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Alephtar Games plans for 2012


RosenMcStern

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Good day all,

Our loyal followers may have noticed that Alephtar Games was less active in 2011, at least compared to what we did in 2009 with our award-winning supplement "BRP Rome" and in 2010 with three supplements for Basic Roleplaying and one for HeroQuest.

Well, in fact it is true that our production time has lengthened this year, and the saddest thing is that this did not improve quality, either. Spreading the editing and review process for books over several months of work did not help quality assurance, and created bottlenecks and peaks of activity at the end of the year. As a result, two of our products, one in English and one in Italian, contained more typos than usual. We are very sorry for this, and we apologize with the readers for this inconvenience. But we have checked whether the books are still usable and enjoyable, and they are.

However, put aside the aforementioned spelling issues, our actual throughput in terms of game contents has not decreased. As a matter of fact, the offer of game materials by Alephtar in 2011 has simply split between English and Italian language producst, with at least two books (Aegis and Nameless Streets) being translated from one language into another in 2011. Moreover, Alephtar Games has finally ventured into the realm of manufacturing complete, self-consistent games and not just supplements. Not only does the Italian version of Nameless Streets include an original ruleset that shares a common design philosophy with HeroQuest but plays rather differently in terms of dice, but we have also published a totally new, fresh, rules-lite game that we expect to carve its own niche in the heart of gamers: Aegis, a little gem with a "fun factor" of 11 out of 10, available in both English and Italian in an e-reader friendly PDF format.

So, this was 2011. What are our plans for next year, then? Well, things are going to work differently in 2012 for us – barring Mayapocalypse. First of all, we will return to a more regular schedule in order to avoid further editing problems. Secondly, we will not produce new game systems in 2012, in order to take some time to evaluate the success of the two systems we published in 2011. This does not mean that we will not support White Rabbit System or Aegis, just that all materials we produce for these games will be in the form of extra scenarios and playbooks, downloadable for free from our web site. The first two additional guilds for Aegis are already in the making.

Sadly, this means also that the development of our own d100 system is suspended for an indefinite amount of time. Some of the elements that made it different from other d100 games will find their way into Basic Roleplaying supplements coming in 2012 or 2013. As they have already been released as OGL, you can freely experiment with these elements in your own games and scenarios.

The result of all this is that Alephtar Games will once again concentrate on a single game system, that is Basic Roleplaying by Chaosium. You might wonder why we chose BRP among the many d100 systems that are on the market at the moment, especially because it is the only one that is not free for third party licensors (!). The reason is simple, and it is the fact that Chaosium is the only company that has a clearly defined – albeit slowly implemented – plan for moving its production to new platforms and technologies. BRP is the only d100 ruleset to have an official online version, with its Fantasy Grounds expansion module, and Chaosium is the only d100 publisher to be actively seeking to expand in the new market of portable devices. As the ultimate goal of Alephtar Games is not that of revelling in the past glories of the Good Ol' Days, but attracting new players and introducing them to a solid, traditional-yet-evolving style of play, our choice is inevitably to look for the broadest possible variety of formats for our products.

As a side note, this means we will not be producing anything for RuneQuest 6, at least in 2012. Which is a shame, as we are sure this game will be superb, and its license is very convenient for all third party publishers and indie authors. But as stated before, our current policy is to favour platform differentiation over quality of the system. Apart from the fact that good ol' BRP is still a good system. We might, however, end up doing something for Legend, but not in English.

Okay, done with the preamble. Here is the 2012 schedule so far:

January 2012 – Veni, Vidi, Vici for Fantasy Grounds

February 2012 – Kidnapping in al-Halisa, ported to BRP, in PDF and for Fantasy Grounds

March 2012 – Aegis for Fantasy Grounds, plus a possible surprise for Italian fans only...

March or April 2012 – Crusaders of the Amber Coast for Fantasy Grounds

April or May 2012 – The Whitlingthorpe Campaign (from Merrie England) for Fantasy Grounds

June 2012 – The Zone, a post-apoc style setting and adventure for BRP, in PDF and for Fantasy Grounds

Christmas 2012 – BRP Mecha, in print, PDF and for Fantasy Grounds. At last.

All the contents that are scheduled for a PDF-only release will be digest size and with limited artwork content, in order to be e-reader friendly. BRP Mecha might be in letter format, but this is not written in stone.

We can fit an extra product in the schedule for a post-summer release. Which means that if you have a good idea in mind for BRP or HeroQuest, it is the right time to submit it.

Of course, other products are in the making for a late 2012 or early 2013 schedule, but it is too early to talk about them.

A happy new year of serenity, joy – and of course gaming – to everyone,

Paolo Guccione

Proud member of the Evil CompetitionTM

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Good luck with your plans next year - there are at least a couple of titles in your list that I'll be very interested in seeing - and I think your right to focus on BRP as it stands, as there is something of an Alephtar library developing for historical supplements at least. It's good that they are all compatable too.

I've just downloaded the Merrie England supplement and although I have hardly had a chance to proofread it (so I can't advise about typos etc), the clean layout, adventuring scope and general atmosphere generated from just skimming it is superb. If you want a Robin Hood campaign (which I do), this is a winner! Like I said, I've had no chance to really read it yet, but in terms of first impressions, the utility value is right up there with Rome.

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We can fit an extra product in the schedule for a post-summer release. Which means that if you have a good idea in mind for BRP or HeroQuest, it is the right time to submit it.

Paolo, as you may remember, I'm working hard on a BRP historical setting for steppes nomads, with Simon's help. Fierce mounted warriors of Attila, Gengis Khan and other Turks, Mongols, Djurchens... including a big part about central asian shamanism and believes with full background, spirits, magic and shamanic rules. Could be used as stand-alone or in conjunction with The Celestial Empire, Dragon Lines, Crusaders of the Amber Coast... making a kind of link between these different "historical" settings. I could send a first complete draft in spring, may be before.

I believe many players would appreciate such a source book for a quite ignored culture, even for non-historical setting. What do you, members of this forum, think about such a supplement?

Olivier

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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Yes, BRP Steppes could fit the bill. One would think that people are totally fed up with all this pseudo-medieval stuff (including Genghis Khan). But apparently, they never have enough of this ;)

Indeed, they will. Gamers (like me) don't have time to do research into historical settings (not to the degree of your soucebooks anyway) but it's still very much part of the verisimiltude of gaming to have an authoritive authenticity presented in an accessible way. The medieval period is kind of iconic in gaming, and don't forget that at least one game (Ars Magica) has been in a continuous printing run for years, largely based upon the popularity of that specific European era. BRP Steppes would be excellent!

On the other hand, I would be interested in other eras too - I'm pleased to see Clockwork and Chivalry for the Civil War period, but would also like to see the Rennaissance period (think Shakespeare!) and Napoleonic period get some focus too.

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Thanks for these encouraging comments. I'll work even harder.

It won't be a "Genghis Khan supplement", but instead insits on the deep steppes, where the Khan issued from as many other empires (Xiongnu, Ruan-Ruan, Huns, Göktürk, Djurchen...). Actually, there is not much about the gengiskhanide empire itself. It should allow to play from about the 1st century BC up to the 16th AD with minor adjustments, since the cultural traits where quite constant above this period.

You also get rules for shamanism which you may adapt to any setting (CoC Steppes ???).

I'll make a thread about this later with more details.

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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Christmas 2012 – BRP Mecha, in print, PDF and for Fantasy Grounds. At last.
Next christmas? I was really hoping this would be mid-year at least, I really want to see how this plays out in BRP. I just hope I still have a viable gaming troupe by 2013 to actually play it...

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Almost all you see on that list will be playtested online - as you can guess from the plethora of Fantasy Grounds titles - so you will have plenty of opportunities to see how it plays, even before it hits the shelves. In your case, however, this could require waking up rather early in the morning, as we live in rather different timezones ;)

Proud member of the Evil CompetitionTM

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Wow, I didn't even know BRP was supported for Fantasy Ground (i knew about CoC but not BRP). Cool!

On the list, the Zone and Mecha look interesting (and maybe some Fantasy ground stuff if I ever make that move) and I'd be highly interested in a Steppe Nomads supplement. Gee, now you need someone (Mark Galeotti) to write a pre mongol invasion Rus (from 882 to the desintegration prior to the invasion in the 13th) and Alephtar would cover a lot of the 11th to 13th ground!

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On the other hand, I would be interested in other eras too

Actually The Celestial Empire covers Imperial China from the Táng to the Qīng, i.e., from 618 to 1911. People usually don't realise that about 80% of wǔxiá films are set in the Qīng (1644-1911). That's hardly mediaeval :)

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Mark is an expert on Russia http://inmoscowsshadows.wordpress.com/ as well as the writer of Mythic Russia for HeroQuest http://mythicrussia.wordpress.com/.

I am not sure he still has time to write RPG stuff though.

Oh, that's him! Me and names...:7

I've read some stuff from Mythic Russia. Actually the Golden Horde and Bashkorts extension made by Simon, who's actively helping me. I forgot to cite of course Mythic Russia as another possible hook to a Steppes extension, even if it is a HQ product.

Wind on the Steppes, role playing among the steppe Nomads. The  running campaign and the blog

 

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Hi Paolo,

I think focusing on Fantasy Grounds makes a lot of sense - at least it does for a displaced gamer like me who mostly games online and has made the investment in FG.

So I look forward to the FG stuff. Too bad that Loz decided that FG was not a priority for RQ6. I feel it's kinda of a mistake.

As a just across the border Italian expatriate, I rejoice that Alephtar is contributing to the Italian language gaming scene. After the unfortunate demise of the (perhaps over-ambitious) Italian translation of RQ2 it would be great to have some RQ2 compatible Legend goodness in Italian. I'm pretty curious but I bet on something specifically Italian: an expanded version of Stupor Mundi for Legend would make a lot of sense. Or, even cooler a Legend of Rome book drawing setting material from BRP Rome and adding a Roman fantasy campaign to the mix. These two would be cool and would argualy sell in Italy.

As Roman things are concerned, the announced Punic Wars campaign is not in the schedule. Does it means that it has been cancelled? postponed to 2013?

I am a bit on the fence on the mecha stuff. I never played that kind of rpg back in the day. But now my children have developed an inordinate fondness for the old Gundam anime episodes - 1st series. So, in the end it could be cool for a straight Gundam game. Young terrestrial pilots against the Zakus of Zion. Cool.

Anyway. Have a great 2012!

Andrea

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I think the effort to develop things for electronic media will pay off in the not-so-long run. I've already disposed of all my dead tree novels, my coffee-table books will soon follow, and once tablets do what I expect of them my RPG books will be the final nail in the coffin of my book shelves. I certainly look forward to see what you will come up with in FG and other areas. Any plans to work with epub format? I'm trying to see whether a table-less system is feasible, as tables and epub don't mix well.

Incidentally, checking DTRPG for your Aegis game I noticed that there are lots of RPG-related things named 'Aegis' out there, including one publisher! I actually avoided the name Aegis because of your product - man, I should have gone with it, it would have avoided the (well-meaning and highly appreciated, but never-ending) messages I keep getting about how White Wolf and 'Aeon' ... :P

Dreamscape Design: Crafters of the Finest Tabletop Roleplaying Games

Dreamscape Design: My Corner of BRP Central ... Mine, All Mine! 

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Call me a Luddite, but nothing beats a physical product in one's hands. You can spread it out on the table, make notes on it, study it for hours wherever electrical outlets and battery stores are not, easily turn between marked sections rather than having to scroll through lengthy electronic pages, etc. You may say that I can get my PDFs printed at Office Depot (but not Kinko's!). True, but a spiral-bound copy on good paper with vinyl covers is going to cost me approximately another $30, in addition to whatever the download cost (which is where Legend's $1 sale comes in handy). Download-only may be the wave of the future for small publishers, but it is a wave that washes me the wrong way. Changing technology or equipment failure has lost me many downloads, but physical books tend to last for decades (as the groaning shelves of the local used bookstore attest).

Had the dawn of role-playing occurred during the Age of Electronica, there would be no old-school movement, no hard-core love for aging copies of RuneQuest 1-3, no chances of running Elric/Stormbringer (since the files were written for now-antiquated technology). Think about your favorite old RPGs or editions. Now think about your favorite old electronic games from the same era, the ones that ran on Commodore 64 or Atari, or on outdated, unsupported versions of DOS or Windows. The difference is that you can still play your physical dead-tree role-playing games (unless Mom tossed out your boxed sets while you were away at college). But your computer games are mere memories, and the reboot (in the unlikely event that a software company attempts one) is never as good. Think Duke Nukem Forever. The Mongoose marathon of classic game revivals would never have occurred since electronic gamers' memories are as brief as the platforms they use and toss away.

Call of Cthulhu -- classic game, still around, still playable, even the older editions and modules. Inspiration for bad movies.

Alone in the Dark -- classic game, unplayable unless you can locate an aging copy, then download quirky open-source software on your modern PC. Inspiration for bad movies.

Well, at least the bad movie part is the same.

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Any plans to work with epub format? I'm trying to see whether a table-less system is feasible, as tables and epub don't mix well.

One of the products we will present in 2013 is already available in epub format (in Italian). But, at the moment, RPG books suck in epub, as you pointed out. One sound principle for the development of electronic products is "adapt the format to your customers' needs, not the needs to the format". Thus, since RPG books actually need tables, at least for equipment, powers, etc. etc., epub is not the best way to go. Besides, there is at least one game that will NEVER have an epub version, and it is D&D. This makes me think that the RPG crowd will stick with PDF long enough to have handheld platforms that can display PDF in a nice way available at a cheap price.

Incidentally, checking DTRPG for your Aegis game I noticed that there are lots of RPG-related things named 'Aegis' out there, including one publisher!

The book was submitted to the contest I got it from in June, long before "The Aegis project" was published. Original names for RPGs are almost over, one must live with it. There is even one publisher named "Stupor Mundi"...

You can spread it out on the table, make notes on it, study it for hours wherever electrical outlets and battery stores are not, easily turn between marked sections rather than having to scroll through lengthy electronic pages, etc.

All of our PDF are bookmarked. And finding a single word in a PDF is quicker than finding it in a printed book, even if it has an index.

Had the dawn of role-playing occurred during the Age of Electronica, there would be no old-school movement, no hard-core love for aging copies of RuneQuest 1-3, no chances of running Elric/Stormbringer (since the files were written for now-antiquated technology). Think about your favorite old RPGs or editions. Now think about your favorite old electronic games from the same era, the ones that ran on Commodore 64 or Atari, or on outdated, unsupported versions of DOS or Windows. The difference is that you can still play your physical dead-tree role-playing games (unless Mom tossed out your boxed sets while you were away at college). But your computer games are mere memories, and the reboot (in the unlikely event that a software company attempts one) is never as good.

During the last month, I have played the entire Eye of the Beholder series, and Ultima Martian Dreams, on Dosbox (which is NOT quirky) on my PC. They work just fine on Android tablets, too. You know what the difference is? Once these games go "abandonware", the number of people who can play them is not limited by the number of musty old copies available on ebay (or Rick Meints' ability to do a reformatting of them), as it is really easy to duplicate an electronic product. The worst thing that can happen is that the publisher declares them "no longer abandonware" and starts selling them again on Steam for a dirty cheap price (it happened with XCom, which is a 1993 DOS game still sold online).

The real problem is with early Windows games, which are sometimes more incompatible with newer versions than DOS ones. As the absence of a working version of "King of Dragon Pass" for Windows 7 or Android shows :(

Hi Paolo,

Hello Andrea

So I look forward to the FG stuff. Too bad that Loz decided that FG was not a priority for RQ6. I feel it's kinda of a mistake.

However, Lawrence has taken the time to investigate the matter and make an informed decision about it. The Design Mechanism has evaluated the pros and cons and decided it cannot be a priority for them, as they are now focused entirely on playtesting their HQ books and making RQ6 the best fantasy RPG ever. It is a strategy, not a mistake. Although I hope I can make them change their minds.

After the unfortunate demise of the (perhaps over-ambitious) Italian translation of RQ2 it would be great to have some RQ2 compatible Legend goodness in Italian. I'm pretty curious but I bet on something specifically Italian: an expanded version of Stupor Mundi for Legend would make a lot of sense.

Er... did I mention a surprise somewhere?

As Roman things are concerned, the announced Punic Wars campaign is not in the schedule. Does it means that it has been cancelled? postponed to 2013?

I had hoped no one would notice... :o

Due to an overload of other work for the writer, and the aforementioned slowing of our production process, Generals and Senators is postponed to a not-yet-defined date. I cannot say more at the moment.

I am a bit on the fence on the mecha stuff. I never played that kind of rpg back in the day. But now my children have developed an inordinate fondness for the old Gundam anime episodes - 1st series. So, in the end it could be cool for a straight Gundam game. Young terrestrial pilots against the Zakus of Zion. Cool.

Then you should cross that border in late March and take your children to the "Play" game fair in Modena. I will be there with a lot of nice BRP and non-BRP stuff, and run several playtests (possibily including mecha games), and the annual gathering of the Gundam Italian Club will be held in the same building. So they might appreciate it.

Proud member of the Evil CompetitionTM

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Hmm. I'm not educated on Fantasy Grounds. Maybe I should read up on it.

Well worth a look. Nowadays I play primarily online, play by post for the most part due to limited time, chasing rugrats, bizarre work schedules, and the scattering to the four winds of the old chums I used to game with.

Fantasy grounds is a client/server application that lets you emulate a tabletop experience: 3D dice rolling, handouts, character sheets, etc. BRP is one of the rulesets you can buy for it, and it's one of the best, providing a LOT of flexibility by allowing you to turn on/off various BRP features, customize skills, powers, etc. You get a lot of bang for your buck.

If you are so inclined, you can design rulesets and modules for FG too. I've done one for our old Dresden Files game for instance, and have whipped up modules (think of them as digital game books for FG) for ACES HIGH, the MIDDLE EARTH supplement available in the downloads section on this board, and am working on one for MYTHIC ICELAND.

The medium is also great for folks with limited schedules. With FG, I play with a buddy across town and another in Canada. It's returned synchronous gaming to my options. We often run 2 hour sessions midweek after all the kids are asleep. Because there is no travel time, snack futzing, etc, we can pack more actual gaming into those 2 hours. We use Skype for OOC chitchat, too.

Does it replace the fun of hanging out with the guys? No, but it's darn close, and like other kinds of online games, it allows you to find players for games you might not be able to locally. The last DARK HERESY game I ran on PbP had players from the UK, the US, the Netherlands, and Greece, many of whom have been playing together for years. I've also formed friendships through the FG community.

Well worth investigating, especially with all the support Alephtar is bringing in 2012. From their vantage point, it's a smart investment of effort. I've bought hardcopies of their books, PDF copeis from Chaosium, and I'm sure to buy their FG material as quickly as they can produce it. So that's 3 sales of the same content to one person. Not a bad model for a niche market.

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