Blood, Smoke, Strix, Who and You.

First: Today we released Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle, Vampire: The Requiem‘s new core Chronicle book, as a PDF on DTRPG:  This all-in-one book evolves the VtR we released almost a decade ago with tweaks and additions to the clans, covenants, and disciplines, along the same lines as we did with the rules in WoD: The God Machine Chronicle. In fact, Blood and Smoke already includes the changes to the nWoD rules first delivered by God Machine. As we have with our latest projects, we’re releasing Blood and Smoke as a PDF first, gathering errata on our forums, and incorporating that errata before we do the PoD files. Anybody who grabs it in PDF form now, but wants to go with the PDF+PoD combo after the PoD version goes live, will get a coupon for a discount thanks to DTRPG.

Next: Holidays. As we at Onyx Path are crunching through the projects that are starting to be ready to get out to all you lovely folks, we won’t be taking official days off so much as taking time for various holiday events and such. But since CCP will be off for the last week of the year, and our shippers and printers are all taking a week or two off, there will be some projects that will be affected. So expect the forums and our social media sites to still have us around, but not everybody all the time. I’ll blog next week after meeting with Eddy, but I’ll have to see whether an end of year blog is doable.

After Next: Some folks in our community have expressed dismay over CCP’s recent layoffs last week (which, to be fair, was the topic of most of my talk with Eddy this week). Without getting at all into the whys and wherefores of the situation, I just want to be sure everyone understands that we at Onyx Path have not been affected by these changes as licensees, our approvals from CCP did not slow down last week, and Eddy is still at CCP and still our point-of-contact guy.

Next, Who: As promised last week, this week I’d like to explain a bit as to why Eddy and I spent so much time critiquing the whole Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Experience. To begin with, we’re both interested in projects that exist in a shared universe but which are presented in different media. In the old days of WW, we called it making synchronous projects, like the VtM tabletop RPG, Mind’s Eye Theatre LARPing set, VtM fiction, VTES card game, licensed video games like Bloodlines and Redemption, and the Kindred the Embraced TV show. Each shared the VtM world, but presented it (more or less) via the necessary methods of the media it was. Years later, Eddy and I would explore this “Transmedia” concept with a few projects we accomplished for CCP, and we honed our definition of Transmedia as projects that share the same setting, but are designed to really take advantage of the media they are being presented in. Because what makes an excellent novel isn’t necessarily what makes a great tabletop RPG, etc.

In discussion, we realized that the Doctor Who 50th Experience contained an excellent episode of Doctor Who, but also included much smaller and tighter lead-in webisodes that filled in various gaps between other parts of the series like what happened to the 8th Doctor, and non-series based shows that took us into the real world of creating the show. One was historical and gave us a sense of the changes in our world in 50 years, and the other was comedic, and with that comedy also communicated important real world ideas about how Doctor Who has affected the lives of those who performed in it and its fans. This in addition to Twitter contests, fiction and DVD releases, media reveals, and the kind of overt hoopla you’d expect over a golden anniversary. Each part was very well done and stood on it’s own for what it was, but also touched on and revealed pieces that connected with other parts.

Onyx Path is currently the caretaker of several 10-20+ year old media properties with cWoD, nWoD, Exalted, the Trinity Continuum, Scarred Lands, and to a lesser extent in terms of the time-span, Scion. I certainly have every intention of seeing what sort of Transmedia experiences we can create for these game worlds. We’ve started with the various fiction anthologies and novels that you’ll see more of in the coming year, but we also have Condition Cards for the nWoD games, and an Exalted Music Suite, a historical Exalted book of essays, the EX3 comic, etc. that have come out of the EX3 Kickstarter. Even the Kickstarters are a different sort of experience for backers than we’ve seen before, and have enabled us to create these additional projects to further the reach of their respective settings. (Of course, adapting to the demands of the KS process has been a big but necessary challenge these last two years and has pushed back some of the Transmedia projects I’d like us to be creating, but we’ll get to them.)

Then, the other thing that we have looked at is the idea of a long term media property and how something like this survives and goes through cycles during it’s continuing lifetime. Doctor Who has survived 50 years, but how? For example, let’s assume that any property that has survived several years has had it’s variations of quality but has core sets of ideas and characters that are sufficiently appealing to create a dedicated fan base. After that given, there has to be a degree of flexibility so that the property is recognizable to old fans but presents well for newcomers. Doctor Who takes this needed flexibility and bakes change into it’s integral concept. Periodically, The Doctor regenerates into a different looking and acting version of himself. Once it is accepted and expected that the main character will change, that opens the door to all sorts of allowable changes such as tone, the visuals, the other cast members. Not all these changes worked at the time, but all of them had their fans and functioned to expand the tapestry that is the overall story of Doctor Who. (Well, except Adric.) And it also opens the doors to fans adopting a devotion to one version of The Doctor that excludes any other versions.

It’s therefore in Onyx Path‘s best interest to examine an example like building in change and see if our settings, primarily our tabletop RPGs, have similar baked-in expected and accepted concepts within them. My first thought is that New Editions are the regeneration trope in our RPGs. There will be changes precisely because there is a new edition. We know some things will get shaken up. Go too far, and we’ll have “edition wars” in the same way that Doctor Who faces new Doctor hatred. Don’t make enough of a change and you’re telling the same stories, cleaving too close to the old, with commensurate loss of excitement and reader/viewer fatigue with the whole thing.

And that’s just one avenue of inquiry- one way to parse through Doctor Who to see what we can glean that can help us. There’s a whole other avenue that we could look at about how to balance an appreciation for the fans and their interests with the needs of creators to try and create new elements and approaches to these properties. The “hands-off” approach of many years of White Wolf, and many, many years of the hierarchy of Doctor Who, that was radiated by the creators to the fans has been replaced by an appreciation for the incredible loyalty and love that our respective communities have for these worlds. And there are more things we can look at past these couple of examples, and will, but that’s kind of the point. This is an ongoing analysis as to how to best present the amazing settings, worlds, and games, and no single other media property is ging to have all the answers. But it’s fun looking!

Updates for the Very Games We Were Talking About:

– Blood and Smoke: The Strix Chronicle (VtR) The PDF is available on sale on DTRPG as mentioned above! Please give it a look and feel free to comment on our forums.

– Mummy the Curse – The MtC Ready Made Characters Pack  PDF tweaks are in layout. Cursed Necropolis DC writing is being developer-passed.

– Exalted 3rd Edition:  While John hunkers down to rewrite the Charms chapter he is also changing some of the ways he’s been doing these to enable more to get finished, the rest of the team is working on a couple of EX3 chapters that continue to be finalized for Editing: Sorcery is being hammered now to get it towards Editing. Lore has been tabled to allow focus on completing the Social charms- starting with Socialize. Playtesting continues with combat being run again and again for clarity rather than because they aren’t working. The map is almost done, Jared is working on a few tweaks I sent back to him.

Zub’s EX3 Comic has been sketched out, and both  EX3 novels are being worked on. Exploration of a theme continues for the EX3 Music Suites– the music team is thinking of putting up their own video diaries documenting the creation of the EX3 Suites. Links when I have them.

– V20 Hunters Hunted 2:  Shipping out continues. HH2 Fiction Anthology is in second editor review.

– V20 Anarchs Unbound is in layout and we are still putting the pieces together for its KS- I’m looking to submit its KS over Christmas holidays and wait until January to actually start it.

– Deluxe Werewolf 20th Anniversary Edition: Shipping continues this week. The Heavy Metal Deluxe W20 prototype was approved and they are slowly assembling and binding the books by hand. Mike Lee has a new batch of chapters of the W20 “Houses of the Moon” novel for Bill to review. W20 Anthology PDF is with backers now, and we are looking to get the PoD files ready ASAP. Jess Hartley has submitted the White Howlers Tribe Book is in red-lining, and the W20 Cookbook first proof was reviewed and final proofing is getting done.

– Deluxe Mage the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition has Phil is wrapping up the last sections of the book. Reviewing full pages in b&w first from Mike Kaluta. Two pieces of the Traditions two-page spread art have been approved by CCP. Looking to do it’s Kickstarter after Anarchs Unbound‘s.

– W20 Changing Breeds  PoD files are in for approval with the PoD printer and Deluxe book files are almost done being prepared. The Changing Breeds Fiction Anthology is being contracted by developer Jess Hartley.

– W20 Rage Across the World: In to CCP for approval, which we hope to get this week. The PDF will go to Deluxe W20 backers first as an appreciative gift for their patience, and then up on DTRPG.

– W20 Book of the Wyrm is in layout. A couple of additional art pieces needed to be art directed.

– V20 Rites of the Blood: is ready for layout, but layout is not yet ready for it, art finals rolling in.

– Under the Darkening Sky (classic Dark Ages): In layout. Art getting approved.

– Trinity Continuum: New System ideas continue being hammered out. John Snead, Aeon developer and writer has already started sending material to Ian for review. T’aint it the truth.

 Scion: New Systems discussion continue.

– Demon: The Descent: Files at indexing. The Demon: the Descent Kickstarter campaign is over and thanks to all of you who made it our third largest and most backed KS.

– Hunter: Mortal Remains: Totally in editing.

– Book of the Deceived (MtC): First drafts are coming in to CAS, who is red-lining away. Red-lining is the stage where the developer makes notes in the writer’s text for changes (called red lining because a red pen was used originally to mark up the paper manuscripts).

– nWoD: Dark Eras: Writers are writing.

– V20 Dark Ages: Scribes are scribing. Check out the discussion on the WW Forums and these very blogs. Talking to a pretty famous artist about this project- only still talking yet, though.

– DtD Players Guide: Flowers Of Hell?: Shhhhhhh. Go back to sleep. Touch my face….

– V20: Ghouls: Writing continues.

– V20 Red List: Still in final draft stage.

– The Making of the Art of Children of the Revolution: Going out to backers who pledged for it and then as PDF on DTRPG.


Reason to Drink: To get the constantly repeated Christmas “classics” out of my head.

47 thoughts on “Blood, Smoke, Strix, Who and You.”

  1. I’d like to think having both editions out (in cwod20 and nwod) would decrease edition warring but that may be some blind optimism.

    I do think you guys need to work more at getting the word out. The kickstarters are great but nowadays without books on shelves, on the internet, attention is life. Things to draw in people, be they webcomics or actual play podcasts, active channels on youtube. I know it’s horrible, feeding into that because everyone has that teenager inside them telling them not to sell out, but hey, it works.

    • Personally, I don’t think marketing equals selling out, or at least that’s the gist I got from your post. I would love to see a weekly – or even a biweekly – VLog on YouTube from Onyx Path. I would love to see developer interviews, FAQs, podcasts, playtest sessions and all that cool stuff from Onyx Path on YouTube.

      Thing is that sort of thing takes some serious time and money, and lest we forget: Onyx Path is just one guy with a lot of freelancers in his network. I don’t think Richt can pull it off right now, but it would be very cool and could generate some more revenue from ads, additional sales and whatnot.

    • I think producing books for the two WoDs is very, very helpful to us in that we are demonstrating that Onyx doesn’t despise fans who prefer either version to the other. And I deliberately use a strong word like despise there, because in a fair amount of my communication with our community I have received feedback that establishes that folks feel a very strong emotional and personal reaction to the issue.

      We continue to push awareness of what we’re producing with our marketing efforts. A lot of it comes down to the individual comfort levels of the creative teams to being a part of things like podcasts or youtube-ing. Onyx isn’t of the size that we can have a staff of demo experts or online personalities, so we do what we can.

    • I would kill for a professional VtR actual play podcast. Like the Penny Arcadd guys doing DnD. Show us some love! We’re all interested in how your games turn out.

  2. I’d love to hear actual play podcasts from Onyx Path people. there’s one tabletop crew that podcast a God Machine minicampaign, but in general it’s under-broadcast.

  3. I think that making it a bit easier to obtain a book without online ordering would be better. its sad to go to the store and barely see anything new. I rarely like to shop online and so it limits the frequency of my obtaining books if I have to buy them online. maybe make it a little easier plus putting the more “core” books to print in hobbyshops will spur suplement purchases online. I got into VTR because a friend of ours saw the book and thought “hmm, lets try this out” gave the book to my wife to run and we have never looked back. theres something about seeing it on a shelf and thinking “lets try this” that gets me nostalgic (sp?) about P&P games in this day-and-age.

    • @Josh:

      The Print on Demand (POD) function for Blood and Smoke will be available at some point in the future. Apparently those that purchase the pdf now get a coupon off the cost of the POD version when it’s released.

      As far as publishing goes, I don’t think Onyx Path can afford to put a copy of new releases into every Hobby Store anymore. Print Publishing as an industry has been slowly dying since 2000. For those who want paper copies though, the POD option, while generally somewhat delayed, is probably for you.

      With gas prices and distribution costs, second party retailing for RPGs is dicey at best. Nothing printed is a guaranteed sale, and Hobby Stores can’t afford to make the investment in something that might just have to give away and take a loss on, particularly when the publishing industry is in such a transitory state towards mostly online sales.

    • It would have to be one pretty sweet deal for me to put our books back into distribution channels like in the old days. Anecdotal evidence aside, I saw the sales reports back then. Which is not to say that we don’t want our books in stores: we have a Retailer tier in every one of our KSs, and there is a beta program for Retailers interested in Onyx Path PoD versions of our books through DTRPG.

      • How well is word spread to retailers that those options exist? I understand it’s just the way things are, and it can’t really be helped if they don’t take advantage, but I too miss walking into a brick and mortar store, and seeing the newest World of Darkness books there. It actually kind of bums me out sometimes. 🙂

        On another note, I’m not sure what kind of distribution deal you have with DriveThruRPG, but why don’t we ever see products distributed through more popular, general websites like Amazon or even eBay? Obviously, I know where to get my nWoD fix, I’m just curious why those models don’t seem to work in your case when they could spread to a larger consumer base.

        • I agree with being sad that I won’t see World of Darkness books in a shop (EITHER version of the World of Darkness), but I also understand the complexities involved. I think what I miss most is the act of thumbing through a book, seeing a few things I’d like to know more about, and then just buying it. That kind of browsing isn’t possible at DriveThruRPG’s site, nor really anywhere online.

          …That said, exciting to hear about DriveThruRPG looking into retail sales! I mean, sales to retailers, or whatever it is he said. Yeah, exciting!

        • Right now, we have not done any widespread announcement to Retailers as we don’t really have an easy avenue for that mass communication. And in a general sense, we’re at a point where conversations with Retailers interested enough in our products to contact us bear a lot more valuable insights and connections than an email blast to store owners who aren’t interested in our stuff if it doesn’t come through their familiar distribution channels. Remember, we have no sales or marketing departments here, yet, so any efforts towards this means less efforts in other areas, like getting books out like Blood and Smoke.

          Also, I’m not sure I buy into the idea that there is that big of a consumer base out there that if they only saw an RPG on Amazon’s listings they would buy it. However, I do think we can do a lot more with entry level products like our fiction in Amazon and other marketplaces, and we continue to investigate how best to get into them.

          • I’m not sure how much using a site like Amazon would increase sales, but giving a product more coverage can’t ever hurt. A couple years or so ago, I was looking to round out my collection of WoD core books, and I tried to find a copy of Geist. The first place I looked was ebay and then amazon, but copies were hard to find, and generally at least double the retail price. I checked google shopping, and didn’t have any better luck. I tried this for a week or two, and then I finally tried doing a regular google search, and that was when I first found the Monday Meetings.

            Eddy was talking about how a reprint of Geist was in the works, and would be released as a Print on Demand version with updated errata. I was ecstatic, and so I waited a few months. It got released, and I bought my first book off of RPGDriveThru because that’s where the update said to go. Since then I’ve browsed RPGDriveThru, and I really like the format of the site. However, the point is that I only started shopping there because of you guys, not the other way around. And while I was willing to search around, making your products easier to find would allow you to reach more people.

            All that said, I don’t know what kind of hoops you’d have to jump through for another site, and I have no real background in buisness, so it’s just a story and a suggestion . I saw your Demon Kickstarter numbers, and it certainly doesn’t look like you’re hurting too much in the fanbase department, it was just food for thought. 🙂

          • One thing retailers mentioned at a recent seminar in Dragonmeet is that asking to tie up their cashflow now for a product that isnt out for a year or so isnt attractive. They’d much rather the Kickstarter had some way of letting them post their interest, and then pay retail when you are ready to ship the product to them.

  4. So any word on getting the wiki back up and running somewhere? It was so handy for a quick reference while playing without consulting a dozen books! A lot of work went into making that, a lot of it done by users. So, host it somewhere?

  5. Awesome news about OP stuff!

    HH2 and W20 should be arriving soon.

    Rage Across the World is almost done.

    Blood and Smoke just released.

    Anarchs Unbound is coming.

    Just great, great stuff Rich. One quick question: Any idea when Changing Breeds will be up on DriveThru for those who missed the Kickstarter?

    • The PoD files were just uploaded yesterday, so it depends on when they are approved and I can get a proof- and if that proof is OK. About two weeks is my guess (not a promise) if the proof is OK.

  6. “Anybody who grabs it in PDF form now, but wants to go with the PDF+PoD combo after the PoD version goes live, will get a coupon for a discount thanks to DTRPG.”

    How will this be done? Does one have to contact DTRPG in some point of ordering? Just looks like my wife is going to give B&S to me as a birthday present, but as she’s not on DTRPG regularly, I’d have to take care of a hardcover copy myself.

    Anyway, looking forward to totally delve into this book! Loved what I saw in RtW!

    • You buy the PDF. When we have the PoD version ready for sale, we send a discount coupon code for the combo to all who have bought the PDF. You have to be set up with your DTRPG account to allow publishers (us) to message you so the coupon gets to you. You order the combo PDF+PoD and the discount means you only pay for the PoD since you already paid for the PDF.

      • When did that start? Did you start it with OP or does it go back to White Wolf?

        I have to say I like this idea, and I was rather annoyed when POD version of the Autochthonia book was added well after I bought the subscription.

      • So, for example, if we buy the pdf for $20, the standard hardcover will only be the delta between the pod+pdf combo? In other words, the standard hardcover will be $20 and not the full $35 price of the standalone pod?

        • Using made up numbers, let’s say that the PDF is $10, the PoD is $15, and the PDF+PoD bundle is $20.

          If you buy the PDF now for $10, then when the PoD is available, you’ll get a coupon which will reduce the $15 PoD price to $10, so the combined price you’ve paid for each item would be the same as if you’d bought the bundle.

  7. Oh, and for the record? I LOVE Adric! I still get a little weepy when I think about his death… Well, mostly weeping for the dinosaurs, but the point still stands! XP

    • Do you love Wesley Crusher too? 😛

      I think Adric could have been an interesting and valuable companion, but it seemed like a combination of the wrong actor and behind the scenes blow-ups prevented the character from shining. But the fact that you, and maybe only you, loved him is just evidence of the sort of wide tapestry that Doctor Who has woven for 50 years.

      • Wesley Crusher owes a big debt to Adric, but that twerp on the bridge of Enterprise never did anything for me. Adric had that too-smart-for-his-own-good vibe that came out more like someone in the real world, not the ‘Mary Sue’ vibe of Wesley. My odd fascination aside, I know that much of my adoration of Adric is REALLY due to the fact that I consider Peter Davison to be MY Doctor, even though I came into the programme a little bit earlier with Tom Baker.

        You know, now that you mention it, I have a similar feeling towards Vampire: the Masquerade as being MY game, though I’d played Dungeons & Dragons, Gamma World, and a few others before ’91. Maybe I see Mummy as the Adric in the World of Darkness? It didn’t quite fit, didn’t quite work on its own, but still held on until it crashed a Cyberman ship into Mesozoic Earth. Um, maybe not that last bit. Twenty years on, I do still love Mummy, based initially on that connexion to Vampire.

        …And Wesley should’a been so lucky as to have gone out as well as Adric! Or as well as Mummy, I guess. :-/

  8. I probably never will get an answer this late in post, but since Richt opened a door to other media I simply MUST say this:

    – I loved Kindred. We could talk a long while on its good sides and its flaws, but being able to experience a world I love to play in on TV was awesome. I fully encourage any endeavors to make this a reality again. Hell, you’ve no idea how ready I am for a Werewolf: The Apocalypse TV show. Hell, I’d sell my soul to be a part of that. (Any buyers?)

    – Likewise, Bloodlines was one of the most brilliant Table Top RPG to video games adaptation ever. It delivered in so many ways. I know there’s the MMO coming up, but I think other video games in the vein of Bloodlines would be truly nice. Not to mention there’s so MUCH potential in W:tA as a video game, I know it was tried and didn’t work, but, I still think it would be incredible if done with the same love as Bloodlines. Of course, I’m talking as a customer here. I’ve no idea how well it did commercially.

  9. I just received my W20 and HH2 books yesterday and this morning I find an email waiting for me with a link for the pdf of W20: Rage Across the World. What a great Christmas this is turning out to be.

    Thanks to Rich and the rest of the crew for bringing back the CWoD.

  10. Any chance for a Christmas sale on Drive-Thru? Not for Blood and Smoke (already got that), but for some older titles? Like Changeling the Lost?

  11. Are you going to do a 20th Anniversary edition for the Black Dog Game Studio books? I think that would be interesting. The Extra Credits show lauded on the book for Wraith: The Oblivion because it made players experience World War II in the victim’s viewpoint.

    If people agree, then let’s plan a Black Dog 20th Anniversary thing soon.

    • The Black Dog Game Factory label was just used to help distributors/merchants know that a book wasn’t suitable for folks younger than 18 (or older…) Books under this label could be marked as “inappropriate” more easily, or black-wrapped, etc. in the 90s when people were still quite afraid that TT games could corrupt and influence their kids into doing terrible things (thank goodness we have video games to blame these days! 😉 )

      They weren’t really any sort of a series in and of themselves though, and since White Wolf, The Onyx Path, and their distributors don’t seem to show an interest in labeling/publishing their books as being more adult-oriented than others, there’s no reason that the content of these books can’t be included in the 20th Anniversary Editions.

      However, BDGF still lives on… it will be featured in the upcoming W20 Book of the Wyrm, having been merged/bought-out by an evil Icelandic game company. 🙂

      Games under the Black Dog Game Factory label:

  12. My copy of W20 arrived today (it actually showed up at my former address last week, guess that October address change didn’t get processed) and I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I was under the impression (and this very well may be my own fault) that the title on the spine was going to be gilded as well. I didn’t realize the images we saw some months ago (the pre-W20 medallion images) were the final. It just feels unfinished to me and that’s a real shame considering the book was about a year late.

    That said, I’m very pleased with the Storyteller screen. I’ll admit the charts inside didn’t have everything I had hoped but it was very close to everything and there were some inclusions I absolutely wasn’t expecting. Moreover, that screen looks proper sturdy, I’ve been using the 2nd Edition screen for ages and it’s gotten warped and worn over time. This new screen feels like it’ll hold up perfectly for the next 20 years. Very, very pleased with that screen.

    I’m about 20 pages into Rage Across The World and it’s looking great (a few typos and the like aside) so far.

    As much as the situation with W20 has damaged my faith in Onyx Path, I do want this to succeed and the idea of expanding, getting the word out is music to my ears. We’re here because we love these games, there’s something great in the material and the idea of sharing that with as many people as possible is just exciting.

    • I don’t know what to tell you- we never ever suggested the letters on the spine would be gilded. In fact I directly informed folks in the comments that we weren’t doing that. V20 didn’t have gilded letters either, and yes, those pictures were there to show you our intent. So, sorry the process of creating the book took so long (it was frustrating for us as well), but the book is not unfinished in any way.

      • Well, I did admit that might have been on me. I didn’t recall it ever being mentioned but I also didn’t recall seeing that it wasn’t going to be included so it was a natural assumption. I get that the book isn’t unfinished, the cover sort of feels that way to me.

        I would like to point out though Rich I actually had good things to say in the rest of the post, that’s so rare I’m a little hurt you didn’t acknowledge it.

        Happy holidays by the way.

  13. I have read the Rage W20 now….whomever wrote the weaver chapter did such a fantastic job. It is my favorite section of flavor and writing for an RPG in character I have read in easily 10 years. Thank you.

    I am eagerly waiting for word on Changing Breeds 20 so I can buy it online.


Leave a Comment