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Offline darb

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We need a new and vibrant setting
« on: October 06, 2017, 07:51:49 PM »
I have noticed that there are several good companies putting out either system agnostic or multistatted campaign settings these days. Frog God Games posts about their Discord server here (although it is a bit odd to do so) and their Lost Lands setting is quite good.
http://www.talesofthefroggod.com/lost-lands

Frank Mentzer is doing a new setting which claims in its kickstarter to eventually have specific crunch books for 10 different games
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/extsr/frank-mentzers-empyrea-fantasy-setting-for-10-rpg

Given the speed at which products come out from ICE, and the need to revitalize the HARP line a bit, would it not make sense to reach out to these or other companies and try to work out a deal. For instance, say there could be a deal with FGG to make Lost Lands the official setting for HARP. Obviously they would continue to sell it for all the rule systems they want, just allow ICE to stat products for HARP and sell, probably through the FGG site, setting books. Or some deal with some company that gets more material into our hands.

It seems to me that ICE has its hands full with rulebooks and such, and really they are great at doing those things. So why not outsource the stuff that they don't have the resources to deal with. There is so much great RPG material out there now, in reality this is the golden age of these games with more money and players than ever before. But ICE is not getting its beak wet! Not only would this be a great way to get more material to us, but also be a good way to spread the word with successful companies.

Any interest?

Offline RandalThor

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2017, 10:58:17 PM »
I, for one, would love to see several different settings for both HARP and RM (though I do love Shadow World).
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Online Peter R

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2017, 01:05:03 AM »
I think it is very hard to divorce setting from rules. As soon as you have Gods then you need to decide which priests can raise the dead and which cannot. Is necromancy a wizardly thing or a dark priestly thing?

So I think your idea is exactly what ICE should be looking to do and it is an opportunity to sell additional themed rules supplements such as a College of Magic for Lost Lands.
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Offline NicholasHMCaldwell

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2017, 01:28:56 PM »
Cyradon will return, and will return as an expanded setting so there will be adventures on the Cyradon continent  and other continents - Wedding in Axebridge (which is set in the Shattterings) will be followed by Caer Glais.

Shadow World will become relatively easy to do using HARP rules at some point next year.

I have no objection to  considering proposals for other settings.

Best wishes,
Nicholas
Dr Nicholas HM Caldwell
Director, Iron Crown Enterprises Ltd
Publisher of Rolemaster, Spacemaster, Shadow World, Cyradon, HARP & HARP SF, and Cyberspace, with products available from www.rpgnow.com
Author: Mentalism Companion, GURPS Age of Napoleon, Construct Companion, College of Magics, HARP SF/HARP SF Xtreme

Offline Cory Magel

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2017, 02:09:40 PM »
Speaking as a very veteran user, I personally prefer material that can be dropped into any setting fairly easily.  I suspect a lot of long time GM's/Gamers have their own little worlds anymore and getting too specific prevents them from easily adapting material to their own setting.
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Offline Alwyn

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2017, 10:33:49 AM »
I have adapted Middle Earth for use in my HARP games, but I would love to see Cyradon resurrected!
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Offline Jakob

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2018, 07:20:34 AM »
As an old MERPer who recently decided to give HARP a try, I'm very much looking forward to a new edition of Cyradon. Going by the little I was able to find out about it, it Looks like an interesting High Fantasy Setting with some new takes on familiar fantay folk, but also with a publication history that's been riddled with problems.

Does anyone know if "A Wedding in Axebridge" does a good job at representing the unique features of the setting? From the descrption on drivethru, it is hard to tell ...

Offline pyrotech

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2018, 12:13:53 PM »
I've always considered rules agnostic settings to be "Some Assembly Required" for my games.  As long as a GM is Ok with that they work great.  The best of them includes suggestions and guidelines (if not actual complete writeups) for adapting the setting to different rule sets.

It appears to me that settings are a great big crap shoot for most publishers.  They require a lot of material and work - and then it gets released to the wild where some people may or may not buy it - then may or may not use it in part or in whole.  Too many of us have our own settings or pre-established go-to settings for our games to make it worth buying another setting.  Some settings will resonate and many others will languish in obscurity.

I honestly suspect (but don't know the business realities) that trying to leverage these agnostic settings would be money poorly spent.  Gamers who want to use Harp will do so with their own setting or one of the already developed settings, adding another option (built to work with other rules too) won't sell many more Harp books.  Gamers who buy these settings will use a rule set they already know rather than buy a new one just because the setting includes mechanics for it.  ICE could spend money on expanding their existing settings (which would sell new books for them) or developing new settings (rolling the dice to see if they got one that resonated with the market) and maybe selling some books - either of which would have a likelier return on investment.

Now don't get me wrong, I would *love* for there to be more setting options for both Harp and HarpSF.  While I don't mind Tintamar it is only one note in a whole symphony of SF options.  But neither Cyradon nor Shadow World ever really excited me (which is in no way a slight on their creators or fans- I also don't like chocolate ice cream and evidence shows that to be a pretty solid product).  But I honestly don't expect adapting an out-of-house setting to be in ICE's best interest.  So my answer has been to build my own settings that do work for me (one entirely of my creation and another an update and modification to another setting for another rules set). 

I really, hope someone does have some house setting that they can offer up (I've been too busy with other projects to finish my fantasy setting enough to present it to Nicholas).  It will be up to Nicholas if they want to roll the dice on one though.

Regards,
-Pyrotech

Offline Chris Seal

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2018, 01:41:36 PM »
Does anyone know if "A Wedding in Axebridge" does a good job at representing the unique features of the setting? From the descrption on drivethru, it is hard to tell ...

Hi Jakob, as the author I don't think that "A Wedding in Axebridge" does a good job at representing the unique features of the Cyradon setting.

I have been working with Nicholas to put together a new part of the world, very remote from the remainder of Cyradon in which, due to a series of magical instabilities, the Royal Roads that connected the continent of Tyrisia to the rest of the world in Mithra became unsafe to use and were lost. Axebridge is a village set in this remote part of the world and, in my opinion, has a completely different feel to the rest of Cyradon.

All that having been said, I also think that the adventure can be easily dropped into any setting with a few minor tweaks  ;D. The key things to consider for doing so would be the "set dressing", in particular some of the deities in the setting play an important role and would need to be swapped for a similar entities within your setting (or Cyradon).

Happy to field any other questions you might have (if I can  :D).

Cheers
Chris

Offline Jakob

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2018, 12:24:21 AM »
Hi Jakob, as the author I don't think that "A Wedding in Axebridge" does a good job at representing the unique features of the Cyradon setting.


Thanks - I suspected so from the text on drivethru, since the setting for "Axebdrige" sounds like something more low-key, steeped in motives of folklore, while Cyradon looks more high-fantasy. It certainly makes sense for a signature setting to feature different corners for different brands of fantasy, so that it accomodate modules that work in most other fantasy worlds, but also has room for its own strong identity.

Offline Jakob

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2018, 04:11:32 AM »

It appears to me that settings are a great big crap shoot for most publishers.  They require a lot of material and work - and then it gets released to the wild where some people may or may not buy it - then may or may not use it in part or in whole.  Too many of us have our own settings or pre-established go-to settings for our games to make it worth buying another setting.  Some settings will resonate and many others will languish in obscurity.


True, but pretty much the same could be said about core rulebooks - and still, new core rulebooks (new editions or completely new systems) are still being published, sometimes to great success.

As a German role-player, I probably have a slightly different perspective on the whole thing: over here, most rules systems tend to come with an in-built setting, and people even tend to be confused by the notion of an rpg that is not tied to a specific setting. For such gamers, having a dedicated setting available is often the main selling point - otherwise, they would feel that it is not even a complete game.

I don't think that ICE should try to churn out system-agnostic setting material, but at least getting Cyradon out again might be a big selling point for those gamers for whom the primary draw is setting, not system, and the system is more of an afterthought.

I myself are on the fence about this: I tend to mix and match setting elements from all kinds of sources, building on the implied setting that most rules Systems have, anyways, so setting shouldn't actually matter that much to me. Still, on a gut level, I must say that thinking "that looks like a cool world" is a slightly stronger draw for me than "that looks like a cool set of rules."

Offline intothatdarkness

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2018, 04:15:15 PM »
I tend to agree, especially with fantasy games. So much of the feel of the game is dictated by the setting (magic, gods, and so on) that to come out with rules without a setting leaves them feeling half-finished. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that many of the complaints about RM stem from the fact that it was essentially designed without a setting (or a setting that was never really published).
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Online Peter R

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2018, 02:25:06 AM »
I definitely come down on the side of setting first, rules second. The rules exist to bring the setting to life.

From a marketing point of view it is much easier to sell a compelling setting. Rolemaster has no unique selling point than cannot be found in other games.
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Online dagorhir

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2018, 08:35:35 AM »
I agree that having a good setting is very important, but also we need to have a good set of starting adventures that serve to introduce that setting. I find that helps starting a good campaign.

I didn't find Cyradon that compelling until I found the adventures in the vault that serve as a good introduction to the world. That got me interested.

Cyradon does need to be further developed because it is quite limiting in story telling which what was last published.

Offline darb

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2018, 04:24:14 PM »
I totally agree that each of those pieces is helpful for sales. I really think that people tend to buy into systems, including setting, more than they do each small part. For example, would Pathfinder be what it is if it didn't have all the setting and extras? GURPS is one of the more successful rules focused systems, and even they have some settings. And I think that they sort of corner the market on those types of players.

I do get that it is a chicken and egg problem for small companies. If you need to move product to fund development, but you need lots of development to create the product, it is a serious conundrum. That is why I was thinking to maybe outsource some of the workload. Pyrotech, I agree with you, it is a crapshoot to some degree, but that is sort of why I was thinking a partnership might be a way to offload the risk of product development.

But in the end they seem to be all in for Cyradon, which is not at all a bad thing... if there is a good run of material. What I am worried will happen is that there will be a setting book, and maybe one other thing, spaced out over a couple years. Sales will not be great and that will be interpreted as a lack of player interest.

Online Peter R

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2018, 02:16:11 AM »

I do get that it is a chicken and egg problem for small companies. If you need to move product to fund development, but you need lots of development to create the product, it is a serious conundrum. That is why I was thinking to maybe outsource some of the workload. Pyrotech, I agree with you, it is a crapshoot to some degree, but that is sort of why I was thinking a partnership might be a way to offload the risk of product development.

Fria Ligan solved the chicken and egg problem by producing really compelling setting driven games but all based around there own core system. The system itself is barely mentioned in the promotion,  it is all about the setting.

From a sales point of view you can produce unlimited numbers of books and never suffer rules bloat if they are setting or adventure books.
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Offline Jakob

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2018, 05:00:29 AM »

Fria Ligan solved the chicken and egg problem by producing really compelling setting driven games but all based around there own core system. The system itself is barely mentioned in the promotion,  it is all about the setting.

From a sales point of view you can produce unlimited numbers of books and never suffer rules bloat if they are setting or adventure books.

Yeah, but that wouldn't work for ICE, whose core products (with the exception of SM: Privateers) are setting-free rules systems. If they went the Fria Ligan route, they'd have to develop a totally new concept from the grounds up ...
I believe HARP would do well to re-awaken Cyradon, get some material out for it from the start (as seems to be the plan), keep up some output, and if that sells moderately well, start working on another HARP and/or RM setting with a different atmosphere - maybe something more low fantasy, or more Sword&Sorcery, or Science Fantasy.

One of ICEs strengths seems to me that it looks to fantasy literature for inspiration - if I understand it right, Cyradon had some inspiration from Diane Wynne Jones, and Folkways seems to take a close look at works by Gene Wolfe and Robin Hobb. Apart from straight adaptations (like Cubicle 7's Tolkien-based "The One Ring" or the upcoming Witcher of Expanse rpgs), there are actually not a lot of fantasy rpgs that do it like that - most have become very self-referential, being more inspired by rpg/computer rpg tropes than by literature (Green Ronin has been a laudable exception recently with their Blue Rose rpg, which is also very much fantasy literature inspired).

So I'd say work with that - look towards new and original works of fantasy literature like N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series or Sofia Samatars Olondria books, or Peter V. Brett, China Mieville, Jeff VanderMeer or (how I would love that!) to the very underappreciated weird fantasy author Zachary Jernigan and get inspired. Don't do a straight adaptation (most literary worlds actually don't work that well for rpgs), but have a good look at the elements and tropes of modern fantasy and get inspired.

Online dagorhir

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2018, 09:39:03 AM »
In my humble opinion, I believe that once the HARP bestiary and RMU is completed, ICE should focus on creating setting related books and adventures since these can support the systems and make the whole product line much more appealing.

Offline RandalThor

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2018, 12:42:51 PM »
In my humble opinion, I believe that once the HARP bestiary and RMU is completed, ICE should focus on creating setting related books and adventures since these can support the systems and make the whole product line much more appealing.
Agreed, though I do believe more adventures would be more beneficial. I have said it before, and I will say it again here: adventures! adventures! adventures! Those are the cornerstones of the gaming industry, imo. I will continue to buy D&D / Pathfinder adventures, because I can use them. Maybe not the whole adventure, may some of the maps, or NPCs/Monsters, or plot, or a combination of things. I get that an idividual adventure doesn't make a lot of money for a company, but a company with a plethora of adventures to use gets more interest I believe. Especially of you want to pull in new blood. I really don't think the newer players* are looking to put in hours of development time needed to put adventures together; they want ready-made ones, and ones with good production value, like art and maps. Modern rpgs have to compete with video games, so they have to look good to.



*Recently I have had a couple of years experience with new players (age range of 22- 27, roughly). Out of them, one was willing to do some work, but even then only a couple of hours prior to the game.

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Offline Jakob

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Re: We need a new and vibrant setting
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2018, 01:08:11 PM »
though I do believe more adventures would be more beneficial.

Adventures would definitely be a good thing; going by the January briefing, the new Cyradon should come together with three or four adventures - if they manage to pull that off, it would definitely be a good start.

Has anyone read "Weddng in Axebridge" yet? I haven't found any reactions/reviews yet. But I'd be curious, since it might be representative of the approach that ICE is taking to HARP adventures. Will they be more sandbox style like many of the old MERP modules? A lot of them were quite good, once you'd wrapped your head around the structure with the short intro, the locations and then the NPC, and that was pretty much it. Or are they going to be more linear?

 

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