State of the Mongoose 2006 - RPGs

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msprange
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State of the Mongoose 2006 - RPGs

Postby msprange » Tue Nov 28, 2006 4:57 pm

It is that time of the year – the shops are bedecked with Christmas decorations, my niece is after the latest thing for a present, and I am trying to find something interesting and unique for a Christmas bonus for those who work at Mongoose. Yes, it must be time for another review of Mongoose, what has happened in the past year and where we will be going next.

In the past, I have managed to keep this to a single lengthy post but this year we have too much going on! Thus, we will split things into RPGs, miniatures games, and other bits and bobs.

Mongoose Publishing
As in past years, staff turnover has been kept to a minimum – indeed, it seems as though some of the old hands have been around forever (well, five and a half years, anyway). We also have some new recruits. Aaron Dembski-Bowden joined our writing team and has already produced some sterling work for the new RuneQuest. Chris Longhurst took over the post of Office Assistant from Nick (who has gone into the heady realms of the editorial team). Kelly George joined us Executive Assistant, and has rapidly become my right hand man. Woman.

We now have seventeen people working at Mongoose, split between our UK office and the miniatures facility in the US. Currently, we are advertising for a new Editor, and there will be more posts opening in the New Year.

Our office Open Days continue to grow apace, with attendance topping the 250 mark on our B5-themed day, much to the joy of everyone who got to meet Miss Christian, and especially for those lucky few who played the B5 RPG with Claudia taking the part of Susan Ivanova!

On another note, for some time we have been looking at new ways of doing business, and a new system has recently been developed that will change. . . well, pretty much everything we do as a publisher, actually. More news as it happens.

The Market
All is doom, the market is shrinking, roleplayers are disappearing, leaving or dying. That has very much been the theme of the year, whichever forum you lurk within. So, how true is it?

Some companies have certainly experienced difficulties (and it was with some sympathy we watched Guardians of Order try to make its way through its problems, to no avail). Many retailers and distributors are very hesitant to try new things, and orders have become very conservative as everyone waits through this quiet period for the Next Big Thing to hit.

This is all true. In the USA. What was once an 80% share in our business has shrunk to something like 55-60%. However, not all is doom and gloom, as this has been matched (even exceeded) by a growing tide in Europe and the UK, where we have seen both RPGs and miniatures games experience a sharp rise, to the point where even relatively small UK distributors have leapfrogged most of those in America. The second largest distributor (in terms of Mongoose sales) is in the UK, and is nipping at the heels of the Number One in America. My first prediction for 2007 is the Rise of Europe. Americans – you are letting your side down! You cannot have us Brits be the centre of roleplaying! Start playing more!

Anyway, on to the games. . .

RuneQuest
The biggie. The Daddy. We had a feeling the new RuneQuest would be popular, but we certainly underestimated by how much. The first printing of the rulebook disappeared within weeks, and another is already being prepared. Stocks on many of the supplements are also looking a little low, which is a good measure of the game’s popularity (in that gamers are continuing to buy into the system, having decided the core rules suit them).

So, what is next? Well, we have the luxury of a long term with this licence, enabling us to plan far ahead. However, over the next 12 months, you can expect to see Second Age Glorantha examined in ever finer detail, the odd grand campaign, a small number of ‘core’ rulebooks dedicated to all settings, a Gloranthan box set, and the introduction of new worlds.

In terms of the latter, Lankhmar has already arrived at our office and will be on your shelves in January, closely followed by a Nehwon supplement. We also have a very poorly kept secret involving some very famous fantasy worlds on the way – a quick web search should turn up the answer for you, though I have to keep my mouth shut at this time. However, we are just a contract signing and cheque away, so there will be plenty of news soon. Fans of big black swords will be happy.

If, on the other hand, you prefer Pirates or Ninjas (not in the same game, I hasten to add – though that has a certain attraction. . .), then projects from both Gareth Hanrahan and Aaron Dembski-Bowden next year are going to put a huge grin on your face. These will appear in the Summer and Autumn, respectively.

There has been a lot of speculation about what other games can be converted to RuneQuest. However, one rumour I can squash right now is about Conan – it will not be joining the RuneQuest brand, but retaining its own system. On the other hand, development is about to begin on SpaceQuest, a set of science fiction rules based on RuneQuest, and a number of settings will be appearing to support this as well. Both Judge Dredd and Strontium Dogs have been mooted as possibilities but, as yet, nothing has been confirmed.

Babylon 5
This game enjoyed a second edition (and very nicely done by Gareth Hanrahan, if I may say so) this year, and the release of the huge Guide to the Station box set has proved that the Babylon 5 fan base is still very much alive and well. In 2007, things are going to go into overdrive for this universe.

By now, you should all have heard about the Lost Tales DVDs that will be revisiting Babylon 5. We believe these are going to be exceptionally popular, and plans are being made to support them. For the RPG, you will see deck plans of the White Star, a look at the pak’ma’ra and Dilgar, more on the Rangers and Telepaths, and a lot more ‘gaming’ material, supporting Games Masters with locations, starports, vehicles, and many other bits and pieces.

This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. After having spoken at some length with the Great Maker, Mr Straczynski, a new range of official novels and Babylon 5 encyclopaedias will be appearing next year. See the ‘bits and bobs’ post for more details!

All in all, it is a good time to be a Babylon 5 fan. . .

Conan
Will not be turning into RuneQuest – no doubt that will be good news to many! We have recently negotiated a four year extension to the Conan licence, ensuring there will be plenty more kingdoms to crush beneath your sandaled feet.

The more observant among you will have already seen there are few Conan releases scheduled for the next few months. This is because we are gearing up for a new wave of books that will expand the setting, make the game easier to get into and begin to tidy up everything that has gone on before. Foremost among these will be the Second Edition rulebook, released in the Summer. This will not be a huge, wholesale change, more along the lines of a few tweaks to bring in supplementary material and make the game easier to comprehend for newcomers. The current ‘region’ books will be kept in print, with PDF downloads to update them to the new rules where needed.

The bonus part of this is that it makes this summer the perfect time to release the long-awaited Hyborian Bestiary. We will also be exploring other regions of the Hyborian Kingdoms yet untouched in our research (such as Cimmeria), and there will be one grand campaign for Conan every year after 2007, as well as the usual smaller scenarios. Big things will be happening in Hyboria, and your players will be at the centre of it all!

Lone Wolf
Again, it is worth dipping into the ‘bits ands bobs’ thread to see what is really happening with Lone Wolf – gamebooks and novels galore!

These will spark a new wave of Lone Wolf RPG materials, tied far closer to the gamebooks than the first set of releases. In turn, this RPG will serve as a smooth jumping in point for readers of the gamebooks, leading to a more advanced form of play – what you and I call roleplaying! However, there will be plenty in the new game for more advanced players and, as always, there is the extremely rich and detailed world of Magnamund to explore. With the new novels and gamebooks, we will be revealing new aspects of this world you have never guessed at before, all directed by the steady hand of Mr Joe Dever.

If Babylon 5 fans think they have it good next year, wait until you see what is lined up for Lone Wolf!

Flaming Cobra
The new imprint from Mongoose, designed to get smaller publishers into a wider market, goes into full swing in 2007. As well as new publications from Silven Publishing (check out Secret Societies, already out), we will be bringing out the Nephandum and Cthulhutech RPGs in the first half of the year. We have also started receiving files from Crafty Games, meaning fans of Spycraft will no longer have to wait long for new material, including World on Fire and Ten Thousand Bullets.

Paranoia
How could we forget? Paranoia continues to be one of our frontline games, and we have all manner of scenarios and support material ready for next year. Flashbacks II will bring the delights of Orcbusters and other famous missions to the new game, while rumours persist of a new scenario written by Paranoia Meister Ken Rolston. It is out there somewhere. . .

We have also had the first expansion to the award-winning Paranoia Mandatory Bonus Fun card game (currently entitled Secret Societies) sitting in our office for a little while now – as soon as we can dedicate some manpower to it, expect more fun to hit the table!
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Postby Mage » Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:19 pm

Just captivated by the magnitude of that post. Wow. Full of stars....

Spacequest sounds kick ass. Plenty of people with ideas for their own sci-fi rpg will get what they want finally!

So would this be covered by the runequest license as well?
I'm sure we all think about submitting for RPG books....
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Postby Chernobyl » Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:32 pm

awesome, just awesome...I predict a growth of RPG's in the US with the demise of GW late in 2007... :)
actually, I think RPGs in the US are getting better and better, WotC is putting out book after book with no stopping in site...
And the B5 RPG will probably take off (even more) after the DVD releases...

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Postby toothill man » Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:43 pm

thank you for the news on conan and lone wolf both look like must haves and the feller with the black sword could mean me buying into RQ something I have resisted so far :shock:
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Postby msprange » Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:48 pm

toothill man wrote:thank you for the news on conan and lone wolf both look like must haves and the feller with the black sword could mean me buying into RQ something I have resisted so far :shock:
To further tempt you, there is every chance a Slaine book for RQ will be out next year. . .
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Postby toothill man » Tue Nov 28, 2006 5:50 pm

now that is just fighting dirty :D thank you matt you make a old slaine head very happy :D
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Postby toothill man » Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:06 pm

and Im glad UK is hold its end up :twisted: and with our european brothers(the spanish slaine rpg corebook looks beautiful) we could defeat america which is a wow and great for mongoose with strong footings in both camps,

and when did WoTC churning up lots of stuff becaome a good thing :shock:
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Postby lastbesthope » Tue Nov 28, 2006 7:53 pm

Any chance Armageddon 2089 will be revisited at some point? Minis game, novels????

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Postby E Nicely » Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:01 pm

Chernobyl wrote:awesome, just awesome...I predict a growth of RPG's in the US with the demise of GW late in 2007... :)
actually, I think RPGs in the US are getting better and better, WotC is putting out book after book with no stopping in site...
And the B5 RPG will probably take off (even more) after the DVD releases...

Chern
It seems to me most RPers here only play D&D. Out of those that will play something else many of them won't go outside D20 games. Even World of Darkness is suffering, it used to be super popular. I'm not optimistic about the future of RPGs in this country. Gave em up myself but the gaming industry as a whole will suffer if it gets too bad for RPGs.

On the flip side I'm pretty sure we buy a lot of miniatures over here.
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Postby Dyrewulf » Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:11 pm

The state of gaming here in America is bad...especially here on the west coast. Some of my friends at a local games company (Playroom Entertainment...makers of Killer Bunnies) travel to all the conventions here in the states and its down right depressing. Gen Con Indy is pretty much the one they look forward to year round.
My co-writers and I have been developing 2 games for the past few years...one is under contract and burried under legal issues...the other, our baby, is also near completion...but sometimes just looking at the state of our hobby, we don't know if either will ever see the light of day.
I think online games have done a lot to kill our little "in the basement" hobby. Everyone that I know that used to play RPG's or even table tops now spend their free time leveling their toons on Warcraft, or CoH...and lets not forget things will get even more interesting when White Wolf's WoD mmorpg comes to life.
I used to live in northern Canada and my friends and I spent most of our snowfilled weekends doing 2 things, playing hockey and Dungeons and Dragons...you just don't get that here and it's a shame.
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Postby Banesfinger » Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:14 pm

Any chance of Starship Troopers RPG getting the SpaceQuest treatment?
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Postby E Nicely » Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:35 pm

Dyrewulf wrote:The state of gaming here in America is bad...especially here on the west coast. Some of my friends at a local games company (Playroom Entertainment...makers of Killer Bunnies) travel to all the conventions here in the states and its down right depressing. Gen Con Indy is pretty much the one they look forward to year round.
My co-writers and I have been developing 2 games for the past few years...one is under contract and burried under legal issues...the other, our baby, is also near completion...but sometimes just looking at the state of our hobby, we don't know if either will ever see the light of day.
I think online games have done a lot to kill our little "in the basement" hobby. Everyone that I know that used to play RPG's or even table tops now spend their free time leveling their toons on Warcraft, or CoH...and lets not forget things will get even more interesting when White Wolf's WoD mmorpg comes to life.
I used to live in northern Canada and my friends and I spent most of our snowfilled weekends doing 2 things, playing hockey and Dungeons and Dragons...you just don't get that here and it's a shame.
Online games are probably the single biggest factor in the decline of pen&paper RPGs. I don't mess with them, I'll stick with the hobby (minis games, definitely part of the P&P RPG hobby) I've been with for 27 years.

If you're going to publish your own game all I'll say is good luck. There's 3 game producers here that I know (2 RPG and 1 Minis game) and one of the RPGs is looking to die a quick death after the guy put a WHOLE LOT of money into it. The other RPG producer is a freak and I try my best not to talk to her. The guy with the minis game (Aberrant Games-Rezolution) seems to be doing ok. I'm not trying to doom and gloom you, but you seem to already know the score when it comes to small RPG publishers.
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Postby Dyrewulf » Tue Nov 28, 2006 8:42 pm

Well our contracted game I don't have to worry about, our other game will have the help of the company we are working with to find us a good home...they have contacts with all the major companies...if we really get desperate we will PDF the bugger and set up a forum to continue on with free downloads.
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Re: State of the Mongoose 2006 - RPGs

Postby Dead Blue Clown » Tue Nov 28, 2006 9:51 pm

toothill man wrote:now that is just fighting dirty :D thank you matt you make a old slaine head very happy :D
Hey, dude. I know who you are by virtue of occasionally lurking around the Slaine forum. As for me? I'm just a Mysterious Stranger.

Actually...
msprange wrote: We also have some new recruits. Aaron Dembski-Bowden joined our writing team...
...that's me.

Now, I love Slaine. My first experiences with Mongoose (and, in fact, any d20 game beyond D&D) was Slaine. I played a campaign that lasted almost a year of real-time and got the characters up to Level 9. My first contact with Mongoose was asking for them to release new Slaine stuff. My second contact was asking about writing Slaine stuff for Signs & Portents.

When I applied for the job, one of the mini-tests was to show how you stat character blocks, just as a quick judge of the appearance. I statted a Slaine character.

If I get my way - and a slot in my schedule long enough to do it - I'd freak out at the chance to do new Slaine materials, whether it was for d20 or RuneQuest. Matt and the other folks at Mongoose Towers know it, since it's part of my periodic emails to High Command with "...About Slaine..." in the title.

Just so you know. : )
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Postby Masterporg » Tue Nov 28, 2006 10:23 pm

Matt,

I know you have stated that Conan will not be changing to Runequest, but is the Hyborian Adventures core book still on the list for 2007?

Also is there any chance of Hyborian Empires seeing the light of day next year?

:lol:
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Postby jadrax » Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:51 am

Dyrewulf wrote: Online games are probably the single biggest factor in the decline of pen&paper RPGs. I don't mess with them, I'll stick with the hobby (minis games, definitely part of the P&P RPG hobby) I've been with for 27 years.
I have survived GW killing RPGs and CCGs killing RPGs.

Im sure i can survive MMORPGs killing RPGs as well.
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Postby Chernobyl » Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:05 pm

Hear hear!
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Postby lastbesthope » Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:43 pm

Lowly Uhlan wrote: Online games are probably the single biggest factor in the decline of pen&paper RPGs. I don't mess with them, I'll stick with the hobby (minis games, definitely part of the P&P RPG hobby) I've been with for 27 years.
WotC marketing would seem to agree with you, all the adverts for D&D RPG I see are in US comics, and are pretty much a photo of guys playing online games and a caption to the effect, if you're going to play in a fantasy setting you might as well have some friends round and roll some dice while you're doing it :lol:

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Postby Dyrewulf » Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:46 pm

very true...I would rather sit down at a table and hang with my friends killing the local rampaging dragon than log onto WoW and get griefed...
However...that industry will continue to grow as the technology grows.
I have friends that gave up gaming all together due to EQ and WoW...another friend to Heroclix or whatever its called...he actually runs a rpg using just heroclix...it drives me nuts...Im like, THATS NOT GAMING!
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Postby Azgulor » Wed Nov 29, 2006 8:12 pm

Thank you Mongoose for keeping Conan... well, Conan!

Mr. Sprange, you and the Mongoose staff are class acts. Thanks for the great products and for the updates. Looking forward to 2007!

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