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Sovereign Court

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MaxAstro wrote:
I don't know about "no system mastery" - just in the few hours I've had the book I've picked out some probably-not-intended interactions that are pretty cool.

Sorry for the confusion. I wasn’t meaning that there is no system mastery. With such a huge range of effects it inevitable that some combinations will be better than others.

What I was getting at was the aesthetic presentation of the material. WIth 3.x/PF1 you would have a list of feats in alphabetical order and the constraints would be in the prerequisites. A player would need to dig into the system a bit to figure out when various feats would be available. As above, it helped veil the system a bit more.

With PF2 the feats are laid out in a 4e fashion, with pages and pages of leveled feats. It’s all very overt and it makes the game leap out at you more, at least for me.

One could say, “Wait, so it’s bad that people can more easily digest and compare information?” For myself it is on an aesthetic level. I don’t want the game yelling off the page, nor fostering a player mentality where various power combos are the leading topic of discussion at the table.

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I got my subscription today with the core book and bestiary. I’ve spent the day pouring over the core book and, what brought me to this thread, was the general impression I got from 2e.

In that broad, hazy state of a first impression I’d summarize 2e as a “fixed 4e” or “what 4e ought to have been, at least for me”.

The above is of course an impressionistic statement. I didn’t care for 4e and abandoned it after a few sessions when it came out, horrified by the overt treadmill and video game cool down feel it gave me. I enjoyed 3.x/PF’s “veil” of a treadmill, it’s weird mixing of simulation tendencies and software like keyword systemization.

2e has more of a 4e vibe in that the treadmill is much more overt. Feats are leveled, rather than being “veiled” in prerequisites. The huge number of feats you get have even been codified in the player character sheet. It’s convenient, but aesthetically I find that a bit too jarring.

Another 4eish element is that your AC, attacks, saving throws, skills, and so on are scaled to level. With 4e it was level divided buy two, with 2e it is just your level. This definitely hits the treadmill feel. The 10th level character will walk into a town and be around as competent as masters in a variety of skills activities. Sure there is a distinction between trained and untrained with what you can do with an action, but this framework rapidly removes the worldbuilding from a simulationist approach, such as the famous essay at the Alexandrian on “Calibrating Your Expectations”.

There are plenty of other 4e associations I could tease out, but how does it surpass 4e and give me hope that I won’t run screaming from 2e? Some of the veil is still there. Paizo’s strength is in teasing out a lot of flavor and integrating it with crunch. The simple act of mixing the flavor text with the rules text in the zillions of feats is helpful. 4e felt sterile with flavor text in italics, helping the user ignore it, and giving the game mechanic algorithm in bold and colonized formatting.

Another helpful area is the robust feat support for all the skill actions you can do in the game. The core simulation element to the 3.x/PF was the skill section, which defined a great deal of the out of combat experience, or the corner cases of combat. Having so much mechanical attention lavished on it really helps keep this area relevant, along with baking in this category of feats in the class progressions, helps to round out a concept so they aren’t just a killing machine.

Lastly, it was impressive seeing the wild mix of ancestry, heritage, background and class. A wonderful mix of crunch and flavor. I think 4e eventually added in backgrounds, but they had lost me by that point so I can’t compare, but 2e provides what looks like a very entertaining character creation process. Not one that is necessarily newbie friendly with a sheer amount of material to read through, but for a vet it looks like there is robust matrix of options to create a character concept that is mechanically alive in the world.

I feel torn. There is a lot that I like with 2e, but where it does show its 4e influence it gives me the feeling of being already exhausted with the core book. The system is very much designed to crank out another bookshelf sagging amount of core books. With 1e I had no problem gobbling up those books because the aesthetic veil was present. I felt I was exploring with each addition. This new format, where the treadmill is laid bare in many respects, sucks the mystery out in many ways. The idea of five billion leveled feats, with no “system mastery” satisfaction of doing my own analysis and filtering, feels exhausting.

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I found 2e to be the most loose in terms of how XP are handled. There are several pages in the DMG discussing it, suggesting several different metrics for doling out XP. All of this amounted to guidelines, with complete DM discretion on XP and leveling.

Looking at your outline I'd probably just make life easy as a GM and level in the following way:

Level 2 after collecting ingredients
Level 3 after getting the cure mixed and created.
Level 4 just before the boss battle that is causing the disease.

Just chunk out the xp amounts so the leveling occurs at those moments.

In terms of urgency, tell them that they will all get bonus xp depending on how many people survive the plague.

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There are some projects that I've been developing and was wondering if I could get thoughts from others on formatting them in a particular manner.

The idea is to make a hybrid of an adventure path and organized play format. That is, develop an adventure path, but break it out into a format that looks more like something that you would come across in Pathfinder Society play. The AP would be broken down into single session chunks with all of the stat blocks and maps for that session detailed. Players would also get a certificate at the end of the session that would detail campaign development for their character.

The AP would be abbreviated, it would not go from levels 1-15, but a spread of 5 levels. The entire AP would result in 15 scenario modules. These could be bought individually or in a bundle.

In addition there would be a campaign guide that would help frame some rules and themes to give structure to the whole campaign.

The point to this hybrid approach is to give a format that is both very accommodating to the busy lives of gamers, who would find single session scenarios easier to prep, schedule and even rotate GMs if needed, but also provide a campaign arc that is more focused around specific themes.

What do others think of this approach?

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I may have a chance to run several PFS modules for old friends in a tight frame of time. They've played in organized play before, however they didn't enjoy the experience very much because the modules felt too linear and "set piece" in design. Most of their RPGing was old school in style and period.

I know I've run and played some PFS modules before that were "sandboxy" to a degree, where the module essentially set up a situation and the players were able to approach the broad situation on their own terms, rather than being driven from one point to the next.

Now that there are many seasons out there of material, is there a best-of list of these sandboxy style modules that I could cherry pick from to run for them? I'd like to give them something that feels a little more familiar to them so it helps bridge between the old and the new.

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blackbloodtroll wrote:

You are using the pricing guidelines, not the be all, end all, for pricing magic items.

I repeat, they are guidelines.

Absolutely, that's why I needed to get a clarification on how the guidelines were being used with the Broom of Flying. It's cleared up and it's all good now!

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coyote6 wrote:
It's one use per day, though they let you split up the 9 hours of flying that one use gives you.

Ah, so "charges per day" is 1 so it's divided by 5 gets you to 16,200 gp or 18,000 gp depending on how you unravel the activation. With eye squinting we arrive at 17,000 gp. Thanks!

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I'm trying to breakout the cost of the Broom of Flying and it isn't making sense according to the formulas. Having searched on the forums a bit people say that it follows it, but I'm not seeing it.

Overland Flight (spell level 5) x caster level (9th) x 1800 or 2000.

It either comes out to 81,000 gp or 90,000 gp depending on how you look at activation, and that's before you add in the additional power of it flying on its own, that it's slotless, etc.

How is 17,000 gp being determined beyond eyeballing legacy costs?

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The Eagle Has Landed: Thank You!

Man, what a wild wild ride these last several months have been. I've been humbled over and over again from all the support that Companions of the Firmament has received during this time. Thank you all for the kind words and encouragement along the way.

We hit the 300 Flying Monster Sheet stretch goal AND the Adventure Stretch goal. Thanks everyone for hustling for that effort. It was great to see us get to 111 backers! After all that work with the crowdfunding report, I just though that it would be “statistically poetic” to be able to hit the median from the report.

Who was the winner for Magic Hour Achievement Bonus? That goes to Jez Clement. Congratulations and thank you for the extra backing!

Act one of this endeavor happened years ago with numerous game designs gently being herded along and culminated in the crowdfunding report. Act two has been a wild ride as I pulled together all the resources to make a Kickstarter, and then see it through till this evening. I've been sleeping and breathing this funding campaign for what feels like such a long time that it's hard to grasp that Act three has begun.

Tomorrow I'll be able to lay out the final budget and begin working with artists on filling the rest of this book up with terrific art. For the custom art backers I'll message you and start working on your visions of the art. I'll also make a point to check in with anyone else, such as Jez, to get the little details taken care of.

My white board is filled with to-dos that have been waiting for this moment. I'm going to bed and tomorrow I'll start grinding through those lists, getting the innumerable little details accomplished so that I can erase what's on the board. In a handful of months Companions of the Firmament should be appearing in your hands and/or on your screens.

Thanks all!

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Magic Hour - Final Achievement Bonus

One hour left for the Companions of the Firmament Kickstarter!

Progress Update

Many people have been joining the host of the firmament over the last several hours, in particular an “angel investor” descended from on high and cast mana upon the project. While the Angel Investor was to me a hail mary pass, it's been answered and I'm still a bit stunned by that. Thank you Brett!

All of that activity has blown us through THREE Flying Monster Sheet stretch goals! Right now we're just $79 away from a fourth one. We're also just four (4) backers away from the final Adventure Stretch Goal.

Magic Hour Achievement Bonus

It was a big deal to me when the original funding goal was being reached. So much energy over the previous months went into that moment and that was just 60 hours after it started. Now another five weeks have passed with yet another wild ride as more support poured in. To make for a dramatic landing I wanted to offer up a similar achievement bonus to the one I offered all the way back in Update #1.

From this point on in the funding campaign, the backer that contributes the most in within this last hour will get a Reaper figure painted by myself. See Update #1 on your choices of which figure to pick from and examples of my painting skills. If you have already backed prior to this moment then you can either contribute more to your existing reward level, or upgrade to a new level. You're previous contribution does not count, so if you were a $50 backer and then upgraded to $100 then $50 is the measured amount for this achievement bonus. I'll be able to figure all of this out from the KS dashboard and how the emails roll in. Tiebreaker will be the last person to pledge between those tied.

If you want to change your amount, just click on the big blue “Manage Your Pledge” button. On the next page make sure the big dollar amount at the top of the page is correct. The dollar amount does not change when you just select a different radio button with the reward levels.

Two caveats:

First, people who cancel their backing and then back again within this hour will not count in this little achievement bonus. We're all gamers here, but no min-maxing/rule-loophole nonsense!

Second is that my wife doesn't qualify for this achievement. She's talked about backing, but has yet to do it. Honey... there's just an hour left!

Happy hunting and see you in the eyrie!

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Aces High: Hitting the Median, New Stretch Goal and the Final Hour

Hitting the Crowdfunding Report Median

When I began research on doing a Kickstarter I found myself collecting data on other RPG crowdfunding projects to help guide me what to do and what not to do with a crowdfunding project. Eventually this lead the crowdfunding report that I released this last spring so that everyone could get some help with this exciting new tool.

I designed this project around that report and those insights have definitely helped this project flourish. When the project first went live I had no idea how all of this would play out, but it ended up quickly reaching funding levels and it seems as if all the broad patterns of the report were falling into place.

As the funding campaign developed further one of the unspoken pet goals is to see the number of backers for Companions of the Firmament hit the report's median or beyond, which is 110 backers. At this moment we only need 14 more backers today to pull it off. So I'm just putting the call out to all of those who've already backed, if you know someone who might be interested in CotF, now's the time to pass on the word! 

New Stretch Goal – Springtime Adventure

To help things along towards that median, I've decided to offer up one last stretch goal. This would be an adventure that would use many different elements of CotF to help illustrate their use in play and inject players into a decidedly aerial environment. I'm envisoning this adventure as somewhat like an organized play module (such as from Living Greyhawk or Pathfinder Society) in structure and length, roughly 16-20 pages. It will also have an intro video that I'll produce that the GM can present to players to set the mood and introduce the plot hook for the players.

If we finish with 110 backers or beyond at the end of the campaign then anyone who contributed at the Wingmate ($10) reward level or higher will receive the adventure as a PDF. The video will be posted to Youtube which should make it readily accessible in a variety of ways to show to players.

The aim for delivery on the adventure would be the spring of 2013.

Final Hour

I'll put out one last update at that final hour of the campaign (10:30 EDT) so keep a lookout for it. I want to add some drama to the last few moments of the campaign :)

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Final Destination: Last 24 hours!

It's the end run now with just 24 hours left of the Companions of the Firmament Kickstarter. Since the last update a pile of people of climbed on board and we've blown past two stretch goals! First we reached 150 Monster Sheets at $3250, and then the final Creature Sheet stretch goal at $3500.

Ahead we still have a stretch goal at $3750 to up the Monster Sheets to 200. We're only $160 away from reaching it so hopefully we'll have enough join us to get there.

This has been one wild month and I really, really appreciate everyone's support. I'm off to bed and hopefully I can dream up a few things during the night to make the last day more interesting.

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Feather Fall: On Falling in CotF and an important upcoming date for all of us!

Three days left and we're at $3191.58! Just $58.42 from the next Monster Sheet stretch goal, and $308.42 from the final Creature Sheet stretch goal.

When you make flying a big part of a campaign the issue of falling is going to inevitably come up. If you go by how the system is typically played the answer to the issue of plunging to your death is to have the spell Feather Fall on hand, typically with the Ring of Feather Fall.

That's fine, but I personally found that unsatisfying, both in working on Companions of the Firmament, but also because it simply solves the problem of falling far too easily and without much expense on the part of the characters. Once everyone has one of these rings, the tension from that aspect of play is gone, and that isn't really the best way to add drama to an emerging story.

Because of that I wanted to offer up some other ways of treating falling by looking at the basic rules on and the offering a set of tools to turn the dial on gravity so that it matches with the kind of feel you want from your play. Do you want falling to more of a “bullet time” cinematic moment where others can react and try and save the falling character? Do you want it to be grimly realistic so that the players need to build their strategies and tactics around the effects of gravity? Each table will be able to decide where to dial in this important aspect of the imagined reality.

Lets shift gears a bit and see how imagination and reality are coming together in a spectacular way. On August 6th the Curiosity Rover will reach Mars and attempt its landing. The Curiosity is much larger than the Spirit and Opportunity rovers that have been on Mars for several years. Weighting five times as much as those rovers, the balloon bouncing landing isn't really feasible, and so instead NASA has devised it's own version of the Feather Fall spell with an incredibly elaborate landing sequence that is designed to gently lay the Curiosity on the surface.

Check out the video of what the landing is supposed to look like and cross your fingers on August 6th!

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We're in the Pipe, Five-by-Five: Vehicles, Magic Items, Constructs, oh my!

Five days to go till the end of the Companions of the Firmament Kickstarter campaign!

Here is a final stretch goal to add some drama as we come in for a landing. If we get to $3500 then a final creature sheet will be commissioned that will focus on vehicles, magic items and constructs that focus on flying.

As we make our descent, don't forget the Monster Sheet stretch goal which is set at $3250.

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Egg Laying: The Final Week and another Upgrade

We are now officially in the last seven days of the Companions of the Firmament funding campaign. If you know of a fellow Pathfinder player who would be interested in CotF now is the time to get the Kickstarter on their radar.

I also have some happy personal news to report. My wife is pregnant and so just as GIC is nurturing it's first book, my wife and I are also looking forward to our first child.

In light of that, there is another upgrade for the custom artwork reward levels (Pegasus Rider, Griffon Rider, Mystery Rider, Eagle Rider, Champions of the Firmament, and Lords of the Firmament). Each of these reward levels will now also be receiving an art print of the work that they will help in the commissioning. Not only will you have proof in the book, but you'll be able to point to the wall where it will be hanging!

The size of the art print depends on the particular reward level. The art print will be aimed at getting as close to a 1:1 ratio with the original work.

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This is something I should have asked a month ago, but what do people suggest for RPG related twitter hash tags for projecting your game out into the world of twitter?

I've been using:


along with broader things like:


You can get a sense of their use at, but it would be great to just hear what others are using. I have yet to see some comprehensive list of roleplaying game hastags to use for systematically getting the word out as wide as possible.

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Update #11: "There's... too... many... of them..." Creature Sheet Stretch Goal News!


The Creature Sheet #2 Stretch goal artwork has rolled in! The wild and weird are ready now for you to just hop on their back and leap into the air. The artist, Justin McElroy, said he had a lot of fun doing this sheet, but also wished these guys were larger so he could have packed more detail into them. Perhaps some of them will show up in the book and let the detail really explode onto the page.

I'm working on a final Creature Sheet Stretch goal for the final week. Getting the list finalized is the tough job. There are so many cool things that could be illustrated, but getting it to match up with the needs of the book is the challenging part. Stay tuned!

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Update #10: Wind Beneath My Wings: Custom Artwork Upgrade!

Artwork is an important element to my vision of Companions of the Firmament and so going into this final stage of the campaign the customized artwork reward levels (Pegasus Rider, Griffon Rider, Mystery Rider, Eagle Rider, Champions of the Firmament, and Lords of the Firmament) now have an upgrade to the backing rewards.

Each of the above reward levels will now include the 20" x 24" signed and numbered ART PRINT by the artist Justin McElroy. This is a one time limited print run of the artwork and will look great hanging on the wall, inviting people to spend some time gazing at the art and perhaps finding something new each time.

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Douglas Mawhinney wrote:
Does anyone have any information on how to approach artists? I and my friends have been considering DeviantArt. What would be a ballpark going rate?

One of the threads that I linked to goes into a lot of detail on artwork and should have some ballpark figures for RPG art. Specifically dealing with deviantart, I've been going there and it has been successful for me. The problem with a general going rate is that it will vary so much depending on size, complexity, B&W vs. color, volume of work, and skill and experience of individual artists.

Another nuance is that different markets pay for artwork at different rates. I got some very helpful lessons from some artists who were willing to work for me who explained that the RPG market is so small that it can't support the rates that an experienced artists can get in broader fields such as mass-market book covers or video games. I fortunately found someone who understood this and was willing to work for RPG rates, even though he could get much more within the video game market. For him it was a low pay, but stress free gig that he did in part out of the enjoyment of the work.

On the super low end you can get artwork for just a few dollars. Typically this is from a teenager or student, some of whom are very talented. The problem with this demographic is that they aren't professionals yet. The idea of contracts, copyright, communication skills and workflow can all be far off from what you need for a business venture. And of course lastly, at a certain point going so low in price is really just overly taking advantage of someone's inexperience in the field. People, regardless of their age should be getting paid a fair wage.

There are “groups” that you can subscribe to on deviantart that cover all manner of things. Some of these are focused on commissions. Every day you'll get “deviations” of people in these groups, showing examples of their work and are aimed at commission work. So that is one way to help filter through the vast amount of artists on the site. These are however dominated by young people asking for small sums of money to do sketches, original characters “OC” and small cute artwork. Still, so much activity occurs there that you'll come across someone who stands out from time to time.

What has worked well for me is to go to their job offerings forum and to just present an open call for artists. Rather than negotiating prices, just put right into the subject line and then in your post how much you're willing to pay for a piece, say in increments of $25 to $50, and then give details on what you want, the kinds of rights you want for the work, dimensions, file format and so on.

What will happen is a flood of artists will write to you over the next 24 hours and you'll be spending hours looking at people's portfolios and trying to make a decision on who to work with. A lot of the artists won't fit the style you're going after, but out of the 50 or 60 submissions you'll end up finding a handful that will really align with your vision of the artwork.

Here is an open call that I did when I helped my cousin find an artist for his book cover. Here are the detailed job specifics on the project.

Eventually we went with an artist out of Jarkarta, Indonesia. The guy was great, fast and very communicative.

One other benefit with the open call is that you now have scores of artists portfolios, contact information, and you know what they are willing to work for. So you can always reach out to an artist later to do work for you.

Douglas Mawhinney wrote:
Also, does anyone have any tips relating to getting your product licensed as Pathfinder compatible and getting them to sell it on their website?

That's really simple. You're basically just agreeing to their terms.

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Coridan wrote:
4 - How do you deal with taxes on the income?

One of the benefits of a single owner LLC is that the personal and business income can all be handled together for tax purposes. You get the benefit of being shielded from some liability from the business end, but your taxes are easier to do.

You do need to go to the state you're will make the LLC in though and look at the fine print.

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I previously asked a lot of similar questions and got plenty of great input. You can find a summary of it all here.

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Click here for a preview of the artwork.

Here Be Dragons, Part II! Creature Sheet Artwork is done!

The stretch goal artwork is rolling in now. Creature Sheet #3 is now done, focusing on Dragons with artwork by Justin McElroy.

One approach to flying mounts in the system is to get a monster cohort, however dragons have not been included in this approach. Companions of the Firmament fixes that by laying out having dragon cohorts, detailing all 20 different dragons (chromatic, metallic, primal and imperial) when they are right around the young age of development.

This creature sheet gives you black and white line art or full color tokens that you can print, cut out and then mount on heavy card stock so you can easily represent them on a battlegrid, and effortless show if your character is mounted or not simply by placing your figure on the token.

You can also use them as an inexpensive resource for flying opponents in your campaigns.

Black and white line art is available for those who want to spend less on printing, or would like to color their dragons. Pick on of the twenty, pull out some colored pencils or markers and customize your dragon just the way you like!

Monster Sheet Stretch Goal, We're almost there!

We're just shy of hitting the second stretch goal for the Monster Sheets. It's like the next backing will upgrade the stretch goal so that 100 monster sheets will be prepared for all backers.

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A lot of this stuff is a bit older now. I'll need to go back through and do some revisions just for the "living document" effect that comes from the evolution of PFS.

And thanks for finding some of the more niggly details. Many of my powergamer friends were readers on these and so that helped to find wayward details, but the power of crowds is potent!

Links are fixed, that is bizarre. Some people have been able to download them, but when I checked they were just bouncing back.

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Howie23 wrote:
Good stuff. Note that in your wands section, you recommend several wands of personal range with tactical advice regarding use on multiple party members. Wands with personal range are only usable on the person using the wand. To use on multiple party members, you'd have to pass it around. Shield and disguise self were a couple that I noticed.

Thanks. I'll get that clarified.

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In my local Pathfinder Society community I found that we were getting a healthy influx of players who were new to Pathfinder, or even new to roleplaying games in general. The knowledge gap between experienced players and new players would often be vast.

While everyone in our community has been very helpful to new players, a lot of play strategies and options would often take months for new players to become aware of them, or get them spelled out in a clear fashion.

Because of that I began writing essays to our local PFS email list to help people get jump started into the game, providing advice along with play aids that could help accelerate players into the finer nuances of PFS.

Another factor in this influx of new players is that a lot of our sessions have been low level, and so I also focused on primers that would help low level characters be able to have a broader range of tools at hand to be able to provide solutions to challenges in modules.

While I've mentioned some of these resources I created on the boards before, for some reason I never thought to just devote a thread to them with everything laid out in a single post. Since Paizocon is just about to start, perhaps some of these articles and downloads would be of help to people now and in the future.


Good & Cheap Equipment, Part 1 and Part 2 – I really enjoy having characters that can provide “lateral” solutions to problems. While having a lot of gold can buy a character lots of options, even low level characters can have a broad utility box of inexpensive widgets to solve problems. Both of these essays provide packages of inexpensive and lightweight items that expand play beyond waiting for initiative to begin.

Action Economy: Time Savers – This article examines a core but rather unstated layer of the system, the action economy, and how you can help make your character more efficient in that economy.

Linear Fighters & Quadratic Wizards – For new players with dreams of replicating some fictional hero of theirs, the system can often throw at them results they were not expecting. This primer on some of the more fundamental power scales in the game can help them make more informed decisions on the kinds of characters they want to create and how they will perform in play.

Animal Companion Comparisons – The druid, ranger and other pet classes are very popular with new players. It's natural to want to have a furry buddy at your side when adventuring. While some players jumped for whatever flavor of animal they liked, others kept asking me what was the best. I'd say, “it depends...” It ends up that laying out a numerical scale at least gives better information for players to pick an animal that suits their concept and performance in play.

A look at cheap Ioun Stones – In the first handful of levels you end up crashing into the reality of how expensive magic items can be. This article highlights a slew of inexpensive Ioun Stones that anyone can get a use out of.

Don't Forget the Use Magic Device Skill – The UMD skill is one of the more complicated subsystems in the game, at least conceptually, and so getting it highlighted and demonstrating that any character can make real practical use out of the skill can broaden the options of any character in the game.

Wands for Everyone! - In light of the UMD skill being useable by anyone, it makes sense to highlight one of the most inexpensive yet potent magic items in the game, wands. In PFS it's really good sportsmanship to buy your own Wand of Cure Light Wounds to take care of your own injuries, but anyone can push beyond that and become a much more adaptable character with a few utility wands.

Point Buy Arrays – With this article I went through scores of iterations of point buy arrays, trying to figure out which distributions give the broadest value for the bonuses and penalties that one can get for your character. Rather than re-inventing the wheel each time a character is made, you can zero in on a set of arrays that provide the most economical set of bonuses depending on the amount of penalties you want for your character.

DOWNLOADS (Found Here)

Organized Play Character Build Sheet – This sheet is there to help you map out character concepts. I've been using sheets like this for years and have found it very useful to find figure out how different builds function over time, or whether something is mechanically possible. Not everyone wants or needs to map out their character in advance, but these sheets can be useful for those who either want that advanced planning, or simply like a quick way to level up when the time comes.

Mundane Mounts and Work Animals – While plenty of players want pet classes, not everyone wants to follow that specific track in character development. Nonetheless people still want a pet. I decided to just make premade sheets of mundane mounts and work animals so that if a player just wanted to purchase a horse or dog, they could and then have all of the information on the animal ready to go immediately. I know I have sold some new players on the game by having these sheets already printed out an in a folder. “I want to buy a dog!” and I would present them with the dog sheet and the player was ecstatic at “getting” their dog like that.

Good, Cheap and Essential Item Checklist – It can be a real drag having to go through all the equipment lists to buy the standard fare of items, or even the suggested ones in the articles above. To save time and make it easy to organize and reference, I just made checklists to make it easy to purchase a whole set of items at once that will prove indispensable on adventures.

Discount Adventuring Kits – Just as with the checklists in the above download, there are also the Discount Adventuring Kits from the Pathfinder Field Guide. Getting these into a simple one sheet checklist really helps to speed up acquiring them and not having to re-write all of that information down again.

Arrow Packs – I enjoy playing archers and there are a few other players that also really enjoy it. As you gain levels and can afford more exotic arrows it the recordkeeping on these items becomes rather elaborate, especially when you can reclaim them 50% of the time. Once you get up to mid-levels and are outputing several shots per round it really helps to have all of this information pre-organized for you.

The Handy Haversack Pack – This is something that people with plenty of GM credit will find useful. Starting a new character at a higher level means needing to spend a lot of gold. While picking up all of those expensive items, it's worth getting a lightweight Handy Haversack filled with essentials for those just in case moments. The problem is all of that tedious calculating and writing down the same information you've written down again and again. This sheet lets you grab a pack and go without any fuss.

That's it for now, but I'll be doing further revisions to articles when needed and I'm really looking forward to the new Equipment Guide that will be out soon. I'm quite sure that will provide a wealth of really cool mundane equipment to add to the existing lists.


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Sky Watching: A Bit of Inspiration

Nestled in the central mountains of Vermont is the Warren Airport. Last Saturday it hosted the 2012 Stars and Stripes Airshow, produced by Jim Parker Airshows. I'm so immersed in flying right now with the Kickstarter that it was hard to keep me away. The weather was a fantastic mix of blue sky and fluffy white clouds that made for a perfect backdrop to the show.

Rather than explain the show, I'll just show it! Here is a video I put together, distilling a few moments of what ended up being two inspiring hours of flying.

My only regret is that if I had planned things out better after the show I could have taken to the skies myself with a glider ride. Perhaps later this summer!


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There be dragons! Dragon Creature Sheet stretch goal is reached!

We just climbed to $2500 and find a lot of new company in the skies with a creature sheet devoted exclusively to dragons. All twenty dragons in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (Chromatic, Metallic, Primal and Imperial) will be illustrated to use as large size counters for mounts or adversaries on your tabletop, available as black & white line art, or fully colored.

This brings us to three creature sheets total that will be available as a PDF to all backers:

  • The Original Creature Sheet
  • Stretch Goal 1: More Mounts
  • Stretch Goal 2: Dragons

Keep a look out for more creature sheet stretch goals. I want to put more in there, the hard part is trying to choose what to include. There is so much I want to cram into CotF and getting the right mix for the creature sheets is important.

Feel free to add comments on what you would want to see in future ones and I'll see if those ideas can work with the lineups I'm planning.

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Endzeitgeist wrote:
Wanted to chime in and tell you that I really appreciate what you're doing for the community and that as soona s finances permit, I'll jump on board! Looks like an awesomely useful project!

Thanks Endzeitgeist! Your kind words are already very helpful!

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Death From Above! Flying Monster Sheet Stretch Goals

A new vector of stretch goals are now up for Companions of the Firmament Kickstarter. See update #6 for the details.

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We've gained altitude, passing the $2000 mark and unlocking the first stretch goal for the Companions of the Firmament Kickstarter!

As we ascend we are joining up with twenty new creatures high in the heavens in the form of a new creature sheet with artwork done by Justin McElroy. This new sheet will expand upon the existing creature sheet, illustrating even more mounts that you'll be able to print out, cut up and have ready for your gaming table.

This stretch goal is available to ALL BACKERS!


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For those who enjoy listening to podcasts, Carnagecast with Tyler Dion interviewed me about Companions of the Firmament and Geek Industrial Complex.

You can stream or download here.

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Stretch Your Wings, Lets Go Higher!

With a month left in the Kickstarter of Companions of the Firmament there is a huge vault of sky to continue exploring with stretch goals.

Stretch Goal Vector #1 – Additional Creature Sheets

If we reach $2000, and every $500 after that, an additional Creature Sheet will be created and given to ALL BACKERS in the form of a PDF.

Sheet #1 – Mounts (already available to all backers)
Sheet #2 – Additional Mounts @$2000
Sheet #3 – Large Size Dragons, ALL of them (Chromatic, Metallic, Imperial and Primal) @$2500

Additional creature sheets will emerge if we keep climbing!

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theneofish wrote:
Mok wrote:

Whoever lifts CotF off the ground by hitting $1000 or more will get, regardless of your backing level, a Reaper miniature painted by me. You can pick from either a Dragon or a Griffon.
That would be me :) Awesome!

Indeed... I think, internet handles can be a bit mysterious :)

But yeah, thank you! I'll PM you about details.

We have lift off!

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Wow! The campaign is about 50 hours live and we're at 94.6% reached for the funding goal! Thank you everyone for your support, I'm humbled at how quickly this has shot up and the outpouring of support!

We're about to cross the threshold to full funding. I want to make that moment extra special by offering up a unique "Take Off" achievement for whoever does cross the threshold and reach $1000 or more. I can tell exactly who does this as Kickstarter spits out an email to me each time a backing comes in, which gives a backing by backing update on the funding tally.

Whoever lifts CotF off the ground by hitting $1000 or more will get, regardless of your backing level, a Reaper miniature painted by me. You can pick from either a Dragon or a Griffon. Here are the two figures to select from: 2

Here are some examples of my painting skills. They are pretty solid and I've been paid before for my painting skills.

If you've already donated, you should be able to up your backing level again, so this applies to anyone who gets us to $1000.

The figure will be painted and ready to ship to you by January 1st 2013, if not sooner.

Lastly, you have to of course keep your funding level. You can't push it up and then downgrade your backing later and still get the painted figure.

Get ready for take off!

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ShadowcatX wrote:
I have no doubt you'll hit your goal. However, you'd do far better if you would, as LMPjr pointed out, let us discover who you are and what your products are like before coming in and jumping on the bandwagon.

I definintely agree.

Originally I had planned for a slow and more organic introduction. That's how the GIC website came about, to collect all sorts of things that I had been working on and being able to easily share them with the gaming community.

Unfortunately life's complicated, schedules change, and in the end moving towards the Kickstarter model more quickly made the most sense for my situation.

A Formal Introduction

My name is Neil Carr and I'm a gamer. I've been a gamer for 31 years, beginning when I picked out the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (with the very cool Erol Otus cover) on my 9th birthday. I've been gaming ever since through all the stages of my life, drinking deep of the complete panoply of what geekdom has to offer. It began with RPGs but quickly moved into boardgames, video games, wargames, miniatures games, PC games, console games, CCGs and of course Sci-fi/fantasy/horror books, movies, TV, and comics.

In RPGs I've more often been a game master than a player, but still have a healthy experience on both sides of the screen. While the early years were dominated by the stew of D&D and AD&D, eventually I broke out into a wide range titles and genres. If you browse through the ratings of RPG items over at RPGgeek I'm familiar with the vast bulk of what is ranked through several pages.

In the mid 90's I started getting involved in the “eurogame” revolution in boardgames. The focus on designing a boardgame experience to achieve very specific play experiences really helped to frame the many years of gamemaster tinkering I had previously been doing. In 2000 I helped bring to life, being one of the original admins that started uploading content and pushing for a more organized and coherent way of getting information about games on the internet.

I'd say I fit the profile of a hard-core gamer. Really the only gaming rite of passage that I haven't done is attend Gen Con. Geek Industrial Complex is actually in part a way to eventually begin attending them.


I'm a teacher by temperament. I have a B.A. in Philosophy, along with a Religious Studies minor from Salisbury University, and then went on to get an M.A. in Philosophy from Boston College. Eventually I gained Highly Qualified Teacher Licensure for middle school social studies in Vermont. Teaching and game mastering have quite a lot of areas that overlap with each other and while I can't seem to get staff and faculty to completely understand what the heck is going on in a roleplaying game, I'm really pleased at how my hobby and professional skills synergize with each other.

Roads Less Traveled

My life has generally been following “roads less traveled” but even these less traveled paths still had forks that forced choices. One path I did not take was becoming an artist. I was the doodler in class, drawing all the weird geeky monsters, aliens and adventurers in the margins of my books. I always took and got A's in art class and even did a successful portfolio for advanced placement art in high school. A major turning point could have happened in the early 90s when White Wolf approved my artwork for a Vampire “By Night” book that a friend had submitted and was green lighted for development. Unfortunately my friend's writing partner did not properly follow through with White Wolf and the project stalled and slipped away. If I had been published as an artist in those early college years I might have completely changed the vector of my life from an academic angle to one focused on art and design.

Creative Outlets

Gaming itself has always provided a creative release that constantly bubbles in me, but even that hasn't been enough. GMing, houseruling, miniature painting and terrain modeling have all been outlets for that creative energy, but the design bug settled in during the late 90's and has held a death grip on me for over a dozen years. I've subjected friends to an array of playtest sessions of various boardgame and RPG material over the years, much of which has been fruitful.

Rise of Kickstarter

Another very important dimension to my life is that I need to be working for the common good. Over the last two decades my regular job has involved several different positions within the social services field and now has transitioned into education. Despite being encouraged to jump fully into the world of game development and publishing on several occasions, I've always seen my vocation involving direct community support and development, particularly focusing on at-risk populations.

Because of that I've resisted perusing a full time career in the game market. However, creating a part-time job out of creating for the hobby I love is something that I've always seen myself doing, however the older publishing models were not very friendly to that approach because it either involved going through submission processes with existing publishers, or requiring a small fortune in start up money. Neither of those approaches has ever been appealing to me.

For quite awhile I longingly looked at GMT Game's P500 system as a viable approach. Unfortunately their system was built completely in-house on existing business infrastructure and that was largely beyond an amateur setup. So when Kickstarter emerged in 2008 I took notice. This did something very similar to the P500 system, but was setup so that anyone could dive into the process. Finally the traditional publishing gatekeepers were being side stepped and the market itself would become the gatekeepers. Now I had a practical end goal where I would eventually create some Kickstarters. This prompted much heavier design work and playtesting.

Recent Buildup

From Living Greyhawk and into Pathfinder Society I became known for my GMing skills in the local gamer network. People often consult me on the arcane loopy elements of 3.5 and Pathfinder. Once Pathfinder Society emerged there was a large influx of new gamers eager to try out organized play. One of the things that I was seeing is how challenging the corpus of rules can be to new players. So I started writing up essays aimed at helping bring people up to speed with PFS play. I've distilled these essays down to what you can find in my If You Have The Tools You Have the Talent series of articles on the GIC website.

Likewise, some material support also really helps to organize a lot of game information. People generally are very visually oriented, so expecting them to process everything through text and then translate it onto their character sheets can be a stumbling block. Because of that you'll find different player aid downloads for Pathfinder Society, or even just Pathfinder in general, such as:

Organized Play Character Build Sheet
Mundane Mounts and Work Animals
Good, Cheap, and Essential Item Checklist
Arrow Packs
The Handy Haversack Pack
Discount Adventuring Kits

While I haven't pushed these articles and PDFs in this the Compatible Products Forum, I have linked to specific items from time to time in posts on the Paizo messageboards and other websites. So everything hasn't been hidden until this moment, instead just organically woven into the context of online discussions.

Crowdfunding Report

Having developed several different projects, I began to explore Kickstarter in earnest and wrote up some drafts of funding campaigns and then sent them to friends and gaming colleagues. I got back excellent feedback that really told me that I needed to do more research. I dug deeper and found that while there was plenty of broad information on how to run a Kickstarter in general, there really wasn't much information for how to run an RPG kickstarter campaign.

Coming from an academic background, and being quite aware of how crucial evidenced-based strategies are when dealing with group behavior (such as classrooms filled with students) I decided to do a survey and see what real data could tell me about the world of RPG crowdfunding. With spreadsheet at hand and the willingness to methodically grind through 150 RPG projects, I collected enough data to get a more clear picture of how this slice of the RPG marketplace works.

I posted results in this forum in the thread What a Year and 150 Projects Bring to Light along with other parts of the net and was rather taken aback at the positive response. I did this just to figure out what I needed to know to do a solid job, however after awhile I realized that this would likely be very useful to many other people in the hobby. I'm very much a proponent of crowdsourcing. Heck, I'm building my whole endeavor off of the OGL, so it was only natural to try and spread this information as far as it could go.

Since then it has been hosted on the Page XX newsletter from Pelgrane Press, and is also being translated into Polish for the RPG market in Poland.

I think it's really important that in the coming years anyone in the gaming world has the opportunity to be able to produce their own contribution to the hobby. Not everything is going to be great, many things will be rejected by the marketplace, but the end result will be a much richer diversity of ideas emerging from the player base. There are a lot of really creative people out there that for whatever circumstances in life can't publish through traditional approaches, and so crowdfunding gives them a chance to contribute. The more idea-diversity gets injected into the gaming ecosystem, the better.

One final footnote on the crowdfunding report that I can give is that after I released the report the fine folks over at Fog God Games approached me about the report and asked if there were some other ideas I might have for their Rappan Athuk Kickstarter campaign. They had already blasted through their funding goal and now saw well over a month of time to continue working on the funding campaign. I drafted some suggestions and since that time it looks like some of those suggestions have shaped their stretch goals. I really don't want to overstate my contribution to their record shattering crowdfunding performance. Rappan Athuk alone is worth it's own success. Still, it's exciting to think that I might have helped with it's funding success in some small manner.

Why Should You Support Geek Industrial Complex?

I am a newcomer to the publishing scene, and with the vast amount of third party material that has come out over the last decade it is reasonable to have a bit of skepticism, as plenty of material has been pretty shoddy.

While I do not have a long track record I hope that I've demonstrated several qualities:

  • A willingness to give back to the community through articles, downloads and the crowdfunding report.
  • A solid command of analytical design methodology in a lot of the content I've distributed freely.
  • A solid sense of aesthetics in my art direction as seen on the Kickstarter page.
  • A lengthy and diverse gaming background which makes me knowledgeable on the development and spectrum of game design.
  • An academic background that supports all of the above qualities.

Hopefully this introduction can help a bit to play catchup with the lack of a slower roll out of information.

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LMPjr007 wrote:

Please take this as advice from another 3PP and someone who has had two successful & two failed kickstarter projects and only wants you to be a success:

You need to SHOW people WHY they should donate money yo your cause and free products are a great way to do that. I went you your site and check them out and I like them a lot. The only problem is that I never knew about them BEFORE you started this kickstarter help me get interested in your ideas and project and I only learned about them this this post. I think what might of helped you in the long run was to talk about this kickstarter project for at least a moth before you released it for people to donate to. That would have given you time to showcase what you have done and are capable of doing in the future.

Like I said this is just some advice to help you be more successful.

Thanks, that is helpful advice. I did originally have plans for more of a pre-launch. Looking back over my notes for the last month it looks like a lot of the attention I was going to give to a pre-launch ended up being devoted to a lot of the business end of things. Getting all of the basic business infrastructure in place and such. I'm glad a lot of those hurdles are over with now because I know as new projects emerge I'll be able to devote more time to the online conversation building up to launch.

I have devoted a lot of time to the "meta" part of the production over the last several months, such as the Crowdfunding Report, and a variety of publishing questions summed up in my Zero to Hero articles. But yeah, the problem is that it's remaining meta, rather than zeroing in on the product itself. That's what I'm aiming for now that the preliminary elements are out of the way.

One encouraging note, the campaign has already passed the 30% mark in less than 24 hours live, so that is encouraging!

Thank you the advice, it's very helpful.

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ShadowcatX wrote:
Do you have any pdfs (full pdfs, not little teasers) that you've released for Pathfinder before?

Aside from the free downloads on the Geek Industrial website, no.

That's in a sense the purpose of this Kickstarter, to deliver a product up to the hobby to show what I can do.

I have several RPG projects that I've been developing that are larger and more ambitious and realized that I need to establish a track record before I could tackle those.

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It wasn't originally planned this way, but since I launched my Kickstarter on RPG Day, to help celebrate I just wanted to point out that the preview that I'm showing for the KS is, what I would deem, on a similar level to the kind of product one might get today in your FLGS.

If you want a bit more swag, feel free to download the Wyrm Rider Archetype.

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Companions of the Firmament – A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible supplement

BOMBS AWAY! It's time to test all of that work that I did with the Crowdfunding Report a couple of months ago by putting out my own Kickstarter.

Companions of the Firmament is a roleplaying game 144+ page book that is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game by Paizo Publishing. CotF is meant as a supplement for both game masters and players that focuses on creating adventures and characters that involve flying.

Kickstarter Project Page: der-rpg-compati

Campaign Dates: June 16th, 2012 till July 22nd, 2012 at 11:30pm EDT

Thanks and enjoy!

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1 person marked this as a favorite.
Slaunyeh wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:

I just saw it.

It is, in my mind, the worst movie that I can recall having seen. I have probably seen others that were worse, but I don't really remember because I didn't care. I cared about Prometheus. I was anticipating something brilliant.

It was utter crap through and through. It was stupid beyond belief.

Sad, but true.


I'm unfortunately complete crestfallen with the movie. I think a lot of my gut distaste with the movie is how it not only look gorgeous, but there is also an underlying "Ridley Scott" feel to the movie that I enjoy. However these really great qualities are smeared all over with inexplicable character actions and very pat allusions to big ideas.

I can lay a lot of blame at Lindelof's script. His narrative tricks worked well for a large chunk of LOST, but it all falls flat here. Far too many story elements were set up to create a sense of mystery. It worked well in LOST, but that show as about ordinary people being put into extraordinary situations, and so a big part of the fun was seeing how that played out. In Prometheus however we're given a premise that has already stepped past the ordinary. It's already assumed there are aliens, so it's not that part which has to be emphasized, but rather the ordinary. That's what made the original Alien work so well.

The other major structural problem to the movie was the oppressive need to pace pumped-up action sequences on a regular basis. The movie was enslaved to all of this action and didn't allow for fleshed out character behavior to occur. I had hoped that Scott was able to get beyond whatever studio demands might have been laid on him, but sadly that wasn't the case. Or he's just old and just doesn't get it anymore...

So my problem is more of an Icarus issue, rather than Prometheus. I expected this to not just be summer movie entertainment. This was supposed to be an edifying piece, and instant classic, art. It should have been Alien, Aliens, Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, the Matrix, or the Return of the King. It didn't fail spectacularly, like the Matrix Sequels. It wasn't and issue of being too ambitious, instead the mistakes were sophomoric in scale. The expectations flew too high for me and the resulting fall is epic.

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Wicht wrote:

Oh yeah... One and two... I'm baffled as to how I haven't gotten to those yet.

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I'm gearing up to get a Kickstarter beginning soon that focuses on flight. One of the things I've been doing in downtime is popping in various movies that really capture a sense of flight, where you're mounting up, strapping in, and heading off into the sky. So far I've gone through:

Neverending Story
Star Wars
Empire Strikes Back (asteroid scene)
Return of the Jedi
Avatar: The Last Airbender (the series, NOT the movie)
Top Gun
The Rocketeer
Kiki's Delivery Service
The Harry Potter movies (at times)

What other movies am I missing? And what I'm looking for are movies that really get at the sense of flight. Just because there are planes in the sky isn't enough. As much as I like Air Force One, it isn't really about flying.

Any suggestions?

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It struck me when I was teaching the BB the other day that without attack of opportunity and full actions, is there a need for the five foot step in BB games? I'm straining to think of scenarios where it has any relevance.

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Ben that's some great data, thanks for sharing it!

Ben's perspective is about as close as one might get to finding out the follow through with projects. The big hurdle is that what happens afterwards isn't necessarily very public information. Creators and backers could be communicating with email or some other alternative method which can't be monitored.

Further, the scope of projects varies and so the timeframe on when they end up completing could be all over the place. I'd assume that if I were to go through the herculean task of pinning down the results of the 150 projects I looked at, I'd need to wait at least six month so the projects could all complete, if not longer.

Ben has a much better position to see how things are unfolding because he's connected to so many projects and so the communication channels are already in place.

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The final piece in the RPG Crowdfunding Report is now in place with the release of the raw data used to generate the report. It took awhile to collect it together from different files, clean it up and then wrestle with the Creative Commons license, but it's done. People have been asking for this information, and I found it a bit serendipitous when I watched just the other day Tim Berners-Lee on TED exclaim, "Demand raw data now." Well, here it is, fly and be free!


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Yeah, there are a lot of angles that can be explored. The tough thing is that it takes many hours to pass through the survey set to collect a set of data points. I did four pass-throughs and each one took around 6-8 hours to do, so you definitely need to aim at a target and then grind through it.

I've been cleaning up the raw data and will be releasing that soon, so people will be able to attack it in a huge variety of ways, likely in ways fare more sophisticated than I did.

Drejk wrote:
Are there any collected information about the successful and successful kickstarters from the side of types and themes explored?

I didn't collect data on this, but I can fire from the hip and give some general impressions...

The themes seemed to hit all the major genres. Sci-fi/fantasy/horror/urban fantasy and then there was a good subset of just weird stuff, such as Everything is Dolphins.

Drejk wrote:
Which types of products were receiving more backing than others?

It's hard to say exactly without tracking things. But I'd say that sci-fi was getting a lot of attention, steampunk, and projects that were basically knockoffs of popular licenses.

Drejk wrote:
New RPG systems, settings for existing systems, rule accessories for existing systems, modules?

Generally it seemed to be whole new RPGs that were being put up. I think it was a minority that were supplements to existing systems.

Drejk wrote:
And what kind of themes were successful? Classic fantasy, more exotic fantasy, steampunk, magitech, dark and gritty, dark heroic, heroic, adventurous, etc.

OSR stuff seemed to always do well. Steampunk also.

Drejk wrote:
Did anyone make such comparison what attracts interest of backers and found any patterns?

I think some analysis might be possible. If more data was collected from the survey and added to it then with some spreadsheet mojo it could be teased out to some degree.

The raw data should be out some time this week, so it should hopefully reveal more to people.

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Part Three of the Crowdfunding Report is now up!

This time around I look at general observations I noted as I went through the survey, focusing on broad issues that were not methodically tracked, but struck me as important in the larger picture. Enjoy!

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Allen Taliesin wrote:
Thank you for your work here. This is incredibly valuable data to have.

You're welcome! I hope it helps!

The better informed all the small time publishers are of what works and what doesn't means a win/win for everyone.

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Jeremy Smith wrote:

What I found most intriguing in the data is that the trend, spikes, and price points of PDF / softcover / hardcover follows the pricing structure that we adopted last year following Paizo's pricing model ($10 PDF, $25 softcover)...

It's really interesting to see the data across a broader market segment support the model.

One thing that that numbers have a difficult time of showing, at least to the degree that my spreadsheet-fu can muster, is how few of the projects actually implement a $10/$25/$50 model. From just general observation it was usually $10/~$25 or $10/~$50.

I guess part of it might be people not going a POD route for printing their books, such as from RPGNow. If you do go that way then it is pretty simple to offer all three tiers to backers, which from my overall impression is really important for reaching funding goals. Having lots of different and compelling price points is needed to draw backers in at whatever degree they feel comfortable contributing.

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Part two of the 150 Crowdfunding Projects survey is now up.

In this one I focus on the backing behavior across the wide spread of funding levels. Then I look at how the creators shaped their funding levels with some common rewards being offered.


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