Sunday, July 17, 2016

A New Ethos in Game Design: The Paradigm Shift Originated by Dungeons & Dragons, 1972-1977

To Be Released 2017

As many people and communities throughout the Internet are aware I have been steadily adding chapters to a book that I undertook researching and writing 8 years ago, actually now almost 9 years, in fact.  It is now approaching 200,000 words and with 20 diagrams; and my projection for its release has been amended several times due to moves (first to Wichita, then to France), the releasing of my DVD Collection (a long project started in Illinois, continued in Wichita and finished in France), and to my marriage to my wife Nathalie Hachet-Kuntz.  Though slowed in bringing the book to immediate release due to all of these life-changing and, ultimately, happy life circumstances indeed, I am now on track to finishing it.

This book is a culmination of over 42+ years of being actively exposed to game design and game theory and in combining this with my research to achieve a goal:  To discover the true essence of the RPG concept and, moreover, to describe it in scientific terms to allow for its continued expansion in many ways.  The book intersects many disciplines, such as game design, game theory, play theory, cognitive science and systems thinking, to name a few.  In my estimation I believe that I have achieved my goal; and I am in the process of fleshing out the details of it as gathered through reading and referencing 50+ major texts, over 200 related articles and from my copious notes, a copy of the latter which is being held for me by my close friend and associate, Allan Grohe.  I have also had in-depth discussions and readings by me of  the ms with Allan Grohe and Jon Hershberger (Black Blade Publishing), Paul Stormberg (the Collectors Trove) and of course my wife Nathalie.  I have also extensively sampled its parts for all of the above named and my wife retains a full back-up and is one of the editors assigned to the project.

In essence, this is my grand opus, so to speak.  It is not only a culmination but a beginning, just as Arneson's concept was for game history and for the theories he espoused.

My current book (the manuscript is finished and we are about 2 months out, if not sooner, from releasing it) is entitled Dave Arneson's True Genius; and it is not only a send-up to Dave Arneson but is an in-depth study of what Arneson gifted to us:  his genius.  It is also a shot across the bow for A New Ethos in Game Design, the former being a solid prelude of it that will include samples from this much larger companion work.

With all good news comes a rumor which I am tracking for its origin and that a text similar to mine in kind is now being prepared, this after I recently went public and put myself on the radar at several forums in stating my purpose.  

Though just a rumor at present I cannot but now feel delighted, if it has any basis in fact, that someone might join the scientific fray by way of attempting to ride my coat-tails whereas no such wind was in the air prior to my recent announcements.  Rumors are what they are, and I also claim no right of way to be the only one to pursue such a course as I have partially described herein; and since science is science and historically it seems that the advantage therein not only lies with the true thinker but sometimes with the hasty doer who would forward a cause based upon ego and denial rather than truth and the patience of a scholar who reads first and then decides upon matters worthy or not of the pen.

Whether folks in this hobby care to notice or even to admit this behavior--and as paraded in the past as fact and not as rumor as in this case--it is pretty entrenched in RPG's history.  It derives explicitly from the split between Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax, the resultant obfuscation of facts due to out of court settlements, and the continued marginalization of Arneson's real contributions due to that.  This attitude has desisted in large part to a norm which is now promoted less virulently but more remotely.  "Historians" who do not quote living persons associated with that era have come forward to paper over the past with the "truth".  They have their own interpretations based upon non-primary sources, which are the actual people themselves who are excluded from such "scholarship."

My research is based upon my experiences from not only historical texts, my own 42+ years of involvement starting at the pre-dawn on this industry/hobby, as someone who has witnessed the great majority of primary shifts that caused its rise; and by participating with those primary and secondary people--living history--who were there.  I have taken the high road of real scholarship in stating facts as I know them to be and have left interpretation aside which has no place in science or history as even provisional truth.  Therefore it is of interest in all the many books that have come forth as of recent regarding D&D's and TSR's past that very few primary people from that time period have been asked to participate in their formation, and apparently fewer still are solicited if they do not fit onto a certain narrowly defined output so apparent from these books.  

One might ask the whys about this--and many have.  To my knowledge there have been countless redirections to myself--and endless other redirections to primary people associated with that history--by secondary people who were being asked primary questions.  Of those redirections I can only speak for myself directly:  nothing came from them.  The secondary source's recommendations to enquire of the primary source, myself in this case, were ignored.  In three cases to date my name occurs in the same number of printed works and in many instances. In every case I have not been asked a single question regarding contextual use or to verify such uses as fact.  In one case I was not even aware that the book was just about to be released in two weeks time.  I can only assume that this form of exclusionary approach holds true for other living persons from that time period who are referenced within these works. 

Expediency has no place in scholarship no matter the subject. This sort of careless approach can speak to many outcomes but never to truthful reporting.

There is no doubt that the end-use reader has the final verdict with all such matter, and as often compared to similar works--but that they should be from the very onset given a clear picture based upon equally researched views that are verifiable and attributable and not in the least bit "interpretable" is what defines properly executed research.  Minus this we are left with a hodge-podge of interpretations which become voided as opinions.

You have my guarantee that my own works have not, nor will not, proceed along such a marginal course as I have described above.  The LGTSA (Lake Geneva Tactical Studies Association) cut their teeth on intensive research time and again and within overlapping and multiple subject areas.  It was part and parcel of my own existence as its membered president--now 47 years removed but not forgotten.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dave Arneson's True Genius: First Major Treatise on Dave Arneson

Place Holder Cover

Three Line Studio is nearing release of the first ever major treatise on David L. Arneson, the genius behind the role-playing craze that started in 1971 in Minneapolis with his group of players and spread like a contagion from 1974 onward through the commercial release of Classic Dungeons & Dragons in 1974.

The manuscript for the work is finished and we are finishing designing the cover and sourcing a layout person.

The work is not the usual history tour so much as it is a tour of Arneson's mind, design philosophies and ultimate systems organization, the latter which busted wide open 2,000 years of game history with his unprecedented systems architecture.

The tentative date for its release is set for 2 months from now; final editing of the ms is now being overseen by Nathalie Hachet-Kuntz (TLS) and Allan Grohe (BBP). 

Three Line Studio has one fulfillment agency in the U.S. for distribution purposes and is seeking a second to handle overflow orders for the monograph, which we deem will be brisk.  We are currently sourcing a second agent for fulfilling overflow orders.  If interested contact us at for details.

Review copies will be available for established book reviewers in and out of the RPG industry.  Use the contact details above if you are interested in reviewing the book and in receiving an advanced copy of it prior to its release.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

UPDATE: DVD Project, Book on Dave Arneson, New RPG Adventure

It has been a long and complicated 9 months since I arrived in France and was married to my sweet wife, Nathalie.  Setting up a working office, dealing with all of the official governmental requirements of my residency, attending LUCCA, doing business under changed circumstances which was not always conducive for expediency as it was in the States, writing and designing in the face of it all, and the list goes on...

As much as there have been delays, still much has been accomplished.  As most of the readers here are aware there are MAJOR changes ahead for this writer.  Some are near coming to pass; and I will list a few hereafter.

The RJK DVD Collection is nearly set to go after many delays.   The Collector’s Trove (Paul Stormberg/Kevin Maurice) is finalizing the matter and I have recent word from Paul of a final release date in a month to 6 weeks.  There’s some extra content that’s been added by me and that is a solid, surprise bonus.  I am awaiting a mailing of the DVD to me for review and then after that it goes into production and release.  The size, from what I’ve been told, is 6.8 GB constituting 1100 scanned files.  Here’s a few prelim image samples of it:

Three Line Studio (link).  Nathalie and I have been busy creating our new website. Though it is mostly barebones right now, we a have a product forthcoming listed there, which is a book of linked essays regarding Dave Arneson:  “Dave Arneson’s True Genius.”  This is a preliminary shot across the bow for my major forthcoming works, “A New Ethos in Game Design” (due out 2017) and “New Models for RPGs” (due out 2018).

The manuscript for Dave Arneson's True Genius is finished (around 20,000 words) and we intend to release thisbefore the end of the year!  VERY EXCITED about this!  TLS is currently in the stage of having a fitting  book cover design created for it. The one on the website is merely a placeholder cover.

Logo Copyright 2016 Three Line Studio
My RPG Works continue with the Italian republication of Bottle City due out by Mondiversi (Amos Pons) at LUCCA 2016; a new D&D module already written (17,200 words) but of which I cannot speak about as yet other than to say that it derives from something I created for GENCON way in the past... And I have been negotiating with my friends at Black Blade Publishing about some related work and this particular module, all of which takes time.  I am full-time in this industry but many who publish and assist have day jobs, so I must understandably wait upon them for final dates and verdicts, etc.

There’s much more ahead so that’s it for now as it’s back to the creative table for me!

*Note that contact information for me can be gained through our website.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lucca Comics & Games 2015

Lucca Comics & Games was a blast and a high-calibre experience not to be missed, as the second biggest comics and games convention in the world after San Diego CA, in terms of size and visitor numbers (300,000+). Lucca is certainly a creative force to be reckoned with as an international event bringing together a plethora of guest artists and creators (authors, game designers, illustrators, cartoonists, publishers, movie makers, etc.), and genres and platforms as varied as movie extravaganza (Star Wars) to D&D (Rob Kuntz and other D&D creators), to manga.

The atmosphere was upbeat, as can be expected from such a type of festival, with a plethora of costumed individuals hyped up by the Halloweenesque time of year, lending it a surreal vibe, against the solemn grandeur of the historical Tuscan town of Lucca. For the event spills well out of the confines of the halls and tents, into the Renaissance streets, past the opulent architecture of the town.

Most of all, we were impressed by the friendliness, dedication and professionalism of the team of volunteers, helpers and show enthusiasts who work consistently year on year to make Lucca Comics & Games a resounding success!

Meanwhile we shall leave it to the pictures to do the talking...

The fun starts here!
Rob meets up with fans at the Mondiversi Publishing booth
Rob and Amos Pons (Mondiversi Publishing)
Rob DMing the first session of The Cairn of the Skeleton King
Rob's workshop on design philosophy: Lateral Thought Processing in Real-Time RPG Design
Overhead view from the 'tower' of the dealers section
Rob at the Mondiversi booth
Rob and Mark Rein-Hagen, with our Italian interpreter and assistant, Anna
Awards ceremony
Mark Kelly, C.A. Suleiman and Rob doing his best zombie imitation!
Relaxing before the video podcast
The 'A Team' of behind-the-scenes helpers, Paolo, Irene and Gian Luca (Jurgen)!
Rob on the video podcast
Andrea D'Urso (left), one of the main event organisers, Lorenzo and Rob
Rob and Nathalie
Presenting awards for the winners of the D&D tournament
Looking Italian!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Back in Hacking THINGS

So many things...  Don't we all have these...?  These... THINGS.  Most of us do not report on these things, for they are only, in retrospect, just things.  This, that and other.  Why I should feel, unlike so many others who do not report on their things, that is, to report my THINGS as important things by comparison, or, maybe not by comparison, but perhaps out of egoistic need to classify things as categories best suited to thing-mongers, perhaps?  Well, the keyboard presents an ever-present opportunity to alleviate the need for reporting on such things, which is a thing (or, many related things) of itself,  So here starts another round of thing-disgorging, or thing-acclimating, depending upon one's perspective or proclivity...

THING 1:  I have moved to France and settled with my wife-to-be.  We live in a secluded place in the mountains.  Just up the slope are the ruins of an old medieval castle (Genoese).  I have not been there as yet, but when we do investigate the ruin I will be sure to be looking out for the errant stirge as well as snapping a few picts to post here.  Otherwise the champagne is superb, as is the fromage...

THING 2: The LUCCA Comics & Games festival was a hit!  The festival had 300,000 attendees and could have sold more tickets.  I was very busy, participating in two interviews (one real-time video podcast) a Q&A session (see pict below), many signing sessions, received an honorary plaque award, did a workshop on RPG design philosophy, DMed 2 adventure gaming sessions, and attended many formal and informal dinners. Nathalie has a ton of photos and when we find the time we'll post some of these with descriptors.  There's much more to report, but this partial thing must suffice as the thing of the moment...

L to R:  Anna, my lovely and highly professional interpreter for the festival, myself, and Marco Signore. 

THING 3:  The Collector's Trove has confirmed a date in mid-January for the release of the RJK DVD collection.  More on this as we close in on the release date.

More things to follow...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Onto the Next Adventure!

I brought Rob to the Wichita airport today for his outbound trip to Paris (via Atlanta).  He got off safe and sound, and we'll definitely miss him here in the 'States.  Wish him bon voyage, good luck, farewell, and safe travels in the comments :D

Rob's next appearance will be at the LUCCA Comics & Games Convention from 29 October through 1 November, in Lucca, Italy.  At the convention, Rob will run two sessions of Cairn of the Skeleton King, and will conduct a workshop on game design theory, in addition to participating in panel discussions, et al.  Full details appear on Rob's LUCCA page.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

Off the Radar but Definitely ON TARGET

With my pending move overseas right around the corner, with my upcoming marriage, my whirlwind appearance at the LUCCA Comics & Games show starting October 29 and my commitments to not only BBP on various projects we have in the works but to those of my own--well, I will be strained to update much here.  Most future updates will be related solely to creative-business concerns that are in the works.

I can say this in passing:  Much is on the horizon, not only from my extensive RPG intellectual property but also from other original works that my wife and I will be forwarding:  My book, a new enterprise, a new partnership I've formed for producing the RJK DVD Collection (which is making great headway), and a few more surprises.

So, stay tuned during our transition.  There is not only a change of latitude in the making but a change of attitude in the air!

In between, may you never get caught in a dead end by an iron golem!

Rob & Nathalie