Director’s Briefing – January 2018

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Welcome to 2018
Happy New Year to everyone. Welcome to the eightieth Briefing and the first scheduled Briefing of 2018.
My holiday reading this year has been Gail Z Martin’s Chronicles of the Necromancer quartet, a very enjoyable fast-paced fantasy epic of mayhem and magic, with a necromancer (or in the setting a Summoner) as a key hero. I dithered between following up with Elizabeth Moon’s Paladin’s Legacy quintet or Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series (having read the first two quartets but not the Dragon Mage or the Silver Mage sagas). In the end, I decided that I would try Gail Martin’s Ascendant Kingdoms quartet as this would be a different setting again and, when I am writing a fantasy rpg sourcebook on magic, I feel the need to read as widely as possible in fantasy to keep me inspired.
In the cinema, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was enjoyable, Thor:Ragnarok funnier than most “comedy” films, Wonder Woman top superhero flick, but price of place for the year was Star Wars: The Last Jedi. While I gather some fans have been annoyed that various mysteries were not resolved, both my wife and I really enjoyed the latest addition to the Star Wars timeline. It will be very interesting to see how the Solo movie works out and how much (if any) of Brian Daley’s Han Solo trilogy feeds into it.
A retrospective on 2017
As we have done since 2012, let us begin our year with a look back at the previous year. We named 2017 to be the year of balance, where we would be jointly focusing on completion and ensuring that products for the future are commissioned.
2017 saw John Seal undertake a first reconnaissance of UK Games Expo, visiting as an ordinary attendee to get a lie of the land, and in December, the UK team ran a successful stand for the fourth time at the annual Dragonmeet convention. The highlight of the convention year was an ICE presence, thanks to our friends at Pointy Hat Games and a squad of loyal fans, at GenCon 2017. Probably our most effective marketing gambit of the entire year.
Last January, I said that 2017 would be a year where we would try to get Terry to focus in an effort to get two new Shadow World products to completion. This did not work out as expected. However, the observant will have noticed that a small free Shadow World product was released on 1st January 2018 – the protagonists who have been starring in some of Craig John’s fine artwork now have backstories and game stats. Terry also delivered a complete 190-page revised Jaiman manuscript in early December.
For HARP and HARP SF, 2017 saw the release of HARP Folkways by Jonathan Cassie, a wholly new sourcebook to support HARP Fantasy with new races, cultures and professions, as well as a wealth of game-independent material on creating realistic cultures. It also saw the release of HARP A Wedding in Axebridge by Chris Seal, in a new enhanced pdf and softcover edition as our first adventure module product. A veritable army of freelancers have been working on new supplements and adventures for HARP Fantasy and HARP SF – HARP Beyond the Veil (religions and divine magic), HARP Strongholds, HARP Subterfuge, HARP SF Vehicles Compendium, The Poseidon Gambit (sf adventure), Garden of Rain (fantasy adventure), and Caer Glais (fantasy campaign).
2017 was again a very good year for software support. AutoHARP received a new dataset, namely for HARP Folkways, and has been updated to version 2.3.1 (just after Christmas). ERA has continued to receive updates to its base software and new datasets such as ERA Arcane Companion, ERA Fire & Ice, and ERA Creatures.
Creature Law remains stubbornly incomplete and is the disappointment of 2017.
ICE was a frequent entrant on the top 15 publisher listing on RPGNow. OneBookShelf has discontinued the relative ranking facility so I don’t know if we continued to be in the top 2-3% of publishers over the entire year but we remained so during the period when it was possible to check.
2018 is going to be the partitioned year.
At some arbitrary point in the year – and I have no control over when this will be – Jonathan and Joeri will appear in my inbox with Creature Law and say “It’s Done”. At that point, I move onto the critical path for Rolemaster as I commence the Master Edit and Rolemaster will be the most important ICE task that I will be involved in.
Before what we might call the Rolemaster singularity occurs, what can we predict about 2018 (barring disasters)?
In the convention arena, ICE will again have a presence at GenCon, through the auspices of our friends at Pointy Hat Games. If it works for Terry, we will seek to have Terry at GenCon. We will also be at Dragonmeet as traders and undertake a recon-in-force of UK Games Expo.
For Shadow World, we have begun the year with a little present for fans – a free six-page pdf giving the backstory and the Rolemaster stats of the adventurer party who have been appearing in many of our recent Shadow World products. The first major release for 2018 will be the enhanced edition of Jaiman. I have 190 pages from Terry to edit, Charles has some more RMSS stats to create, and there’s some more art to come in, but the hardest part is over in that Terry has finished the draft. Terry is currently shuttling between the Haalkitaine and Emer IV manuscripts. If we are fortunate, then we will have all three products this year, but the goal is at least two new Shadow World products for 2018.
For HARP Fantasy and HARP SF, HARP Bestiary has only thirteen more demon types requiring statting and then we have a fully complete manuscript. So we should expect HARP Bestiary as the definitive big release for HARP this year. The Poseidon Gambit and Garden of Rain are essentially racing each other to see which will be completed first. My suspicion is that Poseidon Gambit will be released first because Joel has the advantage of being able to create his own art (and has been creating some as he has been writing the module). I am making good progress on Something Wicked, Something Wondrous, but whether I bring it to a complete refreshed manuscript before the singularity occurs depends on when the singularity occurs. HARP Beyond the Veil, HARP Strongholds, HARP Subterfuge, HARP SF Vehicles Compendium and Caer Glais are still in varying levels of progress so it would be premature to make plans based on them. That said, Jon Cassie is hopeful that he will have a full draft of Beyond the Veil to submit in a few months. In terms of HARP and HARP SF therefore, our goal is to publish at least three new books in 2018.
I have described HARP Bestiary as being a logjam product with many other products dependent on it. As we made progress on it, we were able to release TGA4 in 2016 and HARP A Wedding in Axebridge in 2017, even though Bestiary was not itself finished. Now that it is virtually there, one of the great dependencies that can be unlocked is the Cyradon setting. Several years ago, I went through the Cyradon main sourcebook and updated all of its chapters except its Bestiary chapter. I also had four adventure modules commissioned – Ruins of Kausur, M for Murder, Enya Lote, and Escort Duty – all of which are complete manuscripts, needing only their monster stats updated in line with HARP Bestiary. We also have Allen Maher’s excellent scenario trilogy in the Vault, which we have permission from Allen to enhance to full module status. Colin, having won his spurs in writing several HARP Bestiary chapters, will be taking the lead in reawakening Cyradon. The goal for Cyradon is to get the base book and the adventure modules ready for release, but we won’t hit the release button until we have multiple products ready to go.
In the software arena, I expect additional datasets and improvements to AutoHARP and ERA. I know for certain that Max is currently hard at work on Treasures datasets for RM Classic and RMSS/FRP.
Until next time
Back to editing and writing before the singularity, and the necessary corporate admin of preparing the 2017 financial data for the company accountant. The next scheduled Briefing will be in February 2018.
Best wishes,
Director, Iron Crown Enterprises Ltd
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