Thursday, October 30, 2008

Riding the Line

There’s a great movie with Charlton Heston in it called Will Penny. If you’ve never seen it you should check it out some time. It’s basically about a old cowboy whose job is to ride the line and repair and fix fences that have fallen. Along the way he has several adventures and a few shoot outs. Very good stuff all told.

With that in mind its time to repair a few fences here at TLG. We’ve been very busy since Gencon and I’ve not had time to keep up with the message board or this blog as I should. Our schedule has been turned upside down, Crusader has gone monthly and my box maker had a near brush with fiscal collapse which directly impacted our new game marketing approach. Couple all this with normal day to day grind, some burn out on my end and various and other sundries and your left with a fence that needs some fixing.

So let me be my own Will Penny. There’s good and bad coming down the pipe. Lets start with the bad as well, its bad, and its best to take one’s medicine before the ice cream.

Gygax Games has withdrawn all licenses from Troll Lord Games. This includes Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds, Gord the Rogue, King of England King of France, C&C Adventures as well as Castle Zagyg. This is a note from Gail:

“A fond farewell from Gail Gygax:

I want to thank all at Troll Lord Games for the joy, laughter, and support they gave my late husband these past eight years. Many of you are wondering what is in store for various worlds created by Gary. To that end, I have, with TLG’s good wishes and blessings, embarked on a new journey.

Gygax Games will now take up the mantle as the vehicle for the continuation of Gary’s unfinished works, plus the Lejendary Adventure™, Castle Zagyg™, and Gygaxian™ Fantasy Worlds product lines. There are lots of fun surprises ahead!

This does not preclude Gygax Games from working the Troll Lord Games and I hope to do so in the future. To that end, I look forward to seeing everyone in Lake Geneva in the summer of 2009 for the convention!

So to Steve, Davis, Mark and Peter – I thank you.”


I cannot really comment on the whys and wherefores of this decision. Obviously TLG had planned on publishing Gary’s material for several years to come, but this is not to be. TLG and Gary had a great run I think, and I personally am very proud of our achievements and still marvel at what we, Gary and the TLG crew, managed to do in the past eight years. On a personal note working with Gary was always a pleasure and I looked forward to his emails, sitting on his front porch, having a smoke and chatting the world away. He was a good friend to me and I’ll always remember the first toast we made in the Old Town Serbian CafĂ©. Here’s to you Gary!

So now what for TLG?

First we finish the last two projects we are working on for Gary and tie up the rest of the loose ends. Upper Works is still being produced and sold through TLG. We’ll ship a limited number of copies into distribution on the 13th of November. We will continue to sell them through our website. They will not be available on Amazon as the time to get it entered and the trouble it takes to remove items is too much and our number of copies that we can sell is too limited. The reason we have not released this into distribution is we keep selling into our distribution copies. I have to ship a minimum to meet demand or ship none at all. This plays into our Box maker which I’ll get to shortly. The second items of Gary’s we are wrapping up is the series of articles How it all Happened. These we’ll finish in Crusader 13 which should ship out this week or early next.

Once these two items are done we’ll have only the back stock on existing GFW titles and Gord to move or sell.

Everything has to be moved out by December 31, 2008.

So what’s next for TLG. With the removal of so many titles from the roster, about 20 or so, what does that do to our schedule? Obviously it negatively impacts it in the short run as we have to fill in the many holes. This isn’t such a bad thing. Its allowing me to move all manner of projects up on the table that really just considered before as Gary’s material was more important.

Much of what is coming is retooling from products to personal. Here’s what we have:

Up first our some personnel issues. Todd gray actually came back to work for us, picking up bi-line work with me on several of my projects. Of that I’m very happy, Todd and I work well together so hopefully we can pick up some of the old magic and make some sweet books like Heart of Glass and Winter Runes. Mac Golden has come out of hiding with a load of magic items and monsters for the upcoming M&T 2 and M&T of Aihrde. James M. Ward has offered all manner of assistance and with the soon to be released Towers of Adventure we are happy to oblige him. And of course Casey Christofferson, Casey Cannfield, Robert Doyel and Mike Stewart have all jumped forward with various projects and offers of assistance. Presently I have these writers on several scatter shot projects, work here and work there. Much of it to fill areas in projects now removed from the schedule. In the coming days I’m going to email each one of them personally and discuss their strengths and weaknesses and give them projects that will prove mutually beneficial.

Up next is the projects:

First up is the C&C game. I am a little stunned to announce that the 4th printing is upon us! Suddenly I find myself with only a 3 month supply of Players Handbooks and surprisingly a 3 month supply of Monsters & Treasures, 5 months at the outset. Peter and I will begin working on the layout today as he has finished up Arms and Armor and I’ve managed to wrap up some of my paper work that has been outstanding for several months. Once done we’ll be able to recharge the whole line. It won’t be anything tremendously different, but I am investigating looking into a few new format approaches. More on that as it comes to me. These new printings will coincide with the release of the CKG and the new hardback book by Mike Stewart and Casey Cannfield: Halls of Adventure. All this in early 2009. There may be some price increases but we’ll have to see how that goes. I hate to raise prices in a coming recession, but we’ll see.

All the scheduling issues have allowed us to bring a project we’ve long cherished back to the fore, the re-release of Ernie and Luke Gygax’s The Lost City of Gaxmoor. This project has sat on a back burner for a long time and we planned to couple it with other projects, but now we can give it the full attention it deserves. In some ways this if full circle for us as Gaxmoor came out before even any of Gary’s projects. I’ve talked to both Luke and Ernie and there is even a chance we’ll see more from them in the future. Peter has already started on the maps (remember peter likes to work on LOTS of things at the same time).

Beyond this we intend to grow the C&C line tremendously. Monsters and Treasure 2 by Robert Doyel and other writers is well under way as it Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde. We are going to couple these with more Siege Gear books in the same style as Engineering Dungeons and the soon to be released Arms and Armor. There is a great deal of room to grow the C&C brand and with you continued support and help we will do it. 2009 should be a very exciting year for all this.

The Siege Engine games are moving along as well. These items have been stalled for a very long time as we worked out the logistics of how to bring them to the public. We discovered this in the box making talents of good sir Partrick Nehan of Diamond State Specialty Box company. By controlling costs and working with TLG, DS gave us a golden opportunity to bring box set games to market. With this we able to release Starsiege and make plans for Victorious, Harvesters and Pulp Siege. All these are in the schedule and set for a quarterly release beginning next year.

A hitch was thrown into our long term plans as well as the release of Upper Works in August/September. Diamond State suffered some serious problems (clients failing to pay and one major injury) from which we were not certain if they could recover. This impacted our production of the Upper Works boxes as well as Towers of Adventure. I could have jumped ship on Patrick and found another box maker, but it didn’t seem right. Patrick had given me great prices and service in the past (if you own HOMP, LA Essentials you have his handy work) and we had a well laid out plan for the future. So I decided to brave the storm and stick with him to see if he could pull his business out of the slump. It was probably not the best business move, but if any of you know me well, you know loyalty is a word with meaning. “I’d rather die blind and ragged” . . . . And yes this meant the delay of Upper Work’s release to the general market and for the fans and retailers who are eagerly waiting for this, I apologize, but I stand by my decision to wait for Patrick to recover.

And it seems that DS has managed to recover and is back in business, if much reduced from 5 months ago. They are producing more Upper Works boxes as we speak to cover the shortage mentioned earlier. As well as that we are laying out the next box set for them. So wish them luck and if you’re inclined send a short prayer. They’ve had a rough ride.

There’s lots of work to do here at TLG. The C&C game hasn’t even entered a complete stage yet as the CKG isn’t finished. Tons of supplements, monsters, game aids and adventures are waiting for the light of day and need developing. There’s much to do and we’ve got to get to doing it. Siege Engine is on the cusp of being born and we are working on a Swords and Sorcery brand as well.

So I leave you all this information to digest, certain that I’ve raised many questions and not answered many more. But rest assured TLG is adjusting to these latest developments (remember I’ve had some time to adjust to them personally) and will move forward as we always do, but for now I've a little more fence to ride.

Thanks for playing,
Steve

Ps: I’ve only just discovered the Trailer Park Boys. Oh my lord. Best show I’ve seen in a long time. Its actually begun to impact my work schedule!! Check it out if you have time.

5 comments:

derek said...

For those of us not intimately familiar, can you specify exactly which items are going to be unavailable going forward?

Matt Finch said...

Kudos for sticking with your supplier. Loyalty is a rare commodity, and you're to be commended for it (you might have some fans disgruntled by the delay, but on balance I'd still say it was a decision to be proud of).
Matt

Akrasia said...

Sad news about the end of the CZ line.

On a happier note: "Trailer Park Boys" is one of Canada's greatest cultural achievements. Enjoy!

Zachary The First said...

Best of luck to you guys going forward, Steve.

Jerm said...

sad news.
I will support TLG and buy your stuff.
I don't know if I ever will buy GG stuff as I don't like the way they do business.
For me it looks as they want as much money as possible and they don't want to share it with those who helped make the great games like CZ.

Gary chose TLG for a reason. GG seems to me to be saying: "Thanks for bringing Gary's games back in the spotlight, here's a kick in the butt".

TLG forever.