TSR The Cult of Abaddon - Release from NuTSR/TheEvilDM


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Stormonu

Legend
Well, WTG did do the layout for free, so I can see where there would be no expectation of text editing would occur. “You get what you pay for” comes to mind, though if it were going through my hands I wouldn’t have let myself get involved in releasing something with such glaring issues. I mean, why make yourself look bad because of someone else’s lack of skill/attention to detail?
 



Sir Brennen

Legend
yes. This exact dance of trying to declare compatibility with D&D without mentioning D&D to avoid a TSR legal team coming to beat down your door is exactly the kind of dancing that the OGL and the d20 license ended back in the day.

Amusingly If they aren't actually using the OGL then the I don't think the word is forbidden. The OGL is a license that works both ways - Wizards agrees to let you use the D&D rules, and in exchange you agree to not use selected terms that they consider unique identity that they want to preserve for themselves. If you go off and try to do the old-fashioned lawyer avoidance dance, then you haven't agreed to anything and are setting up some kind of claim that game rules can't be copyrighted, only expressions of game rules, so your usage is perfectly cromulent.
Aren't most OSR game made without an OGL license though, as they're
  1. not claiming to be compatible with any D&D edition that has an OGL
  2. not using any material from a WotC OGL
So, yeah, there's a little bit of that dance still going on in the OSR community today, as some publishers are making product that should be playable with earlier D&D editions. (Many others are creating completely new games and systems, along with accompanying adventures, to capture the feel of 70's and 80's D&D, but I don't think Cults of Abaddon falls into that category, as it's an adventure, not a new game system.)

That said, Underdark is probably copyrighted by WotC (or TSR before them, and the rights passed onto WotC). So, it doesn't necessarily matter if it's explicitly called out in an OGL as being a verboten term for third party publishers.
 

I've worked as an editor and as a writer. As a writer, I try to be diligent in turning in a polished product, but there's always the chance of me missing something because my brain fills in a word or corrects the spelling for me in my head and not on the page. With gaming materials, I imagine there's the additional task of making sure the mechanics are consistent.

As an editor, I've had to correct the above many a time. I've also had to take articles that contained enough spelling and grammar errors to be unpublishable without my work (the worst was the time in the 90s I had to clean up one with a negative review of my own band!).

I must admit that I am a bit surprised at the thought of an editor being the person to salvage a badly written text. Shouldn't the text be sort of okay at the get go? Sure some cuts here, some suggestions for rewrites there, some grammar fixes. But the responsibilty for the text being of sound structure and passable grammar and spelling must surely rest on the writer?

Or is it normal for writers to turn in bad text to be fixed by editors? Is that industry standard?

I love The Road To Wellville. "My bowels are immaculate!" Bookended by Shadowlands and Legends of the Fall, it certainly is an anomaly.

Definitely the weirdest performance of Anthony Hopkins' career, to be sure
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Aren't most OSR game made without an OGL license though, as they're
  1. not claiming to be compatible with any D&D edition that has an OGL
  2. not using any material from a WotC OGL
So, yeah, there's a little bit of that dance still going on in the OSR community today, as some publishers are making product that should be playable with earlier D&D editions. (Many others are creating completely new games and systems, along with accompanying adventures, to capture the feel of 70's and 80's D&D, but I don't think Cults of Abaddon falls into that category, as it's an adventure, not a new game system.)

That said, Underdark is probably copyrighted by WotC (or TSR before them, and the rights passed onto WotC). So, it doesn't necessarily matter if it's explicitly called out in an OGL as being a verboten term for third party publishers.
OSRIC has an OGL at the back. Personally, I think it's a good idea to use it even for OSR products, because while not 3e or 5e specific, there are a lot of terms and rules in the OGL that also existed in earlier editions.

And IP, like terms such as "Underdark", are off limits whether you use it or not. You need a special license for that from WotC.
 

adamantyr

Adventurer
Basically, WotC could serve a C&D and possibly file an injunction to stop them from even selling the module.

They didn't do it often after 3E's OGL, I recall one module that got blocked because they used shadow dragons which were not in the SRD but in a licensed FR product.
 

adamantyr

Adventurer
Donald Semora of Wizard Tower Games has clarified their involvement...

View attachment 152600

So I have to ask the question... Say you're a layout person, and someone asks you to layout their document for publication. The document they hand you is an editorial train smash that makes you question life itself. Do you push back, strongly suggesting "hey, maybe you should get someone who isn't insane proofread this", or do you just say "f$%# it" and do the layout anyway without any regards of what it actually is you're laying out?

I just spent a little time looking at WTG's example page from their upcoming "The Haunted Ruins". The layout and artwork are well done. The writing is... well it isn't good. It's far better than Abaddon, but that's a low bar.

The biggest issue is the target audience. The sections meant for the GM have phrases like "Appears to be" and "NPC appears to be this". The GM needs definitive statements like "The walls ARE this." and "The NPC IS a heavy-set man".

There are many run-on sentences, and sentences with commas in the wrong place. And I'm not sure why they spend space on giving GM advice. It feels like every OSR publisher thinks they have to tell you how to run a game.

And then you have a sentence like this: "Briar is a hub for merchant loads coming from Moordeep and Drakmar which are port towns, and Dark Home the largest city in Amaria." Okay, first off, loads?! Was the word you were looking for "caravans" or just cross out loads entirely as it's redundant? Also, shoehorning in three cities that don't even come up in the adventure is a little odd. My guess is they plan to sell a campaign setting down the road. Nothing wrong with that, just a jarring place to do an info drop.

I'm probably being over-critical. I just think the key to a good module is good writing and communication. WTG definitely nailed the art and layout, and it would be nice to see the writing brought up to a similar level. Since it comes out on the 10th, I imagine it's too late.
 

thirdkingdom

Adventurer
Publisher
OSRIC has an OGL at the back. Personally, I think it's a good idea to use it even for OSR products, because while not 3e or 5e specific, there are a lot of terms and rules in the OGL that also existed in earlier editions.

And IP, like terms such as "Underdark", are off limits whether you use it or not. You need a special license for that from WotC.

Most OSR products I'm aware of have the OGL as part of the book.
 

And then you have a sentence like this: "Briar is a hub for merchant loads coming from Moordeep and Drakmar which are port towns, and Dark Home the largest city in Amaria."

As I read, it feels like parts of the text were in list form when Vincent gave the module to TSR, and it was hastily converted to paragraphs. That would explain some of the run-on sentences and randomly inserted facts.

Unrelated, I noticed a peculiar bit in the stat blocks provided. An example:

2D4 Kobolds / AC 9, HP 6, Dmg 1-4

Why is the number of kobolds listed as 2D4 but the damage listed as 1-4? This is consistent across multiple stat blocks; damage is just a range. But dice are listed in various other places, including the weird "falling damage" sections, which uses d6s.
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
Most of the time, I'm very critical of my own level of English as it is not my mother tongue and think that I might not have the editing skills to get something to a publishable state.

And then I see this, which will sell probably more copies than I would dream for my own projects:
1646240602495.png

1646240755260.png
 


Stormonu

Legend
Someone (in this thread or another) mentioned what a re-written description of the town would look like - this is my stab at it (probably better as two paragraphs, but I’m not being paid for this…):

”Morrus is a simple village located near the river. Villagers use the river as a source of fresh water and fish. The river passes to the north to the sister village of Midus, whom uses the river for the same purposes. The village of Morrus has smooth, dirt paths winding through it as its main roads. Shade trees and low, decorative bushes are scattered through the village. Overall, the village gives off a cozy, laid-back charm.”
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
Most of the time, I'm very critical of my own level of English as it is not my mother tongue and think that I might not have the editing skills to get something to a publishable state.

And then I see this, which will sell probably more copies than I would dream for my own projects:
View attachment 152671
I know this isn't the main thing wrong here but why are there "scare quotes" around "fresh water"? And that the word Water is capitalized in that last sentence. Do we find out later that there's something wrong with the water? Are there stats for The Water in the back where its revealed that its actually some kind of monster? Is "fresh water" a game term defined elsewhere? (That would at least make some sense since the first sentence already implies that the water is drinkable).
 




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