F.A.D. Scifi Skirmish rules
It's almost the end of the year, and I'd like to talk a little about the past, present and future of FAD.
These rules have been around for 7 years now. They began as hastily written comments on a notepad, after playing and having my mind blown by Stargrunt II.
The things I knew I wanted, when I started the project was this:
Suppression should be automatic.
Only 6 sided dice.
Combat should be squad based.
The core mechanics would be roll 2 dice and pick the highest or roll 2-3 dice and see how many score over a certain target number.
With that in mind, the original game came into existence. My friend Paul liked it and gave some feedback, and I proceeded to talk it up a little on theminiaturespage.com and the old GW fan site Portent.net. As time went on, I realized that I had struck something that people actually took an interest in. I saw threads where people asked for advice on a rules set, and people I didn't even know would suggest FAD. I googled it occasionally and found it mentioned on forums and websites I had never even frequented.
As time went on, I even learnt that people had run games using FAD at a few conventions across the world. That blew my mind.
Yeah, it's nowhere near the popularity of games like 5150, Stargrunt II, Warhammer 40.000 or any of those. The twohourwargames yahoo group has 3600 members and multiple posts every day. The FAD group is fairly quiet and has just shy of 500 members. But it's something I had never anticipated or experienced before.
Now it's November of 2009, and FAD4 has been out for a good while now. So what is lying ahead of us all?
First and foremost are a few projects that have been in various states of development for the past year. We have a lot of little additions to the core rules (night fighting, more traits, some clarifications of points that could be clearer, that sort of thing) which will eventually become FAD 4.3. I don't think there's any chance of having this done by December so expect something in the first half of 2010.
We have been working on a campaign setting as well (Cyberia) which will give a “out of the box” option to people who don't want to fiddle with designing their own units from scratch. There's also work on a WW2 and possibly modern day options. These are propably more distant projects though.
One thing that have been churning in my head lately is the idea of having money go into, and come out of, FAD. I am not talking about making the game commercial only (I watched my old ww1 rules Trench Storm whither and die from that decision) or making a living off it. Let me explain:
There's a lot of things I think could be achieved with a bit of cash. A few include:
Commissioning artwork, writing etc: This is by far the biggest one. We've been extremely lucky in having some very talented volunteers provide us some great art to use. However, volunteers are subject to the randomness of life, and are motivated mainly by interest and passion.
Being able to have some artwork commissioned for FAD products would give us another, additional source of material. It could also go to additionally reward and motivate people who have volunteered their efforts.
It would also permit some additional incentive to prospective rules writers who may otherwise be disinclined to spend hours developing a rules supplement.
Advertising: I would like to do a bit more work advertising (and thus paying money into supporting) popular tabletop gaming sites like theminiaturespage.com and rpg.net. Having some cash flow would allow for that, as well as give FAD some additional exposure.
Miniatures: This is faraway and expensive idea, but having a range of miniatures developed for FAD would be pretty cool.
Conventions: I'd love to have something setup where we could showcase FAD at conventions, and possibly provide some stuff for that, such as freebie print copies of the rules or whatever might be the case.
Cooperation with a miniatures supplier: This talk has come up before, and at least one supplier showed interest, however the arrival of my son into this world made me unable to follow through on this. I am however very interested in having some cooperation with manufacturers of scifi figures, particularly some of the small-scale operations. This would enable us to provide FAD stats and points values ready to use, and give them more exposure and advertisement, while giving FAD more exposure as well.
There's other incidental expenses that could occur as well, such as server space if we move to our own server, website maintenance and whatnot.
So where does money for these ideas come from? Well, it can come from my pocket. I generally can't really afford that, and I'd love for FAD to sustain itself.
I am also not keen on the idea of selling PDF's. Anyone can develop for the game, and that is how it ought to be. So if I sell a supplement on urban warfare, and another guy does it for free and his is better, nobody will buy mine, and for good reason.
The core FAD products should be free and readily available.
Printed copies: An option that will almost certainly be used is to offer the printed version of FAD through a print-on-demand service such as lulu. Last I checked the cost of a book of this size would be about 10 dollars, so it could sell for a few bucks more. Based on polling on the yahoo group and comparing to existing products, most people are willing to pay 12-15 dollars for a game of this size.
This would not change the fact that it's available for free, and there'd be no “exclusive” version. It'd simply be a service to people who prefer getting a printed, spiral-bound copy, rather than dealing with pdf's and printing it themselves.
Ransom model: Those who play RPG's may be familiar with Greg Stolze's ransom model. You offer up a game or supplement and set a ransom. People pledge whatever money they feel is fair. When the ransom is met, it's made available for free to everybody. This avoids PDF piracy, and nobody pays more than what they want to. If the ransom isn't met, the money either never gets deducted, or is donated to charity.
Donations: Asking for money is basically begging, and in addition to being distasteful, people aren't inclined to give money just for the sake of doing so. In the past when the topic of commissioning artwork came up, a few people showed an interest in donating towards that, so its conceivable that specific expenses could receive some funding through donation.
These are all ideas I have been mulling over, and I am still trying to lay out the best path to really push FAD forward into the spotlight more, and capture more ground.
Lastly, I'd like to put out a call for support and aid. I am at a spot where I have projects that I think FAD needs, but I do not have the luxury to work on all of them myself. I need people who are competent designers and tinkerers, creative writers or just plain thinkers, who may be willing to pitch in for some specific projects.
I'll put forth more specifics, but the two main projects are: FAD WW2 and help with the Cyberia setting. I have two people lined up for the latter, but I need more, to really make progress in a reasonable time.
It's been a strange and amazing 7 years, and I'd like to thank all of you out there for everything you've done. Here's to another 7 years of fast and dirty wargaming
Ivan - authordude
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