Interview – James Bell (Fiery Dragon)

Fiery Dragon Productions is a Toronto-based game publisher, producing material for tabletop roleplaying games.

Starting off with a more personal question, Fiery Dragon released their first published product, NeMoren’s Vault, in 2000. So what keeps you going? What keeps you enthusiastic about working in the RPG industry?

Yep, we’ve been around for more than a decade, though we were a lot more active those first five years than the past 6. Fiery Dragon still exists because it allows us to participate in the hobby industry in a few different ways. Jason, Todd and I – the three members of Fiery Dragon – all enjoy gaming and play games as often as we can. In addition, we’ve made a lot of great friends in the industry, and often-times, Fiery Dragon is just our excuse to hang out with those guys & gals. Finally, there’s a fiscal responsibility that keeps this company running – debts to pay down and such. Those are the things that keep us going.

As far as enthusiasm, it’s all down to the people. We get excited about things that others get excited about. We’re still gamers at heart.

In 2004, Counter Collection Gold was nominated for Best Aid/Accessory and won Silver. In 2005, you had Battlebox: Core Fantasy Set and Future Tiles: Starship nominated for Best Aid/Accessory (Battlebox won Silver), Counter Collection Digital nominated for Best Electronic Product (it won Silver), and you were also nominated for Best Publisher. What did you think of the ENnies when you found out that you were nominated?

Those were pretty exciting times. We had felt some success and had decent response to our products, but hadn’t hit any homeruns, so it was great to get some recognition for our stuff. At the time, I was really excited because it felt like recognition for Claudio Pozas and his efforts – he’s drawn thousands of those little one-inch images, and it was great to get his efforts noticed. After all this time, he’s starting to get his name in some bigger projects from much larger companies, but nowhere near what he deserves. A great artist and great writer.

That being said, back then our Aid/Accessory nominations were usually up against Paizo’s Dungeon or Dragon magazines, so we were honored to be in such company. And taking the silvers was a proud moment.

Being nominated for Best Publisher, I’m assuming, was some sort of internet accounting fluke, or perhaps a drunken fratboy prank.

Did your nominations and wins affect short-term sales? How about long-term sales?

Short-term, probably. We got some extra traffic at our GenCon booth, and it certainly got the products in front of some other eyes. Longterm, we’re still known as the “counter guys” and those products continue to sell for us, if in smaller quantities.

What projects do you have on the schedule; anything you can talk about?

We’ve taken our counter products to the next level with our Medallion products – they’re a step up from cardstock counters and more of a deluxe accessory. We’ve rolled out the first two sets – Characters and Monsters Set 1, with more sets to come, and probably some new packaging. Beyond that, we’ve really slowed down as the industry has changed over the years and Fiery Dragon has become much more of a hobby business. We have new product ideas all of the time, but it’s a matter of finding the right one to devote our limited resources to.

Now that we’ve been around for over a decade, what do the ENnies mean to you both personally and professionally?

An ENnies nomination is a great way to get your product on my radar. While not nearly as involved in the gaming world as we once were, we still enjoy finding out about the “new hotness” and the ENnies are a mark of quality that quickly draws our attention. We might not get a chance to play many of the new games/adventures or use some of the products, but by the time the ENnies awards come around, I’ve cetainly heard about and looked into the products nominated.

On a personal level, the ENnies are a party night at GenCon. We have sometimes started the party before the awards ceremony itself and missed the actual presentation, but we’re certainly there in spirit. Also, any chance to have Kevin Kulp write some terrible gaming puns is a win in my book.

If someone who had never heard of the ENnie Awards walked up to you today and asked, “So what are these ‘ENnies’ you keep talking about,” how would you answer them?

The ENnies are the fan awards for the adventure gaming industry. The ENnies, I think, recognize products that have crossed a “high standards” bar. An ENnie nomination let’s you know you’re looking at the good stuff.

For more information about Fiery Dragon, visit them at fierydragon.com.

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