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Author Topic: Packaging and Presentation  (Read 7462 times)
B. Charles Reynolds

Posts: 9

« on: February 21, 2009, 12:27:29 PM »

I'm definitely fishing, here, so please chime in with your opinions.

Lots of us, here, provide or have provided adventure modules for someone else's game (D20 glut?). Lots of us have our own games to publish in competition, real or otherwise, to everyone else's game. I don't pretend to have any real numbers, but it makes sense that a core game is going to out-sell adventures and bolt-on expansions because even players will eventually want a copy of the core rules for whatever their favorite game(s) are.

For someone who want to primarily write and market adventures for somebody else's game (in my case, EABA, due to friendly licensing), how does one push the adventure modules into the player's hands? At the same time, how do you introduce non-gamers to your game products and, consequently, help the core rules publisher at the same time?

I just happen to have a friend who writes short stories, for fun. I write game material, for fun. Does it then stand to reason that a combination novella and adventure module would have better sales appeal than just an adventure module?

If so, how to package it? Print two separate books and shrinkie them together? Put the adventure material in back of the story material? Sell two separate products and offer a lower-priced "combo" deal?

Faster than a speeding slug,
I'm Paraplegic Racehorse
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 2775

« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2009, 01:30:36 PM »

I'm somewhat skeptical as to the benefits of your specific solution. At least it's not firing my buying reflex to get a novella with a rpg adventure. Opposite, actually - I'm a hard core consumer of literature, I'm not interested in a run of the mill novella coupled with an adventure module because neither could be sold alone.

More generally, my own running theory is that appealing adventures for sale need to be written for a game that can benefit from them. I've seen two sorts of solution in this regard: D&D has so much GM prep that it's useful to have it done for you. Many '90s games sold adventures on the strength of the metaplot and setting those adventures revealed to the obsessive audience. Games that don't have one of those going for them haven't usually gained much from adventure modules.

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.

Posts: 936

Kitsune Trickster

« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2009, 02:16:27 PM »

If I were to buy a combo pack of a novella and an adventure module, I'd definitely want the two to be related.

A scene in the novella shows the protagonist getting some vital clues to their storyline. A scene in the adventure has the players providing valuable data to the protagonist...otherwise the two share the same world but never really intersect.

In this way, if the characters are successful, you can even have a "cut scene" where the two storylines intersect. The GM just reads the page from the book.

If the characters are unsuccessful, you can assume that some other team has been successful and has managed to get the clues.

I definitely wouldn't want the adventure to just be a retelling of the novella. It would diminish the impact of both.

Another thing that might interest me in purchasing a module packaged with something else would be an array of really nice maps or other in-game props to reduce preparation time.

Just some thoughts...


A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Seth M. Drebitko

Posts: 318

« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2009, 06:04:04 AM »

  I think the overall idea has merit. I would probably say sell them together to cut down on costs, but separate the material so that players don’t start accidently reading through game prep information. I agree with the above that maps and play aids would be a plus for the entire package.
  My opinion on two ways you can handle the story and adventures would be:
  • Write a story that carefully skirts around a well detailed plot line for an adventure.
    Write a story that will very likely collide consistently with the story but in one of those nifty make your own adventure ways.

For Example the story seems to be going in a direction similar to the story but the gm secretly has preset break away points with moderately detailed hooks to draw the story in a completely fresh direction.
  I would say to give players of the game a reason to buy instead of just one player you could have wedged between gm material and the novella, player aids like items, powers, skills, and classes.
Regards, Seth

MicroLite20 at www.KoboldEnterprise.com
The adventure's just begun!
B. Charles Reynolds

Posts: 9

« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2009, 05:50:44 AM »

Thanks for the responses. After reading Euro's response, I think I am inclined to agree with it.

While the idea may have some merit, ultimately I suppose each type of fiction (novella and rpg-adventure) should be targeted to its own distinct market. People who like one or the other may buy both (after having read and/or played one of them, first) and everyone else simply will not care.

And, for the record, of course the two would be related! It would defeat the purpose to have two unrelated products in the same package. Also, they would either be separate books shrink wrapped or there would be some other clear demarcation between the two if combined into the same book.

Faster than a speeding slug,
I'm Paraplegic Racehorse

Posts: 194

« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2009, 10:11:47 AM »

Here's my take on the subject (being worth what's it's worth) :

I don't think the model of two separate products works fine ; neither product is good enough. Most (if not all) "novels" written to be adapted into "adventures" are not very good (to say the least ; just take at look at the DragonLance serie, for instance). As for "typical modules/adventures", well, I don't think they serve their purposes well.

So, instead of coming with two "disfunctional" products, I would suggest to come with only one that might serve the two purposes (novel and adventures).
This means that this "new" product wouldn't be a novel and neither an adventure. This should be something that anyone can pick up and read and that a DM can use to play.
But how do you acheive this ? I don't know.

I guess many "avenues" are possible there. But, just my opinion, the model of novel/modules hasn't been "revisited" in a while and I don't see any breakthru coming short ...

That said, I'm trying it (with a lot of delay in releasing the product) by using a kind of storyboard. And note that storyboards aren't sold today, but use in many context (movie, comics ...). I've shown my "novel" to some non players and they think it is quite readable ; and players can use them (at least, I do).

Well, I guess I bring you with more questions than answers, but I truly believe this is the way to do it.

Sébastien Pelletier
And you thought plot was in the way ?
Current project Avalanche

Posts: 601

« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2009, 07:26:15 AM »

From a purely packaging perspective - 2 books shrunk wrapped is weaker than 1 book (with two parts). Leaving aside the extra cost of two books versus one (you're paying for binding twice) and that people like to see inside the books they buy before handing over cash - the two books would inevitably be separated. If they then did not totally stand on their own the long term impact of the game is ruined. I'm thinking like a used book seller here. I'd rather have a single book on my self than half of a set - selling singles is HARD.

Combining a book and game doesn't sound like a bad idea - I think interweaving the two together could be very exciting a quite innovative (and hard to do). I'm not certain I'd buy it but I suck as a consumer. I'm at the "I want to get rid of this junk" stage of life rather than the "Cool! Neat stuff! I want it." stage. This kind of product could be sold in either a game or a book store and then have a second life in the used book market. Or course that begs the question of getting into those markets.

A lot of Forge game designers don't aim for that. They sell direct to interested parties. This means the item will have a second life in the used book market someday but not for a long while. The buyers are going to have to get to my stage of llife first.

The real question by my way of thinking is "Is this a project that excites you? And if it is then what else would you be doing if you weren't working on this?"

I'm making boardgames now which involves a lot of cutting cardboard, pasting and shellacing. Over the weekend the thought hit me that if I do this it will not feel like a wasted life to me. Productive and pretty is worthy and if I wasn't doing this I'd probably be watching TV...

Chris Engle
Hamster Press

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
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