Announcements - [Contested Ground] Hot War Transmission in Print

Posted by: Malcolm Craig On: Jul 27th 2010 edited

We're delighted to say the first issue of the Hot War Transmission, the new quarterly mini-supplement for Hot War, is now available in a lavish, full colour print version. Priced at £5 (plus P&P), this 36 page booklet contains a host of great Hot War game material.

Issue 1 focuses on the work of the late, great Nigel Kneale, creator of the hugely influential Quatermass TV series and films. Inside the Transmission you'll find a guide to Quatermass, with useful hints about incorporating situations and themes into your games, locations from the series and films, and a Kneale-esque game situation created by Scott Dorward. The game situation gives you background, antagonists, and four pre-generated characters, making ideal for convention play or for slotting in to your own games.

The booklet can be purchased direct from our own online shop. It will also be available through Indie Press Revolution in the next two to three weeks. You can also download the PDF of this first issue for free (future issues will be available through Drive-Thru RPG, priced at $4).

Title: The Hot War Transmission, Volume 1, Issue 1
Authors: Malcolm Craig and Scott Dorward
Cover Artist: Paul Bourne
Price: £5 + P&P (print); FREE (PDF)

Hot War is a game of friends, enemies, secrets, and lies set in a post-apocalyptic 1960s London. You can find out more by visiting the Contested Ground website and downloading our free previews.

This booklet is a bit of a departure for us, as it's the first time we've ever done a book in full colour. It's also not something particularly associated with small press productions. However, Gregor recommended that we use a company called A Local Printer, who use environmentally friendly papers and printing products. The paper is Forest Stewardship Council Certified, which basically means it comes from recognised sustainable sources. It provides a viable alternative to recycled paper, which is nice.


Posted by: Andrew Kenrick On: Jul 27th 2010

I've just received my copy and it looks gorgeous!

Posted by: Scott Dorward On: Jul 27th 2010

It's good to see that using an environmentally-friendly printer doesn't involve any compromise on quality. The stock the Transmission is printed on is terrific, as is the printing in general. It really brings out how wonderful Paul's work on this was.

Posted by: Malcolm Craig On: Jul 27th 2010

Thanks for the kind words guys. And, even more importantly, thanks for your help with putting the Transmission together.

As regards the printer, yes, that it spot on. Gregor and Joe printed Hell 4 Leather with A Local Printer and the quality of that was what really decided us on using them. Having that quality of print with the ethical bonus of using paper and printing products from sustainable sources really makes ALP a worthwhile choice for short, full colour print runs.


Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Aug 15th 2010

Hi Malcolm,

Any chance of a bit of a cost breakdown at some point in the future on this? I'm really impressed with the quality (I saw Joe Murphy's copy) and I'm considering a trial of my own. Maybe this is something you'd prefer to talk about over coffee/email?


Posted by: Malcolm Craig On: Aug 23rd 2010

Giving a cost breakdown that is meaningful for other publishers is actually quite difficult. We (as in CGS) don't have to 'buy' art or design because are self-contained. Placing a value on that is not something we've ever really spent time doing. I'd suggest, however, that someone doing this kind of thing, and hiring Paul to do all the art and design, would find themselves in a possibly untenable situation. The return from such a small-scale, low-selling item printed in full colour would make it challenging to say the least.

Print costs came out as £2.55 a copy, which is fine if you are in our position. We essentially 'pay' for art and writing after the fact, on a profitability model. To explain: we always have a minimum amount in the bank and anything above that amount at the end of the quarter gets shared amongst the partners (myself, Paul, and John). So, the value placed on the art and writing is dictated by how valued (i.e.: number of sales) it is by the market. It seems a bit ass-backwards, but works for us.

Profitability for the first issue is somewhat skewed because we are giving the PDF away for free. From the second issue onwards, we'll be charging for the PDF, which reduced the break-even point on the print version by a variable amount.


Posted by: Sebastian Hickey On: Aug 24th 2010

Thanks Malcolm. I'm in the fortunate position of having a twin brother in the art business which, for now, gives me limited but free access to quality, commissioned art. So, for me, I'm just looking for production costs. Your intel is on target.

Posted by: Gregor Hutton On: Aug 24th 2010

The prices for brochures are on

It's tempting to move down that chart to reduce the unit cost (and in some cases it might make sense to do it when the difference between one number and another is negligible).

But looking at the numbers of sales above (and the risk of not breaking even on a larger run) it might make sense to look at the cost for 50 copies.

For 50 copies: 8 pp are £1.60 each, 16 pp are £2.30 each, 24 pp are £3.30 each and 32 pp is pretty stiff at £4.10.
For 100 copies that becomes: 8 pp at £0.95, 16 pp at £1.45, 24 pp at £2.10 and 32 pp at £2.65.

Still, if you only ever sell 30-40 the actual cost of each item sold is whatever you paid divided by 30-40. The upshot then is that you might want to make issues shorter to get the unit cost down.

For Hell 4 Leather we printed 1000 copies (that was the minimum run) for £394 (4-6 pp Leaflets). So our thinking is that we need to sell ~100 copies at £4 to make that money back. Or we need to sell twice as many if we're selling them to shops (since they'll buy them off us at half price or whatever). The game needed to be a 6-pp leaflet, it just won't fit on two, or even four, sides.

I don't think there's any wisdom about this stuff around. We're finding out as we go.

Articles and forum posts copyright © their authors 2007-2020.