State of the Mongoose 2018

General chat about Mongoose Publishing and its releases
msprange
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State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby msprange » Sun Feb 03, 2019 1:46 pm

State of the Mongoose 2018

Mongoose Publishing has just finished its 17th year in business and things remain on an upward trend!

The State of the Mongoose is our yearly address to gaming community, covering how we have been getting on over the past 12 months, and looking forward to our plans for the following year. We normally do this around the end of November/beginning of December but, as you will discover if you read on, we have been very, very busy behind the scenes.

Grab yourself a coffee, as we will be going into quite some detail…

Business Stuff
Broadly speaking, Mongoose’s approach to games publishing remained the same over 2018 – punch upwards, spend as much time on a project as it needs, and don’t be afraid to raise the bar.

This approach has led to the likes of the Pirates of Drinax mega-campaign, the Great Rift box set and, just about to start shipping, the Element Cruisers box set. All of these stand tall among Traveller books released over the years… but they also sucked up a lot of development resources. While talking to Traveller fans on our forums, it was made very clear that while these large projects were appreciated, a more base level support of the game (adventures, supplements and sourcebooks) was not just desirable but necessary.

So, as you will see further on, we have made appropriate changes.

The biggest obstacle to improving the flow of publications has been rooted firmly within graphical resources. To this end, we have brought in freelance support to assist with core layout (basic text flows, tables – which are real time sinks – ship stat pages, etc), which brought the additional benefit of allowing our graphics staff to concentrate on making things pretty/presentable rather than getting bogged down in the graphical equivalent of donkey work.

Interior art remains an area where we still lack a proper balance of graphical resources, but things have already improved and we are aiming to properly resolve this over 2019.

The biggest upcoming issue, however, is…

Brexit
I last wrote about this a little more than a year ago and, as incredible as it may seem if you are not resident in the UK, with just 55 days to go before we leave the EU at time of writing, there has been absolutely no progress made whatsoever. We still have no idea what is going to happen, how it is going to happen and, to an extent, when.

Now, for various historical reasons, Mongoose is to a degree relatively isolated from foreseeable issues. We have large markets in the US, Australia, and Europe, and a good proportion of our income is in Dollars (be it American or Australian flavour). With a new web site coming, we will also be able to extend that to Euros (something that is frankly overdue).

If you live anywhere else in the world other than the UK, it is difficult to see that you will notice much difference in service from Mongoose. Even if every port in the UK is clogged up with lorries waiting to be fed through customs, we can easily switch our mail order dispatch to Studio 2 Publishing in the US (if you are in North America, this is already where you receive your books from).

Now, if you are in the UK… Over recent days, the spectre of ‘no-deal’ has risen its head in a manner that makes this irresponsible lunacy seem actually possible. Everyone knows it is madness, but it is just possible that there are enough self-interested twits in government and parliament who might just let the country fall over the edge of the cliff.

This could be a great opportunity, as the ERG say. However, it seems fairly clear that the first thing that will happen is that Sterling absolutely tanks. The issue here is that the prices of Mongoose’s books are pegged to the US Dollar (because pre-Brexit Britain is pretty much the most expensive place in the world to print books). This is bad news (well, unless you are shorting Sterling) as it means the price of books will go up. We will hold off from enacting that for as long as possible but, like a dam trying to hold back a flood, at some point things will burst. This will not affect just Mongoose books, incidentally – almost all RPGs are pegged to the US Dollar.

If that were to take place, I would venture that worrying about the price of RPGs will be the least of our issues.

So, how worried are we?

No idea. Can’t tell you. Literally nobody knows what is going to happen next, despite us being just 55 days away from the end of what has been a two and a half-odd year process.

If you are not in the UK, it may be difficult to appreciate just how bad our current crop of politicians are. And in case you are wondering, no, this is not normal.

2018 and the Mongoose
It is possible that we released less this year than we did in 2017, and that is saying something. We had a six month stretch where literally nothing new was released.

What is interesting about this is that a six month period with no new releases would be enough to finish off a lot of mid-ranged games companies – it might have done for us in the past. However, Mongoose has the dual benefit of having a stable base of income (continued sales of long tail products, a very deep ebook catalogue, plus computer games royalties) and reasonable reserves (basically, we don’t spend all our income on sweeties when it comes in).

This means that our writers and artists are under no pressure to finish projects to specific deadlines just so payroll can be met. Instead, they can spend that little extra time to make our games just a bit more awesome – and this is something we are very, very proud of.

However, we are possibly even prouder that we finally got the Traveller Companion released (in ebook format, printed edition will be in your hands in just a few short months).

So, what can you expect from Mongoose in 2019?

A New Licence
One of the reasons this State of the Mongoose is a little late is that we were hoping to announce a brand new licence (that and a new web site that we also hoped would be ready – you should see that in just a few days though).

Circumstances have resulted in the official announcement likely to be made around April-ish, with pre-orders appearing May-June-ish. The game itself is fully written and playtested, and being laid out right now, so we are in the hands of the licensor.

Until then, we cannot really say much about it – except that it is a genre we have been wanting to tackle for a long, long time, and we have been having an absolute blast playing it.

Watch out for this game, it is a good ‘un…

Traveller in 2019
We are not going to ignore the ‘big projects’ that have been characterising Traveller of late, but you will see a much finer level of balance in 2019 between these and more manageable and, I dare say, necessary books.

First among these are the books we promised in the last State of the Mongoose (ahem), of which all are now in layout and one (the Traveller Companion) is now out on PDF and at print.

So, progress is finally being made.

These books include the Shadows of Sindal (an additional campaign for the Pirates of Drinax), the Drinaxian Companion (does for the Pirates of Drinax what the Traveller Companion does for rules, as well as introducing a full faction system), Behind the Claw (covering the Spinward Marches and Deneb), as well as a clutch of new adventures.

The Element Cruiser Blueprints box set is shipping to Kickstarter backers now and will be on general release in a month or so. This is a set that not only super-details three classes of cruiser, but also includes a supplementary book that shows you how to run a bridge-crew campaign – so, your Travellers can now run a massive ship in positions as senior offices, either on a warship, a truly immense trading vessel… or a five year mission exploring the unknown…

Element Cruisers will be supported by a series of Naval Adventures, the first of which (Shakedown Cruise) will be released alongside the box set. A second adventure (Showing the Sunburst) is in layout right now and a third is already in the process of being written. We are hoping you will all find this a splendid source of new Traveller adventures.

One set of books I think a lot of Traveller players will be excited for is Aliens of Charted Space. Volume 1 has already been written and is in layout now, and covers the Aslan, Zhodani, Vargr and K’kree, all updated and ready for the current edition. Expect to see Zhodani psionics, a new system for Vargr ‘patch’ armour, and herbivores who are truly murderous.

Volume 2 will appear later this year and cover the Solomani, Hivers, and Droyne, while Volume 3 and beyond (destined for 2020) will begin examining the minor races of Charted Space.

We mentioned the Glorious Empire (Aslan slavers) in the last State of the Mongoose, and we already have a Reach Adventure (in layout right now!) called Exodus that will begin exploring this region of Charted Space. However, we are already looking seriously at a full blown Glorious Empire sourcebook – just right for those referees who like their Aslan a little more hardcore…

Traveller Kickstarter
At the end of February, we are going to be launching a new Kickstarter for Traveller – and, as with past projects, we think we have something here that can really benefit from being introduced via this platform.

Veterans of Traveller may recall the original Journal of the Travellers Aid Society, which was effectively the magazine for Traveller in days gone by.

We want to reawaken the Journal (or JTAS, as it is often known), as a three volume set (in a slipcase, for Kickstarter backers) of digest-sized books of 96-128 pages in size each. All in full-colour, to the current edition’s usual standards, these books will draw upon the articles of the original JTAS, along with some of the fanzines of the era, and revise, re-write and re-tune them for the current edition, as well as adding brand new material (no way we could resist doing that for a project like this…).

Basically think of this as the equivalent of the Traveller Companion for the Third Imperium universe – each volume will be jam-packed with background lore, new (playable) alien races, ships, vehicles, adventures, locations, and oodles of other things that will click right into your campaigns.

So, why do this as a Kickstarter project?

First off, we know Travellers are keen on new resources for their games and JTAS has the potential to expand with a veritable supernova of articles. The stretch goals of this project will be adding more volumes to the set, ‘stretching’ the slipcase to accommodate the extra books.

Second, it will give us a chance to engage with the backers on the actual content of the JTAS volumes – we will have the proposed contents lists of the first three volumes when the Kickstarter project begins, and will be encouraging backers to let us know what they would like to see changed, what they would like to see added (more aliens!), and even what articles from the original JTAS they would like to see updated.

A good portion of the first volume will be laid out and ready to freely download as soon as the Kickstarter begins, so swing by and have a read – we don’t think you will be disappointed and you have nothing to lose.

Traveller Fiction
This is something we have been wanting to do for a long time – explore the universe of the Far Future through the lens of fiction.

Very soon (with weeks) you will see a new Traveller line of short stories, with a new story being released every week (we are currently thinking of calling this Traveller Wednesdays…). These will appear on both Drivethru and our own web site, in Kindle, epub and PDF formats, each examining a different area of Traveller and Charted Space.

We have brought together a great team of writers for the first wave of stories, including Gareth Hanrahan, Chris Jackson, and Martin Dougherty to name just a few. Between them, these writers have explored tales of the court of King Oleb, the Widows of the pirate city on Theev, boarding actions in the Fifth Frontier War, and the frontline of Aslan expansion.

Keep your eye out for these, as they will be inexpensive, well-written, and introducing a new depth to Traveller.

2300AD
A new edition of 2300AD, linked to the mechanics of the current edition of Traveller, has been in the works for too long now, and we are making a determined effort this year to get it out to you. The rulebook has already been written (and has already had an effect on the rules of Traveller itself, as evidenced by some of the environment rules in the Companion), and is just waiting for space in the graphics schedule – we are hoping to get this line started after the Journal of the Travellers Aid Society is complete.

Paranoia
There is good news for fans of Paranoia – the Acute Paranoia box set and its supplements have arrived and are being shipped to the Kickstarter backers as you read this.

The brief for Acute Paranoia was a box full of ‘cool stuff to do in Paranoia’, and the writing team met the challenge with every success. Rules for playing bot characters have returned to Paranoia, and this time we have made them extremely attractive to play – sure, the lowliest Troubleshooter can boss you around, but we have provided a veritable phalanx of ways to get around that without going against your programming without flooding the game with lots of new rules to figure out. Let your players loose on this and there will be at least one bot in every group.

Alongside that, in this box set you will also find brand new health insurance schemes (Alpha Complex style), new missions, helpful tips for uncovering mental disorders within your own Troubleshooter team, what can be found Outdoors… In short, there is a huge amount of new material in this fairly weighty box set that will reinvigorate any Paranoia group.

Speaking of new missions, following Acute Paranoia is Truth or Dare, a brand new mission that has the Troubleshooters infiltrate a terrorist organisation…who then get them to infiltrate Troubleshooter headquarters… who send them back to infiltrate the terrorists…

By the time they are halfway through Truth or Dare, the Troubleshooters will not know whether they are coming or going!

Added to this, there are two new card decks; Perfectly Safe Gear (a whole salvo of equipment guaranteed* not to explode during use) and the RAM Deck, an original set of cards that will have the Troubleshooters watching each other intently as they uncover deep-rooted treason within their own squad.

A new wave of Paranoia releases will appear later this year, the content of which is just being finalised but, between now and then, expect to see new missions to take you deeper into Alpha Complex.

Legend
We know there will be a fair few of you wanting to hear about our plans for the Legend RPG. This entire line has been stymied by the graphics bottleneck, but this has started to be loosened up. It will take a few months to properly get back up to speed but, once there, we already have some manuscripts for new Legend books on file and we will be turning to them towards the end of 2019, all things going well.

You have not been forgotten.

Victory at Sea
In the last State of the Mongoose, I made a solemn promise that the new edition of Victory at Sea would be done in 2018… and the more observant among you will have seen it is somewhat noticeable by its absence.

What happened was two-fold – first, while we had blocked off time for graphics and layout, the layout for Element Cruisers over-ran by a couple of months (all those blueprints!). Second, Victory at Sea has had the inevitable mission-bloat that all our large projects seem to acquire.

We are very sorry about that.

On the other hand, Victory at Sea is in a very advanced state and, we think, looks beautiful. You do not need to take our word for this, as you can download a huge portion of the books (and it is a huge portion - all the rules, all the fleets lists, and all the scenarios… basically everything you need to play the full game) as part of the playtest pack on our forums.

In theory, all we really need to do on this game is add the ASW units, and finesse the submersible and coastal invasion rules a little. We probably won’t be able to stop ourselves adding a few more historical scenarios.

Despite this advanced state, we are not going to rush Victory at Sea to print, and will be continuing the playtest process a little further to make sure everything is, well, shipshape. However, the game is 98% complete and is freely downloadable – you can play it right now.

If you want something for Victory at Sea right now, however, we would point you to Victory at Sea: Pacific, the licensed video game for the PC.

Will that be all for Victory at Sea? Not at all. After we have released the rulebooks, work will start on the layout of Victory at Sea: Ironclad, covering the river (and some sea) actions of the American Civil War. This too will have a video game based upon it.

Battling Ancients
Just a quick entry, this one.

Over the past few years we have been developing a miniatures game set in the ancient world (from Greeks to Ancient Rome), which will be published in the bottom end of 2019 by our friends at Warlord Games. We will leave the announcements and details to them, but if 300 and Spartacus (the TV series rather than the film) are your thing, this will be a game to keep an eye on!

Once Again, to the (Far) Future
We have continued to improve the content of our publications, a process that will not stop in 2019. We have also reached to find just how far we can take things – the frankly massive Pirates of Drinax has been joined by the Great Rift, a box set that requires a pack mule to take home from the local games store.

These will be joined by Victory at Sea, a three-hardback slipcase set of a size and scope that we do not believe has been brought to naval miniatures gaming before. Traveller will inevitably see more projects of this nature – the Fifth Frontier War is still being worked upon…

This will be balanced by a concerted effort to continue the expansion of our games through more reasonably sized (and costed) supplements, from Paranoia missions to rules-centred Traveller books suitable for any campaign, from 2300AD and the Third Imperium to your own home-brew.

Brexit is bringing its own concerns and, whatever finally happens, its effects will need to be managed. However, we are not intending or expecting it to affect the books we release or their frequency. Our eyes are fixed firmly on bringing you the best play experiences in Traveller, Paranoia, Victory at Sea, and our brand new RPG.

See you at the gaming table!

Matthew Sprange
Managing Director
Mongoose Publishing
Matthew Sprange

Mongoose Publishing
http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
EwanS
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby EwanS » Sun Feb 03, 2019 5:59 pm

Looking forward to the JTAS kickstarter and the Aliens of Chartered Space.
When do you expect to see Aliens of Chartered Space vol 1 available for preorder?
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby shakespear » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:40 pm

I'd hoped to hear about the Traveller miniature game.
msprange
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby msprange » Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:45 pm

EwanS wrote:
Sun Feb 03, 2019 5:59 pm
When do you expect to see Aliens of Chartered Space vol 1 available for preorder?
PDF edition in a month or two, printed about 3 months after that.
shakespear wrote:
Mon Feb 04, 2019 1:40 pm
I'd hoped to hear about the Traveller miniature game.
Hasn't gone away, but we need to do a few other projects first!
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Merxiless
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby Merxiless » Mon Feb 04, 2019 6:39 pm

Looks good.
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby TrippyHippy » Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:58 pm

Thanks for this. It's appreciated.

The Brexit thing sucks - and I also appreciate the candidacy in your remarks here, politicised as they inevitably are. My advice? Do as I did, and emigrate to New Zealand….

Some interesting titles ahead, particularly for Traveller - but no Robots yet! :(

Will look forward to the next kickstarter though. :)
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby Gimgamgoo » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:25 pm

Are the new alien volumes going to lift heavily from the older (fantastic) Third Imperium hardback alien modules? I realise the races and info about them is the same in any edition, but how much new material will the new volumes contain?
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby msprange » Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:32 pm

Gimgamgoo wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 9:25 pm
Are the new alien volumes going to lift heavily from the older (fantastic) Third Imperium hardback alien modules? I realise the races and info about them is the same in any edition, but how much new material will the new volumes contain?
The original premise of these books, as discussed with Traveller players, was utilising the material in the older books to get aliens in the latest edition as quickly as possible.

Inevitably, it has not really worked out that way!

The original books have become a starting point, but we have revised and added a lot (and, in the case of the K'kree, a lot has been created from scratch, with the original classic Alien Modules as a root). If you are looking for brand new material, you will not be disappointed, from the new 'patchwork' armour system we have created for Vargr to playing a whole family of K'kree as your character.
Matthew Sprange

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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby TrippyHippy » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:20 pm

Will the K'kree (and others) be integrated into the character generation software from RPGSuite also?

Regarding the Vanguard miniatures game, the major issue with the last campaign was that the buy-in was limited to a full set only, which was a high price-mark for an entree point. Would it it be worth considering selling smaller, individual packs of miniatures (like a ship crew set, or a pack of Aslan or K'kree, etc), along with floor-plan sets, and maybe then just releasing the minature rules themselves for free as a download?
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby msprange » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:14 am

TrippyHippy wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:20 pm
Will the K'kree (and others) be integrated into the character generation software from RPGSuite also?
Their licence certainly allows it.
TrippyHippy wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:20 pm
Regarding the Vanguard miniatures game, the major issue with the last campaign was that the buy-in was limited to a full set only, which was a high price-mark for an entree point. Would it it be worth considering selling smaller, individual packs of miniatures (like a ship crew set, or a pack of Aslan or K'kree, etc), along with floor-plan sets, and maybe then just releasing the minature rules themselves for free as a download?
We are looking at various options for Traveller miniatures - don't worry, they are not going away.
Matthew Sprange

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http://www.mongoosepublishing.com
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby qstor » Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:26 pm

Does Aliens v1 have a "new" sector with official UWP data? One for the K'Kree.
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby Baldo » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:53 pm

You're doing a Deneb+Spinward Marches book, what about the Solomani Rim+Alpha Crucis and Ziafrplians+Gvurrdon combos? And yes, we want two more Sector Books for the Hiver and the K'Kree :) ...
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby TrippyHippy » Thu Feb 07, 2019 4:00 am

Would you be able to play Dolphins in the third Aliens book?
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby arcador » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:58 am

Sounds good (the new stuff). The Brexit sounds bad. I've read a lot of predictions, but you are right - no one knows for sure.

I already see two purchases from the Traveller line from the ones you mentioned.

The Sword worlds and (don't know how to type it, starts with F), are still in the long term scope, I hope!
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby qstor » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:48 pm

Baldo wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:53 pm
You're doing a Deneb+Spinward Marches book, what about the Solomani Rim+Alpha Crucis and Ziafrplians+Gvurrdon combos? And yes, we want two more Sector Books for the Hiver and the K'Kree :) ...
Yes 2 more sector books for Hivers and K'Kree some folks have been waiting over 5 years for this one!
"Hate is baggage. Life's too short to go around pissed off all the time" Edward Furlong - American History X
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby enpeze2 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:43 pm

Regarding the Alien Modules, I would wish for a kind of material which helps a gamemaster to portray them more easily to the players. For example when players visit an outpost of the kkree what impressions do they have. What kind of electronics to kkree have, what is the smell there and which exotic kind of equipment do the players see? What architecture style? How looks the typical food and how is it prepared - by a high paid chef, a dozen slaves or star trek style food synthesizer? Kkkree Civilian clothing, how does it look? Which customs do the players experience? Kkree furniture? Nice details like: Do the Kkree have special silver combs for their horse manes? :) Some typical Kkree prases when they speak. Or how do a Kkree Starship looks inside?


Maybe some of those above infos are already in a source book, but I didnt read them all.

The reason behind my request is that I think some such infos and details would help the GM to portray alien encounters to the players in a realistic way especially if they are supported with well selected pics of alien environment, equipment and typical cultural scenes. Its also away from the theory and towards how the group experience the alien culture in a more practical way.
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby Lilor[FR] » Sun Feb 10, 2019 5:04 pm

Hi ! Good news for Legend and your other products !!
So, if we can expect some publications before the end of 2019, can we also hope for the editing of the two or three french traductions for Legend that you have received ? Just asking :P
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby blueFire » Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:25 pm

As far as Brexit is concerned one option would be to print products at another location in another country. I have purchased several printed products through drivethrurpg (https://www.drivethrurpg.com/) and I have found them to be more then adequate. Mongoose already has an account with them selling .pdf files so it should not be too difficult to upload a print on demand (POD) file and start filling print orders through them. They also pay in dollars so that would help as well (and if the sterling pound takes a nose dive it might help a lot).

Jason
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby Moppy » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:01 am

TrippyHippy wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:20 pm
Regarding the Vanguard miniatures game, the major issue with the last campaign was that the buy-in was limited to a full set only, which was a high price-mark for an entree point. Would it it be worth considering selling smaller, individual packs of miniatures (like a ship crew set, or a pack of Aslan or K'kree, etc), along with floor-plan sets, and maybe then just releasing the minature rules themselves for free as a download?
For what it's worth I had 2 thoughts about it.

One was that the price was comparble with a GW game with a similar numer of figures (Dark Imperium is £95 with 53 figures but no terrain and discounts down to about £75 from mail order), but the GW set seemed higher quality.

The other was that the theme didn't seem like it would interest non-Traveller players. It looked like regular human army soldiers fighting regular human army soldiers in generic corridors. Now we know it's not quite that as the Zhodani are psionic but they neglected to go into much detail on this.
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2018

Postby Baldo » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:15 pm

blueFire wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:25 pm
Mongoose already has an account with DriveThruRPG selling .pdf files so it should not be too difficult to upload a print on demand (POD) file and start filling print orders through them.
Nope, it's difficult :( :
Baldo wrote:
Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:25 pm
Back in October 2012, you said "We plan to, eventually, have (Print-on-Demand) on all titles!"... Any news?
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=121154&p=930278#p930278
msprange wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:47 am
We have a lot of back catalogue books already converted, but with 600-odd titles, this is not a quick job by any stretch!

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