The Lazy Gamer

81391af9b3cf660f8386f934e1d06577_originalOkay, so I’m talking about Kickstarter so much this week, you’d think I had stocks in the company. *checks portfolio again* Still nope. But there is just so much cool stuff I can’t get away. And when that cool thing is locally made, how can I not support it? I can’t not, that’s how! (English is my gooder speaked language)

The Lazy Gamer is a new product from Edmonton-based company Team Tabletop. As the name suggests, the Lazy Gamer is a “lazy susan” for gamers; it sits in the center of your gaming table and allows you to turn the board to face specific players. It currently comes in two styles, perfect for a variety of board game sizes, and the construction on it looks solid, with a side of bad-ass. Both styles boast a 1.25-inch clearance from the table, which means players can still lay out their cards on the table surface without fear they’ll be swept away as the Lazy Gamer turns. This looks like a beautiful and elegant solution to the space problem facing a lot of gamers.

And the price point isn’t bad, either. If you live here in Edmonton, or are close enough to come and pick up, the smaller Baron will run you $140, while the larger Goliath is only $30 more. If you need to have it shipped, obviously there’s shipping costs on top of that, and they’ve provided estimates on the campaign page. But I honestly think this is such a good deal, it will be the very rare local board gamer who won’t try to jump on this deal. I did, minutes after I first heard about it. Yes, I am weak.

So check it out. You’ve got 29 more days to decide, and the project is already fully funded so it will happen. I’m curious to see what stretch goals come as the numbers climb. And I’m seriously debating whether I need a second one…

Happy ‘Read an RPG Book in Public Week’!

readrpgs-anibuttonAs made up holidays go, I prefer them nerdy and fun. So Read an RPG Book in Public Week, an artificial construct of The Escapist, fits my criteria perfectly. As an introvert, sometimes reading RPG books is as fun as playing RPGs, and I can spend hours reading even bad ones. So at some point this week let your geek flag fly and post a picture of yourself reading an RPG book in public. Or don’t, I’m not the DM of you (and if I am the DM of you, I’ll give you extra XP for posting).

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Last week I posted about some RPG projects burning up Kickstarter, and I asked anyone who had or knew of a cool RPG Kickstarter campaign to contact me.To my great surprise someone did! Even better, the Kickstarter campaign I was contacted about was pretty cool so I’m happy to talk about it.

World Architect Cards is the newest offering from Simian Circle Games, and a follow-up to their popular Dungeon Architect Cards. This deck of 54 cards allows the busy GM to quickly build overland features for your world on the fly. Alternately, you can use the deck to help build your campaign world, adjusting the results as you like and allowing the deck to inspire you.

I backed it, so I’m looking forward to getting both decks, World and Dungeon. I’m always on the hunt for cool little RPG products which make my GMing life easier. Next to dice, GM and player aids are my big weakness. I can get a big, thick RPG book and be content; give me some little GMing aid and I will fiddle with that for hours, giddy like a kid. So naturally I recommend World Architect Cards, and I look forward to taking them out for a spin.

What are you backing on Kickstarter these days? Drop a comment and let me know.

Kickstarter is RPG Hot!

cropped-chibi-brent.jpgI’m not going to waste time explaining Kickstarter; you know what it is, and if you don’t a few clicks of the mouse can educate you. If you’ve been paying attention to Kickstarter lately, you may have noticed that it is bursting with sweet RPG goodness recently. In case you haven’t been following along, here’s what should have your attention:

7th Sea: Second Edition –  7Th Sea was a surprise hit when it first came out in 1999 and quickly amassed a loyal following. This rollicking RPG of high seas and piracy languished somewhat in the intervening years, however. With the rules firmly back in the hands of its creator, John Wick, the opportunity has been seized to Kickstart a second edition. And well seized it is; the Kickstarter campaign for 7th Sea: Second Edition is on its way to becoming the highest grossing RPG Kickstarter campaign in the history of the crowdfunding site. If you are at all interested in this game, you need to jump on-board before the campaign ends on March 13. The lowest pledge level ($20) gets you the PDF of the rulebook, but for just $40 you get PDFs of all the books unlocked during the campaign (currently 7 additional books), plus the entire 1st edition PDF collection. That’s $300-400 worth of sourcebooks for one-tenth the price. You’d be a foolish lubber not to sign on and set sail with this campaign!

Pugmire Fantasy Tabletop RPG – Sometimes an RPG premise catches my fancy, and I can’t not back it. Pugmire RPG is such a game. Created by Eddy Webb, he describes it as, “…Lord of the Rings meets Planet of the Apes, but with dogs.” Set in the far future, in the ashes of a world man destroyed, Pugmire is the largest of the kingdoms ruled by caninekind. This family-friendly RPG sees you playing the pup of your choice, as you fight horrific monsters in a never-ending quest to be a Good Boy. Closing on March 8th, the campaign has already reached its goal and blown past some enticing stretch-goals and add-ons. These include dice, a GM’s Screen, a set of 13 pins, a shirt, fiction, and bunch of adventures and supplements. If you loved the dog from Up!, chances are you’ll love this game.

Conan Roleplaying Game – In the fine tradition of mining the past for RPG gold, Modiphius Entertainment is bringing us role-playing in the Hyborian Age. Obviously your excitement for this new version of a Conan RPG will depend on how much you enjoy Conan and his savage sword. But there is a lot of love for the sword and sorcery style of Robert E. Howard, and a few of us remember with fondness the Conan RPG from TSR. While I am tempted to grab some hardcovers from the Kickstarter, the material is shipping from England, which does temper that desire. I’ve settled in at the PDF Master level which will get me all the PDFs generated by the campaign, no nasty shipping bill included. If you aren’t a fan of Conan, you can definitely let this one slide by. But if you can quote all of Arnie’s line from one or both movies, you might want to drop some coin on this one.

I’ll save others for another post, but in the meantime, what are you excited about on Kickstarter? Drop a note in the comments and let me know. And if you are running an RPG Kickstarter, let me know about it so I can check it out.

More Canadian Kickstarters!

I wrote a post a while back when Kickstarter opened itself to Canadian creators, so I figured it was about time to look in and see what’s new. First off, there are a lot more nerdy projects coming from the Strong and Free and it makes me happy. I’m glad Canadian creators are getting the chance to use this funding tool to its full potential. It has meant a slew of great projects, especially for tabletop games. And it’s nice to have projects I can look at that don’t have huge shipping fees; I know it is necessary, but if I have the option to avoid it so much the better.

Here are three Canadian tabletop gaming Kickstarters that caught my eye:

1) Backstab (Funding Deadline: January 11, 2014) – A very cool looking card/role-playing game out of Montreal, Backstab is very much in the vein of games like Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow. It promises to be a game of strategy and political intrigue, and will be available in both French and English.  Jumping in at the $25 level gets you the game when it releases, which is pretty reasonable. Higher funding levels allow you to help design cards and/or characters in the game, and even have your game delivered by Backstab’s creator. I’m a little concerned that they’ve rolled shipping into each pledge level instead of making it a separate cost, because I’m not certain they understand how pricey that can be. That aside, if you like the Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow style of game and want something with a more political intrigue bent, Backstab would be in your wheelhouse.

2) Labyrinths: Customized Modular Dungeon Terrain (Funding Deadline: December 19, 2013) – Missed out on the Dwarven Forge terrainpocalypse on Kickstarter? Here’s your chance to jump on some sweet looking modular terrain produced by Iron Ring Games out of Halifax. What I’m seeing looks every bit as good as the much touted Dwarven Forge terrain, and at a more affordable price point for most gamers. You also have the option of getting one of nine custom paint jobs on your tiles, plus additional design choices, accessory sets, and so on. They have exceeded their funding goal and have some cool stretch goals on offer. If you missed the DF Kickstarter, or just need more terrain (and who doesn’t), give Labyrinths a good look. But do it fast, you have only three days!

3) Master Plan Board Game (Funding Deadline: January 1. 2014) – A new board game out of Calgary, Master Plan pits you as the Hero against a plethora of villains bent on destroying or conquering your city. This game is in its final Alpha stage right now, before they begin Beta testing the game with new players. While just about everything about this game at this stage seems up in the air, I’d argue that this type of project is exactly what Kickstarter was designed to help. I am a little dismayed that the funding level to get you a copy of the game is $80; that seems a little high, especially with no near-final artwork to show off and entice me. However, if you want to take a chance  on what could be a great new game, then take the plunge and support Master Plan.

Any Canadian Kickstarters you’ve found that you’d like to share? Drop a link in the comments; if I get enough I’ll write another post.

Canadian Kickstarters

 I wrote a little something a while back about Kickstarter and how it might impact tabletop gaming. Recently, Kickstarter continued its friendly march to world domination by expanding its service to Canadian creators. As one would expect there are a number of interesting and odd projects that appeared out of the gate. So I want to look at the interesting and odd gaming projects you can back.

This is also my official call to Canadian tabletop game creators to get on the ball. The reason I’m only doing four Canadian gaming Kickstarters today is because that’s all there is! I know you’re out there, dammit, so get to work. I want to support Canadian gaming stuff and I can’t do that if you don’t put up a campaign.

In no particular order:

Give It To The KingGive It To The King is a board game in which 2-4 players are Royal Messengers trying to deliver the most messages. Production values and art look great, and the demo video makes play look like a lot of fun. The project is already fully funded and they’re into their stretch goals (custom etched die is unlocked, with resin game pieces replacing cardboard up next), so if you want to bet on a pretty sure thing this would seem to be for you. There are tonnes of game reviews and the company (The Flux Capacity) really seems solid and on the ball. As of this article there are seven days left in the campaign, so don’t delay!

InfectedInfected is a role-playing about surviving (or maybe not) the coming zombie apocalypse. According to the campaign page the game is and will always be a free download, so you may wonder why you should pay anything to the Kickstarter. Creator Levi Kornelson is offering a series of patron/creator benefits to folks that support the project, and I think it’s an interesting method to use. As such, this is really a campaign that appeals to the gaming nerds that want to get really involved in the project. The RPG rules and the options you can add to the system are all available to read from the Kickstarter campaign page. Also, I’m particularly happy to see this Kickstarter because it is a local offering, and I like that one of the first RPGs offered is from Edmonton. It has fully funded as of this writing, which is great; I am dismayed by the lack of stretch goals, however, since there are still 26 days to go in the Kickstarter. Hopefully something will pop up to entice new patrons.

Mutiny – We come to the first of our games not full funded! And I really hope these guys do it, because Mutiny looks like a lot of fun. In the same vein as party games like Werewolves of Miller’s Hollow, players are pirates enjoying a feast and in true pirate fashion, one of you is trying to poison the others to keep all the plunder. The trick is to discover who before you end up poisoned or accused (right or wrong) of being the poisoner and executed. The game has a neat look, though the art is a little rough in some places. It allows up to 18 players, so it would make a great addition to your party game collection. Plus, and there’s no getting around it, you get to talk like a pirate for the duration of the game. How can that be bad? 26 days left in the campaign, so if pirates and games are things you like, this is the booty for you.

Road/Kill – I was a huge fan of Steve Jackson Games’ Car Wars, and Road/Kill looks to fill that niche just fine. A tabletop strategy game for 2-5 players, you drive armed and armoured vehicles (represented by cool looking modular miniatures) trying to survive against your opponents. Infinity Gate seems to have done a bunch of play-testing and demoing, and early reviews are promising. The production values are impressive, from the full-colour boards and bits to the aforementioned modular vehicles. That last is a neat touch, and seems to promise a goodly amount of re-playability. The play rules are all laid out on the campaign page, which is sort of cool. I’d rather those rules were accessible through a link, however, so important stuff like the stretch goals were closer to the top of the page. There are 26 days left in the campaign and they are about a third to their goal. So you have some time, but if you need a Car Wars fix I’d get on it sooner than later; I’d personally like to see some of the stretch goals get hit.

That’s our four! Repeating what I said earlier: I’m counting on you, Canadian creators, to give me many gaming things to Kickstart. I have faith.

And if you are a Canadian creator getting your Kickstarter campaign off the ground, drop me a line so I can take a look at your project, and maybe talk about here.

Kickstarter and the Gaming Industry: Weal or Woe?

(Note: For this post, I’ll be focusing on Kickstarter as it relates to the gaming industry and community.  Some things may apply to other creative avenues; your mileage may vary.)

If you belong to the nerd community, you’d have to be living under a rent-controlled rock to not know about Kickstarter.  For those paying a cheap lease for granite ceilings, Kickstarter “is a funding platform for creative projects”, as per their website.  Basically, if you have an idea for a creative endeavour you use the site to promote it and raise funds.  If enough people get excited and buy into your idea, you get the funding they pledge and can move ahead.  If you don’t meet your goal, you don’t get the funding, and no one has to shell out anything.

It almost sounds too good to be true, right?  Especially when you look at the massive success stories.  Reaper Miniatures ran a Kickstarter campaign last August to raise $30 000 for their new Bones line. When the dust settled, the company had raised a little over 3.4 million dollars. Yes, I said million. With all the zeroes, yes. More recently, Monte Cook hit a couple of crowd-funding home runs: his campaign to fund his new role-playing game Numenera raised $517, 255 ( a skitch over the $20 000 he set out to achieve), and the Kickstarter for Torment: Tides of Numenera, a computer game set in his new world, more than doubled its goal with $2 million in just two days, with 28 days left to go in the campaign.

You might wonder, then, what kind of idiot wouldn’t run a Kickstarter for their new gaming project.  And it’s true, even if your success is not as pronounced as the above examples, you may still find the crowd-funding lucre you seek.  But it isn’t as easy as just telling people about this neat game idea you’ve had, promising it will be the RPG second coming.  Kickstarter is equally filled with projects that didn’t reach their goal. In some cases it isn’t hard to see why; sloppy planning, vague promises and unrealistic goals abound.

But seemingly solid projects, well-laid out and presented, also fail to fund.  Key reasons?  Maybe the idea was not as widely popular as the creator thought; what works in your home game may not translate to the general gaming public (and thus, why I stopped work on Blubber & Bannock, my alternate trail rations sourcebook).  Most often though, it comes down to gaining attention for the project.  I consider myself pretty aware of what’s going on in the RPG industry, at least as much as an “industry enthusiast” can be.  But for every Kickstarter campaign of which I become aware, a quick search of the Kickstarter site turns up dozens more I have and had never heard of.  Obviously, then, while Kickstarter can do a lot to help a project the onus is still on the creator to get the word out.  The internet is too vast to simply pitch your tent and wait for visitors.

The onus is also on campaign investors to be smart.  While it is true it costs you nothing if a Kickstarter doesn’t reach its goal, there is very little besides internet disapproval to guarantee delivery on your funded investment.  A quick Google of “Kickstarter Fraud” turns up a pretty solid list, with the “Mythic” debacle showing up quite often.  To be fair, though, most of the stories are close to a year old, so it seems on the surface that out-right fraud on Kickstarter was a self-correcting issue.  But life can and does happen, and projects can find themselves unable to deliver on Kickstarter promises for any number of good reasons.  Good reasons don’t make you money any less gone, of course.

But taken all for all, Kickstarter seems to have brought a definite boost to the gaming industry, providing unprecedented contact between creators and those who might play (and therefore are likely to fund) their games.  While this contact is of obvious benefit to creators and massively convenient and exciting for gamers, there is some push-back at the retail level.  Many Friendly Local Game Stores feel that Kickstarter cuts them out of the loop, eroding their position as purveyors of the new and wonderful in the gaming industry.  And that has some merit, as far as it goes.  True, in days of old my FLGS was often my first contact with a new and interesting game; Kickstarter has stepped into that introductory role almost exclusively for many if not most.

But I also think that retailers may be engaging in a bit of a straw-man fight.  Many Kickstarter campaigns include pledge levels directed at the brick-and-mortar stores, allowing them access to a potential “new classic”.  As well, nothing about Kickstarter fundraising excludes FLGSs from the same role they have always played, as promoters and boosters of already published games.  After all, the goal for most campaigns is not just to provide enough of the new game to hand out to supporters, but to get published.  To varying degrees the funding allows the creator to publish in numbers beyond that needed to satisfy backers, and that is the point at which FLGSs step into their familiar and comfortable role.  Really, Kickstarter offers the same opportunity to retailers and distributors as it does to us, the gamers: a look at the new and exciting projects in the market.  If there is retailer exclusion in the Kickstarter process, the retailers seem to be doing it largely to themselves.

So Kickstarter has become an undeniable element of the current gaming landscape, ignored at one’s peril.  What about the future?  I don’t think the basic idea of Kickstarter is going away any time soon.  The low-risk, high-reward possibilities of crowd-funding make it too attractive to disappear, now that Kickstarter and its competitors have made the process so damn easy.  While variations on the theme might appear from time to time, there is no question that for the foreseeable future creators will continue to sing Kickstarter’s praises.

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If you are a burgeoning Kickstarter junkie, here are some other gaming-related campaigns that may be of interest:

Cheapass Games’ Deadwood Studios USA

Lester Smith’s Monster Con Card Game

9th Level Games Kobolds Ate My Baby! In Colour!

Green Ronin’s Freeport: The City of Adventure (Pathfinder ed.)

Alina Pete’s Weregeek Book 5: Random Encounters

 

What are your thoughts on Kickstarter and crowd-funding?  Have horror stories, or a potential KS gem you’d like to share?  The Comments await your coming!

Humpday Links for March 6

March in Edmonton has come in like some sort of lamb/lion hybrid, as I’ve come to expect from the prairies under global warming.  Before we get too overwhelmed with thoughts of the impending weatherpocalypse, let us enjoy these special links from around the internet.

– If you’re a gamer popping the big question, why not give the ring that says, “I want to roll crits with you forever.“?

– Ever wonder what goes into making a can of Coca-cola?  I mean, everything that goes into it?

– A look at Star Wars Episode 7, if it were a French film. *shudder*

– To wash the taste of that out of your mouth, check out my personal choice for Father of the Year.

– A NIN/”Call Me Maybe” mashup…not much else to say, actually.

– From an interesting article on asymmetrical game-play comes the rules for Lord Dunsany’s Chess.  I’ll have to give this a try sometime.

– Iron Man 3 trailer.  Iron Man 3 trailer!  IRON MAN 3 TRAILER!!

– I touched on GM’s Day on Monday; here is a special take on it from John Kovalic over at Dork Tower.

– Speaking of John Kovalic: I have been a fan of Kobolds Ate My Baby! since it came out in the original indie version, and I snatched up the Deluxxe Edition because it had John Kovalic’s art.  Well now they have a Kickstarter, and they are going full-colour Kovalic, baby!

– Seriously, if you are just interested in learning about stuff, you can’t go wrong with Crash Course.  I’m learning chemistry!

– For you boardgamers out there, here’s a very cool box insert for sorting your card-based games.

Would I use a TARDIS soda machine?  Almost exclusively.

– Why?  Because Classical Gas, that’s why!

– And in conclusion, nebulas in 3-D. You’re welcome.

Stay tuned for more exciting nerdery to come.  As always, feel free to share a link to something interesting in the Comments, and have a great Hump Day!