Thursday, March 28, 2013

Are You a "Patron" of RPG Kickstarters? Why or Why Not...

It's been one hell of a week. The 3 Kickstarters from Mike Nystul have basically gone belly up and are waiting on their mercy killing. Dwimmermount, all but given up for dead, was miraculously saved. Heck, Reaper just announced that their Bones Kickstarter is starting to ship today.

Yep, Kickstarter can be a rocky road for those that put their money behind a project, especially as the vast majority of RPG Kickstarters are run as "pre-orders with swag". You are less a patron and more of a customer, until the Kickstarter runs a year late or worse happens, and then the "you are a patron of the arts, not a customer" voices come out of the shadows.

So, anyhow, do you support Kickstarters? Do you view it as a gamble or a pre-order? Take risks on the small guy or just stick with the big players? If someone fucks up with their initial Kickstarter, would you trust them with you money on a second one?

Sound off and let us know how you feel.


  1. I treat it as patronage which sometimes (so far, always, eventually) leads to me getting cool shit.

  2. I love what it's brought to the community. The ability of someone like me to produce a game and be in the same market as big names like Monte Cook.

    While I did really dig the original concept of it being a way to make things a reality that would not have been otherwise. I fully see and embrace what it's evolved into, pre-order system and all.

    Now what I would love to see is something else start up that is exactly what Kickstarter started off being. I would love to go back to making dreams a reality.

  3. I am not a patron of the gaming arts. I have a very limited budget. Throwing money at stuff that I may not want anymore if/when it finally delivers is a bad deal. But, yes, I am a sucker for old school games getting "The Homer" treatment.


  4. So far, with P&P RPGs, I have backed people I know. If I haven't met the creator personally at a con or been reading their blog long enough to see and understand a clear dedication and understanding of how things work I'm unlikely to back. However, so far I've been happy with the results of the projects I have backed.

    With other campaigns like those for miniatures, wargames, and video games I kept my funding to have left it to bigger names. In those industries costs can spiral quickly or a product can be released that is so poor it is salvageable. Even with that tighter limit on what and how I back I've been disappointed with some of the released I have received.

  5. I think we're learning that you have to be very careful about what Kickstarter projects you fund. You need to do some homework before pledging.

    As much as possible, check "character references" for the creators. This means, for example, asking other bloggers about any dealings they've had with said party. Heck, if the creator has a blog, check that out for any signs of flaky-ness.

    Does the creator have any other projects under their belt? If not, it's probably a bigger gamble you're taking on that Kickstarter.

    Then, there's the Kickstarter page for the product itself. What's the level of detail on the project? How much information is offered? Is the project already under development? Do they show samples of already completed work? Overall, how complete is the level of info on the KS page? The less detail on the page, the more likely it is that things are going to end up badly.

    NOW, I KNOW that there have been projects like Dwimmermount that have had every indication that things would be fine, due to a high level of information on the KS page, as well as the creator's own blog. So, you can have a KS that has all the trappings of a winner, but can still fall flat on its ass.

    Anyway, those are my thoughts. To date, I've actually only supported one big product: Crypts & Things. And that was through IndieGoGo, not Kickstarter! Otherwise, I've been pretty wary of Kickstarters.

  6. I'm a supporter, and never once have I felt "burnt" by one, and so far I haven't. Even with Dwimmermount, I had faith that it'd happen. It's a bummer that people are such dicks about such things, but James Mal did the right thing when he was ready. There are some really awesome ones that I wanted to support, but I have to feel like I'm an "Investor" and that there is a pay-off. Most of them are, and putting my money where my mouth is is a good way to show support for something I want--which is what crowd-sourcing is about to me. But if it's just a pre-order system w/ swag, I'll pass and buy it normally if I want it or can afford it, Frog God Games is a good example of this. I love their stuff, bu most of it is over-priced via kickstarter and it doesn't feel like I'm getting a deal if I support it.

  7. I definitely don't treat Kickstarters as pre-orders. I support things I'd like to see that it looks like would never happen otherwise, and treat the money as a donation. If I get something later, awesome.

  8. Kickstarter is a highly democratic way for The People to make cool things happen (or get produced) without having to get the approval of whatever monopolist corporation.

    I back projects mainly in order to donate to cool causes and to the production of cool products (such as ACKS) that would be fun to have.

  9. I price it as a pre-order, but accept that it's a gamble.

  10. I have backed a lot of video games on Kickstarter from guys you can trust like Brian Fargo. RPG's I have only funded the LOTFP Free RPG day one. So I think I can trust them.

    The thing I like about Kickstarter is the fans get to back what they really want to see made. If it gets enough money then it is done. It's not something that some developer "thinks" you want.. It is want you want.. In most cases.

  11. I have previously viewed it as a pre-order, but I'm beginning to see that I should probably change that point of view. So far, I have only backed 2 kickstarters and 3 Indiegogo projects and have only been disappointed once, by Champions of Zed.

    The others I have supported were Spears of the Dawn, which of course, managed the awe-inspiring feat of finishing early; Starships & Spacemen 2nd Editions, which if it wasn't early or on time, wasn't late enough that I was annoyed :D; and The Company and Crypts and Things, both from D101 games, both of which were, if I recall correctly, were fulfilled in a reasonable amount of time.

    The thing that annoys me isn't 'lateness' so much, I understand that people place estimates, although they should really give themselves a bit more leeway on such, but a lack of communication.

    On the time estimates, I ran a sign shop for over a decade and am currently in the printing industry; both places I've had to deal with deadlines, and with unexpected setbacks, and it took me a long time to get the owner of the sign shop to understand my philosophy on promise dates . . .

    If you promise in Ten Days and deliver in Nine, you are a Hero; If you promise in Nine Days and deliver in Ten; you are a schmuck

    I'll continue to support kickstarters, but I'll be a little more wary about supporting projects that I don't know at least something of the reputation of those who are behind it.

  12. Personally I have avoided kuckstarters. My favorite OSR products (lab lord, ase, vornhiem, weird adventures) are all pod or self published.

    To me the kickstarter seems unecessary unless one is making a super polished product, but that's not the core of a good rpg product. Creativity and love of making is the core for me - grubbing for crowd case seems to injure people's sense of those things.

  13. I've supported several Kickstarters and one or two Indiegogo's. As far as I'm concerned crowdfunding most definitely is just another name for pre-order. Or in other words, the customer gives money up front so that the publisher can afford to deliver the promised product. I fail to see any difference. This is a risky way to do business, both for the customer and the publisher. If it's buggered up the negative publicity can be extremely damaging.

    I haven't put money on a Kickstarter in over a year and yet I've only received around 50% of the items I've paid for. I hate the Indiegogo model of taking the customer's money before the project has even reached its goal, that just rubs salt into the wounds and costs the customer credit card fees even if the project never funds.

    I have zero interest in future crowdfunding projects at this stage and would rather wait until a successful project is later reprinted and released to the wider public. At least that way I know that I'm actually going to receive the item I pay for.

  14. I've only backed the 6d6 kickstarter so far. I felt comfortable jumping in because it was already basically written and played at some cons. Plus Chris seemed like he was pretty dedicated. That said, I do expect a project to deliver what it says it will so, yes, it is like a pre-order. The shaky history of RPG related kickstarters has me apprehensive about participating in any in the future.

  15. I am a natural pessimist. The only Kickstarter I have backed is Reaper Bones, for $175. I was a bit nervous but I considered that they were an established company, highly reputable with an excellent record both for competence and for customer service, that they would not want to flush away by failing to complete in reasonable time. My calculation appears to have been correct. :)

  16. >>Do you view it as a gamble or a pre-order? <<

    I won't back something unless I have strong confidence in delivery.

    >>Take risks on the small guy or just stick with the big players? <<

    Big player with a proven track record for delivery and something I really want, even after my hefty time-discount. $200 of swag next year is roughly equivalent to $60 of swag next week.

    >>If someone fucks up with their initial Kickstarter, would you trust them with you money on a second one?<<

    Ha ha, no. Also, I'd want my money back. Easiest way is a credit card charge back via the UK Consumer Credit Act 1974, which obliges my credit card company to reimburse for sums over £100. Failing that legal action is a possibility, but while I teach law in the UK it would be challenging to bring a claim in US. Might ask my US relatives and legal contacts for help there.

    Basically: if you're a fuckup, you *really* don't want me as a Backer. >:)

  17. I have supported 37 Kickstarters, about half and half between video games and D&D-type stuff. Just about all of them shipped late, when they did ship, but I tend to be the forgiving type about that sort of thing. Usually that tends to happen when the Kickstarter is wildly successful and there's lots of extras to deal with. Or when life gets in the way (everyone bitches about James Mal but no one seems to be giving Rich Burlew a hard time about the OOTS missed deadlines and he's got a hell of a lot more money). And the majority of them have shipped.

    Up until very recently, I haven't run into any situation where I thought someone actively did something that looked like "take the money and run".

    I plan on cutting back on my support in the future, mostly because I need time to absorb what I've bought: games to play, books to read. But I'd be lying if my past experience hasn't made me a little more cynical.

    For example, I get angry that John Adams finished the Dagger RPG instead of putting the Appendix N modules first. But at least I have three of the modules and they look good. No intent to do harm there, just a disagreement on priorities.

    Sucks that Tabletop Forge called it quits and moved all the work into
    Roll20 but, as best I can tell, Joshuha got dealt a bad hand with his partners leaving him, and he did what he thought was best for his backers. It struck me as a good compromise solution and I appreciate him continuing to work with the Roll20 guys and at least making an attempt to show us he didn't waste all the money.

    On the other hand, although he hasn't yet come right out and said it, it's becoming increasingly obvious that Mike Nystul took money we gave to him for the Infinite Dungeon (am I being naive in hoping the Infinite Dungeon will be different than Axes & Anvils?) and spent it on other things entirely. Isn't that embezzlement in the real world?

    Am I giving up entirely? No. Hell, I'm giving Autarch another chance with Domains of War. The effort they put forth in fixing Dwimmer earned a lot of trust with me. But when I see the next guy running out some little OSR KS campaign that looks cool, I'm probably going to think of Mike Nystul and pass. And that sucks.

    1. I think in Mike's case, it's mismanagement and the business sense of someone with no business sense. he hired a staff of at least 2 others to run the business without putting the time and money needed to actually produce the products FOR the business.

      Mike wanted to fly before he crawled and we are all (those that supported any of the 3 products) going to pay a very real price. Mike says he will make everything right but even James Mal didn't blow his project's cash on the proverbial "hookers and blow". There is no "Tavis" to right the ship known as Castle Nystul, and running other crowdfunders to fund the mismanaged ones is throwing good money after bad.

      It doesn't make Mike a criminal, but it does make many of us look like fools.

  18. I have over 110 KSers backed now and so far only the Axes one has actually had serious problems... but of course I have a lot of them yet to front on their promises. A few are considerably late but still doing updates.
    My experience has so far been good. I would not back an abject failure a second time under any circumstances. Axes may still come thru, I am hopeful. At least he hasn't asked for more money yet which would send all the alarm bells ringing.
    The few that have gone over $200 are all fairly well known brands: Reaper, Achtung!, Zombicide, Glorantha, Red Box. I really start thinking hard once it goes over $100.

    1. Kevin, you missed Mike's Indiegogo attempt to fund the funds that are no longer:


    2. oh, dont like INdiegogo's method... thats worrying then.

  19. It's a risk. I support things that I'd like to see happen. If I get stuff out of it, that's cool. Though, to be sure, I'm more likely to support things that promise to give me stuff with higher amounts of money.

  20. Mostly I'm a patron. Typically my FLGS sells games lower than MSRP, so for example when Deadlands Noir kickstarter began I was excited but then said to myself this is going to happen and at my FLGS the book wont be $50.

    However smaller books like Spears of the Dawn or Monster of the Week catch my eye and I think it's worth a few bucks and if I get a pdf, cool.

  21. I have only funded the Reaper one. I thought of it (and still think of it) as a preorder. It may arrive a bit late, though they are starting shipping on time, but that's understandable given how many people signed on to that one.

    I also pledged money to a personal friend's attempt at Kickstarting a vacation for himself and his sons. I only pledged a little on that one, and honestly I knew it wouldn't fund from the get-go.

    I have thought about others but I have been careful after so many went Belly up. I may yet get some artisan dice or a nice deck of cards through Kickstarter, but in any event I treat them as preorders.


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