And then there's what you might call my first baby, Atlas Games. It was born 20 years ago, when I brought copies of Tales of the Dark Ages, a licensed Ars Magica adventure collection, to Milwaukee to sell at the Lion Rampant booth at Gen Con. At the beginning, this company was a supplement to my career as a freelance writer and editor (and student), but within a few years it was my main gig and freelancing was the occasional sideline.
It's amazing that we're still here, still making games, and actually making a living at it — especially if you know much of the history of the adventure/hobby game industry. I've been doing some office cleaning lately, and as I tossed shipping logs and catalogs from the mid-90s in the recycling, I skimmed through them and observed that only a handful of the distributors that were our customers twenty years ago are even in business any longer. Among fellow manufacturers, there has been no shortage of turnover. Only a handful of the leading companies from the era when I started are still around; the number is even smaller if you consider the companies that were, like industry titans Avalon Hill, TSR, and Wizards of the Coast, absorbed or acquired.
Why are we still around? Of course I'd like to take some credit for myself, my business partners (the good folks of the Source Comics & Games, most notably Bob and Jerry, who believed in me and a wacky CCG idea back in 1994), and the talented employees and freelancers we've had the fortune to work with over the years.
But the biggest reason is simple — YOU, our customers. Whether you picked up one of those copies of Tales of the Dark Ages back in 1990, or maybe tried out our latest newest card game, Ren Faire, just this month, you've made it possible. You've let us build a business and a livelihood out of creativity and fun. Thank you!
To celebrate the 20th birthday of Atlas Games as this summer comes to an end, we'd like to give you a present — literally! If you're willing to pay for shipping, and are one of the first 250 people to act, we'll send you a gift box of Atlas Games products (most of which are, of course, games). Fans who have been around here a while may remember that I did something similar about five years ago with d20 RPG books. We really enjoyed that, and figure our company's 20th anniversary is a wonderful occasion to do it again.
I've figured out a simple cost based on US Postal Service flat-rate shipping boxes. Medium flat-rate boxes come in two shapes: 11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2" and 13-5/8" x 11-7/8" x 3-3/8". The box we use depends on what we send you. (For example, the covers of our hardback RPG books are just a little too big to fit inside the first box shape.)
You pay $12 if you are anywhere in the USA; $29 if you are in Canada or Mexico; or $46 if you are anywhere else that the USPS will deliver these boxes to. (And if you're somewhere else, you probably don't have internet access to read this.) This is a little more than the postage itself; I factored in the PayPal transaction fees and rounded up to the nearest dollar. I hope you'll agree that's fair.
Important Note: You are responsible for any customs duties, fees, or taxes that may apply to your gift box, if you are outside the USA. We won't be able to refund your money — after all, we will not get a refund on the postage we bought — if you learn that your local post office won't deliver unless and until you've paid various taxes and fees.
What You Might Get
You can expect three categories of things, entirely at our discretion or whim:
- Brand New Items: We will mostly be giving away games and books that we'd like to expose to more gamers. Try them with your friends — we hope you like them (and that your friends rush out to buy their own copies!).
- Scratch and Dent Items: Imperfections keep us from sending them to distributors, but they are still perfectly usable.
- Promotional and Unique Items: We may include promotional items of various types in the package (sample cards, promo coins, posters, t-shirts). It's also possible that that some truly unique items, such as a printer's proof or a game prototype, may find their way into the boxes.
- To keep things simple, we will only accept payment via PayPal, using the link below.
- We are limiting this to one gift box per name or address, and 250 gift boxes total. (If we're past this number, you'll get a “Sold Out” message from PayPal if you try to send us money with this link.)
- We make no promises about what exactly we'll send you, but we want to maximize the odds of it being something you'll enjoy. So please do tell us which Atlas Games products you already own, and any general likes/dislikes (e.g., do you play RPGs? CCGs? Do you dislike Cthulhu spoofs?). If we wind up sending you a duplicate of something you already have, or something that's just not your cup of tea, please accept our sincere apology and pass it along to a friend.
- We reserve the right to reject requests that we deem, in our sole judgement, to be abusive of our generosity, or if we suspect fraud.
- We might ship your box via UPS Ground, while using a shipping carton equal to or larger than the medium flat-rate USPS boxes.
- Please be patient. Filling these requests has a lower priority than other tasks on our to-do list (such as shipping out September's new releases and reprints).
So with all that prologue...if you'd like your Atlas Games birthday gift box, here's the button to order it up!
Update, 6:30 AM, 8/30: Well, that was fast. I have an e-mail from PayPal timestamped 3:03 AM informing me that the 250 gift boxes are spoken for, so I've removed the "Buy" button. Now we have some boxes to pack!