Monday, September 20, 2010

So I'm Not Selling the Boxes Anymore

Sold out.

To repeat, I am holding a few back for Essen next month and Dragonmeet after that.

And certainly many of the vendors listed over on the left still have copies.

But I'm not selling any more copies outside of those two conventions to individuals or resellers.

So I need to really start making decisions about a second printing.

I worry about talking about it because if I say, "Oh, I'm cleaning some stuff up," (as if I'm going to reprint errors, right?) then I risk stopping sales as people will just wait for the "new and improved" version. So I spend 1500€ going to Germany and don't sell any boxes while there, the vendors who are stuck with copies of the original printing won't order any of the second version, and then I'm right and well fucked.

But if I don't talk about it, then I make decisions in a bubble without considering the wishes of the buying public who every once in awhile manages to bring up an issue I never thought of and really need to consider. The final product will be inferior if completed under a veil of secrecy.

So I lose either way, so let's blab about it!

A push into retail is far and away the biggest concern. I can tear up the charts on the internet, so it's time to take that next step. Distribution matters. I'm embarking on an ambitious convention schedule to promote the game and raise awareness with RPG insiders, industry peoples, and the fans. If you're reading this, I've probably got your country penciled in sometime for the next 12 months... whether it survives my wife's "You can't go to that many conventions!" nagging is another matter, but I want to come see you.

So the first question... should the second printing use the same cover or the "censored" cover that I use as this blog's title graphic? Having no boobs on the cover will make it easier to get into retail in the US (doesn't make one flip of difference elsewhere), but if the uncompromising attitude is part of the basic appeal, will I end up screwing myself over? And there will still be nudity inside, and having a bit on the cover communicates that without needing to deface the package with a disclaimer.

And the big question: Book or Box.

If it's a book, what to do with the Tutorial? Sticking it in the front creates this big dead area that people are going to use once and probably never again. Putting it in the back as an appendix just seems odd. Of course there would be no dice, pencil, etc.

If it's a box, it has to be substantially different as the Deluxe Edition is going to remain special and exclusive. You earlier adopters are not going to be slapped in the face by seeing this same thing sold again.

The box makes a tutorial easier because it can be separated from the other content. I love the idea of a full tutorial - in fact I think that games that don't hand-hold new players are incomplete - and having dice makes it complete. RPGs that require yet don't include dice just seem wrong, like electronic gizmos that pull that "batteries not included" BS.

Yes, I just criticized the vast majority of RPGs ever published.

Books have a lower sales tax rate in most of the world. Boxes are more of a proper package for a game. A nice hardcover book is sturdier than a box and the books that would be inside, but people that actually take care of their stuff won't have any problem keeping any format in decent condition, even if it sees a lot of use.

Books are easier to ship... but boxes are just cooler.


(and if it is a book, it'll be a big fancy hardcover - my core product will not be a budget release)

Either way, the next printing will be the same game. There are just 2 rules changes I'm considering at the moment (plus typo correction of course) and those will be fully publicized anyway.

Anyway, right now I'm taking the red pen to the current box. The actual format isn't something that needs to be really decided until it's time for layout...

Tell me your ideas!


  1. Digest/A5 hardback. I'd love to see that. As for the tutorial, stick it at the beginning. If no one looks at it again, so what? Put a little mark on the outside page edge so that when closed, you can clearly see the tutorial section, like Call of Cthulhu did with the core rules in its fifth edition.

    But A5 hardback definitely. I'd love to see an rpg in that format.

  2. As much as I love boxed sets, I probably have to vote hardback. Easier to store and all that. As much as I'd love to get your original box, by the time I have gaming funds again it'll be your reprint that is available.

    I vote uncensored cover. You're still a niche market anyway, so I doubt you'll lose any sales due to it.

  3. If it is a hardcover, it will be A5 size. I don't particularly like larger sized books.

  4. Definitely a hardback. Preserves the uniqueness of the boxed set with all it's cool stuff, but opens up the door to larger print runs, bigger distribution, etc.

    I would just include the rules and magic in a book (or put the tutorial in an appendix).

  5. Second printings don't usually invalidate 1st printings. It's not an edition level change is it?

    Hardcovers are cool but boxes are darned nifty too.

  6. I vote for digest hardback too. Go ahead and include the tutorial. You put a hella lot of work into the whole package, and even if you never reprint the 0e box set, the tutorial is a part of the core product and should be included. I couldn't pony up the cash for the box, but still would love to have the game eventually and when I buy it, I'd hope to find all the parts that the world raved over when you first released it.

    Oh - expose the boobies, Jim. The art is just so great, it should be seen in it's full glory, so to speak. Maybe a slipcover (would that be a nipple slip?) of the edited version, like on mass market paperback novels is a possibility? That'll satisfy the sensibilities of those who can't stand to have exposed boobies on their store shelves. Everyone's happy.

  7. Another vote for a hardcover book. Perhaps think of making it slightly less of a full-frills package like the boxed set (just the rules, magic sections, and selections from the ref and tutorial books).

    I think it would have the advantage of keeping demand high for the big boxed set baby and have a chance of wooing some of your more budget-conscious base of long-time RPG players (who wouldn't need big chunks of the other books anyway).

  8. >>opens up the door to larger print runs, bigger distribution, etc.

    I don't see how book vs box would affect any of this.

    >>wooing some of your more budget-conscious base of long-time RPG players

    If it's a hardcover, it'll be a full-color hardcover which will require a lot of new art - I don't know that it would be MSRP $65 but it's not going to be a budget item.

  9. Honestly, I don’t know if I would’ve bought my copy if it hadn’t been a box. I think having the separate parts as separate parts is just too useful. (And monolithic books are more likely to run afoul of my adult-onset attention-deficit disorder.) Also, one of the things that I think really separated it from the pack was that it held more bits than any other RPG in a box I’d ever bought before.

    Well, not counting the counters in Star Frontiers or Wizard’s original “intro to 3e” box, but—to me—they don’t count anyway. ^_^ Or count against.

    Despite all the hardcovers on my RPG shelves, it’s the saddle-stitched booklets (whether A4 or A5) that I find work best at the table. Then again, people can download the PDF of the basic rules and make their own booklets of that, which is what would be most useful at the table.

  10. Boxed set, no way. I love to know that all I need is in a box, ready to play. Anyway, it should be a game proof box, one that does not worry about slamming in your backpack when you go to play.

  11. And I'm gonna vote for the box. As you say, it's a game, and it does make the whole intro adventure booklet work.

    As for the cover art, yeah, you'll get grief in US retail stores, but really, is that a big deal? Your primary goal was to break into Europe and that box will do that just nicely.

    Finally, how to make it non-Deluxe... My first thought is to take out the dice and pencil and paper, honestly, though maybe leave the dice in. You really need an intro adventure (and TotSG does the job nicely) and you absolutely must have the inspirational reading booklet (not that I'm biased or anything ;p ), so the only place I see for wiggle room is Weird New World (which, honestly, I see as the weakest part of the box).

    Beyond that, what about the box itself? Could you get a cheaper box without the interior printing? Yeah, that was awesome, but if you want something you can keep on shelves in volume, that would be an extra you could easily cut and most folks would be none the wiser.

  12. Anyway, it should be a game proof box, one that does not worry about slamming in your backpack when you go to play. Maybe it should come in a tin lunchbox? ;)

  13. I'd just like to add that I almost bought the box, but in the end decided I didn't want it enough. If it was re-released as an A5 hardback, I'd buy it immediately.

  14. Assuming the 2nd printing is a hardback:

    Have the non-nude art on the cover. Then, when the cover is opened, have the nude art on the very first page.

  15. I say hardcover...although I really love the boxed version. Also, I think Geoffrey has a great idea about putting the edited artwork on the cover and the unedited artwork on the first page.

  16. I bought the PDF version of your game, because I am nostalgic, I love reading rules, but I don't love taking up a lot of space in my life for that particular pursuit. That being said, for the market segment like myself, I think a single volume is more appealing than the box. I say this as a recommendation too based on how much people love the Rules Cyclopedia from TSR for being all-encompassing, too. Having ALREADY bought the PDF, I have to say that if there was a single hardcover version of this game, I'd probably buy it again as a hardcopy in that format. I don't think it's BETTER than the box version for people who play. But for people like me, the volume is much, much better. Enough to get me to buy your game twice, effectively. Do with that what you will. :)

  17. I think it should be a hardcover, with an uncensored cover, and six boobies instead of the single pair!

  18. It's good to see you taking it to the streets so to say. If you're looking at 'local' stores in that manner, Games Plus, in Mount Prospect IL (outside of Chicago), is very popular and carries a wide variety of material including Otherworld Miniatures and other 'OSR' material.

    In terms of introduction and other material, there is this strange yet savage medium called the internet. Put it up for free and even include an adventure, pregenerated characters, etc...

  19. If you release the 2nd print run as a Hardbound go with Geoffrey's suggestion on the cover art, while leaving the tutorial in with all of the rules. However if you decide to release another box, maybe go with a black box with the censored artwork centered on the box with a margin of black on the edges. Then have in white the LotFP logo across the top, with Weird Fantasy Roleplaying along the bottom under the artwork and the upc code on the back with the same info layout as the deluxe edition. Then leave the uncensored art on the referee book.

  20. Book/Box: Why not both? Make it hard bound with one of the covers being a box, or at-least a pocket or clip. I'd prefer box myself, since it would be better for dice.

    Nudity: My country has too many damn prudes. I say "fuck 'em," go with the uncensored.

    Minor details: Whatever you do, you need a contrasting outline for the cover text; It's really hard to read some of it as is.

  21. Hardcover book, no nudity for improved US sales. It's not a game about boobs, don't get too hung up about it - I doubt it drives sales either way. I wouldn't go halfway and stick the nude image on the inside though, either you do something or you don't.

    Or maybe a peel-off "bra" sticker? I joke, I joke...

  22. My first inclination was to suggest a hardback because that's what I would want as someone who already bought a boxed set. But you aren't (or shouldn't) be targeting me for the next printing. If you want to reach new fantasy RPGers, you have to look at your current competition for shelf space.

    At least here in the US if you want to break into mainstream bookstores, you are currently competing directly with two boxed sets aimed at new role players: the WOTC red box and Green Ronin's Dragon Age RPG.

    Speaking from personal experience, I have no interest in 4e, but I at least picked up the red box to take a look. Dragon Age was actually interesting enough that I decided to buy it after giving it a look at a big box bookseller. I probably wouldn't have given it a second glance in amongst the 4e/warhammer/shadowrun forest on my way to the graphic novels, but as a box set it caught my eye and got me to pull it off the shelf for a look.

    So if that's your aim, you'd likely do well to go with the large-format boxed set. The main challenge will be price point, but as you've proved there seems to be demand for a quality product that can differentiate itself.

    If your next step is to penetrate brick-and-mortar FLGS then the format seems less critical since you'll likely have all manner of books and boxed games to compete with and a more targeted audience. In that case, go with the hardback (and I'll seek one out).

  23. I perfer hardcover with Geoffrey's suggestion on art. As for the tutaorial, would it be possible to include it as a seperate softcover book and package it with the hardcover someway? Maybe shrink wrap it someway?

  24. Do an edited hardcover that covers the rules, magic and refereeing. This is the "plain" version, just a book. Then shrinkwrap or fold it into a cardboard sleeve with a tutorial booklet and an introductory adventure or two - perhaps even dice and graph paper, shinkwrap can take that with a proper cardboard support. Give this latter "introductory" set a wrap-around paper slip or some such to differentiate it a bit and make it clear that the shrink-wrap baggage is not some in-store promotion; perhaps even consider printed wrap of some sort as technology allows. Or a sturdy cardboard envelope - lots of options that fall short of an actual box.

    The idea is to maximize the readability and practical usability of your main book, as that's the main property that matters to your core audience; they will love the book more if they feel that the book is sleek and purposeful rather than full of rarely useful intro material. By making the same product available in both "plain" and "introductory" versions you also gain a bit more attention and marketing hook, as the very existence of the same product in two packages proves to the newbie audience (insofar as there is such a thing) that your game definitely is intended for them.

    Hmm... yes, so essentially I'm suggesting a box that is not a box. Separate introductory booklets are not a difficult thing to shrink-wrap, but dice might take some thinking. Probably the most feasible practical way is to slip them into a small cardboard box akin to a matchbox that has the depth and width of the book, and then shrinkwrap it under the book and whatever tutorial booklets you might include. That should be a pretty robust package, and it might even look good - sort of make a pedestal for the book to stand on.

  25. I wouldn't sacrifice any sales for the sake of having the nude version on the cover. The non-nude version is not lame at all because the demoness is still naked.

    It would be lame if she were wearing a bra.

  26. I started with the free download, stepped up to the PDF purchase (I also purchased PDFs of Weird New World and Stargazer) THEN I bought the boxed set which is my best RPG investment since I bought the Chaosium version of RuneQuest in 1980-somthing or other. I tried to get a second copy to preserve the beauty for all time but the store had sold out.

    A reprint certainly wouldn't stop me buying another boxed set.

    As much as I love my boxed set it wouldn't outlast a stitched A5 hardcover. I can live without extra art and certainly do without colour. Horror and Weird IS black and white for me.

    I really believe that the Tutorial book/chapter should be included in any future printing but I'm not sure of the format. I'm not concerned about it being a 'dead' bit of the book I am concerned about not being able to give it to a new recruit to read before the game - could the tutorial be an insert? A free download for legitimate purchasers might be the way to go?

    I gave the tute book to a non-player recently and they were able to come to the table knowing exactly what to expect. I've NEVER seen that before.

    If you went down the 'boxed' path, a non-deluxe edition could include just the 4 books and maybe a DriveThru vouncher for a discount Stargazer?

    I would cover the boobies. I'm a huge fan of boobies but if it might restrict access to potential players, lose the boobies.

    Is one of the rule changes +1 Con bonus for dwarfs?

  27. I'm in agreement with Pat and Geoffrey. If there is a greater chance to generate more income for you and your company by using the censored version of the artwork, then do it.

    However I'll admit that I am a whore for LotFP products. Jim you could put fake dog crap in a box with the LotFP logo on it and I'll buy it.

    Just be ready to sign it if I have the chance to meet you at a Convention.

  28. Hardcover, no caving to prudes on the art. Include the tutorial.

    Not offering a B&W interior softcover version is basically flushing extra money and players down the drain for shits and giggles. I'd reconsider that.

  29. If you're doing print on demand then it's easy to do hard and soft cover or colour and black and white - but if you're printing (and paying the printer) in advance I don't think it's an option.

  30. Regarding extras, how difficult would it be to include them on a CD containing pdfs, perhaps stuck on the inside cover? I believe Ptolus did something similar.

  31. Box...don't care if you sell the same thing to someone else. Its a great set, and if more people can get their hands on it...all the better. Maybe a hardback with the main rules, kind of like the old player's handbooks, with all of the rules in it for them. But if I had to The two sets I got were worth every penny. I bought them for play, and they have been played...

  32. You don't have to do full colour throughout the book, that's a massive waste of money that will, at least, double or triple your printing costs.

    Hardbacks are made up of "signatures", a series of "booklets" bound together to make the final book. Perhaps you could figure out the pages you absolutely need colour on and they can be collated into the signatures. Consult your printer about this.

    I'm really not a fan of colour interiors, I actually prefer black and white line art.

  33. I'm torn on colour interiors. I don't like them, but I understand that they're sort of expected nowadays.

  34. I vote for A5 hard cover with black & white interior art. Definitely include the tutorial. If you want color art in the book, put in a color insert with, say, 8-16 pages of color art. Re-use the individual book covers for this.

    I realize a game sans dice isn't technically a "complete game", but the extra cost of including dice and packaging for those, as well as the larger VAT probably isn't economically viable.

    Eero's idea about packaging the dice in a cardboard "tube" alongside the bottom edge of the book, and putting a cardboard sleeve on the book + dice tube, then shrink-wrapping on the whole thing might be worth looking into.

    My favourite version would probably be a saddle-stitched B5 size black & white interior art softcover book. Would fit so nicely in my messenger bag, I'd probably end up carrying it with me at all times. I already carry dice and pens with e where ever I go.

  35. The box will get you noticed. Its a huge selling point for your target audience. Make the cover sensored. That will get you US shelf space and make the first print run special. Keep everything else in the box.

  36. If the game only used d6s, I’d say the dice were unnecessary. If the game wasn’t intending to be able to serve as an introductory game, I’d say the dice were unnecessary. I think this game, however, ought to come with dice.

    Sure, polyhedrals aren’t hard to get ahold of, but (1) people won’t necessarily know that (or notice it on the package) when they buy it, and (2) you can never have too many dice.

  37. I'm kind of sad I couldn't get a second box...I guess I'll settle for a book - I'm thinking the Tutorial should go in the back with a nice pointer in the intro. ...please hurry.

  38. I loved the box set and thought it was amazing. But I think that a hardback or trade paperback would be a lot easier to get into general circulation and I love the idea of having a well done old school game in print.

  39. Cardboard sleeve with the retail friendly art and the hardback book with the original art. Cardboard sleeve contains the extras - the tutorial, an adventure, character sheets, etc.

    Dice? I see your point. I love me some cardboard sleeves though. You could at least mention that the game requires dice (and the type) and that they are available at the same store they are purchasing the game at.

  40. 1. Book over box
    2. Original art over edited art, or if you're concerned with nitpickery than just use censored art throughout. Once you make a choice to censor yourself, stick with it.
    3. Lamentations Dice Set (sold seperately!)


  41. If you go with a book, how about including a voucher to claim a set of dice? Then it's included, but also not included, as it were.

  42. Box set with the same art...put a "oh noes, bewbies" strip of paper around it if needed for the US.

    And I say that as someone:

    1. In the US
    2. Thinks stuff in the US is often too racey when it doesn't need to be.

    Difference is, this needs to's part of the game's attitude.

  43. If you made more boxed sets I would buy more boxed sets. I don't think I'm the only one.

  44. Print both covers and leave the choice up to the merchants. Booksellers routinely choose between different presentations, materials, formats, etc., of the same title.

    A printed primer is a lousy idea, especially in a hard cover. Newbs won't own the $60 book. DMs can ask new players to run through the online primer before Saturday's game.

    If you have the dough you could hire a Scott McLeod-like comic artist and storyboard it (in colour).

  45. Ok, I'm late, but I'll shoot anyway:

    1. Digest/A5 hardcover

    2. B/W interior with probably colour plates (like the first printing of the first edition of Warhammer FRP) (and while we're at it, I'd use a paper stock that is similar to that edition as well - a voluminous, yellow-ish, rough paper).
    Harmonize the layout - no differing chapter borders (like in the Magic and Referee booklets).

    3. Leave out Weird New World.

    4.a If possible, include the Tutorial as a separate booklet, if necessary using a thinner paper stock and slightly smaller than digest/A5), and just tuck it into the flyleaf of the hardcover.
    If it's a separate book a customer can give it away (to a new player or a relative/friend), and you could use it as a freebie at conventions.

    4.b If putting the booklet into the hardcover mangles the book too much: Print a three-panel DM screen with joints the width of the book spine plus the thickness of the Tutorial (making it a five-panel screen with two very small "panels" linking the three main panels) and wrap the book and the booklet in it. (Problem: you need to shrinkwrap this package, and the info on the back cover is not visible anymore as long as you don't include a sheet with the blurb and barcode, making the whole thing as expensive as a box.)
    One benefit of that screen is that you could use the boob-less art on the sales-"cover" (the screen), and the original art on the hardcover itself. Make sure that the main art and logo is on the middle panel.


    The dice-in-a-small-box solution is a "trap". If you include dice with a book it is not a book anymore, VAT-wise (at least in some countries). You lose the biggest advantage of the book format.