23 December 2010

Knockspell abandoning OGL and going over to AD&D

Knockspell seems to be undergoing some interesting changes:
Knockspell Magazine: Will be switching to a non-OGL format and re-focusing more toward AD&D than OD&D. Issue #5 will be a transition, since most of what I have for that issue is still OD&D. I'm doing the layout myself, so it will be rougher in appearance than before. Doing the layout myself is also making it go more slowly.
The above announcement by Mythmere can be found over at the S&W fora here. Later in the same thread, Mythmere elaborates on his plans for KS in this post:
A bit more information is obviously in order on the Knockspell changes:

The main reasons for a shift to AD&D is that Fight On! is already doing a great job on OD&D. Not exactly how I would do it (witness different editorial styles in the magazines), but still excellent. The most difficult task for Knockspell has been assembling enough material, largely (I think) because Fight On! draws more of it. That's especially true after the long gap between issues.

Swords & Wizardry will still have a strong presence in the magazine, but by drawing in AD&D as well, there is a better potential to bring in general articles about gaming as well as articles that are purely resource. This will make it easier for me to put together the magazine.

The other option, which would be to make Knockspell purely for S&W, would make it effectively into a "house organ" magazine, which is what killed the quality of White Dwarf. In the long run, I think that would be devastating for the magazine's reach and quality, plus making it more difficult rather than less difficult for me to bring in a full magazine's worth of articles.

Based on the comments here, I might back water on some of those proposed changes. I can still retreat from the plan at this point, since Issue#5 is effectively all S&W. However, I don't want it to become just a "house" magazine, and it definitely needs to use up less of my energy or I'd be doing nothing but Knockspell all the time. That's what collapsed me on it in the first place.

As a past -- and, hopefully, future -- contributor to Knockspell, my own work will continue to focus on S&W. I've also contributed to Fight On!, which will remain an OD&D-focused publication (although FO publishes articles for a wide range of older games). I'm a fan of 0e/Basic D&D these days, not so much AD&D, so I'm not sure what to make of the new direction that Matt/Mythmere is charting for Knockspell. It looks like both S&W and AD&D will be supported, which is great -- and, of course, it is a snap to use AD&D material with S&W (or the other retro-clones), and vice versa. So perhaps this is no big deal.

In any case, I look forward to checking out the next issue of Knockspell, and wish the best for Mythmere Games.

(Thanks to ChicagoWiz for bringing this news to my attention in this post.)

UPDATE (9:57 EST, December 23)!

It seems that Mythmere has reconsidered abandoning the OGL for Knockspell:
Based on the feedback from this thread, I think I'm going to keep Knockspell as an OGL publication. The various comments make sense, and I suppose the benefit of getting more authors from calling it "AD&D" wouldn't offset the downside of having open game content.

As to the increased focus on (what will now be called OSRIC and/or "First Edition" because of the above), that's still in play with the understanding that it DOESN'T mean S&W won't be in there, it means that I will include material in an OSRIC format if that's what the author wrote or wants, rather than treating S&W as if it's a universal format. A lesson of time is that people for the most part simply don't accept the idea that any sort of format is universal. Or at least, if they do, there is still a much stronger preference than I had thought for having one's particular set of stats used.

If I were to switch Knockspell to a purely S&W format, I'm certain that it would lead to a smaller page count, and when you're selling on lulu you get a worse and worse value as page count decreases. Most of the built-in cost is from their setup fee, not from adding additional pages. I could do a smaller magazine if I were willing to print a digest-sized little 'zine and mail it out myself, but I never handle money or commit to shipping things because those are both areas where my disorders can cause me to drop the ball in a big, big way.


  1. I'm hopeful he'll explain the reasoning to moving away from OGL content. That seems to be at odds with Bill's promise of keeping S&W open. I'd like to know more before commenting. (Unusual, I know... LOL )

  2. He's updated his comments on non-OGL and AD&D only.

  3. Another reason why I moved over to Labyrinth Lord.

  4. @ ChicagoWiz: thanks for the update!

    @ Jim: I'm not sure why these changes to Knockspell recommend moving over to Labyrinth Lord. (To be clear, though, I quite like LL!)


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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).