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2016 in Review

With little over a week left in the year, I thought I would do some analysis on the company. How’d we do? Well, we released a total of 11 new products this year (plus 4 d66 lists, but we’ll talk about that later). In previous years, we tried to release one product every two weeks but sometime during the year that changed to one per month. We feel that that is a more sustainable release rate for us, especially considering we are trying to release larger products.

So what did we produce? What I could consider to be JBE’s key releases for the have been finishing up the the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Series and the Book of Magic: Patron Hexes for Pathfinder and the start of the Prelude to War Adventure Path and the D66 Compendium 2 for Traveller. Why were these so key? Because fans like you requested them. I’ve been hearing requests for the D66 Compendium 2 since the release of its predecessor. Patron Hexes started off as a forum thread where fans of the Pathfinder witch requested more hexes. And the Prelude to War Adventure Path and Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Series is the request of me just posting a thread asking people what they wanted. So if there is something you want us to tackle, please ask. We listen.

systemWhat was the result (click on the pie charts for larger images)? Well, as you can see from the graph, Pathfinder represented 55% of the company while Traveller made up about 30%. Oddly enough, our single best seller was Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 for D&D 5e. That’s right, that red area is almost entirely one book, and that was released last year. I hate to admit it but we did not do nearly enough with 5e this past year. We will be doing much more for D&D next year.

Traveller was a major comeback this year. Aside from d66 lists we released 1 (yes, one) product for it last year. This year, this year it was 4 and even then, we didn’t finish up a 5th by the end of the year or there would have been one more. We have two more adventures in the Prelude to War Adventure Path we are finishing up. Then we will probably do a few stand alone adventures for those that like to make their own campaigns. We’re also working on ships, space stations, and some more locations. Oh and we still have a sector to finish detailing. Look for these in the coming year. 2017 is going to a massive year for Traveller from us. Strap in!

pathfinder-locationIt is kind of hard for Pathfinder to not dominate our sales considering how many books we have written for it in the past. Unfortunately, our individual Pathfinder releases have slowed to where few products actually make back their cost to produce them. Having said that, we are still creating Pathfinder material because some of our ideas are just too damn cool not to do!!! Like one Deadly Delve adventure we have coming up next year has the players into the heart of a volcano. The best part is that 5e and 13th Age fans can look forward to seeing this converted to their game systems at some point as well. And that is how we are targeting Pathfinder products these days when you don’t ask explicitly ask for them: what can we convert over to another system. Because if we just want to do it bad enough, we’ll find a way to make it work.

As you can see from the chart, Pathfinder is pretty evenly split between Paizo and the OpenGamingStore for the whole year. However, this is far from representative for the year. Throughout the year, OGS has gained ground on Paizo and has overtaken Paizo in recent months as our #1 Pathfinder retailer. DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, on the other hand, has stayed a constant #3 and has never been a great retailer for Pathfinder for us. Will OGS continue to increase over Paizo in terms of Pathfinder sales? We shall see.

locationThat last chart is only for Pathfinder. For all of our sales, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow dominates but that is mostly because our D&D 5e and 13th Age sales do not sell nearly as much as outside of DriveThruRPG, and Second Edition of Mongoose Traveller is exclusive to that same site.

All of these leaves a number of questions for us. Chief among them is: how is Starfinder going to shake this up? What kind of releases do we have in mind for Starfinder? Well for the time being, here is everything I can say about Starfinder: I am under a Non-Disclosure Agreement concerning Starfinder as part of the closed Playtest. Any more than that and one of the Paizo team will have me summoned to Seattle where lawyers will … lets just say … do this to me. Expect me to talk more when I am allowed to talk more, not before.

So aside from that, what can you expect to see us do in 2017? Well I mentioned the volcano adventure. It is written by Joel Flank. He turned it in a month ago. I am still reading it over and damn does it look fun. I can’t wait to hand it off to the editors and start working on the 5e conversion. The Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium will be out early next year and you can expect to see more races from that in 5e soon after hopefully in 13th Age not long after that. We have a product that has been top secret for over a year at this point and we hope to have ready next year.

All in all JBE is doing great. We have had a great year and we expect 2017 to be even better.

EDIT: On Dec 27, I updated the graphs and some of the text after discovering an error in my spreadsheet.

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Pathfinder: The Fractured Fortress of Gear’s Gate

Tomorrow sees the release of Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player’s Companion and we could not be more thrilled! This book we have been working on and planning for over a year now is going to see the light of day. All week long, we are giving you an early peak into the land of eternal darkness. Monday, we looked at the overall setting itself. Yesterday we discussed the cosmopolitan stronghold of Blackbat, a city where safety is as common as bright sunlight in Shadowsfall. Today we are looking at a city that could not be more different: Gear’s Gate.

For over a thousand years, the citizens of Gear’s Gate has resided in relatively safety. The citizens within this stronghold suffer few attacks from monsters and roving undead hordes that the city’s military or the various houses cannot repel. The houses runs Gear’s Gate as an arcanocracy, where the city’s mages and alchemists hold significant power and a house is only as powerful as the knowledge of its casters. This is because daily life and the stronghold’s defense relies on the vast array of magic items and powerful artifacts within the stronghold. The powerful magic requires skilled crafters and arcanists to both use and maintain these items. So in this city, knowledge is power.

The houses are in change of everything in Gear’s Gate from food production, water purification to magical transit and mining. And the houses compete with each other for power and money. This competition result in delays in food production, disease running rampant and transportation being delayed. There are even rumors of violent skirmishes between the houses far away from the city walls. All this infighting leaves the populous unhappy with the houses and the arcanocracy. Talk of revolt continues in the taverns in both outlying villages and in the city itself.

The most powerful artifact in the city is known as the Eldritch Projector. This powerful magic item keeps the guardians operating without any need for alchemical fuel, powers the siege batteries, and otherwise keep life at a relative normal for the people here. One house, House Sarvenva, possesses the unique knowledge to keep the projector operating and they wield that power like a cudgel. That power have maneivered them in a position where many consider Sarvenva to be the city’s rulers, but the situation is far more complex than most realize. The houses work to collect blackmail on each other, forcing backroom deal and bribery to be more powerful than the rule of law.

Despite the relative protection it city offers, powerful forces have been hitting Gear’s Gate at the edge of its territory. Guardian pilots are lured beyond the edge of the Eldritch Projector’s range, leaving the pilot in difficult situations. The sophistication of these attacks has increased. The field captains in charge of that region fears some intelligent commander waits for any mistake that Gear’s Gate might make.

Be sure to come back tomorrow where we tell all about the Outlands, the vast stretches between the pockets of civilization on Shadowsfall.

Preorder your copy of Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player’s Companion today. Get more character options, no matter what race you play with Shadowsfall: Favored Class Options. Get a print copy of the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane and discover their deadly secrets with your free PDF. Live the adventure with a half-vampire fighting to help the living with Shadowsfall Legends: Pawn, Deception, and Sacrifice, by Mur Lafferty. And don’t stop with that story. Read about an umbral kobold in the stronghold of Blackbat in Shadowsfall Legends: The Gem That Caught Fire by Ed Greenwood.

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Calm Before the Storm

Right now, I’m preparing for a number of announcements we will be making next week. It is going to be a busy week to say the least. But frankly, everyone at JBE is really excited. You can almost feel the palpable anticipation through your daily, sometimes hourly, emails. It is the calm before the storm here, except this storm is going to be awesome.

We hope to see you there.

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The Right Font for the Right Job

Last night I was working on the cover to the next Book of Beasts. Placing the logos is a lot more time consuming than you’d think. “Does it look good here or should I move it over 2 pixels?” is a common question. Yes, being that nitpicky really is that important.

So I came to the title. I put it in place and made sure it filled the space. Done. I sat back and thought about it and I didn’t feel the font was perfect. So I changed it. About a dozen different font tests later, I still wasn’t satisfied. I narrowed them down to the above 4 choices (click on the image to see a larger version of it). To me, each says something different. The top choice says “Disney movie” to me. Its a beautiful font, but I don’t want someone looking at the Book of Beasts and thinking Beauty and the Beast.

The font above that one to me says “Gothic Horror.” It makes me think of Dracula and all the classic horror stories we geeks grew up on. That’s good, but I’m not sure if that is what I am looking for with this one. I will admit, since I used it in some earlyBook of Beasts as the logo, this font might be chosen. Branding is important.

The next to the bottom font is cool and all but … for some reason I think of Pan’s Labyrinth. While that is a good thing in my opinion, I’d prefer it more for something like if I was doing what Paizo calls the First World or White Wolf calls Arcadia or Jim Butcher calls the Nevernever. Basically, Faerie. That is definitely not what I am doing with this. But I still like the font.

The bottom font is more of what I consider to be a basic font. It presents the title in big attention grabbing letters. As a small publisher, grabbing attention is important. However, the font itself does little to promote the fact that this is a fantasy book. I could see this font being used in science fiction or modern or super heroes. Definitely super heroes.

So what do you think. Is there one you like more than the others. Is there a font you like that I didn’t use. Check out all of our books at Jon Brazer Enterprises Shop for more awesome books for Pathfinder, D&D 5e, 13th Age, and Traveller RPG.

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JBE and the 2012 Pathfinder Announcements

So GenCon is over for the year. The news coming out of the great gamer con is exciting as it always is. Most exciting for us is Paizo’s Pathfinder announcements. Incase you had not heard, the word is that Paizo will be releasing Ultimate Equipment as their GenCon 2012 release and the AP after the Pirate themed one is going to be about artifact-hunting and more Runelord stuff. All of which sounds like fun to us but we’re even more thrilled that our plans for 2012 are completely different.

We were really worried that Paizo was going to do something similar enough that it would leave us largely ignored. To date, we have 4 covers commissioned and turned in, manuscripts for large sections of those books turned in (and one is nearly finished) and deals made for several more tie in surprises. All that would be for not if the main company was doing something in a similar vein.

I’m not ready to say anything yet. We’re about 2ish months away from making any formal announcement but subscribers to our newsletter will be getting exclusive previews and first looks each month. Sign up today to stay in the know.

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Coordination, Not Timing, is Everything

When you’re going to do something big, you have to time it just right. Striking while the iron is hot is important, but so is being coordinated. At the end of the day, coordination is more important. Even a slow economy can work to your advantage. Being as professional as possible by meeting deadlines, having something finished before it is even announced, while taking your time to do things right goes a long way with consumers. I don’t remember who said it be someone said “Underpromise and Overdeliver” was the best business practice to live by. That’s my plan.

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Tonight’s Traveller Game

As part of my writing regiment, I write out my material for a given role playing game. So for Traveller, I write out my patrons, I write up a description of a planet, the goods for sale, places for the players to buy drinks and so on. Previously, I just came up with a list of names and a few plot ideas, but I feel that having a number of different plot ideas in front of me has helped me to run a better game. I have even cumulated most of my work into a little handout for my players so they can operate better on the worlds.

All this is paying off in my freelance writing. This free flow of ideas has helped me to be more productive and organized then I normally am. My current freelance project, I’m on my last section and I have about 1000 words to go. With any luck, I’ll knock that out between Wednesday and Thursday. Then comes edits. 16,000 words to edit in 10 days. Good thing I’m becoming more organized. 😀

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Travelling the Stars of My Dreams

Ever play Traveller?  I have.  I’m still new to the game, and by new I mean I have played two sessions since the new rules were officially launched and two sessions of the playtest rules.  That’s it.  Its been around for 30 years and I played 4 sessions.  I ran all of them.  Last night was the first session in a campaign.  It was fun, alot of fun.  Simple mechanic, allows for lots of room for character development, and easy to write up characters, plots, etc. 

So what exactly does this have to do with the big announcement.  Alot.  Exactly what, I can’t say for the moment.  But stay tuned.