Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Heroic Legendarium available for purchase

Finally, just over 20 months after it was initially announced, The Heroic Legendarium is finally available for purchase from DriveThruRPG (pdf and eventually print as well, once I've approved the proof copy). 

This was an extended labor mostly of love, but also of frustration as I realized I utterly lacked the skills and resources to turn my Google Doc text document into a publishable book. Struggles with that ate up more than a year, before I ultimately decided to just release the book as-is and let its contents speak for themselves. Which means you'll get no art, no fancy graphics, and no advanced pdf features like bookmarks and hyperlinks. But what you will get is 154 pages of solid, gameable 1E content, almost all of it new and original (a few spells, monsters, and magic items are adapted from 1E-era sources but have been revised and modified as presented here, and in any event make up no more than about 5% of the total content). 

If you've seen the earlier (non-OGL-compliant) version of this book, copies of which I know are still being privately traded even though I stopped distributing it several years ago, you're already familiar with about two-thirds of the contents, but even so enough new content has been added to hopefully make it worth taking another look, including:

  • Three new PC races (note: the preview at DriveThruRPG includes these pages)
  • The savant class, including 68 new spells
  • Complete system for territory development and management by PCs
  • 32 new magic items
  • 49 new monsters
  • New essays on tips and tricks for players and GMs, dungeon design, and extra-planar adventuring
  • Assorted other minor additions and revisions
The page count of the new version is increased by 42 pages over the old one, but that number undersells the amount of new material because much of the earlier edition's appendix material (i.e. direct copy/paste reprints of magazine articles and monsters and magic items from modules) was removed, or at least reworked and adapted. 

The earlier version had a narrower scope of compiling uncollected Gygaxiana and recreating "lost" system additions that he had mentioned (or were reverse-engineered from his later works). The savant class still fits within that mold, but the scope of the book generally has expanded to include more of my own voice and my own preferences and is less beholden to things that Gygax may or may not have planned or intended to do. While that might make it less valuable or interesting to some people whose interest is more historical or who want to keep their games as "pure" as possible, I am also confident that my additions and modifications maintain a consistency of style and flavor with that other material and are complementary to and will fit seamlessly alongside it. Having spent more than three decades immersed in this material and style of play I have developed a pretty solid feel for it.

Therefore, I would urge everybody who enjoys (or is curious about) the original creative and design paradigm of the First Advanced Edition to check this thing out, even if you already have the earlier version, because I am sure there is at least some material within it that you'll be able to use in your games to expand and freshen them up and help keep your players engaged, entertained, and challenged. 

[And it's all been designated as "OSRIC Reference Content" so other authors and publishers are not only allowed but strongly encouraged to use this material in their OSRIC-branded adventures and supplements as long as you refer back to this book. Nothing would make me happier than to see this material picked up and adopted by others and for my contributions here to become part of the common lexicon of 1E gamers, existing ones and new ones alike.] 

Edit/update: Lulu has unilaterally pulled this title and terminated my account (and will presumably keep the ~$400 in royalties I had earned from sales to date) because they determined that the old "AD&D Companion" (which I had put up on Lulu for private at-cost sale a few years ago) "may" be in violation of their Member Agreement by including third party IP - without any opportunity to appeal or to take down the possibly-offending title while leaving other titles in place. Since that book was uploaded ~5 years ago, the timing of this account termination feels fishy, like possibly some spiteful anti-fan found a link to that private page and reported me. Sorry to anyone who placed an order through Lulu because I have no idea whether you'll actually get the book - presumably if it's already shipped you will, but if it hasn't I'd recommend contacting Lulu customer support.

16 comments:

  1. I am really sorry to hear about the Lulu situation. Glad I put my money over at DriveThru then!

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    1. Yeah, it really sucks, especially for the people who paid for copies which they now may or may not ever receive. The only thing I can think of (other than that some hater turned me in out of spite) is that when I was setting up this title they asked if I was primarily intending to create books for my own use or for sale and I clicked on the latter which maybe put me into a bucket that gets closer scrutiny for potential IP violations even on older titles (and despite the fact that this one was never offered to the public, was priced at-cost, and hadn't sold a copy since 2018). If they'd notified me of a potential violation and asked me to take it down I would have done so without hesitation (I don't even want people to buy that version - I want them to buy the one that earns me money!) and it's really frustrating that instead of doing so they just unilaterally pulled down my entire catalog and deleted my account. I guess the idea is to make an example of me or something, so that I'll tell all my fellow infringers about how Lulu isn't messing around with their zero tolerance policy. Which is lame, but whatever. I just hope all the people who already ordered and paid for books still get them. For everybody else, the print version should hopefully be available at DriveThruRPG in another week or two (after I receive and approve my proof copy) and my plan is to have them send everybody who already bought the pdf a coupon allowing them to buy the print version for the difference (i.e. just enough to cover the printing costs) so they won't feel like they got ripped off and should have waited.

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    2. Quick update that it looks like everybody who ordered from Lulu is going to receive their copies (most folks already have) and I will get paid out royalties on those sales, so except for some inconvenience and public embarrassment it's not too bad a result. I also got my proof print copy from DTRPG and the quality is acceptable (the paper is thinner than the Lulu version but the binding seems a little better) so I've given the approval and that should go on sale on the DTRPG site within the next couple days.

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  2. Greg Timm (pun demon)May 27, 2021 at 8:26 AM

    Hey Trent! I just got my PDF copy of your work! I intend on trying out your Mystic and Savant ideas in my campaign soon. Do you have any plans to release "hard copies" of your work?

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    1. Thanks! Yes, a test proof print copy is slowly making its way to me via the US Postal Service. If there are no problems and I approve it I’ll be able to put the print version on sale alongside the pdf. When that happens my plan is to have DriveThruRPG send out a coupon to everybody who’s already purchased the pdf version allowing them to “upgrade” to a print copy for just the printing & shipping costs. Hopefully all of that will happen within the next couple weeks.

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    2. Greg Timm (pun demon)May 27, 2021 at 9:47 PM

      Thank you for all of your work! I'll make sure to buy a hard copy as well!

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  3. Received my printed copy from Lulu today, and wow, am I impressed! The binding is perfect, the pages are thick and not slippery, the printing is sharp and centered throughout - I'd never heard of Lulu before so was prepared for anything, but this feels like a premium product! As for the content, I think I've slipped over to a parallel universe's 1987 and the cover should read "Unearthed Arcana 2". I've just skimmed through it so far, but looks great, definitely the topics I'd want (and expect) in a UA2. I thought the lack of artwork would bother me, but it really doesn't. Reflecting on that, UA didn't have too much, and some of what it had was recycled from Dragon. I think I feel its absence most in the monsters section, but even there it's not a complete departure - the goristro wasn't illustrated in Dragon, after all. Anyway, thanks for putting this together!

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    1. You're welcome! That's just the kind of response I was hoping for, and it means even more because you're a stranger to me so you have no reason to lie :)

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    2. Hah! I've been reading your blog for years, but hadn't posted before because I didn't think "Great post!" was a terribly insightful thing to say. Having spent a bit more time with the book, I think you did a great job of channeling the eclectic rules creation style of Gygax, with mechanicals like the savant as a split MU/sage, "psychic can wait until later to start" and the "other Prime character without class but with any class".

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  4. Trent, is this the best place to pose questions related to The Heroic Legendarium's content?

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    1. Great! Here we go:
      Regarding demi-human class level limits, it looks like you're following in the vein of the PHB of only defining level limits up to the possible initially generated (w/racial adjustment) ability scores, rather than the heightened UA level limits which allow for higher levels based on ability scores up into the low 20s. Is that right? Related to that, the savant class description caps level for all elves based on an 18 Intelligence, but gray elves can have a 19 at start per UA - is their level cap higher with a 19? And regarding elven and half-elven cavalier limits, p7 indicates a +2 to level limit for being single-classed, but p11 states cavaliers can never be multi-classed, so should the +2 levels adjustment apply? UA states it's only for combinations where the character could be multi-classed.
      Regarding specialization, the hunter description on p15 indirectly implies barbarians can be specialized (the emphasis on two weapon specializations for the hunter), but this isn't the case, is it? And do you have a stance on multi-classed characters taking weapon specialization? UA didn't say anything about it, but I think the UA errata in Dragon later banned it.
      Now that monks get Strength bonuses just like every other class, do they still get their level-based bonus to damage with weapons?
      Regarding the savant Metallurgy field special ability, how do they forge magical weapons and armor prior to access to the Enchant an Item spell? And does their ability mean that savants without that field can't forge magical weapons and armor even though Enchant an Item is a standard savant spell?
      Can a mystic cast Protection from Possession on themself? Given they are psychic, and the spell doubles psychic defense strength, it would be a very nice boost, but the wording doesn't specify.
      Is the material component for Conjure Time Elemental consumed in the casting? My guess is yes, given the power of the spell.
      Regarding characters from alternate primes, are they unlimited in their proficiency choices, or do they need to stick to the cleric list? And why aren't paladin, cavalier, barbarian, and hunter included as options for them?
      Whew! Thanks again for the great work; hopefully my questions convey my genuine interest in what you've done, rather than just a bunch of nit-picking!

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    2. There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’m happy to do it.

      Te level limits for high stats: I left those out on purpose because I thought they added clutter in UA and gave the impression those stats should be common instead of a very rate edge case. That said, you can/should follow the UA pattern and allow +1 extra level for a 19 and +2 extra levels each for a 20 and 21.

      Elf and half-elf cavaliers are an explicit exception to the general rule about the increased level limit only applying where the character could have been multi-classed.

      Hunters getting weapon specialization is straight out of the Gygax version of the class, and should be understood as slightly different than the normal specialization rules (since they can have two specialized weapons and can’t double-specialize). Barbarians definitely can’t specialize and I didn’t mean to imply such.

      IMG multi-classed characters can’t be specialists, as per the official UA errata in Dragon (and the currently in-print version of that book from WotC who finally incorporated that errata into the book the way TSR never did).

      Monks still get their class-based damage bonus on top of any strength bonus. That’s a straight power-up.

      Savants specialized in metallurgy can enchant weapons and armor without need of the enchant an item spell - the process is similar to that described for clerics creating magic items in the DMG except the time is spent working the forge rather than praying. Other savants can still create magic items using the spell but they have to be higher level.

      A mystic can definitely cast protection from possession on their self.

      The material component IS consumed when conjuring a time elemental.

      Classless characters from alternate primes gain weapon proficiencies at the same rate as clerics and have the same penalty with non-proficient weapons but can fill those slots with any weapon - not limited to cleric weapons.

      That wasn’t so bad. Hope these feel like real answers and not “no prize” stuff I made up on the spot.

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    3. Missed the question about alternate prime characters not being able to become barbarians, cavaliers, or paladins. The reason for that is because all three of those classes require training and immersion in that culture from birth (or at least early childhood) and the alternate prime character won’t have had that and can’t make it up as an adult. If the GM wants to make an exception and allow the alternate prime character to become a Page as an adult and train alongside a bunch of 12-14 year olds, or to declare that the alternate prime character was a “mountain man” on their original world and this was already part of a barbarian-like culture then I wouldn’t have any objection to allowing that as a special case, but I didn’t want to go into all of that in the limited space I had available for this topic so decided the simpler solution for the general rule was to just say it’s not allowed and leave it to the individual GM to infer that they can always make exceptions to the general rules if they choose to.

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    4. Thanks, definitely not "no prize" answers! They all sound good to me. I agree about the UA level limits, as they imply PCs with higher ability scores than quasi-deities and even some Greyhawk lesser deities, as several of them have no scores above 20. My only gripe might be on the alternate prime character becoming a paladin, following the Holger Carlson example, but obviously individual DMs can make that call. Again, great work on all of this!

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  5. Yeah, Holger Carlsen is the obvious counter-example, especially since he and Harold Shea were two of the main models I had in mind for this type of character. The way I justified it to myself was that he’s a special case since he’s literally a reincarnation of Ogier du Danske and not just a regular 20th century guy who picks up paladin skills along the way.

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