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MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Steve, I would have said your conclusions were unassailable, until I saw the response to the Monster Hunter International RPG Kickstarter. I appreciate the significant differences between that project and Mythic HERO, but now I can't help feeling the fanbase for MH must exist, if we can just figure out how to tap into it.

 

(Regardless, as I've mentioned before, when I win the lottery MH is on my "must finance" list.) :thumbup:

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Well, I suppose if Steve were to complete the manuscript, at his own leisure, he could sell it in different formats--by pantheon, by region(e.g. Mediterranean Pantheons, Asian Pantheons, etc.), or in toto--in pdf form.

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Steve, I would have said your conclusions were unassailable, until I saw the response to the Monster Hunter International RPG Kickstarter. I appreciate the significant differences between that project and Mythic HERO, but now I can't help feeling the fanbase for MH must exist, if we can just figure out how to tap into it.

 

The truth is the MH Kickstarter did better than I expected, and it attracted a lot of people who haven't posted to any other Hero-related Kickstarter AFAICT. So the question is, has Kickstarter become so much better known that another Kickstarter for MH would raise more money?

 

There's no way to know without doing it, but my guess is "no." Even assuming everyone who pledged before pledged again (which is doubtful), making up that $7,000 gap isn't feasible. The subject isn't of sufficient interest to enough gamers, my name doesn't have the cachet that the likes of Monte Cook's does, I'm not a gaming cartoonist, there's no major IP attached to it. Unfortunately for me, people are not willing to pay large sums of money to read the end result of my researches. ;)

 

 

(Regardless, as I've mentioned before, when I win the lottery MH is on my "must finance" list.)

 

Thanx! Mine too. :) And then after that I could do The Ultimate Weapon, The Ultimate Armor, The Pulp Adventurer's Guide To The World, and every other major project I've wanted to create for years and years. ;)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Well, I suppose if Steve were to complete the manuscript, at his own leisure, he could sell it in different formats--by pantheon, by region(e.g. Mediterranean Pantheons, Asian Pantheons, etc.), or in toto--in pdf form.

 

In theory, true. In practice there are still obstacles, the first and foremost of which is that I want to be paid for my time, my skill, my hard work, and my research expenses. The opinions of a number of jackass idiots on RPG.Net and the like aside, I cannot survive on "the profits," and that's not the way any sensible business should be run regardless of whether the writer and owner are the same guy. So even if the manuscript were 100% finished and ready to go, I'd still want to raise enough money to compensate me (retroactively). That's a huge stumbling block regardless of how I want to sell MH.

 

Now, if I were able to raise enough money to publish the book, then absolutely what you suggest becomes possible. There'd be one big hardcopy book, of course, and one big PDF. But I could also sell PDFs of just this pantheon, just this group of pantheons, whatever. Heck, since it's just assembling PDFs I could probably take custom requests from individual fans. Those sales would be icing on the cake, an extra hunk of profit that my poor little bank account would be quite happy to receive. :)

 

Believe me, I dream of being able to do this stuff. As I write up a system for Finnish magic and several dozen Finnish spells, I dream. As I read about Aztec human sacrifice rituals, I dream. As I make sure Mjolnir does enough damage for Thor to kill Jormungandr before the Midgard Serpent can poison him to death, I dream. ;) And when I dream, I usually dream big, with a full-color hardcover book illustrated by top artists and laid out by someone with considerably more InDesign skills than li'l ol' me possesses. And a Kickstarter that succeeds to such an extent that I could offer up some of the really cool Mythic Hero extras I have in mind. :eek:;)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Never stop dreaming man. It is the Dreams of people like you that served as the foundation of this hobby, and kept breathing life into it over the years in spite of frequent negative perceptions of it by the mainstream. Many people, myself included, find great pleasure in immersing ourselves in the worlds of your Dreams, and we owe you our thanks, and our support.

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

The gaming public spoke pretty clearly seven months ago and said they didn't want what I was offering.

Rather, I couldn't afford what you were offering. I would have doubled my Kickstart pledge if I could have.

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Steve' date=' I would have said your conclusions were unassailable, until I saw the response to the [i']Monster Hunter International[/i] RPG Kickstarter. I appreciate the significant differences between that project and Mythic HERO, but now I can't help feeling the fanbase for MH must exist, if we can just figure out how to tap into it.

 

From what I've seen so far, successfully running a kickstarter is an art form. First you have to do your kickstarter writeup in such a way that it convinces people to fund your vaporware product. Then you have to set the funding levels appropriately. Then you have to be able to add new levels, and contingency levels, on an ongoing basis assuming you start drawing some interest. And then you really, really have to publicize your kickstarter project, throughout the time that it is live.

 

The last successful kickstarter I saw was for the Shadowfist CCG, where Daniel started out by offering varying quantities of cards, posters, T-shirts, and (for the big bucks) the opportunity to have your likeness on one of the cards. As the kickstarter spiraled upward they added laser-cut wooden counters, limited-access promo cards, and ultimately an entire second CCG expansion. RPG expansions are going to be a little harder since the base product is just a book, so there's no box you can throw things into, but there's still lots of things you could add in--getting your name credited as a "producer", getting your copy signed and numbered, getting yourself written up as a Greek demigod, additional pantheons, T-shirts, special dice, maps and counters, copies of whatever other Hero books you would need, etc. I never did see the original MH kickstarter but those are some of the suggestions I would suggest.

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Rather, I couldn't afford what you were offering. I would have doubled my Kickstart pledge if I could have.

 

And I definitely appreciate that. :) Times are tough for many folx, and not everyone has as much discretionary income as they might like. It was very gratifying to get as many pledges as I did!

 

 

From what I've seen so far, successfully running a kickstarter is an art form.

 

There's some art to it and some science, as with many things. ;) One of the benefits to have been involved in running several (successful and not) is learning the ropes; it's also very helpful to be able to compare notes with industry colleagues (a lot of us spent a lot of time doing that at GenCon).

 

I think I had a pretty good slate of rewards given the resources available to me (e.g., I'm not the company, so I can't offer free other books and PDFs). I did think of one later on ("sponsor a god") that I'll probably add in if I ever try again. I had some dandy ideas for stretch goals, but I never got close enough to succeeding to need to announce any. Hopefully I'll have the chance at some point, since a couple of 'em were really neat (IMO :) ).

 

And I'm reaching the point where I have enough gods written up that I could do a Mythic Hero Smackdown event at cons. In fact, I might want to hurry up and finish a couple of the more popular pantheons (Greek, Egyptian) for just such events. ;)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Steve, I'm still really keen to see Mythic Hero in some form. Would the shorter format of Aquitaine or the Elvensong spell and monster packs work?

 

I guess I'm suggesting doing it a chapter at a time. No Kickstarter. You'd got an awful lot of cultures planned - maybe a 10-page PDF on each one, released as it's finished, would break the project down into managable chunks and bring income in at a more steady pace.

 

If you wanted, you could then assemble the individual chapters into a print Kickstarter further down the line.

 

EDIT: Scratch that - you answered that suggestion above. Missed that post.

 

(And you may want to write The Ultimate Weapon; I want you to write Hero System Vehicles 6e - I had to photocopy the space combat rules from Star Hero 5e, and print out the Dogfight and Interception rules from APG to do a space combat a couple of weeks ago.)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Andy -- as I mentioned above, that's occurred to me, but I have too many concerns with it, including consistency -- I'd hate to realize halfway through that I've thought of a better way to do thus-and-such. With one big book I can at least prevent that from happening. ;)

 

But I appreciate the attempt to think of solutions! I often think about MH and ways I might get it out there, for my own satisfaction if no one else's. ;) Unfortunately they all seem to involve a lot of money, and LL hasn't won the lottery yet. :nonp:

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

For those of you who are interested in a Mythic Hero update, I just finished the chapter on Aztec Mythology. It came in at 20,000 words, meaning I now have approximately 130,000 words written on a book I can't publish. :nonp: But I'm having a lot of fun doing the research and writing just for my own satisfaction. :)

 

Next up: Mayan Mythology! As long as I'm in Mesoamerica I might as well get it all done while stuff's still fresh in my mind. :thumbup:

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

I still want this in some format, especially the Middle Eastern chapters.

 

Depending on how you define "Middle Eastern," I'm making good progress on those. Assyro-Babylonian and Sumerian are both done, but I haven't yet done any work on Canaanite or Persian. Or Egyptian, for that matter, though it's relatively high up on my schedule. ;)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Assyro-Babylonian and Sumerian both at the top of the list, along with Canaanite and Persian. Plenty of sources on Egyptian. For some reason, I was never able to make it through Gilgamesh. Then I got it on audiobook, and the light came on. It was not written to be read, it was written to be heard! I've listened to it over and over, with tantalizing glimpses of the mythos. Also running across tantalizing hints of the polytheism that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam displaced. Few popular references on this subject, and I haven't been passionate enough to track down the titles and arrange an inter-library loan.

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Assyro-Babylonian and Sumerian both at the top of the list, along with Canaanite and Persian. Plenty of sources on Egyptian. For some reason, I was never able to make it through Gilgamesh. Then I got it on audiobook, and the light came on. It was not written to be read, it was written to be heard! I've listened to it over and over, with tantalizing glimpses of the mythos. Also running across tantalizing hints of the polytheism that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam displaced. Few popular references on this subject, and I haven't been passionate enough to track down the titles and arrange an inter-library loan.

 

There definitely aren't as many sources on these mythoi as I'd like; I've had to pay a pretty penny for some of the ones I've tracked down. Unfortunately the source material often tends to be rather sparse, but at least for Sumerian and Assyro-Babylonian there's enough to work with to provide lots of useful information for gaming purposes. Besides, who doesn't want to take on Tiamat in a fight? :)

 

Factoid by way of illustration: the Sumerian and Babylonian chapters, despite being pretty thorough treatments of the subject IMO, total about 17,000 words or so taken together. The Aztec, Finnish, and Norse chapters are each 20,000 or more words apiece, because there's a lot more information and material to work with. To put it another way, they don't suffer from the problem of broken clay tablets costing mythologists useful data.

 

And I agree on listening to epic poetry (Gilgamesh or otherwise). There's a certain rhythm to it that makes it captivating listening, as opposed to just reading. Much like you "get" a Shakespeare play much more when you watch it performed. ;)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Steve, if I could just express my total ignorance of the publishing industry for a minute, what are the odds that your work will be available as a pdf when you are done writing? I realize that the Kickstarter didn't meet its goal, but what fraction of that is for actual hardcopy and/or artwork as opposed to your effort?

 

To put it another way, since you are still writing this and there is still interest, would you be willing to sell the final result as a pdf? Once you have already put in the work, anything you got for it would be better than it sitting on your hard drive. Or am I missing something here?

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Well, for one, what you'd get would be a formatted text document...with no art. Not much fun. 34 grand was supposed to cover physical publishing costs, plus art and Steve's compensation. I'd imagine he could do a pdf-only book for about 10 grand less, but I dunno whether the same support level would be there for that.

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

Steve, if I could just express my total ignorance of the publishing industry for a minute, what are the odds that your work will be available as a pdf when you are done writing? I realize that the Kickstarter didn't meet its goal, but what fraction of that is for actual hardcopy and/or artwork as opposed to your effort?

 

There are several considerations involved.

 

First, I'd have to decide how much time, effort, and expense I'd want to put into making it look good as a PDF. I'd have to do at least some layout work on it, so that it wouldn't be just my raw word processing text, but if it's nothing but words and character sheets I could do that myself (in fact, I'd have fun doing it; I like doing layout). But that wouldn't be very appealing to most consumers, I expect, and would limit what I could charge. To really make a decent production out of it, I'd have to consider having it illustrated, and that could get very expensive. That, in turn, would raise the price of the product, but would also tend to make it more appealing to the average consumer.

 

Second, I'd have to decide what other associated expenses have to be covered. For a PDF only, this would primarily mean compensating me for my time, effort, and skill. There wouldn't be any cost of goods to manufacture.

 

In terms of how your general question about "what are the costs of production," you can find my breakdown of cost estimates here: http://stevenslong.squarespace.com/mythic-hero/2012/2/6/where-does-the-money-go.html. Assuming those numbers still hold, without the costs of printing and shipping I would still have to raise $24,450 to break even -- which would be extremely difficult if all I have to sell is a PDF that I can charge at most $29.99 for. If there was no art in the PDF, the break-even point would become about $17,000 -- much lower but still virtually unattainable if all I have to sell is a PDF.

 

But the truth, economic issues aside, is that I don't want to do just a PDF. It's too much work to have nothing to show for it all but some digital files. I want a big, grand book that everyone can own and love and treasure, something that I can show people and that I can gaze upon with deep satisfaction. Ideally I want it to be full-color, too, to live up to how I see it in my mind's eye when I'm dreaming, but given that I couldn't even raise the money to publish it in B&W that's probably a bit beyond the pale. ;)

 

 

To put it another way, since you are still writing this and there is still interest, would you be willing to sell the final result as a pdf? Once you have already put in the work, anything you got for it would be better than it sitting on your hard drive. Or am I missing something here?

 

There is a certain logic in that, and I can't deny it. However, occasional appearances to the contrary aside, I am not just a cold-hearted, pragmatic businessman. I am also an "artiste." :) I want to do Mythic Hero right, as I define "right," and if I can't then I don't want to publish it at all. To do so would be heartbreaking.

 

If I felt there were bucketloads of money to be made, my pragmatic side would probably argue me into publishing regardless. ;) But since there aren't, I'm not gonna publish it unless I'm happy with the way I do so. If I can't get money, I've at least got to get some amount of personal satisfaction. ;)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

I know that you keep on saying that you want a big book and do it right. How has your other PDFs (magic, books of undead, Acquitaine) done on this site? Basically I am asking if there was enough movement on your other items to get you to even consider the idea of selling Mythic Hero in chapters/mythoi?

 

The only other thing that I can think of to try get it published is to redo a Kickstarter that would be to have some cheaper levels to offer PDFs of mythoi groupings or sub-sections of the book. The question is... would you would get more people paying a lesser price (and hopefully more overall money) or would you end up slitting your own throat by losing people that would pay the full PDF (and maybe book) level to get their favorite mythoi?

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

I know that you keep on saying that you want a big book and do it right. How has your other PDFs (magic, books of undead, Acquitaine) done on this site? Basically I am asking if there was enough movement on your other items to get you to even consider the idea of selling Mythic Hero in chapters/mythoi?

 

It's hard to say for certain because they haven't been available for really long periods of time, but so far the pattern seems to be that I sell a few dozen of each PDF. That's barely enough to justify the monster and spell collections, which require relatively little work. It's nowhere near enough to justify any PDF that requires a significant amount of work, including Acquitaine and any portion of Mythic Hero.

 

 

The only other thing that I can think of to try get it published is to redo a Kickstarter that would be to have some cheaper levels to offer PDFs of mythoi groupings or sub-sections of the book. The question is... would you would get more people paying a lesser price (and hopefully more overall money) or would you end up slitting your own throat by losing people that would pay the full PDF (and maybe book) level to get their favorite mythoi?

 

If I did try another Kickstarter, I highly doubt I would offer individual chapters or mythoi as rewards, for several reasons. First, that significantly increases the amount of work I have to do, and the administrative burden on me to fulfill the rewards.

 

Second, I don't believe it would significantly increase the amount of money coming in (if anything, I would likely be "slitting my own throat," as you say). Let's look at what MH brought in. I had $25,784 dollars pledged by 284 backers. 126 of those backers only pledged for the $25 PDF level. Thus, 44% of the backers contributed only 12% of the project's income. If each of those people had instead pledged at the $75 level, the project would have earned $32,084, thus coming so close to succeeding that someone might've helped put it over the top. Obviously there's no way to get most (if any) of those backers to increase their pledges by that much, so that's just a pipe dream. But I think there's a strong argument to be made that I'd be more likely to succeed if I didn't offer a PDF-only option at all (or increased its cost) and focused on trying to get a smaller number of highly enthusiastic backers to pay even more to make MH a reality.

 

Third, the idea just rubs me the wrong way -- as you say, I'd rather do one large book. ;)

 

 

t's clear that there are people who really want this book. Unfortunately, it's not at all clear that enough people want this book.

 

Sadly, I think that is the case -- or perhaps more accurately, there aren't enough people willing to pay enough to make it succeed. (Which I totally understand -- there's only so much most people are willing to pay for a book, even a big one, and I don't blame 'em one bit, especially in tough economic times. I'm humbled and deeply appreciative that I brought in over $25K in pledges as it was.) I'm still keeping my eyes open for ways to make the project work, and keeping my li'l brain churning with ideas and possibilities, but for the time being I don't see a way to close the gap -- aside from me paying for the whole thing myself as a labor of love, which I'm not really in a position to do. ;)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

There is a certain logic in that, and I can't deny it. However, occasional appearances to the contrary aside, I am not just a cold-hearted, pragmatic businessman. I am also an "artiste." :) I want to do Mythic Hero right, as I define "right," and if I can't then I don't want to publish it at all. To do so would be heartbreaking. ;)

 

I can respect that. If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right, and we wouldn't have backed the Kickstarter in the first place if we didn't know a quality product would result. I am still bummed that it means I might never get my hands on a copy of Mythic Hero, but I see where you are coming from.

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

I am still bummed that it means I might never get my hands on a copy of Mythic Hero, but I see where you are coming from.

 

Well, I haven't given up hope yet, and I hope y'all won't either. ;) In the meantime I'll continue to keep y'all updated as I make progress on the writing.

 

Currently I'm working on Mayan mythology, which should be a relatively short chapter. Then I plan to head on to Greek and Egyptian, in that order. Once I get those two done I will have enough well-known mythoi done that I can run "Mythic Hero Smackdown" events at cons, if anyone's interested in that. ;)

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Re: MYTHIC HERO: What Do *You* Want To See?

 

For those of you who are interested in updates, I've pretty much just finished the chapter on Mayan mythology (barring a little supplementary research in some books that haven't arrived yet). Woot!

 

Time to head on to one of the big ones: Greek and Roman mythology. I've already got 10,000 words written on that chapter and it's nowhere near done. May end up rivaling or exceeding the American Indian Mythologies chapter before I'm done. ;)

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