Good day everyone and welcome to the State of the Enterprise 2017.
Before I begin on I want to take a moment to thank everyone that helped make JBE the success it this year and in all the years proceeding. I want to thank my wife who does not want to be talked about much online who supports me in all I do. Thank you to my two editors Kevin and Richard and the many authors and artist whom make all the wonderful products you enjoy. Thank you to all the people at DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and the OpenGamingStore for selling and promoting our books, helping us to get our books into your hands. Thank you to Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Mongoose, and Pelgrane Press for letting us make gaming material for your games. Thank you to everyone that told your friends how awesome our books are. Lastly, thank you to our fans like you for all your support over the years and for sharing our passion. All this we do is for you and for the love of the game; thank you for being apart of that love.
So how have things gone for the past year and where are they going next year? First up, our accomplishments: we finally have a schedule that works for us. We have been releasing 1 product every month since Fall of 2016. This year proved that we can hold that schedule. Some are rather thick like the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium. Some were rather thin like the Book of Magic: 10 Warlock Invocations. Yet we still made it. Why is this a big deal? Because being regular and on time is huge part in showing those that are skeptical that we are reliable and approach our work seriously. Previously we tried releasing 1 product every two weeks, and we simply could not sustain that. Some months we did succeed in releasing 2 products. Those were frequently followed up by months without a single product. Just take a look at the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium. That book was supposed to take 1 year to get all the individual PDFs released. It took 2 years. While the quality of that book was well worth the additional time, it did show that we bit off more than we could chew. We learned from it and the next project like this we do, we will allocate our time better. Hooray for lessons learned!
Another major development with JBE is the creation of our own webstore. I decided it was long past time to invest in the website and gave it an upgrade, including a way to sell our books, both in print and PDF online. If you haven’t downloaded from us directly yet, I invite you to do so with the coupon code “holiday2017” to get 30% off. The coupon code expires on 31 January 2018. So be sure to do that today.
All in all, I have to say that it was a good year for the company. The worst thing that happened to us is that my computer died on me. Even though I had all the data backed up online, temporarily switching to an older system tends to impede workflow. A new computer has been ordered (Acer Aspire Tower with an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, Nvidia 1070, and 16 Gigs of RAM, for all you technophiles out there), but I do not have an estimate on its delivery date yet. With Christmas a week away, I would not be surprised if it arrived next year, but I can hope. My Skyrim and Witcher III games are about to get an upgrade. As we all know, however, even this can’t hold a candle to the graphics in our imaginations.
Traveller remains our favorite science fiction game. It is quick and simple, allowing the GM to focus on the story rather than a bunch of mechanics. That really was what led to the creation of Foreven Worlds: Rusted Fang Station. This was meant for Traveller referees to have a location they could use and incorporate into their own games. Its a small station, meaning the players can take their time to get to know everyone aboard from commander to the maintenance staff. It is a place for legitimate business people can make deals that are on the edge of the law. We really liked this little piece and feedback on it has been great. Expect to see more locations like this in the future. I started working on the next one recently, a Zhodani domed city. “But how can the Zhodani be interesting with all their people mind altered into thinking everything is puppies and unicorns?” That is the exact question we are setting out to answer, and we hope to give you a new perspective on them. Look for that in 2018.
At the time of writing this blogpost the rewrite of the Prelude to War Adventure Path part 3 should be arriving at our door soon. Between edits, artwork, and layout, we are hoping to have it out in the summer. That is one thing we learned for future Adventure Paths: have all the adventures in hand and edited before the first is published. This way, we can release the issues one after the other in rapid succession with only the monthly break in between.
In years past, when I was bored or frustrated and infront of a computer, I would create a Pathfinder monster. In the last few months, I realized that that habit has been replaced by the creation of a Traveller vehicle. As a result, I have a nice little database of Traveller vehicle stats. Sure they all need a description and artwork, but one piece of a nice Traveller vehicle book is well on its way to being made. While such a book is not on the schedule at this point in time, I would not be surprised if it were not created at some point during 2018. Keep your eyes pealed.
My feelings on 13th Age can best be summed up as the Little Game System that Could. It is not our best selling system, but it holds it’s own, and we are happy with it. I always expect Pathfinder and Fifth Edition to dominate sales because they have such a large player base, but because their base is so large they attract an overwhelming number of publishers, giving players more choices than they know what to do with. Smaller games like 13th Age and Traveller have far fewer publishers catering to the players of that game. So it is easier to get a player or GM’s attention.
Our first release for the year was a conversion of Pathfinder races to 13th Age, Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races 2. Giving players more choices in the races they play is something we have done for some time and are glad to do the same for this game. We may do another set of converted races (or even some new ones) next year, but I forsee us focusing on more products like our second release—13 Fighter Talent and Maneuvers. This short supplement is designed with one class in mind and expands players options, allowing a player to customize their character to the player’s unique vision. Supplements for the Wizard, Cleric, and Rogue classes are planned throughout the coming year.
In a number of ways, what happened with Pathfinder happened with 5e but on a much more accelerated pace. Two years ago when I released Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1, it quickly became a smash hit and one of our best selling products that year, if not our best selling product that year. It’s sequel, Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 2 released earlier this year, did not sell at the same pace. The reason for this is simple: increased competition. When Pathfinder was released the number of companies supporting it we’re few, but as time passed that number grew. The same has happened to Fifth Edition, but on a much quicker scale.
The solution to this situation is simple: distinguish yourself in a way your competitors cannot, essentially putting yourself in a market of one. We do have plans to do exactly this but they will not be ready in 2018. We are taking a long view with 5e and will be working to make something amazing for it, something you are going to want to grab the moment it is released and hug it and squeeze it and call it “George.” For next year we have a number of adventures and magic item supplements that GM’s will be sure to want to get their hands on. Who knows, we might even make some more monsters. We’ll see. Expect great things from us in 5e’s future.
For obvious reasons, our best selling product of 2017 was the Big Book of Everything. Have everything bundled up for 90% off and it goes like hot cakes. It does, however, mark the beginning of the end of our Pathfinder support. We are still releasing high level adventures well into next year (and possibly beyond) because GM’s need the help and there are far too few adventures that go up that high. For them, we are glad to help. You can count on us next year.
The first two will be coming out rather quickly. Deadly Delves: 9 Lives for Petane was supposed to be out this month, but my computer dying required me to push it back a month. This 12th-level adventure written by Christen N Sowards of Lost Spheres Publishing has the players trying to figure out which body is the right one to bring back from the dead, and the stakes get worse as time goes on. Deadly Delves: The Dragon’s Dream by Landon Winkler is a 16th-level adventure where the players are asked by a group of psychopomps to travel into the demiplane formed by a dead dragon. Both of these adventures are challenging and fun to boot. If you like running high level games, be sure to check these adventures out.
We do have one other product coming out next year that is not an adventure—the Book of Heroic Races: Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness. When we started designing what would become the Book of Heroic Races Advanced Compendium, we specifically excluded Occult Adventures and Ultimate Intrigue, despite both fans and authors asking to include material from them. We decided against it since we did not want tengu, catfolk, and other early released races excluded merely because of timing. Now that the Advanced Compendium is complete, we have the time and do right by all of the race and create rules for all these races with the classes found in these books plus Ultimate Wilderness, and that is exactly what we are doing.
Sword and Wizardry
With all the good news we have to report, there has to be some bad. Unfortunately, it is with Swords and Wizardry. We decided to convert over an adventure—Book of Heroic Races: Reign of Ruin—to this old school system to test the waters. I set a very low threshold of sales it would have to meet for us to continue to support it. Two months and a 4-Star review from Endzeitgeist later, and it did not make it a third of the way there. Should it get there we’ll talk about more releases, but for the time being all of our old school plans are on hold.
That is all the plans we are able to talk about at this point. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and subscribe to our newsletter to stay current of more previews of upcoming and current products from us and see our regular blog posts through the week. Remember to use coupon code “holiday2017” to get 30% off at the JBE Shop.
Dale McCoy, Jr
Jon Brazer Enterprises