So, Mongoose has survived/thrived through its eighth year of doing business! Looking back to when we started, many moons ago when the company was nothing more than a few ‘what if?’ discussions down the local pub, I am not sure we ever imagined we would be where we are now.
Anyway, as is traditional at this time of the year, the State of the Mongoose looks back at the past twelve months to see what went wrong, what went right, and then ahead to preview all the cool things coming up.
In 2009, we have had plenty of ups and our fair share of downs too. Anyone who pays attention to the various RPG forums will know we have had issues with the Conan licence – on the other hand, we also had four months this year where we successively beat our sales records for more than the past three years. And that was with RPGs alone, no boost from miniatures at all!
The Industry and Market
There has been a general acceptance in the past twelve months that the roleplaying market is not quite what it once was. On the other hand, ever since people started saying ‘credit crunch’ Mongoose saw its sales increase month on month in the first half of 2009, and maintain a high level since.
Looking around, we see other roleplaying companies enjoying similar success, to the extent that if we see any of them disappear within the next few months, I believe it will be down to mismanagement, not lack of sales (not producing the right titles, not controlling costs, and so forth). We have even seen the creation of a brand new major RPG company in the UK, in the form of our friends at Cubicle 7 – now that is not something that happens every year!
For our own part, the largest distributors (the only reliable rod of measurement in this market) have told us that Mongoose has become the largest company that only sells RPGs. Always good to hear, but it will be a shame to wreck that when we start producing miniatures. Still, as a wise man once said, the race is long and, in the end, it is only against yourself. What often really matters in the RPG market is not coming in first, but being able to stick around in the first place.
It remains a tough market. The right titles can still get into decent five figure numbers in terms of sales but not every release is going to achieve that, no matter how innovative they are or how hard you work. This applies to every publisher of RPGs today.
The Past Year
Our intention for 2009 was to move beyond the in-house printing issues experienced in late 2007, and set the stage for a new expansion of the company. I believe we have accomplished this and, on the back of some strong releases in 2009 (such as the ever expanding Traveller line), we are now set to bring some very exciting products and services to market in 2010.
Joining the Rebellion Group has proved to be everything we hoped – we get all the support a large company can bring but retain independence to ‘do our own thing’. The relationship goes both ways, with Mongoose able to supply expertise in areas that other Rebellion companies are unfamiliar with (such as digitally-based printing and the selling of electronic books – we have taken over the selling of 2000AD PDFs online, for example, and there are more joint projects on the horizon).
We made a few predictions/statements in the last State of the Mongoose, some of which have come true, others less so.
Web Sites and Warehouses
Among these, we announced that a new super-duper web site and warehouse system were on the cards and. . . they are still on the cards! The credit crunch and falling property prices made it wise to avoid purchasing a new property in the short term, while the web site (originally due for launch this summer) hit massive technical issues as it became a ‘Christmas tree’ project with every Rebellion company hanging things off it! These have been more or less sorted now, after many, many meetings, and we have been told it will go live before Christmas. So, expect to see it sometime in January/February.
The flip side to the delay is that the web site and warehouse systems are now far more powerful than originally intended (a great deal more expensive too, but that is another matter), and we believe the web site alone will knock your socks off, giving us the ability to deliver far more content to you and making it easier to reach – for example, you will be able to keep track of all of your orders, and see when they have been dispatched to you, in real time. The warehouse system is less exciting, true, but I believe you will appreciate the super-fast turnaround of orders and free shipping bands when everything is in place.
This has all had a knock on effect with our new premises and the warehouse connected to them – can’t have one without the other. As things currently stand, we’ll be in our new offices, complete with dedicated events area, somewhere around the bottom end of next year, give or take the odd month. There will be a grand opening with loads of games being played, so look out for it! Meanwhile, we have already moved into new premises for our warehouse in the US, doubling the area we have for storage, mail order and miniatures production.
Oi, Mate, Give us a Job!
We were looking to double the number of employees in the company by the end of 2009. That did not quite happen, mainly due to the delay in the new office and warehouse, but new faces certainly appeared. Richard Ford came back to us as an editor, and so did August Hahn as writer to help cover for a very special project (more on that later!). Will Chapman, our Layout Artist, technically joined us in 2008, but it has only been in 2009 that his effect has really been felt, in lines such as Judge Dredd and Traveller. Look out for more from Will in 2010, when he starts to work on all new lines whose looks he has complete control over. Finally, we added Sandrine Thirache this year as our Official French Person, and she has been working hard to translate some of our titles into the French language. That takes us up to fourteen full-time staff members.
The last State of the Mongoose also stated that we were revising our editorial and proofreading procedures. In fact, we continued to refine the new system throughout 2009, and I believe the evidence of its success is there for everyone to see – in the past few months, the number of editorial issues in the many, many books we have released can be counted on one hand.
There are several things we have done to achieve this, but the basic cornerstones of this production system have been a new regime of formal training, using qualified in-house proofreaders, and changes to procedures as books go through production. I am not saying that all our books will be perfect every time, but we have already seen that many people have noticed the changes that have been made.
We also made a promise this year that we would only be printing books in the US. Mongoose is part American, with offices and our main warehouse situated in Ohio and in these times of economic woe, we wanted to do ‘our bit’ to keep our own nations going, rather than feeding the Tiger Economies.
Restricting our printing to the US is a brave thing to do (though less suicidal on a financial level than printing in the UK…), but it has worked out very well for us thus far. It means we very quickly become one of the largest clients for these printing firms, so our custom actually means something – which is always nice during negotiations.
The more eagle-eyed of you will have seen that the one item we do not print in the US is our thick card screens. This is purely because we have yet to find anyone in the US capable of manufacturing them. Not manufacture them for a decent price but actually having the relevant equipment. If anyone knows of a US-based printer that can do these screens, please let us know!
So, that is where we have come from. What will be happening with Mongoose and its games in 2010?
Traveller was our leading line in 2008, and it remained so in 2009. Acceptance of the new rules has been growing at a great rate and, in RPG terms, sales have been extremely good, justifying the faith we put into the game.
In 2009, we started to demonstrate just how dynamic Traveller could be, using it in several different settings, such as Hammers Slammers, Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. In 2010, we will continue this trend. The basic idea is to introduce a new setting for Traveller every 3-6 months; some ‘one-shots’ like Hammers Slammers, some forming full lines of their own, such as Judge Dredd, while others are in-between, having a fixed and limited number of titles. This will ensure Traveller stays ‘fresh’ and there will always be something new for players to try.
So, what delights can you expect for Traveller next year if you want to explore universes beyond the Third Imperium and Mega-City One?
Reaver – Piracy in the Sea of Stars
A brand new and heavily-detailed setting for Traveller, Reaver – Piracy in the Sea of Stars plays to all of Traveller’s strengths.
The known galaxy is dominated by several immense stellar empires, whose cultural and technological achievements are pushing the limits of human understanding. However, a new cluster of stars has recently been discovered, superlatively rich in resources, yet far away and difficult to reach. The old empires have raced to establish colonies in the cluster, each with the aim of exploiting these worlds before they can be claimed by their rivals.
Players’ take the part of pirates or privateers – either independent or allied to one (or more, if they want a complicated life!) of the empires via a letter of marque.
The colonies are constantly changing hands as the empires gather invasion fleets or privateers smash their defences, while in the more secret parts of the cluster, a number of freeports are frequented by pirates and daring traders. Few dare to tread these freeports without heavy armament.
Several worlds are home to a backward and savage race that many colonies have been keen to exploit. Some have managed to tame these creatures, while others have simply enslaved them. Weak colony governors often lose control of their alien population and suffer constant attacks from the wilds. Few have come to realise that these aliens have their own great cities far away from the colonised worlds and are far more sophisticated than might be first thought.
The colonies form a beacon of civilisation in the void, where the quick-witted and lucky can make vast fortunes very quickly. The Black Guilds, collections of high-tech thieves and assassins constantly wage a shadowy war against one another as charismatic and devious leaders rise and fall, while bounty hunters move through the darker parts of every colony, seeking their marks. Missionaries from the empires seek to convert enemies of the state to their cause and civilise the alien, while honest and less-than-honest merchants ply the space lanes, keen to take advantage of the ever shifting political situation and make greater profit on a single voyage than they would see in a decade within the old empires.
At the heart of all this, the players will pirate ships, trade, perform missions for the empires, avoid other pirates and assassins, accrue fame (infamy) and reputation, search for alien treasures and cities, woo colony governor’s daughters when ‘in society’, upgrade their own vessels, recruit new hands and build up an entire pirate fleet with which they can raze colonies and alter the destiny of the empires themselves.
We will be previewing Reaver – Piracy in the Sea of Stars throughout 2010 until its release at Gen Con. Keep an eye out for it – it is going to be a good ‘un. . .
An unusual approach to Traveller, Codename Veil is set just a few years in our future, and is a property that Mongoose has had under wraps for more than seven years now.
Players will create veteran characters drawn from the intelligence services from around the world (such as the CIA, MI6, Mossad, and so forth – maybe even the Los Angeles CTU. . .), with the Traveller character creation system drawing up detailed events of their secretive past lives. These characters have been recruited into an international organisation, classified ultra-secret at the highest levels, charged with defending Earth against the predations of a recently discovered alien threat.
Initial contact with alien forces has determined that they are incredibly powerful and likely hostile, though very little is known about them – in fact, the alien forces will be different for every campaign, as there is a back end system for the referee that defines the nature and scope of the alien threat, based upon the players’ own decisions, actions, and successes.
Naturally, with such a threat hanging over Earth, the masses can never come to learn about the alien menace, lest panic sweep entire nations, destroy the current world order, and the planet be left wide open to attack. The players must not only learn to operate in secret but to cover their tracks, all the while accepting that the organisation they are working for can, by necessity, be a cruel and callous one. Their missions may range from investigating possible abductions in the heart of a major city to racing through a tropical rainforest in an attempt to recover a downed alien craft before the homeland military discovers it, all the while hunted by an alien survivor whose technology makes a mockery of the players’ own resources.
Codename Veil will be appearing towards the end of the year.
We will also be continuing to support Traveller at its core as well. Judge Dredd fans were delighted when they realised that, because their new game used the Traveller system, they already had many different supplements available to them – after all, if a Traveller book has the traditional solid black cover, it is potentially useable with any setting! Because of this, you expect to see many new core supplements released over the next few years.
To give you a taste of what is to come. . .
Merchant Prince is a long-awaited title. Far more than just a companion for merchant-type characters, this book will form the cornerstone for entrepreneurial activity in Traveller universes, with lots of new mechanics for creating your own business start ups. More than that though, Merchant Prince introduces a new set of trading rules. Those in the main rulebook illustrate how part-timers and opportunists trade across the stars – Merchant Prince will show you how the ‘big boys’ do things, how the large trading conglomerates rake in millions of credits every month. Compete with them if you dare…
Other core books include Robots (allowing you to create your own robots, of course, and even using them as player characters), Power Armour (providing rules to create all new armour, from lithe Combat Armour to hulking exosuits – and then customising them) and Dilettante, the career book for nobles and entertainers. Want to be a foppish dandy, a movie idol or the galaxy’s greatest rock star? This book will show you how!
A favourite of mine is the Campaign Guide. Harmless enough title, but this book will allow you to run a complete campaign with no planned adventures at all – and your players will not be able to tell the difference. Perfect for lazy Games Masters (like myself) who barely have enough time to read published adventures, let alone write their own. Your players will touch down on a new world, perhaps within the Spinward Marches, and within seconds there will be a fully fleshed out starport, with a host of things to do that will keep the players going for months. Suppose they decide to leave the starport and engage in a little piracy? No problem, you’ll have prey (and law enforcement) sorted out for them in less than a minute. Want to introduce a little trouble with their latest trading or throw them a curved ball of a patron? It is all there for you in this book, easy to use and quick to create.
As is in the nature of such things, there are other licensed settings in the works that will be revealed at a later date. However, 2000AD fans will no doubt rejoice that, after Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog, the next comic strip to be added to the Traveller fold will be the ABC Warriors.
Players will take on the role of warbots, designed to withstand Atomic, Bacterial and Chemical (ABC, get it?) warfare, engaging in missions that may ultimately set them at odds with their human masters as they discover their own identities. And, of course, there will be plenty of opportunities to unleash massive levels of firepower as players design their own robots from the ground up, from advanced combat models to big, hulking demolition droids.
Dredd and Dog fans will also be directly supported, with such titles as Welcome to the Doghouse and the long-awaited guide to The Cursed Earth, allowing your judges to venture out of the confines of Mega-City One into the a blasted and irradiated wasteland populated by the very worst of mutant scum!
Finally, look out for Reign of Discordia in our Flaming Cobra range. Within the pages of this book players can fight against the R'Tillek and their crusade of extermination against the known species, fight to protect the independence of dozens of worlds, participate in the cold war between Earth and Lamog, haul cargo to the Frontier Systems, involve themselves in the various crime syndicates, work for one of the interplanetary conglomerates and engage in corporate sabotage, play a role in the advancement of one of the interplanetary organisations, salvage starships, and engage in a number of other activities that will bring danger and adventure.
The Third Imperium
The official Traveller universe, the Third Imperium, will also be getting more love in 2010. Three new sectors will be covered – Deneb and Reft sectors in their own books, and Ziafrplians sector in the Zhodani Alien Module. All three will be supported with the same full colour map packs available for the Spinward Marches and Trojan Reaches at the end of 2009.
We will also be touching upon the Darrian Confederation, exploring the mysteries of the Travellers’ Aid Society, and launching a new mega-campaign, entitled Secrets of the Ancients. Though this title has been used for an adventure in the Classic era of Traveller, this is an all new Gareth Hanrahan written campaign that will raise some very deep questions about the nature of the Ancients, and cause long term fans to revisit what they think they know…
This is all, however, the least of what will be happening within the Third Imperium. We’ll come back to this a little later.
RuneQuest is back, and is better than ever!
Our original incarnation of RuneQuest caught the attention of a great many people, but we always believed it ended up feeling like it had been designed by committee – mostly because it had… Over the past years, we have published a great deal for the game, and felt the time had come to revitalise the system and compact the sprawling rules set into something that both we and long term RuneQuest fans would find altogether more agreeable.
Enter RuneQuest supremo, Lawrence Whitaker. What Lawrence does not know about RuneQuest, frankly, is not worth knowing, and he was the natural choice to act as lead designer for the new game. He started development of the new system in 2008, and spent much of 2009 refining all the ideas we had for the game, so it would be ready for launch right at the start of 2010 – that’s right, you will see it in January!
We had many aims for the original RuneQuest system, but felt the mark was missed on some of them – Lawrence has taken these aims, added to and improved them, and I believe he has hit the target with every single one. Here’s a snapshot of the some important changes;
* Characters are now rolled up slightly differently, going back to the ‘straight’ 3d6 method but also including a points buy system as a formal option.
* Backgrounds and professions have been streamlined, and a new attribute based on CHA has been introduced to influence character advancement.
* Community, background history and connections are now part of character creation, making starting characters far more rounded.
* Characters now advance with skills quicker, and training has been overhauled.
* No more global armour-based skill penalties, but armour now affects strike rank – as do weapons. You won’t want to bring a dagger to a two-handed sword fight!
* Special manoeuvres have been added to combat, based on levels of success in both attack and defence. Combat is now far more dynamic, getting away from the ‘static’ sword-swinging. The biggest fights will actually alter the environment around them. Combat tables are gone, with everything being resolved on simple attack and defence rolls.
* The equipment list on the core book is far more comprehensive, and a weapon’s SIZ is now crucial for combat.
* Every magic system has been overhauled, with the old Rune Magic now taking the place of Common Magic, and losing the ‘physical’ runes (though they can be kept as an option). Access to Divine Magic is related to your character’s relationship with his deity, while Sorcery and Spirit Magic have been redesigned from the ground up.
* Cults now take on a far deeper meaning, with the character’s relationship with deity and cult taking priority.
* Legendary Abilities are still present, but now work differently.
Look for a full breakdown of the new RuneQuest II from Lawrence himself in December’s Signs & Portents – available for free download on the 1st!
We felt we had to do something special to mark the return of RuneQuest, and so talk began of some sort of leather-bound limited edition. Then someone came up with the thought ‘why not make every core RuneQuest book leather-bound?’
It was a good idea, but we wanted to keep printing in the US and, at the same time, deliver value for money to RuneQuest fans. There was no point in having pretty leather-bound books if no one could afford them! A few calls were made to our printers, a few deals arranged and… we are proud to present the new core RuneQuest range in its leather-bound entirety, at no extra cost to you! These books will look glorious on any roleplayer’s shelf as collector items, and gamers will enjoy the new rules set that delivers the fast and exciting play RuneQuest must have.
Following on from the new RuneQuest core book, there will be supplements galore, and the game will follow the same lines Traveller does now – a line of core books useable for any setting, with new worlds and settings layered on top that are able to utilise any of the core books.
The first two core supplements for RuneQuest II will be Arms & Equipment and Monster Coliseum. Arms & Equipment has been greatly expanded from its first incarnation, with rules for ships, vehicles, and enchantments built into the volume, making it much wider in scope (and greatly increasing its size). Monster Coliseum, as well as providing gladiatorial rules, overhauls familiar monsters for RuneQuest II, with each having notes on how it fights and behaves, making full use of the new combat system. Every monster now has a tactical array and uses some combat manoeuvres in preference to others either because of its nature/instinct, or its particular attacks and defences.
Further books of the core line in 2010, which can be used with any RuneQuest II setting, include an alternate magic system for Necromancy, another for Blood Magic, and the Vikings will be making a joyous return to the game in their own new book.
The first book for this new wave of Glorantha will not be the ‘core’ Gloranthan Second Age book, but actually Pavis Risis – a huge 256 page epic campaign. The root of Pavis Rises is to serve as an easy introduction to the mysterious world of Glorantha. Basically, if you know nothing about Glorantha, play through this campaign and, by the end, you will know everything you need! For Glorantha veterans, of course, you’ll be getting a great rollercoaster of a campaign.
After the core Glorantha book in March, you’ll be treated to some lovely books that really start to get under the bonnet (hood) of the setting. The foundation of these will be two big tomes, Races of Glorantha and a completely re-written, from top to bottom, Cults of Glorantha. With the new RuneQuest II rules, cults and other affiliations will be placed front and centre for characters.
Then there is the mighty Abiding Book – this will focus on God Learner culture, sorcery, their empire and so on. There will be a huge amount of information on cultures, with detailed rules and lifepaths for creating God Learner characters. If you are a big Glorantha fan, you won’t want to miss this one (or Tenets of the Inner Dragon, the following EWF equivalent book).
While Glorantha remains the original RuneQuest setting, in much the same way as the Third Imperium sits with Traveller, we are making a far greater commitment to use the system for many different fantasy (and not so fantasy) based settings.
Written by Gareth Hanrahan and appearing in April, this is a brand new setting for RuneQuest II. Set at the end of the 12th Century, players will take the part of initiates within a secret order of the Catholic Church, the Ordo Acerbus Devotio, an organisation dedicated to defending humanity against supernatural threats. Trained to battle this menace, equipped to deal with the foulest of enemies, and armed with papal authority, the initiates will roam Europe of the Middle Ages, battling warlocks, ghouls, lycanthropes, spirits, demons and much worse – and it must be done without alerting the general populace, lest they lose faith in the ultimate power of the Lord. By Any Means Necessary is the central foundation of the Order.
This is an extract from the main rulebook, to set the tone;
“Know this – every one of you will perish in the service of the Order. Save for your brothers and sisters, no-one will ever know your sacrifice. Those we protect and serve must never know of our actions, or even of our existence. We are Ordo Acerbus Devotio, the Order of Bitter Piety, because we must serve in shadow and silence. Our works must go unseen.
“We are the instruments of God. The Lord’s plan must be protected and shielded from those who would undo His good works. It is the duty of our order to defend Christendom and the Church from all her foes – within and without. It is the duty of our Order, too, to destroy those enemies whose existence cannot be countenanced. And it is the duty of our Order to conceal ourselves from the simple common folk, from greedy merchants and grasping nobles, and even our fellow servants of God. Our work is solely for the initiated.
“As initiates of the Order, you will go where you are needed, at the behest of your Masters. You will seek out the enemies of God and bring them down. You will be the hammer of witches and the slayer of monsters. You will be our instrument, just as we are God’s. We will forge you into holy weapons and fill you with righteous fury.
“You are mortal. You shall die, unknown and unmourned, and your deeds will be forgotten.
“O, but my brothers and sisters, your rewards in heaven shall be great indeed.”
Players will travel the length and breadth of Europe and to the Holy Lands in order to fulfil their missions, encountering the minions of Beelzebub, heretical Cathars, and uncovering the most vile of conspiracies within the highest reaches of European royalty. Faith itself will become a weapon in the hands of the most gifted initiates, blasting unholy enemies with the raw divine power of the Lord.
The Eternal Champion
With RuneQuest II, we have the opportunity to redress the Eternal Champion series too. The original Elric and Hawkmoon books are great examples of why we have taken a new approach with the whole RuneQuest line. Both were originally 160 page books, but 100-odd pages of each was taken up by the core rules!
By taking those core rules out (and adding more pages!), we can now bring you great volumes packed with Eternal Champion goodness. Elric and Corum will appear first (backed up with some suitably fiendish campaigns – Lawrence Whitaker has already staked his claim for the first Elric campaign!), but you will be seeing Hawkmoon and the fabled Multiverse sourcebook soon enough.
As with our Traveller line, the Eternal Champion sub-lines will be fully compatible with the core RuneQuest II books, so if you need to give your latest Big Bad a memorable weapon (for example), simply cruise along to Arms & Equipment for a comprehensive list, knowing all will be fully compatible on a mechanics level.
There are plans to heavily support the Eternal Champion series throughout 2010 and beyond, so if you are a fan of Michael Moorcock’s greatest works and find RuneQuest II to be an agreeable system, you are going to love what we are working on right now.
The Wraiths are back in this truly unique fantasy special forces setting, and this time they have been tuned to the RuneQuest II rules set. This time around, the setting will be far darker and grittier, with the Wraiths becoming involved in far tougher missions in the defence of the Kingdom of Dardarrick against its many enemies, both within and without. Tensions between other nations are at an all time high, cult activity has increased within Dardarrick’s borders, and the rapacious forces of the Wildlands are threatening to spill across the border.
Set against this are the Wraiths, highly trained professionals gifted with stealth and armed with the most powerful magicks the wealthy Dardarrick king can provide. Chief among these is the Spellcom lens, an eyepiece that allows operatives to penetrate darkness, receive mission updates and see through the lenses of their colleagues. Together, they will be tasked with the most dangerous tasks to defend their kingdom, infiltrating enemy fortresses, rescuing hostages taken by cultists, neutralising the leaders of vicious warbands and raiding garrisons to keep foes off balance.
An all new campaign is already being planned for Wraith Recon, along with a supplement that details the other military forces of Dardarrick, including the mighty pegasus knights and the truly awesome dragon carriers, great floating vessels that harness the most deadly units of the kingdom’s army.
Original RuneQuest Books
With RuneQuest II appearing in January, we will be rendering all current RuneQuest and Eternal Champion books out of print at the end of December. If there are any titles you are particularly after in the current range you have just over a month to grab them. After that, they will be gone for good!
In the summer of 2010, we will be launching two living campaigns – Living Traveller and Living Glorantha.
We are striving hard to keep these campaigns as simple as possible in their implementation, without the need for players and games masters to constantly log in and register characters and equipment. Instead, we want to very much concentrate on the story lines for these settings, as there are big events coming up for both, and the living campaigns will put your characters front and centre.
For example, we promised you a while ago that we were preparing for the end of the Second Age, and there will be plenty of material in Living Glorantha to take you there – you will be right in the front seat. For Traveller, your characters will be party to huge events in the run up to the Fifth Frontier War and beyond. If you are attending Conception in January next year, you will have a chance to take part in a dry run of Living Traveller, as we confirm all the systems behind these campaigns with a view to kicking them off properly at Continuum in July. From that point on, everyone is welcome to participate.
We are in the process of building up enough games master coverage to ensure these campaigns are run at all major conventions, but we also want to encourage participation at smaller events, stores, and at home too. Basically, no matter where you are or who you play with, you will have a chance to keep up with the campaigns. We are even looking at the potential for solo gamebooks that, when played through with your living characters, will count as scenarios in the larger campaign, so there will be all sorts of little bits and pieces you will have access to in order to fulfil your enjoyment of the entire campaign and give you a chance to get involved.
Now, we are guessing the first question many people will have about these campaigns is when is Living Mega-City One/Strontium Dog/Tragic Europe coming? The answer is that we have no solid plans as of yet, as we want to ensure all the core admin systems work with Traveller and Glorantha first. However, we have designed the systems to be relatively light, so there is always the possibility of adding more campaigns at a later date.
Right now, we are waiting to see what Paranoia fans make of our two latest core rulebooks, Internal Security and the imminent High Programmers. They are part of a grand experiment to see whether fans are ready to explore other aspects of Alpha Complex beyond Troubleshooters.
All three core books will be supported by missions next year, and Paranoia High Programmer Gareth Hanrahan has been hard at work on them already. There are some great titles coming – literally, some of these missions have great names, such as Scenes From a Surveillance Society, Meltdowns get me Down, and A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Termination Booth. We are going to have trouble fitting some of those on the front cover of the books!
While there are no solid plans as of yet, we are also looking at the possibility of new core books for Paranoia, such as delving into the Vulture Squadrons – but also looking beyond Alpha Complex to see whether the rules and dynamics can work in other settings. There are two lead contenders for this idea at the moment, and we’ll keep you informed as to how they are turning out…
A disagreement between ourselves and the licence holders has resulted in Conan being suspended in limbo. It is a tricky position – we cannot produce more material for the game (sales of further OGL Conan supplements will simply not justify the work required), and we have been forbidden to move the sword-swinging barbarian to a new games system.
It is a shame, but our loss is your gain. We have resolved to do the following in 2010.
First, we are bringing the price of all existing Conan books down to make it the best value fantasy RPG around. If you were debating about whether to dip into the Hyborian Age or wanted to complete your existing collection, now is the time! From January, the glorious 424 page main rulebook will be retailing for just $29.99 or £20, for example, while the Player’s Guide to the Hyborian Age will be just $14.99 or £10.
Second, we are going to be unleashing the power of Signs & Portents to support Conan throughout the year. We have built up a huge stock of player submitted adventures and writers’ rules-doodles. They will now be made available, for free, in the online magazine. Just click to download!
There is a great deal going on in the realm of Flaming Cobra, with several of the studios beginning to plan much further ahead – which is good news for those of you hungry for more information!
Earthdawn has been a fantastic success in 2010, and the chaps at Redbrick are looking forward to bringing you more in this fast expanding line.
They’ll be kicking off the Nations of Barsaive series in 2010, the first two volumes detailing the Kingdom of Throal, the heart of Barsaive, and the Serpent River. Also look out for Cathay: The Five Kingdoms, a completely new setting for use with Earthdawn.
There will also be plenty of adventures for you to get your teeth into, including another Shards collection (the first is out later this year), and the Kratas Adventures book.
Redbrick are also working on Equinox, a future fantasy game of stunning action, frightening intrigue, and mystical powers, set in the dark future of the war-ravaged Eighth World. Ride hybrid ships through astral space connecting planets and galaxies, wield awesome mystic powers, nethertech artifacts, and cutting-edge technology! Take on the role of a restless wanderer—someone living on the fringes of galactic society, scraping by in a war-torn system or even stealing other people‘s stuff. Whether a misfit, scoundrel, mercenary, pirate, idealist, explorer, or just someone who walked away from his home in search of adventure, you are part of the galactic underground. Fight the nightmares that invaded the universe, start a revolution against the fascistic and corrupted Consortium government and explore space beyond the Veil... Expect to see this one towards the bottom end of 2010.
Finally, there will be a brand new book called Gamesmastering. This book starts where the gamemastering advice of most roleplaying games stop and is geared towards helping gamemasters of all systems to reduce their preparation time, and generally improve their techniques for more lasting fun when running a game. Translated from German and laid out like a schoolbook (complete with exercises!), this book is well suited for both beginner and veteran gamemasters of all roleplaying games.
Now, I am sure a lot of you will be wondering about other Redbrick games, such as Fading Suns and Blue Planet – these are all in hand, and we’ll have some news on them very soon.
Dragon Warriors will be getting off to a flying start in 2010 with the release of Friends or Foes, a collection of fascinating individuals from all over the world. There are corrupt nobles, weird sorcerers, people cursed by the Fae or tormented by the past, merchants and mercenaries, priests and peasants, and even a selection of notable monsters such as Jasper the Gargoyle and the Silver Stag.
There will also be sourcebooks on Jewelspider Woods, the country of Algandy, and realms of the Fae, while in From the Cold is a collection of Dave Morris’ articles and adventures from the old White Dwarf.
Finally, there is a second fantasy RPG, which James Wallis is not prepared to name lest he invoke vengeful gods upon his head again.
Created by WildFire, the team behind the award-winning CthulhuTech, Chthnonian Stars is an original setting for Traveller. It brings a Lovecraftian flair to the Traveller family, in a near future setting where mankind has expanded out into our solar system, where old things are beginning to awaken.
Chthonian Stars is the first product line in the Cthulhu Chronicles. There are a finite number of books in the line – seven books that will be released over the course of a year, from Summer 2010 to Summer 2011. However, where Chthonian Stars leaves off, a new product line will begin as a part of the same Cthulhu Chronicles universe.
As for what Cthonian Stars will feature, I’ll let the Wildfire guys speak for themselves;
“Something approaches, a thing on an orbit from far away. Seemingly a large shard of dark matter, this object is known in obscure prophecy as the Chthonian Star. It is a thing that has been travelling through the universe on its oblique trajectory for millions, if not billions, of years. It is a part of the natural cycle of things, on its eon-long orbit. The Chthonian Star is what caused the end of the dinosaurs, among other things. Now, again, it is awakening things long thought lost or dead, things that have slumbered awaiting its return.”
As well as this, Wildfire are also working hard to revise our epic levels 1-30 campaign, Drow War, for Pathfinder. If you are looking for a great campaign that will give you literally months of play, look no further.
Spycraft has always been a solid cornerstone for Crafty, and Fantasy Craft has gone ballistic, with many people eager to try out their version of fantasy gaming.
Both games will be well supported in 2010, with Spycraft getting an arms/gear/gadget supplement, as will World on Fire - including the long-awaited resolution to the story arc begin in the core book.
Ten Thousand Bullets will finally make an appearance, a street noir for Mastercraft, along with the Adventure Companion and Gear for the Ages for Fantasy Craft. The Adventure Companion provides three separate settings for Fantasy Craft, while Gear for the Ages expands equipment in all categories and eras, including wheelguns, steam-powered devices, and other inventions of the industrial period.
The Mega-City One Archives
Outside of roleplaying, we have been busy as well. The first of these new projects is the Mega-City One Archives, a massive 13 volume set covering the entire history of the comic strip, its heroes, villains, technologies, storylines, and themes.
Any fan of 2000AD and Judge Dredd will fall in love with this set, as each is a lavishly illustrated full colour hardback with original art designed to bring Mega-City One to life. These are a few of the topics the volumes will be covering;
* The Justice Department
* Beyond Mega-City One
* The Tek Manual
Added to that, and a real bonus if you are playing the newly released Judge Dredd RPG, we will also be detailing an entire sector! Showing all its ins and outs, layout, landmarks and famous characters, this volume will be a veritable mine of information for those looking to really flesh out their games.
Presented as a full colour hardback, every volume contains a proof of purchase label – collect the first twelve of these throughout 2010 and 2011, and we will send you volume 13, covering the Dark Judges, absolutely free! There is no other way to get volume 13, making this a truly collectible set.
I repeat, there will be no other way to get your hands on that 13th volume other than by collecting the proofs of purchase.
We have been beavering away behind the scenes with miniatures games – we have new premises for their manufacture, new systems for quality control, and all new sculpts being prepped. We are not quite ready yet to make an announcement of what we will be doing in this field, but stay tuned to this space!
The release of new Lone Wolf solo gamebooks will continue apace throughout 2010, with all of the internal issues that delayed some titles in the past now fully resolved – our team is a fairly slick Lone Wolf machine! So long as we can get hold of the final manuscript, you may even see Book 29 released in 2010 (Original and Magnamund Megadeal customers will, of course, see their copy long before anyone else)…
What we are really excited about is the release of the all new Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook, appearing in the first quarter of 2010. The mechanics are rooted solidly in those of the solo gamebooks, making the game perfect for those new to roleplaying or who are looking for a much lighter rules set so they can concentrate on character or story.
The first volume contains all the core rules for playing Kai Lords, along with a few starter adventures. We are already planning volumes two, three and four which will add new characters, background and history of Magnamund, as well as a complete campaign against the Kai monks perpetual nemesis, the Dark Lords! All books in this series will appear in our mini-size pocket format, meaning you won’t break your back carrying even the entire set to your local club.
Many people have been asking us about a general softback release of the Lone Wolf series, and we have been stymied by the desire to have a joint, simultaneous release in both the UK and US, preferably by book distributors who take the range seriously. While this has caused us a fair amount of headaches, the glacier has finally started to shudder. Things move slowly in the more mainstream book publishing markets, but it is finally coming. More news as it develops.
A Final Round Up
That is by no means all the releases we are planning for 2010 but, I hope you will agree, there are some exciting games coming up in Mongoose’s ever growing catalogue. We have a firm commitment to RuneQuest and Traveller, and are looking to expand them over the next few years into very solid lines with a wide variety of settings to choose from.
We have passed several card game and board game projects to our friends at Cubicle 7, allowing us to concentrate first on our core business of roleplaying games, and also expansion into other areas of game manufacturing and publishing. Primarily, this is focussed toward miniatures games (likely appearing around the end of 2010 with current projections), and book sales to wider markets, led by the Mega-City One Archives and softback Lone Wolf books. The development of new properties, such as Deus Vult and Reaver is also going to receive a tighter focus over the next year.
Overall, we are looking forward to 2010 as a year where RuneQuest II rises to the same prominence as Traveller, where Mongoose Publishing starts making a name for itself beyond hobby games, and placing all the administrative foundations (spearheaded by the new web site, back end and warehouse) for greater expansion in the years to come.
From where we are sitting right now, things are looking good!
General chat about Mongoose Publishing and its releases
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