There are alot of other books that could be ransomed. For instance, a grand campaign book would be nice. What I mean by this is a book that helps the Storyguide to build a campaign year by year for a couple of centuries in Mythic Euope, and in each year, there could be a list of what the different Tribunals and covenants were up to, historical events characters could get involved in etc. Kind of like the one they did for the Pendragon roleplaying game called The Great Pendragon Campaign.
This is like the format Wolfgang Bauer uses over at Open Design - "patronage", although I suspect the proposed model will be a bit different in terms of patron-author interaction. I think it's a good way to go particularly for those supplements that traditionally don't sell - sort of a presell model, although I think comissioning is a better way to describe it. The 18 month wait might be an issue for some but it's not for me.
Might work better as PDF or as mini-supplements to existing supplements?
As an author, it would be fun to work on comissioned projects that were a bit off-beat ie. wouldn't have a chance of being a conventional product due to market considerations. There's always stuff left over that you wanted to include but couldn't because of word count.
For instance I'd love to develop ideas for a Saga set along the Silk Road (and I suspect at least Timothy would be interested as well given his Mythic Cathay series in Hermes Poral a while back). The chance of this being a viable product in it's own right is minimal, particularly if it was intended to be a full length book, but a 30,000 word PDF or slim-line product, well that might be a different matter...
Likewise another Magi of Hermes style supplement filled with hedge magicians or Ex-Misc magi, a mini-Bestiary etc would all be options.
It would also allow for non-canonical expansions with a bit more flexibility - "Myths of Hermes" perhaps...
I can see ransom as a viable model for special editions of Sub Rosa, which have a shorter turnover than Ars products, and which would need a smaller quantgum of takers to be financially viable.
As to what I'd like to see: I'd like a Spanish Flambeau Carribean Aztec Diedne rematch supplement. I even have some notes from a very long time ago.
i'd also like to get an English translation of the Book of Roger and raid it . I've heard it mentions America.
I'd like to do a book of ghost stories. KIt's too low power to suit magi, so it wouldn't work for a mainline book, but ghost are great for companions and grogs.
I'd like to do a book where we write up the talismans for a half dozen archmagi.
China's freakishly hard to do...but a smaller space, like a single Chinese town, that's work. Li-Jen would work.
I'd like to do one of the sub-Saharan kingdoms, but the research load would be easier for one of the American authors.
A tie-in with Elemental: War of Magic.
A very long time ago I wrote a book in which the player characters recovered a Hermetic report from Durenmar University in the C19th. It eventually changed shape twice and became Sanctuary of Ice. I now think that something like it (which seems quite like the Armitage Files) is actually far easier to do than, say, the book of ghost stories. It's relatively easy to say "The world's going to Hell and only you can save it. Here are some clues based on the railroad I'm putting you on." The Armitage Files is novdl in the production value of the elements, and in the way it avoid that railroad by usingsomething like Amber's many-faces-of-each-NPC system (which again is actually quite an easy way to write NPCs.)So, I'm not really in favour of me writing an Armitage like supplement, because the skills it needs are those which I don't have (the production of high-quality physical props).
Written from my hotel room in York. I have a suitcase full of obscure English books that will soon be boiled into Ars stuff. My wife has taken thousands of photos, and a fair whack of them are me saying "Can you photograph that? I want to steal it for Ars." "The object or the little sign next to it?" "Oh, the sign next to it. I'm sure House Tremere has one of those." So much so that in the Merchant Adventurers Hall today she was going "Why aren't you stealing stuff for Ars?" "Oh, David stole these guys years ago..." The tri'ps been really great in terms of thinking about new stuff, and just seeing things which I didn't know, or had read but hadn't sunk in about medieval things. (I knew castles were whitewashed, for example, but didn't know that the capital of Scotland was painted marigold yellow for most of the Middle Ages.)