The One Ring RPG 2nd Edition PDF: Tips and Tricks for Loremasters and Players
Huge list of changes that I've been working on this past 2 weeks. Wandering Souls has some new mechanics, updated rules, and overall more things to play with while making it feel more alive. A lot of balancing to make the game more difficult but not unfair.
It may be true at this point that few are making lots of money from e-publishing. You and I have both been around this business long enough to remember when almost no one in it was making any significant money at all. Everything starts small. We're starting small, but I do not expect we will always be so small. I agree that there are people who would rather buy Cardboard Heroes than a similar e-published product. But for a long time there WERE no Cardboard Heroes. Why? Because it wasn't economical to publish them. (Believe me, I had THAT discussion with Steve Jackson on LOTS of occasions.) They didn't come back until it became economical, and to do it he had to find a different way to bring them out. That's really what we are doing with e-publishing at this point -- bringing out things in a different way that, at present, are not economical to publish in a more conventional manner. The DEMAND for Cardboard Heroes never went away. It just became too expensive to publish them. E-publishers are exploring other alternatives to fill demands. E-publishing is also a way to expose a hard-core of fans (those who will take a bit of extra trouble to get things they want) to new ideas (or perhaps old ones approached in different ways). In some cases, this may create enough demand for an item that economy of scale will kick in and make "traditional" publishing possible. And some products are BETTER in e-published form. Our own cardstock figures have some advantages over Steve's Cardboard Heroes, in that you can print as many as you want. For some people, printing it yourself is not a handicap -- it is an advantage. Quoting your previous letter: "While e-publishers may NOT be lazy, cheap or greedy, that is to some degree how the gaming populace sees them. After all, they think, if the many small publishers out there who DO put their stuff out on dead trees can do it, why don't you? It is like a car dealer saying "Hey, I've got a great deal on this car...but it is only 75% put together and you need to paint it...and you need to supply the tools" It just strikes most folks as tho e-publishers are not willing to go the last mile of the journey and have their stuff printed." With all due respect, I think those who make that argument are ignorant of the realities of publishing. There are e-publishers for the same reason there ARE kit cars, which you build yourself from parts. It's part hobby, and part the fact that the realities of economy of scale mean that such "little" cars would not exist if they had to be made and sold in the quantities that GM makes cars. Still, there is a market for such things, and they are considered valuable. Kit cars don't exist because the sellers are lazy. They exist because the sellers are filling a market the big manufacturers can't afford to bother with at present. Sometimes such small markets become accepted enough to become mainstream,. It happened in our own industry with Dungeons and Dragons at one point, and again with collectible card games. It will happen again. I believe e-publishing will become much bigger than it is today, and that it is worth the effort to expore the boundaries of that marjet today to prepare for the future. As to e-publishing being vulnerable to piracy, many people in traditional publishing still believe this (Steve Jackson among them), but my own experience has been that traditional publishers are just as vulnerable to piracy as e-publishers. It only takes one look at the alt.binaries.e-book.rpg newsgroups to know how widespread piracy of hardcopy adventure game materials has become. A lot of the stuff on there is new games that hit the newsgroup almost as fast as people can scan it in. On the other hand, I have seen MicroTactix Games' unsecured PDFs offered online by pirates exactly twice. And both times, the unauthorized distributor was told most sternly to buzz off by the other frequenters of the boards in question. I'm not naive enough to believe there is NO piracy of MicroTactix stuff. There will always be people who unthinkingly (or uncaringly) take what does not belong to them. But the amount is miniscule -- far less by proportion than the amount of "shrinkage" experienced by game retailers at the hands of shoplifters. The difference is that publishers rarely think about shoplifting when they talk about how "secure" their format is because it happens out of their sight at the point of purchase. Shrinkage happens to MicroTactix, to SJG, to WizKids and to Wizards of the Coast. It is part of business and always will be -- and if you can't absorb it, you've picked the wrong distribution method or are producing the wrong products. I don't think computers WILL replace books, nor online gaming replace face-to-face gaming. I hope not, at any rate. I DO believe that computer-based distribution and online gaming will have a growing place in the marketplace. LIke it or not, these methods of bringing entertainment to the public fill perceived needs, and that is the only criteria that matters. As to publishing our stuff in print, we've formed a recent partnership with an existing print publisher to do that for some of our products that make sense in that medium (such as our Origins-Award-nominated miniatures rules and some of our unique building kits. That partnership would not have happened if we had not CREATED the demand for such products by reaching opinion leaders with our online sales of downloadable products. But some of our products (like the Dirt Cheep lines you mention) make no sense as hardcopy products. The Dirt Cheep line depends on building lots of dungeon walls or modular caverns. The cost of buying so much stuff in pre-printed cardstock would be perceived by the user as very high, especially since -- no matter HOW you put together the mix -- he would always find there was not enough of one piece he wanted and too many of another. We'll be bringing these products to the traditional wholesale/retail market soon -- but in the form of CD-ROMs. But neither of those projects will replace our online sales. They will merely broaden our market. We fully expect that many people who try our products in hardcopy and on CD-ROM will visit our website to see other things. Economy of scale will bring some products to other media, but there will always be smaller projects that are uneconomical in print or even on mass-distributed CD. Rarher that have those sorts of products never exist at all, we will be able to continue to market them -- profitably -- to the people who want to buy them. It is inevitable that people will find some methods of distribution more to their taste than others. I usually assume that those not to my taste are serving other markets than my own. I think most e-publishers who have put some thought into it are aware that what they do isn't for everyone, at present. In fact, I don't think ANYTHING is really for EVERYONE. But I believe the market is significant, the value offered is genuine, and the need is growing. Look at things again a few years down the road. You may be surprised. I thank you VERY sincerely for your answers to my questions. It is very important for me to understand all sides of my market, including those who aren't PART of that market as yet. As always, there is a lot to think about in your comments. I hope you found my own reasons for what I do interesting as well. Thanks for your time! Though we are of different minds on this issue, I respect your opinions and admire your work in the field. It is great to hear from you, any time.