Monday, August 27, 2012

Goodbye RedBrick, Hello FASA

RedBrick is closing up shop, according to this post on their messageboards (which may eventually go down in upcoming months, so I'll copy the post in its entirety):
RedBrick Retiring From Game Publishing

This is an open letter to the game community and to fans of RedBrick.

In a couple of months, RedBrick will be nine years old. We started in 2003 with the Earthdawn license, picking up Fading Suns in 2007, Blue Planet in 2008, and Demonworld in 2011. During this time, the number of people involved waxed and waned. Everyone was part-time (we still are), but we had dozens of talented people contributing in different ways to their favorite games at any one time.

The company was born by accident -- an email sent without my knowledge, in fact -- and it became an opportunity to work with emerging technologies, print-on-demand and e-publishing being key. RedBrick was an early supporter of DriveThruRPG (now OneBookShelf) and an early adopter of Lulu's POD services.

We suffered ups and downs, as all companies do. Some of those were decisions made by myself; others, through the vagaries of real life intervening on members of the RedBrick team. Personally, one life-changing event meant the company relocated from New Zealand to the United States, where it is based today.

But all things have their time. Different opportunities arise and we need to embrace them for what they are. In this case, RedBrick has served its purpose and now it is time for it to become something else.

At Gen Con Indy 2012, RedBrick shared a booth with FASA. There are several interviews on the Internet recorded at Gen Con that summarize the changes and plans going on at present. As is the way of things, there will no doubt be rumor and speculation and all the usual interplay that happens on the Internet. But the reasons for RedBrick's retirement from game publishing are actually very simple, and much of this is just timing:

Business: You could call this lessons learned about people and business. I've made both good decisions and (very) poor decisions; I've been both hands on and (very) uninvolved in how the business runs; I've made many friends along the way, and I've dropped the ball and lost some of those friends also. Overall, I think we had more wins than losses, but it's time for the old ways of doing business to change.

Personal: Part of the reason for setting up RedBrick was to involve my late son in the company (he was a gifted child, very social and intelligent, and crazy about gaming). This isn't going to happen and I need to move on and get some closure.

Opportunity: I was offered an opportunity to work with people far more experienced in this industry than I am. Such opportunities do not come up often, so the answer was yes. To that end, I have accepted a position as President of FASA Games, Inc., working with one of the original founders and owner of FASA Corporation. The upcoming effort and commitment required, however, means that I cannot run multiple game publishing businesses and a day job.

Timing: Well, this is always in the hands of fate. The opportunity came up earlier this year, but the pace of change required to implement it has meant a LOT of work in a very short time, especially with commitments to Gen Con already in hand. So we've had to roll with the punches a lot, sorry.

Here's a summary of what's happening with various game lines previously held by RedBrick:

Earthdawn, Demonworld: These licenses reverted back to FASA Corporation and have been subsequently picked up by FASA Games, Inc.
Fading Suns, Noble Armada, Blue Planet: These licenses reverted back to their licensors and have been subsequently picked up by FASA Games, Inc.

Any future plans that RedBrick had in place or announced are now void or being reviewed. While some RedBrick personnel are working for FASA, not everyone has come across. FASA will be running with Revised Editions of Earthdawn, Blue Planet, and Fading Suns. The Savage Worlds and Pathfinder game lines for Earthdawn are coming across, along with Demonworld. For the most part, it's status quo across the board. "Business as usual."

The RedBrick Forums and Online Store will remain in place, even after the FASA web presence becomes operational in the next month or so. During this transition period, RedBrick is happy to share resources with FASA -- we will sell FASA products on the RedBrick Shop, for instance. Until FASA is fully operational, we will make announcements for new products on the RedBrick web site. In this respect, no change is expected for a while. However, most, if not all, of the ebook products currently sold by RedBrick on OneBookShelf will be going away in the very near future. Many of these will not be coming back.

FASA will make their own announcements in due course, but with the cat out of the bag after Gen Con, it seemed appropriate to let people know what was happening with RedBrick. I do want to be very clear that the decisions to retire RedBrick and the transition to FASA are completely independent and unrelated to recent changes within RedBrick. I do admit, however, that the opportunity to work with FASA did change the timing of RedBrick's retirement, bringing it forward.

So what is happening to RedBrick after this transition is complete? Well, we'll still be around. Many years ago, I promised my late son that he and I would work on some books together. We talked about some ideas and it's time to start getting those down on paper and into print. RedBrick will become an imprint for fiction, no longer publishing games. And at a personal level, I'm hoping it will help achieve the aforementioned closure. "And so to bed."

Lastly, I want to thank the fans and developers who have supported RedBrick over the last nine years. It has been a truly exciting, scary, emotional, sometimes sad, but overall fun journey and everyone who has been a part of it should be proud of being part of the community. You are all a talented bunch and I'm proud that we have collectively been a part of the history of our hobby.

"And so we dim the lights and pour a glass of wine. It is a time for reflection, a time for change."

Thank you all very much.

Kind regards,

James Sutton
Managing Partner, RedBrick LLC

And FASA is stepping in to handle things, as presaged by the post I made last week on its (at the time of this writing) one page website.

But hold on, Mr. James Sutton is also apparently the new President & CEO of the reborn FASA, and was interviewed in this capacity on Roleplayers Chronicle. Choice quotes from this article include:
"RPC: What’s the difference between traditional Earthdawn and the conversions to Savage Worlds and Pathfinder?
JS: That’s a pretty good question. Really it’s just an opportunity to try and get Earthdawn out onto Savage Worlds and Pathfinder… to try and grow the game into a new audience, ideally will largely attract more people back to the core. People that play Pathfinder tend to play Pathfinder and people that play Savage Worlds tend to play Savage Worlds. The intent with Savage [Worlds] is our first foray into the Savage Worlds game. We’re going to be doing some things with Blue Planet and Fading Suns in time [for Savage Worlds] as well. It’s sort of translating the whole Earthdawn genre into the Savage Worlds rules. In the core you play adepts and in the Savage Worlds version you play adepts. Pathfinder is a little different. We took the approach that we didn’t want to upset the Pathfinder core anymore than we needed to. The Pathfinder products are more of a bolt-on to Pathfinder."

"RPC: Moving on to Fading Suns… What is different about this version and the last?
JS: We’ve put this out as a Revised Edition. We were going to be doing a Third Edition, but there were some politics involved with that which we can talk about some other time.

RPC: It’s a Revised Second Edition
JS: Right, Second Edition. A lot has changed. In the core rulebook itself, if you’re familiar with the Victory Point System…? What we’ve done with the Victory Point System is gotten rid of the “whiff” factor that was quite prevalent in Second Edition. It’s a lot simpler; one roll, divide by two, and that’s your number of Victory Points. Everything’s based on those successes, there’s not need to look up additional charts. Much, much simpler. Combat’s been streamlined. We’ve done away with the whole multiple-action “am I doing this, am I doing that”… with the penalties… So the combat system’s been completely overhauled."
RPC: I like the life path systems, but some of them seemed a little bulky.
JS: They were and they’ve been thinned down a bit. Skills have been trimmed down as well, there aren’t quite as many skills. The only area we’ve increased skills is combat, a bit ironic. There’s a couple more that have been added to round out combat a little better. But that’s because we’ve done away with the Second Edition rules of everyone can use this type of fighting action and now you need a fighting style, you actually need to be trained in it. The goal is… you get some core abilities and can add on to that with various stances that give you bonuses and penalties in certain situations. Someone who’s a pugilist can do good things when it comes to boxing, but when they’re outside that particular skill of competency, not quite so good. Psi, theurgy, again they’ve been streamlined and overhauled. We’ve done a lot of revisions with the actual abilities themselves, but they remain largely unchanged, depending upon how you approach it. Characteristics is a big one; we’ve done away with the whole passions thing. You now have spiritual characteristics; three body characteristics, three mind characteristics, and three spiritual characteristics.

RPC: And what do those do?
JS: They do something similar to what you used to get in Second Edition… you still have Wyrd, that’s its own characteristic, but now they allow you do things like Faith for example. If the Faith is strong in this one, then I have some specific abilities I can use my Faith characteristic on.

RPC: What was the motivation to do the separate Player’s Guide and Game Master’s Guide? Page count?
JS: Page count primarily. This [Fading Suns Player's Guide] is a 384-page book in small format, which is probably equivalent to a 320-page book in 8 1/2 by 11. There’s a lot of stuff in here, each chapter has been expanded hugely.

More interesting bits in the interview -- I recommend you read it there.

So there we go, FASA has returned with some old games and some newer games, with Sutton at the helm. Obviously a lot of passion and heartbreak for a lot of people, but life moves on -- hopefully for the better.

The Players Guides are out for Earthdawn, Blue Planet, and Fading Suns and apparently more products on the way. This may also be your last chance to get the RedBrick stuff online.

As for me, I'm not sure how I feel about this yet.

But life goes on.

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