Apr 172015

There’s only one Kickstarter that I’m currently backing this month and I haven’t seen any others that have caught my eye enough to warrant an honourable mention. So, I’m going to cover the one I am backing and then review how Kickstarter has worked for me over the last few years that I’ve been backing projects.

photo-originalRPG Card Decks: NPCs, Creature Ecologies, Adventures (ends April 21)

RPG card decks: one with a mini-adventure on each card, a deck of NPCs & a deck of ecology info creature cards. I backed their last Kickstarter, the Creature & Encounter RPG Card Decks, a couple years ago and received pdfs of about 270 creature cards and 108 encounter cards for $15. A pretty good deal.

I enjoy in particular the creature cards, which, like Paizo’s Face cards, I use extensively in my games to show players what a particular NPC or creature looks like. My players love them and I’m always searching for more, especially since Paizo seems to be slowing on producing Face card decks.

For this Kickstarter, Inkwell is producing another creature deck, another encounter deck and an NPC Portraits deck. Woo hoo! For $5, you get a pdf of one of these decks or all a pdf of three for $14. That works for me!

Kickstarter Retrospective

I came to the party late with my first Kickstarter pledge in late 2012. It was the first Reaper miniatures Kickstarter, in which nearly 18,000 backers pledged almost $3.5 million. Most pledges were for the $100 “Vampire set” and after all the stretch goals, backers received about 237 figures, which works out to about $0.42 per figure. Can’t beat that deal and so it hooked me into the stretch goal addiction that is Kickstarter.

cairn interior testThat year, I backed five more Kickstarters, one for terrain products, two RPGs, one RPG supplement and a documentary about D&D. I didn’t do great that first year, as one of them failed (Cairn), only later to be picked up by SoulJar Games (who amazingly finished the game and provided it to backers, well done!) and the other one, the D&D Documentary, has become embroiled in a major legal battle, remains unfinished a year after its planned release date and has no end date in sight.

Nevertheless, the next year, I leapt into Kickstarter with both feet backing 31 projects over the course of the year. Mostly they were new RPGs (10), RPG supplements (10), gaming terrain (8), as well as a couple for miniatures (including Reaper Bones II) and one art project that I couldn’t resist (Dogs Playing D&D).

None of these have failed yet, but I am waiting on five of them still, which are all late, some up a year and a half late. I’m only worried about one that might fail though. I should note that they have all tried to keep their backers up to date through the various delays to varying degrees.

119321-thumb140Out of these Kickstarters though, I have gained some amazing terrain for my games, I launched a campaign in the world of Weird Wars Rome and have some great accessories for my games, as well a great poster for my wall. I’m happy with all of them. If not for Kickstarter, I most likely might have bought one or two of the RPGs through a brick and mortar store or through DrivethruRPG and probably would never have seen the terrain or RPG support materials for sale unless I attended a major convention like Gen Con. The deals on Kickstarter were good enough to draw me in to check out products that I normally might not have given a second look.

In 2014, I backed 28 Kickstarters. They were mostly RPGs (12), RPG supplements (8) and terrain for my games (5). I also backed a card game for my daughter and a toy for the kid in me (Spawn of Cthulhu action figure). Out of these, fifteen have been delivered, six are not due yet and the remaining are late by around six months or so.

Again, these Kickstarters introduced me to some great new games and provided a forum to purchase terrain for my games otherwise unavailable and some great material about gaming. None have failed yet, but I’m not expecting any to fail. They’re all keeping me updated regularly and are fairly close to completion.

Now, we’re mid-April 2015, and I’ve already backed twelve Kickstarters. This time five are for RPG support materials (adventures or support materials for adventures), three for game terrain, two for RPGs, one board game and one card game. Only one has been delivered (on time!), the rest are due later this year or early next year. I’m excited about them and pleased with my pledges. Again, I’m feeling confident that all of them should be fine, though some may be a little late.


Overall, Kickstarter has allowed me to access more for my games for my dollar. Yes, I’m probably spending more than I would normally, but the stretch goals generally result in the value of materials I have received for that money far and away outweighs it.

I have been luckier than some with only one partial failure out of 77 projects. The average delay has been about six months so far, which will no doubt climb as releases continue to be pushed back. I also suspect that at least one or two of the outstanding projects could fail. That’s not the end of the world to me though, as RPG releases have always been unpredictable. It is more so with Kickstarter, but not unbearably so.

My luck with RPGs and RPG support materials might have to do with picking companies that are either established, present as professional or already have the product ready and only need lay-out and art. Or it could just be I’ve been lucky.

Terrain and miniatures are a little trickier. There have been some great deals offered by new companies that are a lot riskier. The amounts involved tend to be higher and, especially when their Kickstarter is too successful, producing the product quickly enough can be overwhelming for these new entrants.

In this respect, I have seen one Kickstarter deliver its rewards and then promptly go out of business, another is struggling to complete its backer rewards over a year later and I suspect may also go under before or immediately after completion (hopefully after I receive my rewards though!). Others have struggled to get their products out, but did manage to do so and are now doing fairly well, either having further Kickstarters or maintaining a business providing their products. And then, of course, there’s Dwarven Forge, which is rocking the whole industry.

I haven’t ventured far outside of tabletop RPGs and related products, so can’t comment on those, but in this industry, it is definitely the way to go. There is a risk to it, but overall, it’s been quite a successful way to get more bang for your buck and to expand your gaming horizons in ways that I could never have dreamed of three years ago.

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Justin Schmid

Justin started tabletop gaming in 1983 with Basic D&D (red box) and never looked back. He runs and plays in a wide variety of games, including Savage Worlds, Dungeon World, Trail of Cthulhu and many, many more. He also writes professionally for role-playing games, including writing and creating Night's Edge an Alternate Reality Universe for Cyberpunk 2020. He went on to write eight more adventures and sourcebooks in the Night's Edge line, adding vampires and other supernatural perils to the already dangerous world of Cyberpunk. As a freelance writer, he wrote The Bermuda Triangle for Call of Cthulhu, Shadows of the Mind, and Psi Wars for Conspiracy X and contributed to Last Unicorn's Star Trek RPG, as well as to Cybergeneration sourcebooks, and many other games. When he's not creating imaginary worlds for his daughter, he's running games for his friends and writing new adventures or designing new game systems. He currently lives in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.

  4 Responses to “Confessions of a Kickstarter Junkie: April Roundup and Retrospective”

  1. Hey Justin;

    I just got into this KS https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/burningyeti/the-lost-dungeons-of-xon-an-innovative-rpg-adventu While I’m not a fan of any of the games that the adventure is designed for (D&D, 3.5 and 5.0) I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to ‘bash’ them into Savage Worlds without too many problems. I like the idea of how they are presenting the adventure and am hoping that this will get other mission/campaign makers to follow suit.

  2. That one looks pretty interesting. I like the presentation as well and will be checking it out further. Thanks for the tip!

  3. The card decks seem nice. I’ve surely spent a lot of time searching for images on the interwebs…

  4. There’s always my kickstarter too, which needs backers… I’m attempting to develop Labyrinth Lord as a computer game. Here is the URL… https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/552978902/labyrinth-lord-the-computer-game

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