Monday, March 22, 2010

Has Mongoose Publishing Turned It Around?

Just like in any other hobby or endeavor, if you get a reputation for delivering a less-than-quality product, that can stick with a company for a long time. If we look at Mongoose Publishing--one of the few relatively large, multi-line RPG publishers remaining--I am reminded of that fact.

Now, that's not to say that everything Mongoose ever did was crap; far from it! But, let's face it, Mongoose had its share of missteps. There was an edition of the Conan RPG that needed as much errata as Traveller 4th edition. There was the first edition of Mongoose RuneQuest, which managed to be disliked by old RuneQuest fans and garner mixed reviews at best from prospective new ones. You had a line of d20 product of varying quality (actually, what publishing involved in d20 in the last decade didn't?). There were some binding issues, and editing always seemed to be a shortcoming for Mongoose products, no matter how interesting they might otherwise have seemed.

Now, it sounds like I'm just slagging the beejeezus out of Mongoose Publishing, but that's not the case. In fact, I've been greatly surprised and pleased at the quality of content coming out of Mongoose recently. It started a while back with Dragon Warriors (via their Flaming Cobra line) and Traveller, two venerated RPGs named that I know had people praying "don't mess this up, please don't mess this up". Well, by all accounts, they didn't. Dragon Warriors has met with a warm critical reception, and Traveller is doing very well by all accounts. I even hear good things about the latest Earthdawn, which is done between Mongoose and Redbrick Ltd.

The most recent entry on the playing field for Mongoose is Mongoose RuneQuest II. I got to browse this last week, and let me tell you, Mongoose has really stepped it up here. They cleaned out a lot of the confusing rules, simplified skills and magic, and really made this a tight game again. I'm hearing positive feedback not only from long-time RQ fans, but from the newer ones as well!

If you're going to have properties like RuneQuest and Traveller, to my mind you have to hit it out of the park, period. There's no better way to alienate fans and incur nerdrage than to slap a beloved legacy name on an inferior or sub-par product. It looks like Mongoose is producing right now at a level worthy of those honorable RPG legacies.

That's not to say there still isn't some work to go in the editing department, but by and large, I think Mongoose is looking much better than ever before. Have they turned it around? I think they're on the right track, yes. Time will tell if the momentum and quality continue, but for now, cheers, Mongoose. You done good.


Allen Varney said...

You might also have mentioned the Mongoose edition of PARANOIA is the most highly rated of all the game's editions on the Game Index. As I write, PARANOIA is rated #13 out of 13,962 products, and among 1,471 core rules sets it ranks #10:

Zachary The First said...

Very true, Mr. Varney! That edition of Paranoia certainly enjoys a solid reputation, to say the least!

Hammer said...

Turn it around?

Mongoose are one of the best publishers on the go just now. They have gone absolutely out of the way to correct the PR disaster over bindings and are still tracking people down and replacing their books.

Paranoia, Mongoose Traveller and the 2000AD products are all very solid games now (with Paranoia and Traveller making massive improvements over there previous editions). They are also one of the few English-language published who publish games in French and one of the few games companies which has survived outside of America, which deserves some plaudits.

They've already turned it around big time.

Zachary The First said...

I’ll mark that down as another yes vote..

Christian said...

I'll always have a soft spot for Mongoose. Back when I was doing the lowly Scrollworks zine, they sent me stacks of review material. I told them I couldn't keep up, but they kept stoking me anyway. Nice fellows.

Red said...

And isn't Mongoose that Gygax Games is going to be working with... should anything ever come from Gygax Games again?

verification word: poranter. Also spelled po' ranter or poor ranter, ie: a blogger.

Sean said...

I just picked up Runequest II. I think it's the first Mongoose Product I've ever bought. I'm very pleased with it. It will be the next game I play.

Looking at the Mongoose website, I see an insanely aggressive publishing scedule. This month they plan to put out 13 books - for 5 different games! Who else does that? Does WOTC?

sirlarkins said...

I always wanted to like Mongoose, but their continual screw-ups made it so difficult. The nadir for me was when I picked up the Shadizar city boxed set for the Conan RPG and it turned out the cartographer who did their poster map had simply copied the map off one of WOTC's "Map A Week" offerings. Mongoose produced a replacement map and promised a free copy to everyone who bought a boxed set, but I never received mine despite repeated requests. Then there was the whole let-down with their Lone Wolf RPG.

But like you say, they've finally turned things around. Dragon Warriors is awesome, and I really like their line of miniatures games too. Victory at Sea finally got me into naval wargaming after many years of looking for the right set of rules, for example. Go Mongoose! Now if I could only get that map...

Gibbering Ghoul said...

Yes. Mongoose Traveller is what I was looking for with T4 and works for what I need out of the box. Dragon Warriors is nice and its good to see them continuing with non-RPGs like War at Sea and Battlefield.

MRQ2 looks good from all I've heard, though dropping an SRD was a disappointment.

There's also Lone Wolf finally seeming to come back right and a RPG for it almost out based on the gamebooks and cheap. Hopefully the regularly priced editions of the regular gamebooks will be out soonish, but getting a UK and a US publisher to bite at the same time has been problematic.

Tyler said...

Like any gaming publisher, they've had their missteps, but frankly I always look at whatever Mongoose has out. They and Green Ronin, whom I've been fortunate enough to playtest for, are the two publishers that stand out from the pack for me. They've always been quick to errata rules, and more importantly in my opinion their backgrounds and campaigns have always been massively better than many competing offerings.