Frank Mentzer, Tim Kask, Jim Ward and Chistopher Clarke form Eldritch Enterprises - Page 5
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  1. #41
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    My thoughts on how the men will do would be the following--and I'm not rating the subjective quality of the work but their ability to meet deadlines, etc.

    Frank Mentzer. He's the best guy I've seen of the lot--he was pretty disciplined with the RPGA and I saw him do a good job creating the short-lived fanzine for Mythus when Gary needed his help.

    Jim Ward. There's no denying that this guy has mixed feelings from some people. I think the whole thing with FFE was not understanding the basics of a quality 3E product (as opposed to writing like it was still 2e). I think he has the writing discipline and he obviously knows how to meet deadlines.

    Tim Kask. No real idea. I think he's got talent but he's more or less been a background figure, and he can have a bit of an acerbic temperament that turns some people off. But he obviously had experience with editing.

    Chris Clark. On the one hand, he worked well with Gary. But on the other hand, I'd be concerned if he's actually going to handle the publishing side of things. A lot of LA stuff got delayed under his watch and the post core books suffered from some very poor production values--such as art that looked pixelated or via a dot matrix printer(!). I can understand if he was undercapitalized but TLG seemed to do a much better job, publishing Gygax stuff he wrote later than manuscripts finished a long time ago. Creatively, he's fine, but I'd be concerned about his publishing pedigree.

  2. #42
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    As long as the company doesn't turn out to be Fast Forward Games 2, then I'll look forward to seeing what they come up with.

    However, the bar set by Frog God Games/Necromancer Games (which caters to Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry fans) is pretty high, so we'll see if they can approach that level of quality.

    I remain skeptical, but intrigued.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by jennanorm View Post
    This past February, I had the pleasure of playing 2 adventures written and run by Frank Mentzer at a Totalcon in Massachusetts. I'm old enough to know when D&D was old school, and there's no one out there more old school (or talented) then he is. His take on gaming is that everyone at the table should be having fun, and the rules should never get in the way of that.
    And this is a fantastic thing to do as a GM.

    As a producer of adventurers for a rules based system that is based on certain assumptions? Putting a 5K gem in a 1st level barbarian's shoe probably isn't going to cut it.

    There are worlds of differences between running an awesome game and providing advice and material that others can use to run an awesome game.

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by MerricB View Post
    Are you thinking of Clark Peterson, Matt?

    Christopher Clark - there are two designers by that name. I suspect the one we're talking about is this one, who co-founded Hekaforge Productions with Gary Gygax and helped publish Lejendary Adventure.
    Ah, Clark Peterson IS who I was thinking of, thanks.

  5. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveMage View Post
    However, the bar set by Frog God Games/Necromancer Games (which caters to Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry fans) is pretty high, so we'll see if they can approach that level of quality.
    From talks with Frank and Tim, I think they will come out with good material; this is an element of the business they know how to do. I can't speak as to Jim Ward or anyone else, but I've talked with Tim and Frank.

    When they started this project a year or so ago, I also think that they (Frank) understood that the market had changed, and that the digital side of it was crucial. However -- at that time -- I don't think they had altogether developed a workable business model yet based on that general knowledge. That's no crime, since Frank and Tim hadn't been involved in RPG publishing for decades, and the market is utterly different for a start-up company.

    Frank called me some months ago (along with calling several other small publishers) to discuss their company. Mainly I think it was to get a sense for whether they were getting into a cutthroat environment or a relatively collegial environment, but he was also interested in getting a sense for how various publishers have approached the old-school market. I don't mean any of that in a bad way - he wasn't trawling for inside information or anything, just picking up a general picture of things in a completely acceptable and polite way.

    So, they aren't approaching this with the idea that they know everything about business already; I think those early discussions about capitalization and sales were the starting-point, and have been revised since.

    One other aspect of the conversation was definitely information-gathering, and that was on the topic of retro-clones, especially Swords & Wizardry since in that case the retro-clone is essentially the only way to get a version of the original rules. Their business plan has always turned upon the idea of being able to reach into more than one game system, but Tim Kask, especially, is writing for 0e, which is what Swords & Wizardry clones. So there is a certain "extra factor" in terms of how they work with Swords & Wizardry.

    To what degree they will end up working with Bill Webb - Frog God Games - Swords & Wizardry isn't yet clear, if there will be any coordination at all beyond the fact that their materials will be compatible with Swords & Wizardry. Most likely, there won't be a direct co-operative connection at the production level, but I think both companies will play up the fact that their 0e/Swords & Wizardry product lines are essentially a single slate of compatible material. That will give them better access to the Swords & Wizardry players as customers, and it will also continue to add to the "street cred" of Swords & Wizardry as a game with strong publisher support. It's good for both sides of the equation, and I think Frank and I both recognized that aspect of the discussion.

    I will be interested to see how generic they try to make the modules; I definitely think that the Frog God Games model -- picking only a couple of systems, and writing 2 versions that are specifically design-tooled for the mechanisms and game-assumptions of those systems -- is the strongest model for quality.

  6. #46
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    Very cool inside peek, Matt, thanks for sharing!

  7. #47
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    Thanks for sharing Mythmere!

    -Havard

  8. #48
    I do hope they do well. This is a hard market for niche products as I well know.

    I myself have wanted to do a patronage project for the "Old School" niche, as we have a freelancer on staff who loves these types of games, but there has never been time.

    Who knows what the future holds.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mythmere1 View Post
    I will be interested to see how generic they try to make the modules; I definitely think that the Frog God Games model -- picking only a couple of systems, and writing 2 versions that are specifically design-tooled for the mechanisms and game-assumptions of those systems -- is the strongest model for quality.
    This would be a smart move. Trying to support too many systems that are fairly close in design is too much extra work for too little return.

    When designing products for an old school DM target market, it's good to remember that the idea of modification, and conversion, are not foreign concepts. As an experienced DM I would certainly rather take a well designed product for a single system and convert it to suit my needs than have the thing cluttered with several sets of mechanics taking up the space of other possible content.

  10. #50
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    Best of luck to Mentzer, Kask, Ward, and Clarke with their new venture!


    Quote Originally Posted by TerraDave View Post
    Did JamesM make like 5 posts on ENWorld!


    A sign of the apocalypse.

    He should love my old school new game AP&Pocalypse . . .

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