WORMSKIN

3/17/2013

Is this the post-Grognardia era?

Let me preface this by saying that I have no ill-will towards James M or anyone, really, in- or outside the OSR. Ill-will gives me cramps.

Of course, I might feel differently if I had dropped $40+ on a project that may never be published or even fully realized. I understand why many of you would feel burned by what has come to pass. Hell, I'm still disappointed about/waiting to get my hands on Petty Gods.

It's difficult for me to reconcile the "Dwimmermount fiasco" James with the pre-fiasco person who I considered to be the de facto figurehead of the Old School community. Like many of you, I was an avid reader of his blog and I miss those erudite, information-packed posts that appeared so frequently on Grognardia.

Having no more than a few shreds of publicly shared information via Tavis and Autarch, it's not easy to say with any certainty what has actually transpired. Certainly, great sums of money have been misplaced, but I hesitate to jump to any conclusions. It would be easy to assume that some kind of confidence scam has taken place, but my intuition tells me that things are more complex than they appear.

Whatever the truth may be, I hope that the OSR continues to share lots of useful game advice, historical data, and creativity. Though James is apparently gone (for now), there are still a hell of a lot of grognards and creatives worth reading and learning from involved in this community.

17 comments:

  1. THANK YOU. It's nice to here a humane and fair individual say something about this man and the situation; I've been a bit ill reading some of what others have been saying. In any on-man shows anything can happen. Happens all the time, and that's part of life. In the gaming community, as in any, I've lately seen that there are all sorts of people that run the whole gamut of the spectrum of society. I'm glad to read something in perspective.

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  2. Truth be told, many of the "reviews" that Grognardia hosted in the last two years were little more than an analysis of the table of contents for each work.

    The constant repetition of the "I am not a wargamer" line, usually right before he attempts to review a wargame that he has A.) Only seen online, B.) Never Played, or C.) Casually read the rules for, was also much to frequent. We get that you don't know shit about wargames so spare us your random, uninformed thoughts.

    The lack of external links to other blogs also made Grognardia of limited use as a center point for OSR discussion. Tenkar's is much better in this regard.

    Grognardia was fairly pointless long before James stopped posting.

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    1. No one should want to be the "OSR Figurehead", as it never seems to end well, but it always seems to come to an end.

      I'm very happy to be one amongst many others that have a healthy love for RPGs in general and the OSR in particular.

      I'm always looking to expand my list of blogs to read - you can't have enough ideas and feedback, and no one creates in a vacuum (well, at least, no one creates anything of worth in a vacuum IMHO).

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    2. The style of reviews never bothered me much, I guess. I'm not interested in a deep analysis of any product, just a general idea of what it's about. Also, James has a fair number of blog links here:

      http://grognardia.blogspot.com/p/links-of-interest.html

      Not exhaustive, but enough to get one started.

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    3. The fact that Jeff and I are not on that list are illustrative of its usefulness.

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  3. Was there a Grognardia era? That idea seems odd to me. Calling it a blog-driven era of old school gaming, maybe (although even this would miss all the discussion which has been done on forums, or the output of the fanzines), but from where I stand, Grognardia was one blog among many.

    I have no ill will against James - although he owes his customers and collaborators an explanation - but I was bothered by his "popification" when used in any other way than ironically. These sort of things tend to end badly. And they did.

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    1. Well, considering the wealth of subscribers his blog has in comparison to the average OSR blog, I'd say Grognardia was something of a focal point for the community at least. But you're right -- "era" is probably overstating it.

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    2. I have no dog in this fight in general, but I got the impression that Grognardia was followed (and presumably read) by a fair number of folks with main interests outside of older-edition D&D. Same is true for Zak's blog and some others, whether that is one's bag or not. As an easy point of entry for folks outside these echo chambers I think Grognardia did do a lot to let some folks know that there were people interested in working/playing with the older editions.

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    3. I discovered the OSR via Grognardia. I'm sure that I am not alone in this.

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  4. I enjoyed Grognardia quite a bit, although I think it's role as a "flagship" blog will be easily replaced by a variety of other sources. I remember at the time of the Kickstarter thinking "even if this is late like his other projects, I've still gotten enough value from the blog over two years that I don't mind paying him back for it."

    The more serious consequence of the Dwimmermount meltdown is that the growing internal contentiousness of the community over the disappearance of JMal has resulted in some real ugliness that will be hard to patch over. I know that quite a few blogs and posters that have written extremely negative things about Grognardia have seemed petty and vindictive to me (see above!), and this is starting to make me feel uncomfortable with the state of the OSR community and my desire to follow it. Instead of working for common goals, it's degenerating into infighting and grumpiness and ranting.

    I agree that the overall behavior here doesn't suggest a simple scam, but something with unknown aspects that should be more of a cause for sadness than anger. A premeditated scam wouldn't involve doing 80% of the work on the project, releasing it in rough form, and then vanishing. This looks like some kind of crippling psychological crisis, and people should want to learn more about the details before jumping to conclusions. I just hope we don't discover them from a suicide note.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. James did give an explanation, just not in a super-public area.
    His dad came back into his life in a state of dying. It understandably messed him up and he's dealing with it.

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    1. 3 months+ of incomuunicado with your business partners & non payment of freelancers (well BEFORE the trouble with his father) is beyond the pale.

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  6. It's no era.

    There's no recovering from some of his behavior. The submissions to the megadungeon website he let die? Lost forever. The hundreds of hours people spent illustrating Petty Gods, for free? Likely lost forever. Dwimmermount? Well, he'll probably come back at some point and finish that up, but who's really hurting for a completely randomly stocked and generated megadungeon?

    Personally, he was never anything but short, rude, and dismissive of anything I ever did for him. He is, without question, the rudest online blogger I've ever interacted with. Zak, You, Hell, anyone I've ever contacted in this community has been nothing but nice, helpful, and super awesome.

    There's no contentiousness as stated above. There are many people for a long time who think his behavior is inappropriate. Why write a blog post to discuss it? I was too busy producing content. To what end would you trash somebody. I don't bother going around writing and complaining about every single blogger that does rude or irresponsible things. But you steal 50,000$. . .

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  7. Taking the money without having a finished product is problematic. He assumed he could get it done, but he was late. This lateness occurred well before the news leaked out about his father. My feeling is that he was already overwhelmed trying to get this thing done and this just pushed him over the edge. The non-payment of freelancers only makes him look worse. In addition, his lack of communication allows all of this nastiness to metastasize.

    People have an incentive to be nice and not say negative things when someone is producing something of value to a community. However, when someone just takes from the community, then that incentive goes out the window and more negative stories will come out. Given his behavior, I think the concerns are warranted and the feelings that people are expressing are very understandable.

    Personally I regret ever investing in his kickstarter. It was the first one I had ever done and I got nothing from it. Some communications. Some stuff finished, but that's it. And right now, instead of being able to express justifiable anger at someone's actions, there are people who are pointing to his tragic personal situation as an excuse. I agree. He is going through a very difficult time. But he never should have asked for the money if he didn't have the project done. He is at this point because of his own irresponsibility, and I don't pity him for that.

    The community will recover. And something else will happen down the road. Someone will do something that will have around half the people saying, "This is a terrible person," while another group will be saying, "Look at what they are going through." It is in the nature of our gathering. We shouldn't be surprised. However, I will tend to be a bit more careful with my money next time. Perhaps that may be the most painful lesson if Mr. Maliszewski poisons the well allowing for other OSR creators to benefit from kickstarter. My money was always on Raggi ruining it for everyone...wow! Was I wrong there!

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  8. I appreciate your comments G'milk, because I'm done with all the "My parents died too, but I went to work the next day." comments. Great story brah. We should be so lucky that everyone would have the exact same reaction to life events.

    Also, can we skip the "James blog sucked anyway" trolling? It's skeevy.

    Personally, I think there IS a bigger story than what we're seeing. And it's horrible that the death of a family member is now being used against him. My guess is that the heaps of criticism have made him gunshy about ever coming back.

    I know some people are mad about the kickstarter (I too was a backer for a decent sum), but I've backed some going on 2 years now that have yet to deliver. I knew getting into it there were no guarantees.

    In anycase, it's time to let it all go. If Grognardia, Dwimmermount, Petty Gods, etc. aren't coming back, then let's get on with our own projects and let the guy grieve the way he wants. If there's one thing this whole affair proved, it's that the OSR is bigger than one person.

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