Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where does it all come from? Part 3

Ok, when I said a few days ago that "tomorrow I'll put up the RPG chart" I forgot to take into account that

1) the weekend was coming up
2) I had a Warhammer Tournament to get ready
3) I had 2 sessions of Pathfinder to run for our Pathfinder Society group here on Sunday
4) IT'S CHRISTMAS season and I am in retail (which generally means that I do NOT get to control my own time, it controls me.)

But, I have a few minutes now, (aided by the fact that the order that I was expecting today didn't come in because of the storm in California a couple of days ago) so I promised myself I wouldn't get dinner until this post was up.

In my database, I have two ways of breaking RPG's down  First of all, I break them down by basic genre; Fantasy, SciFi, Western and so on and so forth.   I also break them down by product lines; D&D, Gurps, Traveller and such.

Let's take a quick gander at which genres are selling the most.

Now, this isn't much of a surprise.  Fantasy RPG's are the market staple. (thank you Mr Tolkien, Mr, Howard, and Mr Lieber).  In the store we have D&D and Pathfinder taking up much of the burden of fantasy RPG sales, but there are a few others contributing to that.  Earthdawn, Exalted, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay  and a couple of the Indie games also added into that.   SciFi games came in second with sales of Traveller, Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and a few other minor ones.

Now for the chart that probably will be a big surprise.  I know that it was for me.

Yep... not only was D&D NOT number one, it wasn't number two or three either.  It came in at number 4 and from the looks of the chart, it sure wasn't too much higher than the number five, Savage Worlds.  Traveller is the number one, and that's for one reason.  We have a gaming group that's switching over to that game, and the person who's running it and one of the other players have been picking up the line.  Here's the sad fact.  This will be an abberation on these sales figures, and I highly suspect that next month, Traveller will fade farther back down on the list.  It's position this month, is really not something that can be counted on, but the fact that ONE group, was able to bump it to the top spot speaks volumes.  What it says to me, is that the RPG market, at least for me is in a horrid decline.  When one group can come in and overshadow D&D like that, there is a problem.

Now, WFRP had one special thing on it's side which gave it the number two slot.  It costs 100 bucks for the main boxed set.  Sell a few of those and it would be hard to keep it out of a top slot.

Pathfinder is number three, and more importantly it's eclipsing it's parent D&D.   There's a lot of grousing about 4th ed amongst veteran gamers, and many of them have sworn off of playing.  To me, this is a bit of tragedy, as basically it's saying "im so stodgy that I really don't want to hang out with my friends anymore and socialize with them because of some silly game rules".  To me, the game was always secondary to the real reason of getting together with my friends.  I'm sad that feeling isn't more widely held.  Pathfinder, however is picking up SOME of those disaffected players who aren't interested in converting to the 4th ED rules.  In fact, i'm running games for their organized play campaign, The Pathfinder Chronicles, here at the store on the first Sunday of the month.  I'm happy that it's doing well, but that it's doing better than D&D proper, is telling.

All of that aside, these charts tell me that D&D is no longer king of the heap, and I can no longer afford to just bring in several copies of each new release as they come out, and expect them to move.  D&D will now be subject to the same scrutiny that the other RPG's get.  If I don't reasonably know of someone who will buy a copy of a particular book, I'm not likely to order it.  D&D books were usually immune to any kind of process like that, but no longer.

By looking at sales, and seeing what the trends are, I don't carry a lot of hope for RPG's in general, at least here in the store.  I love RPG's and I will continue to carry them, but it would be irresponsible of me to keep carrying them in the ways that i've done in past years.  A good business is one that's flexible enough to adapt to changing markets and make decisions based off of that.  

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Where does it all come from? Part 2

Yesterday, I posted some basic sales information concerning how the sales of IOG are divided up between the various departments.   I'd like to continue that with showing a breakdown of two of those departments.  CCG's and Accessories.

Let's go ahead and start with the CCG's.


Anyone who's known me for any length of time knows that CCG's are just something I'm not into.  With a couple of rare exceptions (Vs system, WWE Raw Deal) I've never really gotten into CCG's.  I've dabbled here and there, but i've never gotten into them to any great degree.  The last time I actually was REALLY interested in Magic, the word Ante was still in the rulebook.  My gaming interests have always leaned more towards RPG's, Mini's games and Board games, and it's really little surprise that my store would tend to reflect that. 

I've actually avoided bringing in CCG's and (until now) have only dabbled occasionally in the CCG market.   It certainly isn't because I have an active animosity towards them, it's just simple basic unfamiliarity with CCG's and their players.  I don't speak their language, and I have difficulty relating to that gaming style.  Therefore.. I've avoided it.   With all that's happening in the gaming market, and what  my predictions of what WILL be happening here in the local gaming market, i've decided I can no longer afford to have such a gaping hole in my product lines in the store.  Some other retailers I've talked to are just shocked to learn that i've lasted 11 years without Magic.   Also, there's been a local store that has pretty much been dedicated to Magic.  When I opened up, it was Jesters Court (now gone),  Beyond Gaming (now gone), Mana Werks (now gone).  So it's not too hard to see that between having a local competitor that pretty much solely dedicated themselves to Magic, and the general churn I've seen in the store that DID hit Magic pretty hard, I've never been too excited to get into Magic.

Recently, with the new 2010 Core set, and the release of the Zendikar block, i've decided that we will now be doing Magic.  I have no intention of turning the store into a Magic ONLY store or even a Magic dominated store, but we are now running regular tournaments, selling boxes, and soon will be selling singles.  It's a big step, and I'm glad that I've chosen to do it.


You've heard the BASF ads.  "We don't make a lot of the products you buy; we make a lot of the products you buy better!"    That's pretty much describes my Accessories department.   Things like Dice, Paint, Tools, Card Sleeves, Miniatures Cases all fall under that umbrella.   Here's how accessories sales break down here at IOG.

Most of these categories should be pretty self explanatory.  Gaming Aids, is mostly things like templates, tokens, counters and the such.  Mapping is for things like battlemats, or GamingPaper or the awesome Paizo Flip Mats.  The Modeling category is for things like basing materials, bases,  and plasticard.

This is one of the categories in the store that's seen more and more growth over the past few years.  Years ago, the idea of someone selling pre-sculpted bases was a novelty, and now there are several companies doing that (some better than others).    Recently, Battlefoam, has just stormed into the market selling high quality and very configurable custom foams for miniatures.  Up until they came in, Sabol Cases were considered the Cadillac of gaming cases.  With the introduction of Battlefoam, they've slipped down to Honda Civic status.  Gale  Force 9 is perhaps one of the premiere example of this emerging market.  They've made their entire business on making tokens, bases, templates for other people's games.

Now, there are a few places here where I want to do some improving.  As we get more Magic being played, we'll sell more card sleeves, that goes without saying.  One of the surprises to me was just how strong terrain REALLY is.  For years, I've dismissed it, saying 'people generally play here in the store and just use our store terrain, so there really isn't too much of a market for selling it here in store.'   As Lex Luthor so succinctly said in the recent superman movie.  WROOOOONNGG!!   It's clear that there IS a market for terrain, beyond what I was seeing (or letting myself see), and I would be remiss to ignore it longer.

That's enough for today.  Tomorrow I'll continue with a breakdown of RPG sales.   Which RPG line is the best seller here in the store?  The answer might surprise you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Where does it all come from? Part 1

A while ago, I did a post where I went over all of the store expenses for a month, giving a general look at where all of the copious dollars I manage to make a month  (bwhahah) go. (You can find that post here.)  This month, I thought i'd take a different tack and go over the other end.  Where does all of it come from?  Some people might be surprised to see the breakdowns of various departments and categories in the store, especially as I've found that most people will tend to over estimate the facet of the hobby that they are actively engaged in.

This is going to be a multi part post, broken up over several days.   For the first day here, I'm just going to show the overall categories and their relation to each other vis-a-vis sales here in November.

Before I go into that I'd just like to reflect on a two different numbers.  73% and 53%.    The first number, the 73% was the increase in sales from this Black Friday to last year's Black Friday.   Now, Black Friday is generally not that huge a day for us.  For many retailers selling more conventional wares, Black Friday is the make or break day of the year.  It's called Black Friday because this is the first day of the year that many business start to show a profit, or as we say 'run in the black'.   Yes, this means that many businesses run at a loss for most of the year until the holiday sales season start.   I honestly don't know how people who are involved in these business cope with that, as it would drive me stark raving bonkers to run for a loss for SO long and then to make up for 10 months of losses with 2 months of breakneck sales.  That is FAR to topsy turvey for my tastes.

For us, Black Friday isn't too different than most other Fridays. We do see SOME Christmas sales, but the majority of people are shopping at the big box stores getting 94% off of laptops, or MP3 players for free after rebate.   Short of deciding that I wanted to go out of business in a spectacular fashion, there's nothing I could do that could even remotely compete with those sales and promotions.  So I don't bother.  It's been my general experience that people do their shopping for sister Sally and brother Billy in those first few days after Thanksgiving, mostly because what Sally and Billy are asking for are fairly common things.  Barbie, X box and "whatever the hot toy that will cause fistfights and at least 2 trampling deaths at the big box stores", are what people  are looking for.  But what about crazy little cousin Elmo who plays those funny games with the little figures and funny dice?  People tend to come in a bit later in the holiday shopping season to buy those kinds of gifts.  More often than not, they have NO idea what they're looking for, and either hand me a list with a frustrated look on their face, or they just ask for a gift certificate.

The second number I mentioned, 53% is what this November's sales are up over last November.   73% and 53%.  Those are some pretty significant increases.  In looking at things with as an objective an eye as I can muster, I have to come to 2 conclusions as to why sales are better.

1)  People feel better about spending money, regardless of how good the economy is going/isn't doing.  A LOT of my customers are out of work right now, but this time last year, most everyone was feeling shellshocked into not wanting to spend money.  There are some signs that the economy is improving, but I think people are feeling a bit better about spending.  It should be noticed that I have really noticed that people are buying things more on debit and cash than on credit.
2) The store is in better shape than it's been in for a good while.  We have better inventory, and a better 'attitude' than we've had for a long time.  I've had many customers come up to me in the past couple of months and tell me that they haven't been as excited to be here and to buy things as they have here recently.  I'm in the store a lot more, im paying attention to what's happening a lot more, and I think that's really showing.

Ok..that's over and done with, and now let me show you that little breakdown I promised WAY back at the beginning of this post.

For anyone who's really been in my store, seeing that miniatures are 50% of sales really shouldn't be too much of surprise.  CCG's while low, are still building here and we are, week by week, getting more and more people coming into play Magic.  If there is a bit of a surprise in here's it's that the number two department in the whole store is Accessories.  That includes things like, dice, paint, tools, mapping aids, game aids.   It goes back to something I said earlier, we don't need more games, we need more things to make games BETTER.

Here's a breakdown of the top 15 items overall for the month of November

1) Zendikar Boosters (WotC)
2) Skaven Army Book (GW)
3) Space Wolf Battleforce (GW)
4) Imperial Guard Chimera (GW)
5) Fortress of Redemption (GW)
6) Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying 3rd rd (Fantasy Flight Games)
7) Ork Battlewagon (GW)
8) Assault on Blackreach (40k starter set)(GW)
9) Hammer of Thor Boosters (heroclix)
10) 2010 MTG Booster Box (WotC)
11) Zendikar MTG Booster Box (WotC)
12) Pathfinder Bestiary (Paizo)
13) Cadian Battleforce (GW)
14) Tau Battleforce (GW)
15) Ravenwing Battleforce  (GW)

Tomorrow, I'll continue this with a break down of some of the categories, giving you all a bit more of a look at what moves here at IOG.

Friday, November 27, 2009

New stuff at the Outpost : 11/27/2009

Some bright, shiny, new releases this week for your gaming pleasure!


Radicals Handbook-Dark Heresy: The most extreme and zealous Inquisitors of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, the Radical factions, walk a dark and dangerous path. Now, you and your acolytes can walk among, or against them, with the knowledge contained in the latest sourcebook: The Radical’s Handbook. From the mysterious Ragged Oracle of Seedworld AFG-218 to the horrors of the Maletek Stalker, The Radical’s Handbook contains a wealth of background information and game mechanics to enrich your Dark Heresy campaign.

Vorkosigan Saga-GURPS: From the award-winning science-fiction stories of Lois McMaster Bujold comes The Vorkosigan Saga Sourcebook and RPG . . . set in a future universe of honor and betrayal, war and intrigue, great victories and great defeats. Miles Vorkosigan is brilliant, charismatic, the heir to a noble house on a warrior planet . . . and hopelessly crippled. No. Not hopelessly. A Vorkosigan never gives up. And when the fragile, dwarfed, odd-looking Miles charges headlong against the universe . . . Miles may break, but he's used to breaking. And he'll pay that price, for his Emperor's honor and his own, because when Miles hits it hard enough, the universe gives way. Now you can enter the world of Miles Vorkosigan. Play his soldiers, his agents, his comrades. Play Miles himself, if you're up to the challenge . . . and if you think you can dare as much, and talk as fast, as the "little Admiral."

Character Creation / Combat & Adventuring-Hero System 6th Edition:
The Hero System has a new edition out, and it's better than ever! Incorporating everything we've learned from over 28 years and input from the most fervent fans in the industry, the 6th Edition rules will be in full color and hardcover for the first time, just in time for the new excitement being built up by the forthcoming Champions MMO releasing this summer! Now in two separate books, the 6th Edition is also available for purchase as a set of both.


Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is a new, exciting way to experience the popular Warhammer Fantasy setting. It is a grim world, constantly at war. As a hero, you will take up weapon, spell, or prayer and do your best to combat the might of enemies terrifying to behold. As the Game Master, you will make the lands of the Old World real as you craft the story, the people, creatures, and the mysteries the other players will encounter during their adventures. Everything your group needs to begin its adventures in the Old World is included in the Core set. This Core set is an excellent way to bring new players into the fold, as well as to reward experienced roleplaying with new and exciting innovations.


Arcana: Will the Guild of Blades control the city? The Guild of Thieves? Its up to you as you fight for the best agents to exert your influence. As the game is played, various stacks of "Stake" cards are revealed. Using the cards in your hand from your Main Deck, you will play agents to the various Stake cards, and you will use other cards to augment your agents. The player whose agent wins the Stake will claim it, placing it in his Resource Deck. Any card from your main deck that has been played also goes to the resource deck. When the main deck runs out, you reshuffle your resource deck into a new main deck. The more powerful the Stake card you win, the better it will make your deck as the game progresses. However, should you win a stake for a card that does not directly help your strategies, you can put the card under your Guild card, and still score at the end though not have to reshuffle that card into your deck, maintaining focus. Every card has a point value and at the end of the game the total point value of all the cards in your possession determines the winner. Each Stake is determined by various factors, such as military power, political power, money, etc. Each Guild has different abilities, such as the Guild of Blades always winning ties on Stakes determined by military power. Along with the Stakes, each player is given a number of Objective cards at the beginning of the game. Completing these objectives, such as "Control three Automaton Stakes" will earn the player additional points. By customizing your deck as you play and with four different Guilds to choose from, the replay value of Arcana is nearly limitless.


Captain's Log 40- Star Fleet Battles:
The Federation GSVX survey ship has encountered the first known Space Manta, a dangerous monster. Unable to find any way to destroy the ship, the captain must expend the lives of his pilots to gain as much information as he can before the Space Manta destroys his ship!  Captain's Log includes fiction, tournament reports, and information for all of our product lines including updates, new ships, new rules, and new scenarios.  Star Fleet Battles: Six new scenarios, Romulan variants of the F5W, Tholian heavy police units, Anarchist part 20, WYN LTT, Old M81 Galaxy pirates, Starswarm, S8 update, Victory at Origins, Term Papers, Triaxian Primer, Growler, and much more.  Federation Commander: Three new scenarios, six new ships including two new empires, stasis field generators, command notes, Victory at Origins. Federation & Empire: A new rule, Q&A, Tactical Notes, Why, proposals board, new ships. Klingon Armada: Tactics, example of play, a new scenario, four new ships. Ten questions, Awards, After-action, Command the Future, Input Guide, Why, Proposals Board, Background Questions, Galactic Conquest, Klingon Imperial Line, SFBF Terrain Cards.

Atlantis: You control a faction in beautiful Atlantis, the glorious civilization built upon the sea. No other city rivals its power. None command such riches. Now, the link between the land and your beloved home of Atlantis is crumbling! You must race to move your people along the great bridge to the mainland before it disappears into the thundering waters below. Picking up artifacts as you move, you must be wary of creating gaps in the bridge. For as the gaps proliferate and widen, those behind you face a costly-even perilous-journey to safety. So, flee with care and cunning. Be the first to guide your people to their new haven!

Megacorps: MegaCorps is a game of economic domination. You control a MegaCorp — one of the six enormous conglomerates that dominate economic and political life in the mid-21st Century. You control industries, manipulate governments like puppets, and even wage war to open new markets. You win by making more money than the other MegaCorps. A player chooses industries in countries, hoping for big payouts by having less competition in the industry. But if you own an industry and want to build the same industry in another country you will need to get permission. Of course, you can try to take over the country first then build in there, using the force of countries you own and mercenaries you have or with those you can persuade allies to contribute. The type of government a country is can also have an effect on what you buy (or what you keep!). Kleptocracies can steal ownership of your industry. Dictatorships can nationalize an industry to shut you out. Democracies can buy you out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New stuff at the Outpost : 11/17/2009

Hey all!  Sorry it's been a bit, but the past week was just CRAZY.   With our combat patrol kicking off for 40k and just a ton of otherstuff going on here at the store I just wasn't able to get anything posted.  Now that things have calmed down a little bit, I really wanted to get the new releases for the past two weeks up so you all can see what fun and exciting things are new in the store.  I'll also have another blog post tomorrow as well.


Victoriana GM Screen -Packed with all the information a Gamemaster needs for easy reference during a session of Victoriana, this 'deluxe' thick screen will speed up your games and last for years.

Pathfinder:  Seekers of Secrets -At long last, the gates of the Grand Lodge have been thrown open, offering an inside glimpse of the Pathfinder Society! Packed with information about the most famous group of explorers on Golarion, this 64-page sourcebook is a must for any campaign that involves the Society, whether as employers or rivals.

Hero 6th Edition Basic Rulebook -The Basic Rulebook contains all of the core HERO System rules, including character creation, combat and adventuring, and equipment - but without all of the options and details found in the standard rulebook. The Basic Rulebook boils the HERO System down to its essential elements so you can easily teach yourself the game, bring new players into your campaign quickly, or refresh your memory on a crucial rule. And when you're ready to move up to the complete HERO System, learning it will be a snap because the Basic Rulebook's already taught you the basics!


Traveller: Military Vehicles -Sometimes battle dress is just not enough. Upgrading the vehicle creation system from Civilian Vehicles, Military Vehicles gives you the armour and weaponry you need for mass destruction. From simple scout skimmers to heavy self-propelled guns, to giant walking mecha, Military Vehicles contains everything a Traveller needs for self-defence on the road, in the wilderness and in the skies.

Shadowrun: Seattle 2072 - It’s a screwed up city. Isolated from the rest of the UCAS, it’s a haven for criminals—smugglers, syndicates, gangers. Legal criminals, too—mega corporations, governments, politicians. As beautiful as she is dysfunctional, Seattle is urban sprawl amid rolling hills and forests nestled up to man-made wonders next door to natural and man-made disasters. Whether you’re a native or not, Seattle will draw you in like no other. You can run for a lifetime and never leave Seattle, but some say you can’t run for a lifetime without entering.  Seattle 2072, the second full-color hardcover as part of our 20th Anniversary of Shadowrun celebration. This 200-page book is the ultimate look at Seattle, presenting the City on the Sound in full color, like you’ve never seen her before.

Savage Worlds : Thrilling Tales -The pulse-pounding excitement of the pulp magazines and cliffhanger serials of the 1930s and 40s, for use with the Savage Worlds rules system -- Grab your fedora and your ivory-handled .45s, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!

Star Wars: The Scavenger's Guide to Droids -Gives players and Gamemasters access to a variety of droids from across the Star Wars saga. It includes new options for droid characters including talents, feats, equipment, modifications, quirks, and prestige classes, as well as other ways to customize droid characters, including templates based on different manufacturers.

Dungeons and Dragons: Draconomicon 2: Metallic Dragons -A menacing menagerie of dragons for your D&D campaign. Draconomicon 2: Metallic Dragons describes several varieties of dragons, including gold, silver, copper, iron, and adamantine dragons. It also introduces several other kinds of metallic dragons suitable for any D&D campaign. This supplement presents dragons both malevolent and benign, and gives details on each dragon's powers, tactics, myths, lairs, servitors, and more. In addition, this book provides new information about draconic nations and organizations, and the roles that metallic dragons fill in a D&D game. Story and campaign elements in the book give Dungeon Masters ready-to-play material that is easily incorporated into a game, including adventure hooks, quests, and pregenerated treasure hoards.


D&D Miniatures:  Savage Encounters
-Expansion for Dungeons & Dragons features pre-painted plastic miniatures of iconic monsters from the Monster Manual core rulebook and other D&D game supplements. This 40-figure set includes monsters of various levels and roles, and each booster pack allows Dungeon Masters to run a ready-to-play D&D encounter right out of the box. Each booster pack contains one visible non-random miniature, and four hidden random miniatures.

HeroClix: Hammer of Thor  -Throughout the ages, men and gods have experienced the power of Thor, Lord of Asgard, and his legendary hammer, Mjolnir. Now, Marvel HeroClix: Hammer of Thor Booster Pack will bring the might of the gods to your fingertips!  Featuring not only the Thunder God, but also the heroes and villains of Asgard, this new HeroClix release boasts 60 all-new figures including the first Clix appearance of fan-favorites, The Runaways and marks the return of one of the most fun and exciting miniatures games of all time!

Hordes:  Lord Morraig -Morraig is an inheritor of an ancient and proud bloodline. War wolves that will barely tolerate the touch of man gladly bear him into battle, accepting his weight and fighting to the death to defend him. He is a pragmatic warrior predestined to lead the Wolves of Orboros to war. Few can match his cleft sword, and the enraged wolf beneath him snaps at any who evade his blade's edge.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just an imprint.

I'm not a very happy camper right now, and it's because a certain snake has once again reared it's head in the Garden.  That Snake is Ryan Dancey and the Garden is RPG companies.

In an interview with Gamasutra, CCP's (The publishers of the MMO EVE Online,) Ryan Dancey had this to say about White Wolf Publishing. (CCP acquired White Wolf a couple years ago)

 "It's just an imprint... White Wolf used to have a fairly large staff. It doesn't anymore. It's focusing primarily on the World of Darkness RPG products. It's not doing some of the things it used to do; board games and other card games and things. The focus of the company [CCP] is on making MMOs and our legacy table top business is a legacy business."

This line might not be raising the dander in  many folks, as it did mine, so let me take you on a little history tour, and show you why this might make someone's blood come to a bit of a rolling boil.

Way back in 1997, Ryan was part of a company called Five Rings Publishing.  It was, in association with AEG, publishing/writing the hit CCG Legend of the 5 Rings.  That's quite an accomplishment, but Ryan managed to accomplish quite a bit more.   The deal that allowed Wizards of the Coast to purchase TSR inc was brokered by FRPG and Mr Dancey had a huge hand in it.  So much of a hand that along with WotC being able to buy TSR, they also purchased FRPG.

A few years later, the star of our show resurfaces when WotC publishes the Third Edition of the best known RPG of all time...Dungeons and Dragons.  Ryan's hand in this was quite big...he was one of the primary creators of the OGL and the D20 open gaming license.  He even was quoted at one point saying that there were too many gaming companies and too many gaming systems, and people needed to have just one good robust system with many genres, with everyone publishing stuff for the One Game. (Rumors that one of Ryan's first bosses was in actuality named Morgoth are unsubstantiated)  I'm sure that many of the publishers of then-successful games were a bit taken aback at this man basically telling people that his goal was either to drive them out of business or make them convert their companies over to being subservient publishers of HIS company's games.

Anyone who played RPG's a few years ago can certainly remember the D20 boom.  Everything was D20.  Games that should NEVER have been translated into D20 were (Deadlands.. I'm looking at you) and because anyone and their inept dog who could type a few words was able to put out a craptastic D20 game.  There was SO much chaff that it was nearly impossible to find the wheat.  Many gamers (and more than a few retailers) were getting burned by buying just the most horrible D20 products which eventually caused a significant backlash against anything and everything D20.   Where once the term D20 made eyebrows raise and people want to take a look, it became a warning sign, a pariah, and something to avoid, and a general source of ridicule.  D20 went from untouchable, to damn near unsellable.

Many good companies got their start off of D20 ; Green Ronin and Goodman games are two that come to mind, and MANY companies quickly started churning out D20 products.  Pinnacle, Atlas, White Wolf and frankly just about everyone involved in the industry, with the exception of a few.  ( To this day the thought of what would have happened had Palladium actually made D20 Rifts still makes me break out in a cold sweat)

It was a couple of years after D20 made it's splash, that Mr Dancey ran for Treasurer of  GAMA, the Game Manufacturers Association.  GAMA is the organization that puts on the Origins Game show as well as the GAMA Trade Show.  To many people, GAMA is as relevant as a third nipple, and to others its a vital part of helping to promote companies that don't have marketing budgets that resemble the GDP of small countries.  It provides educational material, helps to show gaming in a good light, helps game manufacturers network and make connections, and acts to give the gaming industry something akin to a unified voice.   The GTS is one of the only places that retailers can talk to publishers in a more business to business atmosphere.

Mr Dancey had been part of a group called FixGama.  FixGama was dedicated to...wait for it...Fixing GAMA.  GAMA wasn't perfect, not by a long stretch.  The problems with the Origins awards were long and too numerous to go into here.  Ryan Dancey launched an initiative to address these issues and reform GAMA from within.  This is all well and good.  Many of the things he advocated were things that really did need to get looked at and worked on.   He was elected Treasurer of GAMA along with a few other members of the FixGAMA cabal.

Then things went to hell.

I'll let the official press release take it from here.

Ryan Dancey tendered his resignation as Treasurer of the Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Thursday. Dancey, who was elected at the Annual Membership Meeting a month ago, disclosed to the board shortly after his election that he had penetrated the GAMA Board of Directors e-mail list and had been reading board e-mails for some time. He certified to the board that no one else knew about this breach and that information gleaned from the action was not disseminated to any third party.

Last week, the board of directors informed members of the former board. Wednesday, the board informed the Full-Voting Membership at large. In the wake of discussion on the FVM e-mail list, Dancey decided it was best to resign.

"Over the past several weeks it has become obvious to me that the important work the Board was elected to undertake has taken a back seat to dealing with the issue of my access to GAMA's internal communications prior to the election," he wrote in his letter of resignation. "As I am aware of the number and nature of the immediate issues confronting the Board, and as I believe that the Board needs to address those issues as fast as possible, I believe that my continued service as GAMA Treasurer has become an impediment to that work, which must be removed."

"I hope that Ryan's resignation will aid us in moving forward," GAMA President Don Perrin said.

Dancey's resignation became effective at midnight PDT on the 29th. A successor has not yet been selected. Perrin indicated that further information on that subject would be forthcoming soon.

Yes.  He got access to private e-mails, and though it's not mentioned here, he used the information he read about there to get himself and some of his cohorts elected. He took things that were said on those private forums and use them in very subtle and manipulative ways for his own benefit.  He violated the privacy of a good number of people, and damaged an essentially good organizations reputation.  He completely confessed to this, and the  issue is not whether Ryan was guilty at all, but how guilty he was.  At one point in time, there were considerations of criminal charges being brought against, him.  Sadly, that never happened as there wasn't a clear indication of monetary damages.

The aftermath of this was that Mr Dancey basically became something akin to a leper in most gaming circles.  There were some who saluted his "bravery" in doing what he did, but others saw through that smoke and saw a smarmy dickweed, who felt that anyone who wasn't WotC was one step underneath sewer slime.

Let's fast forward a few years, and this...person.. becomes CCP's Chief Marketing officer.  This is also the same company that has purchased White Wolf Publishing.  White Wolf, at one point the #2 RPG producer (and it's arguable that at some points they were doing better than TSR), at one point the producers of games that totally broke the molds of table top gaming, are now being told that they are.....

"just an imprint"

Just a little side company making little side things.  He even goes so far as to call them a legacy business.  You don't call something a 'legacy business' if you have much respect for something and/or it's future.  It's a very slick way of being very dismissive.  You use that term to refer to business that are "out-moded" or "obsolete".

CCP's Marketing director basically said that his "I give a crap factor" for White Wolf Publishing can be measured in microgiveashits.  There wasn't anything AT ALL positive in what he said.  No "we're looking for to working with them to bring out some great things".   There wasn't anything at all like "with White Wolf's publishing prowess, we can move EVE online into other markets".  There wasn't anything at all to give someone who loves White Wolf Games a glimmer of hope for their company's future.  He even made a SPECIFIC point to mention that the staff had been cut and how CCP's business model was MMO's.

Back in 2007 he even made some predictions for the industry.

"As a result of this change, look for White Wolf to become ultimately focused on its MMORPG offering, and by the end of 2007, to have reduced its paper-based publishing business to a shell entity, providing reprints of its games to a dwindling number of buyers."

You can almost hear the derision in that statement there.

He recently said that WoTC was in a 'death spiral' for it's reaction to pull PDF offering from places such as Drivethru RPG, and in a review of Warhammer Fantasy RP, he even called it a "a clever derivative of D&D 3rd Edition" despite the fact that though the revamp of WFRP came out after D20, it was still so based in it's original form which predated D20 for MANY years.

I think what we're seeing here is perhaps one of the greatest cases of Schadenfreude I've ever seen. The D20 bubble burst and caused a good deal of misfortune for many, publishers, retailers and distributors.  If D20 had continued to be the juggernaut that Dancey envisioned, perhaps he would not seem to bitter to the hobby that put him on the map. 

I truly feel sorry for White Wolf at this point.  I feel for the writers who toil to put out great books for it, and I feel for the fans.  I think it's obvious at this point that CCP's Director of Marketing will NEVER allow White Wolf to even try to be anything more than "just an imprint" and a "legacy business".  He's written them off, I cannot see anything but a long, slow decline into utter irrelevance for White Wolf now, based on this attitude from it's corporate parent.

It bothers me that this person, who at one time screwed over the biggest industry organization is now back in the circle again of having some influence over what was a great RPG company.

It bothers me that this person, who at one time basically wanted gaming companies to play by his way or hit the highway, can't even be bothered to feel that it's worth it to work to build the brand of what was one of the most popular RPG brands.

I guess it mostly bothers me that once again, this man is being given a platform to pontificate from.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We join the revolution!!!

Power to the People!  The proletariat gaming masses will rise up with one voice and overthrow the shackles of the bourgeoisie opressors who only allow us limited gaming possibilities with no innovation.  WE WILL BE FREE!

um..oops.  Sorry about that.  I got caught up in the power of the revolution.  Not a revolution for politics, or civil rights or anything like that. I'm caught up in an Indie Press Revolution.  If the internet has been a blessing for game manufacturers, it's been a godsend to small press publishers.   In the past, the biggest hurdle to small press RPG's was simply getting the word out.  That's much less of a problem now. (not that a whole bunch of NEW problems have cropped up in their place).

Many people scoff at Indie RPG's.  They seem to think that if the RPG doesn't have a huge marketing campaign, some great IP that they're based off of, or 'conventional' mechanics then it should be avoided.  I really do feel sorry for these people because if you really want to push the envelope and see what's really possible with RPG's then indies are the way to go.   The authors of these games, in order to stand out against the mass market pablum, have to be VERY innovative.  Usually they take some niche, or single concept, and hammer it into an iron hard concept.   I've seen games that use Roulette wheels for resolution, (Fastlane) and one horror game (Dread), uses a Jenga block to simulate the growing horror that a horror RPG SHOULD have. (I've yet to really see horror coveyed properly, with the exception of two RPG's that i've been in.. both were Deadlands game...but I digress).   These games aren't your standard ones, and you will have to accept that some of the conventions you're used to are not only thrown out the window.. they're weighted down with cement blocks and dumped off of a pier without so much as a "badda bing..badda boom".

Today I pulled the trigger on ordering a number of games from Indie Press Revolution.  IPR is a distributor of small press RPG's, and being the awesome folks they are, they also sell to retailers. I've gone through their lists, and picked out some of the ones that look the most intriguing and have them on their way.  With any luck, they'll be here by the end of the week.

There's actually a good amount of risk involved with this.  The RPG market is not strong.  It's not even mediocre.  It pretty much sucks right now.  Sales have consistently been dropping for years.  ICv2, one of the industry watchers, published some figures that would seem to indicate that the RPG market has shed about 50% of it's sales in the past 7 years. Ouch.   My sales haven't been THAT drastic, but RPG sales have certainly been flogging for some time now.  4th ED hasn't sold to the levels that 3.5 did, and aside from a few titles, the entire industry is in a bit of stagnation here and there, punctuated by a few little bright spots.   There's a good part of my business sense that argued hard against bringing these in, but in the end, while I don't think that sales of these Indie RPG's are going to catapult me to new heights, it brings in something new and fresh that we haven't had in a good while. 

So, even if you don't want to pick up a pitchfork and join in with the revolution, check out some of the new titles that we're bringing in.  You might be pleasantly surprised at how much fun you can have from a game you might never have heard of.

Spirit of the Century is a complete, stand-alone pulp role-playing game based on the award-winning Fate system (Indie RPG Awards include: Best Free Game of 2003, Best Support, and Andy's Choice). Spirit features a heavily revised, revisited, and reimagined vision of Fate. Character creation can be done as quickly as a few minutes, or expand to take up an evening; adventure design is a snap with three methods for creating relevant, flavorful, player-focused stories at a moment's notice. Spirit's mission is to deliver an evening of fun, a "pick-up" game that requires little preparation, but provides hours of entertainment.

Trail of Cthulhu is a complete game of investigative horror set in the 1930s based on the work of HP Lovecraft. The game uses an adpated and enlarged version of GUMSHOE system which offers a laser-like focus on investigation, with characters driven to explore and investigate, even at the expense of their own health and sanity.


Agon - Agon is an action-packed roleplaying game about ancient Greek heroes who face brutal tests from the gods. With bravery, cunning, honor, and strength, one hero will prove to be the greatest and secure immortality in legend. Agon supports fast-paced, competitive play, with mechanics designed to create an even playing field for players and the game master. Oath-swearing and trash-talking are highly encouraged.

Esoterrorists - You are elite investigators combating the plots of the Esoterrorists, a loose affiliation of occult terrorists intent on tearing the fabric of the world. The Esoterrorists introduces the GUMSHOE rules system, which revolutionizes investigative scenarios by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward.

Thousand Suns - Strap on your blaster pistol, grab your space suit, and get ready to journey into the future as imagined by the greatest writers of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Thousand Suns is a science fiction roleplaying game that includes all the rules needed to play. In addition, it describes the Thousand Suns setting, detailing its worlds, alien races, and conflicts. The setting provides not only lots of detail but plenty of options as well, allowing Game Masters to tailor it to suit their needs. Everything from world building to starship combat to alien species creation is here, so that nothing stands in way of creating the ultimate science fiction adventure.

1001 Nights - Mysterious strangers. Beautiful women. Enchanted swords. Talking camels. You play members of the Sultan's Court, whiling away the sultry nights by telling pointed stories to advance your own ambitions. Navigate the social maze and you could win your heart's desire; offend the wrong person and you suffer the Sultan's wrath.

The Arsenal of Heaven - You had normal lives before you were Armed. Now you are plunged into a world of shape-twisted monsters who feed on suffering, sorcerers pursuing forbidden power, crimelords and secret government projects. But that’s okay. You’ve got two things going for you: determination, and the Weapons of the gods. Time to introduce them to the monkey king’s staff, the thunderer’s hammer, the messenger’s sandals, the devil-slaying sword...   'The Arsenal of Heaven' is a roleplaying game of modern supernatural fantasy, based around the short and simple NUGGET rules.

 Reign - A fantasy game of dominion and leadership. Using the One Roll Engine popularized by GODLIKE and WILD TALENTS, this fantasy game puts the characters in the roles of monarchs, generals, ideologues and leaders of movements. In addition to the individual level of personal heroism and infamy, REIGN adds rules to roll the fortunes of churches, great families, conspiracies and kingdoms. History turns on your actions. How will you reign?

A Dirty World - A roleplaying game of angry decisions, ugly ethics, and black city streets. A game of film noir. "A Dirty World" rethinks the One Roll Engine to focus relentlessly on character. Hard-boiled private eyes, dirty cops and femmes fatale make their hard choices and hide their grubby secrets. "A Dirty World" features... * A unified conflict mechanic, where gunfights, duels of deceit and emotional blackmail not only work the same way, but fuse seamlessly. * "Swift Justice" character development. Instead of tracking and spending points, your character's abilities improve in direct reaction to the game's events. * One-Roll Mysteries, a mechanic to spit out intricate plots with one throw of the dice. * Rules that don't merely support drama, they are drama. Only meaningful choices push your character forward. There is no easy way, by definition.

Montsegur 1244 - Do you renounce your heretic beliefs and do you wish to receive the forgiveness of the merciful Father? In March 1244 this question was posed to several hundred Cathars. They had surrendered to the army that had besieged the castle of Montsegur for more than nine months. More than two hundred answered no, and thereby chose death by fire. Who were these people that chose to die for their belief? In Montsegur 1244 the players collaborate to create a story about who these people were. Each player takes on the role of one of the besieged Cathars who will face the choice between life and faith.

 Mist-Robed Gate - There are some things that we value more than life. There are things we're willing to scheme and cry and fight and die for.That's what wuxia cinema is about;fighting and dying for the things we care about. That's what Mist-Robed Gate is about. Presented by Shreyas Sampat and Two Scooters Press, Mist-Robed Gate gives you all the tools and references to fill an evening with martial-arts drama, including a game system, an extensive filmography, and a collection of recipes so you can cook your own kung-fu feast.

Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies - Enter the world of Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies (S7S), the latest game from Chad Underkoffler featuring the PDQ system! In S7S you'll find a richly detailed setting of sky-ships, piracy, intrigue, mysticism, musketeers, and more, whether you're sailing through the haunted Ghost Sky, battling pirates from the inconstant isle of Ilwuz, intriguing in the Spider Empress' court of Barathi, or chasing thieves across the rooftops of Agua Azul.


 Colonial Gothic - All have read about the founding of America. This history shows what led to the American Revolution and the cry for independence. The history is clear, and there is no real dispute over these events. Or is there? There is a secret history, and this history deals with events that took place in the shadows. These events played a role in the history of the American colonies and the Revolution that few know about. The truth is hidden, and plots are afoot. Events are moving behind the scenes, and lurking in the shadows are agents with their own agenda. War is coming. The Siege of Boston is lifted, and General Washington is leading the Continental Army to New York. The enemies are many, but as to who they are, you do not know. Newly revised and expanded, this edition of Colonial Gothic builds upon what has come before and also presents new options and guidelines for running a supernatural historical horror roleplaying game set during the dawn of the American Revolution. Colonial Gothic is a supernatural historical horror roleplaying game set during the dawn of the American Revolution.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New stuff at the Outpost : 10/30/2009

This week was a bit of a slow one for new releases, and with a few exceptions, things should remain fairly sedate throughout the Holiday season, as many manufacturers concentrate on selling through their backlist instead of trying to madly rush to get a product out for the holidays.  We did get a few goodies in this week, and here they are.


  • The Rifter® (Palladium System) is your doorway to unlimited imagination and numerous Palladium role-playing worlds. It offers new heroes, powers, weapons, magic and adventure for your games. It presents new villains, monsters and dangers to battle, and new ideas to consider. 

  • Shard RPG The Suns have risen, and a unique world awaits you. Welcome to Dardunah, World of the False Dawn! The animal within you can be unleashed in this truly cinematic role-playing experience that introduces an exciting universe of rich cultures, deadly intrigue, wild martial arts, mysterious magical rituals, and alien environments


  • Hydran Attack (Federation Commander) Includes eight scenarios, one of them is the Energy Monster. Also included rules for new terrain (nebula, black hole, pulsar). Includes 40 large counters for FCHA, 40 more large counters for the ships in Booster Packs 91-95, and 140 half-inch counters for both! 

  • Frostmarch Expansion (Talisman) Can you overcome the bone-chilling storms and strange creatures or will your blood freeze when you behold the Ice Queen's cold, cruel gaze? The Frostmarch expansion features 4 new character cards and plastic figures, 84 Adventure Cards, 20 Spell Cards, 24 Warlock Quest Cards, and 3 Alternative Ending Cards - including a final climactic battle with the Ice Queen. Brace yourself against the onslaught of the Frostmarch!


  • Garruk vs Liliana Duel Deck (Magic the Gathering) These ready-to-play 60-card decks showcase some of the best spells that green and black Planeswalkers have in their arsenal. Duel Decks: Garruk vs Liliana has eight rare cards, and six cards with new artwork, including foil alternate-art versions of Garruk Wildspeaker and Liliana Vess. Each of the cards in the 60-card decks will be black-bordered and tournament legal. This means that these cards are legal for use in any tournaments where the original printings are still legal.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New stuff at the Outpost : 10/22/2009

We've had a good deal of new releases into the store here this week, and instead of breaking it up into a bunch of posts, I'm making it all one big MEGA post of all of the fun and exciting stuff to come in this week.

So..without further adieu...


  • Pathfinder Bestiary - The Pathfinder RPG Bestiary is the must-have companion volume to the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 10 years of system development and an Open Playtest featuring more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into the new millennium.


  • Compass of Celestial Directions : North (Exalted)  -  The fifth of five Terrestrial Direction books devoted to fleshing out the bare bones of Creation presented in the Exalted core book, this guide to Creation's Frozen North features mass combat stats for the forces of Whitewall, Gethamane, the Haslanti League, and other Northern powers, as well as dominion stats for the Mandate of Heaven, plus traits for the North's native gods and beasts.

  • Prince of Undeath (D&D Adventure) - This adventure can be run as a stand-alone adventure or as Part Three of a three-part series of adventures that spans the epic tier of gameplay. The adventure begins in E1—Death's Reach, and continues in E2—Kingdom of the Ghouls.

  • Primal Power (D&D) -  This must-have book is the latest in a line of player-friendly game supplements offering hundreds of new options for D&D characters, specifically focusing on heroes who draw power from the spirits that preserve and sustain the world. It provides new archetypal builds for barbarians, druids, shamans, and wardens, including new character powers, feats, paragon paths, and epic destinies.

  • Sinister Woods (D&D) -  This D&D game accessory gives Dungeon Masters an easy and inexpensive way to include great-looking terrain in their games. This set provides ready-to-use, configurable tiles with which to build encounter locations.  This accessory contains six double-sided sheets of illustrated, die-cut terrain tiles printed on heavy cardstock. This set of tiles allows Dungeon Masters to build outdoor encounter sites with wondrous terrain.


  • Carcassonne: Wheel of Fortune - Wheel of Fortune is both a full replacement for the base game of Carcassonne and an expansion to the original base game. It includes 72 tiles, consisting of 63 tiles released in the original base game, 6 from Inns & Cathedrals, 1 from Traders & Builders and 2 from King & Scout. It also includes a special replacement start tile which depicts the Wheel of Fortune, a new mechanic unique to this edition of the game. The new start tile is the size of 16 tiles, arranged in a 4x4 square and is built using some of the tiles removed from the base game.

  • Grind -  Suspended just above a lake of seething magma, this flame-scorched arena is ground zero for the most brutal sport ever created—Grind! Here 10-ton, ash-spewing, steam-powered robots called steamjacks fight to move a giant, spiked ball into the other team’s goal. Using every weapon in their arsenal, these steamjacks slam, smash, and crush their way through the opposition as they tirelessly slug it out for the title. The Destructodome is the battlefield for two rival teams of armored metal warriors: the Iron Storm and the Steel Fury. With their eyes on the prize these two teams will stop at nothing to own the blistering field, so pack your playbook with cunning maneuvers, loadout your team with devastating weaponry, and get ready to stake your claim to glory.


  • Masters and Minions : The StarCorps Dossiers - Masters and Minions (Battletech) : The StarCorps Dossiers is a sourcebook from the perspective of StarCorps Industries, compiled from dozens of sources by an army of administrators, all with an eye towards furthering StarCorps markets and interest. Masters and Minions is a complete who’s-who of the BattleTech universe, with well over a hundred personalities detailed. Short overviews of all the major and most minor factions of the Inner Sphere are also included, briefly covering such details as their most notable factories, planets and military forces.

  • Retribution Strike Force Mage Hunter Unit (Warmachine)
  • Retribution Strike Force Mage Hunter Commander Unit attachment (Warmachine)
  • Nayl Character Solo (Warmachine)
  • Dawnguard officers and Standard (Warmachine)

  • Marcus Gideon, Undead Hunter (Reaper)
  • Drunken Pirate (Reaper)
  • Murkillor the Wraith King (Reaper)
  • Weapons Pack  VI  (Reaper)
  • DHL Classics : Female Barbarians (Reaper)