Holy $&@*, The Kickstarter Is Only 5 Days Away!

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The cover for High Plains Samurai: The Kickstarter Edition (available only through the Kickstarter, don’t cha know)

Some headlines can only encapsulate the true emotion of the moment with a curse. Or a censored curse, in this case.

As of the day this post goes live, the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter goes live and everything’s looking great! The page has already been approved and can be launched whenever we choose (but we’re sticking with May 30th so coincide with Todd’s appearance on Misdirected Mark). Over the course of this weekend, we’ll be updating the website, outputting the PDF for the Kickstarter Edition of the game, finalizing the video, and a few more bits and pieces. It’ll be a busy weekend and it’ll all be worth presenting the best possible version of the game to make you honoured to become a backer.

And the stretch goals… oh, the stretch goals. Let us simply say one word to show you how far this game can go: trilogy.

On behalf of everyone involved in HPS, thank you for your support in getting the word out on this campaign and hope you’ll continue to do so in the coming month. You can follow Todd (@Warden_Op on Twitter) if you’re looking to #SaveTheOneLand as a hero or you can follow Chaos (who has hacked our @BrokenRuler Twitter account) if you’re looking to #DestroyTheOneLand as a villain.

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Measuring Success: The First Six Months

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It has been exactly six months since Broken Ruler Games was relaunched and the time has come to look back at those early days to see where things have progressed to date. Yes, exactly six months to the day.

Pay no attention to the date of this post!

Hello again, loyal readers and casual Googlers. This is BRG’s big cheese, Todd Crapper, here once more to review the numbers that have been flying across my screen these past few months. As this latest update in the Measuring Success is arriving a bit behind schedule and there’s still plenty of work ahead on the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter, let’s jump right into the fray, shall we?

Cutting Up The Numbers

Below are the total sales for both OneBookShelf sites (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and affiliates), the Open Gaming Store, conventions, and direct sales between September 20, 2016 and March 31, 2017.

Product Total Sold Gross Sales Earnings  
Killshot: The Director’s Cut 20 $86.12 $50.39  
PDF 18     **listed as Silver Best Seller on DriveThruRPG
Hardcover B&W 2     1 print demo ordered from Lightning Source
Hardcover B&W + PDF 0      
         
Killshot: An Assassin’s Journal 5 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF 5      
Softcover B&W 0      
         
Killshot: Direction 0 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF 0      
Softcover B&W 0      
         
Killshot Files #0 22 $2.00 $1.17  
PDF (Free) 22      
         
Killshot Files #1 5 $6.00 $3.64  
PDF 5      
         
Killshot Files #2 6 $17.47 $10.22  
PDF 6      
         
ScreenPlay: The Rehearsal Edition 0 $0.00 $0.00  
PDF (Free) 0      
         
Ironbound 101 $5.83 $3.49  
PWYW 48      
Softcover POD 0     limited to 5 copies only for PbP playtesters!
Blessed and the Damned 53      
         
ScreenPlay 32 $189.20 $129.75  
PDF 23      
Softcover POD 2      
Softcover POD + PDF 4      
CreateSpace / Retail 5     for backers/playtesters/patrons only!
         
Dial M for Monster 18 $68.50 $40.08  
PDF 16      
Softcover POD 2     1x POD proof ordered Sept. 2016
         
High Plains Samurai 911 $0.00 $0.00  
Rehearsal Edition 911      
       
TOTAL 1146 $365.12 $238.74  
         
Killshot Directors Kit (Bundle) 5    

With only one new paid release in this period (Dial M For Monster), these are decent numbers. Considering how ScreenPlay quickly lost steam after a strong release and Dial M (to be blunt) failed to click with classic monster movie fans in October, these are good to see and a positive sign moving forward. Killshot continues to hang on and Ironbound refuses to go down (much like the magick hunters themselves).

This is also the first time I’ve been able to include sales from multiple sources and not just OneBookShelf sites. Broken Ruler Games is now a proud member of the Open Gaming Store, Composed Dream Games Marketplace, the IGDN (providing access to some American conventions with plans to move into retail distribution as well), and we’re also available in at 401 Games in Toronto. A brick-and-mortar store selling physical copies of ScreenPlay! Always brings a tear to my eye. Plus there was a copy sold at BreakoutCon. Oops, there’s another tear.

What really stands out over these past six months is that nice big number next to High Plains Samurai: The Rehearsal Edition. 911 downloads. In one month. Wow! And that number is soon approaching 1,000. Compared to the 645 downloads of ScreenPlay‘s Rehearsal Edition during the initial playtest campaign and during ENnies voting, roughly four months of availability, and that’s a big leap. Clearly the concept connects with people enough to add it to their catalogue; the question becomes whether or not it will be enough to make a healthy portion of them want to help expand this project into something bigger and wilder. Time will soon tell.

Tightening The Focus

dialm_finalcoverThese numbers have brought something to light: open ended products do not sell as well as detailed concepts based on a particular genre. By this, I mean products with a clear direction and theme in mind, such as a game about robot hunters on Mars versus a game about telling a story around a campfire. Killshot is still selling (and selling better than ScreenPlay) after four years and HPS‘ initial downloads prove that case. While Dial M provided a clearer idea of the system than the ScreenPlay core rulebook, it was not unique enough to stand out in the crowd. At this point, the only two products consistently getting clicked are the modern assassination RPG, Killshot, and there appears to be strong interest in Samurai‘s mad mash-up. Perhaps more than the positive signs, it’s the negatives telling me BRG needs to consider a greater focus on more unique concepts than open-ended, “do-it-all” systems.

ScreenPlay and Dial M For Monster are currently financial losses and it looks as if it will be a while before they break even. Those are strong negatives as far as aiming at similar projects in the future. It’s not to say such products will never be on the menu again, just that there will be some smaller budgets attached to them. Much smaller. It will mean smaller page counts but it also means future ScreenPlay treatments are still possible with the rules left up to the core rulebook. Maybe a collection of treatments. If anything, it’s a worthy experiment that will help shape BRG’s future (even if the result was less than hoped).

Getting Ready To Unleash The Samurai

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As mentioned above, we’re closing in on the Kickstarter launch of High Plains Samurai and all wheels are spinning in that direction. Seeing such impressive numbers for the free playtest have been incredibly encouraging… but the low number of survey results have skewed that sentiment. To date, there has only been one survey result completed for HPS but there are a couple factors to consider. First, this first quarter of 2017 has been Kickstarter season (one we were originally due to be part of were it not for the scheduling change and I’m very glad HPS wasn’t trying to compete with so many other amazing games during March). There’s been a lot of new stuff coming and going. ScreenPlay‘s playtest was released in October versus HPS‘ in March. Obviously, this time difference is huge and has been noted for future playtests. The downloads suggest HPS definitely appeals to a wide audience; without the feedback, it’s hard to tell if it actually resonates with people.

Another crucial factor is that getting feedback on anything – let alone a playtest – is difficult in the best of times. What I had hoped was a working formula has now been revealed to have been a lucky fluke with ScreenPlay… or maybe it’s more of the audience each game attracted. ScreenPlay definitely struck a chord with the story game crowd, Samurai has appealed to a more traditional RPG audience (or perhaps a hybrid crowd, such as Powered By The Apocalypse fans). Even people who playtest something face-to-face with the creator can be loathe and unable to provide detailed feedback, but I’m happy to report there are some playtests in progress at the time of this post and there should be more to work from going into the Kickstarter campaign. The initial response to this game is still very strong and I should have BIG NEWS for the launch party (to me, at least, because I get to fan gush when the time is right). Stay tuned for that.

All that aside, revisions have been made to the Kickstarter’s goals and stretch goals in light of this shift in playtest results. For starters, I’ve adjusted the goal to a lower $3,000 (Canadian) to fund a “basic” version of the game and by that I mean a 96-page edition containing the complete rules and basic setting material with an appendix for the Black Scorpion storyline and a host of supporting characters from around the One Land. This will at least give me the satisfaction of knowing I can publish HPS in a way that I would still be proud to slap on the BRG label and provide something magical for people to play. At $6,000 (still Canadian), we will produce High Plains Samurai: Black Scorpion’s Revenge, the true version of the game I’ve always intended. At nearly 160 pages, this will contain everything from the “basic” version plus incredibly detailed guidelines for directing/playing HPS and a chapter for each of the six major locations in the One Land. Within each of those chapters, a series of scenarios will provide story beats to help your group play out your version of Black Scorpion’s Revenge, the main storyline that threatens to wipe the One Land from existence. At $10,000… you know what, let’s leave that one for now. Yep, I’m teasing you.

My Money Where My Mouth Is (or Do You Want To See The HPS Kickstarter Budget?)

Due to time constraints and wanting to get this post out the door before the end of April (sheesh!), I’m going to skip the fourth component of this post… for now. Seeing as I’ve been open with my sales figures, it seemed only fair to be as open with my Rehearsal Edition/Kickstarter budget for High Plains Samurai. How much I’ve spent to date to create the version that will exist as of May 30th as far as editing, artwork, marketing, and more. Time permitting, that will happen before the launch. Otherwise, I will make a point to include it during the campaign itself.

Until then, if you have any questions, comments, or random swear words to throw my way, I’m always game to hear from you. Thank you for your support so far as BRG continues moving forward and I hope there’ll be some crazy numbers to show you next time. Like numbers with four digits. Whaaaaa….?!!

Hear The Tale of Lucky Lu on Comic Strip AP

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Click here to listen to the first episode of High Plains Samurai on Comic Strip AP. 

Some get lucky in the One Land and find a way to live outside of the warlords’ iron grip. Yet even though their day-to-day lives exist outside of the Five Cities and away from the prying eyes of outcasts from the Wastes, they can never truly live free of these dangers. Take the one they call “Lucky Lu,” for instance. He may live outside of Hunan as a retired watchdog of its master, Grandfather, but is not truly free. Deep in the mines that scour the depths of the earth searching for precious minerals and water Grandfather desires so much are Lu’s family and he has been promised they will one day go free. And so Lu runs his small farm and waits for that day.

Until Grandfather arrives with an offer that will change Lu’s life forever.

Broken Ruler Games is pleased to partner with The Gauntlet podcast network and their actual play series, Comic Strip AP, to present a six-part introduction to High Plains Samurai. The first part is available to download now and will be released on a weekly basis leading up to the Kickstarter launch in May 2017. It’s a great opportunity to get a feel for the game’s mechanics, tone, and style, regardless of whether or not you’ve downloaded the free Rehearsal Edition playtest copy or are discovering HPS for the first time. Enjoy!

The Golden Box: A High Plains Samurai Radio Drama/Actual Play

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Openly Gamer Theatre has created something truly incredible that’s a great way to learn what it’s like to play High Plains Samurai. The Golden Box is a combination radio drama/actual play recording for a previous version of HPS (something like Version 0.8 where players would roll against their own Difficulty, which has now been changed to rolling against the target’s Defence). If you’re on the fence about this game or want to hear their version of this Tarantino-esque gathering of bounty hunters all trying to acquire the same artefact in Hunan, click here and let the story begin.

Cast

Vendetta Black – Shannon Steele

Kaze Sora – Brandon Irwin

Mr. Runcitter – Aaron Woodside

Narrator – Eric Ausley

Guard – Mario Garcia

Brad – Todd Crapper

Old Lady – Jennifer Ausley

Kiki – Marielena Alcaraz

Khilmore – Chris Hussey

Marco Portune – Michael Waldschlager II

Belidia Runcitter – Katarina Ausley

Music

Benjamin Tissot ( bensound.com )

Machinimasound ( machinimasound.com )

Edited by Eric Ausley & Dan Helderman

Written and Directed by Eric Ausley

The Battle to Save The One Land Begins! Playtest High Plains Samurai For Free

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High Plains Samurai: The Rehearsal Edition begins its playtest campaign until May 14, 2017. 

It begins. Not with a whisper, but with a bang. And as the war draws closer to drawing first blood, Chaos has risen from the ashes in a plot to stop you from saving the One Land from total destruction. Will you step forth to save your homeland or will you join the forces of anarchy and watch it burn?

That’s right, High Plains Samurai: The Rehearsal Edition is now available on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow for a 10-week public playtest. Download 84 pages of wire-fu action in a fantasy land of endless possibilities, wild powers, bullets vs. swords, and so much more… for FREE. If you were involved in the ScreenPlay public playtest in 2015, we’re using that winning formula again to help make this game even better with your aid. Complete the various surveys as the game evolves to earn playtest points and achieve rewards when the playtest comes to a close on May 14, 2017. It’s all right here on the HPS Rehearsal Edition page.

Plus, there’s a special incentive to help us fight Chaos. A couple of weeks ago, someone hacked our Twitter account and is masquerading as Chaos. (Pay attention to the rumours that it’s Chaos using their limited powers to creep through to our world… those are currently unconfirmed.) Despite our best effort, this hack continues today so we’ve added a new reward: challenge Chaos to a fight using our @BrokenRuler handle on Twitter and you’ll earn 1 playtest point. That’s enough right there to give you credit in the finished product (scheduled for release in 2018). Show this powerless fiend that we don’t sit back and let someone try to destroy everything we’ve worked so hard to create, show Chaos you are the heroes ready to thwart his plans to destroy the One Land.

Over the coming weeks, the Rehearsal Edition will continue to evolve and we’ll provide additional content, behind-the-scenes videos with the game’s creator, and answer your question on how HPS works. We’d also love to read your own experiences playing HPS – comment below or share them on social media with #SaveTheOneLand or #HighPlainsSamurai. Show off your characters and let’s make this game something truly epic. Together.

The Con Is On! BRG Games Available at Breakout & Cangames 2017

cx2cdmy2     cangames-17

With High Plains Samurai: The Rehearsal Edition only days away from cracking open your hard drive, Broken Ruler Games will be running HPS as well as Ironbound and Killshot at two of Canada’s biggest conventions of the year. There are some spaces remaining (but not many) for Breakout in Toronto and registration launches on Saturday for Cangames so if you’re planning to attend either and want to play any of these games with their creator (that’s me!), do the thing that needs doing to make it happen.

Breakout (Toronto, ON)

Friday, March 10th
High Plains Samurai (10:00pm to 1:00am)

Saturday, March 11th
High Plains Samurai (10:00am to 1:00pm) – only one space remains!
ScreenPlay Presents: Ironbound (3:00pm to 6:00pm)
Killshot (7:00pm to 10:00pm)

Cangames (Ottawa, ON)

Saturday, May 20th
High Plains Samurai (2:00pm to 6:00pm)

Sunday, May 21st
High Plains Samurai (2:00pm to 6:00pm)

A (Second) Peak at the First 14 Pages of High Plains Samurai’s Rehearsal Edition

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-12-14-55-amA second peak? That’s right, if you’re not part of our ScreenPlayers Guild G+ community, you missed out on seeing this two days ago. And if you’re one of High Plains Samurai‘s growing fanbase, you could have already heard back from your players confirming they’re ready to enter the One Land.

As layout continues and the public playtest release of HPS gets ready to launch next month, we wanted to give people a heads up of what they can expect by releasing the first of three chapters within the first Volume of the complete game we’re looking to produce with the help of Kickstarter and backers like you, we hope.

You can download this 14-page PDF right here. Enjoy!