Thursday, July 7, 2011

Domain Game, the Last Stretch

First the good news, I rounded the 2/3rds done mark with the manuscript Tuesday—a highly-satisfying personal benchmark. Probably even more so if you've been anywhere around me in the last two months and had to suffer through my litany of whining about the horror of making it so much like real work (witness the recent post about Escapism).

The “Pendragon D&D” portions of the work were the real game-saver for me as it really gave me a jolt of energy to latch on to a way to bring domain-level play down to the mid-level character range. It didn't hurt that all those sections felt “right” and genuinely fun to my hobbyist gut—a notion only confirmed from the generous, thoughtful feedback from you fine folks out there.

Now the “bad news”—well, at least for me—yesterday evening I also got a heads-up from Ken, one of my former players from the Austin campaign, about Adventurer Conqueror King, a full-court press project that is taking on integrating domain-level play into a complete set of what they are calling a “second wave retro-clone” (think DCC RPG and LotFP here).

Much of it sounds a lot like parallel evolution (with some different mutations from what I read) to the granular, bottom-up domain-level goals of the DG. Big sigh.

The “worse” news is that the project is backed by an extremely talented team, Tavis from the excellent Mule Abides blog and the developer and business kingpin Alex of The Escapist website fame—and that the execution sounds damn good to me to date. I further love the fact that it sounded like some of the ideas grew organically out of real campaign play at Tavis' table. Potentially great stuff. 

All I can say is that I am damn glad that I am DIY hobbyist with zero percent interest in making my fortune and fame in the rpg industry (I already piss that opportunity away in my day job). 

Seriously though, my main goal in this whole project is purely of the “I want to see domain-play finally reach it's promised potential, so I can play it myself” kind. If that can happen with ACK bully for them, I'll play it. If not, hopefully the Domain Game will come through—or maybe fulfill different enough aspects of that overall goal to recapture "High Arnesonism".

If neither comes through, then, hell, I guess it's up to one of you to build this beast.


  1. CK, thank you for leaving out "early Domain Game dropout and slacker" as an identifier. A healthy attitude on your part I wish both projects the best of luck.

    OH and what's going on with the South Texas Mini-Con?

  2. Interesting, personally I'm looking forward to your final incarnation of said beast!

  3. Speaking for myself, I am looking forward to both ACK and the Domain Game.

  4. Me too. :-)

    Don't lose heart ckutalik, I'm sure readers will see strengths and weaknesses in both products. It is quite probable that people will pick through both works for their own games.

  5. Don't lose heart ckutalik, I'm sure readers will see strengths and weaknesses in both products. It is quite probable that people will pick through both works for their own games.

    That's what I would do.

    The reality is that there will never be one system so complete enough in its features that it will move me from the crazy quilt game chassis I already use.

    Which is why I am embracing that and making the whole thing something more like a modular system of drop-in parts than a complete game (though it can, of course, be played with all the pieces).

    Thanks for the encouragement guys too, 'ppreciate it.

  6. Actually that's not quite true, if I ever moved on to running a new game system mostly as written it would most definitely be Small but Vicious Dog.

  7. I'm also looking forward to both. Like you, I have been wanting domain-level play to return to gaming. Pendragon was a great option for that, but I can't get anyone to run or play that. D&D should be an easier sell.

  8. One of the disadvantages of doing a full-court press is that in the rush to the hoop you lose track of all manner of things! I'm a big fan of Hill Cantons, as I think everyone involved in ACKS has been, and ever since I saw that we were headed down a parallel-evolution path I've been meaning to reach out to you about how we might collaborate. Regrettably something that has to be done yesterday has always pushed this out of my mind. I sure think that there is room enough for both of our different takes on the High Arnesonian goals, and people will pick and choose regardless. But it'd be great if we can give gamers two choices that are as awesome as possible by sharing our best ideas, perfecting together the points where we agree, and then consciously diverging wherever we have different takes. I think I have your email, but hit me at if you don't hear from me in the next few days (I am in New Zealand and have spotty Internet access).
    - Tavis

  9. Ugh, Well, CK, I've been very impressed with the breadth and depth and wisdom you have brought to the develpment of The Domain Game, and I've been expecting to make it my go to resource beyond the FFC. I don't see that changing really, but now I guess I'll have an optional back up set of rules. Kinda like using Holmes to back up my OD&D game...

  10. @Tavis
    Thanks for reaching out. I will definitely be dropping you a line to see where and how we can not step (at least too much) on our respective toes.

  11. @DHBoggs

    The funny thing is that it there a reciprocal process going on here. A heavy inspiration point for me runs back to your Arnesonian work and the rest of the crew's discussions on the OD&D and DF forums, something I am going to touch on in the next post.