November 2nd, 2001


Aeon Adventure!

Adventure!I don't think Adventure has gotten much press since it's been out--it's kind of passed unnoticed in Exalted's shadow--but it's a good one. You take on the role of an adventurer in the pulp period ('20s-30s) of the Aeon universe. I've found it to be a whole lot of fun in the sessions I've played.

There's a YahooGroups mailing list for the game with a lot of useful file and bookmark resources, too. Anyone else played this one yet?
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Adventure Followup -- Combat System, Series, & No-Sourcebook Rumor Control

Following up to some of the comments that proceeded my last post:

Well, first off, because it'll take less time to cover than what I talk about in the rest of this post...Adventure is the only WW game I've ever really played, so I don't know exactly how it compares to other games. But the task resolution system is much streamlined over WoD games, from what I've heard--you only have to worry about one target number, 7, no matter how many dice you roll. And I seem to recall that combat may also have seen some adjustments. Anyway, I've played in several games on-line, where combat is even more a hassle than it is in around-the-table gaming--and all the fights have gone reasonably quickly compared to some other systems'.

And as for pulp not lending itself to long series...did you know that there were over 180 Doc Savage novels, and over 250 Shadow books? And the Shadow radio show ran for something like twenty years? :)

And now, the main thrust of my post. The "but...but there's not gonna be any sourcebooks!" cry has been floating around for a long time, and for a great deal of distance. I'm always a little surprise, though I guess I shouldn't be, that whenever I bring up Adventure somewhere new, that's invariably the first thing I hear about it: "I heard there weren't gonna be any sourcebooks--so why should I buy a standalone game?"

Bad news and overblown rumors have a way of outdistancing the good news and the truth (if we're ever going to reach the stars, forget Isaac Asimov's "thiotimoline," we need to build a rumor overdrive with a warp-the-truth core!) White Wolf has never said there won't be any supplements--they just didn't say for sure that there would.

According to the game's developers, Bruce Baugh and Andrew Bates (both of whom subscribe to that YahooGroups mailing list mentioned in the prior post), this game is being released to test the wind--if it sells well, there will be supplements. Since, historically, there has almost never been a pulp game that sold that well, and RPG publishing is now a niche industry with a very, very thin profit margin, White Wolf has to be cautious and not overcommit itself when they seriously don't know how well it's going to do. They've done other test-release books in the past the same way, like Vampire: The Dark Ages and Mummy, both of which, IIRC, are now in line for supplements. And both Bruce and Andrew have said they'd like to do them, and there are an awful lot of writers (including most or all of those who worked on the first book) hankering for a piece of that as well.

Quoting Bruce Baugh's rumor-control post of August 11th:
This is Rumor Control. Folks have my explicit permission to quote this message in its entirety, with attribution, whenever the subject comes up.

Adventure is a stand-alone core rulebook. We are not at this time working on follow-up volumes.

This is not to say that there will necessarily be no follow-up. White Wolf has a history of releasing promising but iffy projects as stand-alone books, and supporting them when sales warrant. Vampire: The Dark Ages was one such. Kindred Of The East is another. Both now have regular development and support - indeed, V:DA is going to get a new edition next year. Mummy: The Resurrection is a third such stand-alone project, from just a few months ago, and will get support if sustained sales warrant it.

Adventure is in that same situation. Everyone who worked on it would be glad to do more, and we have a rather tremendously long list of folks who'd like to work on supplements. What we don't know right now is whether enough people are actually going to buy the game to make supplements anything other than excuse to throw money and effort down a hole.

There are several kinds of game book that gamers often say they want but do not buy in very good quantities when someone actually publishes them. Pulp is one of them. White Wolf management takes the eminently sensible stance that we should see if this time people will buy the thing.

I've seen complaints about White Wolf "not caring" about Adventure, and similar such remarks. I want to object to these in the strongest possible terms. White Wolf provided the wherewithal for Andrew Bates and me to hire pretty much all the authors we wanted - the real problem was in selecting from those we wanted to work with, not in scrounging around for marginal talent. As you've all had the opportunity to see from the promotional material, the production department has given us great-looking and wonderfully appropriate presentation, with very fine art. In addition, White Wolf paid for work from Warren Ellis, one of the best-selling writers in comics today and the man who's probably more directly responsible than any other single person for the current popularity of pulp among gamers and comics readers.

If White Wolf seriously didn't care, management wouldn't have okayed Adventure at all. It would have been cancelled, or indefinitely postponed. Instead, we've got a first-rate volume that I'm extremely proud of, and the chance to see whether it's commercially viable as anything beyond a one-shot.

Lots of worthy projects don't get that kind of treatment from game companies. We've got it good. So do you, because we were able to do our best work on it.

What comes next? That's something we don't yet know. The initial response to Adventure has been (to put it mildly) gratifying, but then so far it's from people we can expect to be fans, less than representative at the market at large. Soon the book will be out there for general audiences - I write this as it's moving from White Wolf's warehouse to distributors - and then we'll see.

Whatever happens, you've got this most excellent book. If enough folks agree that it's wonderful and demonstrate their enthusiasm at the cash register, then we'll do our best to give you more good work. If not, we've provided you something that stands well on its own terms.
And quoting an October 31 message in a more recent thread on the same subject:
Just to clarify:

Writing to WW at this point and saying "I'd really like supplements" does not in fact do much good. We already know that early purchasers are keen on the game and want follow-up - Andrew and I know it, the authors know it, the production people (and, I assume, the artists) know it. This is very clear to us, and (I think) to management. The response is overwhelmingly favorable.

What management wants to know now is what the game's long-term sales will be like. And the only way to know that is for time to go by and more sales data to come in. Introducing friends to the game therefore helps. But really, we're all waiting here for a while.

When there's news, rest assured, we'll give it to you.

(On the side, I will note that participation on this list does help some. I've never seen a game list grow so fast, or garner such fun and constructive traffic with so many active participants so early on. This helps in showing that it's not just six guys out there who like the game, but a fairly wide constituency. So that's all good.)
So there you have it.
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