Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Taking Stock, part I: My Big Three

As most of you know, I fancy myself some kind of self-publisher of games. I’ve enjoyed a bit of success here and there, and I love it. But something makes me wonder if it’s all worthwhile. In an effort to get a clear picture of where my efforts have been and where they are (or should be) going, I’m going to go through all of my products at RPGNow one-by-one, and assess their intrinsic value from my perspective. Feel free to drop in your own comments.

Note: I'm including links, just in case this piques anyone's interest.

Basic Arcana
A few years ago I became fascinated by the OSR movement. I began my RPG life with Moldvay’s Basic Box back in 1981 or so. And that version of D&D has always held a special place in my heart. After finding an internet forum devoted to OSR games and gaming, I decided to try my hand at writing something compatible with the Moldvay version. The result was called Basic Arcana.

Conceived as a “basic” variation of the 1E Unearthed Arcana, BA was meant to present some optional rules and variations to the old Basic games and their clones. After I had gotten about halfway through writing it, I discovered that I was doing nothing really new or innovative, but I persevered until I had it done. I peppered it with illustrations from my own DeviantArt page, and the public domain, and put it out there.

The response was better than I really expected. It got a decent amount of movement initially (helping almost fund an entire gaming Con that year), and it still performs regularly, selling 1-3+ copies every month. All-in-all, I like the product, and wish I could see it in use. But, like many of my products, it’s just something I wrote based on my experiences and preferences, and I’ll probably never get the chance to play with it myself.

Life of Rage
I am a self-confessed orc-o-phile. Orcs are my favorite fantasy race, and I have a soft spot for almost every iteration of them (the Warcraft Orc being my favorite). I had conceived of this game ages ago, with the basic premise of “what if the players were the orcs?” It started out with having an original, and mostly unique system. But then I got the idea of making it an OSR product. So, I layered all of my original content over the basic rules, refined it as much as I could, and put it out there.

Like Basic Arcana before it, Life of Rage OSR has always done somewhat well. Though it didn’t sell as well as BA at first, it has settled into the same monthly performance of 1-3 units. However, LoR also has a few supplements to attach, including Half-Orc Sorcerer, and Qruzlat (orcish martial arts). You can even get it all in a Bundle.

I was working on a more complete version, which included a “Monster Manual” type section, as well as some other bits and pieces. That is actually mostly done. However, like all of my projects, one of the biggest hurdles is artwork. And I can’t bring myself to release a “complete” version without some cool, original artwork. I may end up working on that myself, since commissioning others with more talent costs money that I just don’t have.

Mutants & Marvels
Initially, this game was envisioned as simply putting the old Marvel® RPG (FASERIP) game to the d20 mechanic. It was started as a personal project, with no intention to share it with anyone other than a few friends who showed interest. But, after some encouragement, I went all out with it.

This is my big one, really. At least, it’s the one I’ve put the most into, and got the most feedback on during production. M&M has had two versions. The original version had a lot of issues, and with the help of a few very keen testers, I made a lot of changes and additions, as well as added some extra content that I felt needed to be in there. The second version is a MUCH better game, I feel.

M&M seems pretty popular, if the sales numbers are any indication. And the Facebook page gets regular new likes. I’ve tried to get that going as a place to discuss the game, but haven’t seen a lot of action on that front. Mainly, it’s just a place for me to post (infrequent) news, and a few freebies I come up with.

I do have a pretty bold idea for a new supplement, and I will probably be working on that in the near future. I’m also looking at expanding the “bare-bones” setting that I included in the rulebook into its own supplement. And finally, I’m considering running a session or two at a convention in the near future.

Next time:  The Odds & Ends

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