Kickstarter and RPGs

I've got to write up a billion coherent, interesting, and self-consistent rooms before the session on Wednesday so naturally I'm not doing that. Instead you get an opinion post.

Since the crazily successful Dwimmermount Kickstarter, everybody's been getting on board, and everyone's been yabbing about how this is great because it removes risk from the publisher.

I'm baffled by that.  What risk?  There is almost no risk with print-on-demand.  All you cough up for up-front is art.  Nobody needs a Kickstarter to put an RPG product out there.

So why do people do it?  For the mad phat l00tz!  And then they dance around that fact, presumably to avoid alienating the customer base.

My points?  It's not that I dislike Kickstarter.  I'd do it if I wanted a super-high-quality hardcover print run that print-on-demand couldn't provide, but there's no way I want to be an order fulfillment center.  So no Kickstarter for me.  Shipping books is not something I want to make a lifestyle out of.

Rather, my point is that pretending a Kickstarter project is about anything but making the "big bucks" (well "slightly bigger" bucks may be more accurate) is balogna, and I do a mental facepalm when I read otherwise.  Print-on-demand has already lowered the cost of publishing to near-zero.

Now that I've had my rant, I'll defang it by saying that I'm not thinking of anyone specifically, this is entirely based on overall impressions over the past few months, and if you think I'm calling you out, I'm really not.  I like commerce and approve of it.  I'm selling stuff right now!


  1. I agree about kickstarter and i am very glad you are not going that route.

    ASE1 is one of only two OSR type products I have bought and the only one I really dig.

    Patiently waiting for ASE2!



  2. The only reason why I want to start indiegogo campaign one day is fact that I want to pay my artists and editors. I have several great people here who help me with their artwork but unfortunately I can't afford to pay them.

  3. I myself am becoming more and more disenchanted with Kickstarter. The wait times seem to be getting longer and longer between the time a project closes and when the item is received. I am not even sure that the quality between Lulu and what is received is dramatically different enough to warrant that as a reason to go the Kickstarter route. In my humble opinion any more the reason might be to make sure I am going to make enough money to do the creative work before I do it. That is fine for some but I getting art on commission is one thing but games and modules is entirely another for m.

  4. You some up my thoughts on the matter pretty much exactly. For projects that would be prohibitively expensive, I say go for it (I would consider it for a comic project before an rpg one, as the art costs are necessarily much higher), but otherwise let's let people pay after there's a finished product.

  5. Wait - Trey and Pat I think you two need to join forces for the biggest most gonzo kickstarter megadungeon of all time! Thousands of rooms of candy palaces, space elves and gorilla based monsters. Then when you get the first million you can hire Zak S. and/or Barlowe for the art - or just only make rpg product for 3 years straight.

    I totally agree re kickstarter - not saying its bad, but I think its overplayed lately and largely unnecessary as ASE and some of the other great projects show.

  6. Stop a second.

    If you want to put something out there, your own work, nothing is stopping you. Write it up, do the layout, if you do any, and put whatever art you can create in there.

    But, if you need to pay a printer, *artists* and writers, then a crowdfunding project is very different.

    Step back a second and think it over.

    If you need to pay an artist or writer then you need that money before you can start to print on demand, or eevn create that document from which the POD copy will be made!!

    Sure, it has been a little much lately with crowdfundings left and right. But, things like a long time from funded project to final copy is dependent on how the project owner set things up. If you dislike the wait, don't contribute to projects which aren't ready to go to the printer...

    1. Art doesn't cost that much, and how much you "need" is fairly variable. Beyond the cover art, nothing else is especially necessary.

      There was a lot of amateur product coming out before Kickstarter, the notion that now Kickstarter is necessary just isn't true.

    2. Sure, it's not "necessary", but for some things it sure makes it easier. Some publishers don't own the text, to say nothing of the art.

      Also, art do cost a lot if you pay decent rates. The same is true for text.

      But sure, lot of stuff did get published without crowdfunding, and some still will be. I'm not arguing against that.

  7. I dislike as customer the narrow window of time of getting aboard crowdfunded projects and slight impairment of judgement it might give me since normally I think about matters on glacial space.

    There is crowdfunded projects I absolute think belong there like for example finnish language beginners game that is bold enough to try to break gaming back to mainstream, I really can't see it securing funds other way easily than taking the hat to hand and asking local gaming community.

    I do think it is great that you are doing POD as I know I wont miss ASE2 by missing a campaign announcement and getting the money in limited window of time.