"Oh cool... So you're STILL working on this?" -- A guy at GenCon

"If I see Drah-koo-lah, I will. kick. him. in. the eye!!!" -- My 4 (almost 5) year old daughter. She GETS it!

"Meatpie Forever!" -- A playtester at GenCon 2013

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year's

2013 in Review

First off, thanks to everyone who has purchased a copy of Transylvanian Adventures. My hope was to create a game that would become a new way of roleplaying in the Victorian/Gothic Horror era -- a way that relied heavily on emergent play, the familiarity of OSR gaming, and the foundation established by DCC RPG. Time will tell if I have hit that mark or not.

Transylvanian Adventures has done well. I'm projecting breaking even on the project by the end of March. Breaking even means I've paid myself back for the art and other expenses I've incurred specifically in putting the book together. These expenses do not include the time I spent writing it or that Jenn spent laying it out. So it's a very lean "break even".

At the beginning, I'd hoped to break even on the book. I wasn't at all sure that would be possible. As a stretch goal I'd hoped to make enough money to bring on another writer and buy even more art for the second and third books.

That is not likely to materialize.

2014 in Preview

Which leads us to perhaps the biggest announcement in this "State of the Land of Phantoms" post. The publishing model by which I was hoping to release the second and third books has to change. I figured this might be the case but I at least wanted to give the first book to the end of the year to prove me wrong. If I were to stick to the original plan, I likely wouldn't be releasing The Hanging Judge's Guide until 2015 and I'm in no position to incur the kind of costs that went into the first book.

By my estimation, that's a loss for both of us -- you all for having to wait a full year to get anything new and me for having to rush it and pay for it with money I don't have and can't recoup.

I've mentioned on the Spellburn podcast why I'm not likely to go the Kickstarter route. But even if I were to do so, it only solves one axis of the problem.

My solution, therefore, is to move to a publishing model whereby I release sections of books two and three as they are completed. These releases would feature minimal or no art. They will be PDF only and will be very affordable. They may even be pay-what-you-want. All the proceeds from these downloads will go towards art and completion of books two and three.

Even better, those who have a driving interest in the books will have a say in what is released when -- following the first couple of sections I plan on completing. If, for example, you all say you'd rather have the spells from book three before the Adversaries in book two, I'll be able to oblige. Or if you want a shot at the Theorist. Or the setting hacks I have planned.

I've put a great deal of thought into this and it's grown on me over time. It gives me a chance to release additional material more quickly, yet still have the time I would need to put together a quality product with the print books.

When all the sections of each book are finished, they'll be compiled with art and released as print-on-demand. I don't know if I'll make the compiled books available as PDFs. That's something you'll help me decide. It's conceivable (by this model) that the Grimoire might see print before the Judge's Guide. I'm okay with that.

I'd also like to know your thoughts on the proposed publishing model. Please feel free to do so in the comments.


Here's what's coming up in 2014 for TATG:
  • Print-on-demand through RPGNow. I underestimated the impact of the holidays on the POD approval process and missed the final buzzer by a good deal. It was my intention to have this ready by Christmas. It's now looking like a January release. As soon as it's available, PDF owners will get a discount on the hardcover.
  • Updating the LoP site. It needs a facelift badly. I got it together in a rush. I'd like to make it look better.
  • TA Basic. I'm still planning to release a low-fidelity, download only copy of Transylvanian Adventures. It will have no art. It will not have the Half-Breed, Scoundrel, or Exotic. It will not have the optional tables for the "Mad-Lib" character generation. It will have some of the other tables. But not all of them. It will be 33-40% of the big book. But it will be affordably priced for those looking to try-before-they-buy.
  • Hexmap/Setting and Monsters. In an order based on popular demand, I'd like to make these my first two releases in 2014. I'm hoping one by the end of May and the other in July or August. After that, we can decide what we'd like to release next. There's been some demand for spells. So maybe we dive into Book Three before finishing up Book Two. Or maybe we branch off completely and do another adventure.
I think these are reasonable goals for 2014. We'll see how much I'm able to accomplish. I'd like very much to participate more in the DCC RPG community in 2014. I would also be open to running an online game of Transylvanian Adventures or even putting together a podcast or two to walk people through character generation, the In-Between Adventures phase, the Investigation phase, and some of the rules listed in Transylvanian Adventures.

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