I’m a very instinctive type of guy, and lately my gut feeling has told me that some 3rd party publishers of 4e adventures have left the boat (or are thinking about doing it). For instance, I learned yesterday that Joseph Goodman of Goodman Games has been musing online about adding Pathfinder support to his DCC line.
I also have a good feeling why the 3rd party module market has dropped (I’m excluding Wolfgang Baur’s Open Design 4e projects because they are patron financed):
- WotC corners the market for ‘generic’ adventures that fit in the official worlds with D&Di and dead tree adventures.
- Some publishers create adventure models incompatible with 4e’s design philosophy (the DCC is a likely candidate, worked great in 3.x, not so much in 4e).
- The financial crisis has hit this ‘non-essential’ part of the industry hard.
Again, my gut feeling tells me that there’s a nook that can be exploited for adventures written under the auspices of the Game System License. Adventures written based on a different philosophy than previous projects (learning from them). Adventurers that break the mold in more than one ways.
I smell a business opportunity!
As it so happens, for D&D 4e, writing adventures is what I want to do most. Now that I’ve sunk my teeth in a 5000 word adventure, I’d love to tackle a 32 pager. But I also want to be paid an amount a money for it that corresponds to my skills and experience (irrespective of the capacity of this market to pay).
Choices need to be made.
As a freelance adventure writer that leaves very few possibilities:
- Write for WotC
- Pros: Highest pay rates, highest name recognition, owns the trademark
- Cons: High barrier to entry, slow/opaque submission screening process, getting paid can be a challenge
- Write for Open Design/Kobold Quarterly
- Pros: Decent pay rates (for RPGs), excellent reputation, highly professional, rapid responses
- Cons: KQ takes no adventures, Open Design does but requires familiarity and experience in their patron system
- Write for Goodman Games
- Pros: Very approachable staff and owner, established brands, highly recognizable name
- Cons: Low rates, low product flexibility, editing issues
- Write for an untried/developing imprint (ex: Expy games, Nevermet Press)
- Pros: High product flexibility, easy to pitch to, very low risk
- Cons: Uncertain pay rate (often profit sharing), unproven track record and leadership
- Start your own imprint
- Pros: Full liberty, very instructive experience ( be it in success or failure)
- Cons: Very high risk, difficult quality vs Cost decisions, Wide skill set needed ($$$), uncertain sales level.
Part of ‘The Plan” for me is to hit all of those over the next year… and this may include the last one (likely in partnership with other like-minded souls) if we conclude that the RPG market is a viable use of the growing writing talent around us.
In part 2, I’ll do a high-level review of current 4e adventure and share elements that I’d like to see more of in D&D 4e adventure, maybe elements I could cover.
In the mean time, let me know about your own experience with 4e published adventures, publication plans, imprints you like/own/plan to open.