Coming to you a little later than usual this year, due to us getting A Call to Arms: Star Fleet out of the door, this is the State of the Mongoose 2011, the regular year’s review and a look at what is coming up in the next 12 months. Farewell 2011, a warm welcome to 2012.
The Past Year
Well, Mongoose has come through a new year, its first as a newly independent company after leaving Rebellion in mid-2010. Moreover, Mongoose has not only survived but changed direction as well – not an easy task, especially when the only resources available came from a roleplaying market that is still less than stellar. However, as evidenced by the arrival of A Call to Arms: Star Fleet, we have done it without redundancies and without compromising on our existing products.
Overall, the RPG market has a pulse but that is about all can be said for it (though there are high points). We think the bottom mark has been reached but that has been said many, many times before. Pathfinder and the Dark Heresy games lead the pack, depending on which side of the ocean you are sitting, followed by D&D 4e.
Not to be accused of rumour-mongering (had enough of that over the Star Wars licence, even though no names were mentioned – but we were right), we think it possible that D&D 5e may be appearing in 2013. Let’s just say certain stars align at that time. Whether it has the effect on the entire market that 3e had, well, that is some speculation and hard to imagine. But you never know. It would certainly be nice.
For our part, Traveller continues to be a strong card in our RPG stable. RuneQuest II has become Legend recently and its own sales have taken us somewhat by surprise – we had always looked upon it as a continuation of our work in fantasy but as I type this we are already prepping the reprint of the core book. There seems to be something about its format that has hit the nail on the head.
Paranoia core books continue to be relatively strong, month in, month out, the supplements… not. A continuing conundrum for us.
Amongst our third party ‘Flaming Cobra’ publishers, we said a sad goodbye to both Dragon Warriors and, recently, Corporation. Glum days, as we greatly enjoyed both UK-based games but their respective studios have made the decision to strike out on their own and we wish them all the luck in the world – we still play their games in the office! On the other hand, we said hello to Stars Without Number and, due for imminent release, Wayfarers. We retain our partnership with Redbrick as Earthdawn continues to stretch its legs, and we are looking at 2012 for the all new Fading Suns and Blue Planet.
We started putting some books up on Amazon’s Kindle store this year – a handful of novels (one for Armageddon 2089, one for Deus Vult, another for Lone Wolf), along with Sex, Dice and Gamer Chicks. The Nexus Files will be joining them as soon as we have sorted some formatting issues out and we had hoped to have the Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook up there by now as well. However, we have run across a few problems in turning an RPG to Kindle format and having it still be useable as an RPG but we are working through these issues and hope to have the entire line up early in 2012.
2011 was the year our forge cranked up to full production after having run with the small Judge Dredd range for the latter part of 2010. First came Noble Armada in conjunction with Holistic, and now Star Fleet with Amarillo Design Bureau.
The other big change has been our switch to using resin for many of our models. We started this with some of our later Noble Armada ships (the Kurgan Cruisers were the first, actually spun-cast with resin, using the same process as metal miniatures are produced) and virtually the entire Star Fleet range is resin.
It is worth lingering on this change for a moment, as there are a great many miniatures manufacturers making the change from metal to resin. First, it should be said that the driving force behind this change, for every manufacturer (no matter what might be said publicly!) is cost. The cost of metal is getting savagely, even prohibitively, expensive – a change had to be made.
Not that it has all been roses on the resin front. Working with resin is far more labour intensive and, even more importantly, miniatures manufacturers did not get together to attend resin-casting classes. It also has to be said that there has not been a huge amount of information sharing as we all adapt to the new material, with secrets being jealously guarded! All companies have done their own research and approached the process on their own terms. You can see this by comparing resin models between different manufacturers, as I do not know of any two manufacturers that appear to be using the same type of resin (and there are many, many different flavours out there).
So, I can only speak of what Mongoose is doing. Production of miniatures is cheaper in terms of material but takes noticeably longer and so labour costs are more expensive. With metal prices being extremely volatile and not knowing what they will do one month to the next, this is an acceptable trade off. Over the next year, we will need to focus on increasing efficiency – we are relatively new to this, so there are a multitude of new systems and processes we can put in place. Behind the scenes, this will be a major concentration of our effort in 2012.
As for the end result, there have been many claims, wild and otherwise, made about resin. For my part, as a long-term miniatures gamer, I like it! What might take some effort in using clippers and knife to clean up a metal model takes far less time with a small file on resin. And as for building multipart models, not only does resin have less weight, thus putting less stress on joints, it absolutely loves superglue. Being slightly porous, the grip it has on two joining parts is phenomenal.
The resin Mongoose uses has all these qualities and, in addition, is far from brittle. We have actually conducted the Hammer Test (and we mean big, over the shoulder swings, not little taps), with no more effect than a slight flattening of detail.
After seeing all this, I asked Rob, our main miniatures guy in the US and the gentleman responsible for overseeing the casting of all our models, why we had not switched to resin years before? His answer was, with hindsight, obvious – we did need to, but we knew nothing about it and, if we were honest, we were a bit scared of the change!
Still, we are there now, and while we have not abandoned metal completely (we use it for some very small detail parts on the Star Fleet range, for example), we can look forward to a happy resin future.
For years we have been talking about the mystical new web site – in 2011, we finally did it!
We had made a deal with Rebellion to take the work that had been done on the web site we had helped develop while we were part of the group but it turned out to be less than useless (and we have since heard they have abandoned the project altogether). So, we started from scratch with the web developers we have known for years now and while the process was not wholly smooth, got the site up and running within about two months.
As for the new site, well, what can I say? It is simply glorious. It has already revolutionised our mail order department, to the extent that every order for items that are in stock is turned around within 24 hours (and the only way we run out of stock is if shelves are depleted in the UK, a very rare occurrence). It almost completely eliminated the administration that lurked behind every order our customers made and this allowed us to lower our shipping and postage rates, and offer free shipping on larger orders. Throughout 2012, it is our aim to increase these savings to mail order customers and make shipping rates even lower.
The new web site allowed us/prompted us (take your pick) to fully integrate Twitter, Facebook and the Planet Mongoose blog into our marketing and promotions. Still early days on all three yet but the aim right now is to use Planet Mongoose for detailed previews, Facebook for quicker summaries and Twitter is a direct line to my desk letting you know what is happening day-to-day at Mongoose. Expect a little insanity on that one.
Finally, the new web site gave us the ‘nested tier’ structure to our catalogue that I have wanted for years. Finally, not all Traveller books need be in the same place (though they can be, if you start at the top of the menu system). We can divide them down into settings, rulebooks, adventures, supplements – and then, if we so wish, down again, and again, and again. There is obviously a practical limit here but we can now do it on the fly whereas, on the old site, only our web developers could make such changes.
There is far more to come on the web site, and its potential as our main link to customers and fans is almost limitless. We will continue improving the service throughout 2012. We intend to fully integrate our Mongoose Infantry demo teams into the site, making things far easier for them (everything is still a bit ‘manual’ there at the moment!), have ‘articles’ integrated into the catalogue, so as well as picking up, say, a Legend book you will also be able to download free rules in the same part of the web site for, maybe, new tricks on using archers, or perhaps just read an article covering the finer points of fantasy gamesmastering. This latter aim will form part of our replacement to Signs & Portents (more on that later).
As I said right at the beginning of this section, we made it through 2011 without redundancies, not the easiest thing to do in the current economic climate as many other companies in many different trades have discovered. We said goodbye to Nick Robinson, who made the decision to leave to pursue his goals elsewhere, and hello (again!) to Bruce Graw, who has been responsible for manufacturing many of the Star Fleet ships we hope you will be picking up over the next few months!
A Call to Arms: Star Fleet
This was/is the big release of the year, the rulebook earning the title for Most Pre-Orders of 2011.
The whole game came about due to our history of RPGs, Designers & Dragons. We were following up on the various companies, making sure what we were printing was accurate and whether those concerned had anything to add, and I ended up chatting with Steve Cole at Amarillo Design Bureau. At some point I mentioned that it was a shame he could not sub-licence the Star Fleet Universe, as I would love to do A Call to Arms using those ships. Well, he said, there could be a way… and the rest is history!
This game has been a challenge in many different ways, from bending the A Call to Arms system to the Star Fleet Universe (and showing its flexibility in the doing) to creating a whole new range of miniatures purely through 3D design and then casting them all in resin. We had done elements of all of this in the past, notably with Noble Armada but here we were trying to do it with an entire range (65 ships) with a self-imposed release deadline of ‘before Christmas!’
It was a wild ride but we did it, and I am personally very, very happy with this game. As a system, I think it is the best incarnation of A Call to Arms yet, being very tight and refined although with at least three more layers of tactical options than before. As for the miniatures themselves, everyone involved is in agreement that our new full-time 3D designer, Sandrine, surpassed herself. Take a good look at the models when you get a chance – you may need a magnifying glass to see it but Sandrine even made sure the phaser-1 and phaser-3 weapon mounts were of a different size!
I should also take time to give a special thanks to Steve and his crew at Amarillo Design Bureau who tolerated some very stupid questions during design and a breakneck pace for going through model revisions. Even though it looked doubtful that we would meet our deadlines, we just about hit every one.
We are now manufacturing the new models as fast as we can and our guys in the US are getting phenomenal results. More staff are being brought in to handle the demand but I suspect we will not be able to service absolutely everyone on our usual 24 hour turnaround basis until around the middle of January. Still, the ship moves ever onwards. The Kzintis appear towards the end of January, followed by the Gorns the month after, rounding off with the ‘mini’ Tholian and Orion fleets.
Of course, we will not be stopping there. In an effort to avoid repeating the fast pace of model design (let’s just say that Sandrine worked more than a few late nights for the first wave of ships…), we have already started work on the first supplement and second wave of ships, slated for an August(ish) release next year. A few of these new ships will pop up before the supplement, so there will not be a huge yawning gap between releases and yes, the Star Fleet Universe die-hards will be pleased to know the Lyrans will be among them along with a handful of other new races and, of course, reinforcements for the existing fleets.
Our support will not be ending there though. The first official tournament will be run at our UK office in February (date to be set within the next couple of weeks) and we are already putting in place the foundations for more tournaments elsewhere in the world. There will also be a ‘mini’ supplement, a journal of sorts, in April to provide some new scenarios, a few bits and bobs for you to try in your games, and stats of a few ships from the second wave that will have an early release. Not one to miss.
There is a lot more happening in the Star Fleet Universe. We are currently discussing several projects, from novels, through to iPhone games and there is even talk of a Paranoia/Star Fleet Universe crossover where players take the role of hapless away teams…
Not all of these will necessarily come to fruition but it is certainly going to be an interesting time for fans of this universe!
A Call to Arms: Noble Armada
Based on the Fading Suns RPG universe, A Call to Arms: Noble Armada is the game of the fleets of great houses battling across the void, blasting away with broadsides and rushing in close for perilous boarding actions – a perfect blend of the age of sail and high-tech science fiction!
We had hoped for the supplement, Fleets of the Fading Suns, to be out by now and, indeed, the book is just about complete. What we are missing are some new models! We brought the Vuldrok and Kurgan fleets out but the Church, Vau and reinforcements for the existing fleets have suffered greatly from the time taken with the rapid prototyping firm we use as they processed the rather sizeable range of Star Fleet models.
It is rapidly becoming clear to us that Mongoose needs to look seriously at gaining its own rapid prototyper, especially with the plans we have for miniatures games in 2012 and beyond.
That aside, all the 3D models for the new Noble Armada ships are complete and will be prototyped, cast and painted within the next couple of months. Stand by, Noble Armada fans, as new fleets and ships will soon be here by the dozen!
Beyond that, we still have the League and Symbiote fleets to tackle, there are still more ideas for ships of the existing fleets, and the A Call to Arms Journal mentioned under Star Fleet will cover Noble Armada as well.
When we announced Star Fleet, there was some concern voiced that Noble Armada would be drowned out by its big sister – we have no intention of letting that happen, as Noble Armada ticks on quite nicely by itself, so expect to see a string of releases throughout the year after Fleets of the Fading Suns makes an appearance.
So, stand by to board, and take no prisoners (unless they are obviously noble and could command sizeable ransoms)!
Victory at Sea
From our perspective, Victory at Sea is the game that just keeps on going. Several years on, thousands of copies sold and it shows few signs of slowing down.
The first thing that will appear in 2012 is the long-awaited supplement for Age of Dreadnoughts, the World War I edition of the game. Written by David Manley, Far Flung Seas introduces a host of new fleets (including Italian, Austrian and French fleets, plus reinforcements for existing forces), a new campaign map and rules for coastal forces.
Those watching our Eye on Mongoose Facebook page will already know that Sandrine has spent her Star Fleet Cooling Off Period messing around with some 3D designs for a new range of World War II models.
This is down to us developing three miniatures games in parallel. One is a second edition of Victory at Sea, complete with comprehensive miniatures range. For details of the others, see below ‘Miniatures and Games in Development’.
The decision of which we will go forward with will be taken at the end of this year after we have done a little more work on rules concepts and models, with the final game appearing around June(ish). However, I can go into some detail on what we are planning for Victory at Sea 2.0, as we have taken to calling it.
We have delayed doing such a game this long principally because we made a decision long ago that a new Victory at Sea would only be produced if it had a line of miniatures to go with it. We did launch into discussions with Navwar about the possibility of buying their entire range and, for a while, this looked like a promising move. In the end, however, technology caught up with us (or vice versa) and 3D design pointed the way ahead.
A fair number of ships have already been researched and designed by Sandrine (right now, you can show Sandrine a photograph of a battleship and she will tell you what year the photo was taken – much to her chagrin) and verified by David Manley. This has been possible because of 3D design techniques. The miniatures line breaks down like this.
We have designed the models to be super-detailed resin casts (I know, I know, you are tired of hearing the words ‘resin’ and ‘detailed’ in the same sentence, but see my comments before about phasers and you’ll get a sense of what is possible these days) in 1/2,400 scale.
Retail releases will see all major classes released for all major fleets (British, German, US, Japanese, French and Russian). However, and this is where the clever bit of 3D design comes in, Sandrine has not just done a Queen Elizabeth-class model and then moved on. She has done separate models for the Warspite, Valiant, Barham and Malaya. And, so far, has done this for every class of ship she worked on. These sister ships will likely be available by mail order only (as there will of course be a sizeable number in the range) and while we will cover all battleships of the war, we may only do this for a number of cruisers. There do, after all, have to be limits!
Our intent is to produce a line of finely-detailed, low cost 1/2,400 scale ships that will grace any table.
What we do with the rulebook is more open to question. Our original intention was for a big, thick, full colour hardback with lots of photos, pictures of pretty painted fleets, truly comprehensive fleet lists (combining those of the original Victory at Sea and Order of Battle) and lots of articles examining various areas of the sea war – a real feast for naval wargamers!
However, we are now also considering a box set, complete with two fleets of plastic miniatures and everything else needed to form a proper starter set.
As I said, no firm decision just yet, but this is the direction of our thinking.
Judge Dredd Miniatures Games
The Judge Dredd miniatures game, released over a year ago, continues to tick over with semi-regular updates and it is now a very different beast from the first release, with many more options for players. As we said before, this game will always be available for free and there is a growing range of miniatures to support it, recently Kleggs, and more personalities in the form of Judges Caligula and Dekker!
We are quite reliant on Mr Shane Hoyle for Dredd miniatures at this time, as he is very talented and ‘gets’ 2000AD on a very fundamental level. Because of this, we allow him to pretty much do what he wants, when he wants!
While this makes predicting a release schedule rather difficult, we have sneaked some Sov spies into his workshop and have seen work in progress on a new Street Judge with multiple weapon choices (including the Lawrod and Stub Gun), Mega-City One attachments for Mantic’s plastic zombie range (meaning the Zombie Mistress will at last have her minions!) and, must waited of all, the new Lawmaster (which will eventually come with a range of add-ons and riders, allowing you to make, say, a Med-Div or Tek-Div bike).
We also have the Manta Prowl Tank waiting in the wings but, like the Noble Armada range, it has suffered from the rapid prototyping service being completely clogged up with Star Fleet ships! However, it is next in line with the Noble Armada ships, so expect to see a very impressive model within the next couple of months or so.
Beyond that, we will be waiting to see what Mr Hoyle comes up with throughout 2012 and, if the Manta is well received, we are likely to divert some of the time Sandrine’s trainee works with us to come up with more vehicles for Mega-City One. This, in turn, will no doubt prompt us to polish off the ‘road rash’ rules for taking the fight of the streets onto the Megways of the city, and probably the ‘mass’ Block Wars rules too!
Another thing we have looked at for Judge Dredd is to move the rulebook onto the iPad and other tablets as an app that will allow for automatic updates, animated examples and a host of other features that will dispense for the need to keep sheets of paper fluttering around the tabletop. Nothing immediate is happening on this yet but we hope to have a serious look in the coming year.
Miniatures and Games in Development
Over the past couple of years, we have been developing several miniatures game with a view to releasing them over a staggered period. They are divided into two categories – games that will be continually supported over many years (such as the A Call to Arms games) and those with limited releases, self-contained games that will remain available but for which the miniatures range will ultimately be finite. Dip in and dip out games, as it were.
Two games have been put temporarily to rest, due to evident production issues. Reality Tech Storm we have mentioned before as a 6mm science fiction game with some unique game mechanics that we have not seen in other games before. The other was a ‘giant robot game’ with some Japanese Manga influences that was based in the same universe as Reality Tech Storm. While the rules for both of these are well under way, along with an amount of miniatures design, we are putting them to one side for now (although keeping them in development) while we resolve some design and production problems that cropped up. You will hopefully see some sneaky previews during 2012 as we gear up for both of these games.
Reality Tech Storm was going to be our new ‘summer release’ miniatures game but as it took a back seat, that allowed other games to step forward. And, due to the work already done on them (plus the fact I really like them!) two games suggest themselves as good choices for this slot.
The first, Victory at Sea, we have already covered. The other stems from a game with the working title of Vx Racing. Set fifty-odd years in the future, this was to be a game of high-tech racing with gorgeous looking anti-grav ‘skimmers.’ The rules are close to completion (in fact, at one point – three years ago – we were going to release it as a freebie in Signs & Portents), as is a good portion of the background. We have had some issues getting the models right – the idea is that you can pick up a good looking skimmer and then remove various parts (steering veins, engines, weaponry of course) and replace them with better functioning – or just better looking – components, kind of like the ultimate car modifier’s dream.
However, it occurred to us that we need not limit the game just to the race track. We are now looking at setting the game in an economically ruined US (though Eurasia and Japan are also being looked at) where things are more or less okay on the coasts (where the flashy racing still takes place) but the centre has turned into one big desert and townships hire private security forms to protect them from highway raiders – kind of a futuristic Mad Max, of you like, but one that has constant influence from both media and manufacturers who gain fame in the races and profiteer from the misery of those who live outside the big cities.
The Decision Day where we have to decide whether we go ahead with this or a new Victory at Sea is fast approaching, so comments will be welcomed!
In the last State of the Mongoose, we mentioned a Battlefield Evolution based on Vietnam, and this is still on the slow-burner. Likely not a 2012 release but we are looking to push development of the game further forward.
Finally, I should mention Historia Rodentia/Brushfire. As mentioned under the Legend RPG, a chance encounter at Gen Con led us into talks with On The Lamb Games to produce a new version of their animal-based wargame and help it reach wider distribution. No release date has been set, and there is a fair bit of work to do yet (On The Lamb are currently looking at converting it to the Battlefield Evolution/Starship Troopers rules set), but at the moment we are looking around the bottom end of 2012 for release. Again, keep an eye on our web site (and On The Lamb’s!) for news and previews.
The Traveller range continues to be very strong for us – there just seems to be something about its out-of-the-book sandbox nature that captures the imagination of players, as it has for more than 30 years now.
We appointed a new writer in 2011 to help out with a steady stream of Traveller releases, David Pulver, who is just polishing off Alien Module 5: Solomani. David will be spending some time writing material for the Solomani end of the galaxy, giving you a whole new area of the Imperium to explore. We also recruited the services of Messrs Rob Eaglestone and Don McKinney, two names that will be very familiar to long term Traveller fans.
Don wrote Alien Module 4: Zhodani in 2011 and is currently working on Alien Module 6: Droyne, while Rob is polishing off the Deneb Sector as we continue to explore the galaxy, one sector at a time. You can be sure we will be tempting them to write more material for the game in 2012!
Colin Dunn has been working hard on 2300AD, a new look at the classic setting, now revised for the Traveller rules set. As I write this, the core rulebook is about to go off to print, and Colin has already started work on a wide range of supplements. We’ll be exploring the French Arm first with French Arm Adventures and the French Arm core sourcebook, along with Tools for Frontier Life, the Central Supply Catalogue of 2300AD. Then it will be off to the Chinese Arm, with both a sourcebook and adventure book. If you are looking for a hard science setting where mankind is just setting out for the stars around Earth, then this could well be the game for you.
2011 saw the completion of the epic Secrets of the Ancients campaign which, as well as remaining a completely free download is also now available as a hardback book. Written by Gareth Hanrahan, this campaign took traditional elements and themes from classic Traveller material and extended into something truly magnificent. If you have not run Secrets of the Ancients yet, we urge you to do so – it really is one of the all time greats of Traveller adventuring.
So, given all that, how could we not ask Gareth to write another epic campaign? We debated long and hard about what the subject material should be, including a sequel to Secrets (which we may well come back to in the future!). In the end, it was a passage Gareth originally wrote in the Aslan Alien Module that swung it – he said ‘if the Spinward Marches are the frontier, then the Trojan Reaches are the badlands’. This quickly culminated in The Pirates of Drinax, a brand new campaign where players take the part of pirates or privateers (as they choose), caught between the machinations of two huge empires and the politicking of many other smaller powers. It is a very ‘loose’ campaign and the introduction document will give you all the information you need to run a pirating campaign without the need of adventures – instead, the adventures themselves will provide a long running plot line that will build up to a mighty climax. Before that happens, the players will be dodging Imperial patrols, building up their own pirate fleet, courting governor’s daughters, swaying colonies to be on their side and, oh yes, chasing down fat merchantmen and forcing them to stand down and prepare to be boarded. Basically, everything your players always want to do in Traveller but can’t because of pesky things like the law. Here, piracy is the whole point!
We will start releasing this about time you read this, and continue to add adventures throughout the first half of 2012. Keep an eye out for this one, as it is going to be a good ‘un!
Other planned titles for 2012 include a tournament-ready Trillion Credit Squadron and, something to tie up all the little sub-systems that comprise the game, Solo Traveller, allowing you to play a full Traveller campaign without requiring players to turn up every week!
I mentioned recently on our forums that Armageddon 2089, the game of big robot warfare, was coming to Traveller, likely as a PDF only expansion and that it would be completed by Christmas. Well, a fair bit of work has been done on it, but we are going to miss that deadline. Expect to see Armageddon 2089 appearing for Traveller some time during 2012.
Last but by no means least, a new universe will be coming to Traveller. Under our agreement with Amarillo Design Bureau, we were to produce a Star Fleet Universe edition of A Call to Arms and, in return, ADB were to produce a Traveller edition of their Star Fleet Universe game, Prime Directive. This will appear in 2012, and we have requested it cover not just Federation away teams and independent free traders, but bridge crews for, well, all the key empires – here at Mongoose, we can’t wait to jump in with a Klingon bridge crew campaign!
Keep an eye on ADB’s web site for more updates on this game.
Legend has gone with a far, far bigger bang than we expected. As I write this, we have already blasted through the first printing run and the book sits at the top of the Drivethru charts with the first supplement, Monsters of Legend, fast chasing it.
We had intended this game to be a continuation of the RuneQuest II mechanics, allowing us to provide support indefinitely for existing customers. Instead, it rather seems to have taken a life of its own!
This is, I believe, due to a number of factors, not least of which is that Messrs Lawrence Whitaker and Pete Nash designed a rock solid fantasy system that ticks all the right boxes. Added to this, the new format and the low price of £10/$19.99 means that instead of just buying one book, you can now get one for every player at the table for much the same price. We released the PDF version for just $1. We made the entire book (in fact, the entire core range) Open Content – not via an SRD but literally all the text of the books. Finally, we promised a quick amount of support material, from Monsters of Legend and the free Spirit Magic download, to brand new material for our various settings.
So, what have we got planned for Legend through 2012?
We are busy converting all our ‘historical’ settings over to the new format, so you will see Vikings of Legend, Pirates of Legend and Samurai of Legend in the first few months of the year. Again, all of these will also be 100% Open Content.
Cities of Legend (also Open Content) will start appearing fairly early on, each providing a full fantasy city that can be placed in just about any campaign. Each city will be mapped out, a short history included (just enough to start linking it with the rest of the campaign world, whichever one that may be) and all the interesting locations, characters and events detailed. And then there is Arcania of Legend, introducing new and varied magic systems to the game, allowing you to pick and choose which you want to use in your campaign worlds. That kicks off with Blood Magic.
We weren’t going to do a GM’s screen for Legend but, given the demand we have seen for one of late, we may have to! And yes, it would be landscape format.
Elric of Melnibone will be getting two new supplements early in the year, Secrets of the Steppes and Talons of Winter. The first describes a vast wilderness in the Young Kingdoms we have yet to touch, the latter a true sandbox campaign set within the steppes. We are already talking to several writers about new Eternal Champion material for later in the year, and we hope to have both Hawkmoon and (finally!) Corum out before too long.
Then there is Historia Rodentia, a new setting for Legend that came about from a chance meeting at Gen Con 2011 with On The Lamb Games, when I saw their range of miniatures for Brushfire, the tabletop version of the RPG. This is a very cleverly constructed setting that looks simple on the surface but has all kinds of interesting subtleties when you start digging beneath the surface. The basic premise is that of a world populated by intelligent animals, but one that mirrors our own.
For example, the soldiers of Axony appear as bulldogs in British Army colonial uniforms (think Zulu). However, Axony is populated by both cats and dogs, and has recently come out of its Civil War and… well, I think you can see where this is going. The English Civil War in this world was not fought between parliamentarians and royalists but cats and dogs. Other nations around the world get similar treatment and I personally am planning a campaign based on the exploits of Sharpe and the Chosen Men in their wars against the Empire of Aquitar (France, populated with moles, badgers and weasels). Overall, Historia Rodentia is not entirely serious but the characters within take themselves very seriously indeed. We’ll be previewing this soon, and it is one to look out for.
Our own RuneQuest II settings, Deus Vult and Wraith Recon, will be continuing apace. Our own Charlotte Law has been working on a sourcebook for Deus Vult, covering the city of Rouen (if you have read our Deus Vult novel, Sister Devout – available at Drivethru and on Kindle – then you will already know what a hotbed of cults and corruption 12th Century Rouen can be!), and we are talking to other writers for more material to appear later in the year. The RQII books for both of these games are already fully compatible with Legend, and we will be keeping them available until their stock is gone, then republishing them in the new Legend digest format.
And then there is third party setting, Age of Treason, for which we believe a new supplement is already in the works! One way or another, 2012 will see an awful lot of support for Legend.
We have had a good year exploring Magnamund, with more solo books coming out and further explorations of the world through the multiplayer gamebooks. The one complaint we have had is that we are bringing neither out quick enough!
The problem is that each and every Lone Wolf book goes under the scrutiny of Mr Dever before it is published and there is only so much he can get through at any one time! To help with this, Mr Dever has recruited some very talented gentlemen to both help format the original books and create new material. As with Rob and Don, both trusted accomplices of Marc Miller writing Traveller books and thus increasing accuracy and speeding approval, we hope this will have a similar effect with Lone Wolf. As for what they are working on…
We are looking to get through the Lone Wolf solo books with new speed – Book 17 is at print as I type this, and Book 18 is well on its way. More exciting, the last word we had on the all new Book 29 is that the manuscript is ‘imminent’. Once the manuscript hits our office, we will be fast-tracking this one, so keep an eye out for it.
We are using the Multiplayer Gamebooks to explore Magnamund in super detail, making them kind of an encyclopaedia that, before now, had only been fulfilled by the classic Magnamund Companion. This year, we have peered into the Darklands and considered the mysteries of the Book of the Magnakai. We hoped to bring you the Stornlands as well but the manuscript just ended up being so huge that it had to be split into two volumes, creating a slight delay – you will see both in the first quarter of next year.
Beyond that, we have some titles with intriguing names, such as The Kai Monastery, Vassagonia, Durenor, Drakkarim and a handful of others that will open up some never before seen areas of Magnamund.
It is a good time to be a fan of Lone Wolf!
Overall, I have to say the future looks far better than it has for the past five years. Mongoose has weathered storms in an increasingly shrinking market and has not just survived where others have dwindled but has come out swinging! I said in the last State of the Mongoose that we were ready for a fight, and that has certainly been proved true!
Over the next 12 months we will be looking to do the following;
Add more full-time staff to the company but in ways that expand what we can do rather than merely increase the amount we can produce. New hands will be added to our warehouse and miniatures production facility in Ohio, which is something of a priority as they have been running on skeleton staff for the past few years and are in desperate need of time to think! We are also training up another 3D designer, though they will be working freelance for now and our return to the miniatures market does suggest we could use a full-time salesman on our team. These are the principle areas I am looking to cover in 2012.
There will be constant improvements to the web site as we bring more functionality to bear. We are looking forward to completely automating the Mongoose Infantry demo teams into the site, so they don’t have to rely on me in order to redeem their credits and keep them abreast of their accounts! We have had a false start on our official newsletter but that will come online properly in 2012, and we’ll be adding an ebook store so you will have the choice to grab our books in paper, in digital – or both!
Overall though, we’ll be constantly looking for new ways to support our games, be it through new products, events, free downloads or anything else we can think of! At Mongoose we try very hard not to forget that our jobs are to provide you with the best gaming experiences we can.
Thank you one and all for your continued support. We are looking forward to a great year of supporting new games and old, and hope you will join us for the ride!