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2016 a look back from the Pelgrane’s Nest

Posted on December 23, 2016 by Flames

We’re continuing our series of 2016 in Review guest blog posts with one of Flames Rising’s oldest friends in the RPG business, Pelgrane Press! This year was quite busy for Pelgrane and Cat Tobin is here to tell us all about it. Not only that, they are running a special sale on every title they released in 2016, for a limited time you can save 16% on almost every PDF released in 2016 by Pelgrane Press at the Flames Rising Shop!

2016 a look back from the Pelgrane’s Nest

    2016 has been a tumultuous year all around the globe, and these giant waves of change have even reached the dizzying heights of the Pelgrane’s Nest.

    Early in the year, our focus was on 13th Age, with new releases including the popular GM’s Screen and Resource Guide, the first of our collection of Battle Scenes (High Magic and Low Cunning: Battle Scenes for Five Icons, and accompanying Map Folio in its full-colour glory) and the second volume of the 13th Age Monthly subscription product. We also released some adventures for Trail of Cthulhu (The Many Deaths of Edward Bigsby), and Night’s Black Agents (The Dubai Reckoning).

    Like many, we were shocked by the UK voting to leave the EU in June. Friends and colleagues asked what this meant for us, as a company based in London. Our initial analysis suggested that we would not be badly affected (but we realised this would mean a big change for those running Dracula Dossier campaigns, and advised them accordingly). However, the permanent drop in the value of sterling against the US dollar was to have a significant impact on our retailer partners in the UK over the remainder of the year, as the cost of buying in our books from our US distributor increased in the region of 15-20%. Game stores are the backbone of the roleplaying hobby, and after discussing the situation with them, we decided that for them to remain competitive, we would have to increase our non-US prices by the same percentage. This change will take effect in January 2017.

    Crowdfunding continues to be a major financial factor of the 21st century RPG industry, and this year, we were fascinated by Monte Cook Games’ intriguing Invisible Sun Kickstarter. However, we had our own campaigns to finish, so we barricaded ourselves into the Nest and lost ourselves in work, resulting in a double tap of Kickstarter-originated triple offerings. We were delighted to release the long-awaited TimeWatch RPG core rulebook, the adventure collection Behind Enemy Times, and the quirky curio book of time-traveller’s tales, The Book of Changing Years, from the TimeWatch Kickstarter.

    For The Dracula Dossier, we released The Edom Field Manual, The Edom Files, and The Thrill of Dracula. Our Kickstarter backers have been wonderfully patient with us, for which we’re very grateful. We’d hoped to get them everything they’d pledged for in 2016, but the monstrosity of the physical version of the The Hawkins Papers resulted in many, many hours of document-aging, cutting, tearing, sellotaping, and sticking, with many, many, many more hours of work left to do, so this will run into 2017.

    We love going to conventions – we get to catch up with our colleagues, chat to our customers, and run and play our own games, and other people’s. This year, we formalised our commitment to supporting only those conventions which have a publicly-posted anti-harassment policy or code of conduct, and so had to decline some larger conventions we would otherwise have attended.

    Happily, most of our favourites meet this criterion, and have become fixtures on our annual convention calendar, like Origins in Columbus, OH. It’s the most recent addition, but the relaxed setup allows us more opportunities to network with colleagues, and more time to really connect with customers. Concrete Cow, a small, but perfectly formed, one-day convention held twice a year in Milton Keynes in the UK, consistently delivers exceptional GMs and players, and this year, it also delivered GUMSHOE-themed cupcakes. Our home convention in London, Dragonmeet, was very successful for us, and we’re impressed with what new owner Chris Birch of Modiphius has done to improve the convention, with a roomy new venue and attendee numbers rising dramatically every year.

    Gen Con, in Indianapolis, is the biggest event of our convention calendar, and 2016 was no different. We had another two new releases: a new GUMSHOE corebook, the second edition of our psychological horror game Fear Itself, which collects in concentrated form our ten years of GUMSHOE GM advice, and Worldbreaker, a globe-spanning campaign for our modern-day horror GUMSHOE setting The Esoterrorists. (We’re confident the subsequent global incidences of clown horror are unrelated). Sales were up and attendees were up at Gen Con this year, and we had some vital catch-ups with licensees and freelancers.

    The highlight of Gen Con for us was the 2016 ENnies Awards. We’ve won an award here and there down through the years, but this year’s outcome was, as we say in 2016, unpresidented. We were awed and humbled to win all ten of the ENnie awards we were nominated for – and even one we weren’t! The most meaningful of all – and this includes Product of the Year, for the Dracula Dossier: Director’s Handbook – was the Silver for Fan’s Choice for Best Publisher. It’s clear that, although small in number, our determined fans turned out en masse to support us, which we were deeply grateful for.

    On the Monday before Gen Con, the Pelgranistas flew in from around the world, to spend their Tuesday having a Pelgrane Summit. It was our first time trying something like this – we’ve historically had our summit the Monday after Gen Con, when everyone’s attention has waned well beyond its limit – and the improvement in our productivity and new product pitches pre-Gen Con has been very persuasive. Our post-Dragonmeet summit was also valuable, and we agreed on the need to tighten up our publishing schedule, and to bring in more help to deliver what we want to – so we’re excited to be recruiting a Production Assistant.

    Of course, there was one news item that dominated our thoughts in 2016 – the tenth anniversary of our GUMSHOE system. We celebrated this on the inaugural International Pelgrane Day, held on the birthday of its creator, Robin D. Laws – October 21st. All around the world, fans, Pelgranistas, and colleagues joined in by chatting about and running GUMSHOE games, and tagging them online as #PelgraneDay events.

    One of our goals for the tenth anniversary was to release three corebooks in 2016 – ourselves, not counting the first (of, we hope, many) non-Pelgrane GUMSHOE games, in the form of Evil Hat’s teen detective story game Bubblegumshoe. In November, we achieved our third (after Fear Itself 2nd Edition and TimeWatch), with the release of the Cthulhu Confidential pre-order. Cthulhu Confidential uses the new GUMSHOE One-2-One system, which is GUMSHOE redesigned for one GM and one player. The playtest was our biggest since 13th Age, and the feedback suggests it’s proving ideal for introducing new players to roleplaying.

    It’s hard to predict what 2017 will bring, but one thing we’re sure of is that here at Pelgrane Press, we’ll continue to develop games that entertain and innovate, pushing forward the boundaries of what RPGs can do. And we’ll work hard to ensure that the hobby we love is a welcoming and enjoyable place for everyone, irrespective of colour, creed, gender or sexuality. We look forward to a happier 2017 full of games, joy and laughter, and we wish you, gentle reader, the same.

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