Words from the Wise (Guys)

Copyright Nicholas HM Caldwell © 2006

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion


To the eighty-ninth issue of The Guild Companion.

The Guild Adventurer

Time and again, ICE fans ask for published scenarios to support their favourite role-playing games and settings. They cast envious eyes at the d20 community and the wealth of pre-made adventures and campaigns available to d20 gamers in modules and Dungeon magazine issues.

The Guild Adventurer is intended to fulfil this need as an analogue of Dungeon for the ICE community of fans. The focus of The Guild Adventurer will be wholly on supporting the GM with adventure and adventure-support material. Each instalment will have a Rolemaster scenario (dual-statted for RM2 and RMSS/FRP), a HARP scenario, Shadow World and Spacemaster material, and one or more "Places, People, and Paraphernalia" items.

For the premier instalment, we have an all-star line-up of talent:

I'm personally writing the HARP scenario. This will be a generic fantasy adventure suitable for low to mid-level HARP characters. Like The Defense of Marnockham and Island in the Mist (see the archives), this scenario should be easy to fit into most campaigns.

For our Rolemaster slot, we are hoping to take delivery of a wilderness-based adventure from Mario Butter, who has managed the Silent Tower ICE mailing lists since the dawn of time and has been our HARP editor here at TGC.

For our Spacemaster slot, Robert Defendi, author/designer of the entire Spacemaster: Privateers line to date, has taken time out from his upcoming campaign setting, Echoes of Heaven, to produce a mini-scenario in the Privateers universe, entitled "The Paranoia Game".

We expect to have two "Places, People and Paraphernalia" adventure locations. The first will be "The Flying Toadstool Inn", a rural coaching inn, written by Allen Maher, who contributed five characters to Friends & Rivals and has also been submitting Cyradon scenarios to ICE's HARP Vault. This has already been received; it is statted for HARP. The second will be an urban tavern; this is being written up by Aaron Smalley, author of City of Archendurn, and again will be statted for HARP.

For Shadow World, Terry Amthor himself has generously consented to write an adventure for us set in a ruined temple somewhere in north-east Emer.

Our cartographer will be Joel Lovell, who produced the maps for City of Archendurn and The Toyman's Fair, while Rick Hansen, cover artist for The Toyman's Fair and project artist for Friends & Rivals, has agreed to illustrate The Guild Adventurer.

The 10% Factor

Adventure modules don't sell well.

By their nature, they are targeted at GMs, not players. GMs who have the time to create their own adventures don't need them. Even GMs who want them may decide that a particular adventure does not fit their campaign or their world.

At best, a well-written adventure module can expect to sell perhaps 10% of the number of core rulebooks sold for a game line, and may do much worse than that. Thus if the core rulebook of a fantasy role-playing game sells a few thousand copies (which is hard work for anyone other than Wizards, White Wolf, etc.), an adventure module might sell a few hundred copies.

Which is why there have been no commercially published adventure modules from ICE in a long time. It's an opportunity to lose lots of money, not make it.

The Guild Companion's commercial modules are intended to make money, so that authors, artists, and staffers who work on projects do receive some recompense for their hard work, however modest the financial sums involved. We don't have to worry about budgeting for print runs, but multi-author works such as The Guild Adventurer have to be paid on a per-word basis - royalties on sales would be too complex. At one cent per word, a two-thousand word "Places, People and Paraphernalia" item will cost twenty dollars, a five-thousand word scenario will set us back fifty dollars.

From sales of our existing products, we have the cash reserves to pay for the word count bill just about, but we would be reliant on decent sales to pay for artwork and maps. We certainly would not be able to fund a second instalment of The Guild Adventurer from our reserves for at least a year, maybe longer.

The Ransom Model

Way back in the September 2005 editorial, I described the ransom model as a means of funding projects that would otherwise never happen. A creator or organiser proposes a project and solicits pledges of financial support via a website such as www.fundable.org. Potential patrons pledge money to the project over a defined and finite period of time. If sufficient pledges are received in that time, the donations by credit card or PayPal are duly taken and disbursed to the project organizer who then delivers the fruits of the project to the patrons. If insufficient pledges are received, no money is taken from the patrons and the project is cancelled.

Ransoming the Guild Adventurer

The Guild Adventurer is a risky project for us. The ransom model provides a means to mitigate that risk and determine whether there is a sufficient demand for The Guild Adventurer.

So, once all the submissions are in, I'll tally up the word count and calculate the production cost to create The Guild Adventurer. Then I'll set up a fundable project on www.fundable.org and start the ransom. The intention will be to accept pledges of 2.50 to 3 USD (depending on the production cost) over a 21-day period. While the ransom is underway, we'll crack on with editing, illustrating, map-making and layout.

If sufficient pledges are received, all patrons will receive a coupon that will enable them to buy the final product for a mere dollar from RPGNow. All patrons will also receive a Patronage credit in the final product. Non-patrons will have to buy The Guild Adventurer at its full cover price of 5 USD.

If insufficient pledges are received (but it's a close call in that 90% or more of the ransom is met), then I can call for a vote of the patrons, and the patrons can decide if they wish the project monies to be disbursed.

If the ransom fails by a significant margin, then no one will lose their money, but we will cancel The Guild Adventurer.

That's the plan and we'll kick it off once all the submissions are safely in. I'll be around to discuss any queries you may have about this future ransom or The Guild Adventurer in general both on our own discussion boards and on ICE's forums.

Farewell for now ...

I've a HARP scenario to write and a couple of star maps for HARP SF to produce. We'll be back in August, but until then...

Keep gaming and have fun,
Nicholas HM Caldwell
General Editor for The Guild Companion