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What do you look for in RPG Kickstarters?

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I’ve been reading some of the Kickstarter threads and the various comments.  


Most of the threads are already “directed”, or influenced by the “company” or “Kickstarter entity” that asked it. 


So I thought a thread where regular people that are “users” not “creators” could venture their opinions and thoughts would come in handy for the creative people to see the opinions from the other side of the fence. 


Here goes.


First I need to be specific on exactly what I look for in RPG’s and how I game.  These bullets may help you understand my perspective.

  • An RPG game is equally about social interaction with friends and playing the game.
  • I play most of my RPG games at my FLGS because I believe in the critical purpose the FLGS serves in keeping the hobby alive.
  • Any RPG I play must either currently be a “Live Game” or will be a “Live Game” upon completion (as in a Kickstarter).   I define “Live Game” as a game that can be ordered at any FLGS.  If the FLGS cannot order copies from their distributers, the game is not available. 
  • Promoting the hobby by running games and generating interest at a FLGS is integral and critical to the survival and expansion of the overall hobby.
  • I run/play two types of game.  Private and Open.  Both types of games are run at my FLGS.   Private games are games with select friends that can actual role-play and we have a great time.  Open games are games that accept drop in and new players.  These are geared toward introducing new players to the hobby/RPG system.  When running an Open game I general use pre-gens for the PC’s. Both games draw attention and expose people to the hobby.


 With this in mind, this is what I look for in a Kickstarter.


  • Does the idea pitched appeal to me?
  • Will the game become a live game?  I need to know if it will be in distribution.  If not then it is not going to help the hobby in general.  Instead it is a private venture for private gain.
  • Since I intend to buy the hardcopy from my FLGS, is there any reason for me to support past PDF copy?
  • Have I supported a Kickstarter from the company before? If yes, how is thier track record on updates and timeline?  I don’t expect earthshattering news every day.  But I do expect at least a “Nothing to really report, but we’re still plugging away” update at least every two to three weeks. 
  • I treat due dates as estimates.  Creativity cannot be placed on a rigid timeline.  So being “late” is not really a show stopper for me.  But being overdue and silent with no updates is.   
  • If the project is overdue, do not keep sending updates about all the cons you are Demo’ing at.  If you have time to travel and play, you better well have time to honor you commitments. 
  • Do not ask me to support another Kickstarter if the current one is overdue.   If you don’t have time to deliver items already paid for, how do you have time to start another project?



General RPG questions:


  • Does the Kickstarter specifically identify the target audience?  A new core RPG should be aimed at and be playable by someone who didn’t even know what the letters RPG stood for until they read the book.   If a supplement is not designed for use by an “entry level” GM/Player, it should indicate that fact. 
  • Can it be played “out of the book”/”out of the box”?  To me this means, if I get the book on Wednesday can I run a game on Friday night, and will players understand enough without having to actually read the entire book.  If it is a genre setting, does it have a generic starting core? 

                For instance High Fantasy.  D&D 5th, Pathfinder and 13th Age are all High Fantasy.  In the core book they are all the essentially same generic game.  Setting game mechanics aside, they all have the same core character races and the same core professions.  They all have a complete and easy to use initial set of everything (weapons, armor, skills, spells etc.) that can be immediately played “out of the book”.  While they make claims of being unique in setting, the initial “uniqueness” is generally supported by slight cosmetics and a few gimmick’s and munchkin adds aimed at the video gamer.   D&D 5th adds Dragonborn as an optional race, etc. 

The bottom line is “Can I immediately run a session without needing to spend days learning alternate history and then making my players spend days learning alternate history”?   With the examples above, the core rules are a resounding Yes.   Anyone who has played anything from console shooter to tabletop game to watching a movie can fit right in.    They will later put out a detailed campaign setting book, but the core rules are very generic regardless of the whether they mention the name of the world or not. 

                Monster Hunters International, D&D 5th and 13th Age meet this criteria.  

                Fantasy Hero Complete did not.   

                For example MHI had an immediately useable full spell list, FH did not.  For MHI a new player can build a new PC, completely equip them and play a spell caster on the first day.  For FH you could not.  Instead you had to figure out how to build things first. 


If it is a supplement.


  • Is it ‘generic’ enough I can use it my world?  Or is it written so tightly that it would need a major re-write effort for me to use it?
  • Is it a genuinely useful supplement or just a splat book.  There usually is enough munchkin junk in most RPG’s as it is.  I really don’t need more.    For instance, take Pulp Hero.  I am an avid fan of Pulp and Pulp games.  While Pulp Hero is written for the Hero system and all the equipment and PC/NPC write-ups and stated as Hero (to be expected) it is still one of the most comprehensive repositories of genre information ever published.  The “Empire Club” maps of the world are worth the price of admission on their own. 

                Tuala Morn is one of my favorite setting books I will never run.   It is written super-tight, and all of it is super-tight.   Everyone playing would have to buy a copy and STUDY it in order to play it.   As an adult with a full time career, I simply do not have the time and neither do my players.

  • If it is a setting, it also needs to have an open entry point compatible with and able to be plugged into an existing campaign or easily allow external elements to be brought in. 



Well those are my opinions. 


I am 100% sure that other members opinions will differ. 

So, what do you look for and what are your criteria? 


Please be civil and remember this is not a right or wrong thread. 

This is more of a general sampling of what different people look for in their RPG purchases and Kickstarter support.   

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Every single rpg Kickstarter I participated in (Champions Complete, Fantasy Hero Complete, Narosia and FATE Core) ultimately failed to revitalize my interest in running/playing, I probably would not jump into another.


If I were to ever jump back into rpg's, the Kickstarter (or other crowd funding option) would have to be for something that was tangible and complete enough for me to get an immediate idea of what it is and how it plays. Further, it would have to include goodies. I am far more likely to back something that is ultimately going to have pogs/minis, a map, looseleaf character sheets and a GM screen than I am a PDF or single rulebook. Of my last ten or so gaming purchases, I like my Pathfinder Beginner Box, D&D 5th edition introductory boxed set, and even the D&D 4th boxed sets the best. I have complaints about all of them, but when I look at my shelf, those strike me as "good" purchases. Even those I haven't really played though.


If a crowd funded product really wants to entice me, little extras like cards would be a plus. I don't mind purchasing them separately, but an included "starter" set and booster packs would be one of those fun little gimmicks I could get behind. The funny thing is that I hate collectible card games, but cards like Spells, special abilities or other game mechanics would be pretty darn close to perfect for me. Maps and adventures are always a plus, even if the crowd funded product doesn't include them. Knowing that the product line does not start and end with whatever is being pedaled through the crowd funding mechanism is absolutely essential. 


I'm not interested in rolling my own any longer. I have to apply pretty substantial amounts of my mental reserves to work and I want something playable without me having to craft the mechanisms of play. I will probably never back another generic rpg system product. I have enough Hero and Fuzion stuff that I can use those resources if the mood strikes me. I just want to build my own stories using a cohesive set of rules and a campaign setting I can get behind. The rules and campaign setting would have to be compelling to me.


In short, I am one picky customer. If something came along that fit the bill, I would probably back it. I am not looking though, so any participation on my part would be through sheer happenstance. Hence my original prediction that I will probably not back another rpg crowd funding project.

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I back Kickstarters for stuff that I'd either like to read (Grimtooth's Traps), I'd like to try (FATE Core, Exploding Kittens, Zeppelin Attack!), I'd like to support (Hero/BlackWyrm, Traveller5), or I think are neat (various dice projects, a FATE coin project). I usually want a physical product, and will often spend money to get bonuses like signed and numbered editions or variants.


I now have a system down for what I will back.


First, the project really has to grab my attention. Dice and accessories have to be something that I can't easily get at the local store, a gaming book must be interesting, a standalone game has to be playable and fun.


Second, the reward tiers and the Kickstarter goal must be what I consider reasonable. I've closed tabs on quite a few projects that really overvalue their project. I've learned the hard way not to increase a KS pledge just to make sure that a project is completed.


Third, if the producer has previous Kickstarters, I look to see if they've been fulfilled, and if there are any public comments, good or bad. Companies/people with a bad track record do not get my money, no matter how neat I think the project would be. For producers new to Kickstarter, I judge the risk vs the reward, and invest accordingly.

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Kickstarter RPG projects I have supported have one or more of these characteristics:


  • Hero Game system
  • Generic/Game system agnostic settings or materials
  • Swag that I can give out to my players (coins)
  • Miniatures that are actual decent (i.e. weapons that match the size of the figure; no female characters in bikini armor, etc)
  • Maps/Mats
  • Software - Cityographer

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What's an FLGS?


1.  I'm fairly risk adverse so I'm more likely to contribute when the immediate/near term thank you for contributing is of some value.  Kickstarting is venture capital investment and you are rather likely to lose your entire investment.  No immediate payoff means no investment from me.


2.  I'm looking for neat writing.  I bought this old game that was out of print called Talislanta just because the world was neat.  If nothing else, it should be an interesting read.  I've wiled away more than a few hours translating various game systems or aspects into Hero System.  Yes, I'm a geek that way.


3.  Is it something that I can't do?  I really would have paid $20 to get access to the old City of Heroes tailor, because I really can't draw.

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What's an FLGS?

Friendly Local Game Store/Shop


1.  I'm fairly risk adverse so I'm more likely to contribute when the immediate/near term thank you for contributing is of some value.  Kickstarting is venture capital investment and you are rather likely to lose your entire investment.  No immediate payoff means no investment from me.

My experience so far I have pledged to 28 projects.  4 officially failed their funding or were canceled.  4 projects have failed to deliver and I suspect they are dead ($195 between those projects).  Twelve projects have delivered everything they promised ($638),   3 projects have partially delivered ($112).  And 5 projects ($172) still in the development phase.


For me the risk has been worth it.  The projects that failed were too ambitious and I knew the people doing them, which colored my vision as to whether or not they could do the work.

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