A number of things brought us to this moment. First, I've finally gotten the itch to write again. My previous experience with Adventure Games Publishing and the associated events rather burned me on all that. But time heals most wounds, and for some time now, I've been itching to write, as those who have followed my personal blog are aware.
Second, right now I have plenty of time on my hands. Too much time, and too little money, as I have been unable to find a job for more than four months. So, damn the torpedoes, once more unto the breach, and all that! I'm turning my itch to write into something that can hopefully bring in a little cash. I have no illusions as to the size of the market; but right now any money is better than no money at all.
And so I have started James Mishler Games for both personal and mercenary reasons. It is what it is, and it will be what it will be.
What it is, essentially, is a publishing label, more or less, for a line of PDF products. What it is not, is that it is not a print product company. One lesson I learned with the AGP debacle is that print publishing, at least at the size of AGP or JMG, is a sure fire way to lose your shirt. The margins are so fine, even at essentially what was print-on-demand, that one single mistake turns a profitable product into a major loss. So I have no plans to ever turn JMG into a regular print company. In the list of things to be considered down the line, that one will be revisited in two years time, if we are still around then.
For now, we will have PDFs available on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. If sales warrant, we'll look into expanding into other PDF venues. Right now, our PDFs are all being made with very simple, very cheap software. In order to be able to offer POD options on DTRPG/RPGNow, Lulu, and other such venues, we have to use the full Adobe Photoshop system, which costs $600, and is not remotely within our range at this point. Maybe down the road. If and only if sales seem to warrant, we will eventually acquire that package and start making our larger products available in POD through DTRPG/RPGNow, Lulu, and such. That is not something to be considered, however, for at least six months.
We have no plans to ever use Kickstarter or Indigogo. My prior experience with the subscriptions I offered through AGP has shown me that there is no way I should ever handle anyone's money without first having provided them with a product. Thus, all our products will be cash on the barrelhead; you get your PDF, we get your money. The only way this will ever be revisited is if we get all of our bills paid off and have a product, fully written, fully illustrated, and ready to be sent to the printer with the mere press of a button. And even then, I am unlikely to do so, merely because of the horrible emotions the mere thought of the subscription debacle brings to mind...
So for the forseeable future, we are PDF only. What, exactly, do we plan to offer?
First and foremost, to begin with we will offer fantasy products statted for both Castles & Crusades and Labyrinth Lord. Yes, dual-statted products! We have licenses from both Troll Lord Games and Goblinoid Games to publish our products in both formats in a single product. The amount of space required to dual-stat the books is minimal; we will not publish one version in C&C and another in LL, all books will be dual-statted. We figure that between the two systems, pretty much all major Old School systems and their varients are well covered, and can readily be adapted to their use.
Our major offering is a magazine, the Hercynian Grimoire, to be published every week or every other week, as time and sales permit. The Hercynian Grimoire includes articles dealing with Men & Magic, Monsters & Treasures, the Underworld & Wilderness, and Gods & Demi-Gods. Each issue will contain 20 to 40 pages of content in addition to the various licenses and other needful pages and be priced accordingly.
We plan numerous smaller offerings of two to 10 pages, each dealing with a single subject or offering a single table or chart of interesting and useful items. These might take the form of a simple essay, a d6, d66, d100, or even d666 chart, or other form for a self-contained generic item.
We have our own campaign setting, the Olden Lands, to be detailed in the Chronicles of Mhoriedh series of products. The Olden Lands is a world of High and Low Fantasy, Swords & Sorcery and Historical Adventure, inspired primarily by the works of Lord Dunsany, Robert E. Howard, JRR Tolkien, Poul Anderson, Jack Vance, Lin Carter, Michael Moorcock, David Eddings, Robert Adams, David Gemmell, George RR Martin, Dave Arneson, Gary Gygax, Bob Bledsaw, and Tom Moldvay. It is in this milieu that we will present all our fantasy products, most especially our series of adventures and gazetteers.
I should also note that I use "we" not merely as a corporate construct, but in truth and fact, for in this endeavor I am joined by my lovely wife and talented writing partner, Jodi Moran-Mishler. She is not, sad to say, a gamer, but she has played from time to time, and her interest in myths, legends, monsters, and magic go back to her early childhood. She is not merely my writing partner, she is my muse. I am sometimes relieved that she is not a gamer, as her ability to conjure up creatures and situations deadly and evil is diabolical. Her knowledge and creativity will come into good use in future developments.
That's the long of it.
The short of it is that we will be releasing some cool PDF products for Castles & Crusades and Labyrinth Lord, some large, some small. We are keeping things simple for now. We figure if we keep it simple, it will be that much easier for us to enjoy writing and, hopefully, for you to enjoy reading and using our materials.
If you need to contact us, we can be reached at email@example.com
Q: What systems will your products use?
A: All our products will be dual-statted for Castles & Crusades and Labyrinth Lord.
Q: Will you offer print or POD products?
A: We will not offer products for print sold direct. Eventually we might offer POD products through DTRPG/RPGNow and Lulu. We will revisit this policy in June 2013 and as needed every six months thereafter, and the decision will be based on sales and whether or not we can afford the Adobe Photoshop program.
Q: Hey, where's the art?
A: We are boostrapping this operation, sans boots and straps. We plan to acquire art through various clip-art formats (notably the publishers resources offered on DTRPG/RPGNow) to add some art to our products, as sales warrant. If you are an artist and have a portfolio of fantasy clip-art (i.e., royalty-free, reuseable, non-exclusive, etc.), please feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add your portfolio to our list of possibilities. If and only if sales get to the point where we can afford it, then will we be able to use spec art; this will generally be limited to covers for major products at first.
Q: What's up with all the old AGP subscriptions?
A: At this time we cannot start refunding those subscriptions, nor can we offer JMG credit for AGP subscribers. One of the reasons I've started this endeavor is I am currently unemployed; any money earned from JMG will either go to pay for food, shelter, or gasoline, or to improve the resources we have for JMG to improve our ability to provide more products (i.e., to acquire Hexographer/Dungeonographer, fantasy clip-art, Adobe Photoshop, etc.) in order to be able to make even more money. And after that, there are other bills that take precedence, for various reasons, most importantly legal reasons (hospitals, banks, and doctors are often well lawyered-up). So sadly, reimbursement of the AGP subscribers is low on the list of those who get money next.
Q: Who are you guys?
A: James Mishler has worked in the adventure games industry for almost 20 years. He's worked in sales, marketing, writing, editing, design, development, purchasing, packaging, and shipping in the publishing, distribution, and retail tiers of the industry. He's worked for Wizards of the Coast, Chessex, West End Games, Alliance Distribution, Kenzer & Company, ACD Distribution, Scrye Magazine, Comics & Games Retailer Magazine, and WizKids and had products or contributed to products published by Kenzer & Company, Sword & Sorcery Studios, Necromancer Games, Judges Guild, Adventure Games Publishing, and Troll Lord Games. He's played role-playing games for more than 30 years, most of the time as a Judge.
Jodi Moran-Mishler is the lovely and talented wife, writing parter, and muse of James Mishler. She has been interested in myths and legends, monsters and and magic her entire life, and her desire to be either a paleontologist or a cryptozoologist goes back to her early childhood. Though she is not a gamer, she has an incredible imagination and is a master world-builder.