Over at DriveThruRPG, I have a print-and-play game for sale. It’s The Duelists. It’s a 7th Sea card game for two players — each player takes the role of a swashbuckler as they square off in a bout of sport and showmanship. There are two sets, each containing two duelists. Duelist from different sets can be paired against one another. It’s a pretty cool game. It’s fun. It also hasn’t sold that well.
Part of the reason why it hasn’t sold that well is it uses the 7th Sea intellectual property. This means that it can be sold on the Explorer’s Society, a 7th Sea version of D&D’s Dungeon Masters Guild. 7th Sea is a roleplaying game and The Duelists is a card game — from prior experience running game events, the overlap between boardgamers and rpg gamers isn’t all that large. Add on that the audience for 7th Sea is much smaller than the audience for D&D, I doubt there is a large number of people who enjoy card games coming to a website that’s known for roleplaying games as pdfs and searching for a quick playing print-and-play card game.
I never did see numbers for how well 7th Sea sold in distribution or as pdfs, post-Kickstarter, but my impression is it wasn’t as successful as anticipated. The Kickstarter campaign for 7th Sea was extremely popular and — my guess here — is it was incredibly successful because backers at the $40 level received all the first edition pdfs. That’s 2942 people who pledged at that level. If you didn’t care for second edition but wanted first edition stuff, you got a complete collection. Chances are a large portion of backers were there for the 1e stuff and maybe wanted to check out what was done with 2e. Again, these are just guesses, but I really haven’t seen the physical books in stores — with the exception of Pandemonium Books and Games in Cambridge, MA. Pandemonium’s basement is quite huge and looks like a library with an extensive collection of games. But the other game stores with smaller shelves? I’ve never seen 7th Sea for sale there.
Online communities? I’m over at the 7th Sea subreddit and it’s quite small. 1,200 subscribers and usually just a dozen online. The most recent ten conversations were posted within the last ten days. The eleventh-most recent? Twenty days ago. The numbers here are equivalent to the Deadlands subreddit. There is slightly more traffic on the subreddits than on something like Heavy Gear or Twilight: 2000.
ENworld has a ranking of games that are being talked about elsewhere: on RPGnet, RPG Geek, DriveThru, Kickstarter, and more. This list has 64 entries on it, 7th Sea isn’t even listed. Dread is. Colonial Gothic is. ICONS is — three games that are good, but as popular as 7th Sea? The Orr Report at Roll20 for Q1 2018 (Q1 2019 theoretically will show up sometime this month) doesn’t even list 7th Sea. With a sample size of 126,213 games and 102,860 players, it lists things like Maid RPG with 0.18% of all games played, Pendragon with 0.06% games played, and even the card game Munchkin with 0.05% of all games played.
I’m not sure there are more than a few dozen people actually playing 7th Sea.
So I’m looking at a small fraction of gamers in a small sample size as a market for the game.
As a standalone card game, it’s good, but… because it’s a community created item and DriveThruCards only allows community created individual cards for existing card games (like the Vampire: the Eternal Struggle card game) and not new card games, The Duelists probably won’t show up there. It’s going to be a print-and-play card game at a site that people who don’t play card games visit. Which is a shame, because it’s a good game.
If you’d like to check it out, there are two current sets (plus a third one in the wings):
Set 1 features “Lady” Josephine d’Ruelles, a
thief savvy opportunist from the streets of Montaigne, sparring with Tàhmas O’Denagh, a modern embodiment of a historical Avalonian Knight from Inismore. Josephine is a trickster who likes to use her opponent’s tactics against them. Tàhmas is an aggressive duelist using his Knightly glamours to outlast his opponent. https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/272320/The-Duelists-Set-1
Set 2 features Ainsley NicBeth, the strongest warrior in all the Highland Marches, sparring w
ith Giovanni Lucignolo, a Vodacce lover of wine, women, and men. Ainsley is an unstoppable force that seems to get stronger the angrier she gets. Giovanni is a fast-moving duelist that denies his opponent’s attacks. https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/272325/The-Duelists-Set-2
If either title hits Copper best-seller status, which is just 50 units, I’ll finalize Set 3. This set has Captain Efka Roberts, a brash pirate from the Republic of Pirates, sparring with Azuceña Esquivel, Castillian spy and assassin. Captain Roberts has several aggressive attacks that are removed from play, once used. Azuceña keeps her options open when dueling, searching for the perfect moment to strike.
I’m also working on adapting this game to a personal IP, tentatively called Warsuit. This will be a giant mecha robot fighting game that allows you to swap pilots and robots to form new combat combinations. More on that later this summer.