State of the Enterprise 2014 Edition
I have done a few meta posts before, but I am going to try to make this a yearly thing. This is not only going to be my thought on how Jon Brazer Enterprises is doing but how I view the industry as a whole, from my chair in New Jersey, at least.
2014 was a real mixed bag in my opinion. In a number of ways, it was an awesome year. I had three Paizo writing credits this year, JBE had a pretty freaking awesome year in terms of sales, and oh yea, a game called Dungeons and Dragons came back and both the GF and I love it. In other ways, 2014 had its hard side as well. JBE pulled out of traditional distribution, 5E still does not have any kind of official license to go with it and then there are the personal hardships that I will not go into here. But as always, we pick ourselves up and we keep going. “You just have to say ‘no, I won’t’ one more time than they can say ‘yes, you will’.” -John Sheridan
As I write this, I just finished uploading our 3rd Deadly Delve adventure. Until recently, I have really resisted adventures because I started roleplaying in systems that did not have much adventures. I mean, sure, I created the Temple of Orcus adventure for Shadowsfall, but that was my first adventure I ever created, and I knew I could do better if I had more experience. But now I am actively writing and hiring writers to create adventures for us and I have to say it is quite a bit of fun. For a while I was getting burned out of Pathfinder. In the 5-1/2 years since Pathfinder’s release, more than 100 companies have published Pathfinder Compatible material (some of them weekly) and that is on top of the 3-ish products/month that Paizo releases themselves. I will be honest, there are times I try to come up with new products and I come up with a blank. This brings us to Deadly Delves. While there are alot of adventures out there, I do believe there is still a considerable amount of room for new stories. So that is why we are focusing on adventures for Pathfinder.
It did not start out that way though. Deadly Delves, when I came up with the idea of doing adventures a year ago, was for 5th Edition, not for Pathfinder. To be completely honest, the original idea was for an adventure path where the players faced off against the 5 different types of chromatic dragons. That specific idea was scrapped when, about a month after, Tyranny of Dragons was announced. But that did not stop Richard Moore from developing the adventure he was working on from completing it. In fact, Reign of Ruin still holds a number of ideas and names from the proto-setting we came up with for the adventures.
Which brings us to the 13th Age version of Reign of Ruin. Both Richard and I like 13th Age. So when it became obvious that a license for D&D 5th edition was not going to be available at launch, he developed the adventure for 13th Age and then converted it over to Pathfinder. We’ve made adjustments to how we develop adventures since then, but I have held off on releasing other 13th Age adventures until we got some feedback on the first. And we did. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive with some constructive input to make it better in the future. Namely: more integration with the 13th Age icons and suggestions for campaign failures. So once we make those adjustments to Rescue from Tyrkaven and others, we will resume releasing adventures for 13th Age.
The other area in Pathfinder we are focusing our energy is in races. Shortly after the release of the Book of Heroic Races Compendium, I started a thread that I thought was going to be a good promoter for the book. Instead it generated about a 1000 ideas for ways to develop playable races that have been largely ignored. Sure, races outside of the core rulebook have gotten some development, but 7 pages in the advanced race guide is hardly noteworthy and 2 pages is just a downright scandal compared to the supplements devoted to core book races. So we are going full bore ahead with the Book of Heroic Races Advanced Series. About half of the drafts have been turned in and we really believe that people that want to play something other than what Tolkien wrote about are going to just love them.
Which makes me think of new races for 13th Age. I mean there is no reason why I can’t adjust these races for this system. Sure, they will each need a new section talking about how they fit in with the icons, or possibly new icons for those that want to ignore elves and dwarves, but being such a rules light system, we can do so much more than what is possible with Pathfinder. For example, races don’t necessarily have to have a humanoid shape. We can have unicorns, pseudodragons, butterflies (tiny gnome-like creatures with butterfly-wings), intelligent wolves, rock people, and so much more. With 13th Age we don’t have to stick to D&D-based games, but can go a whole new direction. The possibilities are endless.
Speaking of D&D, I mentioned that I love the game and that there is still no official license for it. You see, no supplemet is as popular as the first 6 month to a year of the game. Paizo’s two most popular adventure paths are 1) Rise of the Runelords, their first AP and 2) Kingmaker, an adventure path first published 6 months (ending 1 year) after the release of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. That means that we are coming to a point where if Wizards doesn’t release a license for 5th edition or we are going to have to make a decision. Either a) support it through existing OGL material or b) forget about the game entirely. I really hope I don’t have to make that decision, but I do not know I can wait much longer.
To totally change subjects for a moment: Traveller. This company was founded on supporting Traveller and to this day Traveller remains some of our best selling products. Which is why I keep kicking myself for how little support I give the game. It certainly is not for lack of ideas. Developing border words for Foreven produces endless ideas. Adventures are a great idea as well. We even have a few short ones written that are apart of a larger campaign. But we have yet to finish it. We keep working on it when it when we have time. However, time is one of the most rare commodities we have these days. So we will be releasing more Traveller supplements this year, but when is kind of up in the air.
Now here is the real question: what surprises do we have up our sleeves for the year. That’s a good question and we are not totally ready to reveal that just yet, but have no fear, we have surprises coming, some that will be exceptionally amazing. We hope that you will stick with us for the year and enjoy the ride.
Dale McCoy, Jr
President of Jon Brazer Enterprises