To fully understand the history of Blue Rose and the True20 System, you have to understand what else was going on at Green Ronin during late 2004 and early 2005. For the previous three years we had worked with a company called Osseum Entertainment. Osseum was what is known as a fulfillment house, a sort of distributor for distributors. They warehoused our stock and handled our sales and some of our marketing in return for a cut of the money. They had wooed us with promise of access to the book trade, something they had made good on and which was of great benefit to us. Indeed, for over three years we had an excellent relationship with them and they paid us in full and on time every month. The last quarter of 2004, however, things began to go wrong. They began paying late and not in full. The excuses were totally believable if you’ve been around the industry for any amount of time: many distributors were late in paying or hadn’t paid at all. This created big headaches for us, as it’s hard to keep forward momentum without much money coming in.
So moving into 2004, when we should have been marketing the hell out of Blue Rose, they money just wasn’t there. Worse still, Osseum dropped the ball on the “out of the box” marketing they were supposed to do for Blue Rose as their business spun out of control. We had also planned to do some advertising outside of traditional game industry channels in the hopes of attracting Romantic Fantasy fans to roleplaying but we could not justify the expense with the Osseum situation so unstable. This was disappointing but not disastrous. After all, there were plenty of Romantic Fantasy fans who where already gamers and there had never been an RPG designed to emulate the genre before. We had been distributing color fliers and promotional post cards at conventions for over a year at that point, Blue Rose had a dedicated website with many previews and free a downloadable quick-start that included an adventure and pre-generated characters, the game had been properly solicited to all the distributors, and we were able to talk it up to retailers directly at distributor open houses and other industry trade shows. We were thus pretty sanguine about Blue Rose’s prospects as the book went to print, particularly in light of the PDF’s success.
Our relationship with Osseum ended in March, 2005. We had tried to give them the benefit of the doubt because they had been our key business partner for so many years, but after GAMA Trade Show it was clear the company was imploding. We had to take control of our own sales, rescue our backstock, and find new representation to the book trade. The last books Osseum had shipped for us were Blue Rose, the Advanced Player’s Manual, and the final reprint of Mutants & Masterminds, 1st edition. It had required quite a bit of juggling to get that batch of books printed and the money they were to generate was key to us recovering from the position Osseum had put us in.
It is probably a good thing I didn’t know how it would turn out at that moment in time. If I had, I likely would have gone to jail after beating Osseum’s founder to death with his own scotch bottle. The horrible truth was that we would never see a dime for those books, nor for a bunch of other books released in previous months. Let me tell you, it is quite hard to keep your company going and pay your staff and freelancers when books are simply disappearing into the ether. This was the situation when Blue Rose was released into stores in March, 2005.
End, Part 2.