Category Archives: Kickstarter

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 Multiverse.world.  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 Multiverse.world, 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-logo-HAT

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?

Input

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

Conclusion

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?

MY DESIRE

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.

THE EMAIL CHAIN

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
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, https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/ViewDocument?docIndex=8P/vidy_PLUS_U4yq5ACBctSZVw==, 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 <no-reply@kickstarter.com>
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!
Congratulations!
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
Shipping:
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:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/720223857/the-great-kingdom?ref=email

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

This is he response I got back from Andrew Pascal:

FROM: TheMostEpicGame <themostepicgame@gmail.com>

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.

PROJECT DATE FUNDED PROMISED DELIVERY DATE LAST COMMUNICATION DELIVERED REVIEWED ON BLOG? NOTE
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.

The S’Rulyan Vaults – Kickstarter Received

The S’Rulyan Vaults is the third Kickstarter that I have received the reward in the last week. All of them have been well focused on a short delivery window after fulfillment. S’Rulyan Vaults funded on May 14, with a target delivery of July, 2016. I received mine on May 23rd.

This Kickstarter was unusual in that it had a single pledge level of $5, and is strictly a PDF. It includes two version of the map in old school blue and a parchment style map by Glenn Seal of Monkeyblood Design. There is also a character sheet by James V. West. Interior art and the cover are by Bojan Sucevic. The PDF is a description of a dungeon and lots of tables for what is going on in various locations/aspects of the dungeon.

The PDF is a mini-setting with snake men as the bad guys. The tables each serve a function to help make the adventure different each time it is played.  I like the things the tables do. Some of these tables are for presenting magic items, but in addition to a +x weapon, there is an additional description to make it not just a magic weapon or item.

Glenn’s maps are awesome and the PDF is well designed. The tables are focused on keeping the dungeon “alive”. These tables have ideas that one could use in any dungeon/OSR setting. The character sheet is one of several that James shared on G+ several weeks ago. Interior illustrations are very nice and help set the tone.

One could use this as a stand-alone adventure, or use it as an introduction to the recurring snake men, or the upper level of a megadungeon.

Unlike most dungeons, there are no room numbers or map key. There is a d100 table to roll for what is found on the search of a room. I find this idea interesting, and it will further server to make each foray into the dungeon unique. That is one way to make a dungeon come alive without the tedious task of re-stocking. It also allows GM’s to make it their own and populate as they see fit. One can just as easily run it real time, or roll each room in advance of play.

It definitely gives me some ideas for how to approach my own adventure design to make things flexible across both systems and personal preference of the GM.

The S’Rulyan Vaults is available on RPGNow for $7.00.

 

New Big Dragon GM Screen – Another Fulfilled Kickstarter

My order for the New Big Dragon Classic Edition GM Screen Kickstarter came in the mail today. It is quite the hefty package. I’d guess it weight about as much as my AD&D Player’s Handbook. The tables are geared towards 0D&D/Holmes/BX/Labrynth Lord/Swords & Wizardry/Delving Deeper and other similar clones.

The estimated delivery date is June, 2016, and I got mine on May 23, 2016. This is how you do a Kickstarter!

It was well wrapped in a plastic envelope and cardboard shipping box. The contents of the box were tightly shrink wrapped together.

Box
Box

 

Shrink Wrapped
Shrink Wrapped

As with all the other things Richard LeBlanc has done, the text is clear and easily readable. Thanks to public domain art, it has some very cool illustrations.

There is a nice thank you page on the same heavy card stock as other items, signed by Richard and his colleague, David Wellborn.

Thank You Page
Thank You Page

Similarly, there is the obligatory page for the OGL (Open Gaming License).

OGL
OGL

Next are two booklets. One for a collection of cleric spells, up to 5th level, and the other magic-user and elf spells up to 6th level. The booklets were shipped flat for better condition on arrival. This requires the user to fold them. I need to by a bone folder, as I have gotten several items like this, and manage to never fold them straight.

Cleric Spells Cover
Cleric Spells Cover
Cleric Spells Interior
Cleric Spells Interior
Magic User Spells Cover
Magic User Spells Cover
Magic User Spells Interior
Magic User Spells Interior

There are character sheets, one generic, and one for each class: Cleric, Elf, Dwarf, Fighter, Halfling, Magic-User, and Thief.  These are heavy card stock, and very nice. I hate to write on them. I’m considering having them laminated so I can re-use them….

Character Sheets
Character Sheets

There is also a spell record sheet and a character log sheet for the GM to keep track of a party. These sheets are also of durable card stock.

Spell Record Sheet
Spell Record Sheet
Character Log Sheet
Character Log Sheet

There is a Game Master’s Table Reference Document with all of the tables on the GM screen.

GM's Table Reference Document
GM’s Table Reference Document

Finally, there is the two part GM screen. Only one section of the screen has player facing tables for experience points for each class, and ability bonuses and penalties.

One screen has the combat sequence, game turn and game day sequence, the saving throws for each class, attack tables, missile ranges, AC by armor type, variable weapon damage, monster reactions and XP, clerics turning, and thief abilities. One handy table is the special abilities by class. It shows the armor, weapons, and shields allowed by each class, if there is infravision, and other notes. The cleric turning table is repeated on the cleric spell sheet.

Screen 1
Screen 1

The other screen has retainers and hirelings with details on recruiting retainers (henchmen), cost for mercenaries and specialists. The movement and encumbrance section has indoor and outdoor movement and pursuit rules. Finally, there is cost of weapons and equipment, and treasure tables. To me, it makes sense to have weapons and equipment on the player side of the screen, but this is something the GM also often needs.

Screen 2
Screen 2

I can’t think of anything that I am always wanting at my finger tips at the table. All RPG designers should keep in mind the most used tables in their game and have a section or appendix with all the most used tables.

The flip side of the character sheets are blank. The only thing I would think to add to them would be the equipment and encumbrance lists. I think that is a minor point.

This offering is high quality. In some ways, it is almost too pretty to use. However, I will endeavor to get over that concern and use it when I run 0D&D or one of its clones.

This Kickstarter includes PDFs of all the items. Once the Kickstarter is shipped, I am sure it will be available on RPGNow, if you are interested.

You can follow Richard’s Blog, Save Vs. Dragon here.

World Architect Cards – A Kickstarter Has Arrived!

Yesterday’s mail had the fulfillment of my pledge to the World Architect Cards. I pledged at the level for a deck of World Architect Cards, and Dungeon Architect Cards, as I missed the Dungeon Architect Cards Kickstarter. It also includes a PDF of the deck and all stretch goals. This arrived May 20, 2016, and the stated delivery date on the Kickstarter is for September, 2016. Way to go and deliver ahead of time!

Packed Tight
Packed Tight

 

The Kickstarter was ran by Simian Circle Games, developer of Far Away Land. World Architect Cards is the fouth Kickstarter for Simian Circle Games, and the third to be funded. It took two tries to get Dungeon Architect Cards funded. Far Away Land did not grab my interest, and I missed the DAC Kickstarters. The WAC Kickstarter grabbed my interest.

DAC & WAC Side By SideDAC & WAC Side By Side

I’ve been busy with work and other real life concerns, so I didn’t open it until today. The box used was the right height to hold each deck and the width and length were packed with foam peanuts to hold both decks firmly in place. The tape job on the box plus the label placement hid exactly how the box opened. So I knew the contents should be in good condition.

DAC Back of Box & Instruction Card
DAC Back of Box & Instruction Card on Top of Deck

The Dungeon Architect Cards is a deck of 54 cards with 53 DA cards and one instruction card. The tuck box is unlike any I have seen before, and makes for a tight fit to get the cards out. After taking the deck out a few times, I can already tell that I want a different box. I’ll stop by the FLGS and get a plastic box.

 

DAC - Showing Box Construction
DAC – Showing Box Construction – You can slide a card or something through that flap.

The DA Cards have a room on each side and each side has 12 descriptive words. You draw a card, pick which side to use by choice or coin flip, put it on your map with a description and decide which door to use for the next room, and repeat. There are cards for room, odd shaped rooms, corridors, and intersections.

There are five other cards that are not rooms. The five cards are Dungeon Lore, Settlement, Wilderness, Traps, and Treasure. They suggest ways to flesh out the dungeon and its surrounding area with categories of information and words for each category. For example, the Traps card has trap type, triggers, location, danger level, disarm difficulty, effects, and disarm by. These five cards alone can be used to help generate dungeons and their surrounding area across your map.

Unlike the DA Cards, the World Architect Cards were shrink wrapped and in a standard tuck box and the cards were easy to remove. There are 72 cards with 71 WA cards and one instruction card. I have the stretch goal deck, the way the rewards on the KS read, there is a 54 card standard deck for some pledge levels.

WAC - Front of box and Front of Instruction Card
WAC – Front of box and Front of Instruction Card

WAC provide locations that are either biomes (forests, desert, mountains, etc.) or builds (castles, bridges, mines, etc.). Each card is double sided, so 71 cards have 142 locations. There are a list of 15 descriptive words and a d6 option for weather. These cards can be used to create area maps, world maps, or random maps for hex crawls or being transported to a new location suddenly. One could also use them to describe illusions.

WAC - Back of box and Front of Instruction Card
WAC – Back of box and Front of Instruction Card

Some of the locations in the WAC deck are dungeons, so you can use DAC cards to build the dungeon.

Need a quick five room dungeon? Then draw five cards from the DAC deck. Or however many rooms you need.

I have an interesting idea for an experimental campaign. I will do a map and randomly place dungeons and then use the DAC and WAC decks to connect it all. I’m thinking a die drop table using d6’s and the number on the d6 is the location of the dungeon entrance on a hex map. I’ll pick a method to generate the number of dungeons over the map, and a method for how many rooms they have. I’m thinking I’ll use a desk pad for the drop so that their aren’t too many too close together. I don’t have hex paper that big so I’ll use a section of Gaming Paper. This experiment will give me a way to evaluate both decks in a way that will be useful for future use.

I don’t have time to implement this idea at the moment. I need to clean out my garage so I can get my kayak down and enjoy the lake now that the sun is shining.

EDIT: I found that Far Away Land has a YouTube Channel and they have this video on how to use the World Architect Cards.

Grimtooth’s Traps Finally Arrives

My Grimtooth’s Traps hardbound 460 page book finally arrived. I pledged $50 for the basic hardback.

05-20160328_130230

 

06-0160328_130145

July, 2015 was the original estimated delivery date. I received mine on March 28, 2016. It was good to finally mark that off as received. I have two other Kickstarters older than the rest I am waiting on. Only one of which, the City State re-print by Judges Guild, do I expect to eventually get the promised items. The other is in legal limbo the D&D Documentary #2.

It came well packaged to not bounce around in the box. A big plus compared to a couple of other orders from the Goodman Games website. There is some cool art on the box (not pictured), but the mailing label went smack in the middle of the big graphic, so it’s ruined. I am curious what it looked like pre-label.

It is the same height as my AD&D Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide combined. The Grimtooth cover is slightly wider, maybe 1/8″.

Three Core Books for AD&D vs. Grimtooth's Traps
Three Core Books for AD&D vs. Grimtooth’s Traps

My DCC 3rd printing is also 460 pages, but Grimtooth’s is slightly thicker, whether due to heavier paper or a thicker cover, I’m not sure.

The DCC cover is the same size.
The DCC cover is the same size.
DCC is almost as thick as Grimtooth's Traps.
DCC is almost as thick as Grimtooth’s Traps.

It appears to be well constructed, and of good quality.

I’m sure there are a lot of interesting bits in here. However, I’m not going to be reading through it just yet, as I have a bit of a backlog. I never had the original books. I only jumped in as I thought it was an interesting bit of nostalgia to have. In hindsight, I probably wouldn’t have pledged.  I really need to be more selective in my purchases.

I may do a review in the future when I have a smaller backlog of things on my plate.