The End of The Forge

Recently Ron Edwards announced that the famous indie RPG forum The Forge will enter into its “winter stage” by the end of the year. What he basically meant was the forum will more of less shut down. From what I understand a few sections will stay active a while longer, especially to allow publishers to move their sub-forums to their own premises.

What really surprised me that he and everyone how commented on this announcement saw this as a good thing. They obviously reached a certain set of goals and that’s why The Forge is not needed anymore. The shutdown of the forums is even declared a victory.

Hmm, I have to admit, I was never an active user of these forums, but from what I’ve read it was one of the cornerstones of the Indie RPG scene. Or am I getting a wrong impression here? So, why is it a good thing that the site is going the way of the Dodo?

And there’s a second person claiming victory. The blogger known as the RPGPundit yesterday declared victory over the Forge-Swine as he likes to call them. For years he has been quite outspoken against any kind of story-based gaming and today he believes he has prevailed against Ron Edwards. Don’t ask me what this guy has been smoking.

While I have looked into a couple of games who have been actively discussed at The Forge, I am not really deep into the indie scene. Can someone explain to me how shutting down an active forum is a good thing? And why does RPGPundit hate anything coming from said forum?

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

18 thoughts on “The End of The Forge”

  1. How can you not know what Pundit is smoking? He literally tells you right on his website. If you don't understand why he hates the Forge, well, he tells you that on his site, too. I'm guessing you don't really read what he says much, just look down on him as some crazy man? Like all of us, he has reasons for what he does.

    1. I know that he does. I wasn't really meaning that literally but figuratively. And yes, I have not written everything he tells me on his site. It probably has to do with the fact that I can't take someone serious when he calls everyone who enjoys his hobby in a different way names.

  2. A person who has a break with reality can tell you why he does what he does, but that doesn't mean the explanation makes any actual sense to anyone but that mentally ill person, Mr. Colby. Both Edwards and Pundit are blathering what amounts to complete nonsense. It might make sense to them, and they might think it gives them valid reasons for what they do, but in the end it's nothing more than that, nonsense. As for what Pundit — who really needs to grow up, stop labeling himself to be something he is not and admit he has a name — is smoking, do you always believe everything you read on the internet?

  3. I tried to be part of the Forge years back but when I wanted some support for Icar because I was having trouble getting noticed (being a free game), I was smacked down. Since then, I'd go in for feedback but by that point games that weren't storyteller were sneered upon.

    It's my hobby, I have no truck for that attitude.

  4. You said: "While I have looked into a couple of games who have been actively discussed at The Forge, I am not really deep into the indie scene."

    This is a statement I find quite peculiar — I think of "Warrior, Rogue, and Mage" as a fine example of an indie RPG. It might not be as exotic as "Dogs in the Vineyard" or "Sorcerer", but nonetheless it support the typical fantasy tropes in a fairly story-focused package.

  5. Robert, of course WR&M is indie because it's not published by one of the "big publishers". But it has been also compared to several old-school games which sets it apart from typical "Forge" games.

    What I meant is that while my game is indie in a way, I haven't delved that deep into the "scene". And I doubt this will help to get my point across either since I have the feeling the terms we are using are not as well-defined as one would like.

    Basically when talking about the roleplaying hobby today, the lines are not that cleary drawn. You could even say that the current incarnation of D&D is an indie game since it uses the kind of abstract mechanics a lot of "Forge" games are know for.

  6. Let me add that it saddens me whenever an outlet about our hobby goes away. I think we need to keep the community of role players well informed and connected for us to survive and continue doing what we love. Granted I have NO previous knowledge about The Forge (apparently having lived under a virtual rock for many years) and just learning of this controversy now, I think it’s sad when people call each other names or dismiss others for the way they enjoy their games. I think we all need to realize that just like movies, literature, video games, what I like may not be what others like… Heck that fact has not stopped fans of all those forms of entertainment from arguing, but we are such a small community it makes little sense to argue about, what to me seem like, trivialities.

    Generalities, I know I have no firsthand knowledge of the forum at its controversies, but to quote the famous phrase, “can’t we all just get along?”

    Have a good day everybody…

  7. I've been similarly under a rock.. or perhaps more specifically over in the mainstream where people didn't care.

    Personally I'm just rather fascinated that there is such a thing as liberal vs. conservative as relates to RPGs. I thought D&D 4E vs. Retro-Clones was as far as that went… wow. This opened up a whole new world for me. Pardon me while I gently close the door again.

  8. I won't spend much time commenting on the Pundit's

    point of view cause I still think that most of his "Forge-hate" is actually an undercover marketing strategy. He built his internet persona in opposition to the theories and even the games produced by people somehow associated with the online community that developed around The Forge and he's still mostly known because of his Forge hate.

    About the "Winter of the Forge" and the reason why it is seen as a victory by at least some of the people involved (especially the historical users), I suggest you take a look to this blog post:

    Almost all of The Forge most influential innovations or re-inventions concerning roleplaying games bloomed in the first half of this decade.

    One of the reasons why discussions on that forum were very productive is the heavy-handed moderation policy meant to ensure that every thread was goal oriented (and never strayed) and rooted in actual play or, at least, concrete experience. Maintaining such an high standard for discussions is hard on the moderators and requires for sure some kind of discipline, dedication and motivation. In 2005 most of the thoery had already assumed a form that was considered sufficiently solid by the people involved.

    Following the harsh critique to a specific culture of roleplaying that developed in the 80s and 90s and the proposal of a different economic and cultural model, many of the people involved were ready to pursue their own projects and find their own path.

    As an example, discussions about Ron Edwards' game Spione mostly happened (by the author's choice) on its own board at the Adept Press website.

    In the end, The Forge is shutting some of its services down because the goals that those services were meant to purse have been achieved a few years ago. I agree with people that think this way. Those services that are still needed (like the Actual Play subforum) will be kept running for the time being.

    I also think that the next challenge for the "post-forge" community of roleplayers interested in those indie games that came out of The Forge will be to find an efficient way to pass down the knowledge that was developed there to new people that might show an interest.

    Right now there is no substitute for The Forge.

    No discussion board founded by people involved with the planning or running of The Forge has been able to achieve a similar level of "insight" and productivity. Games and theory development is still going on, but discussions mostly happen out of sight or on the blogs of some of the most "hardcore" Forge game designers (like Vincent Baker's blog).

    Maybe the unique mix of circumstances that allowed The Forge to be born and prosper will not be replicated anytime soon.

  9. I find it amazing how segmented our hobby has become, and yes, even I have fallen into the indie/storygame-traditional game battle. For a good long time I frequented the forums at but even there I felt like an outcast, I was never too much into the theory of gaming versus the simple desire to have fun. I think what The Forge did was great, it certainly expanded the intellectual depth of games and added creativity at a level we probably would have never seen otherwise. It, along with the emergence of PDF/internet, enabled and encouraged the everyday man to step to the plate and add his thoughts on gaming.

    Anyway, I have since left the battle behind and trying to focus on making stuff I like and having fun playing games. Hopefully others like the stuff I make as well.

  10. I went to the forge about an rpg idea I had and very quickly there were helpful insightful responses that did not at all indicate to me that the people there did not like "old school" or hack and slash games. I stopped going there not becuase I didn't want to but I just found myself preocupied with other things. I remember nothing but a positive experience at the forums and this news really bums me out.


  11. The attitudes I found at The Forge made it unlikely it would ever be a good fit for a community for me. I felt they looked down their noses at a lot of talented designers for not sharing their ideas of how things should be. I didn't care for them then, and I don't now. I'm sure the site had its uses to some, but not for me.

    Ron Edwards makes dramatic announcements or says something offensive now and again for attention. It's what he does.

  12. I didn't get a very good impression of Forge due to my personal interactions with a handful of Indie RPG Stealth Evangelists who hijacked every thread on our forum, the Literary RPG Society of Westchester on Yahoo Groups, which is a system neutral forum for discussions on techniques for creating more literary quality worlds. The gist of their argument was a reflection of things I'd read on Forge or related forums which amounted to this: if you are not playing Story-Games then you're not really having fun, but you don't know it. That bit of rhetoric really put a damper on everyone at the LRPGSW, and overall the argument wounded our site, and caused a lot of members to stop posting. So forgive me if I have a bad impression, and don't feel particularly saddened by Forge's Wintering. That said, I do feel that were it not for the rather cruel insinuation that traditional RPG enthusiasts don't know how to have fun, and the rather opaque jargon used by Forge, and the difficult to ascertain coherence of their ideas on what constitutes RPGs, I do think that it was a good thing overall that the field of RPG theory was advanced. They raised a lot of good questions. I just feel that they answered them divisively, and to the detriment of their organization, and possibly the hobby itself due to the animosity it created. My feeling is that the leader in that trend was Edwards himself who set the tone and gave people like Pundit a reason to froth at the mouth at their unwelcome assault on the traditional style of play. That's my opinion, for what it's worth.

  13. At the risk of sounding reductionist, I can't help but find ideological "battles" over playing pretend elves to be deeply funny.

    I never participated in the Forge, but I have some Forge-y games and as long as they're fun, that's good enough for me.

  14. Thanks to folks for linking my post, above.

    As I mentioned, the Forge has always been a very goal oriented site. Though most people know it for either controversial theory stuff or controversial Ron Edwards, the main thing was exploring alternative methods of publishing and having a sustainable business.

    For context, when the Forge started there wasn't cheap and easy Print on Demand, no one knew if anyone would actually pay money for PDFs, or if you could run a business on internet sales alone. (check the early archives, heated discussions on all of this).

    For the last 9 years, the Forge has not only had a lot of people explore alternate avenues, but share info openly- their game sales, their profits, which printers worked, which printers screwed them over, things to look out for, etc.

    Now, most of the publishers have moved on, and the Forge has a lot more archival info than active info. The close down to a few forums is to allow more focus until it's finally done, and, that said the Forge completed it's primary goals probably around 2006-7.

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