Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kickstarter Failures - The RPG Corner is Beginning to Pile Up With Them (Nystul Has Company)

The most famous failure that I personally backed is probably Mike Nystul's Trio - Axes & Anvils, Infinite Dungeons and Cairn. Blow the money on office space, staff and a failed con - leave none to actually fulfill the Kickstarts that were funded. Mike's communications were full of lies.

Mike is far from alone.

We've had the Fiasco otherwise known as Myth & Magic. There are actually 2 outstanding projects in this case - the Players Guide and the GMs Guide. Tom's communications, when he bothered to even communicate, as has gone silent for months at a time, appear to have been lies too.

Quantum Roleplaying, yet another that tried to run a second Kickstarter to cover for the mismanagement of the first (the 2nd never funded) has finally admitted the truth - 18 months late he has no cash to print the books:
Financially, I reached the wall where continuing to work on this game without a paycheck is not possible. I then had to spend time looking for, finding, and then accepting a new part-time job. It's not exactly the sort of job I want to shout to the roof tops, but it pays the bills. It also takes a great deal of time away from what I want to be working on (the game), but after the "busy period" I'm in right now at work ends in a few weeks, things to will settle back down to where I can crush the remaining chapters.
Who the hell is living off of the $42k from a Kickstarter for a year and a half and actually expecting to have money left for physical product? Josh, have you been smiking from the same pipe as Mike?

Then we have CHAMPIONS OF ZED: Zero Edition Dungeoneering. Over a year late, and no communication in exactly 3 months. Communication had been a major failure on this Kickstarter. My suspicion? Enjoy the PDF you have, as the print copy won't be coming anytime soon.

What about the could still fail / majorly fucking late / needs an oxygen tank type of projects?

The longest on the tooth is Far West. I no longer give a shit about this project. I'll never play it, never promote it. There is late and there is "holy fuck this shit is LATE!" Far West has gone beyond even that point. Or to put it another way, I pledged for ACKS 2 weeks prior to supporting Far West. It's like comparing apples to rotting tomatoes.

Dwimmermount. I suspect it will see print at SOME point, but this project has inherited one hell of a curse. Same could be said about Appendix N. John seems to be stepping on his "private member" at every opportunity.

I'm sure you have your favorites. Feel free to add them to the comments...


  1. Powerchords. Later than Far West, and still not even a draft released to backers.

  2. You hit my big three late ones; Dwimmermount, Champions of Zed, and Axes and Anvils. My greatest fear is that working on Dwimmermount is going to make Tavis's own project, Domains at War, late (that's due this month, IRRC, and last I heard it was in layout).

  3. Wondering if the Buckaroo Banzai rpg will beat Far West to see the light of day? Wish these guys would just tell us in the risks section - I haven't done this before and you might be better off throwing your money out the car window...

  4. You hit my two big ones, Dwimmermount and Myth & Magic. When we get an update for Myth, Tom says they are shipping. Still don't see any product here.

  5. I've been toying with the idea of doing a Kickstarter to pay for additional art and maps for my upcoming City of Dolmvay and Duchy of Valnwall projects, but there seems to be so much negative buzz surrounding Kickstarters that I'm leery of taking the plunge. While we're on the subject, what sort of perks make a Kickstarter worthwhile to you? If this is a threadjack, I'd be happy to move this to private email - smallnichegames -AT- gmail -DOT- com.

    1. not a hijack at all

      Kickstarter is only a negative if you think you are going to pay for your project and your living expenses ;)

      perks shouldnt be what the supporter wants, but what he needs and what doesn't bankrupt the project - keep expansions in PDF ;)

    2. Whatever you are Kickstarting should be done (written) before the Kickstarter is launched. The KS should be to fund Artwork, professional layout (maybe) and printing. Perks should be easily achievable. e.g Adventures, Players Guide extracts, a Grimoire, GM screen, custom dice.

    3. I'd agree that the steps are fairly simple. Complete the full text before you kickstart. Not "playtest-ready", but the final complete manuscript. Line up your artists and mappers. Have backups in mind if your original picks flake out. Ideally, get the thing in draft layout. The key at this stage is to do absolutely everything you can do to complete the project except the parts that need money.

      When you run the kickstarter, avoid physical rewards whenever possible. Honestly, the next kickstarter I do will be self-serve POD: back at a flat price, and I send you a coupon to buy the book at-cost from DTRPG so as to let the patron pay shipping and print prices. Some people won't like it, but a KS _must_ insulate itself from shipping fees these days. They're killing KS fulfillment left and right lately, it seems. Whatever stretch goals you have should be PDF-only or POD self-serve. You want to stay away from the post office if at all humanly possible.

    4. I've put money in my fair share of bad kickstarters, but I've also support many awesome ones and received the product promised to backers. As long as you're prepared in the ways others mentioned above, you should be fine.

    5. Kevin's response reminds me of James Raggi's Referee Book Indiegogo campaign going right now (which I backed as soon as I could). Maybe James has the right idea.

  6. Hahaha, seeing as how I usually make enough from one published adventure to purchase art and maps for the next, living expenses are pretty far from my mind. :-)

    So, do only backers get the perks? Like, if I set an adventure as a perk for reaching say $500 for the city supplement. Do only those who supported the Kickstarter receive that adventure or is it released along with the product?

  7. e20. funded Mar 16, 2010. Last thing we heard was in Dec 27, 2011 had to do with serious health issues. Kind of sad.

  8. My bugbears are mainly Axes & Anvils, Myth & Magic, Cairn, Dwimmermount, and Far West. In that descending order of magnitude based on a mixture of amount contributed, the likelihood I will ever see it, and if I received a partial product from them.

    There's a few others long delayed, but either the updates have maintained my confidence in them or the amount contributed was fairly trivial.

    One or two came across some hiccups, but the project managers cleared it up and I consider that resolved and a job well done.

  9. Makes me glad I forgot to pledge for Axes and Anvils now....

  10. Pete: the idea with the kickstarter is to enable a business to get ahead, either starting or "kickspanding" with an infusion of capital. So, some projects use kickstarter to bring products into existence, rewarding their investors with extras and a discount, then take those products on to sell to the wider audience.

    Not a kickstarter, but Dyson Logos made an exclusive adventure available in his first Dyson Delve book for those who bought the hardback (and supported him.) So that gives people incentive to put money down. On the other end of the spectrum is Reaper Bones, whose main purpose for the kickstarter is to make molds so the things backers get can be offered widely at retail.

    Now, Bones may or may not have campaign exclusives to motivate people to buy. But the whole point is to get start-up funding for new products (or a new company) to then go on and offer stuff more widely.

  11. I think Joe Wetzel is a great example. Every project he has done has contributed to and fit in with later projects.His stand-ups and cards have funded buying a lot of art that he can now use in future Inkwell projects; art from previous projects was used again to make the cards more manageable.

  12. I figure I'd rather make my own art, do my own layout, and write my own stuff at a possibly slightly inferior level in order to avoid shaking the money cup at Kickstarter. With awesome OSR guys like Tim Shorts, Tim Snider, Boric Glanduum, and Mike Monaco offering their editing services, I'm happy to go sans Kickstarter. At the end of the day, I'm far more proud of my humble Labyrinth Lord self-published adventures having completed them without Kickstarter.

  13. Far West is my longest overdue Kickstart (durn, liked that shirt) followed by Age of Lords (work lost to massive PC crash) and then, per above, Dwimmermount (I took the discount over to Domains of War tho). (http://campaign-nook.blogspot.com/2012/11/kickstarter-log.html)

  14. Don't forget Technoir. Jeremy still hasn't finished the rewards that are due to the backers. But he has worked on Marvel and FATE while not doing that work which should have been done before working on those other titles.

  15. Thanks everyone! I think I've got a better idea now. Should have something ready to kickstart in the next week or so. Thanks!


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