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State of the Mongoose 2008 report posted

December 1st, 2008: Allan Sugarbaker says...
State of the Mongoose 2008 report posted

Still a significant publisher in tabletop gaming, Mongoose Publishing has just given its fans a status update in the form of its annual State of the Mongoose report (also copied below). Points of interest include plans for Hammers Slammers, a full color Traveller-powered game based on David Drake’s classic sci-fi series; a 25th Anniversary edition of Paranoia; the end of the Babylon 5 line and license; new supplements for Wraith Recon; a multiplayer Lone Wolf gamebook; and plenty more. Add in an overview of what Mongoose went through in its (ultimately failed) attempt to set up its own printing facility, and I’d say the current state of the Mongoose is “surly and determined”.

Mongoose Publishing forum announcement follows:

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:30 am Post subject: State of the Mongoose 2008

Another year has passed, and so quickly! As the evenings grow longer, and the nights become colder, it seems the proper time to take a step back and review the Mongoose, to see where we have come from, and speculate on our plans for the future. This is the State of the Mongoose. . .

The Industry and Market
Tales of woe have been much quieter this year, with less prophets of doom coming forth to proclaim the end of hobby gaming. The recent financial crisis has got tongues twittering, but people seem to be coming down neatly on both sides of the fence – things will clearly get a lot tighter for many, but hobby gaming has a habit of surviving economic hardship. Take a look at the recent rise of plastic miniatures for historical gaming. Some of these companies are actually producing them in the UK (generally regarded as the most expensive place in the world to do plastics), but the price tag has been kept very reasonable – and these are selling in large numbers.

A lot will come of how individual companies manage themselves. 2009 may not necessarily be the year where large and ambitious projects are rolled out, at least not without a great deal of financial security being put in place first.

At the moment, it is swings and roundabouts, as they say. As you would have heard, Wizkids is no longer with us (though we believe its games will come back soon enough), and the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons has not blown the doors off in the way the last did. On the other hand, in our side of the park, Traveller has done incredibly well, and many smaller publishers are reporting good gains as well. In a recent discussion on an industry mailing list, a set of criteria was put forward as to what made a top tier RPG company, and it was ventured that only two companies made the grade – as it happened, quite a few companies met the criteria!

You may see a handful of companies run into problems in 2009, but to balance that you will also see other companies take advantage of their issues, one way or another. You will also see the launch of new companies, and likely more than just a handful.

For our part, we’ll be nearly doubling in size, in terms of staff members, over the next year – so, if you ever wanted to make a living in the hobby games trade, keep your eyes peeled on our web site for vacancies!

The Past Year
Interesting times, as the Chinese say. A bit of a roller-coaster, from some perspectives.

For the last six-odd months of 2007, Mongoose had built and run its own printing facility, with all equipment supplied to us from a company that perhaps best remains nameless. Let’s call them Company X. We had all sorts of commitments from Company X, and things started off relatively well between us.

What followed was a very long and sordid tale that could fill up the whole State of the Mongoose. The gist of it is that equipment supplied was wrongly specified, and a great many promises to rectify the problem were broken.

This all led to the now well-known problems of books with loose leafs, bendy covers, and so on. For a publisher, this is about as serious a problem as you can get because, of course, people start mistrusting your books. We were replacing bad copies as quickly as we could, but that just had a knock on effect on basic production, slowing the whole process down further and delaying the release of new books. This couldn’t go on.

It didn’t.

In the second week of 2008, the decision was made to pull the plug on the printing facility and outsource the production of books once more. By doing this, Mongoose had an immediate 180 degree turn. Books started moving out, sales started rising again – the effect was almost uncanny. . .

That is the short version of what happened and, of course, there was a great deal more to it than that. For example, the decision had to be made as to whether to take legal action against Company X. After hearing it would take at least eighteen months and cost high five figures with absolutely no guarantee of success, we reluctantly decided not to. Frankly, we were just as happy to go back to actually running the business.

There were also aspects of miniatures production we were not happy with (which I’ll come back to later), and so we mothballed our casting facility and cut miniatures production loose, with the intention of returning in 2009.

In all, not a happy time for a few months, then. With hindsight, things at the time looked a lot blacker than they were, but is troubles like this that keep you honest, as they say. . .

On the other hand, all of this was not complete doom and gloom, by any means. Much of the printing machinery we had purchased was sold for little or no loss. The two big printers we still have and will be in service next year for a project that will be eminently suited to them. More importantly, we learned more about book production in those six-odd months than we had in the past seven years! This has made us a formidable force when it comes to negotiating with printers.

The printing facility was something we had to try, really, and it is a shame it did not work out. Perhaps we will try it again in a few years when technology has moved on a little further. However, the overall effect is that Mongoose’s book production is now more efficient than it has ever been.

Moving Ahead
So, that is what happened in the first two or three months of 2008, and they were certainly ‘interesting’. However, we were given a major boost by three things happening within a few short months. First, the switch to third party printers. Second, the closing sale of A Call to Arms miniatures – we had expected a few hundred orders to come in, but instead we had thousand upon thousand upon thousand! Finally, Traveller was released, and immediately rocketed beyond all expectations.

These three things immediately headed off any financial fallout from the ex-printing facility, and allowed us to once again stride ahead. The rest of 2008 has been spent bringing our production schedule back into synch with the release schedule (which is why release dates have been a little shaky for some books this year), and preparing our plans for 2009.

Beginning the Rebellion
Next in 2008, the Rebellion Group came knocking. Rebellion, the largest independent computer games developer in Europe and owner of the 2000AD comic range, is a company we have always had a very close relationship with. We first approached them in 2001 for the licence to produce the Judge Dredd roleplaying game (our first licensed product!), and found them very easy to work with, sharing many of the same views and goals for our respective companies. Throughout the next few years, we had discussed the subject of Mongoose moving closer to the Rebellion Group and this year, they made us an offer we could not refuse (without any horse heads involved).

While on the outside this may seem simple enough, perhaps even to be following current fashions (after all, White Wolf moved over to another computer games company), for us it is a Big Thing. All of a sudden we became a roleplaying company with access to all the resources (financial and otherwise) of a much, much larger organisation. So, what does that mean?

Well, for a start, it suddenly meant that we could consider not just licensing various properties, but actually buying them outright. Or if not the properties, then the companies that owned them. No more licence fees, no more lengthy approval processes. Those properties could then be fed throughout the rest of the Rebellion Group, where they could potentially be turned into comics, novels. . . even computer games. Watch for some interesting developments here. Many plans are already afoot.

Another factor was that the Rebellion Group has a centralised accounts system. By integrating Mongoose’s own accounts into that, we are immediately freed from a metric ton of admin and left to be able to. . . well, run the company (and this is no little thing – ask anyone running their own RPG company what their least favourite job is, and I think you’ll hear nine out of ten say they never wanted to become accountants!).

The Rebellion Group is also keen to integrate other aspects of their companies together so, for example, before we came along, Rebellion had no permanent presence in the US, whereas we have an office and warehouse – so, it makes sense for us to look at distributing their products in America. By the same token, our experience with sales of electronic publications is much greater. Each new string added to Mongoose’s bow makes us stronger and wider-reaching.

And all of this is before we get to the use of Rebellion’s properties (such as Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog) and 2000AD’s artists (Wraith Recon features their first work for us). Right now, one of their artists is currently working on concept art for Aslan in Traveller and a new type of vehicle for a forthcoming miniatures game. Expect lusciousness.

It will take some time to fully move into the Rebellion Group and make sure everything is working as it should, but all of these extra projects are safely ring-fenced away from Mongoose’s core business, meaning they will not cause any interruption to the production and publishing of great games. Instead, this will prove to be a massive boost.

2009 and Beyond
Throughout 2008, the one thing we heard from our customers over and again was the desire for more hardbacks and more colour in our books! Your wish being our command, we have duly converted many of our 2009 release to both hardback and colour. From now on, there will be no more ‘fat’ softbacks from us, nor any ‘thin’ hardbacks. Any book of a certain size (around 200-odd pages) will automatically be made into a hardback, whereas anything smaller will stay soft. As for colour, well, we’ll cover that a little later. . .

Another big jump we have made but whose effects will not really appear until the end of the year, is that we have changed the processes involved in creating a book. Until now, we have had a single person taking a book through the editorial, art and layout process – this has certain advantages, in that there is one single resource (or should that be asset? I digress. . .) that knows the material thoroughly which is good for matching art to text, preparing previews, assigning supplements, etc. However, as we pick editors for their grasp of the English language, we have always felt our books lacked a little visual flair. We have now changed this by bringing in a dedicated layout and design specialist, Will, who as I type this, is already hard at work making his presence felt in our books. Look for some quite spiffy design changes throughout 2009 as he stretches his legs.

Another thing that we have been working on throughout this year which will bear fruit in 2009 is the revision of procedures that are followed in the production and publication of books. Two years ago (before we started mucking around with book production, natch) Mongoose had an extremely good reputation for not only releasing books in the month we said we would, but releasing them on the exact day. It got to the point where we could give a release date six months ahead, and be 96% sure that we would hit it, with only a small number of titles meeting inevitable and unexpected delays. As we roll into 2009, you will find our release schedule becoming solid once more, and we expect to be able to bring back release days (as opposed to release months) towards the end of the year.

A project that has been taking up a lot of my own time recently will prove to be a big shift in the way we are able to handle customers. In a nutshell, a new mail order system is being created, that is all singing, all dancing. A dedicated warehouse is being set up here in the UK, to mirror our facility in Ohio, and a comprehensive software suite is being created to smoothly handle all orders from our web site, funnelling the information down to our warehouse staff, and allowing us to turn around all orders within 24 hours (to be fair, we are pretty close to that already, but this will cement things nicely).

There is more to the system than that, however. From our point of view, a great deal of the administration tied to mail orders will be completely automated (for example, information needed for our accounts is currently being entered manually – a laborious process). This, in turn, allows us to do more for you, the customer. We will be instituting blanket postage/shipping charges, with free postage for our best customers. We will also be handling a lot more than just RPGs and miniatures, but more on that at a later date.

All of this, of course, requires an actual warehouse, and that means new premises for Mongoose! Mongoose HQ will be moving within a few months to a new set of offices that will include the warehouse and. . . a dedicated events centre! There will be 3,000-odd square feet full of gaming goodness, complete with a planned bar, all suitably themed to provide the right ambience for your games. Expect a lot more tournaments, open days and other events in 2009.

Now, to the part I know you have all been waiting for (if, indeed, you have not already skipped all the previous text!). Specific plans for our game lines next year. . .

Traveller
Traveller left the stable at a straight gallop, surpassing all expectations. The classic feel, in terms of both look and content, hit a strong nerve, and won many converts, both among the Old Guard and new blood (there are now a lot of Traveller virgins out there!). There have been some instances of older fans of the game asking why we have done X, Y and Z with the game – in 2009, we begin to reveal our longer term strategy, where Traveller becomes not a single setting, but a core system able to handle all science fiction gaming.

As far as core books and the OTU stand, we are really just at the beginning for Traveller. As we said before, there is a ten year plan in place for this game, and we have a lot of faith in the system as a whole. It is worth mentioning that, at this time, there is no planned ‘second edition’ of the game anywhere in the schedule – at best, there may be a rules companion that updates and tweaks a few things, but we are expecting the rulebook to remain pretty much the same (in terms of content – Will has already taken a gander at the design and layout) for the next decade. Now, given how RPGs normally work, this is a brave ideal, but we are willing to take that swing of the bat with it!

In terms of core books, we’ll be continuing with the coverage of careers, with titles such as Scoundrel (covering Rogues and Drifters) and Agent, as well as other ‘meaty’ books. The Civilian and Military Vehicles supplements will do for vehicles (be they pushed, driven, flown or walked) what High Guard did for ships, and the Central Supply Catalogue will allow the purchase of just about any piece of equipment that a player could dream of, again, whatever setting you are playing with Traveller. It is worth mentioning at this point that we already have the Vehicle Creation System in place which, like ships, will ensure all vehicles produced for Traveller will be useable regardless of which setting you choose.

Adventures too will be appearing, with some new takes on classic titles, including Prison Planet and Murder on Arcturus Station.

For the OTU, the first of our larger campaigns will be released (and, really, we are aiming for Mass Effect in terms of scope and possibilities with these), along with my personal favourites in 2009, the first two Alien Modules. Covering first Aslan and then the Zhodani, these will be big 200+ page hardbacks, detailing the culture, society, characters, and technology of the aliens. You can think of each book as being part Spinward Marches, with a detailed sector, part character book (the equivalent of High Guard or Mercenary), part Central Supply and part ship catalogue, all wrapped up with the detail of the original Alien Modules. These really will be the definitive works for aliens in Traveller. The intention is to use these to begin expanding the OUT beyond the borders of the Spinward Marches.

Beyond that, we are going to continue the process of de-provincialising Traveller, and opening it up to other settings. . .

Hammers Slammers
The first will be Hammers Slammers, a full colour, hardback treatment of David Drake’s classic science fiction series. Using the same vehicle creation system as the core vehicle books, it will be instantly compatible with the rest of the Traveller line, and allow you to join the finest mercenary company in the galaxy!

Scheduled for an April release, we are already hard at work on this title, making it one of the glossiest and just plain sexiest books we have ever done. As well as featuring all the character types and tanks of the novels, we are going to be digging deep into the structure of the Slammers, the battles they fought, the tactics they use, and the innovations possible in a science fiction setting – all useable material whatever your Traveller universe, and all presented using Will’s best graphical expertise.

This is going to be a very good looking book – watch out for it. . .

2000AD
2009 will also see us come full circle with licensed games, with Judge Dredd returning (though, of course, now being part of the Rebellion Group, it is no longer a licensed setting for us!). Using the Traveller rules, this is one game that I personally cannot wait for! Charging down the Megway at 200MPH on the back of a fully-armed Lawmaster, hunting down a fleeing perp – it just does not get any better than that!

Initially, the focus of the Judge Dredd game will be squarely on the judges, the most advanced law enforcement personnel the world has seen. Character creation will take you through your judge’s 15 years at the Academy of Law, giving you plenty of time to make friends and enemies (and yes, you most certainly can die at the Academy!). Then, armed with the multi-purpose Lawgiver sidearm, you will be set loose to maintain Law and order on the streets of Mega-City One.

As a full colour hardback, this book will provide the perfect entry to Mega-City One, a city of four hundred million people, and every one of them a potential criminal!

The release of this book will be quickly followed by a complete campaign (provisionally entitled Bad Moon Rising), as well as a complete sourcebook on the Justice Department. Expect the rulebook to appear in the summer.

If you are a 2000AD fan and Judge Dredd is not enough for you, then stand by. . . Autumn will see the release of the Strontium Dog RPG. Again based on Traveller, you will take the part of a mutant bounty hunter, taking on commissions and then tracking down your prey across the galaxy. For many you will have the choice of bringing them in dead or alive, but you will always have to weigh your potential profits up. If you Games Master is short on ideas for possible targets, then the first supplement, Bounties and Warrants, will give him all the nasty characters he needs to get a lengthy campaign up and running.

RuneQuest
RuneQuest, as a whole, is going to get a major boost from us in 2010 – but that is something we’ll save for State of the Mongoose next year!

2009 will be about setting groundwork for RuneQuest, giving us the springboard to really drive the game forward, in terms of both the core system and Glorantha.

Joining the trend restarted by Traveller in 2008, RuneQuest will be getting resized – literally – with the Pocket Deluxe edition, providing players and Games Masters with a handy and lightweight version of the rules. Perfect for the player who always seems to end up carrying a ton of books to his gaming group.

Guilds, Factions & Cults will expand the role of, well, guilds, factions and cults in the game. The organisation and mechanisms of cults will be detailed, allowing you (as a player or character) to create new cults in the world, mastering the leadership required as you guide followers to complete your goals. Tied in with RuneQuest Empires, released in December this year, you will have everything you need for high-powered campaigns where the fate of thousands, even millions, may rest on your decisions.

Gloranthan fans will be getting a steady stream of treats throughout 2009, with titles such as the Mostali, Castle of Lead, Vithela and Lairs of Glorantha. Again, gearing up for big things in the Second Age in the years to come!

Elric and Hawkmoon will continue to get love throughout 2009, though the release of Corum and the Multiverse book has been set for 2010 now, for reasons that will, by then, be obvious. We will also be returning to Lankhmar next year, with a mighty tome that will be the definitive guide to Fritz Leiber’s great setting.

Flaming Cobra
From humble beginnings, the Flaming Cobra imprint allows smaller publishers and studios to take advantage of Mongoose’s marketing and distribution lines, for no financial risk on their part. Flaming Cobra partners are all unique, with each having their own goals of what they want to see from the programme, but the results so far have been impressive.

Wildfire, with the Cthulhutech game, saw their first releases catapulted into the market to become highly successful, providing a great platform for their future. Crafty Games has been able to revive the Spycraft line. And there have been some new faces too. . .

Magnum Opus (formed by James Wallis, he of Hogshead Publishing in the past) has joined Flaming Cobra, releasing first that old favourite, Baron Munchausen, and quickly following it up with Dragon Warriors – if you haven’t checked this game out yet, you should, as it is a good ‘un. Expect more good things from Magnum Opus in 2009!

The summer of 2009 will also see the first titles from Trigee Enterprises. The intention here is to bring to light both the published and unpublished works of the late Gary Gygax, starting with Lejendary Adventures.

Other titles forthcoming in 2009 from Flaming Cobra partners include a revised edition of the Corporation RPG, True 20 supplements, official Traveller material (such as Project Steel), games based on licensed properties, and dinosaurs!

Finally one of the Flaming Cobra partners is, in 2009, going to make that big leap into full-time RPG design, giving up the day jobs to pursue what they want to do more than anything else. We’ll be revealing who shortly, and will ask you to give them all the support you can so they have the best chance possible at living the dream!

Paranoia
Paranoia has always been an odd duck for us. You see, when publishing RPGs there is a set formula you can follow as to how many supplements you will sell, based upon how many main rulebooks have sold. With the exception of Flashbacks, Paranoia does not follow this. At all. The main rulebook is one of our best selling titles of all time, but the supplements, while cheerful enough at the sales end, are disproportionately low compared to the rulebook. Clearly, this is something we need to take a look at, and as 2009 is Paranoia’s 25th Anniversary, it seems like the perfect opportunity!

First up will be a 25th Anniversary rulebook. Don’t panic, this is not a new edition per se, and if you want to stick with your current rulebook, you’ll find it works just fine with everything else coming for Paranoia in the future. We are twiddling a few bits and pieces in the rulebook, including moving Zap and Straight games to an appendix, while concentrating on Classic (all future supplements will follow the Classic mould too). There will be a limited edition version of this book to mark the anniversary, and we are currently putting together a plan of what this will include (we are currently investigating the possibility of using Rebellion’s recording studios. . .). If you are a Paranoia fan, you will not want to miss this one, as we are packing a lot into it.

That will be the Troubleshooters taken care of. Later in the year, two more rulebooks will appear – the second covering Int Sec Troopers, the third High Programmers (there was actually a lot of debate about the third, as Vulture Warriors were the first choice – but when Gareth Hanrahan suggested that High Programmers might play like an insane version of Yes, Minister, he won the argument hands down). Each will form its own ‘sub-line’ in Alpha Complex, with its own set of scenarios appearing throughout the year, each providing a very, very different take on Alpha Complex as a whole.

This is an experiment in expanding the scope of Alpha Complex, while staying true to roots of Paranoia itself. The analogy we have used is actually some of White Wolf’s games – if Paranoia is the World of Darkness, then Int Sec Troopers, High Programmers and, of course, Troubleshooters, are the equivalent of Vampire, Werewolf, and Hunter (won’t say which is which, of course!). If this idea proves popular, we may add some new dimensions to Alpha Complex.

Conan
If it is raw, visceral, and gritty sword & sorcery you after, all tied up into a 3.5-based package, then Conan is the game for you!

The first Conan title to appear in 2009 will be the Warrior’s Companion. By far the most popular supplements for this game are those that expand the actual setting. However, we are very mindful that plenty of people actually play this game, and so we will have some titles popping up to cater specifically to players. The Warrior’s Companion will cover all martial-based characters, those who prefer to solve problems with their sword-arms. There will be new fighting techniques, new moves to try in combat, and plenty of options to make your warrior unique. The Thief’s Companion, appearing later in 2009, will do the same for those who prefer to bypass challenges, rather than confront them directly.

Also expect to see a new ‘grand campaign’ to follow in the footsteps of Betrayer and Trial, several smaller adventures and that eternal title, Hyborian Empires, finally released! At last, your characters will be able to conquer and rule their own kingdom in the Hyborian Age. . .

Dungeons & Dragons 4e
The fourth edition is something of an odd duck for us, and it is no secret that sales thus far have been somewhat behind those for third edition. The game itself is very different from its predecessors.

However, it was the perfect fit for a setting we have been wanting to do for quite some time – Wraith Recon. This setting, placing players in the role of elite special forces in a fantasy world, allowed us to flip a lot of ‘standard’ fantasy conventions on their head, while changing very little from a rules perspective. In 2009, we will be expanding the Wraith Recon line, with new missions, examinations of the Dardarrick military, and the foes that constantly test its security. There has even been some discussions about novels based on this setting. . .

Our friends at Asterion Press will also be continuing their good work on the all new Quintessential line, with the next titles being Cleric, Warlock, Paladin, and Warlord.

Babylon 5
As you read this, the Universe of Babylon 5 is about to be released. Written by Lawrence Whitaker, this is the mighty tome that will allow you to play Babylon 5 using the Traveller rules. This is not a new edition of the game (indeed, only two books are planned for this mini-series), but Babylon 5 is such a good fit for Traveller that we could not resist bringing this out.

Why is it cool? Well, for a start, we have tied Babylon 5’s timeline directly into the character creation system. So, if you are creating an EarthForce officer of a certain age, you will be able to see exactly what he was doing during the Earth-Minbari War. You’ll be able to see what your Minbari warrior did during the civil war. And so on. We have also tied the universe of Babylon 5 tightly into the core Traveller rules so that you can use any core book (those with the black covers) with minimal, if any, conversion. For example, if you need a small freighter to appear just outside the Babylon 5 station, you can use the commercial trader in the Universe of Babylon 5 book – or you could grab Traders & Gunboats, and gain access to a much wider selection. Want to give your Drazi telepath a bit more pep? Flick through Psion and decide what powers he should have.

This, in the end, will be the strength of Traveller, being able to use all the core books with any setting seamlessly, meaning that the moment we (or someone else, with the OGL!) release a new setting for the game, there will already be a massive amount of support for it.

The second book in this mini-line will cover the ships of Babylon 5 and, as we promised when Traveller was first released, every ship featured will come with a deck plan. We expect this book to be very popular! We are also preparing a mega-campaign for B5-Traveller, that we will be releasing free in Signs & Portents as a series – starting in December’s issue, this will give you everything you need to launch your players immediately into the Universe of Babylon 5.

A final note on Babylon 5. We first approached Warner Brothers about doing games for the setting because, although the studio regarded it as pretty much a ‘dead’ property, we had faith enough that there were enough fans among the RPG and miniatures crowds to justify the games we have done, and for nigh on six years we have been pretty much the only Babylon 5 licensee, the only ones carrying the torch (during the course of this, we actually made it into the Top Five of publishers Warner Brothers works with, a bizarre achievement for an RPG company, but it got us into a few premieres, such as 300 – but, again, I digress). During that time, we have produced over 40 books and over 200 miniatures.

However, nothing else has really been happening with Babylon 5. Lost Tales, though it did well enough as a release, failed to spark any real interest in the property. Legend of the Rangers, we believe, might actually have done some damage, and we have recently heard that there will be no more Babylon 5 screen projects unless funding is made available for a major feature film. From our point of view, interest in Babylon 5 has visibly declined in the past two years and, regretfully, we will not be renewing the licence in 2009.

It has been a great ride for six years, but all good things must come to an end. We will be releasing Warships of Babylon 5 in 2009, along with the Trouble with Drazi adventure and Lurker’s Guide to Gaim, but then things will just. . . stop.

Miniatures Games
We have spent a lot of time in 2008 re-examining the way we approach miniatures, in terms of quality of casting, sculpting and presentation. New quality control procedures are in place at our casting facility, and we will be utilising new talent to manage sculpts and pre-production – these areas were always the ones that caused us the most problem in the past. We will also be starting ‘smaller’, with no ‘grand’ battle game planned until at least 2010.

That said, the latter half of 2009 will see a return to miniatures for Mongoose! The final details are still being put in place, so forgive me if I do not reveal too much at the moment, but we will have lots of cool previews in the run up to releases.

In the mean time, I can say there will be a new Judge Dredd miniatures game. Based on the original Gangs of Mega-City One, the scope for games will be greatly increased. You can play simple gang-on-gang action in Mega-City One if you wish. However, the new game will allow you to instead run a Sector House of judges, battle throughout the Cursed Earth, or deep within the Undercity, fight entire block wars, roar down the Megways, fight alien attacks, or stage desperate last stands against the Dark Judges. All tied into a complete campaign system, your characters will develop and grow with every battle fought and every story told.

There will also be a new version of A Call to Arms. The space combat game set in the universe of Babylon 5 has too many fans for us to let it fall by the way side. So, expect a new universe, new ships, and a lot of the core mechanics you have been asking for – including a solid points-based system!

We have also had a new game in the works for some time that will finally see the light of day in 2009. V-Max Racing is an all new system covering, well, racing. Of a sort. We’ll likely preview this one in Signs & Portents, much as we did with Victory at Sea. If enough of you like the look of it, we’ll put it into production!

As well as miniatures, our existing miniatures games will continue to be developed.

Victory at Sea continues to amaze us with its popularity – February 2009 will see the release of a new rulebook, Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts. Covering naval conflicts in World War I (also known as the ‘war where you can use big ships without aircraft interfering’), this one has been penned by naval supremo David Manley and, appearing in hardback format, will be a beauty!

There will also be new titles for Battlefield Evolution, both World at War and Modern Combat. We are currently working on a Spec Ops version of Modern Combat, with a far more detailed weapons system. For World War II, the Pacific War supplement has already been written, and work is just being completed on Warbirds of World War II, which will allow you to use just about any 1/72 aircraft kit of the period in your games, complete with customised payloads (a similar title is also planned for Modern Combat). Later in the year, we will be visiting Africa and war in the desert, and an all new Battlefield Evolution title will surface in December 2009, covering Vietnam.

Other Bits and Pieces
2009 will see Mongoose start to do some remarkable, if not amazing, new things, as we begin to leverage our position within the Rebellion Group. There are some very interesting things on the horizon. We are keeping quiet on these longer term projects for now, but don’t be too surprised as Mongoose gains new projects, new markets and new sister companies. As I said earlier, the presence of the Rebellion Group has changed a lot and, in some ways, we are now working on a very different level.

In other news, the Lone Wolf gamebooks continue to march on strongly and 2009 will (finally) see the release of the softback versions into regular games and book stores. This will be a watershed of sorts for Lone Wolf, as it will open the floodgates to other Lone Wolf related projects – the first of these will be the all new Lone Wolf Multiplayer Gamebook. A grand title that just means roleplaying game to you hoary old veterans! However, to those first coming to Lone Wolf in book stores, it may just pave the way to an entirely new hobby. . .

We have also been working on a new PDF that basically lays out how one can make a living from RPGs, be it as a full-time job, or starting your own company, laying out in chapter and verse exactly how you can go about it. Thus far, the working title has been ‘Working With RPGs for fun and Profit’, however we also like the title ‘I am Mongoose, and so can you!’ Either way, keep an eye out for it if you have any interest in giving up the ‘day job’ and doing something altogether more interesting. There will be plenty of opportunities in the coming year if you want to get into the industry!

There are also plans being put in place to get people playing games more often, and making it easier for them to do so. The first step in this is for us to lend a hand to Dragonmeet (one of the finest conventions on the UK Calendar) to create Dragonmeet Southwest in Swindon, on April 19th. Don’t be surprised to see other Dragonmeets popping up around the country over the next few years. Also, we are joining forces with another games company to provide ‘living’ campaigns for games, including RuneQuest and Traveller. More details on these in the New Year.

So, to round up, Mongoose has had its own trials in 2008, as have many other companies, but we have emerged stronger than ever. Our passion for games and gaming remains undiminished, and we have a fantastic team working hard to bring you the very best we can produce.

We remain strongly optimistic for the future, and see the hobby games market as bounding with opportunities. Good times lie ahead for gamers, whatever you are playing.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our customers who have continued to support Mongoose through this most ‘interesting’ of years. Everyone in Mongoose appreciates your commitment, and we are working hard to match it with our own, bringing you the best games we can, and forever figuring out how to do them better. We wish you a merry Christmas, and the very best wishes for the New Year. Whatever else is happening in the world, we hope you all get more time in for quality gaming with good friends.

Matthew Sprange

Mongoose Publishing

http://www.mongoosepublishing.com

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