Happy New Year to everyone.
This is our eighteenth Briefing and is the first scheduled Briefing for 2013.
A retrospective on 2012
In the January 2012 Briefing, we began with a look back at what we had accomplished in 2011 and looked forward to what we hoped to achieve in 2012. Things did not quite turn out how we expected in 2012, but it was still a good year for GCP Ltd and the various product lines (and thus a good year for the whole Iron Crown family of companies and fans).
2012 saw the virtual completion of our rebranding efforts. We were able to release Arcane Companion and School of Hard Knocks as scanned but searchable pdfs. Our layout gurus were able to get the complete Spacemaster: Privateers product line rebranded and it is all now available in pdf. We were also able to get the quartet of RM Classic rulebooks into print-on-demand and some of the Spacemaster: Privateers books into print-on-demand. The only residuals are the RM Quarterlies, which just need their front pages replacing, and Channeling Companion, which has IP complications.
We had hoped that we would have been able to release Emer 3 in 2012, but the book became bigger and bigger as Terry thought of more material that just had to be written up. On the other hand, the advent of the standard color option at OneBookShelf enabled us to create print-on-demand versions of Xa-ar with minimal stress and at a very competitive price.
In HARP, we completed the enhancements to the first three HARP Fantasy rulebooks, including an improved spell creation system and a new monster creation system. This allowed us to release the HARP Fantasy core rulebook in pdf in August. Due to some layout difficulties, we held off pushing it into print-on-demand but it will be released early this year. HARP Fantasy became the first ever GCP (and indeed ICE) product to ever become an Electrum top seller on RPGNow.com. Indeed if all of our sales across the OneBookShelf sites are totalled up, HARP Fantasy has already sold enough copies in aggregate to be a Gold seller. AutoHARP, a new character creator and combat tracker, was released in beta form.
And then we surprised everyone by opening up the new edition of Rolemaster to a full Public Playtest. There’s already been lots of great feedback and playtesting by the fan base on the first three volumes of unified Rolemaster.
Looking forward into 2013
So what happens next?
With unified Rolemaster, we have been taking notes on improvements to the beta rules and will be issuing a series of revision documents for perusal and further playtesting by the fans. We won’t be creating wholly new layout pdfs as that will slow the process too much and I have other tasks for our layout gurus so that products in the layout queues can get published. Creature Law and Treasure Law will enter Public Playtest in due course.
The first goal for Shadow World is for Terry to finish Emer III. Obviously it will be ready before RMU is finalised, so Emer III will receive an early edition release, which will have RM2/Classic stats and very probably RMSS/FRP stats. At a later stage, a RMU version will be made. After Emer III is complete, Terry and I will be looking to bring back several of the older Shadow World sourcebooks, again as early edition releases. Terry has to convert their layouts into newer software formats before the old layout formats become totally obsolete, so we’re taking advantage of work Terry must do anyway. We will also be seeking to put other authors formally under contract to write additional Shadow World material.
For HARP Fantasy, the first task is the tidying up of the core rulebook layout such that it is ready for print-on-demand. Martial Law and College of Magics are both ready to go to layout as soon as we have all the layout templates resolved to our satisfaction. In previous Briefings, I’ve talked about the dependencies involved in the various HARP books, such as needing to sort out the spell creation system (as will be published in the enhanced College of Magics) so that it could be used to construct the spells as given in the HARP Fantasy rulebook. In my tracking spreadsheet of upcoming products, Loot: A Field Guide, HARP Bestiary and Cyradon, are next on the agenda for HARP. Loot only has backward dependencies (to HARP Fantasy, Martial Law, and College of Magics) but nothing yet depends on it. The new HARP Bestiary has the same backwards dependencies but also has forward dependencies in that there are future products that will require the Bestiary material to be finalised. That makes Bestiary a more critical product to get finished as soon as possible. Cyradon has the same backward dependencies and it has a partial dependency on Bestiary, because although the monster creation system is finalised, it will necessarily accumulate more monstrous abilities and “overlays” as Bestiary is written. Getting a canonical Cyradon text is, however, vital to all the Cyradon downstream products that are already underway.
Which is a long explanation for why I decided that the most useful thing that I could do over Christmas on days when my wife was treating her patients was to create a canonical Cyradon text, minus the Bestiary chapter.
A few hours before the end of 2012, I had duly completed the necessary change list document for Cyradon. The changes include:
1. Enforcing consistency in terms of the timeline, races, geography, etc. – an example Belynar is now definitively and definitely located on a dormant volcano.
2. A clearer and more accurate statement of the appropriate themes and moods for Cyradon.
3. Making the races either consistent with the HARP Fantasy defaults or better balanced with them. Gryphons are now consistent in terms of their movement rates with the monster creation system
4. The character creation chapter has had the unnecessary duplication from other HARP books removed. (For instance, there’s little point in describing the Alchemy skill if you don’t have access to College of Magics for the potion creation rules, and if you have CoM, you don’t need the Alchemy skill description repeated in Cyradon.)
5. Religious Orders have been brought into line with the rules for Clerics in HARP Fantasy and possible uses of CoM spells indicated. I’ve taken the opportunity to include two of the religious orders previously published in an issue of HARPer’s Bazaar (Pride of Rasa and Children of the Moon), suitably adjusted to only need HARP Fantasy and CoM spells
6. As originally presented in Cyradon, the various magical traditions and variant professions conflated spell casting styles, spell foci, and mana sources in ways that were inconsistent with College of Magics. These have now been resolved and the drawbacks, including fewer spells than standard professions, made clear.
7. All of the spells drawn from CoM for these traditions have been updated to reflect what will be in the new published version of CoM. (Like I said, it is all about the dependencies).
8. All of the Cyradon Gazetteer material and the Tears of Life article (from another Bazaar issue) have been pruned, adjusted for consistency, etc., and assimilated into the Cyradon main book.
The Bestiary chapter will be completed in tandem with the work on HARP Bestiary.
The initial portion of the Cyradon publication roadmap looks like this: We begin as you might expect with releasing the Cyradon setting base book. We want to follow this in very short order with “Cyradon: Arrival” and “Cyradon: ReAwakening”, where these adventure modules would be set respectively in the Arrival and Post-Ritual phases of the timeline. The Ruins of Kausur rerelease, written by Jason Brisbane, and the all-new Enya Lote adventure module, written by Andrew and Heleen Durston, then form two Post-Compact modules and the goal is that they follow in swift succession. As a separate fork, we will be rereleasing A Wedding in Axebridge and the all-new Caer Glais, both by Chris Seal, as adventure modules to pull back the curtain on another region of the Shatterings.
Those of you who’ve been with Cyradon since its first launch are by now wondering about Allen Maher’s excellent trilogy of scenarios and didn’t they cover the Arrival and Post-Ritual timeframes? Indeed. We are buying in all three of Allen’s scenarios and they will be used as the cornerstones of the new modules. We do, however, need additional adventure material for both modules.
For “Cyradon: Arrival”, I would like to see an adventure, let’s call it “The Last Retreat”, which covers the rearguard actions of a small team trying to shepherd refugees through the mountains to the dwarvish outpost, fending off Orsai forward scouts and wild animals. This should be for 1st-level characters, utilise only NPC enemies and creatures from HARP Fantasy. It must not pose a threat to the timeline, i.e. the worst the PCs can do is get themselves and their particular group of refugees killed, their failure cannot prevent the exodus to Belynar.
For “Cyradon: ReAwakening”, I am interested in 1-2 adventures, similar in spirit to Allen’s work or building off the other adventure seeds for the post-Ritual phase (as described in the base Cyradon book). Again this should be for 2nd or 3rd-level characters. It must not use Patagos, Gorgers or Fey Drakes as monstrous foes. It must not pose a threat to the timeline, i.e. again the worst the PCs can do is get themselves killed, it cannot endanger Grayson or the signing of the Compact.
For each, I am interested in a scenario of 5,000 to 10,000 words, including stats. If you are interested in writing one of these, then send me an email with a detailed outline of your proposed adventure. If I receive multiple submissions for a particular spot, I will pick the best outline. I want the final version of the adventure complete and submitted to me by the end of February. Payment will be at our normal adventure rate of 1 US cent per published word.
If these specific opportunities don’t interest you but you are keen to write in the Cyradon setting, then keep thinking about ideas for the post-Compact period. We will be seeking adventure modules both in and around Belynar and the Devastation, plus widening the perspective to the rest of the Cyradon continent in terms of sourcebooks and adventure/campaign books.
And as an aside, we will be making similar calls for Shadow World once Terry has completed the manuscript for Emer III.
Until next time
The next scheduled Director’s Briefing will be in February.
Director, Guild Companion Publications Ltd.
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