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Christmas Gift Guide 2010 (11/26/10)
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Christmas Gift Guide 2009 (12/4/09)
Games of the Ninja 2008 (12/5/08)
Christmas Gift Guide 2008 (11/27/08)
Screams from the Cave 2008
Ogres' Choice Awards 2008 (9/12/08)
Christmas Gift Guide 2007 (11/30/07)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2007 (8/17/07)
GAMA Trade Show 2007 report (4/27/07)
Christmas Gift Guide 2006 (11/30/06)
Ogres' Choice Awards 2006 (7/28/06)
Christmas Gift Guide 2005 (11/29/05)
Christmas Gift Guide 2004 (12/10/04)
Night of the Living Gamer
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Interviews: Mongoose Publishing

Mongoose Publishing is one of the largest RPG publishers. Not only does the company crank out a wide variety of D&D3e lines that support both players and GMs, but also whole game lines that stretch the d20 system like Slaine, Judge Dread, Armageddon 2089 and Babylon 5. With games like Lone Wolf and Conan coming down the pipeline, the Ogre has managed to corner the Mongoose for discussion but hasn't moved in too close. After all, a Mongoose is at its most dangerous when cornered.

Being one of the bigger fish in the d20 pond, Mongoose probably needs no introduction, but what the hell, introduce yourself and your company.

Well, I am Matthew Sprange, one of the directors of Mongoose Publishing. Having started up in early 2001, Mongoose has grown to be the largest independant d20 publisher around, with over 100 titles to our name now!

Do you think that your location, i.e. not U.S., has given you a different view of the industry as far as what the fans want? Products like Slaine probably would've never seen U.S. publication.

True, but that is a minor point really - if Slaine was not about, I am sure some other Celtic fantasy game would have arisen. We view ourselves as being primarily in the American market and most marketing decisions are based around that - you can see this in, for example, the marketing and advertising of the new Armageddon 2089 RPG. However, being in the UK does give us some small advantage as, of course, we are exposed to slightly different influences than people in the US. In addition, the UK seems very popular in America right now, so we have enjoyed some successes there too.

What's the most difficult part about having so many product lines?

Deciding which to keep, which to slow down on and which to axe :) Also, finding a warehouse big enough to hold all our stock (we are very much backlist driven, rather than following the normal three month cycle, so we need to keep as much stuff in print as possible)!

What's your consistant best selling line? Is it the Quintessential books? The Encylopedia Arcana?

Up to a few months ago, the Quintessentials, hands down - they have really been a phenomenal success and are, I believe, the best selling series in the independant d20 market. However, they have recently been overtaken by our Ultimate hardbacks, which are most certainly on their way up.

What parts of the D&D system are you waiting for to hit the SRD? Oriental Adventurers? Epic Level Handbook? Forgotten Realms?

To be honest, none of the above :) While all of this remains out of the SRD, it gives companies like us the chance to come up with alternatives and other directions for similar rules, which cannot be bad. However, if you pushed me, probably the Epic Levels Handbook, as I have a fantastic idea for a supplement to follow that one!

What are your thoughts on 3.5?

Needed to be done, should make WotC a few Dollars (!) and, overall, makes for a better game. However, it is costing me a whole weekend to update our Ultimate Arcane Spellbook!

What type of changes do you think the Gen Con move will have overall? Do you expect that due to the increased size that more people will be there or do you think they'll take a wait and see approach?

I think we are all waiting and seeing. However, Gen Con is a fantastic show and I don't think any move will have a serious effect on it (well, unless it moved to Alaska. . .).

You've been pursuing PDF products for some of the smaller books like WInter Wolves and the books with a perhaps, not standard theme like Nymphology. Lastly, some out of print books have been hiting the PDF format. What more can we expect from Mongoose in this regards?

We _may_ do a few more Slayer's Guides like this as they go out of print but probably not other books (we have other plans for them). However, you may well see a few more short projects from us, the kind of things that we would never put into print (as with Nymphology, which did _way_ better than we ever expected!).

How far ahead do you plan your schedule and have you ever found yourself changing something in reaction to another company's announcement?

We plan around 12 months in advance for specific titles and up to five years for general lines. Contrary to a few rumours that floated around last year, we have only once ever changed our release schedule in response to another company and that was in response to someone taking advantage of the success of the Quintessential line. It will be an unpopular thing for me to say, but many companies change their release schedule to cover what we are doing :)

There are numerous super hero d20/OGL settings on the market now. If Mongoose were to enter the field, would it be as a M&M style, utilizing the OGL from Mutants & Masterminds or something brand new?

Something brand new (it would have to be) but it is very unlikely that we will enter this field.

What's the best part about working in the d20 field?

We get to mess around with our favourite game :)

What's the worst part?

There isn't one, really - nothing specific to d20.

What do you feel are some of the most unjust criticisms that Mongoose has to suffer from?

I don't think we have suffered from any - everyone is entitled to an opinion! Our Slayer's Guides, for example, are certainly not for everyone, but they have a very hard core of fans who snap up every release. I guess my one concern here is that someone may pick up, say, a Quintessential and assume that _all_ our books are the same, from Slayer's Guides to Babylon 5. It just ain't true - every one of our lines is taregted at a slightly different section of the market. It is a little different with other games companies and we have been targeted in many different ways by some of our competitors - but that's business!

How will Mongoose continue to grow in 2003'-2004'? I know we've got Conan, Bablyon 5 and other greats coming down the pipeline but there are also other products like the drow city hitting shelves soon. Will we see more traditional fantasy products in the drow city vein or more licensed material like Lone Wolf?

Both - you will also see an increase in our own IP. The Quintessentials, Slayer's Guides and Encyclopaedias will continue for as long as their fans continue to buy them (we also have a new fantasy based series coming out later this year). New licenced lines such as the Lone Wolf RPG will continue to pop up and we will also be introducing new games such as Codename Veil, much in the same way as Armageddon 2089 was released this year.

Being over there across the pond, you've probably got access to all sorts of miniatures that would make many a U.S. citizen green with envy. What do you use for your standard games?

Oh, we have loads of miniatures - but we don't use any for D&D. Never have! This always seems to mystify some people but yes, it is possible to play 3e D&D 'old-style' as an exercise in pure imagination with no figures! We even manage to work out flank attacks and attacks of opportunity...

What's a typical day at the office like?

Busy! There is always something new going on, while we try to get existing projects out of the door and off to print.

What's the greatest obstacle to the Mongoose in terms of getting product out the door? Printers? Revisions? Last second changes?

Over the past two years we have evolved all sorts of systems and procedures so things run pretty smoothly in the office - the trouble happens when you begin to rely on people outside of Mongoose. Shippers can send books to the wrong address, printers can cock up new books or introduce new delays, licensors can delay approval, freelancers can get sick and not finish projects. It never ends!

Any final words for the Ogre?

Keep up the good work!

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