Thursday, October 18, 2012

An Extraordinary Failed Kickstarter: Dark Realms RPG 1 Million Book Give-Away

It's official. The Dark Realms RPG 1 Million Book Give-Away has been canceled. Damn shame too. They were just $44, 610 from their $45,000 goal. There are 11 disappointed (or possibly relieved) backers.

So, what was the story?

An RPG that's been around for years but no one knew about it wanted to be the break out RPG story it never was. So, singlehandedly, it decided it would give a 1 million copies of it's RPG rules on newsprint, to get it into the hands of the masses that had been deprived of the knowledge of it's existence. The fact that it had an awkward game system behind it that was certainly NOT introductory was not going to hold Guild of Blades and it's flagship game Dark Realms back from taking the mantel of leadership from D&D and Pathfinder.

Alright, that was never going to happen, but they had dared to hope.

I didn't. See here and here.

Here's the update from yesterday (it as officially cancelled earlier today):

Hi Everyone. I would like to thank those of you that backed this project (all 11 people). At this stage, it seems extraordinarily unlikely that the project can succeed (there was a better chance of hitting the Powerball and Mega Millions while getting hit by multiple lightning strikes, all on your birthday) . As such, I will let this message sit for a couple days, then I plan to terminate the Kickstarter campaign. (wisely, they killed the Kickstarter the following day) We still firmly believe in the goals of the project, but in discussions on various forums, we found far too many existing role-players would only back such a project if it were for their existent favorite game (see, there is a reason certain games are favorites - they have a following, are well supported and play well). Sadly, the owners of games like Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder (the two current market leaders) risk too much to give-away their core rules en mass when they are currently the market leading sellers (no, they risk too much supporting a poor substitute), so a project like this necessitates a new entrant to the field to give it a try. (but it's not new. Dark Realms is old. And not that good, sorry to say. Try something REALLY new and maybe you'll get a spark. maybe)

When the opportunity presents itself for the Guild of Blades to be able to self fund this project, I expect we'll take up the challenge once more (if they had anywhere near $45k to piss away on something like this, they probably would at that). Until then, it will have to sit on the back-burner.

The Dark Realms game books remain currently available on our website at guildofblades.com (grab it, and if someone is willing to run it, I'll gladly sit in on a G+ session. I couldn't make it through the rules myself, but if someone is willing to give it a try, I'll find the time) and we have begun releasing PDF versions of the same books RPGNow.com:


We will continue to release additional support material for the Dark Realms. The Magic sourcebook is nearing completion and the Undead compendium is in the works. I have made significant progress on the World of Chaos campaign box set, but a fair amount remains to be done. The failure of this kickstarter simply means that the 1 million give-away project can't proceed at this time (again, 11 supporters means something else entirely - folks that have already bought your game weren't interested in the kickstarter), but continued development on the Dark Realms game itself absolutely continues. The Technology, Space Pirates and World of Chaos Campaign settings should all be available late winter. More to come.

If you would like to keep up with developments for the Dark Realms, you can drop by our website and create an account to access our forums at:


Happy Gaming,
Ryan Johnson
Guild of Blades Publishing

I'm sorry, but the idea here was to give away cheap, disposable copies of the game to build business for Guild of Blades. It wasn't to grow the hobby.

It's not a good game in my opinion. It's certainly not a good game for beginners, which is how this Kickstarter was selling it as. 


  1. Doesn't Paizo give away its rules with their SRD website?

    If that isn't all of it-it's more than enough.

  2. we are in the golden age of free rpgs - did they budget for storage and distribution as well - 2000 newspapers need a forklift and a palette - perhaps you could build a house out of them

  3. I really wish Erik hadn't included Guild of Blades' website URL... my eyes burn like it's 1996 all over again!

  4. @Adam - I had to actually attempt to read the game in question.

    I'm glad you got to share just a small part of my pain ;)

  5. Holy crap-- does that site actually use frames?

    Did they have a distribution plan for those million copies? Just hang out at GenCon (for, what, 20 years) and shove them into peoples' hands? This seems like a publicity stunt gone awry to me.

  6. They believe they have put out a better product than Wizards or Paizo, but the fanatics weren't willing to give up D&D and Pathfinder to play GoB's One True RPG.

    Or something like that...

  7. Hey, so do I. Doesn't mean I expect to sell a million of 'em. Or even give that many away. I mean, even giving stuff away costs money...


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