My Work in 2009

I\'m not going to fib: 2009 was a rough year, work-wise. Catalyst experienced turnovers and hardships and growing pains, and we also did a lot of awesome things, but we also didn\'t get all of the awesome things finished that we wanted to. That leaves us with plenty of things to do in 2010, of course! One particular thing I found troubling about 2009 was developing the design and layout for Eclipse Phase and the 20th Anniversary Edition of Shadowrun at the same time: it was a lot of work, and I would have liked to have seen how one book [either one!] fared in the eyes of gamers before I turned my attention to another book. I used my gut a lot when designing both books; in the end, I think my gut was right more often than not. My highlights of 2009 are easy:

Eclipse Phase

Eclipse Phase cover

Not only am I very pleased with how Eclipse Phase ended up looking and working as a book and game artifact, but our gang at Posthuman Studios pushed Catalyst hard for things we wanted: Creative Commons licensing & inexpensive PDF pricing being the prime two. Those decisions have so far turned out to be wise, and Catalyst will be be publishing at least one more game—Leviathans—using a Creative Commons license. The development team\'s work on Eclipse Phase—game, setting, book—fills me with pride.

Shadowrun, 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook

What can I say? It was a thrill to work on this book, and aside from minor nitpicks it\'s been enthusiastically received by new and returning Shadowrun fans alike. Highlights: the huge color-coded master index, the streamlining of character generation, and the revised skills chapter. Each time I pick up this book to use is better than any time picking up the previous Fourth Edition book.

Shadowrun 20th Anniversary cover

Seattle 2072

Through weird twists of fate, I actually ended up being the developer on this project. My goal was simple: meld the best of Seattle Sourcebook's bite-sized design with the best of New Seattle, throw in a major shakeup, and set up some future plots so people can keep 'running in the Sixth World's signature city. Steve Kenson rocked the main writing tasks and we pulled in a bunch of others to write short fiction pieces.

Seattle 2072 Cover


  1. Of course, I have a vested interest in EP – but I will say that it’s not only a great game – it’s presentation is well done. Having been a fan of Shadowrun since 1989, I still have fun playing this game. This new edition was/is superb. Nice work, Adam. Cheers to 2010!!

  2. The CC license for Eclipse Phase was a very great thing, and I appreciate it.

    I contemplated buying the PDF, but realised that despite its awesome availability and content, I couldn’t see myself sitting down to read it like I prefer to read RPG books, due to the quality, detail and length. I decided to buy it anyway, so as to show support. And then I realised that the book wasn’t *that* much more expensive than the PDF, when factoring in that I’d read it…

    So I ordered the hardcopy based on the PDF experience. I’m looking forward to it.

    One question I had was that, as I understand it, PDF purchases are hoped to be a good revenue spinner for a game. If people buy the hardcopy instead, that’s obviously a good thing too – but does that artificially deflate PDF sales and potentially discourage them for future projects? I am entirely ignorant.

    • Buy whichever version makes the most sense for how you will use it. If print is better for you, buying print instead of PDF isn’t “artificially deflating” PDF sales in any way!

      PDFs generally do provide a nice profit margin, but with a few caveats:

      • The number of units sold is much lower than the print title, generally.
      • The margin is not as good as most people anticipate; 25-35% of the purchase price is taken by the PDF-seller. In the case of a licensed project, a further percentage goes to the licensor.
      • Even if the margin were equal, the lower purchase price means lower actual profit.

      Something like Eclipse Phase or SR4A could not profitably be built as a PDF-only project that otherwise used the “traditional model.” The dollars made from print sales—even considering the extra investment in printing—are necessary to cover costs.

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