Centurion: the Financials

I honestly thought I had already posted this, but when I went to look for it, I found it in my drafts. Now that the legendary Jason Pitre has posted about the money involved in his Posthuman Pathways Kickstarter, I really need to get this out there.

First, the raw numbers. Budgeted was what I was expecting when the Kickstarter campaign started. Projected was what I expected to take in and pay out when the Kickstarter campaign ended. Paid is what I ended up actually receiving and paying.

Extras are the costs for the non-book rewards, such as dice and the Centurion’s helmet. Fixes were the costs to fix some of the international shipping problems. There were a couple of other outlays that I actually didn’t record because I am a terrible businessperson.

Sorry for the formating – I can’t get it to do what I want, but the information is all there.

Budgeted         Projected         Paid
$2,031.70       $5,254.96      $5,254.96

Layout              600.00           601.50           601.50
Art                     450.00          450.00          508.50
Maps                250.00           250.00          251.50
Editing            400.00           400.00          401.50
Rules Edit       100.00           100.00           101.50
Extras               635.67           402.67           403.67
Printing            673.92           439.39          439.39
Shipping           561.60           591.07           591.07
Fixes                            –              99.34            99.34

Totals              (1639.49)      1,920.99      1856.99

The cost increase from Projected to Paid in the Art was due to a mistake regarding sales tax. The artist forgot to include that in his quote. He was ready to swallow the difference, but the whole point of the Kickstarter was for me to be able to pay people a fair wage for their work, and since the Kickstarter did so well, I was happy to cover that.

The other very minor increases are due to costs of paying using email transfers, which were the fastest way to get the money to the people who needed it.

Now, it looks like this netted me a bunch of money. You’ll notice, however, that I didn’t get paid for my work. Centurion ended up being 55,747 words. If I paid myself 3 cents per word, that would end up being around $ 1675, which makes the take look not so pretty. If I paid myself 5 cents per word, which I feel is a fair wage, we would be more than $900 in the hole.

In the end, this was a huge success, because I am really, really proud of the book we produced. I also got a deal with Alliance for distribution, and the book is also available on Amazon. If I add in the profits from that and the sales through One Book Shelf (RPG Now and Drive Thru RPG), I could pay myself 5 cents per word and still be in the black.

That’s pretty awesome.

You can find Jason’s post here.

You can find more information on Centurion: Legionaries of Rome here

You can purchase Centurion at Amazon or Drive Thru RPG.

Starship Commandos – LC-427 the Landing

MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor from Halo Nation

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened in the first playtest for Starship Commandos. For those not in the know, Starship Commandos has the PCs as specialized troops in the far future who utilize power armour. This is as much for my gaming group as for your entertainment, but I hope it sparks some curiosity and maybe some inspiration.

The PCs are attached to 121 MARSAT (Marine Special Armour and Tactics) with the 71st Fleet Special Purpose Force as part of the ground combat element of the 7th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the Command Support Vessel MARLOW. On anti-piracy patrol in the Tau Ceti system, the MARLOW is diverted to the Asterion system (Beta Canum Venaticorum) for a possible support to civilian authorities operation. LC-427 (also known as Logan’s Cross) has gone dark – no signals, no transmissions and they haven’t broadcast their no-fail signal for three days running.

On planetfall, the PCs learn that the MARLOW’s ARVs (autonomous reconnaissance vehicles) have all been neutralized by EMPs created through electro-static discharges (ESD). While it might be natural, it sure looks like a coordinated attack, and so MARSAT is sent down using landing pods (atmospheric entry person torpedoes) to secure a landing site. Further ESDs bar the use of landing craft, and so a follow-on security detachment is sent down also using landing pods. The site secure, MARSAT advances on the civic centre (city hall) to seek survivors.

On the way, MARSAT uncovers a collection of bones, lacking any tissue or garments, beneath a building that has a signals relay tower on it. Triangulating all known ESDs, the team traces the events to buildings with signals relay towers. Sending their own ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) assets, they discover more bone pits in the basements. Investigation uncovers biological residue very, very similar to native species similar in size to racoons and squirrels, however other information leads the team to believe the beasts that undertook the killing and eating ranged in size from a large tiger to a rhinoceros.

Further, short range sensors uncover a flow of energy beneath them. Scanning for further such flows, they plot them and expect they will intersect under the civic centre.

Reaching the civic centre, the team uncovers a mainframe and server centre beneath the building that is awash in glowing green goo. They also discover an area the size of an aircraft hanger beneath the building that is not identified on the blueprints. The lieutenant decides to lead MARSAT into the unknown area.

The unknown area turns out to be a laboratory with a bio-hazard containment area. Inside that area is a container of glowing green goo.

Sundown, and the xenomorphs come out to play. Sensors detect movement burrowing toward the building while the team’s ARVs witness an attack en masse on the landing site. The security detachment loses more than half its force before barricading in the terminus of the off-line orbital elevator and calling down an orbital bombardment, destroying the surrounding area.

MARSAT is trapped in a lab as the xenomorphs advance. A fight ensues during which a marine accidentally initiates an ESD which leads to an EMP shutting down the team’s power armour. At about the same time, a grenade is dropped. Blood, terror and lots of damage ensue for 30 seconds while the armour reboots, and then the team destroys the xenomorphs.

They are left out-of-breath, cut off, and more than a little nervous.

You can read more about Starship Commandos here.

Quarterly Sales for Fourth Quarter, 2013 and First Quarter 2014

Wow, I haven’t updated the Quarterly Sales reports for a while. Below I’ve included the sales reports for both Fourth Quarter 2013 and First Quarter 2014.

Third Quarter 2013 has the first instance of Sales through Distribution. Centurion: Legionaries of Rome got me a deal with Alliance for print distribution. Centurion and Sword Noir are available through distribution but are also available on Amazon. The numbers for distribution and Amazon are included in the reports in brackets. For the Total Sales, they are folded into the numbers.

It’s important to note that the Nefertiti Overdrive Kickstarter campaign ran during the First Quarter 2014, and although that failed, the push for visibility also brought more eyes to SEP, which I believe accounts for the good numbers in system sales.

Sales for Fourth Quarter 2013
Albenistan: Election Day, 1
Khorforjan Gambit, 1
Qalashar Device, 1
Raid On Ashkashem, 1

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 2
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 1

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

Centurion, 0 (58)
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, Pay What You Want, 1
Line Zero, Pay What You Want, 1
Operation Nearscape, Pay What You Want, 30

Sword’s Edge System
Kheufer Scrolls, 2
Kiss My Axe, 5
Suffer the Witch, 1
Sword’s Edge System, Pay What You Want, 87
Sword Noir, 5 (105)

Sales for First Quarter 2014
Albenistan: Election Day, 1
Khorforjan Gambit, 1
Qalashar Device, 1
Raid On Ashkashem, 1

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 4
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 1

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 2
Covert Forces Redux, 2
In Her Majesty’s Service, 3

Centurion, 43
Operation Nearscape, Pay What You Want, 22

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 7
Kheufer Scrolls, 5
Kiss My Axe, 11
Sword’s Edge System, Pay What You Want, 68
Sword Noir, 21

Total Sales to Date
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113), 37
Khorforjan Gambit, 117
Qalashar Device, 130
Raid On Ashkashem, 171

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 55
For Simple Coin, 62
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 38

Charity Products
Relief Effort, 55

Covert Forces
Canada’s Combined Security Reconnaissance Section, 104
Covert Forces, 100
Covert Forces Redux, 172
In Her Majesty’s Service, 147

Centurion, 101
Cyber-state Avatar Toolkit, 39
Line Zero, 38
Operation Nearscape, Free Product, 427

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers, 130
Kheufer Scrolls, 175
Kiss My Axe, 187
Suffer the Witch, 89
Sword’s Edge System, Free Rules 1637
Sword Noir 541

Starship Commandos – Getting it Done

Mjolnir Assault Armour from Halo Nation

Reporting in from the first playtest of Starship Commandos. It went very well. It was mostly story until the last 30 minutes, when the crew met their first xenomorphs. It just so happened one of the team triggered an electro-static discharge of immense proportions that created an EMP and the team faced the xenomorphs during the 30 second re-boot of their power armour.

Oh, and someone dropped a grenade.

So there was a lot of blood, a lot of bad dice rolls, and a lot of fear. In the end, everyone survived. But, boy, it really did get Aliens there for a bit.

There are going to be a fair number of changes to the system. Not how it works, but some of the specifics, like how many dice are rolled and success level target numbers. I’ve also figured out lethality and how it can be dialed up or down.

So, very much a success.

You can read more about Starship Commandos here.

Good Guy Chest Burster

I faced an interesting problem while preparing the adventure for the first Starship Commandos adventure. This is going to be a riff on Aliens, in which the PCs are tasked with investigating a mining colony that has gone signals-dark.

In the first version of the adventure, the alien menace wasn’t actually that menacing. It was smart, peaceful, and only reacting out of fear. If everyone could just sit down and talk, everything could have been settled. And there were no real stakes. The alien menace had put all the colonists in a form of stasis. Basically, they were prisoners who would be released once everyone figured out that we could all just get along.

Sorry guys. My bad. I totally misunderstood your intentions. Anyone like some tea?

It’s nice to know that this is my default position – cautious optimism. Doesn’t make for an exciting game. Can you imagine the movie Aliens once the Colonial Marines realized the colonists were just tied up, and the xenomorphs didn’t really want to hurt anyone?

Yeah. Not so hot.

Now, sympathetic villains certainly have a place in fiction, and I think they have a place in RPGs as well, but only if the PCs will be interacting regularly with said villain. This is generally not the case. Think of Star Wars. The heroes interact with the villains only slightly, and it’s really only Leia. This is not to say Vader and Tarkin are not good villains – they are – but they aren’t terribly interesting as characters. Remove the baggage from later movies and novelizations and they are basically just bad guys doing bad stuff. Now think of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy and Marion regularly interact with Belloch, and Belloch is an interesting and somewhat sympathetic villain. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like Belloch. He’s Indy if Indy had gone wrong somewhere along the line. He’s Indy if Indy had joined that criminal gang from his childhood (the story of the Hat).

Of course the villains need to have goals, and those goals need to be logical, but bad guys aren’t always just misunderstood. It isn’t always just miscommunications or mistakes. Sometimes, the alien menace really is a menace.

And it wants to eat your face.

You can read more about Starship Commandos here.

Howard Carter – Combat Archaeologist

He has two Webleys under his jacket.

I was listening to the Great Courses’ Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt – which I’ve mentioned before – and Dr. Brier is talking about the Tutankhamen expedition. He spoke of the life of Howard Carter, the man who led the excavation, and of his history in Egypt.

I have to say, that provided a lot of inspiration. This guy heads over to work in Egypt at the age of 17. He works cataloging, excavating, and he even loses a government job because he stood up for an Egyptian guard who had forcibly denied entrance to one of the tombs to a group of drunk French tourists.

This is all before he loses everything, and is picked up by Lord Carnarvon for that famous expedition.

Now, in my head, this is part of a mystical steampunk campaign. There are evil things living in the tombs of Egypt, set there to guard the dead. An interesting point that Dr. Brier made was that many of the mummies of the Pharaohs had been taken out of their tombs in the 20th or 21st Dynasty because the treasury of Egypt could no longer afford the guards. Perhaps in this setting, evil spirits are left in the tombs to punish grave robbers. Ever ingenious, the grave robbers find ways to release or trap these spirits.

After Carter stands up for his Egyptian guards, one of them – call him whatever you will, maybe Ahmed, which is supposed to be the most popular boy’s name in Egypt – who works for the ancient society that hunts down and destroys these spirits, brings Carter into his confidence.

So instead of making ends meet by painting landscapes for tourists, Carter and Ahmed become world-spanning mythic hunters – because so much of Egypt’s culture had been removed to foreign climes.

Yeah, that’d be pretty awesome.

You can find the Great Courses’ Great Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt here.

You can find Wikipedia‘s entry on Howard Carter here.

Read about  Tutankhamen here. Notice the link to Nefertiti? Not yet overdriven.

Most popular names in Egypt? I question its veracity, but who cares.