Monte's Journal at MonteCook.com

The Next Chapter

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Ptolus is very soon out, and I couldn't be more excited. It's the culmination of a great many different goals, both for me personally and for Malhavoc as well. Gen Con is going to be a blast.

But afterward, for me, things are going to change a bit. Truth to tell, they've actually been changed for quite some time. I haven't worked on a new Malhavoc book for almost six months.

When I left Wizards of the Coast in 2001, I did so primarily to write fiction. I had some ideas for novels and other work, but I wanted to keep my foot in the gaming door as well. (Lots of you have read this story before, so I'll try to be succinct.) I lined up some freelance work to tide me over and started doing some of my own stuff as well. "My own stuff" quickly turned into Malhavoc Press, which blossomed suddenly and dramatically with a life all its own. Very quickly, it became clear that Malhavoc was something that I should focus all my efforts on, and that Sue should as well. Although not without a few bumps, it went wonderfully and it's still going wonderfully. Malhavoc has afforded me the freedom to do every game book I've wanted to do. Ptolus, in my mind, rivals 3rd Edition itself as the coolest thing I've ever produced.

But over the last five years, there's been a little nagging voice in my head. "Hey. Hey? This is great and all, but it's not why you went out on your own. What about all that other stuff you were going to do?" And that voice has only gotten louder as the years have passed. You see, I've worked on game material professionally since 1988 (in fact, it's all I've ever done). And it's been a great 18 years. But there are other areas I'd like to explore creatively. And in the last year or so, various doors have begun to open that have made some of my other goals suddenly a lot more attainable.

So I have focused on those other goals for most of 2006, and I am going to continue to focus on them. Malhavoc Press and virtually all game-related work is going on the back burner for me.

I know for many readers, this may all seems very sudden and out of the blue, and I understand that. Please know, though, that for me it isn't at all sudden. It's been "in the works" for a long time. I have long intended Ptolus to be something of an end point. I want to go out at the top of my game (so to speak), and I feel that I have done so. In spades.

Ptolus is complete and needs no further support from me. Arcana Evolved has a nice range of products, and the Spell Treasury was the last book I'd really promised myself I'd do someday. The Iron Heroes "trilogy" is all out now, making the system fully playable. I don't feel like I've left anything undone, which is important to me.

But is Malhavoc done and gone? No. We're going to continue to make sure that our products remain in print. For example, the Complete Book of Eldritch Might is getting reprinted right now and a new printing of Arcana Evolved, with all listed errata, will be coming out later this year. But even more importantly (to me), I'm keeping the door open to use Malhavoc the way I'd originally intended five years ago -- if I get a cool idea for a short game product, I'll just do it. It's not going to be my main creative focus, but it will be there. It's a nice luxury to know that I'll still be able to write up a cool adventure or whatnot now and again.

And the website is going to continue. Perhaps even more like the site was a few years back -- a nice outlet for me to write the occasional article about whatever, or a place to post some new spells, and so on. And obviously the wonderful community we've created in our forums will continue, but it long ago took on a life of its own anyway, so there's really no question there.

So what does the future hold for me? Well, at least one more game project. Earlier this year I got an offer to work on something so cool that I couldn't say no. But it's not a Malhavoc product, and so I'm not at liberty to announce it here. That comes out next year. Other than that, though, the irons I have in the fire, so to speak, are unrelated to traditional RPGs. My comic book series will continue to come out throughout the rest of the year. I have a novel in the works, a non-fiction book, and even more cool things that I plan on telling you about right here on the website as they develop.

You know, as I re-read the previous few paragraphs, I can't help but wonder what the reaction to all of this will be. People look at things so differently than I do sometimes. I'm sure some will see this as some kind of failure on my part, as though the only path to success is to do the same thing, better and better, until you die. Others might see this as some kind of personal affront or an indictment on gaming or the game industry. (I'm sure still others will say, "So what?") I still love gaming, to be sure. At the moment, I think, I am facing a bit of burnout, just because I've done the same thing for so long. But I'm not turning my back on the hobby or anyone in it, pro or fan.

In any event, I'll see many of you at Gen Con, where you can harangue me for all this. I hope that those of you who've enjoyed some of my work on RPGs will check out some of my other work as it becomes available. No matter what though, you can always look for me browsing the shelves at the local game store, checking out what's new.

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