The Strange.  This does not give me a lot of confidence that Numenera is going to see lots of support from Monte Cook Games itself.  Given the worry that they’re just going to be happily Kickstarting one neat new idea after another and then moving to the next without focusing their effort on sustaining each one, does it make sense from any perspective to put limitations on people that do want to?

13th Age has, on the other hand, released under the OGL with their SRD located here on the Pelgrane site. That makes me a little more hopeful about ongoing support.

11 responses to “Other Open Gaming Thoughts

  1. The Strange is, if I recall that correctly, to use the same (or a very similar) game engine. So there could be some metacampaign in the works. Or something. *shrug*

  2. I’m sorry that you are, to use your words, worried about our support of Numenera going forward, so please allow me to put those worries at rest: This month, at Monte Cook Games we came out with a 96-page linked print adventure and a 12-page Lovecraftian Glimmer for Numenera. The Lovecraftian Glimmer is currently the hottest item on DriveThruRPG’s list. We are editing the Numenera bestiary and two additional glimmers, all of which will be out in Nov., Dec. and Jan. And then we have two more print books and two more ebooks planned for early 2014, as well as an entire line of products planned into 2015. We have added three full time employees, and a number of contractors to our business. We just added Numenera miniatures from Reaper Bones. We have the Torment: Tides of Numenera computer game coming out in 2015.

    If that doesn’t sound like supporting a line, then I’m not sure what does.

    I don’t want to come across negatively, but I wish that sometimes when people write things on the internet, they would ask the people at the company itself before they postulate and guess at our intentions in a public forum. I hope in the future you will contact us directly (or even do a bit of research on our website) when you have questions about our intentions for a game line.

    Shanna Germain
    co-owner of Monte Cook Games, lead editor of Numenera and The Strange


    • Well, that is good to know. I’m not some random hater, I bought the Devils Spine last night and am a Tides backer. But I did go to the Web site before writing this, notably http://www.numenera.com/the-product/, which appears to have been without update for some time and mentions no upcoming products (besides Spine). Nothing under Sneak Peeks, etc. or anywhere on the numenera.com site.

      I didn’t go to the lengths of joining the… forum-ish-thing you have there but going to look under the Numenera Product Information forum I see no mention of any of that there either, at least on the first page.

      So you might do yourself a favor and surface that information a little more so that even moderately informed customers don’t have to get a personal reply to know about these…

      • That’s a good suggestion. It’s true that sometimes we get so busy actually creating things that we don’t provide enough information on upcoming products. Despite having brought on a bunch of new staff, we clearly still could use some more people. I’ll add updating our website to our to-do list.

        In truth, I really responded because I just don’t think that people realize how much damage they can do to a small company like ours by publicly speculating on things with a negative slant. If it’s true, that’s one thing. But if it’s not and if even a small number of fans read your post and believe that we won’t be supporting Numenera in the future, then that’s a huge loss for us. That kind of negative-without-fact commentary can break a small company — and then there really wouldn’t be support for anything in the coming years because the business would be closed.

        Which, of course, doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to say it. You totally do. I just wanted to let you know that this kind of speculation always has the potential to damage a company, especially when it’s not backed up by facts.

        Thanks for listening.

        Best, s.

        • Er, the Internet is vast and wide. Depending on every last person on the Internet to behave how you wish they would is somewhat a foolish business choice. If Internet rumours can sink your business, that fragility is not something to be advertising either, is it?

          A business is ultimately responsible for its own communications, and for how it responds to criticisms, whether founded or unfounded. If there is something drawing criticism about your business, you *thank* that critic for the feedback, take care of the parts of the criticism that are founded, and then reap the benefits of running a tight ship. Lecturing critics for being critical, even when done nicely, has never been effective for any business goal, and is a time sink on top of being useless.

        • Well, that aside, I’m interested in a) your plans for ongoing Numenera support besides the items committed in the Kickstarter and b) y’all’s reasoning for a non-open license? I’m not sure what you think your vested interest is in people not making a mobile app or not putting something up for free/”pay what you want” on RPGNow without sending you $50, etc. Again, every restriction seems to hinder support, and you’re using that engine for multiple games even…

          • We actually have a new website (as of today — http://www.montecookgames.com ) and hopefully will be able to keep more up-to-date on upcoming products there, as well as on numenera.com. Putting together the bestiary and running the Kickstarter are, as you can probably imagine, taking up most of our time at the moment!

            I wrote pretty extensively about some of our reasons for the limited license at the link below. There are more reasons, of course — any business choice is complicated — but our ultimate goal is the intersection between fan support and quality control. I know it’s not what other companies do, and that’s okay for us. Much of our success comes from taking creative risks and doing what seems best for us and our fans. I’m sure we fail sometimes, but that’s always our goal 🙂


            All the best, s.

        • These are two of the oddest comments I’ve ever seen from the owner of a successful business (outside of the SFB guy).
          So much…. anger? frustration?
          So strange.

  3. I talked to Charles Ryan about the problems with the license , they said they may revisit it in December, we went and moved on to working with the Fate license for some new stuff.

  4. FYI, there’s also now a hyperlinked 13th Age SRD available at http://www.13thAgeSRD.com.

  5. Pingback: Storming and Cliffhangers – Write, RPG, Tweet - boreders

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