Thursday, October 28, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Essen was a learning experience. I've had strong sales in Germany so far, both direct and with the shop I work with there (Sphärenmeisters Spiele made 2 orders since the box came out, each selling out within days) so I thought I had a bit of momentum. It didn't translate into a strong showing at the convention.
This thing was huge. Several times larger than GenCon I'm told. Mattel, Lego, and Hasbro each had a large presence there. A real mainstream thing. But there were tons of boardgame companies (seemed to be the main thing), card game companies, lots of LARP costumers and tons of RPG publishers and all the assorted business that follow those sorts of things around.
And you know what I found out?
Just having a banner with the LotFP logo and a pretty picture doesn't tell anybody jack shit about what's in the booth. As in, "is this a role-playing game, card game, board game?" let alone what kind or what it's about. It seemed so bloody obvious the first day that I'd made a planning cock-up, but almost all of the planning that went into the convention was all about getting me and my stuff there and figuring out the layout of the booth. The content of the booth and the attempt to get the word out in the area that I'd be there (and who I was), that sort of was forgotten.
As I said, it was a learning experience. I was going to screw up the first big convention I wandered into, so it might as well have been this one. I'm still feeling my way around with all this stuff. The key is never to make the same mistake twice.
So most of my time was spent flagging down passers-by and explaining to them who I was, what the products were, etc from scratch. The Arkkikivi guys I shared the booth with (they were selling indie/Forge stuff) were most helpful with this. Eero was grabbing people and pushing them my way all for days.
Boxes (and other product) were sold, but not as much as I'd have liked/expected.
All in all, it wasn't a disaster, but it wasn't what I'd call a success either.
Dragonmeet is next month and I will be there. I expect England to be a bit better, as it's specifically RPG-focused, English is the assumed language, and England has the same D&D traditions that the US does.
I'll be making one or two more banners that are a bit more informative, have handouts ready at the table, and put in some work to let people know I'm coming.
Fun things at the convention:
Flying Buffalo was there so I chatted a bit with Rick Loomis. Traded him a box for a copy of Tunnels & Trolls, which I will admit I've never actually read before. I didn't realize he is President of GAMA until he gave me his card...!
Otherworld Miniatures was there and I'm sure I hung around there enough to be a pest. :)
Our booth neighbors were hawking their Legerdemain computer RPG. They were from Atlanta, so it was interesting hearing people talk about the old neighborhoods again (I lived in and around Atlanta for 12 years).
I also snagged VHS copies (Dutch subtitles!) of Re-Animator and Re-Animator II. I've never seen them, can you believe it?
We're up to 23 members of the Pembrooktonshire Gardening Society. That's just about double my expectations. I'm trying to figure out who's more shocked, YDiS guy or my wife.
New reviews of the LotFP box set (here) and Grinding Gear (here) have been posted.
350 emails to get through... yeah, half of them are Viagra ads, but half of them aren't...
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Just to let you know I haven't had email access since yesterday afternoon, I am on a borrowed computer right now and once I hit "publish" here I will be completely off-line until Monday. (It's YourDungeonisSuck guy's perfect opportunity to publicize my work some more!)
Parting plug (I *am* in Germany to sell sell sell after all): Remember to join the Gardening Society (link to the left) now that you know there's Weird Fantasy Role-Playing second printing AND deluxe Carcosa (I wonder if the printer can satisfy a request to have the cover made of human skin?) AND Isle of the Unknown AND Vornheim City Kit AND Death Ferox Doom... and MMOOORREEE in 2011.
(Spiel is awesome before it even opened... Flying Buffalo is here, Otherworld Miniatures is here, Labyrinth Lord's German publisher is here, did you know Justifiers is IN PRINT in German? Yowya! Even if I sell thousands of euros worth of goods here, and I hope to, I could come back poorer than when I started if I start buying even a fraction of the cool stuff here.)
Anyway, see you all next week. Byyyeeeeeee....
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Zak: "The Vornheim City Kit will be a guide to the city that my campaign is based around, but way more than that, it'll be a tool for running open-ended city adventures anywhere. I'm not going to be Mr. PR here and claim I'm sure it'll have 'Everything You Need To Run A Campaign In A Fake Medieval Urban Setting' but I am sure it'll have everything I need, because this is actually the stuff I use when we play.
"The Vornheim City Kit will feature: oddities of the city; maps of major locations; a souped-up version of the "urbancrawl" rules for creating fully-stocked labyrinthine streets while players are actually being chased through them; and loads of tables for creating taverns, merchants, libraries, decadent aristocrats, and other accoutrements of urban living in a split-column format allowing the DM to generate functional details on the fly or mix-and-match results during adventure prep in order to create more individualized environments.
"The emphasis will be on creating instruments you can actually use, rather than burying the DM under masses of pre-imagined information. This won't be a big, fat, where-the-fuck-did-I-put-that-bookmark encyclopedia of every loose toothpick and manhole cover in the city. This will be a little book that you can put on your table and say to your players "Ok, it's Friday night in 1200 AD, what are we doing?" and be confident that you have an environment ready to roll with any punch the party throws. The pictures will be helpful, the maps will be clear, the tables will be fun to roll on, and it will all be easy to find."
The kit will also include notes and commentary on how the tools in the kit can or have worked out in actual play from James Raggi, Zak Sabbath, and the 'Axe' girls.
Look for it Winter 2011.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Geoffrey McKinney and I have been generally supportive of each others' work over the past couple of years. I saw that he was putting a new project together while at the same time letting Carcosa go out of print, and I thought his creativity and my expanding distribution network could work to our mutual benefit. Or to drop the PR-talk: We're going to exploit the hell out of each other for mutual financial gain.
Isle of the Unknown is a work in progress so any real talk about it would be premature, but I've seen a preliminary manuscript. I do have to say that people are going to be shocked at how utterly old school the presentation is. And before anyone worries about this collaboration resulting in watered-down McKinney, I'll let you know that even I was a bit shocked at the format of the project. I made "editorial suggestions" and the reply was "No." Rest assured you'll be getting straight-up unfiltered McKinney from Isle of the Unknown. It's going to be wild stuff.
More information on Isle of the Unknown in the months to come.
Then there's Carcosa. I know Carcosa.
Carcosa was, in my eyes, the first project demonstrating that the Old School Renaissance didn't have to be about preserving and fetishizing the past - it could be about building something new and daring without losing the old school ethos or the old school rules. The best of both worlds.
Carcosa caused a bit of a stir when it was first released in 2008, and I thought it was time to re-release it in a format that such a groundbreaking release deserves. I'll be working closely with McKinney to release something that stays absolutely true to Carcosa's original intent while giving it a presentation that will blow people's minds.
I look forward to taking all the madness and excitement that Carcosa inspires and putting that into distribution.
Isle of the Unknown and Carcosa are penciled in to be released Spring 2011.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Income from GDF4 goes towards offsetting art costs for future projects. And it has some awesome stuff in it. :) It's PDF-only, by the way, so don't be waiting for a print edition.
... and on to the ad copy I'm using for this one (that also lists the contents):
Cursed Advertisement of DOOM
This advertising text sits idly amongst the other treasures available at (insert PDF vendor name here) until an unsuspecting browser reads it. At that point it activates and the viewer must save versus magic or contract a disease which permanently erodes d6 points of Charisma over the next 4d4 turns.
The only way to dispel this curse is to purchase GREEN DEVIL FACE #4!
Green Devil Face is back!
The True Finnwegian Old School Role-Playing kult unearths the legendary zine from its 14-month slumber to deliver more madness to lay your players low! This isn't the solidly-composed, somberly delivered material that LotFP normally trades in, this is MADNESS UNLEASHED! Rapid-fire fuel-air explosive blasts of pure energy and creativity which will ignite your imagination because this one's just too hot! If you run an old-school game and you can't find something in here to put in your campaign RIGHT NOW you're just hopeless. You're not hopeless, are you? Then PROVE IT! Buy this PDF RIGHT NOW!
... it's all contained within SIXTY-NINE HOT PAGES... (plus OGL)... how can you resist?
Contents of This Issue:
- Knights of Science - A New Character Class by James Edward Raggi IV
- The Tower - Mini-Adventure by James Edward Raggi IV (originally presented in Fight On #4 - contains more backstory than the version in Death Frost Doom!)
- The Dread Sorceries of Duvan'Ku - New Spells by James Edward Raggi IV (originally presented in Fight On #4)
- Fell Magick Items of Duvan'Ku - New Magic Items by James Edward Raggi IV (originally presented in Fight On #4)
- Random Inn Generator - Create an Inn and its Visitors from scratch! By James Edward Raggi IV (originally presented in Fight On #2)
- Wand of the Weird - A wand of Bizarre Effect by James Edward Raggi IV
- House of Snails - A mini-dungeon by James Edward Raggi IV
- The Frog Cult - A mini-dungeon by James Edward Raggi IV
- The Tomb to Die For/In by R. Lawrence Blake
- Random Treasure Generator - The Old Treasure Tables Presented in a New Way by James Edward Raggi IV
- A Spell Point Theory - Another Look Adapting the Vancian Magic System to Spell Points by James Edward Raggi IV
Plus Classic Green Devil Face Tricks/Traps:
- The Room of Four Pits by Ramsey Dow
- The Sneaky Book Room by James Brian Murphy
- The Child by Zak Sabbath
- The Chamber and the Glass Box by Zak Sabbath
- Shrieker Stew by Jonathan Becker
- Pool of Testing by Jonathan Becker
- Shaggy Dog by Jonathan Becker
Well that formatting's a mess, so you can go see the video here.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Had a meeting with the new printer yesterday. We discussed paper grades. The rep has a big box full of little paper samples. And suddenly whether the paper is 80g or 90g seems like the most important decision in the world. Does the cover need UV-varnish? Lamination? That book with the water-varnish seems like it has a weaker cover than the others. The interior pages, is it really necessary for them to be bleached? 80g or 90g, does it make a difference to the durability of the book? How about the artwork, will it look bad on this paper or that? And those color insert pages, 150g or 130g or 115g paper?
I hope I made the right decisions there.
It's somewhat depressing knowing I won't have a new book for you guys until the crack of 2011, and it's crazy having all these plans for 2011 and not being able to tell you about any of them yet. "Second printing" and Death Ferox Doom you know. I will say that this has turned into a continual "go for broke" cycle and the necessary budget to make all this happen for Q1 is mid five-figures. I have to hope you guys really go in for each of these projects for the next one to work. Business really sucks sometimes.
But if it works...!
With that in mind, my two choices in 2011 are to be successful or to be gone. Step up or step out. (etc lame talk) There are two key needs to satisfy with every release: Utility and presentation. RPG products trade on inspiration and imagination (and thus all the negativity that is expressed when something disappoints is completely justified), and so I think it is not wrong to want to make RPG products that are inspiring as physical objects. I want to do things that other people won't. But I don't want it all to disappear up its own ass - it'll be gaming material where all the bells and whistles make it more useful at the table than a plainer presentation would be.
I do not think this is impossible to do. Whether I can do it, we will see. I'm going to try.
And as I look to see what my big summer release should be... this inspires me.
How crazy can we get?
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Separate yourself from the unfashionable and ill-bred by becoming an official member of the Pembrooktonshire Gardening Society. Its exclusive membership allows one to be separated from the riff-raff and common ignorant folk and distinguishes you as a Gardener of superior distinction. By joining our Society, the problem of an unattractive lawn, and those who create such blights, can be dealt with.
Here's what you get when you join the Society:
- A print of the LotFP Weird Fantasy Role-Playing cover on heavy stock glossy A4 paper
- A hand-numbered and signed Certificate
- A laminated membership card
- A 25% Discount off of a single order from the LotFP Webstore (or when buying from LotFP in person at a convention!) in 2011
This is for Charter Membership in the Society... orders will be taken only through October 31, and then membership is closed. Only the exact number of prints, certificates, and cards to fulfill orders will be made - no extras. Even I'm not keeping one. The order for the prints will go in November 1, and when ready (probably no more than a couple days) will be shipped Priority Class to you.
In addition to the second printing of the game being available very early in the new year, there are other projects that will be done in Q1 2011 that I'm not allowed to tell you yet (how's that for a sales pitch?), but at least three of them will be retailing for $20 or more. Death Ferox Doom is right now penciled in to cost $25, conversion rates willing. There will be plenty of new stuff for you to apply your discount against. Hell, wait until December 2011 and get everything I'll be publishing next year at once (at least 1 totally new box set in 2011 as well!)... the discount is for an entire order, not any one item.
This is is being done to subsidize artwork. All profits from these Gardening Society memberships (about 10€ after printing, mailing, and Paypal fees) will go against the art costs of future projects so those art costs don't all get factored in to product pricing. A second method of subsidizing art, the PDF-only Green Devil Face #4, will hopefully be posted to the PDF vendor sites on Friday, Monday at the latest. It's looking to be about 90 pages and will be $5.
- When ordering a Membership, include in the message exactly which name you would like written on the certificate. If there is no such message, then the name automatically sent with Paypal orders will be used.
- If your contact email address is different than your Paypal email address, also include that in the message. The LotFP webstore will get all fancified December/January and I'll be emailing individual Coupon Codes for your 25% discount.
- Membership card must be shown to get the discount in person
The payment button is up on the left.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Leisure Games has finally listed the latest LotFP items in its online catalog after it had been in the physical store awhile.
For Canadians, Le Valet d'Coeur has the box set. It's buried in the Indie Press Revolution section of the site.
Troll & Toad is listing the game for $45 these days. 7 left.
Bullet Points has reviewed the box set here.
RPG.net was talking about the game again here.
I'm going to have some new products available very soon. The purpose of these products is to offset art costs for future projects rather than be profitable on their own, so hopefully I can have really nice art in those future products without the price of those products reflecting the price of that art. The two products will be:
Green Devil Face #4. It'll be pdf only, no print edition. It's in editing and it'll still need to be laid out, but we're looking at about 100 A5 pages here. A few mini-adventures, a compilation of most of my contributions to Fight On!, plus a few regular GDF-like deathtraps from a few contributors, and more...!
The other thing... the less said for now, the better. I keep wanting to blab about things too early. It'll either be the best thing since DMV lines or it'll be totally lame. We'll see. OK, a hint: Prints.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
October 3, 2010
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.
Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.
What the hell does all that even mean? Honestly, if I'm in the same area as a guy with a bomb or an AK-47 or spitballs or bad language, exactly what the hell am I supposed to do about it?
Here's my plan if I'm in the area of a terrorist attack: Scream like a little girl and run around in a blind panic. I think that's a good and realistic plan that's easy to implement and suitable for almost any dangerous situation without needing adjustment and it requires no advance preparation. It's fool-proof!
As if it's not enough that I'm probably going to have to go through body scanners and have my nuts X-rayed by the airport equivalent of mall cops, now we're supposed to worry about this unspecified vague threat over an area as large as Europe? What kind of worthless CYA announcement is this? There is no information here that anyone can act on. They're not warning against travel, they're just saying, "Go about your business, citizen, but do so in fear."
Maybe I should be a conscientious traveler and report to the authorities any suspicious looking person I see. At a gaming convention that has attendance more than 20% of the population of the hosting town. That would be hilarious ("Officer, there were these guys talking about nuclear weapons and the differences between assault rifles! I think they're planning something under the code name 'Twilight 2000!' I think it's some sort of plot against Poland. Come quickly!"), but I wouldn't get much work done.
Anyway, if I do get shot or blown up, you'll be sorry if you haven't bought a box set yet because prices will go through the roof...