I know that Zweihänder is not Rolemaster and not directly Rolemaster related but…
Zweihänder is one of the best selling games of 2017 and 2018. It is a D100 based game. It is also detailed, gritty and simulationist. A typical character sheet/record runs to 8 pages. That all sounds rather familiar doesn’t it?
It comes as a single volume core book of nearly 700 pages so this is not a light weight game, one could fit all of RMU A&CL, most of SL and get started with CL into 700 pages!
When I looked at HARP I found that there were some really nice ideas that could cross over to Rolemaster. It would be interesting to see if the same is true of Zweihänder.
How Zweihänder got to its No.1 position is a matter of record. I don’t know anyone who has paid full price for the game. It has been in every sale it was eligible for and in between it has been Deal of the Day on DTRPG again and again.
While the success of Zweihänder as a gritty, “rules dense”, simulationist game in this age of ever simpler games is a really good thing for ICE and Rolemaster but there is another side to that. The two biggest concerns should be that Zweihänder has already occupied RMUs prime spot in the gaming landscape, I’ll come back to that one later. The other concern is Zweihänder’s price.
The standard price for the core book is just $9.99. In addition there are a great many free supporting supplements. There are 41 free or PWYW supplements as of this morning including translations, new monsters and card decks and game art collections. On top of that there are 9 supplements at under $2. As a GM or player the prices are not a barrier to getting the game or having new things pretty much as and when you want them.
What Zweihänder lacks, so far is really meaty companion style supplements. What appears to be the house style is to create more tightly focused supplements so imagine if RoCo 1 had been split into a group of small cheap supplements one with the new professions, one with arcane magic, one with the new monsters and one just for GMs with the very high level spells, and rules variations etc. That is how Grim and Perilous Studios appears to be working things. There is a GM’s Notebook supplement at $5.99 and a players folio at $5.99.
The worry for ICE and RMU, I imagine, is if Zweihänder is RMUs biggest competitor then Zweihänder has to some extent sucked the money out of the market. It is hard to sell a game of four $20 books when your competition is selling a single volume for $9.99.
The mini supplement model makes a lot of sense. If you imagine the product life cycle of write, test, release and earn income from. Working on a GM’s supplement of 40 pages, releasing it, working on an arcane magic supplement, then releasing it, then a players folio and releasing it; this cycle means you are giving fans something new much more frequently. The net cost is probably similar to a full RoCo once you take all the parts into consideration. The difference is that people can cherry pick what they want or need at that time. New books come out more frequently and if the take up is good then your titles will fill the top selling slots on DTRPG which is a great marketing ploy.
The low price points though, I think are a big threat to ICE and RMU, if they have to revise their projected earnings down by a factor of eight or more!
What is coming up?
I am planning a few posts about Zweihänder, just like I did with HARP, but I will pick out the bits that I think are the most relevant to Rolemaster fans and to RMU. It is going to take me a while to read all 692 pages of the core book so this will be the edited highlights of each chapter.
This will definitely take me well into 2019, but I promise to try and not bore your with it!