State of the Mongoose 2016

It has been a tradition over the past 14 years to make a public post on how Mongoose has been getting on over the past 12 months, as well as taking a gander at our plans for the following year. You are all welcome to make any comments and ask any questions regarding this address on our forums HERE.

Short Version: The State of the Mongoose is pretty good, actually.

Longer Version: We have some issues here and there, but they are all manageable, all being fixed one by one, and none are company threatening in the least.

Full Version:

 

Changing Business

Late last year, we released the new edition of Traveller with the printed hardback following just a short few months after. This heralded not only a change in Traveller itself but also a fundamental shift in how we approached our games here at Mongoose.

The new Traveller was, in a way, a culmination of a number of changes made over the past few years and what we chose to focus on, as a company.

For most of our history, we have dabbled in the miniatures market with several games, starting with Mighty Armies and ending with Judge Dredd. The closure of our miniatures production facility in Ohio naturally led to a hard look at how we were going to proceed with miniatures overall. The upshot of that? A decision that we were just not built to handle the production and sales of miniatures, and that was a problem that led directly to the top of the leadership of Mongoose (that would be yours truly).

Now, I flatter myself to say that we are good (very good?) at miniatures games… just not the miniatures themselves. So, it was decided that we would pull out of miniatures production completely and leave that to companies built upon such expertise (like our friends at Warlord who took over the production of the Judge Dredd miniatures range).

This approach was then applied to the printing, warehousing, distribution and sales of printed books. For a couple of years now, Mongoose has printed no books. At all.

Bit weird for a publishing company?

We engaged the services of a US-based company called Studio 2 Publishing, who may be familiar to some of you (they provide the same services for the Savage Worlds RPG and, indeed, were first recommended to us by Shane Hensley). Studio 2 is now responsible for the printing and distribution of our entire printed RPG line – if you have seen one of our books in your local store of late, it came from them.

These changes, and others like them, resulted in a big departure from the way we did business.

At a stroke, it annihilated, utterly trashed, the admin required to run Mongoose. We used to have full-time staff members doing nothing but counting beans (actually, there was a bit more to it than that, and they were very good at what they did). Today, admin revolves around 10-15 minutes every day doing the accounts and keeping on top of customer service emails – a role I can easily cover myself.

In addition, we no longer have warehouse staff, warehouse rental fees, bills from shippers and, that holy grail of publishing, no bills from printers. This means cashflow becomes flat – steady, and very, very predictable. Few medium and long term businesses go bust because they run out of money; they go pop because of cashflow issues.

This in turn results in Mongoose being more stable now than it has ever been. I am not going to use the term bulletproof, but we are now in a very good position to weather any storm that sweeps through the industry (such as Pound Sterling sinking faster than the Titanic, which has provided us with very much mixed blessings overall).

So, no-stress cashflow and lower outgoings – this led to something I have wanted to enact for years but could not do so until now.

The majority of gaming companies (at least 90% of them) all have a front-loaded model. The reason they have constant releases every month or so is not because they enjoy releasing products, nor even because they can. It is because they must.

It is no secret that most sales of a gaming book occur within the first three months, with some (very few) products becoming ‘evergreen’ and having long sales tails. The thing is, if you have a nice big, respectable gaming company, you need those three-month sales just to survive, to the extent that if you go three months without a release, you begin seeing serious cashflow issues. Beyond that, gaming companies start imploding.

This is why we work to deadlines in publishing.

However, here at Mongoose, we found ourselves in a rather special position. Through a combination of a (very) large ebook back catalogue and increased royalties (this year, for the first time, we received more income from royalties than we paid out, which is not bad going at all when you consider our fondness in the past for licences), Mongoose can go a very, very long time without having to release new product. Going a full year without a new release might be a stretch… but I think with careful management it would be doable.

This means we no longer have to release books just to survive. We can release them when we feel they are ready, and not a day sooner.

This policy was instituted with the new Traveller from the start. Deadlines were replaced with guidelines, and nothing would go out until we were sure we liked it.

The upshot of this?

We broke every single dead/guideline set. Every single one!

However, the flip side is that the new Traveller is far, far better than it might otherwise have been, and it is a game we are well and truly proud of.

Some other, smaller, changes were made along the way to aid this process; we cut down the number of writers that work on our games, focussing on those with a demonstrated ability to write for Traveller (and Paranoia, for that matter); we also cut out the old editorial process – it was far too variable in the past, so now I have bitten the bullet and do all editing myself (an additional benefit here is that if any given text is boring the hell out of me, it gets cut immediately, and I am not sure I can say that was true of all our previous editors…).

This is going to result in a big slowdown of new products from Mongoose, compared to what you might have expected in the past – I think we are looking at one hardback every 3 months or so, with the odd adventure book and smattering of ebook support.

On the face of it, this means less income for Mongoose but that is something we can sustain now, and there is the (admittedly vague) thought that better quality books will mean more sales individually, once the word gets around.

That is okay. The Mission Statement for Mongoose today is not to rule the world, but to produce games we like at the best possible quality.

 

2016 and the Mongoose

The big hit of the year was the new edition of Traveller.

For this game, we wanted to a) streamline and enhance the previous edition (which, frankly, did not have a great deal wrong with it in terms of mechanics) and b) make it a pretty book!

We started from scratch with the artwork, and introduced copious amounts of 3D designs for both vehicles and spacecraft. The equipment section has been presented as a type of shopping catalogue (a conceit we extended to the Central Supply Catalogue, also released this year), and we have revised the way we present sector maps, in a way that allows useful notes to be made directly onto them (no more black backgrounds!).

At every stage of the new game, we inspected every rule and took a long look at how it was actually played during a game. Traveller has a history of leaning towards simulation, sometimes at the expense of gameplay, and we wanted to very much reverse that. The result is a game that will feel extremely familiar to players of our previous edition or Classic Traveller, but will feel much smoother and more intuitive during play.

We backed up the release of Traveller with a flurry of ebooks and adventures, dividing the latter between the familiar Spinward Marches and the rough and ready Trojan Reach – both sectors are adjacent, so Travellers can voyage easily between the two and while we are continuing to explore the Marches, we will be very much having a focus upon the Reach with this edition.

As mentioned before, our new design policies have led to several books being delayed. However, most are in an advanced state of completion and will be appearing early to mid-2017.

Vehicle Handbook: This one is being laid out right now (it will be the first of the big titles to appear next year) and does for vehicles in Traveller what High Guard does for spacecraft. We have taken the previous Vehicle Handbook and streamlined it further, making it even easier to build pretty much any vehicle you can imagine, from a humble bicycle to a fusion-powered super-heavy drone-controlled death tank with grav drives and a burrowing attachment! As well as the design system, we have also filled this book with all manner of vehicles that can appear on Traveller worlds. Here, we have tried hard to avoid the ordinary (we are not going to give you a lorry, followed by a family car from the 21st century) and reach further for what is a) likely to appear on worlds far from our own and b) start to feel for the limits of the design system. We have ensured there are vehicles for all pockets, so if you have a hard up mercenary force, we can point you to the (very) lightly armoured gun skiff that has room for a massive weapon and very little else, while those rich folk wanting to travel in style can board the hypersonic Concordia II jet…

Traveller Companion: This is the one title we did not properly get to grips with in 2016, but it is well on its way and being handled by Traveller-supremo Martin Dougherty. This book is intended to be married to the Core Rulebook and provides, well, options for referees and players wanting to develop their campaigns. Think of it as a toolkit for Traveller – if you want to introduce new aliens and animals, new technologies, non-random character creation, explore worlds in new ways, introduce new hazards for both planetary and space travel… the Traveller Companion will be for you!

Traveller Starter Box Set: The one title I was most disappointed at not having brought out in 2016 was the all new Traveller starter set. This is a boxed set that will now be appearing in the second quarter of 2017 and, well, it contains everything needed to start playing Traveller. It contains a full set of the Core rules (not cut down, you get everything in the Core Rulebook), along with a brand new campaign that is set in the same galaxy as the Third Imperium, but far, far away – we have some ideas on how to extend and expand this campaign over two or three more box sets that also introduce rules into the game, but that will (as always) depend on you chaps and what you think of the first.

 

Traveller in 2017 – Overview

Our first priority for 2017 is getting the books we are currently working on out of the door. But we have some real crackers in the works for you beyond that…

 

Drinax & DLC

A while ago, we released the Pirates of Drinax mega-campaign as a free download, and very well received it was too.

We are going to be re-releasing Pirates of Drinax in early 2017 and, this time, we are going to ask you to pay for it.

But why would we pay for it, I hear you ask…

Because this edition is going to kick some serious bottom.

The new Pirates of Drinax has been revised from top to bottom, with oodles of new material included – no more vague mentions of mysterious predators on far flung worlds – if your Travellers visit that world, we have got the referee covered and provide description, game stats and artwork of that predator. If a new ship is mentioned, you will have the stats, hull and deck plans for it. In other words, everything you need to run the Pirates of Drinax campaign.

This mega-campaign is going to be presented as a double volume, full colour hardback set in tough slipcase, complete with a huge poster map that will have the entire Trojan Reach on one side (again, in a format that will allow you to makes notes upon it, charting your progress as you cut a swathe through the stars), and (at time of writing) everything you need to know about the Harrier commerce raider on the other. As well as the campaign, these books will detail the Trojan Reach in its entirety, introduce all background and rules for the Aslan (including Traveller creation, ships and equipment), and provide you with plenty of patrons and encounters across the sector for any campaign.

In short, it is not just a campaign, but an entire sector and alien module too!

However, as we were working on Pirates of Drinax, we realised we had way too much material to cram into even a double volume set. So, we started work on supplementary material.

For a long time, we avoided using the term DLC around the office for this. DLC has developed some negative connotations, which were just not applicable to what we were doing. However, we had a good, long think about this and in the end decided to call it what it is – DLC.

This stems from my own video gaming. When I get to the end of Skyrim or Mass Effect, or any other game I have been enjoying, I am more than happy to dive back in and expand the experience. This is what we want to do for Pirates of Drinax, provide additional materials that will expand and genuinely enhance the campaign experience, that have solid value and worth – they are not vital to run the campaign, but we think the campaign is better with them.

We are not going to charge you to add a horse to your game.

What we will be providing are ebooks (most of which have been written by fan-favourite Martin Dougherty) with patron encounters expanded into full-blown adventures, NPC ships with a back story to ensure you never raid ‘just another merchant’, and more detailed world descriptions (such as the ebook Pirates of Drinax: Theev we released recently). We have even taken the chapter in Pirates of Drinax covering the Harrier commerce raider and created a complete owner’s manual for it, with lots of new options for upgrades and repairs.

As well as keeping the campaign set to a manageable size (it is going to be well over 400 pages by itself), this DLC allows you to pick and choose where you want to expand your campaign – if your players never go near one subsector, you won’t need expanded world descriptions for it. On the other hand, if your players are constantly hitting merchant shipping, you might want to add some spice to their encounters.

Either way, we will have you covered.

 

Beyond Drinax

Pirates of Drinax represents a fairly monumental effort for our design team, and we are aiming to make it the best title we have ever released ever.

However, after it is complete, we will be looking to top it. And, it just so happens, we have a candidate that might just do that…

We started thinking about how the format we used for Pirates of Drinax (campaign, alien module, and sector) could be applied elsewhere, and where it would best serve.

For several years now, we have talked about tackling the Fifth Frontier War (FFW) properly, and now we finally have a vehicle worthy of it.

This project is being spearheaded by Rob Eaglestone, a name that will be very familiar to Traveller veterans. The FFW campaign will be another double volume that will have a complete multi-month campaign, an alien race (the Zhodani), and a whole sector (Ziafrplians, but we will be using a ‘common’ name for it that everyone can pronounce!).

The twist for this campaign is that the Travellers will be Zhodani agents in the run up to the war.

If everything goes according to plan and you chaps enjoy the campaign formats, we have this Grand Idea that the FFW will actually be a trilogy of campaigns, released one every year, that will focus on the Zhodani, the Vargr (or, rather, what is going on in Vargr space), and then the Vilani in the Spinward Marches, all backed up with additional and optional material in the form of ebooks.

After that, we will probably have a little rest!

However, before anyone panics, we are already looking at the likes of the K’kree, Hivers, and Solomani. Will they be in this grand campaign format? I would like them to be, but that will be down to all of you and what you think of Drinax and FFW.

On top of that, we have some (slightly) smaller projects we are looking at for Traveller in 2017. We want to cover some of the pocket empires in the Trojan Reach, notably the likes of the Florian League and Glorious Empire, which are both frankly fascinating, and these may be compiled towards the end of the year into an ‘Empires of the Reach’ hardback. By the same token, I would like us to take another swing at the Sword Worlds, and we have plenty more adventures coming, including a complete top-to-bottom revision/reimagining of the classic adventure, Leviathan (entitled Last Flight of the Amuar).

Some of you have already been asking about 2300AD, and what our intentions for it are.

Well, Colin ‘I am 2300AD’ Dunn has been beavering away on a second edition book, married to the new Traveller rules. It is our intention to release this in 2017 (likely at the bottom end of the year) as a full colour hardback with its own styling, along with a handful of supplements we have in the works (such as the Aerospace Engineer’s Handbook, and a revised Bayern).

We are conscious that 2300AD has had a bit of a barrier set up around it, that has made it somewhat impenetrable to non-2300AD veterans. This we are looking to break down.

We are going to be doing this with several approaches:

  1. Graphics and art: We are actively looking at new ways to present information other than big, block text (you can see the stirrings of this in the new Traveller).
  2. Technology: 2300AD has had a habit of adding ‘all the new technologies!’, along with the rules that go with them, and that just buries players. As with the new Traveller, we are looking for ways to properly streamline and simplify this game.
  3. There has always been a line of thought that said ‘yes, 2300AD is all well and good as a setting – but what do we do in it?’ We are looking at releasing 2300AD alongside a proper story-driven campaign that will both get veterans interested in returning to the universe, and introduce it to newcomers.

Ultimately, we want to build 2300AD up so it stands at least shoulder-high to the grand Third Imperium universe. This will take us the next few years to accomplish, but it is going to be a great ride for anyone who wants to get on board early.

 

Paranoia

Ah, now, this is the Big One. If the new Traveller is awesome, then the new Paranoia blows the lid right off.

The new Paranoia was born from an extremely successful Kickstarter and, as I type, it is finally being printed. Kickstarter backers will see their copies in January/February, and it will be in stores a couple of months or so after that (the retail edition is being printed at the same time).

The new Paranoia is, in my ever so humble estimation, and speaking as someone who has played the game since they were twelve, the Best Paranoia Ever Of All Time.

That is not hyperbole. The game is that good.

World Famous Games Designer James Wallis has done an absolute corker on Paranoia, ably assisted all the way by luminaries Eric Goldberg, Greg Costikyan and Ken Rolston.

So, how to describe it?

Well, even if you have never played Paranoia, you can sit down and be playing within minutes of opening the box set. Minutes.

Character creation is a masterpiece of games design that is intended not to create Troubleshooters (that is almost incidental) but foster rivalries among the players right from the start.

The largest book in the box set is the GM’s guide, and it has no more than half a dozen rules within it. In the new Paranoia, it is the players who run the game. The GM is really just there to make their lives difficult (here at Mongoose, we understand the pressures a hardworking and under-appreciated GM is always under – Paranoia is his perfect game).

Alpha Complex itself is exactly the same it always has been. It has also been changed to reflect today’s uncertain world. With the new Cerebral Coretech implants, the Computer truly can watch everything. And, of course, the dreaded Communists have now been joined by the vile Terrorists.

Once we have got the Kickstarter edition out of the door, we will be doing some previews of the new game, but I will just say this – if you have had but the slightest interest in Paranoia in the past, you will want to take a look at this new set. It is, as they say, a good ‘un.

Happily, the Kickstarter also funded several expansions to the game. Released alongside the box set will be the Interactive Screen (who wants a normal, boring GM’s Screen, eh?), and the full colour Forms Pack, printed on a tear-off pad so players can be threatened with bureaucracy at any time (or whim).

Following them quickly will be the first two expansion card decks. The first, The Mutant Explosion, adds many more mutant powers to the game, while the second covers additional Secret Societies… I don’t want to say too much about this one at the moment but suffice to say as well as brand new societies, it brings about schisms to old favourites!

Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues is currently being revised for both the new game and the changes in the setting, and a brand new set of adventures, Ultraviolent, will follow quickly.

Paranoia: A game of the darkly humorous future, upgraded for the post-privacy present…

 

Victory at Sea

This one has been on the cards for a long time – our miniatures game of World War II naval warfare.

When the first edition was released, many, many moons ago, its success caught us by surprise and, over the years, it became clear a second edition might be a good idea. We wrote the new game, playtested it a lot, and created a great many (about 150, as things stand!) 1/1800 scale ships.

But what to do with it?

We did not want to produce the game ourselves because, well, we don’t do that any more. So, we have spent the past few years looking for a suitable partner who can handle both book and miniatures… and we think we have found someone. Keep a weather eye out in the first half of 2017 for some exciting news here.

Incidentally, the Victory at Sea video game was released in 2015 on the PC. In development right now is Victory at Sea 2.0, again for the PC, and Victory at Sea: Ironclad, covering the American Civil War. We actually have a full miniatures rulebook written for the latter (heavily inspired by rules written by David ‘I know more about naval warfare than you’ Manley and yes, that will be making an appearance too on the tabletop. But WWII comes first.

 

Longer Term Aims

Our immediate aims are ‘make Traveller and Paranoia the best RPGs in their respective fields’. Although what other RPG occupies the same field as Paranoia might require some thought.

Beyond that, one goal is to properly develop our own original setting. We have messed about in the shallow end of this several times (Deus Vult, Wraith Recon, Infernum, for example) but we have never really, properly committed to any of them, and I am not sure they were the right ideas in the first place.

We do, of course, have some ideas. First among these is the Articulo Mortis setting for Traveller (the name of which has to change, for reasons that will be very obvious once you translate that title), a mixing pot of Third Imperium, Firefly and, yes, the Walking Dead.

Will that be the one we go forward with? No idea yet, but it is certainly a contender.

On a slightly different tack, Mongoose has been somewhat known for producing licensed games in the past (Babylon 5, Conan, Starship Troopers, to name but three). Are we looking at chasing more licences… well, not really, but never say never. The Golden Rule here is that we produce the games we ourselves want to play. If one of us gets a hankering to play, oh, I don’t know, a Halo RPG, you can be sure we’ll get onto the phone quickly.

That said, there is a proposal from us on the desk of a certain someone. It is not a massive mainstream licence (not TV or film), but it is ‘known’ in the RPG world. We think a small number of you would be really excited for it (we certainly are!), and we think we can do a good job. As for what it is… well, a decision is being made early next year, so you’ll just have to wait!

 

Onwards and Upwards

Overall, there has been a new attitude developing at Mongoose.

In the past, we have watched the RPG market like hawks, responding to trends and the actions of our competitors. These days… honestly… I really could not care less about the games other companies produce. Unless they are really good games, of course, in which case I will be playing them!

We are in the happy position that we do not need to consider other publishers as competitors (no one else can really do the games we produce), and so we are free to concentrate on designing the games that we want to play. To that extent, every one of our books today goes through the same three stages:

  1. Make it playable
  2. Make it pretty
  3. Add a dollop of awesome

As a writer, the first of these is the primary issue. There have been too many RPG books in the past (both from Mongoose and other publishers) that waffle on about detail and get into mechanics that may seem realistic when they are being written, but are absolute murder during play. RPGs are intended to be played and it can be easy to fall into the trap of forgetting that.

This was central to both the new edition of Traveller and Paranoia. Previous editions of Traveller had you tracking the speeds of individual vehicles and calculating their acceleration. How boring and time consuming is that, when you are chasing after the rogue agent in your G/Carrier? All you need to know are the relative speeds of the vehicles and whether one can easily overhaul the other (and how agile they are, once you get into the city or jungle). With one stroke, we got rid of a lot of rules waffle and made the game smoother.

Making the books pretty is down to our design team, Amy and Sandrine (I once commissioned a front cover myself, and was firmly told by my staff to never do it again…). Everything art-related you see in the new Traveller and Paranoia comes down to these two gamer girls.

Adding a dollop of awesome to each book is not something that can be quantified, and falls into the category of ‘we know it when we see it’. This takes many different forms, and may be different for each reader. For us it has included rules (the armour rules for Paranoia in the GM’s book, cited by Ken Rolston as a ‘monument to Paranoia rules writing’), art and design (I thought the ship size comparison spread in High Guard was quite funky), and approaches to how games are actually played (take a look at the way racism is handled in the Traveller adventure High and Dry – it will seriously wind up any Vargr player in the group…).

So, what can you expect from Mongoose Publishing in 2017 and beyond?

Some seriously good gaming experiences, I would say.

See you at the gaming table!

Matthew Sprange
Managing Director
Mongoose Publishing

Bringer of War 2015

On May 23rd of this year, Mongoose is throwing open its doors to host Bringer of War ’15, a one-day tournament for Warhammer 40,000.

Why Warhammer 40,000? Because here at Mongoose we love all games, not just our own, and we have been Warhammer fanatics for years!

You can download the full tournament pack HERE.

 

Players will take part in 3 games over the course of the day. We shall be using 7th edition rules, with 2 missions to be revealed on the day, and a chance to use an Altar of War mission of your choice.

 

How Do I Sign Up?

There are 24 places available on a first come, first served basis. The minimum age for players is 18 years, and the ticket price is £12. Payment can be made via PayPal to paypal@mongoosepublishing.com.

Unfortunately we can only confirm your place once we have received your entry fee and tickets are non-refundable, so please make sure you can make it before committing to buying a ticket.


Where Is It?

This tournament will be located at Mongoose’s HQ, on the first floor of 52-54 Cricklade Road in Swindon.

The full address is:

Mongoose Publishing
52-54 Cricklade Road
Swindon
Wiltshire
SN2 8AF

You can find a map HERE.

Snacks and drinks are available on site, and there are several restaurants, cafes and fast food places within walking distance.

 

Are There Prizes?

Indeed there are. There will be a cup for the winner and Games Workshop have kindly donated prizes.

 

Cut to the Chase – What Armies can we use?

The following rules must be obeyed when creating an army for this tournament.

  • Armies must be chosen to a maximum of 1,500pts.
  • All current Codexes are permitted, including electronic-only editions such as Codex: Adepta Sorotitas and Imperial Armour army lists such as Ork Dread Mobs.
  • All armies must be Battle-Forged. Codex-specific detachments (such as the Nemesis Strike Force from Codex: Grey Knights) are permitted.
  • Allied detachments are permitted but no Come the Apocalypse allies may be taken.
  • Formations and Dataslate units are permitted.
  • An army may have a maximum of one Super Heavy or Gargantuan unit.
  • Forge World units found in Imperial Armour books are permitted. Forge World units with only experimental rules are not.

Armies MUST be fully painted and based, which means a minimum of three base colours (not including undercoat), and at least sand or flock on the base.

There are rewards and penalties for painting. WYSIWYG is required, even for free upgrades.

If you have any questions about what is permitted and not, please feel free to drop us a line at msprange@mongoosepublishing.com and we’ll get right back to you!

 

We look forward to seeing you on the day!

State of the Mongoose 2014

The State of the Mongoose is our yearly review of what has been happening behind the scenes at Mongoose, and a look ahead for our plans for the next twelve months. We have always tried to be as open with our fans as possible, and we know some of you are keen readers of this address!

You are welcome to make any comments or ask any questions regarding this address here on our forums.

 

Review of 2014

After the issues of 2013, we had a major change in the way we did business, and we started implementing a new approach to manufacturing games. This was instigated by the closure of our US-based facilities where miniatures were manufactured and our main warehouse was located.

From this point, miniatures games would effectively be designed for production by other companies, such as Judge Dredd produced by our friends at Warlord Games. Roleplaying games, for the greater part of this transition, would be ebook only but we were always looking for a partner who would be willing to print, sell and distribute our RPGs in a similar fashion to the arrangements we had for our miniatures games.

This would be a big change from the ‘do it all ourselves’ approach but it led to two main structural differences; first, it greatly reduced our monthly expenditure by an order of magnitude (at least) which in turn made Mongoose a far more stable company, able to weather the worst the global economy could throw at it. Second, these reduced infrastructure costs now meant the greater part of our expenditure could now be applied directly to the games we were producing – this meant more time could be spent on books, the best sculptors hired and production values (including artwork) could be placed front and centre.

A third difference was lower in priority but we knew it would leverage great benefits – in the past, we have traditionally gone to other companies (be they other games companies or big film studios) and paid them to produce games based on their material. Where possible, we would reverse this and engineer deals where other companies would come to us and pay for the privilege to use our material.

In all, it took us about 18 months to enact all these changes and the final pieces are still falling into place. However, it is all looking very good thus far.

As an aside, a variety of staff changes mean that, aside from myself, in 2014 Mongoose became an all female company. Which is nice for me.

 

Roleplaying Games 2014

We found a suitable partner to pass the production and distribution of our RPGs to in the latter half of 2014 – Studio 2 Publishing, under the leadership of Jim Searcy. Jim is very much one of the good guys in the RPG industry, as all the recommendations we received about him attested to. By going through Studio 2, we completely cut out any aspect of distribution and trade sales, greatly reducing our costs and administration overheads.

It also meant an end to our ebook only approach to RPGs – while ebooks are becoming ever more popular in this part of the hobby, we always knew revenue was being left on the table while we were not in the full printed market. Studio 2 fulfilled this completely and our books can now be found on the shelves of all good games stores, including many of those that were originally available only as ebooks.

The other big event for RPGs in 2014 was, of course, the Paranoia Kickstarter. It took us over a year to get the wheels turning on this one as all our ducks slowly waddled into a line, but it was clearly worth it – blowing way past the expectations of everyone involved. Well over 4,000 of you rallied to support this project which was somewhat humbling! More on Paranoia a little later but the success of this project meant we could take an approach to Paranoia that will ensure this is the best edition of the game yet.

 

Miniatures Games 2014

We continued with the release of new models for the Judge Dredd miniatures game (via Warlord Games) throughout 2014, culminating in the first supplement for the game, Blood on the Streets.

It was our intention to polish off the last models promised during the Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper Kickstarters, and came so very, very close to accomplishing that. We now have only a handful of sets to do for each range, and are looking to complete them around March-ish.

And yes, if we ever do another miniatures-based Kickstarter we will indeed be taking a very different approach…

Beyond that, all our work on miniatures games was behind the scenes as we worked on the development of new titles for Warlord and other companies.

 

Mongoose 2014

Compared to 2012, where things looked a little bleak and 2013, where we started to rally, the end of 2014 sees Mongoose roaring out of the gate and much, much more confident. This will translate into better games, better books and better miniatures, with more support for all of them.

So, what will this mean for 2015 and beyond?

 

Traveller

Via Studio 2, we are still in the process of releasing books in print that were previously only available as ebooks, with titles such as Cosmopolite, the career book covering Citizens and Scholars, being among the big hitters. However, we have not been idle during this period and we already have a number of new books waiting in the wings or just reaching completion.

For example, two new career books are currently being worked on, which was a nice surprise for us – after all, Cosmopolite marked the end of expansion for the careers in the core rulebook. Where could we go from there?

Well, first up is Pirate, a book that takes the core mechanics of the Pirates of Drinax campaign and opens them right up to any campaign. A full campaign system is included in this book allowing players to legitimately (?) do what many Traveller players really want to do during games anyway! This time round, though, the mechanics are there to support them, allowing players to create safe ports and build up contacts that will point the way to nice, fat traders, while the referee has all the tools he will need to set bounty hunters and Navy squadrons on their tails…

The next ‘career’ book that will appear is Alien, a title that allows players (and referees!) to create minor alien races from scratch as part of the character creation process. Whether you are after Narn or Klingon variants or want to create your own bizarre furry creatures from Alpha Centuri, Alien will be the book for you.

Speaking of the Pirates of Drinax, we have made an agreement with the writer, Gareth Hanrahan, to complete the entire campaign within the next few months. If you have not yet taken a look at the Pirates of Drinax, I implore you to now – as a gamer, I would say this is turning out to possibly be the very best campaign written for any RPG. It is an open sandbox campaign with a nicely defined main story arc that could be completed in maybe 6 months – or go on for years. We know of some groups that have played for a year and only gone through the first two adventures.

Best of all, Pirates of Drinax (like Secrets of the Ancients) is completely free for download, though once complete we will go back through it, do some revisions, and release it as a bona fide hardback.

You can also look forward to a brand new ‘ships’ book in the first quarter of 2015 and yes, we believe Droyne will appear in 2015!

Beyond all of this, there are some major projects being worked on for Traveller which, we hope, will prove to be major hammer blows for the game. Those of you who keep an eye on our Facebook page will have seen some experiments we have been doing in the presentation of deck plans (full 3D) but this is the merest tip of the iceberg in our plans. The overall aim is to vastly improve both the presentation and playability of Traveller, switching from doing 2-3 ebooks every month to producing one printed book every 2-3 months. This will be accompanied by a major change (and improvement!) to the artwork and graphical design of Traveller, the area we have received the most calls for change.

This will take most 2015 to accomplish, but you will see the first fruits of our endeavours in the summer – for many years we have had calls from Traveller fans to do an ‘intro to the Third Imperium’ book and this summer will see that book finally appear, presented as a tour across the Imperium, featuring many different worlds in a variety of sectors. Each stopover will allow us to burrow down into the way the Imperium functions, from the most vicious of smugglers to the highest of nobility (you will have a chance to attend a function in the Imperial Palace!)

The key development will be the presentation of this book, and we are aiming to make it truly special, whatever flavour of Traveller you currently enjoy. Written by Traveller-favourite Martin Dougherty, this (so far unnamed) Third Imperium introduction will be a full colour hardback, with gorgeous subsector and planetary maps, Imperial uniforms, merchant company ship colours and oodles of other material never yet seen – we are very much aiming for this book to be the best looking Traveller book released so far. We will then be aiming to beat it with every subsequent Traveller release.

 

2300AD

The 2300AD setting is almost as popular as the Third Imperium and its fans are every bit as passionate about their space adventures as those who like to dwell in the Marches.

In 2014 we finally did what we should have done long before, and appointed Colin Dunn as the official Line Developer for 2300AD. This puts all the creative development for the setting under one hat and ensures continuity will remain firm.

You will have already seen the fruits of this as other writers started working directly with Colin, with the release of titles such as Libreville and the recently appeared Liberty, and a completely revised Bayern coming very soon now. We also finally got Ships of the French Arm out of the door which we believe is the very best Traveller ‘ships’ book we have released for any setting and is a glorious hardback full of 3D generated ships and their deck plans.

The final touches are being done to the Atlas of the French Arm, whereupon work will switch to the Chinese Arm with books appearing for that later in the year. Before they appear though, expect to see the Aerospace Engineer’s Handbook, a rules-based book that is jam-packed with all sorts of space ship design mechanics that really get into the detail of craft design in 2300AD.

 

New Settings

In the 2013 State of the Mongoose, we mentioned three new settings for Traveller – the Wild West, In Articulo Mortis and an as yet unnamed Steampunk/Mechs/Bioshock/Darkest Africa blend. These are still all very much in the works but looking at what else is happening with Traveller it will be the bottom end of 2015 at best before you see any of them and a 2016 release is not out of the question. We’ll keep you up to speed with them, however, and release previews (likely on Facebook) as we go.

 

Legend

Traveller continues to suck a great deal of our RPG design time away from Legend, but we recognise how popular this system has become and are rallying the troops to support it properly.

To our great joy, a lot of the titles that had been ebook only for Legend have now appeared in print, including Elementalism and Citadel Beyond the North Wind. As I type this, Deus Vult is having the rulebooks and all major supplements printed, and Sheoloth has just appeared in print.

In 2015, Sheoloth will be getting more printed support, as will Deus Vult, a favourite setting of ours. I had intended to do the Witch Hunter’s Training Guide in 2014, opening the setting up to a new style of play, but with everything else going on I may have to hand this to another writer. Beyond that, I would very much like to see an Inquisitor’s Training Guide, but one thing at a time.

For the core line, we have a number of titles in the works, including Arms of Legend II, providing more equipment choices for campaigns which will, of course, be released as completely Open Content. A similar book suited to Deus Vult is also planned.

 

Paranoia

In the last State of the Mongoose, I mentioned that something big was on the horizon for Paranoia, and now it is fairly obvious that was the new edition, spearheaded by games design supreme, James Wallis.

From the start, we wanted to take a new approach to Paranoia, focussing on what makes Paranoia great rather than bending the ‘normal’ RPG design process to the setting – and the first reports we are getting from the playtest pack received by the Kickstarter backers all point to us getting it right!

The new game cuts through the rules bloat that developed in previous editions and presents a core that is aimed at getting to play quickly, with the emphasis on fun, relegating a lot of what was previously presented as long tables by card decks. Need a funky new item from R&D? Draw from the equipment deck. Want to quickly dish out mutant powers to the players? Got a card deck for that. And so on.

However, the cards themselves are only used as play aids, either presenting rules in a quick to reference fashion or allowing players to keep certain things hidden (by keeping cards face down) during play. The original RPG style of play is still very much there, just quicker, easier and with more doubleplus mandatory fun!

All of our efforts for Paranoia are now going into getting the box set designed and produced, with James and his team handling the rules design while here at Mongoose we are busy beavering away on the art and graphical design. We project the Kickstarter backers will be getting their box sets and additional materials around June-ish (if not before, all going well), with a retail release in the summer.

This will be quickly followed by the first supplements, of which the lucky Kickstarter backers will already have in their hands, starting with the GM’s screen (with its very special – and no doubt ‘helpful’ – players side) and the Mutant Explosion expansion deck. The Kickstarter also funded other card decks and new adventures, which will all eventually find their place on retail shelves, and talk has already begun on a brand new Paranoia expansion box set which, if the green light is given, will give many, many new ways to tease, tickle and torment players.

More on that at a later date…

The big news, however, is that after the summer retail release, Paranoia will be grown into a fully supported line. Should be easy on your wallet too!

 

Judge Dredd Miniatures Game

The recent release of Blood on the Streets introduced some brand new forces to the game, including the Judda and Klegg Invasion Force (a personal favourite!) which have also been released. The ABC Warriors will be joining them in the first quarter of next year, followed by the biker gangs (a street gang, apes, zombies and robots, all on bikes!), and a Brit-Cit Justice Department set which will be accompanied with a separate Brit-Cit Judge on bike release.

Beyond that, you will also see a Hondo-Cit Judge force, Eldsters and proper Mobster and Zombie Horde sets. There are also a slew of new single miniatures on the way, such as Max Normal (already previewed on Facebook), Dog Vultures, Med and Tek Judges on modified Lawmasters, Troggies, Treasure Steel and oodles more!

A great deal of focus, however, will be put upon the vehicles of Mega-City One. The Manta has just started full production at Warlord and in the first two quarters will be joined by the Pat Wagons (four variants – standard, riot, fire and grav), the Ground Car and the (frankly massive!) Mo-Pad. These, with the four biker gangs, will really get the Judge Dredd miniatures game on the road. And yes, we are looking into ways of providing you with real MC-1 roads for your tabletop! All going well, this will culminate with Death on the Megway, the second supplement for the game, which is slated to be released at the bottom end of 2015. This will include really funky rules for using vehicles at 200+ mph, as well as tying up all the rules for the models released in 2015.

Also expect to see the Rogue Trooper range formerly released in 2015, soon after the Kickstarter backers have received their armies.

 

Victory at Sea

We have been saying for a couple of years now that big things are in the pipeline for Victory at Sea – 2015 is the year all those plans finally become reality!

The current edition of Victory at Sea went out of print just before Christmas. It will not be coming back.

Instead, September of 2015 will see the release of the full colour hardback Victory at Sea 2.0, in conjunction with Warlord Games. This book and its range of miniatures have been at every stage designed to be the best possible World War II naval wargaming experience. The rules themselves have been in continual playtest for more than three years now and have been rigorously reviewed by our team of Official Naval Boffins, headed by one David Manley, a name that should be very familiar in naval wargaming circles.

The rulebook itself will contain all variants and refits of all warships of all the major naval powers (for reasons of space we have had to drop, for example, the Soviet fleet list, but it will reappear in the future), along with all the rules needed to cover night fighting, bad weather, the use of radar, sub-hunting and coastal invasions (the latter two of which are effectively sub-games using the Victory at Sea mechanics).

This magnificent rulebook will be accompanied by a full and diverse miniatures range. If you have been watching the Victory at Sea range develop, you have already seen the exquisite detail we have put into these 3D-designed 1/1800 scale ships, with vessels such as the Tirpitz and Nelson being some of the finest.

Our intention is to release 1/1800 miniatures of just about everything that ever floated or flew in World War II, and we have already produced aircraft, submarines and motor torpedo boats. These will be joined by every warship we can get hold of deck plans for (we import deck plans directly into our 3D software and build up the models from there to ensure the greatest level of accuracy possible) as well as landing craft, coastal batteries, coast invasion targets, harbour pieces and much, much more.

That will all take time – several years, we are projecting! However, right from the release of the core book there will be complete fleet sets available, allowing you to get straight into the action.

This release of Victory at Sea is a very, very big deal for us. A lot of man (and woman!) years have already been put into its development and our partnership with Warlord Games to bring this new edition to you probably makes this the largest miniatures project we have done yet, bar none.

However, it does not stop there…

 

Video Games

Last year saw the release of the Victory at Sea video game on the PC, courtesy of our friends at Evil Twin Artworks. It took about two years to get this particular ball rolling and everyone involved thought it would be an interesting game for a niche market with some potential. The game ended up being far more popular than any of us guessed!

While not exactly Call of Duty (though for a short while it beat sales of Skyrim on Steam!), Victory at Sea began to garner a lot of interest and a retail released is set for early this year, the artwork for which we previewed on our Facebook page, along with release on mobile platforms (both Android and iOS). Then it went and won the Tiga Award for its category!

All of this means you can expect to see a lot more of Victory at Sea on your computer (and phone/tablet!) screen. The WWII version is undergoing continual development, with a whole bunch of new features already added since launch. Meanwhile, we are already discussing new games covering different periods.

 

New Eras for Victory at Sea

We are now in a funny situation where computer games are driving tabletop games, rather than merely being developed from them. Simply put, before a computerised version of Victory at Sea can be released, we have to do the tabletop version.

The first to appear are likely Victory at Sea: Ironclad (covering the American Civil War and, likely, related eras) and Victory at Sea: Age of Dreadnoughts (WWI, updated to the new Victory at Sea 2.0 mechanics). And for those of you familiar with David Manley’s works there is a chance, no promises, of Victory at Sea: Cod Wars appearing!

In each of these cases, Mongoose will produce the rulebook which will likely first appear as an ebook edition. The computer game will be based on this and, as time and production allows, Warlord Games will later release an updated hardback edition with a full range of ships.

That is the plan, at any rate; Mongoose, Warlord and Evil Twin are all dedicated to make Victory at Sea a comprehensive platform that will cover all eras of naval wargaming, from Ancients to Modern and everything in between. This is not a plan for 2015 by any means – it is a plan for the next decade and beyond.

However, we are well on the way. The World War II edition of Victory at Sea is paving the way, and we are already at an advanced state with Ironclad (the core rules are all done and playtested, as has at least half the Union fleet), and we even have 3D models of the Monitor and Virginia complete.

If you have any interest in naval wargaming, keep an eye on this space – big things are happening. If you have not tried naval wargaming yet, then we would beg you to take a look and allow us to prove that rolling dice and watching the Bismarck disappear beneath the waves is at least as cool as blowing away space marines with plasma fire!

 

Partnership with Victrix

We mentioned in the last State of the Mongoose that we had been talking to several other companies with regards to designing new miniatures games. Principal among these was Victrix, a company whose miniatures I have personally been collecting and painting for a few years now.

What caught our eye was their announcement of a new range of 1/100 scale WWII aircraft with adjustable flight stands.

This was just what we had been waiting for someone to do.

Way, way back in Mongoose’s past, we had pre-painted ultramodern miniatures game called Battlefield Evolution (which has since been developed into, among other things, the Judge Dredd miniatures game). What we never told anyone was that we had also developed Battlefield Evolution 3D, a WWII game that used plastic aircraft on, yes you have guessed it, adjustable flight stands.

A confession first. I am a complete prophead. As a child, I drooled over every book on aircraft I could get my hands on. I played just about every flight simulator ever released for hour upon hour. When I was older, I took flying lessons on real aircraft. When I could not fly for real, I was heavily into radio-controlled aircraft (recently picked up a twin-engine A-26 Invader!). And my Airfix collection could sink a full-size carrier.

In short, I know more about aviation than I do about Star Wars. And that is saying something.

When it came to the tabletop, however, despite playing just about everything released, I never found anything that properly represented dogfights. The mechanics had to be simple and, most importantly, fast. You had to be able to move and attack with a plane in seconds, and anyone passing the table should be able to see the aircraft climbing and turning, watching the dogfight unfold between them.

Now, for all sorts of reasons, we had issues with production and, especially, the design of the flight stands. To hear someone had cracked that side of the problem was interesting to say the release…

So, we dropped a quick line to Victrix to see if they had any desire to see a well-produced full colour hardback rulebook to support these new models. And that is where the avalanche started.

It turned out that the guys at Victrix were interested in producing games for all their miniatures lines…

 

Warriors of Antiquity

By this time, the Victrix aircraft, while announced, were still some ways from actual release (the first have just come out!). However, they had plenty of other miniatures lines that needed supporting.

So, planned for a grand launch at Salute in 2015 is Warriors of Antiquity: Warbands of the Ancient World.

The original design brief for this game was to take the current Judge Dredd rules (themselves a development of Starship Troopers and Battlefield Evolution) and turn them into a set of rules based in the Ancient world.

As it turns out, the saying that a plan never survives contact with the enemy was apt here.

Victrix was not after a set of mass battle rules for Ancients line. Rather, they wanted a focus on small scale skirmishes – the countless battles that took place throughout history but were never reported. All those fights along the border, the cattle raids, ambushes and sneak attacks.

However, as we worked on Warriors of Antiquity, pretty much throughout 2014, the setting started having an impact on the mechanics (as it always does) to the extent that while its roots in the Battlefield Evolution rules are still recognisable (four action system, traits and Talents, for example) it plays very differently, with more of an emphasis on heroes leading small units (5-30 models in size).

The real joy for me is that we have succeeded in having more models on the table than in Judge Dredd (a starting warband has about 40-50 models, depending on what you take) but an average game between players who know the rules still takes about 20-30 minutes. With the full campaign system included in the rulebook, this means you can get several games done during an evening and watch your warband grow and your heroes develop!

If you have any interest in the Ancient world, this is one to watch our for. The rulebook is a glorious full colour hardback which contains more than 30 different scenarios (many designed for specific warbands, so they will fight on the tabletop as they did in history) and a wide choice of warbands, from the Athenians, Spartans and Thebans, to Republican Rome, Carthage and the ‘barbarian tribes’ (separate warband lists are provided for Britons, Gauls, the Germanic tribes and Iberians).

Warriors of Antiquity will continue to be supported as Victrix release more of their miniatures, and we hope to have a free PDF available bringing an entirely new (but very familiar!) warband to the game soon after launch!

 

More Games From Victrix

I mentioned that WWII dogfighting game earlier – this is Fight for the Skies, currently scheduled for a summer release when a few more aircraft have appeared. We have already taken the old Battlefield Evolution 3D rules and updated them to be a more modern design that utilises the specific design of Victrix’s flight stands and have been engaging in some furious dogfights in the office! We are now working on rules for bombers, ground attack, aces and campaigns to make this a fully-fledged game.

With a release date yet to be set, we are also due to start work on March of Eagles, a Napoleonics-based battle level game that will get you playing with potentially huge armies yet doing so with very quick and easy to learn rules. More news on this as it develops.

There are also several long-ranged projects that we have been discussing with Victrix but they are not realistic for 2015 and, as it stands, we have enough to be getting on with on this front!

 

Other Stuff

It is the nature of the beast, but there are some things that have been left out of this State of the Mongoose, mostly due to a lack of firm ground or the need to get several ducks properly in line before we can move ahead. There is much that has been left unsaid about Traveller, certainly, and we could fill an entire address with all the plans, large and small, we have for this game. Traveller remains very firmly as one of our most favourite of games, and you can be sure we will be ploughing much of our time, energy and (above all) passion into this one.

Beyond that, we have the manuscript of a novel based on one of our properties on the desk of a major US publisher right now – maybe something will come of that, maybe it won’t. Last year we produced a TV pilot script based on one of our games. I really don’t think anything will come of that, but you never know!

We are also courting a proposal for a new computer game that is not based on Victory at Sea, one that has some serious names behind it, a seven-figure development budget and a direct targeting of both PC and consoles. Putting my finger in the air, I do think something will come of this, but I also believe it will be a couple of years at best before anything solid can be presented. It is in the nature of these things to take time.

 

2015 and Beyond

The past couple of years have not been the most awesome in Mongoose’s history, it has to be admitted, but 2014 saw a real turnaround and we are fairly exploding into 2015, eager, willing, and full of energy to produce the best games we can. Everyone at Mongoose has rededicated themselves to raising the bar in terms of both development and production quality for all our games, across the board.

As always seems to be the case, some of these new directions will take a year or more to bear fruit. Others you will see fairly quickly. However, we have a new development and scheduling system in place and will be in a position to provide you with a lot more feedback on what is happening and when behind the scenes.

So, as we head into a new year, it just remains for me to thank each and every one of our fans. Your faith and support has sustained us through the years of global recession, and we are looking forward to providing you with some of the best gaming experiences possible in 2015, both in roleplaying and miniatures games.

See you all at the gaming table!

 

State of the Mongoose 2013

We have been crazy, crazy busy over the past few months, and this State of the Mongoose is much delayed. For that I apologise – I was considering skipping it altogether, but I seem to get an email or Facebook message every other day asking for it. Always happy to oblige, this is going to be a somewhat cut-down State of the Mongoose, rather than the usual 10,000+ word epic, but it will at least give you all a sense of what we have been doing and where we are going.

 

2013 Review (Abbreviated Version)

We had a number of issues in 2013, the biggest of which was that our warehouse and casting facility in Ohio had developed a number of systemic problems that resisted solution over the years. The sheer weight of the Judge Dredd Kickstarter, though managed in the initial months, ended up breaking the processes in place completely. In the end, we were faced with the choice of pouring (more) money in to solve the problem, or closing the place down.

This decision was aided by a change in the way we went about producing miniatures. We had already reached an agreement with the good chaps at Amarillo Design Bureau to pass manufacturing and sale of the A Call to Arms: Star Fleet game and models on to them, leaving us with the design of the miniatures. This, added to a very similar arrangement with Warlord Games for the Judge Dredd range whereby we designed game and miniatures while they handle manufacture and distribution, meant the only miniatures line we had left to produce ourselves was the barely started Victory at Sea range – and that simply was not enough to justify keeping an entire warehouse open.

Not that this did not create problems. The first and most powerful impact was upon the two Kickstarters we had run just a little earlier, for Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper. Moving to third parties for manufacture meant an increase in production costs that blew past the ‘buffer’ zone we had factored in for issues and emergencies, which in turn had an impact on the rest of the company as a proportion of the Kickstarter production now had to be funded from other areas.

Added to that, we had to include the truly monumental task of shipping the manufacture of a large and growing range of Dredd models from the US to the UK – in this, I cannot thank the chaps at Warlord enough, who went way beyond the call of duty to get everything ready as quickly as possible, under conditions and deadlines that were less than ideal.

All of this meant heavy delays on the Kickstarters, especially on Rogue Trooper. We apologise profusely to the backers for that – we did not foresee the circumstances that arose within production after the Kickstarters were complete, and it has taken us quite some time to get everything back under control. We are now just about there, with a great deal of Dredd models flowing out of Warlord’s production facility (as I type, another batch has just arrived), and Rogue Trooper now beginning to follow.

Then there were our RPGs, Traveller and Legend. Without a permanent base in the US, full distribution became more difficult and, for a while, we pulled out of general distribution altogether. That is why, in the US especially, you may have seen less of our books in your local stores of late.

However, we are working with another third party who already have an extensive distribution network set up, and hope to have some good news for you in the next couple of months or so.

With a concentration on design rather than production and, for a few months, digital rather than printed books, we were able to make a great many changes within Mongoose and the way we do things. Sadly, this meant the loss of some staff as our requirements for administration disappeared almost overnight (it seemed), and I made the decision to come back fully into game development, rather than just maintaining oversight of it.

As a company, we are now lean, mean and hungry – it feels like a return to the ‘old’ days!

Anyway, that was 2013. You will all now be wanting to know what is happening in 2014 for your favourite games…

 

Traveller

Here at Mongoose, we have a real passion for Traveller. In our regular office games, we normally take pains to play games from other publishers but since Traveller was released, this has been exceedingly difficult as it often gets the vote for a new campaign!

Regrettably, the issues with the US operations did divert our attention away from Traveller a little, but we are just going through a round of commissions for new title, and I made the decision to weigh in with a new book myself, the first RPG book I have designed from start to finish for a good few years – and I am rather enjoying it!

There are actually all sorts of exciting things happening in the wider Traveller universe, but we’ll be letting Mr Miller make those announcements as they become ready. For our part, you can expect to see the following this year and early next, but we are still in the process of commissioning so expect a few surprises along the way!

Alien Modules: Droyne is still in the process of being written, so don’t panic – it has not been forgotten! While we have not yet commissioned Hivers or K’kree, we have a fairly definite plan of how to handle/portray the latter and we are going to make the herbivores seriously cool to play…

Minor Alien Modules: Suerrat is being written right now and while others have not been commissioned yet, we are always on the look out to expand this PDF series. Once we get a few in our pocket, it is likely we will release a printed compilation.

Mercenary Second Edition: About two-thirds written thus far, this is a complete re-write of the previous book. I was never really happy with the first edition and the general consensus from Traveller fans is that it is the weakest of the core books. The new edition is going to change that, with a more focussed approach to mercenaries and mercenary campaigns, rather than a general ‘military’ supplement. We have been previewing this on Planet Mongoose, so please dive in and make comments!

Space Stations: Though we skipped the numbering on this supplement with subsequent releases, we have not forgotten it! Space Stations is going through final design and layout right now, and will be appearing first as a PDF release later in April or May.

Citizen/Scholar: Likely not the final title of this book, but towards the bottom end of the year citizens and scholars will finally get their career book. It has taken us a while to get to them, but we believe we have finally got a premise for players to get the most out of these characters.

Pirates: A cross between a campaign and career book, this does for pirates what Mercenary Second edition will do for mercs – allow players to create pirate characters (or go pirate with existing characters) and give the referee enough tools to run an extended campaign quickly and easily.

Wild West: We have for some time been looking at ways to expand Traveller to other eras and settings. We experimented with the PDF-only release of Cowboys vs. Xenomorphs, and have finally commissioned a full Wild West book. Expect to see familiar Traveller character creation, patrons and ‘trading’ rules, all adapted for exploring the frontier…

Steampunk/Mechs/Bioshock/Darkest Africa: As you may have worked out, this one has not got a name yet, but writing has already started on a Steampunk-style setting for Traveller, with a few other added components for good measure. We’ll be previewing this one throughout the year.

In Articulo Mortis: Another new setting, this one is slightly more traditional in that it is set among the stars and uses many of the ‘standard’ Traveller tropes. However, it does have an awful lot of zombies in it, plenty of dead worlds and a bunch of religious nutters who currently hold the balance of power over many systems. The players will be stuck between all three. We were planning for this to be a release fairly early this year, but the new Mercenary has grabbed my attention for now. Hope to get back to this very soon, as I think it will be a cracker.

2300AD: We are starting to ramp up proper support on this line, with Ships of the French Arm in art and layout right now, with more French Arm material already being written – and then we will be taking a trip to the Chinese Arm! We have also recently commissioned a brand new re-visiting of Bayern, so long-term 2300AD fans will be keeping an eye out for that.

Epic Campaigns: Albeit slower than originally planned, the Pirates of Drinax (by Gareth Hanrahan, for my money one of the best campaigns written for any RPG, ever – and it is free to download!) continues and we are already looking at the next epic campaign, a possible prequel to Secrets of the Ancients. We are also looking at a campaign, released in quarterly episodes, designed specifically for conventions and demo teams. More news on that a little later this year. Finally, to join the Adventure books, and very much in the style of Beltstrike, we have a campaign based around the recently released Rescue Ops Special Supplement, so if you ever fancied playing a Thunderbirds-style set of games, we will have you covered!

We have oodles more in the pipeline for Traveller (I have not even mentioned the Caribbean Pirates setting book…) so sit back, and enjoy your travels among the stars.

Here is to many, many more years of Traveller-goodness!

 

Judge Dredd

Given how many years the comic strip has been going, we have enough source material for new models and ways of playing the Judge Dredd miniatures game for eternity! We still need to polish off deliveries for the Kickstarter backers (the end is in sight though – with the packages going out this month, we will just have the ABC Warriors, biker gangs, Judda and Nero/Assassinator Droids to do for the full sets), and we need to get the vehicles into proper, full production. The latter include the Manta Prowl Tank, which will finally go on general release this Summer, the Pat Wagon (and its variants), Banshee Interceptor, ground car and Mopad (complete with open-top swimming pool!). We also need to gather some more regular sculptors together for the range, as our current sculptors are now splitting their time between Dredd and Rogue Trooper.

That said, we have managed to squeeze in the odd new model and already sculpted and hitting the moulds, among other things, are the Long Walk Judge, Acc-Div Judge, Cadet on a Lawmaster and a new Combat Droid. For full sets, aside from the Kickstarter models listed above, expect to see this year a full Brit-Cit force, Hondo City Judges and, a personal wish of mine, Crocks/Eldsters, ready to teach the young punks of their block a good lesson!

We are also continuing to work on famous characters from the comic strip (all of which will be useable in your games, as usual), such as PJ Maybe, Call-Me-Kenneth, Red Razors, Treasure Steel, Devlin Waugh and many others!

Rogue Trooper has taken the brunt of the delays involved in closing down our US operations, but we have finally started working properly on the models. Already done (and just going through a few tweaks as I type) are the three new Rogues, which should be shipping out to backers in just a few weeks. Work has already started on the Nort and Souther squads, and we look to be on course to tie up the Kickstarter range by Autumn.

 

Legend

Traveller has sucked a great deal of our RPG design time away from Legend, but we are striving to bring continual new releases to the many, many fans this game has. Recently we released a new ‘magic book’ in the form of Elementalism, and this is a line I would like to see greatly extended, with GMs and players using the ‘plug and play’ mature of these books to introduce variant magic systems into their game.

We also re-released the Dark Elf setting of Sheoloth for Legend, and made it a much grimmer and darker place than before (as a city, it is thoroughly nasty…). Darren Pearce has already written the first Cults book for this setting, and he is beavering away on more supplements right now.

Deus Vult is another setting close to my heart, and the new ‘digest’ format fits it perfectly. It has had a veritable salvo of adventures added to it, and you can expect to see not only a full sourcebook on the city of Rouen this year (likely around June), but also a new direction to take campaigns, with the Witch Hunter Training Guide…

Paranoia

We have been saying for a while now that Paranoia is on a temporary rest and that something big and new and exciting is about to appear. We are currently running a few months behind on this, our apologies, but we are carefully getting all the right people and components into position.

Please continue to be patient, I promise it will be worth it. This is going to be a good ‘un…

 

Victory at Sea

We have some big, big plans for Victory at Sea, but are also very much aware we are in a chicken and egg situation with the line in many ways. Everyone knows about the Victory at Sea 2.0 rulebook that is currently in development, and everybody tells us they want to see both that and a large range of models released before they start taking it to heart.

We can appreciate that. We’re gamers too.

First the rulebook. The core rules are all done. A decent majority of the fleet lists are complete. Playtesting has been going on, continuously, every week, for more than two years now. Our Official Naval Boffins have been scrutinising every word for historical accuracy. We have even started laying the book out.

And it currently looks like it will be a 400+ page tome. Hardback, full colour throughout, something you would be happy to have on your coffee table as much as your gaming table.

As things stand, we have not made the final decision yet as to whether it will be kept in one volume or, indeed, whether we will publish it or if it will pass to another company, perhaps with the ship models too. All rather academic anyway, as the book still ain’t finished. We need to fill out the fleet lists (and playtest the new entries), add more historical background material, and add way more scenarios.

As we have been telling everyone at shows, this book will be done when it is ready!

The new range of 1/1800 scale ship models we have been releasing, on the other hand, is going strong on the design front – we now have more than 150 different ships modelled in 3D, just waiting for rapid prototyping and production.

Up to now, we have been trickling these models out, and they have only been available at shows or via our own web site’s mail order. At some point, we are going to throw the switch on this range and put it into full distribution – but, of course, we cannot do that until the rulebook is ready and, well, I think you see the problem.

So, the good news is that Victory at Sea is coming on very nicely. The bad news is that we don’t have a schedule set yet. Expect to see more solid news for this line in a few months.

Oh, there is one more thing – Mr David Manley (all you nautical coves should already know this gentleman!) sent us his rules for Ironclads, a set of Victory at Sea-based rules for the American Civil War and related eras. We have found time to update these rules to 2.0 spec, and have started laying out and playtesting this book as well. It may only be a PDF release (again, no decision made there yet), but there is a rumour going round the office that Sandrine has already designed a 1/600 scale Monitor and Virginia…

 

New Games

As a company, I am rather taken with the idea of Mongoose dropping much of the sales and manufacturing it has done in the past (a hard truth is that neither have been our strengths), and concentrating on design, be it miniatures or games (they may or may not be to your own tastes, but we rarely get complaints about the actual games we do – doing good games is very much our strength). Recently, we have been working hard at raising the bar in the rulebooks we produce both in terms of graphical quality (we would quite happily stand the new Judge Dredd rulebook alongside anything else in the market at the moment) and games design (some of the new Traveller books in the works really are very, very good).

This is all in the early stages at the moment, and we still have to gauge how our working relationships with Amarillo Design Bureau (Star Fleet) and Warlord (Dredd) develop. It is possible that we will get to the end of 2014 and discover this is not the road for the future. But, as things stand, things are looking optimistic. We keep an open mind.

To this end, we have been reaching out to several manufacturers with the line ‘hey, you do great stuff – let us do a game for you.’ Again, the response thus far has been positive and we hope to make some agreements over the next few months that we hope will get many of you excited (we certainly are!). Some of these projects may seem a little leftfield for us, such as games rooted solidly in the historical sector – but many of these games are things we have been dying to do over the years; Mongoose just never seemed to have time to attend to their manufacture and, in any case, we tended to shy away from them because Company X had already started producing a range of models we thought were first class anyway.

This method sees the best of both worlds, with us getting to play with other people’s models while getting to write books about them.

I might fairly describe that as heaven, but you might think me rather strange.

We have also taken on some miniatures 3D design work for other manufacturers, starting with a few new designs for 15mm Hammers Slammers, allowing our 3D Designer (Sandrine) to stretch her legs on more than just robots for Dredd and battleships for Victory at Sea.

 

2014 and Beyond

2013 was a fairly rough year for us in more ways than one but, as a wise man once said, what is important to remember the most is that we are still here! Not being a manufacturer proper is a fundamental shift for us but, at the same time, Mongoose has reinvented itself over the years as the market shifts and changes, and I would hope we can continue to keep up.

Personally, I am looking forward to getting our teeth into lines both old and new, and producing the best games we have released yet.

Exciting times are ahead.

Changes in Mongoose Mail Orders

We just wanted to fill everyone in on some recent changes we have made here at Mongoose to our mail order system, in our ongoing quest to provide you with a quicker and more comprehensive service.

First off, we are moving our entire mail order operation to the UK. From now on, all US and Canadian mail orders will be dispatched from here rather than our Ohio facility, which will now be dedicated almost completely to metal miniatures manufacture. Our UK office will now be able to provide you with a 24 hour turnaround on most orders, and we have negotiated a fast track air mail service with Royal Mail to both the US and Canada (to different airports, depending on where in the country you are). The overall effect will be to ensure you get your books and models within just a few days of ordering. Furthermore, we are not making any changes to the postal/shipping charges, and so you will be paying no extra for this service.

We enacted this change last Thursday (April 18th), so many of you should already have seen a difference in our turnaround times.

In light of this, we are also moving our resin production to the UK, along with our book printing. This will give us a great deal of flexibility and control in our products, and a much tighter grip on stock levels – several books which have been out of print for the first part of this year are being reprinted right now (and, in fact, Spinward Marches and Traders & Gunboats arrived earlier today – if you have been waiting for either of these books, they are already in the post to you!).

This also removes a bottleneck that had cropped up in our production, so if you have been waiting for certain Judge Dredd or Victory at Sea models, expect a veritable avalanche of new things over the next couple of months!

 

Club Mongoose

Want to play Mongoose games? Want to socialise with other players of Mongoose games, and prove you are the best?

Starting May 12th, and on every second Saturday of every month, we are throwing open our doors at Mongoose HQ in Swindon, and inviting one and all to come play!

We already have a Traveller game set to be run, and there will be leagues/campaigns for A Call to Arms: Star Fleet/Noble Armada, and Judge Dredd.

Everything will be run pretty loose and freeform, so if you have a hankering to play, say, Legend, Armageddon 2089, or Victory at Sea, turn up on the day and we’ll rouse the other attendees to join in! It is an open house, with you being free to play pretty much what you want, when you want – the only rule is that it is a day for Mongoose games!

Doors will open at 10am and close around 6pm, and all play is completely free. Just bring yourself, any relevant books or minis (both of which can be provided if you are lacking!), and enjoy some fun-filled days with your favourite games.

As well as May 12th, we will also be running Club Mongoose on the following dates;

June 9th
July 14th
August 11th
October 13th
November 10th

As always, Mongoose HQ is in Swindon, and a map with directions can be found here.

 

Mongoose on Kindle

Here at Mongoose, we are always keen to try out new things and see what new technologies have to offer. However, that does not mean that everyone at Mongoose always embraces new things.

For years I have stuck my head in the sand and proudly told all and sundry that I liked real books, with real pages made out of real paper. I am sure there are many out there who can sympathise.

Last year, we looked at putting a few books on Amazon’s Kindle device, partly as an experiment, partly as one step to broaden our markets. There are plenty of Kindle ‘viewers’ about but I wanted to see exactlywhat our products would lok like on the real thing, so I bought a ‘company’ Kindle. It was abut that time, when I started using it, that I realised what a colossal idiot I had been. Talk about instant convert – I bought the Kindle version of the book I was already reading and have not bought another paper novel since (I am also reading a lot more than I had before, which can never be bad).

Since then, we have moved a small number of our books to the Kindle, and they are now available on Amazon. Our current line up looks like this;

Standing Alone

Standing Alone

Far and away our most popular offering on Kindle thus far, Standing Alone is a ‘Shotgun Mike’ novel written by MJ Dougherty, and is set in our Armageddon 2089 universe (due for a return to the Traveller system this year). The world is on the brink of a new world war, and a new series of conflicts has arisen, fought by skilled men and women piloting huge robots called Warmeks. This novel focusses on ‘Shotgun’ Mike and the United Kingdom’s struggle for independance from the European Federation.

Sister Devout

Sister Devout

Set in our Deus Vult setting for Legend, Sister Devout charts the life of a young novice who is dragged into the terrifying and often brutal Order, a secret part of the Church dedicated to preserving the safety of Mankind by any means necessary. Her personal feelings towards both of them become increasingly confused as they join forces to battle corruption within the Church of Rouen, and the true nature of her duties become apparent. Headed by the Archbishop of Rouen, once a knight in the Crusades, a coven is seeking to claim power throughout Europe by raising an army of pure evil, an act in contravention of all laws of God.

The Dragons of Lencia

The Dragons of Lencia

Written by ex-Mongooser Rochard Ford, The Dragons of Lencia sees Telnac, King of Lencia, planning to launch a crusade against the Drakkarim of Nyras and restore his country to its former glory. Meanwhile, Warmarshal Ranghor of Darke, overlord of the Drakkarim nation, plans a conquest of his own. Heroes from across Magnamund will be drawn into this bitter conflict in search of glory and riches, but as the armies of two warring nations clash, they will soon learn that only pain and death await them in the land of the blue dragon.

The Slayer’s Guide to Hobgoblins

Slayer's Guide to Hobgoblins

Mongoose goes full circle with this title. Our first ever book is now available on Kindle, now revised to be used with any fantasy-based roleplaying game (and it is just great for Legend!). It features extensive information on the military race of Hobgoblins, from their complex tribal structure to their very efficient methods of waging war. Games Masters will find a huge amount of new material they can incorporate into their existing campaigns, allowing them to portray hobgoblins with incredible depth. Players will find each Slayer’s Guide to be an invaluable tool for their survival, giving them that necessary vital edge.

We will be releasing more Slayer’s Guides via Kindle very soon, including some brand new titles that did not see the light of day all those years ago.

Sex, Dice and Gamer Chicks

Sex, Dice and Gamer Chicks

Possibly the funniest title we have ever released, Sex, Dice and Gamer Chicks casts an irreverant eye on gaming and gamers. Just what drives a rules lawyer? What are the secrets to fame, success and riches as an all-star games designer? Are female gamers weird? All these questions and more are tackled (if not exactly answered) in this tome.

For the Future

Electronic publishing, in one form or another, is clearly in the future of every publisher and we are casting a keen eye on what could be possible. Over the next few months we will be regularly adding titles to Amazon for your Kindle reading pleasure, but we are also taking a good look at other formats. The Kindle Fire is adding new possibilities and Apple’s own iBook Author system means gaming books can reach new possibilities on the likes of the iPad.

Throughout 2012, we will be trying them all!

Christmas is Almost Here…

One of the Mongoose staff is already on holiday and, by the end of the week, everyone else will be joining them. So, what are we all up to in these last few days before the end of the working year?

Rob & the Gang
Rob and his crew handle all of our US operations, from their secret base in Ohio. Which means, at the moment, they are working as hard as they possibly can trying to get Star Fleet miniatures out of the door! They are commencing work on the big fleet sets (due to be sent out in January), but they have squeezed enough time in to start the rapid prototyping process of the civilian ships for Star Fleet and the next wave of Noble Armada ships. Hazat players will want to see what is coming next…

Will
Putting the last touches to the 2300AD rulebook, as well as making sure a whole host of projects get their final tweaks.

Charlotte
Doing the last checking on Arms of Legend and the Vehicle Handbook.

Matthew
Desperately trying to clear as many emails as possible in an effort to leave a relatively free Christmas week to work on Victory at Sea 2.0 and the first Star Fleet supplement (tentatively called battleships, which points a clue as to what at least some of the content will be). Also due to sketch out the first A Call to Arms Journal.

Sandrine
Cleared her final two week schedule in one week, so has been making a start on various bits and pieces from the New Year. A small selection is presented below…

Converted Orion Cruiser

Bismarck

HMS Hood

 

Global Mongoose

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be launching our new official newsletter, Global Mongoose.  Ported straight to you email Inbox once a week, this will give you a good summary of everything that is happening in the world of Mongoose, allowing you to keep tabs on what we are doing!

To make sure you get your weekly copy, simply enter your email address in the Stay Connected section of our front page (you may need to scroll down slightly to see it).  We will be porting over the email addresses from our current (though now defunct) mailing list but please don’t rely on the technology involved – it is much safer to register yourself than to miss out on some juicy Mongoose gossip!

With the coming of Global Mongoose, you now have several ways to keep tabs on what we are doing, when and how.

Planet Mongoose
Regularly updated, our Planet Mongoose blog provides in-depth articles on new products, sneak previews and the general workings of Mongoose, giving you a chance to see what happens behind the scenes.

Global Mongoose
The all new newsletter, delivered by email once a week, with a summary of everything that has been going on since the last issue.

Facebook
The Eye on Mongoose group gives up to the minute news bulletins, plus a chance to quiz Mongoose staff members on exactly what any item really means!

Twitter
A direct link to the desk of Head Mongoose, Matthew Sprange, and his random thoughts of the day.  Expect a degree of lost sanity, but also a glimpse into what it is like running a games company.

Forums
Our forums, accessible from our web site, are still a main feature for fans of our games.  Swing by and discuss the latest news or best tactics for our RPGs, miniatures games, or card and board games.

Now we have arrived in the 21st Century, it is even easier to keep up to date with what Mongoose is up to!

A New Day, A New Web Site

Well, today was not too stressful!

We went live with the new web site yesterday, after many months fiddling, testing and tweaking.  We knew issues would develop when it went live (they always do), we just didn’t know which ones!

Anyway, to cut a very long and fraught story short, all the issues that greeted us this morning have been put to bed, and the new web site is ready and waiting for your perusal!

We are using, at best, a tenth of the site’s functionality, and we will be adding a great deal more to it over the weeks and months to come.  First up will be the forum upgrade, but beyond that, you will see the return of Signs & Portents and Mongoose en Francais, proper integration of the Mongoose Infantry into the web site, e-books for download, and oodles more.  We just have to make sure everything else works first!

However, the new site is all kinds of cool as it stands.  Planet Mongoose, for example, now rests on WordPress which is way, way better than the archaic bit of software we were using before, and far more flexible.  For example, it was a real chore getting pictures onto the old Planet Mongoose (not to mention italics…), but a piece of cake now, so expect all sorts of cool previews.

The old site was getting to be a nightmare to navigate (to be fair, it was getting on to be ten years old), whereas everything is now at your fingertips on the vertical menu system and, once in a product line, you can arrange the individual books and miniatures to suit you (oldest to newest, number of products on a page, etc).

Some of you will be aware that we have been running Twitter and Facebook over the past few weeks.  These now have proper invitations on our web site and will be used more often to give you the widest spread of news possible for Mongoose and our games.  Take a trip to our News section for how we will be breaking down our news items between them, and choose which is most convenient to you!

Ordering products from our web site should also be a more healthy experience!  Gone is the old clunky shopping cart to be replaced by the brand new model.  You will be able to check the status of your orders, have the site remember your name and address (really advanced stuff, I know, but you miss it when it isn’t there), and flit between pages far more easily.  At our end, the mail order system has, well, pretty much transformed our Mail Order departments on both sides of the Atlantic!  We still need to integrate a few things to our existing systems, but we now have some very powerful tools at our disposal to ensure you get the right book or miniature in the shortest possible time.  We are aiming to turnaround all mail orders for existing items in stock within one working day.

And all this means we can now offer free postage on your largest orders!

As I said, we are still adding bits and pieces to the site, so please bear with us.  If something seems a little wonky over the next couple of days or so, let us know and it will be fixed promptly. If you are waiting for some functionality that is not present yet, we are working hard to bring it online!

In the meantime, welcome to our new site, and have a look around!

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