Wednesday, January 9, 2008


The 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Open Gaming License is available, kinda. It will officially be available in June, but serious publishers can spend $5,000 to get a copy now. I so want one. There's been some criticism that it has taken so long, but I honestly don't see the problem.

Wizards of the Coast is acting like a business, a regular publisher, instead of the head of an industry. Many small publishers rely on them for their livelihoods and need access to the OGL to create product timed for the June release and almighty Gencon. I'm not really sure what WOTC can do other than to make an announcement of the upcoming version with the product already in hand. They were still working on the rules for the core books in October.

In other news, we're having a big role-playing sale at the store, lots of Wizards of the Coast D&D books that were previously excluded from consideration. Looking at our sales records of non D&D books, many of the on-sale books sold well in 2006 and just stopped selling in 2007, even before the 4th Edition announcement. Games that took a dive in 2007 include Mutants & Masterminds, Shadowrun, Runequest and Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play. Those games aren't dead, it was just clear by sales patterns that new games weren't getting started, with much of the back list gathering dust. The decline in RPGs seems to extend beyond the 4E announcement.

On the positive side, small press role-playing has taken off, and many one-shot titles have done well. Cthulhutech sold out and I'm waiting for more copies. Battlestar Gallactica was a hit for fans, but that demand was satisfied pretty quickly and it's probably not being used for a game. Customers eagerly await the new Traveler by Mongoose and The Dresden Files by Evil Hat. This is small potatoes, with sales of all of those hot books mentioned paling in comparison to a good month of D&D releases, something I haven't seen in a year.


  1. Are people really looking forward to the Mongoose Traveller? (BTW, it's spelled with two 'l's. I'm not sure why GDW decided to go with the British spelling all those years ago, but they did.)

    I'm looking forward to what Marc Miller puts out, but I'm not looking forward to the mangled version that Mongoose will be publishing.

    Last I heard, they are going to be publishing a cut-down version of the huge version that Marc is planning to release electronically. Now, if Mongoose was a company known for effective editing, then I'd consider this to be a good idea, but effective editing isn't exactly one of their strengths :-P

  2. And to be honest Mongoose's recent products (i.e. SpyCraft 2.0 reprint, the new Runequest books, etc.) have all been self-published crap. They look like the pages we're photocopied and bound together shoddily in an ugly binding. Mongoose's production value has dropped dramatically and I'm really worried that Traveller will suffer. Sucks, since it's such a good classic.

  3. Customers regularly ask about Mongoose Traveller [sp], along with Dresden and 4E D&D.

    I forgot to mention the Warhammer 40K RPG due out this month. Other stores are taking pre-orders on this $50 tome, so customers have been telling me their intention to buy. I can understand why stores are taking pre-orders, it's expensive, has been a dream of many for 20 years, yet it's unknown if anyone is ready for it in these times of declining RPG sales.

    We'll be stocking the core book deeply, but I doubt there will be many games started up. So lots of core books will sell and then a small handful of supplements, followed by either a slow death or maybe a few active campaigns that keep it alive, like Warhammer Fantasy RP. Sorry if that sounds pessimistic.

  4. bigjdunham: yep, ever since Mongoose went to a PoD format their quality has sucked big time.

    I've had this discussion before, but basically the only thing that Mongoose does right is to land licenses that I'm interested in. Unfortunately, they then tend to run those properties into the ground.

    I was quite disappointed when I learned that Marc Miller had agreed to let them publish the next edition of Traveller, but then Marc hasn't exactly had a stellar track record since the folding of GDW either. Marc Miller's Traveller might as well have been a Mongoose product given the combination of poor editing and production standards.

    On the other hand, his republishing of a lot of the old GDW RPGs under Far Future Enterprises as either hardcopy or CD-ROMs has opened up access to a lot of classic roleplaying material.

  5. Warhammer 40k RPG?

    I've already got that.

    As in
    Inquisitor (not all that long ago)?
    Rogue Trader (1987 - the RPG with a skirmish combat system that spawned the 40k we know today)?

    It will be interesting to see how far the 40k rpg apple lands from the RT tree.

  6. You can check out a preview of the 40K RPG at the black library website. They have an adventure you can download that includes the bare-bones rules and some pre-gen characters.

    Dark Heresy is basically the current WHFRP rules moved into the 40K universe. It should be pretty good.

    It's a full-fledged RPG, not just a set of skirmish rules that could be adapted into an RPG like Inquisitor and Rogue Trader.