Sales for First Quarter 2018

I used to do this a lot more often. It’s a long weekend and I’ve finished my taxes for 2017, so it seemed relevant to have a look at SEP’s sales data for the first quarter of 2018.

I think the increase is due to the regular release of products, but I could be wrong. I’m not smart with marketing and I don’t think I have enough data to really be able to figure out what’s going on, but that is the main change between the same period in 2017 and 2018.

And with that lack of explanation, here’s the data.

Sales for First Quarter 2018 (Jan – Mar)
All sales venues

Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day, 1
Khorforjan Gambit, 1
Qalashar Device, 2
Raid On Ashkashem, 2

Arcane Kingdoms
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 2

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 1
Covert Forces Redux, 2

Other
Centurion, 6
Judged: A Nefertiti Overdrive Adventure, 14
Line Zero, 1
Nefertiti Overdrive, 11
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules, 47
Starship Commandos, 3
The Wall, 18

Sword’s Edge Systems
Crossing the Millers, 2
Face ‘Splosion, 16
For a Few Swords More, 17
HardCASE, 4
Kheufer Scrolls, 1
Kiss My Axe, 3
Lawless Heaven, 13
Sword’s Edge, 23
Sword Noir, 6

Total Sales to Date
Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113), 43
Khorforjan Gambit, 123
Qalashar Device, 137
Raid On Ashkashem, 181

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 68
For Simple Coin, 6
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 42

Charity Products
Relief Effort, 55 (discontinued)

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 112
Covert Forces, 100
Covert Forces Redux, 186
In Her Majesty’s Service, 159

Other
The Boltcutter, 4
Centurion, 203
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, 43
Judged: A Nefertiti Overdrive Adventure, 14
Line Zero, 41
Nefertiti Overdrive, 124
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules, 699
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 430 (discontinued)
Starship Commandos, 27
The Wall, 18

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 158
Face ‘Splosion, 16
For a Few Swords More, 17
HardCASE, 4
Kheufer Scrolls, 204
Kiss My Axe, 232
Lawless Heaven, 13
Suffer the Witch, 97
Sword’s Edge 1E, Free Rules 1669 (discontinued)
Sword’s Edge, 37
Sword Noir, 683

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HardCASE: a Sword’s Edge Adventure

The newest release from SEP is now available.

On a mission to hunt down an arms dealer connected to several high profile assassinations, operatives in the Contact Team, the kinetic, direct action arm of the secretive CASE – the Clandestine Activities Special Executive – uncover a link between a secretive Russian cutting edge science program, in existence since Soviet Union, and North Korean arms smugglers. The Contact Team is sent to hunt down a Russian scientist linked to this project who is seeking to meet with the North Koreans. What are they planning and how can CASE stop them?

“HardCASE” is a near-future action-thriller adventure for Sword’s Edge. It’s available now at Drive Thru RPG. It includes a new addition to the rules for Challenges in Sword’s Edge and presents six pre-generated operatives from CASE.

This adventure was developed as part of a Patreon campaign. If you would like to see more adventures like this, please support the author at Patreon.

 

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An Opening In the Wall

The Wall is now available through Drive Thru RPG.

You are the occupying soldiers of a foreign power garrisoning a city far from home. You do not share a culture with the citizens, and your state has decided to use the existing political structure to maintain its rule. You stand as the voice of the occupying power, ensuring the elite protect that power’s interests while avoiding antagonizing the regular citizens. You do not want political opposition and you do not want riots.

You are the Wall against chaos, against dissension, against revolution. But you are also the Wall against freedom and self-determination.

This is not a game about playing inhuman monsters. It’s a game about playing humans in a monstrous situation.

The Wall is a role-playing game about hard choices which uses a simple conflict resolution system to decide the outcome of scenes, which in turn affects the city the characters occupy and the factions within that city.

This game was developed as part of a Patreon campaign. If you would like to see more games like this, please support the author at Patreon.

You can find out more about the Wall here.

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The Wall

This month, the release through my Patreon is the Wall, a new role-playing game in which you play members of an occupying force in a foreign city.

You are the occupying soldiers of a foreign power garrisoning a city far from home. You do not share a culture with the citizens, and your state has decided to use the existing political structure to maintain its rule. You stand as the voice of the occupying power, ensuring the elite protect that power’s interests while avoiding antagonizing the regular citizens. You do not want political opposition and you do not want riots.

You are the Wall against chaos, against dissension, against revolution. But you are also the Wall against freedom and self-determination.

And now you need to live with that.

This is not a game about playing inhuman monsters. It’s a game about playing humans in a monstrous situation. You are right in the middle of various factions, all seeking to better their lives or increase their power. You need to maintain order without alienating the foreign elite or making enemies out of allies. When you are ordered to do something wrong, how do you avoid it? How do you find a better outcome? And then what are the repercussions for you?

You can find the Wall at my Patreon.

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Sales for 2017

I’ve been remiss in sharing sales data for 2017, and while a year-end round-up lacks the detail of monthly or quarterly reports, given the number of my sales this year, it seems fitting.

My sales have seen a jump in the last few months of 2017, and this I attribute to the only factor that I have reliably noted – regular releases push back catalogue sales. Since my Patreon is pushing me to produce product, that product will get released and that will drive my back catalogue. It’s not a huge leap. We’re still talking beer money here, but it’s substantial beer money.

For your edification, the year’s total sales figures, then the figures for PDF and print sales, followed by sales to date (meaning from 2004, when Raid on Ashkashem was released). The numbers of sales for Sword’s Edge only includes those sales outside of the Kickstarter.

Sales for 2017
All sales venues

Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day, 5
Khorforjan Gambit, 5
Qalashar Device, 5
Raid On Ashkashem, 6

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 7
For Simple Coin, 2
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 3

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 4
Covert Forces Redux, 5
In Her Majesty’s Service, 6

Other
The Boltcutter, 1
Centurion, 20
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, 3
Line Zero, 1
Nefertiti Overdrive, 31
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules, 126
Starship Commandos, 20

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 10
Face ‘Splosion, 4
Kheufer Scrolls, 10
Kiss My Axe, 28
Lawless Heaven, 6
Suffer the Witch, 4
Sword’s Edge, 18
Sword Noir, 52

PDF Sales for 2017
Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day, 5
Khorforjan Gambit, 5
Qalashar Device, 5
Raid On Ashkashem, 6

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 7
For Simple Coin, 2
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 3

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 4
Covert Forces Redux, 5
In Her Majesty’s Service, 6

Other
The Boltcutter, 1
Centurion, 10
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, 3
Line Zero, 1
Nefertiti Overdrive, 10
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules,
Starship Commandos, 20

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 10
Face ‘Splosion, 4
Kheufer Scrolls, 10
Kiss My Axe, 10
Lawless Heaven, 6
Suffer the Witch, 4
Sword’s Edge, 17
Sword Noir, 22

Print Sales for 2017
Centurion, 10
Nefertiti Overdrive, 21
Kiss My Axe, 19
Sword’s Edge, 1
Sword Noir, 31

Total Sales to Date
Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113), 47
Khorforjan Gambit, 127
Qalashar Device, 140
Raid On Ashkashem, 185

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 75
For Simple Coin, 8
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 43

Charity Products
Relief Effort, 55

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 115
Covert Forces, 100
Covert Forces Redux, 189
In Her Majesty’s Service, 165

Other
The Boltcutter, 5
Centurion, 217
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, 46
Line Zero, 41
Nefertiti Overdrive, 144
Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules, 778
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 430
Starship Commandos, 44

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 166
Face ‘Splosion, 4
Kheufer Scrolls, 213
Kiss My Axe, 257
Lawless Heaven, 6
Suffer the Witch, 101
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 1669
Sword’s Edge, 18
Sword Noir, 739

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The Wall: Coming in 2018

You are the occupying soldiers of a foreign power garrisoning a city far from home. You do not share a culture with the citizens, and your state has decided to use the existing political structure to maintain its rule. You stand as the voice of the occupying power, ensuring the elite protect that power’s interests while avoiding antagonizing the regular citizens. You do not want political opposition and you do not want riots.

You are the Wall against chaos, against dissension, against revolution. But you are also the Wall against freedom and self-determination.

And now you need to live with that.

The Wall is a role-playing game about hard choices from the designer of Sword’s Edge, Nefertiti Overdrive, and Centurion: Legionaries of Rome. It will be released first on Patreon and will be available to the public in March 2018.

If you are interested in the Wall or the other RPGs by Sword’s Edge Publishing, please follow us at Google Plus and/or support Fraser Ronald’s Patreon.

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Lawless Heaven Now Available

Four cops. One hundred criminals. Countless broken bones.

The Sword’s Edge adventure, “Lawless Heaven” is now available through the Composed Dream Games RPG Marketplace. You can also find Sword’s Edge there.

In this homage to modern Korean action cinema, Three cops and an intelligence operative in South Korea’s industrial heartland face off against a local gang involved in a heroin smuggling ring. The cops have only one order: bust the ring, but no one realizes the true depth of this particular cesspool.

This is an adventure for two to six characters for Sword’s Edge. It includes six pre-generated characters and supplemental rules for chase scenes.

This adventure, and others, are part of my Patreon campaign, which I would appreciate you supporting.

You can find out more about “Lawless Heaven” here.

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Mechanics Informing Spotlights

About a month ago, I wrote about sharing the spotlight among characters in RPGs, why it’s important players get a chance to have a character in the spotlight, and how you can make sure that happens. But since the spotlight is supposed to be about highlighting how special the characters are, how can you – as the DM/GM/whatever – create spotlight moments that fit the characters?

Of course, in order to fashion spotlights that sing, one needs to know and understand the characters. If one doesn’t know about the characters, one can design events that provide relatively generic spotlight moments – something to do with a good fight, something to do with a good sneak, something that needs magic, something that needs persuasion. These kinds of spotlights can be adapted on the fly to better suit the characters as the GM recognizes them or the players present them. This can be difficult to accomplish along with all the other tasks and responsibilities a GM has in many games, but doing so can really help to make the session memorable.

While how a player presents a character in play is perhaps the best guide to developing spotlights for that character, most systems will have hints for the GM. The games that I have designed all have a mechanic that can be used by players to signal the kind of scenes and spotlights they want for their characters. Pivots in Centurion, Nefertiti Overdrive, and Sword’s Edge all provides rewards in a slightly different manner, but the mechanic has another purpose which is the same across all three games – it signals to the GM the kind of spotlight the player wants. In general, this is by providing an indication of what is important to the character.

Sword’s Edge goes a step further, including a goal, a quirk, and a style to help fashion different kinds of spotlights. All three of these could even be used together to design a scene in which the character truly owns the spotlight. It might relate to the character’s goal, the character might be able to reveal or utilize their quirk, or the scene can require the kind of style which the player has noted. Of course, any one of these alone could inspire a scene in which the character can shine, but together could make it particularly notable.

Most RPGs have mechanics in their character design that can indicate to the GM the kind of spotlight that would interest the player. Of course there are classes or careers, but these can be relatively generic and spotlights built on them tend not to feel personal to a character. However, if a player builds a fighter with a non-traditional skill – perhaps some kind of musical or artistic ability – that should tell the GM that the character needs to have a scene in which they use that skill. D&D 5E has personality information used both for gaining Inspiration but which also should inform the GM in building spotlight moments. Fate has Aspects and Stunts that can reveal much about the kind of cool scenes the player wants for their character. Look at what the player has built and be especially aware of the uncommon and non-traditional.

Spotlights are important for players, and the right spotlight, highlighting how unique the character might be, can really fuel the player’s enjoyment and immersion.

The earlier post on spotlights.

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Someone Else’s Great Big Wall

So I’m giving another listen to Dr. Kenneth Harl’s Barbarian Empire of the Steppes series from the Great Courses. This is maybe my fourth listen-through. Especially with Dr. Harl, I can listen to these series over and over again.

In episode three, Dr. Harl discusses early Chinese contact with the steppe nomads, and he talks about the Warring States period. He mentions how many of the northern states started building the kind of defensive structures that evolved into the Great Wall, and as is my wont, I started thinking about how cool that would be as a setting.

I can imagine a group of soldiers overseeing such a construction. The workers are peasants with whom the soldiers might have a lot in common, but the PCs saw that there was social mobility in the military. Some might be mercenaries, and some might be “auxiliary” troops, soldiers from neighbouring cultures hired into the military. The base of operations would be a fortified camp.

This could actually be something similar to the Hell on Wheels TV series which is a Western action-adventure retelling of the construction of the railroad. Like that, there would be characters conflict, cultural friction, and fights within the camp, with actual incursion by the steppe nomads a rare occurrence.

The easy over-arching plot is the rise of a leader that could unite the steppe nomads. The first hints would come from defectors, leaders from assimilated tribes unwilling to bend the knee to this new ruler. Attacks might become more coordinated and the PCs notice troops from different tribes/cultures raiding together. The PCs might be trying to get a warning up the chain of command but – as always seems to be the case – no one listens. And then the camp is overrun. The PCs are behind enemy lines, trying to link up with another military unit, possibly also trying to protect civilians.

A different narrative might see sickness spreading through the civilized lands and news keeps reaching the camp of this town or this village succumbing to the sickness. The reports are wildly exaggerated – as happens – but no one in the camp knows that. A local nomad leader comes with their shaman and warns the camp that unless they abandon the wall and come to join the nomads, the sickness will consume them to. The shaman has seen it in the oracle bones.

In both these cases, the chain of command is focused on the wall above all else. More raids? Not our problem. But you’re behind schedule on the wall. The village where you purchase supplies lost half of its population to the plague? Not our problem. You know you’re behind schedule on the wall, right?

This could also be a framework for a more traditional adventure, with ancient sites near the camp disgorging supernatural threats that the PCs are then sent to investigate. There might be a big evil rising from its slumber, attempting to bring the steppe nomads under its control so it can re-conquer its ancient empire – basically the plot of the Sword’s Edge campaign I just wrapped up.

Education, great on its own but also awesome for inspiring RPGs!

You can find out more about Barbarian Empires of the Steppes here.

I’ve discussed Hell on Wheels elsewhere.

Please support my Patreon.

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Getting In the Spotlight

One of the challenges for designing an adventure is to have it both appeal to the players and insure their characters have a chance for the spotlight. Even when one know how to provide a character with a spotlight, the chances for the spotlight can become an issue.

Most of my home games run three to four hours, and to be honest, only about 3/4 of that is actual play time – on a good night. I get through maybe four scenes, sometimes up to six if the players are focused. Depending on attendance, I have three to five players at the table. If it’s a good night with a couple of players missing, there’s the chance for each character to get the spotlight. When everyone’s attending – usually the nights when the lowest percentage of time is devoted to the game – it’s unlikely each character will get the spotlight in a session.

In home games, this isn’t too much of an issue as long as characters regularly get the spotlight. Anecdotal information makes me think that players really remember spotlight moments for their characters, and if their character gets to shine once every couple of games, that keeps most players happy.

To be honest, if it doesn’t, the solution isn’t at the table, it’s away from the table. The GM and the player need to have a discussion about sharing the spotlight. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter that the player doesn’t understand the logistics. If the player isn’t really keeping track, it might feel like everyone else’s characters are regularly getting the spotlight while the player’s character is overlooked every other game. It might simply be an explanation of numbers – X scenes vs Y players means 1 spotlight every other game.

If that’s not it, if the player just thinks they deserve the spotlight regularly even if other character don’t get their turn, then that player needs to understand that sharing at the table is a part of the game, as important as any rule in any rulebook. If the player cannot accept that, I don’t believe that’s a player you want at your table. Try to explain the importance of everyone having fun, of not allowing one player to dominate in anything. In the end you’ve got to be a Vulcan about this: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

But what about at conventions, where you are running a one-shot for players you don’t know? My convention games are generally designed to run for about 3 hours and 30 minutes of a four hour block. You have to expect about 15 minutes at the outset for introductions and a quick rundown of the system. I usually have a 10 minute bio-break half-way through the four hours, and then I plan to end about 10-15 minutes before the end of the block, so that we can clean up and be away from the table to allow the next GM at least 5 minutes to prep the table.

In that 3 1/2 hours, I generally get in about six to eight scenes. These include one or two short scenes – either because they are designed for that or because the players just bull through them. All good. I never run a con game with more than six players, and four is the sweet spot, so there is no problem allowing each character a scene in which to shine.

Because I use pre-gen characters when I run con games, it’s actually super easy to design the adventure with the characters in mind so that each character has a scene designed around them. It doesn’t always work out – the player doesn’t play the character as expected or simply misses the cues that this is their scene – but because there are extra scenes, one can always alter a later scene to provide that spotlight. Not as easy on the fly, but totally do-able.

It’s also much more difficult – but super important – to control players that want their characters to constantly be in the spotlight. This is when I get heavy-handed and start pointing out that this scene with the computer that needs to be hacked should probably be focused on the hacker, and the soldier should probably be guarding the door rather than working the keyboard. I don’t like to do this because I like the players to have the freedom to adapt the character to their play style, but the point is for everyone to have fun, and I will pull someone aside to remind them of that if necessary.

Spotlight, to me, is very important because it is one of the ways to create strong memories and provide positive feedback to players. Players generally love a spotlight moment for their character, and creating spotlights for characters – in my experience – gets the players to invest more in the game and have more fun.

And please don’t forget I’ve got a Patreon, and the first adventure – “Lawless Heaven” – has been released on it. I would appreciate your support.

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