A couple of days ago, Shelly Baur, the other half of Wolfgang Baur’s Kobold Quarterly and Open Design  empire, emailed me to ask if I’d be interested in running a piece on a project they’d be announcing on the 9th, and I asked what I always ask: “Will it be of interest to GMs?”
She said yes, and that in fact GMs in particular would be interested. That was enough to pique my personal interest — I’ve never seen Wolfgang produce anything less than high-quality awesome.
But the details made my gnomish wedding tackle stand at attention: Open Design’s new project is Midgard , Wolfgang’s personal campaign world, which features Wolfgang Baur, Jeff Grubb, and Brandon Hodge doing the design work.
So why do I think you’ll be as curious about this project as I am? Let me break it down:
- Most great campaign worlds started out in home games. Ed Greenwood ran the Forgotten Realms at home before it became one of the best-known fantasy settings around; Keith Baker did the same with Eberron before WotC picked it up; and both of the original D&D settings, Blackmoor (Dave Arneson) and Greyhawk (Gary Gygax), got their start this way. The fact that Midgard is Wolfgang’s personal baby makes me take notice.
- Wolfgang Baur. Despite his association with filthy and deliciously naughty kobolds, Wolfgang writes and designs some damned fine stuff. He loves his work, he’s incredibly good at it, he polishes it until it shines, and all of that shows through in the finished product.
- Jeff Grubb. Jeff Grubb worked on the old gray box Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, a product that’s given me more joy than any other  in more than 20 years of gaming.
I don’t want to overlook Brandon Hodge, either, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t know him by name. But he’s worked on several projects for Open Design and Pathfinder, and the fact that he’s part of this team means he’s got skills. I trust Wolfgang.
On that basis, I’m sold. The Midgard Campaign Setting book will be worth picking up, and I’ll be buying a copy. If you like fantasy settings, you should give this one a look when it comes out.
Become a Midgard Patron
But if your interest is piqued now, and if you’d like to get involved in producing this setting, that’s where the Open Design aspect of Midgard comes in: Open Design is Wolfgang’s patronage-based studio.
The patronage model is based on the idea that patrons pay to fund a project, have a voice in shaping its production, and receive credit in the finished work. Their patronage makes it possible to produce the work, so Midgard will exist because patrons pay to bring it to life.
The full breakdown is on the Midgard page  (scroll down to the bottom), but in a nutshell $30 gets you the basics: You get worldbuilding tips from the designers, access to design discussion, the ability to contribute your own characters to the setting, and a chance to buy a limited edition hardcover of the finished product. At higher patronage levels, your contributions shape larger portions of the world.
It’s a neat model, and one that Open Design has used successfully for several years now. If I wasn’t working on Gnome Stew’s second book, I’d have dropped my $30 and jumped right in. If you have the time and inclination, I encourage you to consider it.
Anyhoo: Midgard: If you like fantasy, I’m confident that it’s going to rock your shit. (It should be out around GenCon 2012, so you’ve got a bit of a wait.)