Revisionist Centurion

In the new year, I’m going to have to get serious about updating you all on the progress and plans for Centurion: Legionary of Rome, so that when the crowdfunding campaign happens, you’ll be on board and ready to fork over your hard-earned cash for this dream project of mine.

While I didn’t get a lot of comments on my last post about the project, the one I did get made me thinking. Now, I’ve been reading about how to do crowdfunding and I’ve been looking at some successful Kickstarters, and I think Jason makes salient points about rewards and stretch goals.

I’ve also realized that I’m going to need to do more research than expected to make something I’m proud to release. My initial research notes are years old and in some disarray. There are errors in my initial research – at least the conclusions of the experts on which I am choosing to rely, such as Adrian Goldsworthy and Pat Southern indicate there are errors – and that has led to a delay as I re-research the period of the Civil Wars (from Marius to Augustus).

The realization that I’m going to need to do a lot more research has led me to conclude that if I want something ready to go for GenCon, I need to scale back my initial expectations.

Rather than look at five historical periods, I’m going to focus on three: the Late Republic, the Civil Wars and the Principate (from Tiberius to the Crisis of the Third Century). This should allow me to have the text ready in time to get it to publication in July and have copies to contributors before GenCon.

The other two sections (the Crisis of the Third Century and the Dominate) will be stretch goals, along with two other stretch goals I’ve already got planned. I’m not going to include the short fiction I was original going to include. It is fantasy fiction based on an imaginary analogue to Rome, and the intention with Centurion is adventures set in historical Rome.

As things develop, I’ll be posting here, and the pace should increase as we approach March and the intention to get the crowdfunding rolling.

Jason’s comments on the Centurion crowdfunding ideas here.

Jason’s website is here.

You can learn more about Adrian Goldsworthy here.

You can learn more about Pat Southern here.

Monthly Sales for October and November 2012

Well, I may just be getting old or I’m getting busy . . . on the Gripping Hand, sales may be so small that there’s little point in posting them. Whatever the reason, here are the sales figures for the last two months. Terribly exciting for everyone, I’m sure.

About $17 to go before Sword Noir turns a profit. Another $650 for Kiss My Axe. Yeah, that’s going to take a while.

Total Sales for October 2012
Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 1

Covert Forces
Blood and Guts 2: In Her Majesty’s Service, 1
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 1
Covert Forces Redux, 1

Line Zero, 1
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 7

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 1
Kheufer Scrolls, 1
Suffer the Witch, 1
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules, 28
Sword Noir, 2

Total Sales for November 2012
Albenistan Series
Khorforjan Gambit, 1
Qalashar Device, 1
Raid On Ashkashem, 1

Covert Forces
Blood and Guts 2: In Her Majesty’s Service, 2
Covert Forces Redux, 4

Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 5

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 2
Kiss My Axe, 1
Kheufer Scrolls, 3
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules, 20
Sword Noir, 4

Total Sales to Date
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113): 32
Khorforjan Gambit: 105
Qalashar Device: 118
Raid On Ashkashem: 159

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms: 40
Gifts of the Elder Gods: 36
For Simple Coin: 57

Charity Products
Relief Effort: 55

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section: 101
Covert Forces: 100
Covert Forces Redux: 164
In Her Majesty’s Service: 138

Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit: 36
Line Zero: 35
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 324

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 99
Kiss My Axe, 136
Suffer the Witch, 74
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 1165
Sword Noir 351
The Kheufer Scrolls, 144

SEP’s Worst Kept Secret: Centurion

TLDR: Centurion will likely go to crowdfunding in March 2013. I would be interested in hearing thoughts on stretch goals and supporter reward levels.

Full Kit
Centurion: Legionaries of Rome is not exactly a secret. I’ve been blabbing about it in a lot of places for a while now. I’ve also mentioned it here, in connection with possible crowdfunding projects. Right now, it looks like I’m going to move forward with Centurion, and the other possible projects can wait.

I have made some decisions regarding Centurion, but others are dependent on what I learn during my research phase. Here’s what I’m fairly certain of:

1. I know what will be in the book.
Along with the actual rules, I will review five historical periods in which one could enjoy a legionary-style campaign: the Late Republic (from the Punic Wars to Marius), the Civil Wars (the time of Caesar), the Principate (early Empire), the Crisis of the Third Century (many, many civil wars), and the Dominate (late Empire). For each of these historical eras, I’ll include information on the structure of government and the structure of the legions, as well as some general historical information to help situate those who may not have a grounding in Roman history.

There will also be an introductory chapter on military-style RPGing, basically looking at some of the reasons people say they don’t want to play in military games, and how to address those problems.

The book should be roughly 45,000 words, which will likely translate into just over 100 pages in the 6X9 format – the format I used for Sword Noir and Kiss My Axe. Basically, the book should be about the same size as Sword Noir.

2. I know who I want to do the art.
If you own Kiss My Axe, you’ve seen the work of Kieron O’Gorman, who did all the portraits in that book. I’ve spoken with Kieron about doing art for Centurion if the crowdfunding is successful, and he’s agreed to do so.

You can see Kieron’s stuff here.

3. I have some stretch goals mapped out.
I already have two writers/designers whom I respect and whose work I admire on board should this go forward, they’ve agreed to write a few pages of extra material. I will need to negotiate with them exactly how much, but I’m thinking around 2,000 words. I will also include a stretch goal of writing about adapting the mechanics to other eras and genres. That would likely clock in at around 4,000 words, so if those three goals are met, the book increases from 45,000 words to around 53,000, which also means almost 20 more pages.

I’m looking at some other stretch goals, such as maps and more illustrations, but I honestly think that for now – at least until the crowdfunding campaign gets going and I have an idea of it will be successful – the three stretch goals are sufficient.

The stretch goal extras will only be available to crowdfunding supporters for a full year after the initial release of Centurion. So let’s be really optimistic and pretend this gets funded, and all three stretch goals are met. When Centurion hits the shelves, none of those articles will be included in the book, only in the PDFs and/or books crowdfunding supporters receive. Then, if Centurion is still selling a year after its release, I might offer a special book or PDF including the extra material. Likely, it will never be seen.

4. I have some reward levels figured out.
Now, this is going to be odd, as most crowdfunding campaigns throw in a lot of associated rewards outside of the game itself. I’m not going to do that. Also, the sticker price for the resulting Centurion product will not be cheaper than what crowdfunding supporters paid. This means Centurion will almost certainly be the most expensive product in the SEP catalogue if the crowdfunding campaign is successful.

Here’s what I’m looking at right now.
$ 3 – Raw Recruit. Rules PDF – A PDF of just the rules, none of the historical discussion.
$ 5 – Marius’ Mule. Historical PDF – A PDF of just the historical discussion, none of the rules.
$ 7 – Legionary. The Centurion PDF, including any stretch goal additions
$ 12 – Principale. The Centurion PDF and a PDF of my sword & sandal story “Singer of a Strange Song.”
$ 17 – Principale Noir. The Centurion PDF and a PDF of my sword & sandal story “Singer of a Strange Song” and my sandal noir story published in Black Gate, “A Dead Pound of Flesh”
$ 20 – Centurion. The Centurion print and PDF
$ 25 –Pilus Prior. The Centurion print and PDF and a PDF of my sword & sandal story “Singer of a Strange Song.”
$ 30 –Pilus Prior Noir. The Centurion print and PDF and a PDF of my sword & sandal story “Singer of a Strange Song” and my sandal noir story published in Black Gate, “A Dead Pound of Flesh”
$ 40 – Primus Pilus. Everything for Pilus Prior plus the opportunity to name one of the example characters used throughout Centurion. (maximum of 5)
$ 50 – Praefectus Cohortis. Everything for Primus Pilus plus the opportunity to create one of the iconic characters that will be included in Centurion as an NPC. (maximum of 5)
$ 65 – Tribuni Militum. Everything for Pilus Prior plus access to a podcast about Centurion. This will include the existing Collateral episodes on Legionary campaigns, plus at least five further podcasts about the historical eras and playing in them.
$100 – Praefectus Castrorum. Everything at the Tribuni Militum level, plus the opportunity to be a guest on one of the Centurion podcasts. (requires the use of Skype) (maximum of 10)
$150 – Tribunus Laticlavius. Everything at the Tribuni Militum level, plus the opportunity to participate in a Centurion one-shot run by Fraser Ronald at Gen Con 2013 in Indianapolis. (maximum of 8 )
$200 – Legatus Legionis. Everything at the Tribunus Laticlavius level, plus the opportunity to be a guest on one of the Centurion podcasts. (requires the use of Skype) (maximum of 5)

The goal, right now, is $3500. Each stretch will be an extra $1000. I would need 175 backers at the Centurion level to fund and 500 at the Legionary backer to do the same. Daunting task.

5. The rules will be released no matter what.
This is a way to include good art and a restricted print run for the full book. However, if this doesn’t fund, the work that I completed will be released. The rules themselves will see release. Each historical era section will be released independently as well. I’m not clear on exactly how I would go about doing so, but I do know that other than paying for the cover (which is already done) the releases would have little art, and that would be public domain artwork. I would do the layout, and it would be very, very simple.

So maybe that demotivates some people from supporting this, but the book you would get by funding this would be way better than the book you could get otherwise. Also? It’ll be a lot cheaper in the long run if you want it all (rules and historical eras). If it doesn’t get funded, it is likely I would only release products for the Late Republic, the Civil Wars, and the Principate, as the research and outline are completed for those sections.

6. The crowdfunding starts no earlier than March 2013
I want to have the rules in as good a shape as possible, and have at least three of the historical periods written and the others researched and outlined before this goes up for crowdfunding. The plan is to crowdfund in March 2013 and, if the campaign is successful, have the book to printers by July 2013 so that I can have copies before Gen Con in early August 2013. That’s a pretty tight schedule, which is why I want as much of my work done before the campaign done as possible.

There’s still the chance things will be late. But I want something to show the supporters if the campaign is successful, and I hope that if people play to have a game with me at Gen Con, I can hand them their books at the start of the game.

I’ll keep everyone posted here as things move forward. Guaranteed, the posts will be shorter than this one.

I’d be very interested in hearing opinions about reward levels and stretch goals, as in what you would like to see or would be interested in paying for.