High Plains Samurai’s Core Rulebook On Sale Now!!

HPS_CoreRulebook_cover_July2018_final
Click here to buy your copy at DriveThruRPG!

We were once a beautiful world, young and fertile. Nothing but hope and opportunity lay before us. We were the chosen ones of our creators and lived a lavish lifestyle. Until the All-Father revealed his jealousy of the love his children gave to their creation and not him. His wrath nearly wiped us out. Now we are the enslaved and oppressed in the Five Cities, or those risking it all in the Wastes. But there are some who call no place home. They wander between all places and live by their own rules. Will any of them rise up to become the mysterious heroes we need

Broken Ruler Games is pleased to announce the release of the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game‘s core rulebook in softcover, print-on-demand, and PDF. After six years of development, this high-octane action story game of gunslingers, samurai, barbarians, gangsters, and steampunk in a post-apocalyptic world of superpowers is ready to challenge your Writers with everything you need to start telling original stories in the One Land.

After a successful Kickstarter in 2017, HPS has already gone on to receive a Gold ENnie for High Plains Samurai: Legends as Best Free Game of 2017. With the new core rulebook, you’ll be able to run all the one-shots and campaigns you desire in this improvisational storytelling game where the dice determine complications, not success or failure.

With the HPS core rulebook, you get…

  • Complete rules for playing the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game

  • Create original characters of every type, from leads to extras

  • Build and expand on the Five Cities and the Wastes

  • Apply character roles to give your character a code of honour

  • Gain new perks from your homeland to help define your character’s background

  • Explore the history of Chaos’ Wrath and its aftermath

  • Discover the key initiatives for the One Land & meet its major characters, including every warlord and Black Scorpion

  • An advice chapter for all players, Directors and Writers alike

  • Tips on playing evil characters seeking to destroy the One Land

You can discover more about HPS at highplainssamurai.com, including the Atlas of the One Land, our ongoing series of actual play recordings, additional advice from the game’s creator, and so much more. The High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game is available now at DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, Amazon, and will soon be available through IndiePressRevolution.

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Explore The One Land Like Never Before

HPS_Legends_cover_web_850x1200_Jan2018It’s launch day here at BRG and do we ever have some exciting news to share with you today. First, High Plains Samurai: Legends is officially on sale as a free PDF plus you can purchase softcover versions (either full colour or black-and-white) at DriveThruRPG.

But that’s not all. We’re very pleased to announce the launch of our new website, highplainssamurai.com. Here you can learn the basic rules for playing HPS, introduce yourself to the setting and concept of the game, read the ongoing short story of Black Scorpion’s origin by Fraser Ronald (Nefertiti Overdrive, Centurion)… oh, but that’s not all. The biggest feature we’ve added to the site is the Atlas of the One Land, a deeper exploration into the tumultuous world of post-apocalyptic qi warriors. Every week, new content provides a look at some of the exciting locations, interesting characters, new creatures from the Wastes and beyond by the team that helped bring this world to life. Plus anyone can submit new discoveries based on the stories you create with your Writers! Yes, we’re looking for everyone to share their creations with us to help populate this world like never before. So check out the site and discover more about HPS than you thought possible.

One Successful Weekend

HPS_Legends_cover_web_850x1200_Jan2018…aaaaaaand it’s gone! If you were hoping to get your hands on a PDF of High Plains Samurai: Legends this past weekend, it is temporarily back in the vault until its full launch on March 20th. 333 downloads of the game over a period of 85 hours, working out to 3.9 downloads an hour. Thanks to everyone who jumped on board the game like an Outcast trying to rob the Salvation.

This was just a sneak peak and if you’re concerned about having to pay for a copy on the 20th, we want to assure you that will not be the case. You will still be able to download a free PDF of HPS Legends as well as purchase full colour or black-and-white softcover copies on March 20th and every other day after that. Even now, we’re making a few updates to the layers and some of the layout to give you an even better version in the next couple of weeks. We hope everyone’s diving through and getting a feel for what makes the One Land tick.

Because it’s going to get bigger. The Atlas of the One Land is coming soon…

Atlas_map_March2018
Artwork by Jeff Brown.

HPS Legends Unleashed For GM’s Day

HPS_Legends_cover_web_850x1200_Jan2018Damn you, Chaos! It seems that with all the hassle and bustle of getting ready for the official release of High Plains Samurai: Legends on March 20th, a certain extra-dimensional creator of the One Land decided to launch the free PDF for GM’s Day weekend. Rather than summon the other Elemental Spirits to fight the All-Father’s machinations once more, we’re going to roll with the punches.

HPS Legends is available to download for free this GM’s Day weekend (until Monday, March 5th) and won’t be back again until the 20th. On that day, you can purchase full colour or black-and-white softcover copies of the game along with the free PDF. Go ahead… unleash your potential!

Pick it up at DriveThruRPG.

It’s Time To Duel

234151Perhaps there’s no better way to relax after a long weekend than grabbing a sharp blade rusted by the blood of your enemies, slinging a cracked shield over your arm, and defeating a fellow warrior in hand-to-hand combat. Perhaps you will face a giant centaur or the gods will be pleased with your fight and award you with the wings of your fallen opponent. Either way, it’s time to Duel.

We’re pleased to announce the first of our ongoing series of mini-games, Duel, is now available for free at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. Played with Fate/Fudge dice, both players in a contest to the death will randomly build their warriors and the arena in which they fight before laying out a path of attacks, blocks, and complications to win the battle and fight for the favour of the gods. It’s easy enough to check out… because it’s FREE. Download it, play it, and let us know how it went. Did you have to call on a favour to earn your victory or can you dish out more harm than you receive to win the day? There’s only one way to find out.

What Are Fragments?

Every now and then, an idea for a mini-game comes along. It’s not large enough to design a full game and charge full price. There’s just enough to package it and send it out into the world. Fragments is a new line of free PDFs from Broken Ruler Games showcasing what we can do and we’re planning to release a new game in the series every quarter. We’re working on the next game, By The General’s Hand, a letter-writing game about two generals corresponding to their loved ones back home about their ongoing war. Each letter contains an update on the conflict between both players with dice rolls encoded in the handwritten details until a truce is declared or an army falls. Keep your eyes posted here for more updates on General as the game progress and sign up for our Broken Newsletter for sneak peaks.

Measuring Success: Q4 2017 + The Year That Was

Greetings once again, oh curious one. The end of another quarter means it’s time for another instalment of How Much Money Did We Make? Also known as Measuring Success. And yes, this one comes at the end of a quarter. Right on time and there’s a reason for that which I’ll dive into momentarily.

Below are the numbers of products moved and gross sales amount for both the last quarter of 2017 (October to December) along with the overall numbers for 2017. This is the first year I’ve collected a calendar year’s sales, not just a fiscal year (as mine runs from September to August). There’s a few new things I’m trying out with my accounting and this is one of them. These numbers include sales from DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, convention & direct sales (including to groups such as Ottawa Story Games and GenCon), Indie Press Revolution, and the Open Gaming Store.

Product Q4 Sales Q4 Gross 2017 Sales 2017 Gross
Killshot: The Director’s Cut 5 $18.30 34 $162.20
PDF 5   31  
Hardcover B&W 0   2  
Hardcover B&W + PDF 0   1  
Killshot: An Assassin’s Journal 0 $0.00 9 $0.00
PDF 0   9  
Softcover B&W 0   0  
Killshot: Direction 0 $0.00 0 $0.00
PDF 0   0  
Softcover B&W 0   0  
Killshot Files #0 8 $0.00 34 $4.95
PDF (Free) 8   34  
Killshot Files #1 0 $0.00 9 $12.00
PDF 0   9  
Killshot Files #2 0 $0.00 10 $27.97
PDF 0   10  
Ironbound 35 $1.50 290 $10.34
PWYW 15   120  
Blessed and the Damned 20   170  
ScreenPlay 720 $53.28 761 $243.73
PDF 718   755  
Softcover POD 0   2  
Softcover POD + PDF 2   4  
Dial M for Monster 3 $18.44 21 $86.94
PDF 2   18  
Softcover POD 1   3  
         
TOTAL 774 $91.52 1199 $548.13
         
Killshot Directors Kit (Bundle) 0   9

As stated in the last instalment of this series, 2017 was a lean year because so much effort was put into getting ready for this year (ahem, High Plains Samurai). There was also our donation of ScreenPlay‘s PDF into the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Bundle that has skewed some of the numbers (I’m a sucker for placing products into charity bundles once they’ve been out in distribution for a year). This amount is very acceptable because it’s enough to keep paying the bills, which are quite reasonable this time of year. Plus, these numbers do not include the Kickstarter funds raised in May-June 2017.

The last quarter of 2017 was… disappointing. It is possible the Bundle took out a lot of thunder for other sales, but I’ve spoken to a couple other publishers who have noticed a similar result in their Q4 sales. Even the uber massive Christmas sales were meh. To me, it’s a sign that new releases are in order as the pressure in this pipe is starting to fizzle out. This means there isn’t much more to cover with regards to sales and 2017 products that hasn’t been discussed already, so let’s move on.

A Few Extra Hours In The Day

HPS_Legends_cover_Dec2017_preview1Yes, the reason why I was able to actually produce quarterly results this time. BRG keeps me very busy and when combined with having a regular daytime job and some freelance work in between, my time is tightly managed to maintain my production schedule. If one of those things were to suddenly fade away, more time becomes available. And that’s exactly what happened.

As of the end of 2017, I am currently working full-time from home on BRG and my freelance graphic design. Doing so has allowed me to take the time to get things right and get back on track with HPS production after the expansion of High Plains Samurai: Legends, playtesting, and more. Along with some additional mini-games in the works (see Duel for a sample of our first product in the upcoming Fragments line). While the numbers you see above certainly do not come close to providing a solid income, this new year is going to be a game changer. Combine that with my freelance work and there’s only one way to find out, right?

Sign up for the Broken Newsletter & get a free PDF of Dial M For Monster.We’re already moving forward with this expanded workflow, as shown by last year’s announcement of HPS Legends and Duel. Plus with more surprises along the way, we’ve set up a monthly newsletter to help our fans keep track of what’s going on. (Psst, you’ll receive a free PDF copy of Dial M For Monster if you do. Just sayin’.) These are exciting and terrifying times. We’ll see how it all pans out in three months’ time.

Measuring Success: The First Year In Review

BrokenRuler_logo_websiteheader_Oct2015_noshadow

There are differences between levels of success and they’re based on the goals we lay down. Yet no matter how you look at it, we all view success as a means of moving forward and upwards. There’s a momentum behind it and when you get a lot of it behind you, even in small doses, things can really move in directions you never imagined. That’s the mantra I live by when it comes to anything I do. I start small and I let it grow and don’t look back until I can see things have really progressed in ways I had not expected and yet always hoped for.

I guess that’s a long way to say… Welcome to another edition of our Measuring Success series! Where I figuratively pull back the curtain to reveal nothing more than a lone man frantically pushing a lot of buttons in the hopes of creating something magical. And that would be me, Todd Crapper, the publisher of Broken Ruler Games and Pusher Of All Buttons. Not only is it time for an update on this bi-annual sales report for all curious onlookers and fellow independent publishers, it’s also a review of BRG’ first year as a registered business. If you’ve never read any of the previous installments in this series, you can find them all here. Basically, I open up the books and spill the beans on how well my business is doing.

Right off the bat, let’s begin with the good news. We made money! The majority of that stems from the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter, which means that profit is going to be very short lived. But still… we made money! If I take away the Kickstarter funds, we are working in the red but that is very much expected with numerous projects and partnerships in the works, memberships fees, printing costs, and more. There have also been some valuable lessons learned – some of them troubling, others eye opening. As you’ll see below, we’ve also started moving into some exiting new directions for 2018. Put on your goggles, folks, because it’s time to dive into the deep end of the pool.

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What Did We Sell?

Every one of these posts starts off with a big giant spreadsheet containing sales from multiple sources – DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, CreateSpace/Amazon, the Open Gaming Store, Epimas, and others. Below is the complete sales data from September 2016 to August 2017.

Product

OBS Sales (DriveThruRPG/ RPGNow)

Open Gaming Store Sales

Convention/ Direct Sales

Total
Sales

Total Gross

Killshot: The Director’s Cut

83

11

94

$143.90

PDF

26

26

Hardcover

2

2

Hardcover + PDF

1

1

Killshot: An Assassin’s Journal

9

9

Killshot Files #0

26

11

37

Killshot Files #1

9

9

$12.00

Killshot Files #2

10

10

$27.97

ScreenPlay

314

20

16

350

$450.45

PDF

37

2

39

Softcover

2

16

18

Softcover + PDF

4

4

Ironbound

105

18

105

$8.84

The Blessed and the Damned

150

150

Dial M For Monster

16

16

$68.50

TOTAL

397

31

16

444

$711.66

dialm_finalcoverOverall, sales were down 44% compared to the previous year (and before I registered BRG as a business). The main reason is a lack of new products during this first year. Aside from Dial M For Monster, which bombed, all of my focus this past year was spent preparing the HPS Kickstarter, engaging with distribution channels and connecting with publishing organizations. All things considered, it’s not a harsh drop and is quite acceptable when you consider this crowded RPG market (particularly on DriveThruRPG). These numbers do not include either of the free playtests for ScreenPlay and High Plains Samurai, which helped keep BRG active and increased the size of our audience. These playtests combined were downloaded 1,640 times since 2016 – an impressive amount that helped us raise $6,411 on Kickstarter this year.

What these numbers provide is a benchmark for 2017-18, one I’m quite hopeful can be jumped over and left in the dust when the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game is released in Fall 2018. If I play my cards right, there will also be some early momentum from Summer convention sales and will also be available through North American distribution with Indie Press Revolution (they’ve already requested a restock of 20 copies of ScreenPlay, in fact). While the past couple of months have been off to a slow start, my eyes are looking towards March 2018 for the numbers to make a running charge at that benchmark.

Otherwise, there hasn’t been any significant change in sales since the previous MS post. If you’re interested to read a summary on the first six months’ sales, click here.

HPS-Kickstarter_BalladPreview

What Did I Learn?

If there’s one area that has been the biggest eye-opener, it’s been bookkeeping. Detailing every single transaction, noting it across different reports, multiple currencies, transfers, and all the financial data needed to run a business has changed significantly in our second year. With new opportunities now available to BRG products, including access to distribution through IPR, there’s going to be more to track and I need to keep everything organized in a way that will make sense 365 days of the year.

Balancing the demands of running your own business with the need to create new material has also been challenging with a few adjustments made along the way. This has also lead to a better approach on dedicating time for project management, scheduling and budgeting to get ahead of the train rather than racing after it. There has been more time placed on setting up new opportunities for BRG to pave the way for a larger release with High Plains Samurai than anything else I’ve ever done. While not a conscious goal, there is a chance HPS‘ core rulebook could premiere at Gen Con 2018! An opportunity too good to miss. With these matters handled during the first year of operation, I can now get back to the creative side of the business before stepping back into the marketing and publishing sides. Different hats, as they say.

I’ve also discovered that it is possible to go with only 5 hours sleep for two weeks straight but it’s not going to feel good by the end.

One of those nice and unexpected (yet secretly hoped for) benefits of this past year has been the contacts and support from other indie RPG publishers, particularly with the members of the IGDN. They were incredibly helpful filling in the gaps and tightening up the presentation for the Kickstarter and I’ve been able to work with industry figureheads such as Mark Diaz Truman, Sarah Richardson, Emily Care Boss, and others on the Metatopia Scholarship program. It’s given me a couple of geek-out moments, for sure, but the most important benefit has been that sense of inclusion. Of community and knowing there are others who are just as mad dog crazy as I am about doing this. It’s also offered up a lot to think about when it comes to marketing and communicating with my customers, from setting up a subscription newsletter, to Patreon, and other things that would need a post unto themselves. All told, being part of the IGDN started to teach me how I can responsibly grow BRG.

young-boy-banker-with-money

I also had a blast going on some of my favourite podcasts, including Misdirected Mark and The Gauntlet. Plus there were the personal connections made by attending Breakout in March and shaking hands with fantastic publishers and game designers like Fraser Simons, and Hamish Cameron. Knowing there are people out there you could be trapped on a deserted island with and talk about game design uninterrupted…? Priceless.

Going back to the benchmark mentioned above, this year’s sales were more than enough to handle expenses, printing and shipping costs, convention attendance, travel, and others. One of the advantages of working almost completely online is the savings; it’s quite possible to make a lot of business arrangements without leaving your chair. This means as long as I can at least pull in these kinds of numbers year-to-year, the business can continue to stay afloat. And that requires a continuous release schedule, something my editor, Vince Harper, brought up during one of our earlier production meetings.

Hmm, perhaps now would be a good time to get to the fun question…

What’s In Store For 2018?

So glad you asked! Thanks to the 273 honorable backers who helped make this happen, we’ll be rolling out the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game in two phases.

  • breakout2018-logo_324x179In March 2018, you can try out High Plains Samurai: Legends as a free download. Legends provides players with everything they need to play out one-shots in the One Land, perfect for convention play and to test out your wire-fu storytelling skills. Will include pre-generated characters, character & scene notes and three storylines. A print-on-demand (POD) version will also be available for a reasonable price (currently in the $10-$15 range based on final page count). We’re on target to premiere Legends at Breakout 2018 in Toronto, Canada and my plan is to have softcover copies available there as well.

  • Then in the Fall of 2018, the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game core rulebook will reveal everything you need to begin magnificent and dangerous tales from the One Land. Complete with character creation, advice for Writers and Directors, detailed introductions to the Five Cities and the Wastes, and more. This core guide to the game will be sold in PDF, POD, and softcover (prices yet to be determined) on all OneBookShelf sites, Amazon, and at major conventions and (hopefully) local gaming stores across North America (but I’ll settle with a handful… for now).

Plans are also underway for a dedicated High Plains Samurai website, publishing Fraser Ronald’s origin story of Black Scorpion, moving forward with the Atlas of the One Land project, I’m currently plotting out some ideas for a series of mini-games, and the wheels are spinning on a Black Scorpion’s Revenge Kickstarter late next year or early 2019. There will be more to come about these projects… soon. Stay tuned.

In Conclusion…

I’m quite pleased with this first year. Capped off with the success of the Kickstarter and the knowledge gained during the first 365 days of official operation, I’m really looking forward to applying these to the next 365 days. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hyperventilating deep down inside but optimistically hyperventilating. If such a thing exists. All in all, I’m very happy with this first year.

If you have any questions or comments on what you’ve seen here, I’d be happy to follow up with more information or compare notes to help fill in a few more gaps in the indie market.