The Good the Bad & the Ugly: C&C

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commanderFuron
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Post by commanderFuron »

I vote, Drive On, One volume Hard or Soft.

I personally would rather have the soft back version, it's just more practical on so many levels. Plus well done softback can last a long time and are better for actual play. But in all cases one book is better. I hate having to have a book shelf of books sitting next to me to run a game.

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Post by Rigon »

seskis281 wrote:
Heh - guess I'm not as minority in opinion as I thought I was....

I know it's the option Steve listed as "not liked," but I would add that TLG has gotten QUITE good with quality of the soft-backs on their own, and it seems that the real need for Hardback option comes to 2 issues: durability (including "on-the-shelf-life") and the ease with which the most commonly used books can be opened flat on a table for reference - and this points to the absolute need for the primary (heh - not gonna say "core") books of the PHB and M&T, but not so much other supplemental works - I think, in the end, OG&M is better as a soft-back - I love mine as it is from GenCon and it was not really on my need or want list to upgrade to hardback (I LOVE the special edition soft-cover for the PHB, but I will be getting several hardbacks soon as I don't want to wear that copy down).

If TLG releases the CKG in 2 parts, "The Adventurer's Backpack" subtitled Part I of the Castle Keeper's Guide then next year later Part II "The Castle Keeper's Backpack," it would do several things:

1. Get a good portion of a long awaited product out real, real soon... and as was noted by Angelfish above this portion would be very popular.

2. It would also allow players who don't CK to get an options part without the additional cost of CK-options.

3. It would clear the table and get beyond the logjam - as DangerDwarf said, lots of products in waiting behind this right now - I truly believe getting some breathing space would allow for a vigorous end of 2009 and start of 2010 with: A compilation box (Umbrage saga), M&T of Aihrde and M&T II (monster books will sell, and likely sell large - I even vote to make these softbacks as well), more A mods, more HH stuff, the revised Aihrde setting (I say go with box set), and get Victorious and Harvesters out as well. The release of the "Part I" would hold to clear the table of these before finishing "Part II."

4. It is an opportunity to re-set and reiterate the C&C game paradigm that has been all too much discussed on threads and elsewhere, solidifying the supplements as "very useful" to the game but not "essential"

5. As Coleston said, most of the existing C&C base will buy all of these - the soft-back split supplements and ultimately a unified Hardback because, well, it'll just be cool to finally have that honkin' tome on the shelf.... I truly believe this would increase sells on all of these. And new-comers will be able to have the player's option book sooner on the heals of getting a new 4th print PHB.

6. Doing it this way means the softbacks would permit errata compilation so that the ultimate down-the-road hardback would be the cleanest possible volume

7. Now that the 4th printings are finally going out and in the clear on the PHB and M&T, TLG needs a momentum from that.

I don't think anyone minds TLG as a co. making some shifts as it needs to to stay profitable and vibrant. More than the CKG is the need for a regular stream of useful product. As much as I like Jim's Tainted Lands and OG&M, they are more niche C&C products for certain specific tastes within the C&C market. Those will do well within certain segments, but ultimately more mods and resources will be what the bulk of players and CK's are looking for.

So now I'm up to 4 cents on my thoughts.... please forgive if I seem pushy, I just want to argue what I think is the best option knowing it's not the 1st choice of those listed for Steve and the Trolls.

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Post by JediOre »

I voted for the single volume. Splitting it in two isn't bad either.

I would encourage you to not print this text as a perfect bound soft back. I hate those things unless you are willing to have them stitch bound like what Dover Publishing does. Otherwise the bindings simple break in short order!

Will the Of Gods & Monsters perfect bound book be glue bound or stitched? I may have missed this, but are you planning on re-printing this as a hard back tome later?
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Post by Dagger »

Just brainstorming here...

How about a softcover character-related book first. This could contain info on character classes beyond 12th level, class variants, etc... all the character stuff.

Then there would be a Castle Keepers Kit that was a boxed set that includes:

CK Screen

Mapping Sheets

CK Guide: includes CKing advice, world building, encounter tables, adventuring rules, etc...

Starter Adventure

Dice

Just a random thought I came up with...
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Post by Fiffergrund »

Split the book in two. In C&C terms, the concept of "Adventurers Backpack" far predates the "CKG" concept.

Return to the basics. You have two books - bells and whistles, and how-tos. Print them that way.
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Post by Sir Osis of Liver »

I originally voted to ship it out in installments with the binder. In a lot of ways, I would stand by that. While thinking about the deadline issues, I figure if the work is already done, it should be a piece of cake to ship the pieces out. That's just me. And at the end of the day, sending the complete hardbound out to everybody who subscribed makes it worth everybody's while.

I also like John's idea as well. At that point, though, I worry about it turning into the 2/e AD&D "Player's Option" debacles. One of the nice things about C&C is the considerably increased difficulty of min/maxing. It far and away requires real RP talent to play well than it does the ability to number crunch. If things are published as player's options, I worry about that min/max issue becoming a problem, especially if each individual tome is cheaper than the full volume. That being said, I'd say hold off and press on until a complete tome can be put out. While the $40 price point is intimidating, especially in a recession, my hope is that it would discourage people who are min/maxers from spending the money. Granted, part of what drew me to C&C in the first point was the low price point, if it's a high enough quality product, I could see myself dropping the change to pick it up.

In terms of GenCon, unfortunately, I'm not surprised that it wasn't a good one. I did my best to do my part in supporting the Trolls, but this year was a strange one for me. When I stopped by last year, I dropped a ton of change, between all of the GFW books, the slip case, CK screen and all of the issues of Crusader that were available, most of my discretionary spending budget was eaten up there. This year, I had more to spend, but didn't buy nearly as much from anybody. It was strange. I picked up both the softcover PHB and OG&M, as well as TL and a couple of other things. Beyond that, though, I really didn't spend too much.

Sorry I've been gone for the last week or so. Been busy becoming a daddy. Mom and daughter are doing okay. She was born on Saturday.

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Post by Omote »

Sir Osis of Liver wrote:
Sorry I've been gone for the last week or so. Been busy becoming a daddy. Mom and daughter are doing okay. She was born on Saturday.

Congrats Os!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

~O
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Post by Bowbe »

Congrats Sir!

My daughter is my life and my center. Enjoy.

As for book. Soldier on brothers. Gimmicks are cute but at the end of the day they are still just gimmicks. None of us has a 144+ IQ no matter what some of us might claim. Get er done when its done, do it right. The volume will speka for itself. Nobody else is doing the type of book this is. Nobody else cares about actually TEACHING a game master how to run a game. NOBODY but TLG.

FACT.

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Post by moriarty777 »

I've got a couple answers depending if I'm thinking what would be good for the business (in my mind), and what I would like as a fan.

I settled on Option 2.

On the one hand, I think that chopping the excess might have been a good way to go. I mean... it is a book of options after all. As long as the short shopping list is met, there are a select few that know what the book would have been in its full glory anyway. The buyer would be none-the-wiser and we would have the fabled CKG in our hands.

On the other hand, as a die hard fan who has already waited a few years ... what's a few more months? I reckon that financially this would put TLG between a 'Little' Rock and a Hard Place. Sorry... bad pun.

So, option 2 is probably the best compromise between the two. This is especially good if a player's book is almost already there. It can come up sooner than later, you'll be guaranteed of some sales which can help get the machine rolling again. After the first book, you can also work on a few other projects to build back up again and focus on smaller projects to earn some capital and then turn to larger projects once more.

Book I could very well be the Adventurer's Backpack which is the first part of the CKG (as long as you have this part listed as such, certain fans will be kept happy). Book II could have another clever title... the Keeper's Vault... the Sage's Library or whatever...

Book I and II could be softcovers and once both are done, a hardback compiled version titled the CKG would be released.

In truth, the only option I disliked was the third one... monthly installments for a binder. Too many bad memories of my Monstrous Compendium Binder and quiet a few torn pages. Not very portable either.
The offer to send us a complete compiled edition for free after the fact is cool but really, it's probably a costly solution.

Hope this thread helps with the decision making.

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agree with Seskis

Post by boxcornersdiety »

I initially voted for #1, but after reading the thread, now I agree with Seskis.

I'm happy to wait as long as need be for a full size, 300-400 page, fully edited CKG. Realistically, there is no way TLG is going to release such a massive tome with the quality control and playtesting at the same level of excellence as the 3rd (and hopefully 4th) printing PHB. Nor do I think the market for such a book is going to be much larger than the number of people on these forums.

So if the character material 1/2 book is basically done, I now say tie it off, polish, and print it. I'd be happy if this came in a softback version, especially if it got to release faster. I would probably buy such a softback or wait for the PDF.

The other 1/2 of the book? Depending on how close it is, the completed sections could be dropped into the Crusader. The articles could be stitched back together for a second softback. I don't subscribe to Crusader now, but more concrete articles on adjudicating particular situations might actually convince me to subscribe. I don't believe seeing actually useful rules and reference information in a magazine will ruin sales of the completed book. It isn't a serial novel -- people who actually *use* a lot of the optional rules will want a book with them in one place.

Assuming TLG takes this route and prints two books (one now, one later), sales of these will show the demand for a unified CKG without such a huge/risky investment. A few prints of the softbacks would allow for editing issues to be sorted out and for the optional rules to be playtested across the C&C fanbase. I'm going to want to buy a hardbound unified CKG anyway once I've worn the softbacks out, and $50 is fine, but I would rather wait for a clean and edited version rather than a rushed job (ahem, Yggsburg).

In short, I think doing 2 books and then later combining them is a faster route for TLG to deliver to me the CKG of my dreams.

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Post by jaguar451 »

seskis281 wrote:
I'm going to probably be in the minority here, but I am voting for the "cleave into two" option....

I think you should release the 1st book (the player's options part) as "The Adventurer's Backpack" and then eventually release the 2nd one as "The Castle Keeper's Backpack," both in soft-cover editions. Then, when ultimately both are done and TLG is in best position, combine the two at 2nd printing time into the Hardbound "Castle Keeper's Guide"

...

So I vote for the cleave and 2 books (as softcovers as I suggested) ultimately coming back together as the full Hardbound CKG,

or, baring that, I would vote secondly for the streamlined, smaller edition - heh, if it's good then it's good, and at that I'd rather see a smaller quality tome.

So my 2 cents there.

John

+1, so 3 cents worth!

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Post by galliard »

If you're only 45 days from completing the Player's portion, then splitting it into two parts makes sense. Or maybe even three, or four, parts, but no more than that.

I'm a relative newcomer to the game, but even I can see that this thing has been hanging over your head for some time. Getting a portion of it out would take off some of the pressure.

There's also the "beta version" advantage. You could get feedback, nail down errata, etc.

Do a small softcover print run, sell them all and reap the much-needed cash infusion. When they sell out, combine it all in a hardcover for the reprint.

The only downside is that those who buy the CKG in parts might be annoyed when they feel compelled to buy it all again in one hardcover volume. So make the parts special somehow. Some cool artwork or a mini-dungeon. The color plates in the softcover PH seemed to be a hit.

In an ideal world, I would say Drive On. But it sounds like it's just not practical. So I say split it up.

That's how it looks from this armchair, anyway.

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Post by Aramis »

I agree with Omote when he says that the CKG
Omote wrote:
will probably end up being (next to the Players Handbook) the cornerstone TLG product.

As such, I say the project should be moved to the front burner and completed as the glorious compendium of SIEGE-riffic goodness it surely wishes to be. One large hardcover, bursting with creative ideas, preferably in the mail by Christmas.

If you can bring it off you will be showered in riches, I tell you. You will all be richer than leprechauns*.

*-beware of any TLG groupies who claim to be after your "lucky charms"
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Post by AslanC »

Split it and make some money, but at least promise us a full version down the road for those who want it all in one book
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PDF Option?

Post by Sakusammakko »

As I do most of my gaming online with people I've never met, the vast majority of my purchases are PDFs.

I would be happy to buy pieces of the CKG in electronic form early-- whether in 2 parts or more. I'd also be happy to offer feedback and errata suggestions in advance of the hardback's publication.

Eventually, I would buy the complete hardback as essential item for my shelf. In the meantime, though, it would be nice to use some of the material that's already been created-- even if in Beta form and even if electronic only.

Isn't this what Pathfinder did with their core rulebook?
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Post by Relaxo »

oh yeah!

I'd go for a preview chunk in pdf only!
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Post by Geleg »

it's nice of you to ask for our opinions, and in an indirect way they do matter (since they may be correlated to sales), but ultimately you should do what needs to be done to keep the company viable, and your sanity intact.

it sounds to me as if the CKG has been a huge monkey on your shoulders for a very long time. The longer it languishes, the higher the expectations on your part and ours. Lots of people compare it - or the idea of it - to Gary's AD&D DMG. I think that's a mistake. You can't aim for something that has been fetishised by years of love, use, and nostalgia. It only will set you up for a let down [don't get me wrong - I'm not saying the CKG can't be a DMG, only that the constant hyping of it and comparisons to it are likely to cause let down for someone -whether it's you guys or a portion of the fanbase. I will also say that as a loyal TLG customer, I'll buy it in whatever format it appears]

so my advice would be to do whatever you can to get this monkey off your back. once it's gone, you can get back to setting your own agenda without the weight of expectations and comparisons. That will be pyschologically good for you, and probably financially good for you as well.

and ultimately only you can decide what the best way is to proceed. Lots of us who are loyal will say "We'll wait as long as it takes for awesomeness". If I'm you, I hear that and I get a sick feeling as I redouble my efforts to attain the unattainable (perfection). Sure, I'd like a one-volume beast of TLG goodness. But my wants are secondary to your company's needs.

soooo, even though I voted 'cut in half', what I'm really saying is that you should do what you need to do. Cut in half, release the pressure (at least half of it), and move on. Sounds good. Maybe promise we diehards a 'deluxe single hardback version' for some distant time in the future. But get it out of the way however you can, and get back to doing what you want to do (and what will make you the money to let you do what you want).

there's my $1.33
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Post by Frost »

Geleg wrote:
so my advice would be to do whatever you can to get this monkey off your back. once it's gone, you can get back to setting your own agenda without the weight of expectations and comparisons. That will be pyschologically good for you, and probably financially good for you as well.

This is a good point. Regardless of how it is put out, get this out and done with. If you do opt to split the CKG, please keep working on the second half. Whatever you do, keep pushing on with this thing. Its publication will be a major milestone for TLG and having it published will let you folks focus on all the rest.

You'll end up back where you started if you publish the player stuff and then let the CK stuff languish.
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Post by galliard »

Yes, how could we forget PDF?

Split the CKG into three parts, released as a PDF, for say $10 a pop. Or even 10 parts for $3 a pop.

If you get 333 people to buy the whole lot, you have the 10 grand you need to print up the hardcopy CKG right there.

Those who bought the PDF's will still have a compelling reason to buy the final product - to have a hardcopy.

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2...or 4

Post by Wolfram_Stout »

Hi,

I can rarely afford $40+ at one time anymore.

I like the 2 book set (Even though over the long term I will pay more than a single volume book).

I also like option 4 stream line it.

See, for me, the big appeal of C&C is that it is very affordable and very streamlined. I like that the books are not huge tomes.

But, More than anything, do what 1) makes sense for your business, and 2) make you happy to go to work each day.

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Post by Sir Osis of Liver »

Frost wrote:
This is a good point. Regardless of how it is put out, get this out and done with. If you do opt to split the CKG, please keep working on the second half. Whatever you do, keep pushing on with this thing. Its publication will be a major milestone for TLG and having it published will let you folks focus on all the rest.

You'll end up back where you started if you publish the player stuff and then let the CK stuff languish.

+1.

So much time, labor, energy and money have gone toward this project already, at some point, you need to cut the cord. If you have enough to put out the player's option part, do it. If you have to do it as the softcover perfect-bounds, fine. No problem. While my copies of the PHB and OG&M I bought at GenCon haven't seen any real in-game use since GenCon, they seem to be holding up just fine. While hardcovers are always nice, I don't mind the softcovers as well, as long as you're getting product out and not letting a languishing project consume all your efforts. That will ensure the failure of the enterprise, and that's something that nobody (well, I guess I can think of some...) wants to see.

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Post by garydee »

I originally voted for option 3 but others on here have convinced me "chop it in half" is the better option. I'd love to get my hands on the optional rules as soon as possible. The CK stuff really isn't that important to me because I have the 1st and 2nd edition DM books to draw from.

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Post by Krazz The Wanderer »

As someone new to C&C, I'll try to offer a perspective from that angle.

This thing has been baking in the oven for ever. It seems that in the design of what would end up in the book, you bit off more than you can chew. Otherwise you would have released it many a moon ago. So I suggest cutting it down to a more manageable chunk and get it out there in the soft back version. I'm sure it will still be a whole lotta awesome!

One of the things that turns me off as a new customer is the reputation the Troll lords have gained of putting things out late and missing schedules. And it doesn't look good when you see books that "seem to be core" still not out yet, especially when you consider how long C&C has been out.

So my vote is do whatever you need to do to get it out and since you seemed to like option 3 and 4 best, it would seem that you are thinking along the same lines.

Get 'er done.

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Post by CKDad »

I voted for option 4, but also really like splitting the book in twain. Separating the player-based options from the CK material is actually very appealing and I think will do well in the larger market, beyond those of us here who've all drunk the Kool-aid to greater or lesser degrees.
While I generally like the proposal John (Sir Sekis) makes up-thread, the caveats Steve has mentioned here and other places about the problems of getting softcovers into the distribution channels and ultimately onto retail shelves must be kept in mind. While a lot of us buy direct from TLG to maximize their profit on individual sales, ultimately we need a larger pool to sustain C&C and the company in the long run. Ultimately, Steve or someone with the relevant data needs to crunch the numbers to see if the reduced up-take from the channel can be offset by direct sales volume.

Option 3, the subscription split across 12 or more mini-volumes, is a non-starter.

As for option 1 - it's the bloody frontal assault, it's Burnside trying to cross the bridge over Antietam Creek. Time to search out a ford and flank the buggers.

Bottom line for me - Steve, you guys need to do whatever is going best serve the intersection of the company's short and long-term interests. Thanks for asking for our input. And as long as you keep making quality products, I'll keep buying (and playing).
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Post by Christina Stiles »

I voted for split, but please do what you need to do to keep the company going.
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Post by Joe Mac »

Steve, I voted to streamline it.

The parts I'm looking forward to are the SIEGE tweak options, rules for higher character levels, ideas for integrating character classes within a setting (e.g. the excellent ranger stuff that appeared in Crusader)...those sorts of juicy details...

More esoteric essays on running a campaign, I don't need. Most of us don't. True, as Serl points out, newer gamers might need that -- but I've got enough copies of the AD&D DMG to stash one in every room of the house (and I have a big house).

I want unique C&C grit. The extent to which the CKG is a generic fantasy-medieval game-mastering guide can be minimized, for me.

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Post by anglefish »

I went back to the preview in Crusader 20 and it got me thinking, so I went back to CKG product description:

* The attributes deconstructed, how to tweak and mold them for your game

* The core classes expanded beyond 12th level

* Designing and roleplaying new races

* Equipment: outfitting for a setting, saving throws, usage, costs

* Alternate magic systems

* The NPC: how to run them, hire them, loyalty and more

* Monsters and Magic as NPCs

* The Crusade in the future: guns, canon and more
* The World Above: over view of outdoor campaigns

* The World Below: over view of underground campaigns

* The Characters, gaining levels, land and more treasure

* The Siege Engine, breaking it down for your table

In Crusader 20, the preview is Chapter 10, which isn't on the list and is Worlds of Urbana, a dissertation on urban settings. But it's also said to be the longest chapter in the book. That leads me to believe that The World Above: over view of outdoor campaigns and The World Below: over view of underground campaigns are also dissertation chapters that will include helpful charts and advise.

As for me, this is the sort of content that can be wait.

I don't know if the list below applies solely to the "split in two and give out a Player Option book first" but this would be my wishlist for the first book.

* The attributes deconstructed, how to tweak and mold them for your game

* The core classes expanded beyond 12th level

* Designing and roleplaying new races

* Equipment: outfitting for a setting, saving throws, usage, costs

* Alternate magic systems

* The Crusade in the future: guns, canon and more

* The Characters, gaining levels, land and more treasure

* The Siege Engine, breaking it down for your table

The second book would be:

* The NPC: how to run them, hire them, loyalty and more

* Monsters and Magic as NPCs

* The World Above: overview of outdoor campaigns

* The World Below: overview of underground campaigns

* The Characters, gaining levels, land and more treasure

* Worlds of Urbana, a dissertation on urban settings

Here's hoping that's it's about 50/50 on the page count.

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Post by DaveyB »

I posted to carry one and keep it one large book, but ya' gotta' do what ya' gotta' do. To me it would seem to silly to dump the extra work that has already gone into it, and making it a subscription based idea over 12 issues or so isn't ideal either. The 3-hole punch style like the old monstrous compendiums doesn't tickle my fancy either. I say carry on or cut it in half, although I'd rather have it as one big book.

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anglefish
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Post by anglefish »

Now that I'm thinking it over, if the bulk of the second book would be essays, I'd say that you guys have years of Crusader content.

So depending on where that axe falls when you chop it, I might go to "streamline it" as compared to "chop it."

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seskis281
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Post by seskis281 »

In the end what is best for the company is what is needed here under difficult circumstances. I am very pleased to see Steve's facebook post that the Umbrage box set is ready to ship - my gut tells me this will be a good addition and revenue generator following on the 4th print releases, especially for those who are new to C&C and can get this product (and even those of us who already have the mods - I want it for the maps and extras).

I think Geleg nailed it above when he said this is really about getting the CKG monkey off the neck of the company, and certainly the poll here reveals how disparate our individual wants can be - I imagine that Steve might have a slight migraine from looking at the results and seeing the 2 options that he posted as "we like" being the least popular among our responses, but it's important to remember what he said about maintaining the viability of the company first and foremost. Working for the State of Wisconsin in education, we are dealing with pretty severe budget cuts, and none of the options for dealing with these are pretty, but we have to deal with them and make choices. That's pretty much what Steve is saying - going along as is isn't going to cut the mustard, so what are the options to make it work (if I read correctly - Trolls please correct me if I have misread anything).

So Steve has posted a number of options, and responses have also discussed some alternatives beyond those 4 - perhaps here is a good time to try and sum up the pros and cons and opinions about them and to encapsulate the slightly different proposals from others in the thread:
Option 1: Drive on Thru and try to find a way to keep going as is, producing the originally intended full CKG tome

Pros:

1. As Omote, Bowbe and others have pointed out, such a completed tome could become the cornerstone of C&C if it is completed

2. If the work is exceptional, the scope of it would mimic (if not replicate) the success of what the 1e DMG was

3. The more options and information given, the more players and potential C&C customers it could please

4. Let's face it, most of us (not all, but most) would LOVE to have the big honking CKG sitting finally on our shelves - completing it would be a victory of large proportions and (if it is as exceptional as we all want it to be), would end forever the "when is it coming out?" question

Cons:

1. Expectations - as Geleg mentioned, no matter what the expectations and wants created by the wait have built up, and what each of us want from this (as seen by this thread) is different. So even finished in the massive scale it may still not meet all expectations (the poster who recently was upset that Class deconstruction wasn't to be included as example). So, with all that, trying to reach, as Geleg well put it, "perfection" with it could be problematical.

2. The Company realities Steve mentioned - Trying to drive on thru, as it were, will be tough to accomplish by the end of the year. That's three more months, a whole fiscal quarter, of this product eating up all of the Company's time and energies.

3. Other products languishing and getting delayed - let's face it, there's a lot On the Anvil and some people are more anxious for those products than this one (not all, but some)

4. Steve's Sanity - Seriously, this is the big Monkey weighing everything else down, and my sense (Steve please correct if I am wrong) is that it is a weight on the whole production line. This tome was supposed to be Davis's to really handle, but the confluences of life and issues (some who know about, some don't) have really limited his time and involvement in this product and the A series, leaving Steve to have to cover writing on this when his own writing assignments were meant to be on other things (M&T of Aihrde, Aihrde setting, Basic C&C, etc.) - all of that plus the economics of today, the recession we're in, have created a storm that is really, really bad for a very small independent co. like TLG, and puts the weight of all that squarely on Steve's shoulders.

5. Cash-flow as of now - If I read correctly, the Walsworth costs (which ended up being the only option for hardbacks) have grown, making each run very expensive. This is why OG&M is becomming softback. If the cash flow isn't significantly increased, printing any hardbacks soon could be dangerous beyond the PHBs and M&Ts - and, if those printings sell through well, they'll have another big check for the next run of those next year or so (knock on wood).

6. Price point - Sure, there are many who'll say "absolutely" to a $45.00 price on the tome, there are others above who say this is not going to happen and it does change the C&C paradigm of "less expensive" than other RPGs.

7. Putting all the eggs in one basket is extremely risky - If they do push through, and even IF a Christmas this year release occurred (which Steve says is doubtful with what is left to be done), it means TLG's financial stability will SOLELY rest on this one product. If it DOESN'T perform to the highest of sales expectations, with a $45 price tag and all the expectations in play, then the one product that could be a cornerstone ends up collapsing.... and the whole building can fall then.

My opinion on option #1: Just my opinion, mind you, but it seems that what Steve is asking here is help from us to understand that just pushing through as is is probably not going to work. If it were an ideal world, without all the hiccups and speedbumps that have been thrown up along the last several years (Mac Golden not being able to be as much a part, Davis's very real life needs that most assuredly are more important than C&C, Gary's passing and the subsequent IP mess, the recession hitting full force) then we wouldn't be here on this thread - the CKG would be long done, etc. We all would like to have the finished tome, eventually... the question is how to get there from here, keeping the fan base mostly happy (can't always please everyone - but this very thread is indicative of TLG's committment to at least TRY and make decisions based on its fans' desires - something that, any carping aside, is what makes Steve and TLG special), and most importantly BE BEST FOR TLG in the long run. So, I just think we have to all take a breath and realize that the drive on thru option most likely just isn't viable unless TLG decides that this is a "line in the sand - finish and succeed or die trying." I think that's too dangerous a choice.
Option 2 - Cleave the suckers!

Pros:

1. The Player's option portion could be released, it sounds, very quickly, getting a major new product into distribution very fast on the heels of the 4th printings.

2. Splitting the tome would buy time for the 2nd half to eventually be completed, perhaps ultimately as a final combined CKG down the road.

3. The cost will be kept lower for split books, preserving the C&C "inexpensive" brand.

4. Player's looking for options won't have to spend the money on the CK parts if they don't want to.

5. Could "take the monkey off the back" of TLG sooner rather than later.

6. Would allow focus to resume on slew of other products, capitalizing on momentum and increasing excitement and sales for C&C.

7. Doing a split book and doing them softcover would eventually allow for a completed hardback tome, and the softcover route would allow for errata compilation for the ultimate tome.

Cons:

1. Could still have "the Monkey" on the back as the 2nd part then becomes the same "when's it coming?" issue.

2. Softbacks (if, as I assume this route might take) have durability and distribution issues that could hamper it from being as fully successful as a hardback.

3. Disappointment in such a long-awaited product - it inherently cuts some expectations for many.

My opinion: Cons aside, this is a viable option financially.
Option #3: Cut into 12 subscribed parts until final Hardback can be produced

Pros:

1. Gets material out in a sequential form, culminating in the product people are waiting for - people get to get parts of the CKG regularly

2. Builds anticipation and can generate some revenues without the expense of hardback printing

Cons:

1. A LOT of people don't like this style - several have mentioned the 2e Monster's Compendiums

2. To make each of the installments quality (and avoid gripes and disgruntlements along the way), a lot of effort would have to be made to make each one look good, so that's 12 product designs to be done.

3. Tough enough as it is to keep on track, the every 5-week period is bound to get stretched and tried - what happens if another storm hits Little Rock and they get a week without power? - it will be all too easy to fall behind, and again we will be in the "what's the delay" mode - possibly amplified.

4. Doesn't take the monkey off the back, just makes it 12 little monkies - and if they swarm......

My opinion: Not a real viable option - too many inherent dangers and could be more problematic than driving on thru.
Option #4: Slim it down, release as more streamlined, smaller tome

Pros:

1. As with #2, would get a product out much faster (though I am assuming longer than the 45 days mentioned for that option)

2. Would keep price point down and maintain C&C brand as inexpensive

3. Would definitely get "the monkey" off the back when released because a single product called "CKG" would be out and on the shelves.

4. Would generate burst of revenue

5. Could end the expectations - it would be what it would be, and C&C fans hoping for something it's not would at least have the answer to their questions of expectations and could move on.

Cons:

1. Is bound to disappoint some (but then so is the truth with whatever product, no matter how large) in terms of expectations, especially after such a long wait

2. Will obviously be missing major chunks of material - people may still clammer for "when do we get what isn't in it?"

3. Sounds like the majority of completed material is on the player's options side - so this tome might be smaller but still heavier towards percent of material that's non-CK specific, which would then have people going "so what is it the CKG instead of a player's option book," especially if they're newer to the game.

My opinion: A viable option, cons aside, but would tweak to the alternate proposition below.

Alternate options suggested on this thread:
#1 - Chop into several parts (perhaps 3) and utilize PDF to distribute until final hardback can be produced together

Pros:

1. Could create revenue without printing costs

2. Would get chunks out sooner

Cons:

1. A lot of people just plain hate pdfs - inevitably there's the "when is it gonna be in print??" - so the monkey is just delayed but constantly climbing back on. Remember - Pathfinder had a completed document, just a beta test that was rewritten - and a much bigger market to draw from.

2. Revenue would probably be nowhere near print profits

3. Takes major C&C product that could be on shelves in stores off those shelves for a longer while

My opinion: Respectfully to those who like PDFs, not a good model for this I don't think
#2 - Combine options #2 and #4 - Go with a split tome but do a streamlined version called the CKG, hardback or softback, then later do a CKG II with all that was missing or intended but not in I.

Pros:

1. Achieves all the pros of #4 above.

2. Does the split book thing, but retains the CKG moniker more clearly

3. Could generate 2nd revenue stream from 2nd later volume

4. Could be hardback or softback, if softback could, like #2, allow for more errata compilation and fix along the way, and could ultimately be combined into single deluxe hardback

5. If hardback, the cost will be significantly lower than the full tome, more sustainable under current fiscal restrictions.

Cons:

1. Someone's gonna say "OMG this is the WotC model!!! No!!!"

2. The wait and expectations on "completing" it could still be a monkey, just not as big of one (same as with option #2 above)

My opinion: Viable as well. I don't think it really becomes a Wizard's model unless C&C wanted to keep adding new PHBs and new CKGs every year.

Ok, so that's my summary - or, edited for simplicity by Geleg's analogy:

Option #1: Monkey stays on the back of TLG, omnipresent there until one day removed

Option #2: At least half the monkey is taken away; possibly could put the whole monkey to rest

Option #3: Makes a swarm of 12 smaller monkeys rather than one big one.... potentially worse than the one big one

Option #4 or Alternative #2: At least halves the monkey, could take it off back completely.

At least from my point of view.

In the end, Steve, make the choice you and the company need to make. We know how difficult this is. Those whose opinions differ from mine are just as valid from your fan base, and we all want TLG and C&C to continue succeeding and grow - and for your company to succeed for you personally!

Alea Iacta Est
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John "Sir Seskis" Wright

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