2017 - Chaosium's Year in Review
By Rick Meints, President - Chaosium
On this last day of the year we at Chaosium look back on the whole of 2017 with great pride. While we always have things we can improve, we also need to remind ourselves of how much we have accomplished—especially in terms of bringing out new books and games that surprise and delight our customers.
In general, 2017 has been a year of growth for Chaosium. We produced more books and games than we did last year, and printed them in greater numbers, while never sacrificing quality.
New members of the Chaosium team
As our production output has cranked up, we've added new members to the Chaosium team. In 2017, our CFO Neil Robinson fully embraced the Chaos with a full-time role at Chaosium as our Chief Operating Officer. We also welcomed (from left to right) Susan O'Brien (line editor for board and card games), Ian Cooper (line editor for HeroQuest), James Lowder (executive editor for fiction), Lillian Cohen-Moore (director of marketing and media) and Lynne Hardy (Call of Cthulhu assistant editor - it's good to have a Lynn(e) back at Chaosium!)
As you can imagine, we were most gratified to receive ten ENnies this year at Gen Con, particularly because the awards spanned our art, writing, and production quality.
Our full color hardcover standard was certainly a fan favorite, and we were delighted to receive the Silver ENnie for ‘Fan Favourite Publisher’, behind our friends at WotC.
When accepting the Fan Favourite Award, Chaosium founder Greg Stafford said the awards were a tremendous honor and thanked the fans—whether they voted for Chaosium or not—"because it's the fans that make the industry thrive". On a personal note, Greg added he was also very happy the new Chaosium team is carrying on the great work and reputation for innovation and quality that the company was known for back to the golden age of gaming.
We appreciate the efforts of all the creators (writers, artists, production staff) behind our ENnie success, and we thank everyone who voted for us.
Call of Cthulhu
For Call of Cthulhu we published The Two-Headed Serpent, The Grand Grimoire, and Down Darker Trails in print and hardback, and released Reign of Terror, Petersen's Abominations, and Alone Against the Dark in PDF (physical books will be released in Q1 2018).
These span quite a range of topics and timeframes, from the French Revolution, to the Wild West, to Pulp era of the 1930's, and up to the modern day. With the publication of Reign of Terror we have at long last been able to bring to a close our Horror on the Orient Express Kickstarter, somewhat ironically within one month of the wonderful big box of scenarios that is the Horror on the Orient Express going out of print (at least for a little while).
We are on the verge of completing the 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu Kickstarter as well. The final premium backer reward known as the "Temple Edition" remains to be sent out in January of 2018. Those premium books bound in real red leather goatskin will be a great start to the New Year.
RuneQuest, HeroQuest, Glorantha
We have also been busy with RuneQuest, HeroQuest and Glorantha, with more than a half-dozen titles added to our catalog. Of particular note was the RuneQuest Quickstart we produced for Free RPG Day in June. It provided several thousand recipients a taste of what's to come with the new edition of RuneQuest, due out in 2018. Our participation in Free RPG Day also allows us to support your friendly local game stores. Speaking of FLGSs, we also continued to help sign up more retail sites for the Bits-and-Mortar program, providing you with free PDFs of our books when you purchase them in a game store.
While the 4 additional titles (Cults of Prax, Cults of Terror, Plunder and Rune Masters) we added to our RQ Classics line were well-received, we know we still have more overdue titles to go before we can wrap up the RQ Classic Kickstarter in 2018.
Lastly, we greatly enjoyed the debut of Khan of Khans, our Gloranthan card game designed by German board games legend Reiner Knizia. It was a favourite at the demo table at every convention we attended this year, and the first of several more board and card games we have in the works.
New submissions guidelines for all lines
As part of our website redesign, we launched new submissions guidelines this year. We're keen to open the door to mythic adventure to writers, designers, and artists, and these are the blueprints for the process: we have guidelines for RPGs, fiction, board and card games and art. We also announced the return of our house magazine for Glorantha, Wyrms Footnotes, with the aim of regularly publishing articles, maps, short scenarios, background, fiction and more, exploring Greg Stafford’s World of Glorantha.
New Licensing policies
We also launched new licensing policies, offering individuals, small publishers and commercial partners the opportunity to share their creations or to partner with us. This year, we've seen a plethora of wonderful releases produced by our licensees. One in particular to single out is Stygian Fox Publishing's licensed Call of Cthulhu release The Things We Leave Behind, which won a gold ENnie in the Best Electronic Book category. And we applaud and thank our French language licensee Éditions Sans Détour, whose wonderful artwork graces the S. Petersen Field Guide to Lovecraftian Horrors, winner of two ENnies.
The Miskatonic Repository
Another way we're supporting and valuing the contributions of the wider Chaosium Tribe is through the Miskatonic Repository, which went live in December. The repository is an official online collection of user-made content for Call of Cthulhu, hosted on DriveThruRPG (very similar to the DM's Guild). To help creators get their material up fast we've made special free Art Packs available, and there are easy-to-use templates. We're excited about this initiative, and there are already some excellent products in the repository, with many more on the way!
This past year saw us greatly expand our presence at conventions, both in the USA and around the world. After more than a decade's absence, Chaosium returned to Origins in Columbus, OH, and we also greatly enjoyed the first PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, PA —we'll be back at both in 2018.
When you add those to our regular attendance at UK Games Expo (Birmingham, UK), HP Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon (Portland, OR), Eternal Con (Bacharach, Germany), Gen Con (Indianapolis, IN), Necronomicon (Providence, RI), The Kraken (Berlin, Germany), Spiel (Essen, Germany), Dragonmeet (London, UK) and PAXAus (Melbourne, Australia), and having one or two or some of us at conventions this year including GeekGirl Con (Seattle, WA), OrcaCon (Bellevue, WA), NordCon (Hamburg, Germany), Gamehole Con Madison, WI), Concrete Cow (Milton Keynes, UK), D6 Con (Rugby, UK), GrogMeet (Manchester, UK), Gamestorm (Portland, OR), and AetherCon (on line), we sometimes feel we're always on the road. Regardless, we love running demos, chatting with our fans, getting your feedback, and playing games with you all. We have lots more convention appearances lined up for 2018.
While face-to-face chats are wonderful, we also greatly enjoyed chatting about what's up at Chaosium on a number of podcasts, including (but not limited to) the Good Friends of Jackson Elias, Yog-Sothoth.com, the Miskatonic University Podcast, Legends of Tabletop, and the Grognard Files, among others. Seeing Chaosium online—watching, listening and experiencing our games being talked about and played—is another area we're working on building up in 2018.
We look forward to sharing our mythic stories in 2018
On behalf of all of us at Chaosium—Greg, Sandy, Dustin, Nick, Mike, Rick, Jeff, Neil, MOB, Raja, Todd, Jason, Susan, Ian, James, Lillian and Lynne, thank you for helping make 2017 such a wonderful year. We look forward to sharing our mythic stories, and to many more wonderful conventions, games, and products in 2018.