As Darryl Mott shared in his [RPG] “Information Digest for the Week of February 3” and Morrus detailed at EN World, in addition to BoardGameGeek, ComicBook.com, Bell of Misplaced Souls, Tanya DePass, Daniel D. Fox, and B. Dave Walters, and extra have shared: Andrews McMeel Publishing, a subsidary of Andrews McMeel Common (AMU), quietly exited RPG publishing on the shut of 2022. The shutdown of AMU’s RPG division is an surprising occasion with ramifications for quite a lot of RPGs and their creators.
Why AMU left RPGs in late 2022/early 2023 is a thriller. At a time of continued RPG progress, when many publishers are reporting great gross sales prompted by the 2023 OGL disaster together with Daniel D. Fox’s personal quantitys for ZWEIHANDER, AMU left the get together. With a catalog of 31 objects out there by way of their DriveThruRPG web page, many based mostly on Daniel D. Fox’s ZWEIHANDER RPG and system, AMU was in place to obtain the great will of disgruntled Dungeons & Dragons followers. Sadly, they made their determination to shutter their RPG division earlier than the OGL disaster was on anybody’s radar.
Andrews McMeel Common was a notable, if new, writer within the tabletop gaming business. They revealed a preferred fantasy line because of Daniel D. Fox’s aforementioned RPG, additionally they held the license to publish just a few indie crowdfunding darlings similar to Into the Mom Lands and Swordfall, although the latter has skilled a troubled manufacturing historical past (right here and the rebuttal). Whereas we won’t know why AMU left RPGs till a historian similar to Shannon Appelcline dissects the topic, we are able to see the fallout.
Andrews McMeel Common
AMU entered the sphere as a writer with a catalog of books, simply not RPGs. They have been identified for his or her collections of humorous newspaper strips and their community built-in them into conventional booksellers, a subject that RPGs have struggled to achieve a everlasting part in. I’ve seen their RPGs in a number of Barnes & Nobles, a nationwide chain that not often carries any RPG past Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. But, ZWEIHANDER RPG was on their cabinets as was Flames of Freedom and extra.
In 2019, AMU bought into RPGs with two legs up on different new entrants. First, they licensed Daniel D. Fox’s ZWEIHANDER RPG. Second, they employed Daniel onto their crew as Government Director of Video games. This positioned AMU to hit to floor working with an Ennie Award successful system and somebody with a background in advertising and marketing that system and RPGs usually.
Nonetheless, by the tip of 2022, Daniel had been launched from AMU, although ZWEIHANDER was not launched with him. Inside two months of that information, it was leaked that AMU was ending the publication of recent RPGs and, most notably, Into the Mom Lands.
AMU was in RPGs for lower than three years, becoming a member of at a excessive water mark within the business’s monetary historical past and exiting throughout a good larger water mark. The concept they entered the RPG enterprise throughout the salad days and left throughout those self same salad days implies that whereas many publishers are seeing great progress, AMU didn’t meet their projections. Not less than, that’s one potential interpretation of their brief RPG enterprise.
One other chance is that the financial components of late 2022 and early 2023 are impacting AMU as a complete. Their enterprise could also be struggling as a result of common malaise of the world financial system and rising rates of interest. With out free money, they might have eradicate some peripheral components to their enterprise so as to higher climate no matter financial horizon their seeing.
Simply as believable as both of these traces of considering is that AMU, like all firms, has restricted assets and so they decided that, whereas RPGs is likely to be worthwhile, different traces of publishing might be extra worthwhile. This line of reasoning is believable when you think about the broader business. Whereas these are nice days for RPG publishers, the incomes from slinging cube don’t examine with different geek publishing similar to board video games, comedian books, and a few components of conventional prose publishing. Whereas RPGs are doing nicely, different points of geekdom are doing even higher and at all times have been. As such, AMU may have exited RPGs to concentrate on extra advantageous segments of nerd tradition.
That begs the query, what’s the fallout of shutting down their RPG division?
The place Does That Go away the Publishers and Creators?
Let’s begin with Andrews McMeel Common.
They don’t have any new RPGs on their schedule. [UPDATED per Daniel D. Fox’s comment below. To Be or Not To Be The Villain and Fever Knights RPG are still coming from AMU.] The writer nonetheless has contracts with many creators. They produced some successful books throughout their run and certain have a backlog of these books of their warehouses. Having books of their warehouses implies that, as they proceed to promote them, the creators can anticipate continued royalty funds (assuming that’s of their contracts). Their might be challenges inside their contracts, it’s unclear if the rights and recordsdata to these RPGs will revert again to the creators or not. That’s the crucial query, will the creators be capable to reclaim their mental properties? That is vital for a lot of causes, however lets have a look at the financials. With out an lively gaming division advocating for reprints of present books, as soon as AMU sells out of their present print run, they’re unlikely to reprint the titles they contracted for. Ending that income stream hurts the creator’s long run funds. As well as, the creator’s choices to broaden on the present mental properties could also be restricted. Each of those components are decided by contracts, so it’s arduous to make certain what their last consequence is since these contracts usually are not public.
Transferring past AMU, let’s speak about Tanya DePass’ Into the Mom Lands. Kickstarted on June 2021, this challenge reached 5,158 backers who pledged $360,606. The crew, together with B. Dave Walters, looked for a publishing associate and introduced AMU as that writer on November 1, 2022. Quick ahead to February 1, 2023, when Tanya shared an replace with the Kickstarter’s backers that AMU will no fulfill their contractual obligations in direction of Into the Mom Lands. Over a span of three months, Tanya was instructed to share the information that AMU was going to publish her guide to 90 days later when the writer deserted them and refused to meet their obligations. That quantity of directional realignment from AMU is worrisome. On the floor, it implies that AMU was both being duplicitous of their dealings or they didn’t have a long run publishing gameplan. Both conclusion is undesirable for AMU as a complete.
As for Tanya DePass and Into The Mom Lands, they’re exploring their post-AMU choices. They’ve paintings, a accomplished manuscript, and an keen fanbase. They deciding on both a brand new writer or going the self-publishing route. I’ve a excessive diploma of confidence that one other writer goes to need that challenge below their emblem as a result of Into The Mom Lands seems to be superior.
Whereas there are different creators impacted by this transfer, let’s discuss in regards to the impression to Daniel D. Fox and his ZWEIHANDER RPG. Earlier than and through his time at AMU, Daniel and crew ran a number of profitable RPG Kickstarters:
- ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous RPG kickstarted on August 2016 reaching 1,265 backers who pledged $61,743.
- MAIN GAUCHE chaos complement for ZWEIHÄNDER Grim & Perilous kickstarted on September 2018 reaching 1,054 backers who pledged $75,171.
- Flames of Freedom RPG: Powered by Zweihander kickstarted on November 2020 reaching 1,090 backers who pledged $68,769.
- Blackbirds RPG kickstarted on October 2021 reaching 1,458 backers who pledged $154,026. Rob Wieland reviewed the RPG right here.
- Zweihander Fantasy Horror RPG Starter Package kickstarted on February 2022 reaching 1,460 backers who pledged $82,119.
He and his crew proved that they have been in a position to join with creators and followers. Regardless of that, AMU’s determination included downsizing Daniel’s place.
Daniel nonetheless has Grim & Perilous Studios, his RPG firm to fall again on till he determines his subsequent step. [UPDATED per Daniel D. Fox’s comment below: “Grim & Perilous Studios was sold to Adam Rose before I joined AMU.”]
He shared extra particulars about his state of affairs on Fb’s ZWEIHANDER RPG web page:
“On Zweihander: AMU will proceed to publish Zweihander for now. Nonetheless, we’re exploring different choices. However there’s extra to come back for the sport line within the very close to future. Work has begun in earnest on REFORGED: the following iteration of Zweihander. Constructing off the Starter Set, it’s going to convey the revised core rulebook in control, embody all-new professions, spells, adventures, and extra. I’m optimistic for the long run, and also you all would be the first to know as soon as I’ve extra information to share.”
When requested a query by a fan about the way forward for ZWEIHANDER RPG, he shared this:
“We’re taking a look at some various choices with a brand new writer, nonetheless. Extra to come back quickly.”
Daniel D. Fox’s remark beneath gives first-hand perception into the place the AMU catalogue stands.
AMU made one of the best determination for AMU. But, their determination isn’t the tip of this story, there are a lot of creators impacted by AMU’s actions, creators that should take care of the repercussions. I discussed Tanya DePass and Daniel D. Fox, however I didn’t contact on Richard Iorio of Flames of Freedom, Ryan Verniere of Blackbirds RPG, or the ocean of different creators. Their work and livelihoods have been altered by AMU’s route. Solely time will inform when their tasks will reappear from a brand new writer.
There’s a small postscript to this text. Regardless of the turmoil with the core recreation’s writer, the video games themselves nonetheless have followers. As Daniel shared on Twitter, “the Zweihander RPG Starter Package has bought an astonishing 884 copies [in January via Amazon].” A type of followers is Mark Meredith, He’s creating an RPG zine by way of Kickstarter’s Zine Quest. It’s an journey set on a frozen mountaintop out there for a number of techniques, together with Zweihander. Publishers change, however the cube roll on.
The Doom of Blackwinter from Cube Monkey
- Finish Date: Wed, March 1 2023 1:00 PM EST.
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