Posts tagged ‘publishing’

January 2, 2015

Adventures Don’t Sell for Shit

Perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration.

Done well, adventure scenarios are an incredibly valuable tool for people playing rpgs. And yet they are never as popular as core rulebooks or player-oriented expansions. If I break down time spent writing adventures versus the profits they have made so far (over the course of a year and a half in a few cases), the best-case scenario is about minimum wage (which is CAN$10/hour where I live… I think). Obviously, if you have a large customer base, they way Pathfinder and D&D do, adventures can actually make enough money to pay for the people involved. But even in those cases, the rulebooks are still where the real money is.

So, what are adventures good for? Advertising.

1. They help sell other books, especially core rules.
If someone runs Island of Fire Mountain for their friends, and their friends love it, what happens? Do they all rush out and buy Island of Fire Mountain? No, they rush out and buy Dungeon World. Now, I’m all for helping out friends of mine but getting paid minimum wage to advertise someone else’s game (or do anything, really) is still a crap job, any way you cut it.

Take a look at two successful adventure-based business models: Goodman Games and Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Both of them have gone from just adventures to also producing their own core rules, which I’m pretty sure sell better than adventures do. Not only are people more likely to buy adventures if they have a proper set of rules to go with it, but people also like to buy core rules. If you’re adventures don’t sell well enough to make a profit on their own, but they keep pointing people toward your other products that do, they’re worth the investment of time and effort (and by “worth it” I of course mean monetarily).

Just like rules expansions and supplements, adventures are a form of support for a game. Lots of people find well-supported games (and game lines) more attractive. Firstly, it (usually) means they will be able to do more things with one game simply by spending money and doing a little reading, instead of having to make everything up themselves (which can be especially time-consuming when it comes to designing rules). But also, if someone is already interested in a core game, good supplements and adventures work to grow and reinforce that interest. Bad supplements don’t tend to have the opposite effect because people can ignore them and concentrate on the ones they do like, or if they reinforce someone’s poor opinion of the game, that person is probably not going to be a customer (or repeat customer) anyway. A bad supplement flops on its own, a good supplement builds the brand.

All that said, making adventures pay off from a business standpoint requires you to use them as advertising for your other work. Using them to push your own core rulebook is a pretty well-established model.

2. They form a body of work.
Another thing that adventures can do is make bundled sales more attractive. A collection of many adventures, or rulebooks that come with a collection of adventures, adds value at the point of sale, as opposed to when people play the game (which is what point 1 was about). Sales are attractive; people like getting a deal. If you have one product out, all you can do is lower the price. If you have a whole bunch of products out, you can also sell a bunch of them for the regular price of just one of them, and not only does it feel like a deal money-wise, but time-wise as well, because they only have to make one purchase to get everything.

In point 1, I’m saying that people who see or play the adventure and think it’s cool get pointed to the core rules. With this point, I’m saying people who are interested in the core rules see that there are adventures for it, and it strengthens their resolve to buy it.

3. They disseminate a style of play.
Aside from the business aspects of points 1 and 2, there is also the community-building aspect to consider. Adventures help teach and promote a specific style of play, which can help lay the groundwork for other games of that style. If you run Apocalypse World and Dungeon World in a specific way, both games really sing. If you run them the same way you run Pathfinder, though? You’re going to have a terrible game. Even the people who hate Pathfinder won’t like it. But not everyone is able to learn how to play AW or DW really effectively from just the core rulebooks (because people learn in different ways). The more examples there are of that style of play out in the world, the easier it is for the people who like it to discuss it and find other people who want to play games in that style. It means subsequent games built in the AW style have an easier time gaining exposure. And this is just a recent example, which I use because right now I mostly write stuff for Dungeon World. Other examples of people promoting a specific style of play in opposition to more dominant styles include the OSR, the Fate community, and the various Gumshoe games.

4. Another reason why people write adventures.
Adventure-writing is also a natural by-product of play, since most rpgs require at least some form of prep. If you’re writing that stuff anyway, you’ve got a head start on a saleable product, although there’s still some work involved (most people I know don’t make professional-looking books just in order to play an adventure once with a few friends). Still, there’s something to be said for turning your hobby into something you can release in public with a little extra effort, and many more reasons than just making money why someone would do that.

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Of course, I don’t follow the whole rpg industry, just parts of it. People with more experience selling games than me might have different perspectives. I published a bunch of adventures mainly because I wanted to, but overall, that time might have been better spent (business-wise) on something else. Adventures on Dungeon Planet has consistently outperformed all of those adventures since the very beginning, and Class Warfare is already more profitable after only a couple of months. So, even though I have notes for plenty more adventures, they’re not exactly racing to the top of the priorities list.

November 5, 2014

Using Class Warfare to make commercial products

The entire text of Class Warfare is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 license. That means you are free to take that text, reprint it, redesign it, and use it in your own products, with a few caveats:

1. First, because it is an Attribution license, you must give credit to the original author. In some cases, that’s me, but in other cases, it’s not. I’ve tried to be meticulous about where I’ve used the text of other peoples’ works, so you can look up the originals yourself. Some of these moves I’ve used verbatim, some I have partially rewritten (although it should be noted that in places where I have borrowed an idea and written a new move completely, or used no original language, I have not indicated the source of the idea, since it is the unique expression of an idea that is subject to copyright). So, it is possible that this could become complicated! I am not a lawyer and I don’t know the exact, proper, legal way to do this, but this is my reading of the license:
1a) If the material is from Class Warfare and no additional author is given, credit the material to me (Johnstone Metzger) and say it’s from Class Warfare.
1b) If the material is from Class Warfare but has been reprinted verbatim, you do not need to credit me, you can credit the original author only.
1c) If the material was rewritten for Class Warfare but has another author, you must credit the material to both them and me, if you borrow it verbatim.

The 4.0 license asks for a link to the original source, but I don’t think that’s really necessary, since the text isn’t available for free online or anything (so what would you be linking to?). To be honest, I’m just using the cc-by-sa license because I want people to share what they make if it’s based on my work, and I’m not usually this super-meticulous about which moves come from where, either. Most of the time I just say portions of the text come from Dungeon World and leave it at that.

So, if you are worried about getting it wrong, don’t be. People releasing their work under a Creative Commons license do so because they want other people to use it, build on it, change it up, or take it in a totally different direction, the main deal here is credit where credit is due—so please, at the very least, just try and credit all the people you borrow from, and if you get it a bit wrong, it’s not the end of the world.

2. As mentioned above, because it’s a ShareAlike license, if you use this material in your own work, you must release that work under a Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike license, so that others can use what you have created. Basically, it’s a way to enforce that spirit of mutualism that we have going with Dungeon World products so far. You can also use a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike license instead, if you like. And listen, if you have any problems with the 4.0 license specifically, get in touch and maybe we can work something out.

3. I haven’t used a NonCommercial license, though, and nobody I’ve borrowed from has either. That means you can sell the work you create which uses this material and you don’t have to give a single dime to the people you borrowed from. That’s right! Just give credit where it’s due and you get to keep all the cash.

One thing to note, however, and this is a matter of etiquette and manners, not the legalities of the license: I don’t think it’s cool to reprint entire sections of somebody else’s work unless they’ve already released it for free, or they give you permission. For example, I made Truncheon World primarily for myself, and didn’t offer print copies for sale until I got permission from Sage and Adam. Everything in that book (except a few things I added myself) was and is freely available, for no charge (and the stuff I added is free now, too). But I wouldn’t do the same thing with a book that didn’t have a free version, and I would probably look down on somebody who did. Re-using stuff is cool, but put your own spin on it! You should be making a new thing out of old things, not just repackaging old things so they look new. That’s just my opinion, though, I can’t speak for anybody else. Even so, I made Class Warfare because I want you to use it, and to create your own things. I’m just over here trying to make things that will help you have fun (and hopefully make enough money in the process so that I can keep doing that), so you can help other people have fun too.

EDIT: Also, one other clarification I should make, I guess. The TEXT of Class Warfare is released under a creative commons license, not the pdf itself. If you want to copy the entire text and do whatever with it, be my guest. Redoing the layout’s a pain and a half (I know because I did that for Truncheon World), but if you want to, knock yourself out! If you want to share the pdf with your group so you can all make characters, great, that’s your call and not really my business. But if I find the pdf uploaded to a file sharing site, that’s not covered by the creative commons license, and I’m going to send them a take down order, simple as that.

October 14, 2014

Class Warfare

Alternate Character and Class Creation Rules for Dungeon World

CW_cover_image_loresWhat is Class Warfare?
Class Warfare is a rules supplement for the Dungeon World role-playing game that provides an alternate and expanded system of character creation. It can also be used to create new character classes, just like those provided in the original rulebook. How Class Warfare does this is by breaking down the Dungeon World character class into smaller pieces—like specialties and archetypes—and showing you how they fit together.

PRINT+PDF FROM DRIVETHRURPG
PRINT ONLY FROM LULU

See a preview of the Rogues section HERE.

Specialties
A specialty is a collection of special abilities that describe one facet of what makes a character’s interaction with the rules of the game unique. Think of it as a shtick, perhaps, or a set of skills, even. Each specialty is approximately one-third of a normal Dungeon World character or character class. The Ranger, for example, is an archer, a hunter, and someone who has an animal companion—three special abilities. In Class Warfare terms, each of those is a specialty.

Archetypes
Each specialty is categorized into one of five different groups, called archetypes. These are general character “types,” that include: adventurer, disciple, magician, rogue, and warrior. Your archetype helps determine your damage die and your maximum hit points, and puts a few limits on which specialties you can combine together.

Basically, it means that if you focus on combat-oriented specialties, you end up with high damage and high hit points, which makes fighting an attractive option for you to take. If you focus on magical powers, you’re much less good at delivering blows or shrugging them off, even just using the basic moves. This encourages you to use your magic and stay out of fights.

Building a Character
You create a starting character by choosing an archetype and two or three specialties. But specialties can also be used as compendium classes, so there are ways to learn new abilities outside your original character concept if you undertake certain quests or perform certain feats. You are not limited only to the choices you made during character creation.

Why did I make this book?
To get rich, of course! Ah hahaha! So funny. In all seriousness, with Class Warfare, I had three primary goals: to make something that would be useful for both myself and other people in creating characters and in writing new classes; to give enough options that it could be used on its own and not just as an example of a new system; and to make it good for at least a little bit more than just initial character creation.

1. A Useful System of Doing Things
I wanted to build a system that breaks down class creation into small but logical pieces. This allows for more nuanced customization of existing character classes, and also gives people a way to make something new and unique that can be used in a game right away, without them having to tackle an entire class all at one time.

Hopefully, this system also gives people some insight into how the classes in Dungeon World balance spotlight time, effectiveness, and the number of moves characters have in relation to each other. Dungeon World is often less transparent than its parent, Apocalypse World, is in this regard, but a lot of people are coming to Dungeon World first, without any reference to other games that are “Powered by the Apocalypse.” Lots of rules design and play discussions that would help new players and GMs are scattered across various forums and private conversations, and aren’t easily accessible to people who weren’t there at the time. If this books can distil some of that knowledge and communicate it, great!

2. A Vast Array of Options
As much as I wanted the system to be easy, I also wanted it to provide plenty of options. The basic Dungeon World classes are already easy to use—the problem is that you only have eight options to choose from! Each of the five archetypes in Class Warfare has between 14 and 21 specialties to choose from, and you can also take one specialty from outside of your archetype. This alone leads to hundreds or even thousands of interesting characters. And then you can always write your own specialties, or ignore my archetypes altogether and build new custom classes out of whichever three archetypes you like. It’s not like I can stop you!

3. Utility Beyond Just Character Creation
I also wanted to encourage people to use these specialties as compendium classes, adding them to existing characters in the middle of play, or using them to extend a character’s game-life beyond level 10. That’s why I included fiction circumstances with each one that would allow you to add it to your character later. It’s only a little thing, but hopefully you find it useful or even inspiring.

How Complete or Definitive is Class Warfare?
Not at all! Just because this book is already super-thick doesn’t mean there aren’t tons more things that could be added to it. Most of the character class material from Dungeon World is included in this book. There’s a bunch of stuff from extras that Sage and Adam have made and some of the compendium classes that were included as kickstarter bonuses—mostly stuff that is available for free, just like Dungeon World itself is. There’s a good deal of my own previous material, including material from Ghostwood Haunts, Island of Fire Mountain, and Lair of the Unknown. Of course, it’s presented in a different format here, just like the material from Dungeon World.

I’ve also included a few moves from other third-party creators—but not a lot. If you want, sometime, I can tell you how I think the classes from Inverse World or Grim World break down into specialties and how you can use them with Class Warfare. But that material isn’t in this book, even though it’s creative commons. You should get it from the people who created it, not from me!

Also, I didn’t want to stray too far from core Dungeon World concepts. It’s true that many people get bored by the “D&D fantasy” genre, and you see new classes that feature drives and backgrounds, freeform spellcasting, or bonds with NPCs. But I wanted to stick to using alignments, Vancian spellcasting, and the four traditional fantasy races. Ultimately, with this book I’m just trying to add more options to the Dungeon World rules, not redefine how the game works. I can do that with other books, yet to be written. After all, this book isn’t supposed to be complete or definitive. Class Warfare is not a destination, it’s a departure point.

Class Warfare by the numbers:
670 starting moves and advanced moves, 526 pages, 227 race moves, 167 spells, 94 illustrations, 84 specialties, 3 different indexes.
$16 for the pdf via DriveThruRPG,
$28 for the print+pdf combo via DriveThruRPG (6×9, white pages, #50 thickness),
$20 for the print by itself from Lulu (6×9, cream-coloured pages, #60 thickness).

PRINT+PDF FROM DRIVETHRURPG

PRINT ONLY FROM LULU

The pdf comes with a blank character sheet, but if you don’t like it, you should check out the sheet Brennen Reece made. If you like that one, also take a look at Brennen’s other Dungeon World character sheets.

There were some typos in the first version of the book! If you find one, please check the Errata List.

October 10, 2014

The Caves in Print

The Caves of Moreau County is now available in print, click for details.

Bird Brain

October 6, 2014

Terrors of the Ancient World – Preview Video

I made a Youtube video of me looking through the print version of Terrors of the Ancient World, so all y’all could see it and know what it looks like. Hopefully it makes you want to buy a copy!

December 28, 2013

DW3 Ghostwood Haunts

Before the year comes to an end, here is a new book! Ghostwood Haunts is an introductory adventure module for the Dungeon World fantasy role-playing game. This is the sequel to DW1 Lair of the Unknown.

DW3 Ghostwood HauntsWhat’s the adventure about?
In the midst of the Ghostwood, the village of Knifesbridge holds a mere few thousand souls, but trouble enough for all. A gang of bandits preys upon the local road traffic, drug addiction spreads through sleepy village streets, and corruption at the heart of municipal politics stymies all attempts to restore law and order. Worse yet, a dead witch’s ghost seeks vengeance, and a demon waits to walk once more beneath the Ghostwood’s leaves. At the crossroads between these fronts lies and old, abandoned tower, and the secrets buried beneath it will tear this village apart.

What’s it look like?
It’s 138 pages, black and white, 6×9 in print, 5.5×8.5 in pdf.

What do you get with this book?
Inside this adventure module you will find:

  • Two complete fronts with three dangers each.
  • NPCs for each of these six dangers, plus more to populate Knifesbridge.
  • Suggested and optional scenes that further the villains evil scenes.
  • Crime, political corruption, and drug addiction.
  • Ghosts, witches, and a demon.
  • Maps of important locations.
  • Three new compendium classes: the Bounty Hunter, the Drug Addict, and the Infernalist.
  • One new base class: the Magnate.

Why is DW3 the sequel to DW1, Johnstone?
That’s a good question, Johnstone! It’s because DW2 isn’t finished yet. Look for that one in March or something.

Where can you get it?
The pdf is available at DriveThruRPG for US$7 in pdf, and $15 for both print and pdf.
  Andthere is a print option at Lulu (with no pdf) for US$12.

October 31, 2013

Truncheon World: The Truncated Dungeon World

Truncheon WorldI don’t like carrying my copy of Dungeon World around. It’s a 400 page hardcover and I’m the one who has to run it, so I don’t even get to take advantage of the +1 vs. haters it gives me. So I made myself a smaller version, with just the stuff I use, in a slightly different order, and called it Truncheon World, the truncated Dungeon World.

You can get the pdf for free at DriveThruRPG. Or you can pay, if you want.

You can get the 6×9 B&W softcover from Lulu for $12.

At some point in the future, you’ll be able to get a softcover from DriveThruRPG with colour-coded sections so it’s even easier to reference. I haven’t got the proof back yet, though.

This isn’t a truncated version of the rules or anything. Just the text. It won’t let you make characters and there’s no monsters in it. Or examples of stuff, so you probably don’t want to try learning how to play the game from this book. If you want a slim volume that’s easy to reference while running the game, this might be the thing for you. If even this is to large, I’m willing to make a smaller version if somebody else wants to decide which pages to delete.

This is the B&W version.

October 28, 2013

New Print Versions

I have added new print options at DriveThruRPG for some of my books. I have not really been happy with the B&W print option Lightning source offers, mainly because they don’t do full bleed and I use bleed on pretty much all of my books except the Metamorphica.

Evil Wizards in a Cave now has a Standard Colour print option, although the book is still in black & white. It just has full bleed. The black inks aren’t quite as rich as either the B&W option or the Lulu version (which is still the best option, in my opinion), but it looks pretty decent, all in all.

I’ve added the Standard Colour option to Adventures on Dungeon Planet, but left the B&W option available, for those of you who are discerning enough to care about the difference. B&W has richer blacks, but Standard Colour has full bleed instead of white space at the edge of the pages. If you don’t care either way, I make more money if you buy the B&W version (though not very much more).

The B&W version of Lair of the Unknown still looks pretty good to me, even with that white space, so I haven’t tried to make a new pdf for a Standard Colour option for that books, although I am currently waiting to see what the Knives in the Dark Standard Colour option looks like, and I may switch that title over if it looks as good as Evil Wizards in a Cave.

The Third Verse will have a Standard Colour print option available sometime next month.

September 1, 2013

The First Six Months

Since I put Adventures on Dungeon Planet up for sale in March, the end of August marks the first six calendar months of me being a “professional” game design studio. These are my sales numbers so far (“print” includes bundled sales):

March
56 Dungeon Planet print
31 Dungeon Planet pdf

April
53 Dungeon Planet print
61 Dungeon Planet pdf

May
42 Dungeon Planet print
33 Dungeon Planet pdf

June
11 Dungeon Planet print
28 Dungeon Planet pdf

July
16 Dungeon Planet print
21 Dungeon Planet pdf
10 Lair print
44 Lair pdf

August
8 Dungeon Planet print
24 Dungeon Planet pdf
7 Knives print
23 Knives pdf
9 Lair print
27 Lair pdf

Analysis

- From selling games, I’m basically pulling in half of a minimum wage salary right now. The end of September will mark the end of a full year of what roughly amounts to a full-time job designing rpgs (not that I actually keep track of my hours).

- If you want to at least try to compare all this with the DW-related kickstarter projects, compressing these six months of Dungeon Planet into similar figures gets us 384 backers with a total raised of something like $6,500-7,500, depending on how much I would be gouging people for shipping. You can probably use this comparison as an argument in favour of Kickstarter as a marketing platform.

- My marketing strategy is pretty crap, not gonna lie. It currently consists of little more than g+, SG, and “continue releasing books.” That third one takes up a lot of my time, though. You’d think that given the low sales of RK1 Knives in the Dark, I’d give up on that series altogether, but no, I’m doing more. They’re quality, so hopefully they’ll pay off at some point.

July 22, 2013

Adventures on Dungeon Planet moves to DriveThruRPG

Adventures on Dungeon Planet is now available from DriveThruRPG.

You can buy it in pdf and/or print right here.

The pdf now comes with all the character sheets, so you don’t have to come back here and get them. The book is printed on white paper and there may be thin white borders around some of the pictures because it does not have full bleed.

You can still buy the print version from Lulu. They print on creme paper and produce what I consider to be a superior book, although I can’t guarantee what they send to you is exactly the same as what they send to me. I care about the difference in quality, but enough other people told me it was not as big a deal as I thought that I decided to switch. Lulu’s storefront is terrible and DriveThruRPG’s is not. So there it is, and soon there will be more.

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