August 20th, 2010

The Dark Lemur Business Model

OK, as some of you may know, my partners and I have been working on a line of RPGs for the last two years now. We have yet to commercially release a single product, although the first product is about 90% complete and ready for final formatting and submitting to a publisher.

However, none of us have any experience with this kind of thing (except for making our own homegrown systems, which I think most gamers try at some point). It seems to us that since RPG publishers only make money as long as they're releasing different products (since gamers only need so many copies of any one book), we should have at least three products ready to go before we release the first one. So far it looks like these will be a sci-fi rulebook, a fantasy rulebook, and a fantasy sourcebook (monster manual and DMG rolled into one). Tentatively planned is a superheroes rules set and possibly a horror/supernatural sourcebook.

I have two concerns with this strategy, though:

1) Does this general strategy seem reasonable? The decision has already been made to release the products for free download in .pdf format if we're not able to print anything out of sheer love of gaming. But we would love to make a little money off this project, especially after two years of writing this stuff bit by bit between work, school, church, and family obligations.

2) We're planning to release the sci-fi book first, since my partners and I agree that the RPG market is glutted with fantasy RPGs. But I feel compelled to ask the community: if you could only play one genre for the rest of your life, which would it be: sci-fi/modern, fantasy, horror/supernatural, or something else?
Feeling Vimes-y, Discworld

City Builder - It takes a village to create Arcadia

Previously, kind-hearted people helped to wipe the city of Philadelphia off the map (excepting for the Historic District, which was saved through the sacrifice of Dr. Emile Lasombre). After the Event, a 7 mile diameter sphere of Earth was supplanted by a mineral rich clay, iron, and bedrock along with a super-dense atmosphere that proved to be a powerful Mutagen.

That was 10 years ago. In the intervening decade, businesses and people moved into neighboring Camden NJ (a high-crime, low population area) across the Delaware River. Then, as the area that was Philadelphia was rebuilt into the shining utopia of Arcadia, businesses and population moved back to the former city of brotherly love to take advantage of the new technologies and business, education, and scientific incentives the new city offered, leaving "The Cam" worse off than before, with crime rates the highest in the world and a hulk of a dying city run by a corrupt government.

Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to fill in the missing decade. How did we get from the Event to the Tale of Two Cities?

"The Cam" will require a story of its own, but for the purposes of this exercise we can assume that corrupt elements in Camden took advantage of the Event and opened their doors to any and all businesses and citizens (survivors and those abroad at the time) to relocate. Property was cheap and it looked like the perfect solution. Once everyone was locked in, taxes rose and services fell, and crime grew fat. But we'll flesh out those details in another installment.

As for Arcadia, we have rich soil (already accepting seed and producing growth within weeks of the event), minerals of an otherworldly sort, and a lot of land to build on.

  • The Players - Someone has to rebuild the city

      • Government - FEMA is called in, but what next?
      • Business - Who invests in this new utopia?
      • Science - There is so much to study here, who gets on board?
      • Foriegn Investments - What nations should have a presence?
      • The Villain - What sort of badguy should be invested in this and what secrets has he installed in the City of Tomorrow?
      • The Illuminati - Historic Philly remains and we know Philadelphia had a history with mystics, what of them?

  • Infrastucture - What services exist?

      • Transportation - Maglevs? Smart roadways? The sky is the limit for this model city
      • Education - A new university of Pennsylvania?
      • Communications - Wireless communications for eveyone? Is big brother watching?
      • Public Service - What does the fire department and police department look like?

  • Unaswered Questions - Everything Else

      • Philadelphia - What became of the old city and the citizens?
      • Sophia Lasombre - Her heroic father is gone and a decade later the 10 year old became a 20 year old Doctor. How did she get there?
      • Ghosts of the Past - There are survivors (directly exposed to the Mutagen, I might add) and a historic district that contains mysteries and early American artifacts like the Liberty Bell.