B/X Essentials: Downtime

Following on from the announcement of the Post-Apocalyptic book for B/X Essentials, I have another book to announce today:

B/X Essentials: Downtime

Written by Courtney Campbell.

This book is a rules / genre expansion for B/X Essentials that can be used in any fantasy campaign where the group wants to add some more detailed options for the time between adventures.

The traditional Basic/Expert rules largely focus on two things:
  1. Adventuring in dungeons.
  2. Adventuring in the wilderness.
The rules are, however, very sketchy on what characters do in between these two activities, upon returning to the safety of their home town. This book provides loads of options for fun (and profitable!) stuff to do in that period, inspired by Gary Gygax's famous admonishment: “YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT”.

Here's a list of some of the stuff covered:
  • Markets and haggling.
  • Orgies and carousing.
  • City navigation.
  • Locating specialised mercenaries, hirelings, and side-kicks.
  • Optional rules for training.
  • Investments.
  • Arena fights.
  • Theft, crimes, and punishment.
  • Detailed rules for consulting a sage.
  • Gaining influence (political, economic, spiritual, etc).
  • Constructing unique vehicles.
  • Magical labs.
The draft text of the book is finished, and I'll be looking for proofreaders to look over it soon!

B/X Essentials: Post-Apocalyptic Classes and Equipment

As I mentioned recently, there are lots of expansion books planned for the B/X Essentials line. Obviously, a lot of the ideas mentioned in that post are in the state of "planned but purely notional", at present. In this post, however, I want to announce a book that is currently in the works. Without further ado:

B/X Essentials: Post-Apocalyptic Classes and Equipment

Written by Chance Phillips.

This book is a modular replacement for the standard B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment, replacing the classic fantasy classes with new classes inspired by media such as Mad Max, Planet of the Apes, and Tank Girl. Likewise, in place of medieval / fantasy equipment, this book contains rules for guns, mashup vehicles, and salvaged technology.

This book is 100% compatible with the B/X Essentials: Core Rules, and can be slotted in alongside any other B/X Essentials books.

The draft text of the book is almost finished, so play testing will commence soon. Get in touch if you're interested in running some post-apocalyptic adventures with the B/X Essentials rules!

To further whet your whistles, here's a preview of the table of contents:

Character Classes: New classes for post-apocalyptic settings.
  1. Biker
  2. Cardinal
  3. Gladiator
  4. Inventor
  5. Marksman
  6. Monkey
  7. Motorist
  8. Prepper
  9. Soldier
Languages: A brief description of the various languages that are prevalent in different enclaves, as well as the pidgin trade tongue often used by travelers.

Money/Bartering: An explanation of how value and wealth is represented after the collapse of fiat currency, and a system for bartering.

Equipment: A wide selection of firearms, armor, and other gear.

Vehicles: A vehicle creation system and rules for driving in combat.

Mercenaries and Specialists: Listings and stats for the various types of mercenaries and hirelings that players may want to hire.

Wasteland Survival: Rules for surviving the various hazards of the wastelands, from radiation to extreme cold and heat.

Sustainable Necrotic Development

As I announced last week, big things are afoot here at Necrotic Gnome. I'm going to be at the Berlin Brettspiel Con this weekend, with the Quality Beast and Necrotic Gnome crew, and we're already planning for the next con: SPIEL, in October. (And then Dragonmeet in London, after that.) Together with the UK Games Expo in June, that'll be four con appearances for Necrotic Gnome this year! (That's up infinity% from the grand total of zero last year. *)

* Mathematical accuracy not guaranteed.

The other angle that we're exploring (massive thanks to the Quality Beast crew here!) is getting in touch with retailers to get Necrotic Gnome books beyond RPGNow and into shops. This is a big -- and super exciting -- step for me!

All in all, this year is about building things up ready for the next stage: the production of the deluxe B/X Essentials editions, and the Dolmenwood Campaign Book.

To that end, we're looking not only to future products, but also to the current offerings of Necrotic Gnome. As things stand right now, all physical books that we have on sale are produced as print-on-demand (via Lightning Source, via RPGNow). While this model has been a great way to get things going, its limitations are now becoming clear. A couple of examples:
  • Some books have specific physical requirements that are extremely costly via print-on-demand. An example of this is the B/X Essentials books, which I designed to be staple-bound. Unfortunately, this entails using the premium printing process of Lightning Source, which increases the manufacturing costs immensely.
  • Such high manufacturing costs, in turn are an impediment to selling to retailers at a fair discount. The only way to do this currently would be for Necrotic Gnome to sell books to retailers at a significant loss, which is clearly not a sustainable business model!
All things considered, there are a lot of good reasons to move away from print-on-demand. (And that's before we even start talking about production quality!) So we're starting to explore options for producing Necrotic Gnome books via traditional print runs, and all the advantages that will bring.

In the meantime, I'll be adjusting the prices of our books at RPGNow to reflect a more realistic business model. A couple of changes:
  • Some books will go up a little bit (like $1). This is to reflect recent increases in Lightning Source's printing costs. The prices of print-on-demand fluctuate a lot, and tend to increase in jumps, and of course without warning. (This is another good reason to move away from this model, to a more predictable one.)
  • The premium printed books will, unfortunately, see larger price increases. The reason for this is, as explained above, the outrageous production costs of these books via print-on-demand services (things are even worse at Lulu!). Until now, I've been making very little profit from sales of these books, which is something that I didn't mind doing as a hobbyist, but that doesn't make any sense from the perspective of developing a sustainable business. Basically, I'm going to start pricing the premium printed editions of books at premium prices that reflect the costs involved. (Makes some sort of sense, eh?)
Our aim is to find a traditional printer who can manufacture our books for a good price and according to our physical requirements for bindings, etc. We've already sent out our first request for a quote to a printer here in Germany. (If anyone has any advice or leads in this department, please get in touch: summon@necroticgnome.com)

Talking about prices (especially increasing them!) and business models feels a little gauche, honestly, but I want to be transparent about what's going on, the reasons behind it, and what we're aiming towards. Thank you all for your support and understanding in this matter! If you have any questions or advice on any of this, please feel free to contact me.

Necrotic News: Kickstarters, Newsletters, and Quality Beasts

Something has been brewing for a while here over at the Necrotic Gnome tavern*. And today is the time to unleash the news.

The Big News Is...
Necrotic Gnome is undergoing a bio-meld with another Berlin-based indie games publisher, Quality Beast. The aim of this fusion is to increase our pool of resources dedicated to producing amazing, crazy, creepy, and (above all) mossy stuff for your delectation. We have a lot of things in the works: a Necrotic Gnome website, a joint webstore, Necrotic Gnome presence at cons, and -- last but not least -- crowdfunding campaigns! We'll be bringing to life deluxe editions of hotly anticipated Necrotic Gnome products such as the Dolmenwood Campaign Book and the boxed set and all-in-one hardcover editions of B/X Essentials. And who knows… there may even be some plushie moss dwarfs or grimalkin in your fairy-infested future!

Dylan (Head of Game Development at Quality Beast) and I recorded a video at UKGE last month, explaining a bit about the collaboration, the B/X Essentials and Dolmenwood books, and what have planned.

Necrotic Gnome Newsletter...
To kick things off, we're starting a Necrotic Gnome newsletter. We’ll be sending out updates on new products, events, crowdfunding campaigns, opportunities to collaborate, and so on. The first newsletter (coming soon!) will include more details on some of the tidbits mentioned above.

You can sign up at necroticgnome.com.

All For Now!
Thank you all for your support over the years. Without folks like you, Necrotic Gnome would never have left the spawning vat!

* The name "Necrotic Gnome" actually began life in an old campaign of mine as the name of a ratling tavern at the base of a giant trash-heap below a fantasy mega-city.

B/X Essentials: Monsters -- Out Now in PDF!

The long-awaited Monsters book for the B/X Essentials series is out! A completely fresh write-up of all Basic/Expert monsters, in a format optimised for use at the table. Check out the preview!

Here it is at RPGNow!

Illustrations by Andrew Walter, Luka Rejec, Mike Hill, Matthew Ray, Michael Clarke, Alex Mayo, Kyle Latino, Sean Poppe, Tom Kilian.

(Print and plain text editions coming soon!)