’13 Was a Lucky Number For Onyx Path

Monday Meeting, The View From the Path

Here we are wrapping up Onyx Path‘s second year, and boy was it a good one! Just looking at what we did last year kind of makes me giddy. We rumbled and rassled our way towards a lot of the goals we set for ourselves when this all started, and while we might not of gotten there as smoothly as we wanted/expected/estimated, we sure did a lot of stuff in 2013.

So, here are our highlights of the year as compiled by talking with our Onyx Path internal team. (They’re not rated in any way as we pretty much feel that they are all parts that needed to happen):

1- Overall, Onyx Path Publishing is starting to be recognized and followed. Folks are really starting to grasp that we a) have the White Wolf license and are putting out new books, b) that we are independent of CCP/WW and are working on different projects besides the WoDs and Exalted, and c) that we aren’t functioning like old WW when it comes to business practices and philosophy. There is still a long way to go to establish Onyx as a recognizable “brand name” that folks can follow because they trust us to produce great work, but last year showed great progress. The feedback we’ve received here, on our other social media sites, and at Gen-Con was great, with as many folks coming to talk to us who already knew who we were as folks wondering what was up with White Wolf.

2- Speaking of Gen-Con, we had a great one. Our Onyx Path panels were very well attended, our creative gang were excellent in answering questions and generally presenting themselves with the right mix of friendliness and professionalism, and we made a cohesive presence in the DTRPG booth with our Onyx signage and hand-outs (and matching shirts). Just like last year, I didn’t spend as much time in the booth as I would have liked, but my Industry Guest of Honor panels were pretty interesting (especially the Sexism in Gaming Art one), I got the Onyx Path word out to a totally different audience, and made a few friendly industry contacts. Which is really helpful since my years with WW were pretty insular- there wasn’t enough time to get to know folks that I wasn’t directly on a project with. And we had two great meals with EX3 KS backers that really, really helped in reminding me (and Holden and John, I think) how great our fans are.

3- We finally got the White Wolf website redirect page up so that WW fans could find us over here at our Onyx Path site. As a surprise bonus (OK, it wasn’t that much of a surprise) Onyx also got the very great honor of hosting the forums as well. While the redirect had been planned for a really long time, we had slightly less time to actually do what we had to in order to bulk up our capabilities here for the much higher WW forum traffic. Rose, Ian, and the forum mods did stellar work in bringing that all together, and we now have a single official location for discussing all the many setting and game-lines we are doing- WW, and once-WW, and new ones.

4- We put out some awesome books this year! But that’s way too general a statement, even for me, so let’s look at it deeper. We continued to bring back the classic WoD lines, with W20 being the big “dog” in May, W20‘s The Skinner SAS in June, V20‘s Hunters Hunted 2 in July, and an explosion of W20 books right here at the end of December, with W20 Changing Breeds, W20 Rage Across the World, and the W20 fiction anthology, Rites of Renown: When Will You Rage 2. Classic Mage got a Translation Guide, and the remaining three “promised” Technocracy Convention Books all came out through the year.

For nWoD, the intention this year was to evolve the existing game lines towards the sorts of games we felt they could be after 8ish years of play and experience since their initial releases. With some discussion with CCP, we set upon the idea of providing these changes as “Chronicle Books” designed to allow a coherent backstory, new rules tweaks, and yet still be set up to allow Storytellers to pick and choose the elements that worked for their games. To ease people into those changes, I felt like it would be helpful to release a fiction anthology ahead of the Chronicle Book itself. So, while its fiction landed in 2012, The God Machine Chronicle arrived in April (along with its free rules update, because we’re like that), and immediately rocketed up the sales charts. The Strix Chronicle Anthology arrived in July, and Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle came out in December to absolutely stunning response. It is very gratifying to see so many comments and reviews which focus on exactly what we were trying to accomplish. One of the first things I said to Rose was that we needed the book to be fun and engaging to read, or all the setting and rules changes wouldn’t seem worth the effort of getting through the text. Boy, did she deliver!

While we were working to rejuvenate the nWoD existing lines, we still were pushing to create the new game lines that folks expect us to deliver each year (while a bit of an internet meme, “WW is Dead!” is actually an issue we at Onyx Path need to fight against, a lot, so new lines are really very important). Mummy: The Curse arose in multiple formats in March in an experiment to see what sort of package might be more fun for fans, and various pieces of the project were also released in April, with its first supplement, Guildhalls of the Deathless, arriving in October. We teased the next new game line in August, with the Demon: The Descent Quickstart, and while Demon KS backers already have their backer PDFs of the game, I’m going to play by the rules and not consider the full game a 2013 release.

Now, those were the big releases- and I mean big, we went from 80 pages being the sweet spot for PDF/PoD releases in 2012, to these 300+ page monsters we’ve been making this year. We also did a few smaller projects for very specific reasons in 2013. I already mentioned the Demon Quickstart, Skinner SAS, etc, but we also created the Requiem lead-in product Reap the Whirlwind as a traditionally printed product for game stores, the God Machine Condition Cards to both highlight one of the cool new GMC rules tweaks and to experiment with DriveThruCards, and put out one of my favorite projects this year: the April Fool’s book Scion: Extras. Which, while funny as hell, also does actually provide new gods to be part of your ongoing pantheons (even if they’re not really very good gods). I was really glad that folks like it, took the project in the spirit that it was created in, and that we could do something for our devoted Scion audience in 2013.

5- Kickstarter madness. Well, we did five in 2013. I had planned to do more, but the sheer amount of physical, mental, logistic, and yes, emotional, effort Kickstarters take meant that we could only schedule five. I’ve talked a lot about KSs in general, and specific facets of the KS experience a lot on these blogs, so rather than list the things we learned here- and we do continue to experiment and evolve how we do these, hopefully getting better with each one- let’s keep looking at highlights. According to our Master Statistician, Doctor Ian Watson, we had pledges of over $1,120,000 in 2013, of which half were for the insane and wonderful Deluxe Exalted Third Edition Kickstarter (still the most funded tabletop RPG KS) ending in June. Mummy’s ended in January, followed by Hunters Hunted 2 in February, and then W20 Changing Breeds in July, and Demon in December. We shipped the deluxe and prestige editions from the W20, Mummy, and Hunters Hunted 2 Kickstarters this year as well, and delivered the Deluxe W20 Changing Breeds printer files to the printer in December. Besides that big dollar amount, and remember that most of that is eaten up printing and shipping costs for the KS projects and the additional Stretch Goal projects that come out of the KS, Kickstarters have given us a fantastic chance to directly talk with a huge community of backers and fans. For a starting company that has all sorts of confusing legacies to work through, our Kickstarters in 2013 were an amazing chance to explain just what Onyx Path is.

6- Those previous highlights were the stuff that came out, but part of what we accomplished in 2013 was getting ready for greatness in 2014. Our Scion and Trinity Continuum teams took on an amazing challenge of creating a dice-pool system that actually can scale from regular human all the way to gods. And they prepped and started writing non-systems sections, as well. nWoD‘s Dark Eras is being written, Mage 20th Anniversary was an epic writing journey Mr. Brucato hadn’t realized he’d be taking, and Rich Dansky signed on for Wraith 20. And Exalted Third Edition, the single biggest Herculean Labor of them all, was worked on through some of the worst times for the creators of any book I’ve ever worked on. The writers and artists we have are really hitting on all cylinders now, and our releases in 2013 are only a hint of what we’ll be delivering in 2014. I put this as a highlight, and not just a shill for 2014, because Onyx Path‘s intended method of bringing creators together and letting and encouraging them to experiment and try different solutions to making great games is starting to work really well. We had a slow start, and the idea that we wouldn’t release a project until it was as good as we wanted it- no, needed it- to be has caused some upset when we missed expected release dates. But in 2013, I think the quality of the books we put out can stand proudly with our best work at old White Wolf.

7- Internally, we have made significant strides towards tightening up how we do things while still enabling that creative energy I mention above. I have found that it’s a delicate balance to achieve the right support of creative endeavors while not becoming so “supportive” that the structure crushes the creative impulse. We still have plenty of work to do here, but this year we made huge strides to creating that supportive infrastructure thanks to the folks that chip in and help behind the scenes. For example, we brought on a half dozen new editors, and instituted putting out PDF files first so that our awesome and nit-picking legion of fans could catch the errors the editors missed on the PDFs before we made physical books. Mirthful Mike Chaney, Rollickin’ Rose Bailey, Amiable Ian Watson, and our consultants from over the mountains and through the woods- or at least from DriveThruRPG and Flames Rising, Matt McElroy and Monica Valentinelli, have all been instrumental in pulling Onyx Path together and taking a ton of weight off my ancient shoulders.

8- Onyx Path also went in halfsies with Nocturnal Media to purchase the Scarred Lands IP from CCP. This is very exciting on a lot of levels, not the least of which is getting to play in the Scarred Lands playground I helped create with my oldest friend in the RPG business and the guy that brought me in, WW founder Stewart Wieck. We haven’t begun to discuss this in 2013, because just look at all the projects we’ve already got rolling, but having a well-loved fantasy setting in the company certainly promises some cool projects in the future.

9- We put out some fiction, and have a lot more in store. This is important on several levels including providing folks entertaining ways to enjoy our settings beyond the game books/files, as well as entering the wider fiction marketplaces when we have them sussed out. Meanwhile, to get ready for those fiction marketplaces, in 2013 we started exploring alternative file formats beyond the PDF/PoD combo that we’ve gotten pretty good at. Mirthful Mike has explored new tricks with PDFs that you’ll be seeing more of, and Rose brings a programmer’s knowledge to additional formats we could start creating our projects in. There’s a spectrum of ways that folks get their entertainment these days, and my intention is that Onyx Path grows to be able to create traditional and deluxe printed books when that makes sense, or our PDF/PoD combination that works so well for tabletop gaming, or to other file formats that are needed to enjoy our projects on pads and other hand-held devices. We took baby steps in 2013, but steps they were and it’s something I’m thrilled about.

Now, obviously there were all sorts of challenges and issues that Onyx Path still needs to overcome, but that’s the topic for a blog in January as we look forward into 2014. For now, I hope all of you reading this had as much of a fun ride this year as we did- because none of these things listed above are any good without you.

Now, better buckle up for 2014!

(Project Updates and convuluted discussions of mass media between Eddy, who is still working on the WoD MMO project, and myself, will return next week).


  29 comments for “’13 Was a Lucky Number For Onyx Path

  1. December 31, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    It was a great year and it was nice to meet and chat with you at LA By Night. Looking forward to the new year, lots of cool new books and plenty of good gaming. We’ll keep the WOD flag flying high here in So Cal. Happy New Year!

    Dead Gamers Society:
    The So Cal World of Darkness Meetup

    • richt
      January 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm

      Absolutely! LA was great and I enjoyed getting a chance to hang out a bit. We’ll need to grab a meal the next time we’re all together.

  2. Quinn Y
    December 31, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Is Mage 20th Anniversary guaranteed to have it’s Kickstarter for February? (14 years since Mage Revised was published – ah, yes, I remember it well).

    • richt
      January 2, 2014 at 10:04 pm

      No guarantees or promises. Mage20 is next after Anarchs Unbound’s Kickstarter.

  3. Tiresias
    December 31, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    On the upside, the delays mean you’ll be relaunching three lines in 2014. Unless Trinity and Scion get pushed into 2015 anyway.

    • IanW
      January 1, 2014 at 9:55 am

      – Exalted 3e
      – Idigam Chronicle
      – Fallen World Chronicle
      – V20 Dark Ages
      – Mage20
      – Wraith20
      – Scion
      – Trinity Continuum

      A few more than three. 😉 We’ve got a busy year ahead!

      • Tiresias
        January 1, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        nWoD never had a hiatus like Scion, Trinity and Exalted did, so the Chronicles don’t count.

        I’m not sure if Mage20 and Wraith20 count as a relaunch either. I guess it depends on whether you consider cWoD20 to be one line on its own or if you break it down by series.

        Well, it’s good times ahead either way.

        • richt
          January 2, 2014 at 10:11 pm

          I guess it depends on how we need to think to do each one. They are all huge undertakings- you need to do so much to encapsulate the best of the multiple editions of the cWoD lines, and then a new edition like EX3 or the Chronicle books is a whole ‘nother kind of intense work. And then reimaginings like Scion and the Trinity Continuum are different but huge too. The X20’s are definitely relaunches because we are actually starting up lines again that were considered done.

  4. Yiodan
    January 1, 2014 at 1:57 am

    Nice blog Richt. Looking back, I have to admit that was quite the year. You guys were wonderful and the products are brilliant. My highlights being the convention books and the Changing Breed W20. That kickstarter was so memorable and the added content we unlocked spot on.

    Can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for us in 2014. I’m sure it’s going to rock!

    Happy New Year Onyx Path!

    • Torakhan
      January 1, 2014 at 6:14 am

      … and that list (mostly) doesn’t include the project in production that were tied to the successful KickStarters either! 🙂 (supplements, novels, anthologies, cookbooks…)

      • Yiodan
        January 1, 2014 at 3:40 pm

        True that! Can’t wait to read the new WW novels on my new e-reader I got this Christmas and we’re already planning one heck of a culinary journey with that cookbook 😀

    • richt
      January 2, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks! Right back atcha!

  5. Torakhan
    January 1, 2014 at 6:33 am

    OPP and especially the W:tA materials were fantastic highlights to my year.
    “Thank you”s go out to you and to all of those involved in making everything I’ve enjoyed (from the Convention Books, to W20 supplements, and HH2 in particular) possible, either through organization, management, creative, publication, or any other part from inception to delivery. 🙂

    Thank you for being so willing (and likely more willing than practically able) to listen to the fans and use that input to make your games better through that interaction.

    [small tangent] I have heard folks such as William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, and Tom Hiddleston talk about how when they perform in front of a camera, they know that there are people who enjoy their work, but they are disconnected from those people–sure they enjoy the appreciation, but it isn’t until they get to a convention and REALLY feel the energy that comes from someone who feels a real connection to their role, to their art, to that spark that they have helped to create, that they begin to understand just how important those fans are to their own career and (perhaps also importantly) to their own energy as an entertainer. I know that you’ve spoken before how in the early days of White Wolf, creators created the games and sort of thew them out to the wolves, hoping that people would enjoy them without really getting to know/hear from the masses, let alone get input/feedback from those fans as it was very much a “you’ll enjoy what you’re given” sort of offering. The dynamics have certainly changed in this digital world of instant transmission, crowd-sourcing, and social networking/interaction. I am so glad to see that both OPP and many of your creative teams have embraced the fanbase, not only for correcting errors missed, but actively reaching out and asking the fans “what would you like to see from this product?” and “what do you think of these ideas?” Sure, not all of that will necessarily show up in the materials, but the mere fact that you are extending a hand and so many of us are more than willing to offer our enthusiasm as well has created (or evolved) the paradigm of creating products for the masses of fans. That’s not an easy thing to do (as some Devs are obviously more comfortable with this dynamic than others), and so I appreciate that many times we’re allowed to help in that creative and logistical collaboration with the very products we also love and will purchase. It will continue to evolve, I’m sure, but it certainly seems to be in the right direction. 🙂

    So, again, thank you Rich, OPP, and all of those involved (Devs, Writers, Editors, Directors, Artists, Indexers, etc.), in helping to create this new path of product development… it may be a dark path, but it certainly seems to be an enlightened one, and ever changing, but hopefully never leading away from the sublime destination ahead.

  6. Unsilent Majority
    January 1, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Onyx Path kicked a ton of ass this year. Threw a few jabs at the beginning, got hit with a few in the middle of the year, but then countered with a couple of right hooks and an uppercut at the end.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Rich. And I’ll keep buying.

    • richt
      January 2, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Oh, we will, we will…

  7. Joe B.
    January 1, 2014 at 11:05 am

    What L. Garcia said 🙂
    And looking forward to continue the partnership of Dead Gamers Society & The Wrecking Crew by representing World of Darkness table-top events at Gen Con 2014!!

    • richt
      January 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm

      Me too! Looking forward to it.

  8. Jeff Palmer
    January 1, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    All I can say is thanks guys! I’ve nearly everything White Wolf published and am proud to have the Onyx Path books up there beside them. Keep ’em coming and I’ll keep buying them all! And extra thanks for going the PoD route- love the look of them on my shelves. Looking forward to many years of new books.

    • richt
      January 2, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks! I expect PoDs to keep increasing in quality too, so it’ll be good see what else we can do with them in the future.

  9. Brendan W
    January 2, 2014 at 11:46 am

    Hell of a year for you guys, and I got a ton of awesome as a gamer. Can we say win/win?

    Now, 2014 should bring Anarchs Unbound and Rites of the Blood KS’s as well, so I mean, you can continue to take my $ ;).

    • richt
      January 2, 2014 at 10:15 pm

      Working on getting the Anarchs’ KS ready to submit to KS right now-

  10. Phaolan
    January 2, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Two things that I want to touch upon:

    First, regarding the Kickstarters, you’ve all done a fantastic job on those! Yeah, there’s all sorts of griping to be found about them over on the various pages, but who cares? The amount of AWESOME that came out of those cannot be understated! The additional content for The Hunters Hunted II and W20 Changing Breeds really pushed those projects from being in the good-to-great range into stratospheric MAD-WONDERFUL ranges. The way that Mummy: the Curse backers funded to a level that allowed for a LOT more titles to the line (not to mention how excited the EX3 backers are) is quite impressive. Kudos on doing so well with those projects, and I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for M20, Wr20, and all the rest…

    Second, regarding ‘White Wolf is dead’ and such, I have a question: Are there plans in the works to change or add the name Onyx Path to the White Wolf listing on the DriveThru ‘Publishers’ lists? Even a listing as White Wolf/Onyx Path could help up your visibility, I think.

    …Regardless, keep up the great work!

    • richt
      January 2, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      First, thanks for your support these last couple of years. Second- you’re right, but I’m pretty sure on a legal/marketing level CCP would prefer to keep the WW name alone up there- that maintains the brand name. I’ll give it a try and run it past Eddy though…:)

      • Phaolan
        January 3, 2014 at 2:50 pm

        Oh yeah, you do what you can, and what you all CAN do is a LOT!

        My notion above is based on how I notice that the Onyx Path brand is still seen as ‘other’ from White Wolf, as maybe is best, but as the RETAIL outlet for CCP’s properties, the more visible YOU are, the more visible THEY are…

  11. Ro Amadeu
    January 2, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Can’t wait to see the new Demon line grow. It’s being my favorite nWoD game. You guys are on the right path.

    • richt
      January 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      The “Onyx” path!

  12. January 3, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Congratulations on another awesome year! I am just stoked Onyx is doing well, and looks set to continue getting stronger and stronger. My personal ! highlights from the year, in order of memory –

    The convention books were finished!
    The Changing Breeds KS crowd were unforgettable!
    The Dead Guy came back with his baby!
    The Skinner returned (a real treat for an old timer from the V1 days like me)!
    M20 snippets shared by Phil and co were a maddening tease and full of promise!
    You gave me a free pdf copy of the new Rage Across the World just for waiting for more good stuff!
    The Changing Breeds wallpaper struck gold!
    Exalted smashed through the roof!
    Dark Ages announced its return!
    The NWoD really started to find its feet again in Demon!
    The cookbook single clawedly sorted my withering repertoire in the kitchen!
    You gave away free e-copies of core rules (and still are)!
    You drew important and totally cool parallels with Doctor Who!

    So many more things to be grateful for, thanks to everyone involved. There is still a lot of work to do in lifting The Veil that has fallen over WW in recent years. I brought the news of the new model to many old players who were unaware it had returned (Europe still dozes) and they were all getting back on board, very excitedly, bringing all of their various games back to life. This year it felt like the party really started up all over again.

    • richt
      January 6, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks and thanks for spreading the word about Onyx Path and WW!

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