State of the Mongoose 2022

MongooseMatt

Administrator
Staff member
Mongoose Publishing is just finishing its 21st year in business, and we are still here! 2022 was a very interesting year for us and there is lots to talk about. This is a long one, so grab yourself a coffee and settle in for a read…

I am Matthew Sprange, owner of Mongoose Publishing, and the State of the Mongoose is our yearly address to the gaming community, covering how we have been getting on over the past 12 months and looking forward to our plans for the following year.

This year we will be talking Traveller, Paranoia, Shield Maidens, new projects, some fundamental changes in the direction the company has been heading in, and much more!

Business Stuff
The first big change came early in the year with a brand new website. It was delayed by a couple of months as we tweaked a few things and added features but now it is here… I have to say, it is absolute bliss. It automates so much compared to our previous website and we have barely scraped the surface of its features. Aside from direct customer service (and we are always happy to talk to fans!), there is very little administration needed, meaning we can concentrate on designing books rather than counting beans, and it integrates with just about all our other systems, from shipping services to accounts.

The migration process from old site to new went pretty smoothly, but if you had any problems with your account, just let us know!

On your side as you visit the site, you should find everything a lot easier to use and find, and managing your orders is so much simpler and intuitive. We will be bringing more features to the site over the next couple of years but, for now, it has simply been an absolute delight to use.

One of the new features we have finally been able to implement is that all direct orders, no matter where in the world they are going, are now tracked. This is something we have been wanting to do for quite some time but our previous website was a bit too basic for it. It also means we are now shipping to the EU again from the UK office, greatly speeding up delivery times. The shipping is fully EU-friendly, so there are no customs or import charges.

In the wider world, the pandemic still has an effect on both printing and international freight (as opposed to the mail services we use to get your orders to you – those seem pretty solid now), causing some delays in new books coming out. However, we can see things beginning to ease, and both printing and shipping are speeding up again.

Fundamental Changes
This is not new, as we have been working towards something for two or three years now, but I think we are finally ready to reveal what we have been up to behind the scenes at Mongoose.

For a while now, we have been focussing on employee welfare and quality of life. Working at a games company is a pretty cool job… but we started to ask how we could make it even better. In answer to this, we instituted a number of changes, big and small.

These went in several directions. For example, I wanted to improve the team environment and, well, just make coming into work every day something that was not a drag.

So, we have a list of upcoming projects that will become future book releases. Instead of being assigned specific projects, the staff now get together and work out who wants to be in charge of each project. They figure how long a project is likely to take, and they build their own production schedule which, of course, leads into the release schedule.

This means that Mongoose staff have full control over their working days, weeks and months. They get to decide what they work on and when, giving them a massive amount of autonomy and control over their working lives. Basically, they are given full responsibility and authority over their own work. This, it turns out, makes a massive difference as to how people approach their working lives.

We expanded upon this, giving all staff education in the way the company runs. This went from things as simple as how to handle the mail order and customer service systems, so now anyone can do them, to opening up the company accounts so everyone can see the health of the various balances and how money is moved between them – and anyone who has run their own company will know that is quite the leap to make! Every day now, at least one staff member reviews every bank account, transfers balances when needed and, at the end of the month, runs payroll. Throughout the month, they run predictions on what revenue is likely to be, and then make decisions as to how that revenue should be allocated. Basically, how to spend money earned. Every week, all staff are briefed on the financial health of the company and know exactly how well Mongoose is doing on a weekly and monthly basis.

This all boils down to giving staff a feeling of ownership and control over their own destiny. They can see exactly the effect their actions have, and how it benefits all. They now truly work as a tight-knit team.

But can we go further and do better than that?

At the bottom end of this year, we renovated (well, replaced) the office kitchen. And we did not muck about, as you can see here.

SotMKitchen.jpg

Katrina promptly volunteered to become the Official Mongoose In-House Executive Chef, and now the staff receive free home-cooked meals every day – this is both cheaper for them and a lot healthier. Gone are the days where take-out food was delivered to the office on a regular basis.

At the end of every month, Mongoose has an amount of revenue. There are things that need to be paid for, of course, such as energy costs, rent, salaries, and everything else needed to keep a company going. There are things that need money allocated towards – longer term projects, larger purchases not fundable by a single month’s revenue, the War Chest and so on.

After all of that, if things are going well, there is an amount left over. So, we started looking at paying staff bonuses on top of their regular salaries. We started small, with a few hundred Pounds paid to each (we work as a team, so every staff member gets the same bonus – in fact, once they have been at the company for a while, they all get paid the same salary too, with the idea that each is essential to the running of Mongoose), and it became obvious that while this was a small enough amount for a company, for staff this extra could mean everything, especially in these times of a cost of living crisis.

The bonuses started to get larger at times. If we had a big release, more revenue came in, and bonuses could be larger. In the current financial year, it is possible, just possible, that these bonuses will come close to equalling base salaries.

This all got to the point where, at the end of the Shield Maidens Kickstarter, the staff were given details on all the costs of the Kickstarter, and the chance to allocate profits from the Kickstarter as they saw fit. Now, bear in mind that they all knew that bonuses for themselves were on the table – however, by this time they were familiar with the company accounts and what Mongoose needed to function and improve. So, they did not simply assign the profits to themselves but allocated funds in a way that benefitted both staff and the company as a whole.

This culminated a couple of months ago with the staff running Mongoose by themselves, with no input from me. I just sat in the other side of the office and worked on… well, I’ll come to that later. They just got on with it, having been taught how to run a company for a week without causing it to nosedive. We will be doing this again in 2023, and hopefully extending it to a fortnight and a month. At least one Kickstarter project next year will be run completely by staff, again with no input from me.

The aim for all of this is two-fold. First, having this level of control in the workplace makes for better quality of life. People are given the chance to make their own decisions, pursue their own projects, and follow through on them, all while seeing the effect this has on the company as a whole.

Second, it puts Mongoose in a position where, in the future, it will become not only an employee-run company, but an employee-owned company. I expect it to take a good few years before both staff and I are ready for this, and there are different ways to do it but, at some point, ownership of Mongoose will pass onto the staff equally. If we can continue to produce good games, long-term staff will hopefully have a decent future ahead of them.

This, at least, is the aim.

So… Mongoose sound like a good place to work at, with decent prospects? Looking for a job? We will be advertising for a Brand Manager very soon, so keep your eyes peeled…

Business Summary
It would be fair to say that Mongoose is improving year by year at the moment. We are an ethical company that puts staff welfare high on the agenda, and have a very pleasant place to work. Our game lines are expanding at a steady rate and, from feedback, we seem to be hitting the right notes most of the time – we will be working hard to further elevate both presentation and content of our games as we move forward.

2022 and the Mongoose
As we come to the end of 2022, we can look back and see if we managed to achieve everything we set out to do at the beginning of the year. And, mostly, we did.

We launched a brand new universe and game via Kickstarter, with the Shield Maidens RPG. This is a gorgeous looking Viking/Cyberpunk game of a sacred Sisterhood fighting monsters, towering fascist authorities and the gods themselves across the Nine Realms.

You can download a primer of Shield Maidens right here:

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0609/6139/0839/files/Shield_Maidens_Primer.pdf

It is well worth a look!

Thea.jpg

Veteran Travellers will be asking when the Fifth Frontier War will start – it will be 2023, we promise! We got a little bit diverted by turning the Secrets of the Ancients campaign into a trilogy, the definitive sourcebook on the Imperial Navy, plus some other bits and bobs. However, fan-favourite Martin Dougherty will be commencing work on the Fifth Frontier War next year.

Following on from the Traveller Core Rulebook Update 2022, we unveiled High Guard Update 2022 and, before Christmas, you should also be seeing the Central Supply Catalogue Update 2023. The new High Guard and the (very) long-awaited Robot Handbook were our biggest sellers this year – no surprise there – but while it will not have long to do so, it is just possible that the new Central Supply Catalogue will give one of them a run for its money.

2300AD really began to motor this year with the appearance of the Aerospace Engineer’s Handbook, Ships of the Frontier, and Tools for Frontier Living. Before the end of the year, you will also see the Bayern box set, a mighty campaign of exploration for your games.

In 2021, we seemed to have started a precedent of delivering a free Christmas present to our fans – and we are continuing that this year. Keep your eyes open in December for a free Traveller PDF, again a re-imagining of a classic Traveller adventure updated for modern gaming.

Finally, at the tail end of 2022, we have a Kickstarter running (right now, at time of writing!) for Paranoia Perfect Edition. Every version of Paranoia is perfect, but this edition is perfecter. Maybe even perfectest.

1fin.jpg

You can download a primer for the new book right here:

https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0609/6139/0839/files/Paranoia_Preview.pdf

At time of posting, the Paranoia Perfect Edition Kickstarter still has a few days to run. You can join in on the action here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1990654819/paranoia-rpg-the-perfect-edition

A lot of stretch goals have already been unlocked, giving backers an immense amount of material and new missions to start exploring Alpha Complex with – plus, you will be getting your hands on the books before anyone else!

2fin.jpg

Inside Paranoia Perfect Edition you will find massively improved art, streamlined rules, and a lot more lore on that utopia we all love, Alpha Complex. More on the new Paranoia further ahead…

So, that was 2022. What can you expect from Mongoose in 2023?

Shield Maidens
As I type, Shield Maidens is about to be loaded onto a boat and will be going out to backers early next year – we expect it to go on general release around quarter two in 2023.

As a daughter of Freya, blessed by the divine, it is your task to free Yggdrasil from the tyrannical forces that control the greatest source of power: Ymir’s Blood. Elves have been ripping worlds apart for it, and the Fenrir Empire is killing Midgard with their constant drilling. The lifeblood of worlds is almost spent, and the Shield Maidens are the only thing that stands between the spring and fimbulwinter. You will meet all manner of mythical and technological figures throughout your journeys on the Bifrost, and you alone can save them.

GM cover mock.jpg

Shield Maidens will initially come in the form of a Training Guide for players and the Gamemaster’s Guide, with a GM’s Screen and dice set (a combination of D6s and D8 Shield Dice that glow, neon-like, in the dark!), and there is even a soundtrack CD coming. We are already working on the first supplementary materials which will be an adventure compilation and a Dataforge that takes a deep dive into the most famous (and dangerous) creatures to prowl the Nine Realms.

Traveller in 2023
Every day, at least one full-time staff member at Mongoose HQ is working on something Traveller-related – and usually more than one! We are always looking at ways to drive both the game and universe forward, and Travellers will have seen a massive ramping up of quality books over the past few years. This is something we will be endeavouring to continue.

As well as the start of the Fifth Frontier War series, there were a couple of other books planned for 2022 that did not quite make it in time. However, they are in hand and will be making their presence known in 2023.

The first of these is the Singularity campaign, a set of books (likely coming in a slipcase, Pirates of Drinax style) that dives right into themes of artificial intelligence, high technology, the nature of humanity and what place artificial lifeforms can and should have in the universe. Writer Chris Griffen is just about to commence this mighty work, and we expect you to be able to dive into this long-running story that starts in the Imperial Core but moves rapidly across Charter Space at the tail end of 2023. Keep your eye out for Singularity, it is going to be a good ‘un.

The other title that missed 2022 is Aliens of Charted Space Volume 4. The manuscript for this is about halfway complete, and will be covering the Suerrat, Gurvin, Za’tachk, and Texcat. A nice broad range of playable aliens if you fancy trying your hand at someone who is not from one of the large empires.

Alongside those two, there are several new titles that are either already written and just waiting for layout, or work is about to commence on them.

Marches Adventures 1-5: This is something we have been planning for years. Marches Adventures 1 and 2 (High and Dry, and Mission to Mithril) will be compiled into a hardback with three brand new adventures. Marches Adventure 3: Search and Rescue sees the Travellers following a GK distress signal onto a Red Zoned world, while Marches Adventure 4: Artemis Wept has them trying to save an entire species from extinction. Marches Adventure 5: Safari Ship was originally intended to be the free Christmas download this year but was a little… over-written. So, this revisiting of a classic will now be appearing as part of this hardback.

MONGOOSE-PUBLISHING_Marches-3_COVER.jpg

Mysteries & Wrath of the Ancients: Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, we came up with the idea to turn the current Secrets of the Ancients campaign into a massive trilogy. This, we have (finally) got round to. Mysteries of the Ancients is completely written (and editing is almost complete), and forms a prequel to Secrets. This will put your Travellers on the path to discovering the Ancients, culminating in a visit to a large mountain that will be familiar to Traveller veterans. Work is about to start on the finale, Wrath of the Ancients, which is going to prove suitably explosive…

Order of Prometheus: A complete campaign set within the Solomani Sphere, a covert society has stolen a cosmic secret. Using lost, forbidden, knowledge the Order of Prometheus will lead humanity into a new age with custom-made creatures. Loyal warriors, indefatigable workers and resilient beasts of burden, their Golems are the answer to every manpower and labour-relations issue a user could ever imagine. This campaign will take your Travellers from the harsh world of Wasat, with its unusual starport, to logging camps and country estates. They will experience adventures aboard an atomic train and an awkward lunch with the notorious agents of SolSec…

Starship Operator’s Handbook: Ever wanted to know exactly how your starship works? What lies behind that panel under the pilot’s console on the bridge? How the power plant feeds energy to the jump drive, how to get the best performance from your ship in an atmosphere, or squeeze a little extra space from your cargo bay? The Starship Operator’s Handbook is the deepest dive yet we have done into using spacecraft in Traveller and is destined to become the essential guide for every independent owner/operator.

Legend of the Sky Raiders: Yes, it is coming back! A much-beloved favourite amongst veteran Travellers, this complete campaign is being re-written from the ground up with plenty of setting information provided for an area far beyond the borders of the Imperium, Contacts (and Allies, Rivals and Enemies) threaded into the campaign to give your Travellers a personal connection, and a fast-paced storyline that nevertheless gives a chance to explore the subsector and engage in personal projects. Legend of the Sky Raiders is rooted in ancient archaeology and the pursuit of both knowledge and riches – if you ever fancied trying your hand at being a Space Indiana Jones, Legend of the Sky Raiders will be for you.

Bounty Hunter: We have a feeling this will be a popular one! As Mercenary and the Naval Campaigns Handbook introduced a new style of campaign to Traveller, so too does Bounty Hunter. Whether you want to start a bounty hunting campaign from scratch or bring contracts to your existing Travellers, this book contains everything you need to create targets to collect upon, build a reputation, engage in a range of contracts and, of course, develop the very best specialised equipment to create a truly unique bounty hunting persona. Unleash your inner Mandalorian or Clint Eastwood.

The Imperial Navy: The writing of this one is almost complete, and will provide the most in-depth view of the Imperial Navy – how it functions, the people within it, and the policies that govern its actions – we have yet done. As a treat, we will also be super-detailing the mighty Tigress dreadnought, giving you everything you need to visit one in a Traveller campaign, or crew one using the Naval Campaigns Handbook…

New Traveller Universe: Pioneer
Last year, we announced the development of Pioneer, a new universe for Traveller set in our own Solar System, 10-30 years in the future. You will be on the cutting edge of manned exploration to moons, planets, asteroids and so far undiscovered mysteries. Pioneer is a game of firsts – you will be the first to walk on Mars, the first to establish a Moon base, the first to test mining operations on an asteroid, the first to look for life on Europa, and so much more.

The rulebook is undergoing some re-writes and the manuscript will be with the backers of the last JTAS Kickstarter soon for playtesting. We are due to start work on the first major supplement for the game, which will cover the first manned mission to the surface of Mars, and we have lots more in the pipeline. You will have to wait a little longer for this one, but we really do think it will be worth it!

2300AD
The universe of 2300AD is expanding nicely, with a range of rulebooks and now a full campaign to dive into. In 2023, we will be looking to continue this journey.

Invasion: In 2301, the Kaefers launch their invasion of human space, with the intent to drive through to Earth and end the existential threat posed by humanity. The war with the Kaefers started earlier, however, and this campaign starts at the beginning, with the initial attack on Aurore in 2298. The Travellers are survivors of this invasion, or perhaps the family of those who did not make it, and are employed as experts as war looms. The Travellers journey from Station Arcture across the worlds of the French Arm, aiding multiple factions to bring about the defeat of the invading aliens. This book will include rules for space naval operations, including resupply and re-arming, new ships, and the Abridged Atlas of the French Arm, including the 2303 update, which details conditions after the war.

orkhan_spaceplane.png

Building the Frontier: Exploring and colonising an alien world is a complex task, made all the more difficult by politics and economics, not to mention the general hostility of alien worlds by humans; even the ‘habitable’ ones. This book includes information on building and maintaining a new colony, and the equipment necessary, from habitation to power plants. The final part of the book gives Travellers an opportunity to be part of a colonising expedition to either Labyrinth or Avalon, each world having own unique challenges. Travellers will need to manage the creation and growth of the colonies, while dealing with surprises and hardships.

platformhighseas.png

Paranoia Perfect Edition
On general release in the summer of 2023, Paranoia Perfect Edition is the ideal (re)introduction to Alpha Complex.

As a Troubleshooter, you are a member of Alpha Complex’s most expendable elite force. Tasked with finding trouble and shooting it, you will be hunting Commies, mutants, terrorists, traitors, Commie mutant terrorist traitors, renegade bots, DAIVs, and [REDACTED]. You will save Alpha Complex from its greatest threats, unless you accidentally become Alpha Complex’s greatest threat.

Cover book mock.jpg

The Paranoia Perfect Edition is a love letter to this Origins Hall of Fame roleplaying game. Old characters from previous editions like Funbot are back, combat is fast, and satire drips from every page like a spilled vat of Hot Fun.

Alongside the Paranoia Perfect Edition Rulebook, we are also releasing the Accomplice Book.

You know how RPGs create a companion book full of extra rules, ideas and things that couldn’t fit inside the rulebook? The same happened here, but Paranoia does not work well with ‘companions’. In the Accomplice Book, GMs can find rules, secret societies and more from older editions (hello commendation points); alternate rules for those who want crunchier combat or stat-based initiative (hello hit points); new ideas such as Treason Circles and more gear (hello Troubleshooter slang); several tables for GMs to randomly pick locations important to Troubleshooting (hello plug-n-plays); and the old Mission Blender to randomly create entire missions! It even comes with an updated equipment list combining the new stuff with gear from the rulebook. Plus there's the quality, uplifting text written by Famous Game Designers with more words than common sense.

Video Games
Our association with Evil Twin Games continues, bringing our games to computer screens.

Victory at Sea: Atlantic is in full development and has had a complete overhaul since Victory at Sea: Pacific. The main focus has been to improve visual quality including ship detail, submersible combat with full underwater combat, aircraft combat, and the A.I. The campaign system has been re-built from the ground up, looking at moving resources from the US to Great Britain, and includes new land-based structures such as AAA, radar towers, industry, power management, and research and development. Victory at Sea: Atlantic should launch as early access in 2023, with at least 100 unique vessel models.

Screenshot_1005.png

Work on the Traveller video games also continues, concentrating at the moment on playable environments.

And into the Future
The past year has been about consolidating our existing game lines (Traveller), introducing a new one (Shield Maidens), and re-igniting another (Paranoia). We have also been working behind the scenes to improve the working life at Mongoose and starting to ensure that staff have a secure future ahead of them.

A year ago in the last State of the Mongoose, we listed a series of primary goals for 2021. How did we do?
  • With 2300AD and Pioneer under our belt, we are wanting to introduce another Traveller universe that has been bubbling its way through our creative process for more than a decade now. It is tightly focussed (three core books, no more, no less) and will be developed in 2022, likely for release in 2023. (Work has not been started yet but we have a selection of new universes that will be pursued next year).
  • We want to redouble our efforts in working on a good future for our staff. A core component of that will be getting younger members on the housing ladder, no easy task in this day and age. This means continuing to provide a good salary, but also facilitating a healthy deposit and sound financial advice. (Success – we have brought financial advisors in, have encouraged savings, and hope the younger members of Mongoose will be moving into their first houses in 2023 and 2024).
  • There is also a move that has already begun to ‘future proof’ Mongoose and ensure it continues to function whatever disasters come its way. This has led to training staff in areas other than their core responsibilities, to the extent that the company can continue to function no matter who unexpectedly leaves, for whatever reasons. We will be continuing to do that and aim to have at least one week in 2022 where the staff become responsible for the running of Mongoose with no directorial oversight. (Success – the staff were running the company entirely on their own in the first week of October, and have continued to receive training in the running of companies).
  • On that note, we will also be looking to appoint one or more of the staff as company directors, as right now Mongoose has just one and that is never great. (Not done yet but we will be selecting someone to become a company director in 2023).
  • We will continue our mission to make Mongoose HQ a pleasant environment to work in. At a minimum we want to redecorate/replace the entire kitchen area. The carpets in the office desperately need replacing but until the technology arrives that can levitate everything off the floor (including staff), we are reluctant to pull the trigger on that one. (Success – we have the brand new kitchen, and are now eyeing up the stairs, hallway and toilets for a complete overhaul).
  • Pandemic permitting, we will be re-instituting our office day trips! (Success – we kicked off with a visit to a wildlife park and went behind the scenes to talk to the Tapirs and Giraffes!).
Looks pretty good. So, what shall be our goals for 2023?
  • With so many creatives on staff, we want to continue exploring new universes and new games to go with them. We have some good ideas here, but it is likely that 2023 will be a ‘development’ year for a new game that will appear in 2024.
  • We will continue to provide education to staff in running a company on an ever-increasing timeline. Early next year the staff will be running the company alone for a week once more and, later in the year, we will increase this to a fortnight and a month.
  • All going well, we will run a Kickstarter next year. The difference with this one is that it will be developed and run, from start to finish, by the staff, with no oversight. From concept to final delivery of the books, they will be on their own.
  • We took a run at social media this year. In 2023 we will be turning this into a sustained approach including, as we have said in previous years (!), a ‘proper’ YouTube channel.
  • Putting proper legal framework in to make Mongoose an employee-owned company should anything (ahem) unfortunate happen to the current owner. We have a rough-and-ready system in place to do it right now, but the continued future of the company demands more.
It has become our goal to turn working at Mongoose into more than ‘just another job’, where staff have a real and tangible stake in the success of the company, and the autonomy to make powerful and meaningful decisions – both in the workplace and having the security and prosperity to do so in the rest of their lives.

We are all gamers at Mongoose, enjoying a wide range of different games and formats, but united in a passion for play and a desire to create the kind of gaming experiences we have enjoyed from other designers all our lives. In turn, we hope this comes across in the games we produce and that a little of that enthusiasm lands on your own gaming tables and increases your enjoyment, fun, and satisfaction as you explore these universes.

So, after all of that, I think all that remains is for everyone on the Mongoose team to thank you for your support thus far and wish you all a very Merry Christmas, with a prosperous and fun-filled New Year.

Stay safe and keep gaming!

Matthew Sprange
Managing Director
Mongoose Publishing
 

taosecurity

Mongoose
Thank you for sharing this. Beyond all the cool new products on the way, I appreciate learning how your company operates. It's a great example for other businesses and organizations.
 

Mosker

Mongoose
New dream: you all buy the rights to Tunnels & Trolls. There are a lot of us creators and players seeking a new foundation for the game (in addition to following where Ken St. Andre, Steve Crompton, Liz Danforth et al. are going with their post DT&T projects.)
 

stevenpoore

Mongoose
Fantastic stuff! Do you have any plans for the range of Traveller fiction? (Like, do you want any? I'm asking for a friend...)
 

TrippyHippy

Cosmic Mongoose
Wish you could get a license to do a Traveller version of Space: 1889 and Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which actually seems more viable as a game now that there is a Monty Python RPG in the making).

But anyway, intrigued mostly by Singularity and Pioneer, here. Will be looking to keep the Traveller collection growing anyway. And, obviously, have backed the new edition of Paranoia.
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
I posted my comments in the Traveller section as 'Traveller 2023'
Other than those, I'm happy that things are going pretty well for the company. These have been challenging times for every publisher, so it's good to see you guys weathering the storm.
 

The King

Cosmic Mongoose
Nice kitchen and great program, especially for Traveller. It's great news to hear of an update of the Sky Raiders trilogy.
 
Last edited:
Top