Any doubts to there being an old school tabletop renaissance should have been quashed this week, first with WOTC’s re-release of the DnD back-catalog, and then with the unboxing of the new Gygax Magazine. Disclaimer – I’m an old-school fanatic myself and I’m typing this while waiting in front of my mailbox patiently awaiting the first issue of Gygax magazine like a crushing schoolgirl. Yes, I know its Sunday.
And from what was unveiled during the live unboxing yesterday Gygax magazine truly is old school. Editorial is owned by Tim Kask, the original editor of Dragon magazine, and much of the art (corralled by Jim Wampler) is commissioned from old-school talent like Jeff Dee and Rich Burlew (order of the stick). The magazine is a venture from Luke & Ernie Gygax (Gary Gygax’s sons) – although not all of the Gygax’s are behind this latest use of the Gygax name.
From the glimpses of the online unveiling the magazine has that old school feel. The layout and font are copied from the original Dragon magazine format, and some of the topical areas are carried over. Instead of Dragon’s Leomunds Tiny Hut there is a Leomunds Secure Shelter, for instance. There’s an ecology article (the banshee, possibly a tribute to Susie the Banshee who is their public relations person) and there’s the familiar running comics at the end of the mag: Phil Foglio’s What’s New With Phil and Dixie, Jim Wampler’s Marvin the Mage, and Rich Burlew’s Order of the Stick.
Despite the old school focus there is a lot of new school talent in the first issue. Kobold Quarterly is now defunct, but Wolfgang Baur appears to edit a regular area of the mag called Kobold Cavern. Cory Doctorow has an article focused on bringing in young gamers (DMing for your Toddler) and there’s an article titled DnD Past, Now and Next by Michael Tresca.
Although the team talked about being focused on the hobby both as it was and the community that it is today, I worry about some of the commentary and attitude being off-putting for newer generations. There’s a complete lack of video or electronic gaming focus, and there did seem to be a prevailing attitude that the whole thing is a waste of time (except for virtual tabletops). On one hand it’s incredibly refreshing to get it straight (“Tim don’t do twitter – Tim has a dumb phone”), but time will see if the magazine will really appeal to the newer generations so vital to the hobby’s survival.
Despite some cross promotion shenanigans (Roll20 was announced as the official Gygax Magazine online thingee, promotional product prizes, all of the magazine advertisers brought up during discussion) the group does seem invested in the community. They are not coming out with a new system (saying plenty of that is going around already) but instead want to focus on content. There will be no reviews, or letters to the editors, which they say belong on the web now instead of in a physical magazine. Instead the focus is feature articles and game related content.
Some other key points made during the event:
- Its a quarterly publication
- Digital versions will be made available on Feb 7th
- They are still working on submission guidelines (next 10-12 days)
- Focused on material for current, existing game systems (DnD and all sorts of variants including pathfinder)
- Looks like a new setting and new adventures in that setting
- Will not be focusing on reviews unless it’s timely (reading between the commentary it seemed to be “unless we can get an exclusive”)
- Missing from issue one but promised for later: more focus on board games, historical miniatures, Call of Cthulhu, and Chainmail naval rules
- Only 5000 for the first original print run (hints of this run being collectible)
- If all goes well, issue two will be in your local hobby store
The best part of the live event, though, was the online commentary and live responses:
- Sorry, I cast darkness on Jim & Tim – Ryan Thompson (when the live video dropped)
- Any plans to let JJ Abrams direct? – Eric Reiter
- Sound Interesting So Any Info On The Xbox 720 or PS4? – Elijah Ramos
- Could i get Ernie to throw up a peace sign, for the ladies. – Ollie Haldon
- …There are a plethora of advertisers… – Luke Gygax
+500xp for using the word Plethora – Lloyd Metcalf
Of course he used the word ‘plethora’, he’s a Gygax. – Michael Mornard
- Has Wil Wheaton got his Gygax mag copy yet? – Lloyd Metcalf
I Don’t know what Wil Wheaton’s got in his hands. – Tim Kask
More when I get the actual issue. Grognard was able to attend the live event and has some nice photos. Oh, and you can watch the recorded event and order the magazine here. I think Gary himself would be pleased.