Friday, January 22, 2016

Exciting News from the New TSR - The Publishers of Gygax Magazine

I recently received an email from the new TSR discussing their scheduled lineup of new products and it is a real doozy.

When I heard that a rag tag band of old school gamers and old school game company employees had acquired the trademark to the name TSR, I was a bit skeptical. This skepticism remained even after they announced the production of a new gaming magazine entitled Gygax Magazine. My skepticism was primarily rooted in the fear that the new company, which was clearly going to be an OSR (Old School Renaissance) inspired venture, would err too much on the side of D&D OSR and not be a celebration of the entirety of Old School Roleplaying games. My skepticism soon translated into enthusiasm when I received my first copy of Gygax Magazine. Where I had expected a magazine dedicated to various D&D clones, and would have enjoyed those articles as I am a fan of D&D retroclones, what I received was a magazine that included articles covering a wide variety of games and genre.

It was like reading Dragon Magazine during the period when Dragon was more than just a house organ. Gygax Magazine is more the Dragon that published "Crimefighters" than the magazine that dedicated itself to "all 2nd edition all the time." The magazine continued its strong mission of supporting multiple genres, even as the company has had to negotiate some legal obstacles and the loss of some key partners, but the end of the legal battles (and the loss of Luke an Ernie Gygax as partners) resulted in the company deciding to end future publication of Gygax Magazine.

These recent obstacles had me once again worried about the future of the company, but then I received an email about their projected lineup and my excitement has returned.

This year, TSR plans the release of three lines of products.

The first is a line of adventure modules designed for use with a variety of old school game systems. This line of adventures is called, fittingly for one which is supporting multiple systems, the Pantheon Series.

As you can see from the image, the Pantheon Series will include Fantasy (Multisystem), Science Fiction (Metamorphosis Alpha), Superheroes/WWII (Godlike), and Espionage (Top Secret).  The lineup of authors includes highly regarded designers from the early days of gaming and support for an interesting set of games. The first adventures in the series were originally published in Gygax Magazine, but future entries will be original to the series. I think that this is a bold move by the company and will test how much newer gamers are willing to support the more free wheeling support fostered in the early days of the hobby.

Next on the list of products is a more conservative, but equally anticipated, 5th edition D&D adventure series. The series opens with Trouble at IronGarde Watch by Frank Mentzer and James Carpio. Mentzer was the editor of the classic BECMI edition of Dungeons and Dragons and has a wonderful sense of what makes a great fantasy adventure.

TSR's next offering demonstrates their willingness to fully commit to being an rpg publisher. Code Name: ACRID HERALD is a brand new Espionage role playing game designed by Merle Rasmussen, the designer of the classic first edition of Top Secret for the original TSR. The game is in its early stages, and the title is only an internal playtesting title, but I look forward to seeing what wonders lie in store. When Top Secret was first published, role playing games were young and Espionage wasn't a widely accepted game setting. Modern gamers, and game play styles that are more story oriented, provide a richer environment for Espionage games. The current spy game market has some excellent entries, but there is room for a new player if the game hits the right sweet spots. I'm looking forward to what Rasmussen has in store.

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