Farewell OGL

Resistance Earth RPG cover. A lone figure faces a desolate landscape, their rifle on their back.

There’s been some . . . issues with Wizards of the Coast recent handling of the Open Game Licence, the licence that SEP published almost all of its first products–many of them under the d20 sub-licence. I still have a bunch of OGL products out there, some of them very recent, using newer rules’ sets.

But the recent attempt to pull the rug from under creators by WotC, probably to please their corporate masters at Hasbro, has soured me on the OGL entirely. I invested a lot of time into these products, and a bunch of them are not anywhere near paying that off, but I’d rather just be done with them and snip that cord. Get free of it.

I’m lucky. I can do this. Many probably can’t. That’s no moral judgment. It’s a business one, and I respect that. Fuck the management at WotC and Hasbro, but not the developers and not the third-party developers, who love the game and the art of design.

So grab stuff while you can. Stuff is 1/2 off until 31 Jan, when it disappears. Some of it might come back–there is a lot of writing in there–but there’s no guarantee. We’ll see.

I’d prefer you to grab stuff at Compose Dream Games or itch, but a lot of my OGL stuff is available only at Drive Thru RPG.

Welcoming in 2023

The cover for the Sword Noir adventure, Broken Tigers. It's a spooky city in shadows and darkness

Listen, 2022 wasn’t the best, but it was better than 2021! I’m hoping that 2023 will continue the improvements. Part of it is that I’ve been able to publish a few adventures and update a few games, bringing products more in line with my hopes. Nothing’s perfect, but I think the products are better.

So I’m tentatively looking forward to 2023. And so why not offer a sale as 2023 arrives?

Just in case there’s some SEP stuff on your list that you’ve been thinking of buying, I’m running a sale over at itch.io that runs into the first week of 2023.

You can find it here: https://fraserronald.itch.io/G8DNCTP3UV

One Down But Work Continues

With Nefertiti Overdrive 2E out in the wild, my trifecta is down to a duology, and work is proceeding apace on both.

One note here is on print editions. The main cost for print editions—along with my time—is indexing. It is precise, painstaking work for which I am poorly engineered. If I would like someone else to do it, it comes at a cost—and SEP will only just start turning a profit this month. So, while print editions for Nefertiti Overdrive 2E and later Kiss My Axe may happen, they will be slow in coming.

Kiss My Axe is in the research phase, but this is also leading to some design decisions and evident changes in the mechanics and focus.

Image by Dmitriy Tereshchenko
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Nefertiti Overdrive 2E

Cover of Get Netiqret

As mentioned earlier, I was working on updating Nefertiti Overdrive, tweaking the rules, focusing the characters more on Egypt and Egypt’s environs, and adding historical context. I’ve removed Get Netiqret as its own thing. When I first wrote Nefertiti Overdrive, I was heavily inspired by the design of Lady Blackbird, but what I released was not nearly as elegant or purpose-driven, and so I think it makes more sense to have Get Netiqret out there on its own.

I also removed the quickstart and released its adventure separate—but still for free now called Proof of Death.

It’s all complete and out now at itch.io: Nefertiti Overdrive, Proof of Death, and Get Netiqret.

I feel better having got it all done. Research proceeds apace for Kiss My Axe 2E, and it is going to be a significant departure in character design if not in base mechanics from what exists now.

Trifecta?

Nefertiti Overdrive Cover

It’s been a while since I’ve had any news, any information on new products, and that will likely continue for a while, but I don’t feel right if I’m not working on something, and I’m a little too old to change that.

I have three projects at various stages that I’m working on, two of which will likely see a release.

1) Nefertiti Overdrive 2E: I’m updating Nefertiti Overdrive, both changing the structure of the book, and altering the mechanics. I’m removing the adventure and having the book focused on the game itself. The adventure that was included in the 1E book—Get Netiqret–will be released separately but at the same time as 2E.

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Speaking Of Winter’s Silence

Some of you may have noticed that SEP has released a few Sword’s Edge adventures recently, as well as updating two Sword Noir adventures to 2E. I’ve just finished the first draft of a third and original Sword Noir adventure that I hope to have out soon.

Betrayal is part of the game.

The client claims to be a mythical figure of legend, exiled from his body, inhabiting that of another until he can regain his sanctum sanctorum. Whether you believe him or not, he’s got gold and he seems ready to spend it. You know it means trouble, insinuating yourself into the world of the guilds and their wealthy members, but trouble is always part of the bargain. And the client’s story is only the tip of a very cold and very dark iceberg.

Hopefully that gets you in the mood and gets you excited. Another Sword Noir adventure is in the works, though I have done nothing other than write down some conceptual notes. I intend to get that to you as quickly as I can.

Patreon-izing

I’m sure I’ve made the joke before, but what the heck.

If you have been here in the last few years, you will have noticed something different: nothing directing you to a Patreon. That’s an experiment that has come to a close. I have to admit that having started SEP in 2004, I still haven’t figured out marketing. Unlike Kickstarters, where drive-by traffic can fuel some (for me, it’s most) of the support, Patreon relies on the subject’s ability to pull in people.

Never been really good with that.

For a while, the Patreon proved useful just to push me to create RPG material. The larger one’s catalogue, the more revenue one can expect from Drive-Thru RPG (much like Patreon, itch.io—at least for me—is very dependent on the author/publisher’s ability to draw in customers). So in the end, the Patreon will likely have a longer reach than the revenue which came directly from it.

The sad truth is that, many modern societies and cultures measure a product’s value and impact in revenue. Back in university, I took a course on the social psychology of sport, and in a component about contracts we looked at studies suggesting large contracts are pursued more as a signal of the management’s regard for the athlete than for the money itself. I imagine it’s the same in entertainment as a whole.

All that to say, I’m not immune to this, so I’m afraid I continue to looks at sales and people’s willingness to spend money on me as a measure of my value—at least as an author and RPG designer.

I think I have one or two ‘for pay’ projects I might pursue, but if I write any more adventures, I think I might release them as ‘pay what you will,’ knowing the general perception will be that these are lesser products than those with a fixed price.

Forget it, Jake. It’s capitalism.

Feed Nova Scotia in December

Feed Nova Scotia, the food bank charity that covers the province of Nova Scotia, has indicated any donation on made on 1 December will be matched by Canadian food retailer Sobeys Inc.

I intend to donate SEP’s revenue from November to Feed Nova Scotia. That’s not going to be too much. It’d be nice if everyone did what they could for Feed Nova Scotia, so of if you donate, let me know and I can send you any of my games that might interest you just as a little thank you.

Also, if 2020 has hit you hard, please let me know and I would be happy to send along whatever might help distract you for even a moment. Just email me or DM and let me know what I can do to help.

While there may be hope on the horizon, it has been a really shitty year. I hope I can help in some small way to make it suck a little bit less for some people.

Sword Noir Second Edition Kickstarter

Are there those who only get their information on my work from this website? On that possibility, here’s your cue to go and back Sword Noir Second Edition on Kickstarter.

Sword Noir Second Edition is a clarification, update, and tightening of the existing rules rather than a wholesale change. If you own the original Sword Noir and it works great for you, you likely don’t need this version. If you own the current Sword’s Edge, you will see that Sword Noir 2E is very similar—Sword’s Edge was derived from Sword Noir, and with Sword’s Edge having had its update, I wanted to update Sword Noir to bring it back in line with the basic Sword’s Edge rules.

Sales 2019 Per Venue

This was originally posted on my Patreon. If you dig my work, please support me there.

Last time I shared the sales for 2019 (with info on second to fourth quarter, since I had already shared the first quarter sales on SEP). Now let’s look at the numbers for each sales venue.

I have not included convention sales, as I did not sell at any conventions in 2019. I am the absolute worse salesperson for my own stuff, and unless one of my friends is hawking my wares (thanks Jason and Josh!) I don’t even bother any more. I might have one or two spare books of the game I am running, but I always get flustered when talking about price and taking a person’s money. I suck at this.

The component that should jump out is how few sales I make on Amazon. Yeah, not surprised. How would one even find my stuff there unless one was specifically looking for it?

IPR will no longer be carrying my stuff, which I completely understand when you look at those numbers. The thing is, even with those low numbers, the monthly revenue was not much lower than that for Drive Thru, through which I sell a lot more. That’s because IPR sells mostly print. And there are costs associated with print—not just shipping costs, but inventory costs when money is tied up in physical copies that are not actually valuable unless someone wants to buy them. Production, shipping and customs swallowed up almost half of my revenue from IPR for 2019, so the actual profit from that revenue stream is actually pretty low.

A new stream that is happening in 2020 is itch.io, which is so far doing better than Amazon, but is not on track to replace IPR’s revenue. It too, however, is an e-product venue, meaning the only costs are the actual production of the games.

I shouldn’t even get into revenue vs. profit, because that’s kind of sad. But quickly: conservatively, I spend about 8-10 hours a week working on RPG material. Based on 2019 numbers, removing money spent on the Sagas of the Sea Peoples Kickstarter, I got paid between $1.08 and $1.35 CAN an hour for my work on RPGs.

If you include in the costs associated with preparing the Sagas Kickstarter, I lost over $1 CAN each hour I worked on RPG stuff.

Ouch.

Anyway, the sales numbers for 2019’s sales venues.

Sales Through Amazon (all sales are print products)
Arcane Kingdoms
For Simple Coin, 1

Other
Nefertiti Overdrive, 3

Sword’s Edge Systems
Kiss My Axe, 1
Sword Noir, 1

Indie Press Revolution Sales for 2019
Other
Centurion: Legionaries of Rome (Print), 1
Nefertiti Overdrive (Print), 5
Nefertiti Overdrive (PDF), 1

Sword’s Edge Systems
Kiss My Axe (Print), 1
Kiss My Axe (PDF), 1
Sword Noir (Print), 3
Sword Noir (PDF), 1
Sword’s Edge (Print), 3
Sword’s Edge (PDF), 1

Sales Through Drive Thru RPG for 2019
Albenistan
Albenistan: Election Day (Modern Dispatch 113), 4
Khorforjan Gambit, 4
Qalashar Device, 4
Raid On Ashkashem, 5

Arcane Kingdoms
Arcane Kingdoms, 4
For Simple Coin, 4
Gifts of the Elder Gods, 2

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

Fifth Edition
Abyss of the Black Cloud, 3
Abyss of the Crimson Cave, 5
Cult of the Abyss, 9

Other
Centurion: Legionaries of Rome, 5
Daughter of the Sun: A Nefertiti Overdrive Adventure, 4
HeadCrushers, 6
Hispania Ulterior Motive: A Centurion Adventure, 6
Judged: A Nefertiti Overdrive Adventure, 4
Nefertiti Overdrive, 3
Questions of Loyalty: A Centurion Adventure, 8
Starship Commandos, 5
The Wall, 6

Sword’s Edge System
Crossing the Millers: A Sword Noir Adventure, 4
Face ‘Splosion: A Sword’s Edge Adventure, 3
For A Few Swords More: A Sword’s Edge Adventure, 3
HardCASE: A Sword’s Edge Adventure, 6
Kheufer Scrolls: A Sword Noir Adventure, 5
Kiss My Axe, 7
Lawless Heaven: A Sword’s Edge Adventure, 3
Six Stood Alone: A Sword’s Edge Adventure, 6
Suffer the Witch: A Kiss My Axe Adventure, 3
Sword Noir, 14
Sword’s Edge, 8