(Artful dodger, please note this is not a rant aimed at you)
The "new system" is unofficial and is something Nigel and I are just doing for our own enjoyment. If anything its actually helping us get out some semi-official stuff for the official rules. We've already put out one free-to-download little set of rules variants and have some more stuff that just needs a bit more work to make it presentable. But working on a new rules set keeps Nigel and me interested in writing stuff for Etherscope, and with that will come more stuff for the D20 system-based rules as well as (possibly) a new system.
At the moment the only avenue for Etherscope products that looks open to Nigel and me is if we put out freebie PDFs. The economics of this is simple: we're down to just ourselves writing the stuff. Even if we charged for the PDFs we wouldn't make enough money to pay writers anywhere near the going rate for print products (any PDF-only publisher will tell you this), so we're down to just us doing al the writing, editing and layout work ourselves. Now, I don't think I'm bad at the layout stuff, but both Nigel and I suck big time at editing (hell, even Mongoose
turned us down as our manuscripts needed too much editing - I mean Mongoose
. We have tried with our Malladin's Gate products, but it has all become a real drag, and when it drags there's no point continuing. As such we don't feel that we can justify charging people for what we can produce for the amount of effort we feel comfortable - no, inspired - to put in to any piece of work. Therefore, you get it for free and we put stuff out at a rate that keeps us interested and inspired. It might be frustratingly slow for the rest of you, but if anyone has any Etherscope stuff they want to run by us we'd be happy to give it a look over, or if you fancy writing something for no financial reward, we could probably give you a job. That might get some stuff out for Etherscope.
My hope/dream is that if we produce a new system all those people who tell me "its a really cool idea, but there's no way I'm playing a D20 System game" might start to rethink. If I give them an alternative ruleset for free, maybe they'll go out and buy the D20 System book for the fluff, maybe they'll buy the fluffy supplements, maybe it will restart Etherscope as a product line and I can get some other writers to chip in and write the stuff I want to see written.
There's so much more of the Etherscope world to explore. We've got a 16 year metaplot campaign, taking the storyline to the millenium and whatever catastrophe might await, we'd like to see books written on the wider world: the three superpowers could do with a big book each: the British Empire, the US and the Reich, and smaller ones for Russia and Japan. I'd even really like to do a Savage South book (nothing to do with Savage Worlds, but a Wild West version of Etherscope). There's also a shed-load of stuff we can do on the scope: we've got a lod of material already written for the War for Haven campaign. Its all there ready to be written, but Nigel and I need to fit this around whatever else we do. I've written a Viking game, we written an indie universal game system too, and the beginnings of a science fiction setting, we've even done a bit of freelancing for other games that we love. We can't spend all out time on Etherscope, but writing the odd bit here and there will be done, provided that we can keep our interest in Etherscope going despite the psycological kicking our inspiration takes on Etherscope on a fairly regular basis.
Writing the new system will
help us keep going. If it adds to sales, alls the better but that's not why we're doing it and those few Etherscope fans out there, particularly D20 system-version fans, shouldn't take a downer on it, it will actually lead to more D20 stuff being written than if we weren't writing it!
(undirected rant over)
PS if anyone fancies checking out any of the products mentioned above, including the Etherscope rules variants, you can find them on our blog: www.webjam.com/the_black_orifice
. Alternatively if you fancy writing something for Etherscope for no reward just drop me a line, either PM on these boards or use the "send email" option on the blog.