Category Archives: Kickstarter

The Silence Is Broken – An Update On The City State of The Invincible Overlord Kickstarter

Judges Guild has a Kickstarter for a re-print/revision of their City State Of The Invincible Overlord book. As all successful Kickstarters, there is the blurb about the number of backers and the amount raised: “965 backers pledged $85,130 to help bring this project to life.”

This was a respectable amount of pledges, but had problems from the start. First, the add ons included minis that were not factored in before the start. Second, none of the pledges included shipping, or did include shipping, as it cost in 2014. James Mishler was supposed to do some writing for the project, and his own personal issues led to nothing happening from him and the February 13, 2015 update revealed that his portion had not been done. (This was a major setback, but it seemed to be OK, since they could just clean up what they had with maybe a few additions.)

After many updates and back and forth, the layout is supposedly being done by Bob 3. Bob 2 has stated somewhere online that he gave Bob 3 money to pay for a layout person. (I wish people posting in the updates would share all these link. I don’t have time to track them down to back this up. So consider this heresay.)

A few pages of layout were supposedly being done each month. I think someone built a spreadsheet to show how close it must be.

The last update prior to today was September 28, 2017. A monthly update was promised after less than monthly updates were not forthcoming. Each update indicated the number of pages of layout, etc. Often filled with stories of sick family, moving to a new apartment, fumigating for pests, et. al.

After radio silence from Judges Guild, and Bob 2 and 3, Rob Conley, one of the cartographers, stepped up and got permission and a license from Bob 2, to share his map with the Kickstarter backers, then sell it on OBS to recoup the license cost. You can read about it here, here, here, and here on the Bat In The Attic blog. It’s pretty bad when one of your artists/cartographers has to step up and do something for the backers.

Change of Attitude

I greatly appreciated Rob Conley’s efforts. But after all this radio silence, I decided I had enough. I sent the following via the Kickstarter email feature:

JG-CSIO-KS-RefundRequest_Screen Shot
JG-CSIO-KS-RefundRequest_Screen Shot

Unlike many others who have requested a refund, I received an answer today. The KS email feature only shows the date. I checked my actual email, and it was sent at 1:20 AM EST.

Here is the reply:

JG-CSIO-KS-RefundRequestDenied_Screen Shot
JG-CSIO-KS-RefundRequestDenied_Screen Shot


I was careful to quote the Kickstarter Terms of Use that apply to this Kickstarter, which can be found here.

You will notice that Bob 3 uses the same document to deny my request. I did a search and he has accurately quoted two parts of the section Projects: Fundraising and Commerce, lines 13 and 14, and lines 20 & 21.

So, under this Terms of Use, we can’t get our money without the free will of the creator, or proof of fraud. I am not a lawyer, but it looks like I have no recourse, unless I want to spend a lot of money for a lawyer to find out what my options are.

I feel that I only got a response based on what is discussed in the rest of this blog article. There are others in the comments who have also asked for a refund months ago, with not even a reply. They are eagerly waiting for me to post this.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!

Today’s (January 24, 2018) update appears to be prompted by an article over on Tenkar’s Tavern yesterday. After the unexpected update on Kickstarter, Tenkar posted a follow up today.

Until the last few weeks, I have only followed the saga of this project via the updates and comments on the Kickstarter page. It was in reading over the comments a few weeks ago that I learned that Bob 2 has been saying that the CSIO Kickstarter is NOT an official Judges Guild adventure. (I’ll look up the links with quotes, etc. unless someone wants to send me the links. Just hearsay otherwise.) There are two screenshots someone has shared to Imgur showing that it was stated as a Judges Guild endeavor on their website. I’ll share that screenshot below, for the record.


Supposedly Bob 2 has been deleting comments from the Judges Guild Game Company Facebook page. The most recent post is from January 22, 2018 with a picture of Bob 1’s office scissors. Before that December 23, 2017. So it is not a very busy page.

There is a Kickstarter page on the Judges Guild website, but it requires a password. It is unclear what the purpose of this page is. Why have a publicly visible page? It is trivial to make a page only those in the know can even see. I am sure this just invites more criticism.

Facebook page for the Kickstarter with no updates since 2014.

Dragonsfoot has a thread about the KS, as I am sure many other discussion boards do.

RPGNet’s 2017 year in review has comments wishing for a completion of this Kickstarter.

I don’t normally visit forums, and found the above forum links via a search on Google. It is not difficult to find a lot of talk about this Kickstarter and how many plan to boycott Judges Guild products and projects until something happens with this Kickstarter.


If you do a Kickstarter, plan to communicate with your backers with substantive and demonstrable things that don’t sound like you don’t want to do the work you said you’d do.

I think there are two courses of action for Judges Guild and the Bobs:

  1. Admit defeat and refund what you can’t deliver. Deliver what you can.
    1. Some have suggested a PDF of what they have now to prove it exists and renew trust.
  2. Do a PDF as mentioned above to show that there is a real product. Backers would then get off your back asking so many questions from being kept in the dark.

Anyone who is thinking about doing a Kickstarter can learn from this what not to do. If JG and the Bobs can pull it off, it will be an example of how to rise from the ashes. If they can do it, it will be too little to late for many, in my opinion.


This is not a well written post, but I said I’d do it tonight, and don’t have time to track down links for sources, or to polish it before a quick supper before tonight’s Roll20 game.


My last Outstanding Kickstarters Update was just over a year ago, December 24, 2016. Sadly, over a year has not helped a few reach fulfillment. Here’s a big surprise, I’m still way behind on reviews….

For a list of which Kickstarters I’ve reviewed check here.

From the oldest to the most current outstanding Kickstarters for which I am waiting fulfillment, they are:

The Great Kingdom Kickstarter page is still shut down. They were supposed to actually go to trial this past spring, but I am so over it, I never bothered to follow up. $50 I wish I had so I could give it to the RPG History Project by Pat Kilbane. He’s funding his efforts via Patreon and is nearing the finish line.

City State of the Invincible Overlord had been making more or less monthly updates until September 28, 2017. The comments have exploded with angry people, many demanding their money back. This was a train wreck on two fronts. First they added miniatures and other physical rewards as stretch goals without adding in shipping. Some of the minis were delivered. The person hired to revise/re-write the book didn’t do it. Supposedly Bob Bledsaw III has been doing layout on a finished text. He has been cursed with the failings of many troubled Kickstarter creators, health issues, weddings, insect plagues, etc. Bob Bledsaw II said that this wasn’t a Judges Guild project even though there is a screenshot showing where it was stated to be one on the JG website. Bob Conley of Bat In The Attic is the one hired to do the maps, and his part is finished. He got permission to release his map(s) into the wild, now on DriveThruRPG [Affiliate Link]. Backers of this Kickstarter can get it for free, see the comments on the September 17, 2017 update.

The Marmoreal Tomb had some delays due to health of both creators, and some other unexpected delays. There are updates, but it is not as clear what is outstanding, nor how soon to completion. The last update was on 10/25/2017, but creators are active in the KS comments. Updates are posted regularly on Facebook. There is at least visible action on this. However, no date has been given, that I have seen, for projected delivery.

Top Secret: NWO was initially slated for delivery in November, 2017, but it got pushed to December, 2017. So far no word on what the new ETA is. Since the last day of December is a Sunday, I don’t expect to get it this year.

Stars Without Number: Revised Edition is way ahead of schedule. The final PDF is complete and in the hands of backers. The print run has been ordered and shipping has commenced. The GM screen and other minor things are still in the works, but I see no issues in full delivery ahead of the announced delivery date of February 28, 2018. Kevin Crawford is a stand up guy, and he takes his word seriously. He has a free PDF on DriveThruRPG that has an article about how he runs a Kickstarter. I wish EVERY RPG Kickstarter creator would read that and act on it before launch. Even non-RPG Kickstarters could learn a few things.

RPG WorldBuilder is an app using graphics from the worldbuilder cards. It is slated for delivery in December, 2017. The beta went out last week, and so far, it looks good. I have yet to put it through its paces.

Old School Gamer Radio: A D&D Resource funded October 1, 2017 and the website Old School Gamer Radio went live yesterday. I got my add on of a ball cap today. Most people have their rewards. I was one of the four top tier backers, and we are still waiting on our fulfillment, which should be soon. The live play has also gone live, with a pilot episode release today.

I have updated my Kickstarters page here on the blog that tracks the status of my Kickstarters. I also indicate which ones I have done a review, with a link to the review.

I added five reviews today, and a couple more in recent weeks. All since the last time I updated that page.

I have $684 in seven outstanding Kickstarters. Four of those launched in 2017, and the amount I have tied up in them is $444.

The total of all thirteen Kickstaters that funded in 2017 is $743. I am confident that the four outstanding from 2017 will deliver very soon. On top of that, I went for the $100 Stars Without Numbers Omnibus available to backers of the SWN 2e Kickstarter.

Only one Kickstarter that I backed in 2017 failed to fund because it became a train wreck, and was cancelled. It was supposed to be re-launched with more reasonable goals, but the train wrecks kept coming. This was the Empyrea Kickstarter. I doubt another attempt will be forthcoming.

I said it this time last year, that I would be unlikely to back more Kickstarters, but I obviously didn’t stick with that. Too much nostalgia or cool things. I had to add some monthly expenses that greatly limit my ability to consider new ones. Plus I added several very large volumes to my collection, and have more physical rewards in the wings. I am running out of room, and I am trying to downsize.

I will be much more picky about backing Kickstarters. I have to get serious about both downsizing and spending less on Kickstarters so I am able to attend conventions.

Review of The Midderlands – A Kickstarter

I backed The Midderlands – An OSR Mini-Setting and Bestiary Kickstarter by Glynn Seal of MonkeyBlood Design. It surpassed its 12,000 pound goal by 1,953 pounds. I selected the 30 pound pledge level, AKA Mawling, the rewards is a PDF of the Book, a PDF of the map, and a hardcopy of the book, one map, and two character sheet bookmarks.

It funded July 31, 2017. The PDFs were released on October 9, 2017, and I received my physical rewards on November 27, 2017.

Here are pictures of my book, map, and bookmarks.

Midderlands: Book, Map, and Bookmarks
Midderlands: Book, Map, and Bookmarks
Midderlands - A Peek Inside
Midderlands – A Peek Inside

The PDF:

The download with the PDF included a jpg character sheet in color, a jpeg of the monster quick reference for the monsters in the bestiary, and the map in color and parchment both jpgs.  After the PDF was released, we received a 33 page PDF of things cut because of layout and other issues, The Midderlands Additions. This gives more information on one creature, some NPCs, and a map and description of an inn, which is also an adventure. These are things cut from the final print version to keep shipping costs manageable.

Inside the 228 page PDF is art by Glynn and several other artists. The table of contents lays out what is in this gazeteer of an RPG setting based on the Midlands of England. There are the standard geographical features, points of interests, towns, villages, and cities.  There are also adventures and adventure hooks. Glynn has taken interesting sites from his location in England and filtered them through a combination of RPGs and his imagination to come up with something new. I should mention that there is a language warning on this project from the author. If you can’t handle “adult language” this may not be for you.

It uses Swords & Wizardry as a base, but will work with any OSR ruleset. The ideas can be used in any setting, and many in any genre.

The color scheme for this setting is green. Take any word to describe green and any shade of green, and things that are green, and they end up here. Slime, vapors, demons, etc. are all green and there is a cthonic and dreary atmosphere, and the locals mistrust outsiders. There is enough here for a stand alone campaign, or ideas and adventures to sprinkle in your own campaign or campaign world.

Gloomium is the metallic substance that generates the green hue to everything, and causes all the weirdness in the world. Gloom-touched is the phrase that describes those affected by gloomium. There are random tables to describe what these effects are., and their location on the body. There is a dd0 table called Weird Shit used to add weirdness to The Midderlands. A list of words for green is provided, as everything in the setting should have something green about it. Surprisingly, Lincoln Green, the color associate with Robin Hood and his men is not listed. That color was based on a dyeing process. I am not sure if that shade has another name.

The setting is based on the 15th and 16th century. Artillery exists along with primitive handheld firearms. Magic and witches are not trusted. Religion is left to the GM to handle, but describes a loose system of belief that will suffice without adding to the GM’s workload. A list of superior beings that fit the setting, from angels and demons to deities is also provided.

Among the list of locations that are described, some settlements have a map, and some of those have numbered locations for major locations within the city or town. Points of interest are also given. These are things like a windmill, or a large rock with a history, etc. Some are “normal,” while others have lore or legend associated with them.

There are four new spells, that fit the region/setting. They require but a single page.

Pages 75 – 186 contain all the new plants and creatures. There is a table to randomize the types and effects of fungus/mushrooms that might be found. Some monsters have their own classes and levels. This allows scaling the threat of some creatures in unique ways. (I really need to dig in and read through all these new creatures.)

Pages 188-206 detail the adventures and adventure ideas in the setting.

Pages 207-215 cover hex map locations. Most are fixed locations in a specific numbered hex. However, the last five items actually have random locations, such as a travelling circus. The GM is advised to lay out the map and drop a d20 on it from about 18″ to generate each item’s current location.

Next, there is an Appendix with six tables: a d20 insult table with 20 common Midderlands insults, a d10 festival/gathering table, a d20 weather table, a name and trades table with no numbers/die rolls indicated, an additional Hamlet/Small Town names table, and a d100 Crap You Find On A Midfolk Table. As with any resource, these tables have something you can use in whole or in part in games independent of this setting.

Finally, there is an index, it is not hyperlinked, nor is the Table of Contents.

What I liked about the PDF:

  • The artwork, design, and layout are gorgeous and help evoke the setting.
  • Random tables that can be used in other games and settings.
  • New creatures, spells, and items that are portable to other games and settings.

What I’d like to see in the PDF:

  • A hyperlinked Table of Contents
  • A hyperlinked Index.
  • The character sheet
    • I’d also like a no color option for more economical printing.
  • The map – just a basic version on a single page.

NOTE: There are bookmarks in the PDF, so one can navigate to various sections, but the bookmark pane must remain open.

The Book:

The hardback book is 6″ x 8.5″. It is solid and has heft to it. It includes two ribbon bookmarks in different shades of green to match the motif of the green cover and green tint and hue to the artwork and pages. It is gorgeous! It also has colored markings for groups of pages in the same section, like settlements, creatures, adventures, etc. For larger numbers of pages, these are easily visible when looking at the edge of the pages when the book is closed. Some are more easily identified when the pages are fanned. This is a cool way to allow the user to jump to a section.

The front end pages are a character sheet, that is the same as the one backers received as a jpg with the PDF.

The pages are slick and thicker than one normally expects. This makes for a durable little tome, with heft beyond its size. While the pages are slightly slick, they only shine at a specific angle to the light in the room, and are easy to read. I have not tried reading it in all light levels. The text does not bleed through, but some of the darker art does. CORRECTION: I realized that what I thought was bleed through is actually the region map sort of like a watermark. It is only the shields for heraldry of certain nobles, and lakes and rivers that are dark enough to easily show. The rest is quite faint and easily missed. I did not find it distracting while reading the text.

What I liked about the book:

  • It is gorgeous!
  • The art and layout.
  • The double bookmarks.
  • All of the same things I liked about the PDF.

What I’d Like to see in the book:

  • The region map on one page, so I don’t need to open up the map or resort to the computer.

The Map:

Full color 16.5″ x 23.25″. One side has the green color motif, and the other has a parchment like color. Both sides have light gray numbered hexes. On the green side the numbers are white with a dark outline.

I find that the parchment colored background is easier to read the names of all the locations. Both sides are gorgeous, but the green side has just enough of a shine to it that makes it harder to read than the color combinations. I do like the green side as it fits the motif of the PDF and book. The black and white lettering on the green side is easily legible, but any writing of other colors, I find hard to read. I have not tried it in multiple lighting levels, as I have limited space to spread out at the moment.

Instead of using different colored text for different political units, a different size of font in black would work better on the green side for my eyes. I find that this is an issue in the last 6 or 7 years, that certain things I used to read easily, I can’t. I have new glasses, so it isn’t my prescription. Aging eyes begin to lose some of their finer utility. The option of the parchment map on the other side does remedy this.

Where to find The Midderlands:

You can find the PDF of The Midderlands – OSR Bestiary and Setting at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow. Currently, it is only available in PDF. on these sites.  You can order the book, map, and shipping from England for 35 pounds on the Monkeyblood Design site here.

The Midderlands Additions is available as PDF and softcover at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

There is also a bundle with both the main book and additions at DriveThruRPG and RPGNow.

There is a lot here. I find it interesting and I want a few days of uninterrupted time so I can just read it cover to cover.

Announcement From Frank Mentzer

Frank Mentzer was talking about this at Gary Con 9, and said he hoped to Kickstart in a couple of months. Obviously, things of this scale take a bit longer.

Frank has a letter from Gary Gygax giving permission to include his campaign in the Greyhawk setting. Frank makes clear in the comments on the FB thread that there will be no official Greyhawk information and Greyhawk will only be released in the introduction to the work in reference to the note from Gary.

What’s really cool in the comments is all the tidbits mentioned. All the old school artists still in the field have expressed interest. As is clear from the announcement, Darlene is doing the maps! Frank mentioned that he has ran his campaign via online methods for over 11 sessions across 25 years! Here I thought that 263 sessions over 3.5 years on Roll20 was a lot! [I play in a weekly AD&D game Wednesday nights.]

Here’s the Announcement from Facebook:

Press Release:
Historic Dungeons & Dragons® Campaign Returns

Loxley, Madison WI, August 11 2017

Legendary game designer Frank Mentzer, famed for his worldwide version of the Dungeons & Dragons® game, has teamed with fiction author Ted Fauster to revisit one of the earliest known D&D® fantasy worlds. The game continues to be one of the most popular of all time, and Mentzer’s version is still available in fourteen languages, on every continent.

In 1981, Mentzer was given written permission from E. Gary Gygax (co-author of the original game in 1974) to establish and develop this little-known portion of Oerth, one of the game’s original settings. This new realm of Empyrea has a 40-year history (starting with simple materials from Judges Guild) and is still actively used. The artist Darlene, who painted Gary’s maps in his 1980 product, will create similar maps for this one. Other famous artists of that era — including Caldwell, Dee, Diesel, Easley, Elmore, Holloway, Jaquays, and Otus — are being invited to join the project.

Empyrea is on the mysterious and isolated continent of Aquaria, east of Gygax’s World of Greyhawk™ setting. Until now, knowledge of this portion of the world has remained largely a mystery, as the broad and dangerous Solnor ocean separates the two. The continent is briefly described in the Advanced D&D® adventure “Egg of the Phoenix” (Mentzer & Jaquays, TSR Inc., 1987).

“It’s time to share this Dungeons & Dragons® world with hobby gamers,” Mentzer says. “Unlike others, Gary approved this personally. Empyrea combines both traditional fantasy and science fiction elements. Magic is dominant, but technology lurks. And it’s one Realm… this isn’t a cluster of medieval city-states like Greyhawk.”

Author Ted Fauster has accepted the role of Creative Aide, which was Mentzer’s original title when he worked with Gygax at TSR in the 1980s.

Mentzer and Darlene will finance the set through crowdfunding, with support from Judges Guild. It will be compatible with the most recent Fifth Edition D&D® game (D&D 5E) as well as Mentzer’s own world-famous “Red Box” edition of the game.

An official start date for the Kickstarter will be announced shortly after the GenCon® 50 Game Convention in August.

For More Information, contact:
Loxley LLC
Fauster :
(Ownership of trademarks indicated is not disputed)

Ted Fauster shared it here.

+Joseph Bloch of Greyhawk Grognard shared it here.


Here’s a video to learn more about +Ted Fauster who is working with +Frank Mentzer on this.

Top Secret: NWO Kickstarter Launched!

TSR has brought back a game with an old name and new rules, Top Secret: New World Order.

The Kickstarter for the new TSR’s Top Secret: New World Order launched last Tuesday. It funded in about 20 minutes and is now over 1,000 backers and nearly six times the goal has been pledged. All limited tiers, except the $5,000 tier where Merle Rasmussen runs a game for you and your friends, are gone.

Merle Rasmussen, author of the original Top Secret and Allen Hammack, auditor of the original, were joined by contributing authors James Carpio, Jayson Elliot, module by Chad Parrish, and Administrator’s Screen by A. J. Davenport. Illustrations are by Cory Gelnett, Hanae Ko, +Satine Phoenix, and Kristoffer Stout.

This is a new game system based on a new rule system called Lucky 13. You can experience a demo of the playtest rules at ConnectiCon next week on Saturday, July 8th, by James Carpio, and at Gamehole Con (Nov. 2nd-5th) on  Friday night of the con, by Chad Parrish.

For this Kickstarter the text is done, as is much of the other work, so it should deliver on time in December, 2017.

This Kickstarter is also funding printing box sets for sale in game stores. A retailer pledge level is planned.

NOTE: TSR is a “new” company. They are the ones behind the former Gygax Magazine, the TSR Podcast Network, and  Wizards of the Coast let the trademark to TSR lapse. They also let the trademark to Top Secret lapse. However, WotC still owns the copyright to the original Top Secret. I have seen lots of comments on various social media asking if the new TSR will be bringing back other titles from the original TSR. I am not aware of any other old TSR titles planned to be revived with new rules. It would not surprise me if that happens at some point down the road.

FYI – I contribute to, so am in the know of a few things, but all that I know about Top Secret:NWO and other games is what is available publicly. I don’t have any other answers. If you have specific questions about Top Secret: NWO, submit them on the Top Secret:NWO Kickstarter page.

Top Secret NWO – Kickstarter Launch Date – June 19

This just in my inbox:

EDIT: The original email indicated that Elder Academy would handle the giveaway. It is actually Elderwood Academy. It has been corrected below.


Top Secret: New World Order launches on Kickstarter June 19th

Hi !

This is Susan from the TSR crew. I want to thank you again for signing up for updates for Top Secret: New World Order, the espionage game from Merle M. Rasmussen. It’s an all-new RPG from the ground up, set in the modern era.

We have a lot of things planned for you over the next month leading up to the Kickstarter, including a giveaway with Elderwood Academy for a unique Top Secret NWO Hex Box for your dice.

Please help us spread the word!

Talk to you soon,
Susan Silver
Director of Community for TSR

Planning for a Kickstarter

I shared a couple of days ago that while at Gary Con IX, I woke up with an idea for a card game that could be good enough to Kickstart. On the drive home, I had an idea for another card game that I think is also good enough to Kickstart. The second one is simpler, and thus I think a better option for a first Kickstarter.

I’ve made a checklist and a price list to determine break even points, i.e the minimum amount for a Kickstarter. I don’t have all the numbers, but it shows how little one actually makes unless the thing goes viral. One should do this for the love of creating and playing games, and not count on it for a living.

I’m interested on feedback on this list. I don’t have all the answers for some points, but I want to make sure that I avoid pitfalls. I have a few specific questions at the end under Input.

Preparation Checklist

Independent of the financial considerations, there are a lot of things to keep in mind.

  • Design, write, & play test the game.
    • Get input from trusted friends who have lots of ideas about such things.
    • Test what pens/inks/pencils will write on blank cards before making first play test deck.
  • Copyright for parts that can be copyrighted.
  • Trademark for the name of the game.
  • LLC or similar for a company to separate my personal assets from it, just in case.
  • NDA to share ideas with others, just in case.
  • Custom URL & Website for game.
  • Use DriveThru Cards for fulfillment, as they can print on demand and do individual shipping.
    • For the Kickstarter itself, can do a bulk order delivered to my home and I do the shipping, within the U.S.
  • Rules – They will need to be polished enough that your play testers understand. You also have to be flexible to revise and change through the course of play testing.
    • Final rules will need to be proofread and edited for a polished presentation free of errors.
  • Cards – For POD a PDF of the cards fronts & backs are needed. If you don’t have the skill to make such a PDF, you will either have to learn it or hire it done.
  • Video – A video showing what it is with an example of play.
    • High quality video is downgraded if placed in the spot Kickstarter gives you. Some place the video below that, linked from YouTube. They put a graphic in the spot Kickstarter offers for a video.
  • Engagement – You will have to engage with backers during the entire run of the Kickstarter and push it on social media. If you don’t work it until the end of the run, it may not fund, or you will miss out on actually making money.
  • Delivery timeline. It must be realistic and have padding for unexpected delays. Make sure that you can deliver no later than that date.
  • Communicate with backers all the way through final fulfillment.
  • People are suspiscious of those who launch a Kickstarter and have never backed any.
    • You should back a few Kickstarters and see how they handle things, so you can see what you liked and didn’t about being on the backer side of things. This will be a good experience so you can avoid customer service pitfalls.
  • Don’t run it too close to the end of the year, that you can’t spend money towards fulfillment, this will reduce the amount of taxes. My model with the $1,000 level shows the effects of waiting until the following year to pay expenses.
  • Minimize changes from Kickstarter coments.
  • Minimize or avoid stretch goals, and only use stretch goals that add value. Such as tuck boxes for card games, or GM screens for TTRPGs.

Cost Checklist

At some point, you will have to spend money, and will need to have very close estimates on costs so that your Kickstarter goal garners enough money to fulfill without finances being an issue. I don’t plan to spend much money on this until I have a play tested game that has the kinks worked out. If it isn’t a fun game and consulting with friends and play testing doesn’t change that, then I know not to sink a lot of time and money into it.

  • If you can afford it, pay all the upfront costs before the Kickstarter so that it is ready to fulfill as soon as the funds are released.
    • Work that Kickstarter every day that it runs to get the word out.
    • Leading up to the Kickstarter let people know you are working on something to help build interest before launch.
      • The quicker a Kickstarter hits the funding level for its goal, the more likely it is to go above and beyond and lead to making decent money.
  • Make backers pay for shipping separately, so none of it comes out of the Kickstarter. That is a cost that can change unexpectedly and is one of the biggest reasons for failed and late Kickstarters. Second only to those that did not start any work until funding. Always do as much work as possible BEFORE launch.
  • $15 for box of 500 blank playing cards from Amazon.
  • $15-$20 for a domain name.
    • If you don’t know how to do your own website, you will need to factor in costs and add it to the Kickstarter.
    • If you do this all yourself, keep track of the hours to determine your final hourly rate.
  • Assume a bare bones $1,000 Kickstarter & pre-existing art and no other costs.
    • Taxes would be about 28.75%, based on being a self-employed effort, instead of the tax benefits of an LLC or similar.
      • NOTE: Research how much the taxes are for this model.
    • Kickstarter & Stripe fees would be 38.75%
    • Total taxes and fees would be $380.50, leaving $619.50 to cover expenses.
  • Low volume & High volume runs. Assume maximum deck size of 120 cards.
    • The only way to decrease cost per card is to shop around for other fulfillment options. Most likely, these will require more effort to handle shipping, etc. So you will need to keep that in mind. How much work do you want to do to complete fulfillment to all backers?
    • Low Volume is less than 5,000 cards at $0.085 each, or $10.20 for a 120 card deck. Plus $1.00 for a plastic deck box. This is $11.20 per deck.
      • 50 decks would cost $560.00. (However, this would be enough cards for high volume printing, is delivered to same address.)
      • The $619.50 left after taxes and fees is further reduced by the $560 for the decks, leaving a net profit of $59.50.
    • High Volume is 5,000 cards or more at $0.06 each, or $7.20 per 120 card deck. Plus $1.00 for a plastic deck box. This is $8.20 per deck.
      • 50 decks would cost $410.00
      • You can only take advantage of this cost if all the decks are shipped to the same location. Add shipping to this location, how much?
      • The $410.00 left after taxes and fees is further reduced by the $560 for the decks, leaving a net profit of $209.50.
      • If shipped to your location, and you do all the hours of work involved, and your hourly rate will soon be negative.
  • If you pay $1,000 for art, you will need to plan for more than $2,000 for the goal, or you will be in the red, due to taxes & fees.
    • The only way to avoid paying for art is to use public domain art, or do it yourself.
    • NOTE: How much for art for 50 cards, for example. Most of the rest would have the same image on them?
      • This requires contacting multiple artists, seeing samples of their work, and working out rights to use their are, or purchasing copyright from them.
      • Assume that they will not do the work until you have the money.
  • If you pay $1,000 for lawyers, you need to plan for more than $3,000 for the goal. Always remember taxes & fees.
    • Depending on where you live, this rate could be high, or way low.
    • You will want to shop around for the best rate.
    • Do research on what you want the lawyers to do for you and gather all the information in an organized fashion, so that they can just do the part of making the legal jargon valid.
  • If you pay $1,000 for editing and layout, then you need to plan for over $4,000 for the goal. Again, there are still taxes & fees.
    • Again, most work will not get done without you having the money.
  • There may be other things you discover as you go that will drastically affect your estimates of costs if you find them AFTER you launch the Kickstarter.
    • Contact others who have run Kickstarters similar to the one you have in mind to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
  • Keep track of all the hours spent at each step from the initial idea to the fulfillment of the Kickstarter and use that to determine your hourly rate of pay base on how much money is left.
    • As should be evident, it is very difficult to get rich or make a lot of money with Kickstarters if you are honest.
    • Enough people in the realm of game related Kickstarters have been burned, and there are those like +Erik Tenkar, of Tenkar’s Tavern, who will point out the flaws in your Kickstarter and steer people away from you.
      • It should be nearly impossible to run a dishonest game related Kickstarter and run off with the money.
  • Backerkit or other site that is used for fulfilling Kickstarters. What is the cost and other requirements for using it?


Did I leave anything out? Do you have experience with game related, and specifically card game Kickstarters? I’m definitely interested in having gaps in my knowledge and experience pointed out.

If you have experience with fulfilling a card game Kickstarter with OBS, or a different vendor, I’d like to hear your take on them.

If you are an artist who has worked on art for card games, or would like to do so, please contact me. I will be contacting some artists to see who is in my price range over the next few weeks. If I can, I’d like to get everything done before

My Plans

For one of my card game ideas, I already have art for the back of the cards. I need to factor in what I paid for that art as part of my profit calculation. I can do simple art or just text for the game mechanics. If I do that, I could make that a version 1, and a second Kickstarter if it takes off for better art. I think a single Kickstarter for the best product and presentation possible is the way to go.

One of my ideas could be expanded to a board game, but I want to keep it simple. I suppose both could be done as board games, but there is less involved with a single deck card game.

I already have 500 blank playing cards that arrived yesterday, and I figured out that sharpie ink dries the fastest to avoid smudges. I built my prototype deck on one game, and am just waiting to play test it with the family. I need 46 to 50 images for cards depending on what we come up with in play testing.

So far, counting this blog article, I have between 5 and 6 hours invested, plus about $20 in materials, and I haven’t yet play tested the game. That puts my mythical $200 in profit down to less than $40/hour. Every additional hour between now and fulfillment further reduces the hourly equivalent, if the game plays as well as I hope, and there is a Kickstarter….. I make about $25 to $28 an hour in my day job, depending on the size of my annual bonus.  Unless I come out of a Kickstarter meeting or exceeding that range, I know I can’t quit my day job anytime soon.

Some of the above time and expenses can be halved, if I end up Kickstarting two card games. As with anything else, doing something the first time helps me see all the things I didn’t know to expect, so any subsequent Kickstarter will be the better for it.

Open Box 500 Blank Cards
Open Box 500 Blank Cards
Ink Test No. 1
Ink Test No. 1
Ink Test No. 2
Ink Test No. 2


There is a lot more planning and preparation for even the simplest of Kickstarters, than most seem to realize. Even if you net several thousand dollars after final fulfillment, how many hours are in that? What is your final hourly rate? Unless one has an idea that goes viral, you probably won’t make more than minimum wage when you divide your net profits by the hours put in. If more than one person is involved in the Kickstarter, it is further divided by each person’s share in the partnership, or whatever it is.

Lazy people looking to get rich quick are in for disappointment. A lot of work and organization is required. If you don’t have organizational skills, you will have a lot to overcome to be successful.

Treat backers like customers, just like any other business. You must be kind, courteous, and responsive. Be proactive an identify problems before they happen.

If you do have a successful small Kickstarter that is fulfilled via OBS (One Bookshelf), then you have the potential for a small automated recurring income over time.

You can also get at cost print runs to take with you to conventions, or see if your local FLGS is interested in carrying them, or let you put up a flyer.

If you have a successful first Kickstarter, you are more likely to have success with following efforts.

The Great Kingdom Mess

Earlier today, I posted an update about the Great Kingdom D&D Documentary Kickstarter, along with an update on all my outstanding Kickstarters.

The first documentary to fund on Kickstarter was Dungeons & Dragons A Documantary. They also have a Facebook page, but it hasn’t been updated since June.

I missed backing this one, and their KS page is still active. However, their last backer update is from January. They do have some active comments. A comment from November 9, 2016 said, “I think it was said early that, at least with The Great Kingdom, the money is in escrow and if they lose all the backers get that money back, since the money wasn’t transferred from KS to the defendants.”

That is good news, and if true, makes me wonder why the only response to my inquiries didn’t get that answer.

My only concern, is that the credit card I used is expired, and the account number changed. How will KS get the money to me?


I don’t care what conflicts these people had amongst themselves. Grow up and make a movie so we get it.

I plan to get my money back somehow. When I do, I will add it to the RPG History Project by Pat Kilbane. Here’s the article I wrote on Multiverse.  I’ve also written about it on this blog here, and here. Fair warning, I like what Pat has done, and will be the biggest cheerleader I can for his efforts. If he gets enough support to speed the process, he could deliver his documentary before the courts settle the dispute between the others.

There is also the Eye of the Beholder: The Art of Dungeons & Dragons. I did not find a Kicstarter for this. I assume they have all the financial backing they need, as I have not seen any mention of crowdfunding for them. I don’t see any mention of a release date.

And the Secrets of Blackmoor movie project. Also on Facebook.  I assume they also have all the financial backing they need, as I have not seen any mention of crowdfunding for them. I don’t see any mention of a release date.


On October 1st, I sent the following email to the Great Kingdom people. It took a while to find a way to contact them. When Kickstarter pulls things down, the only way to contact the creator is through the KS messaging system. I did try sending messages via Kickstarter, but never got an answer.

I don’t remember what google searches I had to use to find the movie’s website. It was there that I found their email address. Since it is so hard to find a way to contact them, I don’t feel that I need to obscure their email address. This will avoid me fielding all the emails asking how to contact them.

To Whom It May Concern,
I sent a message via Kickstarter asking about a refund on October 1, 2017 and have had no response.
I found this email via the internet archive in an attempt to contact you.
I pledged $50.00 and would like my money back ASAP.
Please either refund my money or deliver my pledged reward as indicated in the email below that I received when the project funded and I was charged.
The original ruling by the court,, does not mention anything preventing you from issuing refunds or communicating to your backers.
If you have been barred by the court from issuing refunds, then please communicate this fact, with a link to the court ruling.
If you have been barred by the court from communicating with your backers, then please communicate this fact, with a link to the court ruling.
[My Signature Text.]
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: Kickstarter <>
To: Me
Sent: Sunday, July 20, 2014 11:30 PM
Subject: Thanks to you, The Great Kingdom by The Great Kingdom has been successfully funded!
Thanks to you and 890 other backers, The Great Kingdom has been successfully funded. We will now charge your credit card.
Pledge Summary
Amount pledged: $50.00 USD
Reward: DVD/BluRay + Pre-Release HD Download – You get the Digital Download before everyone else does, plus you get something you can treasure and keep. Think of it as an heirloom to give to your descendants. That is unless DVD/Blu-Ray become obsolete…which will probably never happen. And to sweeten the deal, your name will be listed on our website under the heading “Even More Awesomer People That Helped Get This Movie Made”. $15 extra for International Shipping. (Sorry, International People…we wish it was less expensive).
Estimated delivery: Jul 2015
When your reward is ready, The Great Kingdom will send you a survey via email to request any info needed to deliver your reward (mailing address, T-shirt size, etc).
If you’d like to visit the project page, click here:

I had to send another email before I got a response:

This is he response I got back from Andrew Pascal:

FROM: TheMostEpicGame <>

hi larry –

Outstanding Kickstarters Update

I haven’t posted an update on my Outstanding Kickstarters in a while. I built a spreadsheet in Google Sheets to keep track of them all. I even have a column to remind me which ones I need to review here on the blog. [I’m way behind on reviews….]

I added a bunch of new ones in 2016. I massively failed my save vs. cool things. I am excluding two non-RPG related items.

The Great Kingdom is the one I am most disappointed about. I sent a message a long while ago, and no response. I sent one in the fall asking for a refund, and got a response that they were focused on the litigation.

While the City State of the Invincible Overlord re-print is my oldest outstanding Kickstarter, I am not worried about it. They recently switched to weekly updates about the number of pages added to the layout. They made a lot of mistakes in not having the work done first, and adding minis. However, I think that was a hard learned lesson, and they are moving forward to completion.

I read the Schlock Mercenary web comic. I backed for the book THE SEVENTY MAXIMS OF MAXIMALLY EFFECTIVE MERCENARIES. There are a couple variations on the book, and the one I want is now supposed to ship in February.

Metamorphosis Alpha: Epsilon City last updated that they have printer proofs, so there will be delivery at some point in the nearish future.

The Marmoreal Tomb had some delays due to health of both creators, and some other unexpected delays. There are updates, but it is not as clear what is outstanding, nor how soon to completion.

My final four outstanding Kickstarters are all slated for delivery in 2017, so none of them are late. Unless something unexpected occurs, I expect them to all be on time. They are either experienced users of Kickstarter, or a newbie who asked all the right questions from the start.

Lairs & Encounters 12/28/2016 Mar 2016 12/19/2016 Last update about shipping. One person online posted a picture of theirs.
Dungeon Grappling RPG Supplement 12/06/2016 Apr 2017 12/22/2016 Backerkit Survey
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2E 11/20/2016 Aug 2017 12/19/2016
Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook 3rd Printing 11/07/2016 Jan 2017 12/14/2016
Worldographer: Hexographer 2 – Easy Map/World Creator 09/14/2016 Feb 2017 12/01/2016
Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.’s Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter 09/02/2015 Mar 2016 12/06/2106 Last update about maps.
Metamorphosis Alpha: Epsilon City 09/02/2015 Mar 2016 12/23/2016 Last update about printer proofs.
The Planet Mercenary Role Playing Game 05/18/2015 May 2016 12/20/2016 I only backed the 70 Maxims Book.
The Great Kingdom 07/20/2014 Jul 2015 Unknown     In Litigation with the other D&D Documentary.
City State of the Invincible Overlord 04/23/2014 Nov 2014 12/22/2016 Weekly Updates last few weeks. Layout page count updates, etc.

Dungeon Grappling – A Review

I am honored that based on my review of the grappling rules in +Tim Short’s The Manor #8, +Doug Cole asked me to review the current grappling rules for the Dungeon Grappling Kickstarter as is.

I can confirm that the layout is complete with placeholders for all of the art. The Table of Contents and Index are not yet finished.

Doug confirmed to me that he has taken +Erik Tenkar’s Kickstarter suggestions to heart, and learned from other successful Kickstarters. With no physical product, this PDF only offering will be very easy to deliver once the art is complete.

The one thing that concerned me as soon as I opened the file was that it has a background color/image, but it is faded to the point of no issue where text is concerned. The text is legible on both my computer’s LED monitor and the glass screen of my tablet. Those of us with aging eye will appreciate that.

This paragraph early in the PDF gives the whole reason for such supplemental rules.

Grappling rules do not have to suck the fun out of a
game. The key is to take rules that are usually well
developed and understood, and not fight the base
mechanical system when it’s time to grapple. All of
this is in service to the story, contributing to a sense
of action, excitement, and danger. If the rules get in
the way, or if the mechanics do not produce interesting
outcomes, then why bother?

Scattered throughout the text are quotes from 16th century combat manuals, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and other stories about wrestling and grappling.

As one who loves history, I know that knights in full plate were afraid of being pinned and approached with weapons designed or suited for the gaps in their armor. The current growth of medieval martial arts touches on more than just waving weapons, but using them and one’s body to take down their opponents. One can easily find such things on YouTube.

Grappling applies to characters, NPC’s, animals, and monsters.

I was asked on G+, “What rules systems does it use?” It is aimed at the original game, but applies to any version, variant, and clone.

Chapter 1 – Core Concepts

  • Grappling actions use the same dice and mechanics as the rules for weapons.
  • 3 Concepts: Attack Roll, Defense Target Number, and Effects
  • Grapple Difficulty Class (DC) – Basically Armor Class for grabs.
    • Factor in strength & dexterity and level.
    • Characters and Monsters have different calculations
  • There is a basic calculation and then options based on different abilities, and different rules.
    • Dexterity, PFRPG, Fifth Edition, and Acrobatics
    • Feats and Class Features are also mentioned.
      • New 5e feats are presented for consideration.
      • Suggestions for PFRPG feats are given.
  • Control Points are analogous to Hit Points, and are based on hit dice, but are not the same as HP.
  • One handed grappling, such as using a dagger in the other hand is addressed.

Chapter 2 – Grappling Effects

The goal of grappling is to gain control and force consequences on one’s opponent. Such as being pinned in a wrestling match.

Control Points are explained as counting up from zero instead of being reduced from a maximum. As CP increases, effects such as grabbed, grappled, restrained, etc. occur. There is a Control Point Effects table that lists the effects of different degrees of CP.

The Control Maximum (CM) is the most CP a target can take before being incapacitated. There are two options for the base rules, and an option for 5e, and one for PFRPG. In the base rules, one has 10 CP plus or minus modifiers. There is a bit different for 5e & PFRPG.

The Control Point Effects table and its explanation gives spell casters a chance to cast spells in various lesser states of being grappled. That’s not to my taste, but as an old school player, I don’t have an issue ignoring a rule. However, as I read the explanation, I can see that grabbed might not ruins some spells. I’ll have to think more about that.

There is also an Attacking Grappler Effects table. It lists the effects of grappling an opponent. For example, wrapping one’s arms and legs around an opponent causes the grappler to also be immobile for the duration of that grapple.

The section on Instant Conditions discusses how to grapple a foe and gain control instantly.

There is a list of conditions specific to 5e, and a list specific to PFRPG.

Chapter 3 Grappling Techniques

Means of ending the fight: points (like a wrestling match), fight-ending position, change foe’s position, inflict pain, render unconscious, injury, kill.

One can tell that the author has experience with wrestling and martial arts by some of the descriptions. This takes verisimilitude and applies it to the system without breaking the system. A very rare thing.

Wrestling for items is also mentioned.

Size is also important and refers the reader to Monstrous Grappling. My brother had a large weight advantage to me in high school. While walking down the hall he’d shove me and I’d go across the hall. I’d try shoving him, and I moved more than he did.

The sued of weapons and magic is also covered. Some weapons, like whips are designed to grapple. Entangle is used as an example of a spell with grappling effects.

Chapter 4 Monstrous Grappling

This quote exactly describes why monsters would grapple:

But many creatures, especially beasts, aren’t trying
to kill you because your alignment is different than
theirs is, or they’re acting on orders from the evil
Foom the Woc God. They’re trying to kill you because
they’re hungry, and for whatever reason, you look
like a moveable feast.

An example of how to convert a monster with a system that doesn’t have all the information in its stats block as some systems, shows how easily one can implement this system on the fly. A later example shows how converting an early edition ogre gives a similar CP value as using the 5e formula. This indicates that the author has a quick, flexible, and accurate solution to determining this value.

There is a size adjustment table that illustrates how size inhibits or enhances the effectiveness of a particular creature at grappling.

Tiny and small creatures get a table for how much lower their control damage is due to their lesser strength.

Finally, this chapter concludes with ten sample monsters using PFRPG, S&W, and 5e variants. There are representative monsters for each of those systems, but not a listing of each of those monsters in all three systems.

My take – This is something that has been needed in RPG’s for a long time. The Grappling Rules in AD&D are notoriously challenging to implement in play. The short and simple system introduced in Manor #8 is expanded in these pages. It gives a bare bones system and adds options and touches on how it can be used in specific systems. The basic rules will work for variations of the original game and clones, as well as later editions and variants of the original game.

The system is built on a basis of normal combat resolution. I like this approach. Use what is there instead of building a new system that doesn’t feel right. Another good example of this is what +James Spahn did in White Star with vehicle combat using the same format as individual combat.

I can’t think of a situation not explicitly covered in these rules. I wrestled a lot with my brothers growing up

Caveats – I don’t know the 5e rules – I’m way behind on reading them. I don’t have PFRPG, and never played so I can’t comment on how well these rules fit those systems.

I didn’t have time to do a test of these rules as part of this review. However, based on the similarities to regular combat in AD&D, this looks to be a useful replacement for those grappling rules.

What I’d like to see – These are all fitting for the end of the PDF.

  • One page with all the tables
  • A summary of the suggested calculations for each rule variant.
  • A listing of the various conditions and effects.
  • These later additions in black & white for clean & simple printing.
  • A Black & white option for the entire PDF for printing whether at home or a print shop.

A five dollar buy-in for the PDF is a definite bargain. Pledge to the Kickstarter if you’re interested.