Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mongoose Publishing Releasing "Classic Chaosium" Michael Moorcock RPGs in PDF

I am happy to see that a number of publishers are using digital publishing to keep old and out of print games in the marketplace. In the modern market, there is no excuse for not having old products available. All you do is feed a secondary market and feed digital piracy. While digital pirates will still steal products that are made available digitally for sale, more honest purchasers have a way that they can support the games that they love. It allows new players to be introduced to historic games, and it allows people who own physical copies to keep those in more pristine shape and use the digital copies instead.

Mongoose Publishing has long been using the digital distribution stream, and they have now made the classic Chaosium Michael Moorcock inspired Basic Role-Playing games available for purchase. This includes the excellent first edition of Stormbringer by Tunnels and Trolls' own Ken St. Andre.

I know there are some who have mixed feelings about Mongoose Publishing's business practices during the early d20 boom. No one can deny that Mongoose looked at the upcoming releases of other companies and rushed out versions of similar products that were released prior to those of their competitors. This often led to inferior product by Mongoose and diminished sales for the original company. I share these mixed feelings regarding Mongoose and d20.

That said, I have been impressed with Mongoose Publishing in the Post-d20 marketplace. They have done quality editions of Traveller, and adapted Judge Dredd and Hammer's Slammers to that system seemlessly. I am also enjoying their -- slightly overpriced -- new Lone Wolf role playing game.

Regardless of what you think about Mongoose, you might want to consider what Michael Moorcock had to say about Chaosium in Kobold Quarterly #5:

"Or course, Chaosium turned out to be crooks, paying no royalties, ripping me of, behaving in a dodgy way. I tried over the years to get the stuff away from them, but it wasn't until Mongoose made a serious offer to Chaosium, plus an offer to me, that I was able to switch. Mongoose have proven a completely trustworthy firm... Gary [Gygax] told me he wished he'd known the circumstances, since he had other ideas for EC games. I too wish I'd signed with GG, who seemed a pleasant and agreeable guy."

Quite a different picture than one might have imagined. Chaosium is one of the venerable and trusted names in gaming, and most early vitriol regarding "game publisher greed" were aimed at TSR. Those anti-TSR flames were often fanned by fans of Chaosium, so if Moorcock's claims are true it puts the early days of the hobby in a different light.

I don't know the truth of Moorcock's anti-Chaosium claims, but I'll take him at his word with his pro-Mongoose praise. If purchasing the pdfs means the good author gets royalties, then count me in as a customer.

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