Now that Pathfinder Online has a kickstarter..


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Is there any chance Pathfinder/Golarion might utilise the same source of funding?

I'm thinking for those awkward projects that dont quite fit - I believe there's a view that boxed sets arent generally economically feasible, for example. A suitably structured kickstarter might attract enough heavy backers to get something like that off the ground without tying up (financial) capital.


IIRC the problem is, that while kickstarter can provide funds it don't resolve the problem of manpower available. Goblinworks is separate from paizo and (I guess) most of its staff is or will be separate from paizo. Paizo iteself has all its current staff working at full time - the only way to move past limit would be hiring more staff - but they would require more oversight which would require adding more managerial staff.


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Steve Geddes wrote:

Is there any chance Pathfinder/Golarion might utilise the same source of funding?

I'm thinking for those awkward projects that dont quite fit - I believe there's a view that boxed sets arent generally economically feasible, for example. A suitably structured kickstarter might attract enough heavy backers to get something like that off the ground without tying up (financial) capital.

I must say, when I saw the interview with Lisa, and she mentioned they were looking at Kickstarter, my immediate thought was ‘fantastic!’ And I was a little disappointed when it was revealed to be for Pathfinder Online (although yay for them, I’m sure that makes perfect sense and I hope it works). However, one thing that did strike me, at both her and Vic’s comments, was ‘yes, but repeatedly on these boards, people like Vic and Erik and James have said – in response to pleas for more ‘stuff’ – it’s not really the money, it’s the resources to do it.’ They’ve commented that they’re simply at full stretch at the moment, and can’t contemplate taking on extra work without current schedules and / or quality suffering, and they’re (rightly) not prepared to compromise those. On the other hand, as the company grows, more profit will allow more full time staff to be taken on, but if they’re at full stretch currently, then where are the products going to come from to generate the extra profit? It’s something of a Catch 22, and I’m sure this is something they’ve thought about, and the response at the moment seems to be to go monthly with the Players Companion and try and get more people to buy into them, but I don’t know if that will be enough on its own.

So, ok, I have absolutely no doubt Paizo could raise 50k for (ie) the City of Absalom box set, or Dungeons of Kaer Maga hardback, but how would that give them breathing space to actually produce them? Unless they adopted a ‘hire and fire’ policy, or began working with more freelancers, or even partnered with selected 3PPs to produce Golarion specific material.

I’m a fan of Clark Peterson’s Legendary Games, but their policy of using Paizo AP writers seems to have meant that their projected releases have slowed to a crawl owing to those people having commitments elsewhere. Surely a Kickstarter for new Paizo products would simply compound that type of problem?


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Not only are the current staff obviously at full stretch, there have also been comments (from Vic, I think but maybe Lisa) as to being reluctant to employ too many people. I'm aware of some of those constraints and wasnt intending to suggest "use kickstarter and you can make lots more stuff".

The kind of product I'm thinking about are the 'one-offs' - things like the Beginner Box or the RoTRL hardcover. It seems like they can make space for those kinds of "specials" (barely) from time to time.

So hypothetically, suppose they were looking at doing an Absalom boxed set for release in June 2014 and were once more faced with the "boxed sets are uneconomical" issue. Kickstarter might be a way around that problem - it doesnt make managing the workload any easier, but that isnt the only problem facing a project like that (and the workload issue seems to be something they can manage from time-to-time).


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Steve Geddes wrote:

Not only are the current staff obviously at full stretch, there have also been comments (from Vic, I think but maybe Lisa) as to being reluctant to employ too many people. I'm aware of some of those constraints and wasnt intending to suggest "use kickstarter and you can make lots more stuff".

The kind of product I'm thinking about are the 'one-offs' - things like the Beginner Box or the RoTRL hardcover. It seems like they can make space for those kinds of "specials" (barely) from time to time.

So hypothetically, suppose they were looking at doing an Absalom boxed set for release in June 2014 and were once more faced with the "boxed sets are uneconomical" issue. Kickstarter might be a way around that problem - it doesnt make managing the workload any easier, but that isnt the only problem facing a project like that (and the workload issue seems to be something they can manage from time-to-time).

Clearly those items are manageable (although we don’t know what problems they may or mayn’t have caused behind the scenes), and equally clearly they have a substantial roi factor which makes them worth shooting for. So you may well be right – high profile, signature items could be Kickstarted into production, and managed at the rate of maybe one or two a year. And that kinda begs the next question, why? Isn’t the point of Kickstarter to fund projects where there is little or no startup capital, not reduce risk or improve cash flow for corporations? If Paizo said ‘we’d love to do more, but we can’t afford it’, then I can see the issues, but they’ve said ‘we’d love to do more, but we don’t have resource.’ Clearly they’re looking for ways to improve the bottom line (as any responsible company should), but *should* Kickstarter come to be a short cut to risk reduction for companies?

Given that the Beginner Box had a massive potential audience, and was absolutely necessary as a Pathfinder gateway, I doubt Paizo would quibble over production costs or investment for something like that. I *do* think Kickstarter could be useful for something slightly more ‘out there’, where the market isn’t necessarily assured that would justify the outlay in cost (like a megadungeon product or, say, rules for ‘outer space’ adventuring, or whatever). But that brings us back around to the resource issue – if something wasn’t a guaranteed bestseller, would Paizo be happy to undertake the necessary workload and belt tightening that would inevitably be needed?

If it was me? Outsource. I’d license someone like Frog God or Rite Publishing to take over Player Companion or Module duties for a designated period of perhaps two or three months, appoint Greg Vaughn or someone equally conversant with Golarion to act as editor / quality control, and clear the decks in house for special projects. That would circumvent the problem with making any Golarion content open source that James has highlighted in the past (not the least of which was the headache of controlling direction and ‘official’ material) since it wouldn’t be, and would free up development time to work on high value, high visibility projects. And yes, use Kickstarter to offset the potential loss of ongoing revenue that would represent the percentage going to your licensee and / or content editor


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Lisa (at some point or other) said shed looked into boxed sets but they weren't economical. I wonder whether kickstarter might alleviate that problem, that's all. I'm not suggesting a massive restructuring of the company or revamp of any product line (I'd argue against both of those, in fact - in my view, outsourcing is risking one of Paizo's most valuable assets - their attention to quality. It's manageable, as you set out, but it's still a risk).

Youre correct that the issue of human capital is not addressed at all by kickstarter, but given the right imperatives, that issue has been manageable (if only barely).

As you observe, the motivations behind a hypothetical Absalom boxed set are very different from those behind the beginner box (or the RotRL hardcover). Maybe there are other "special projects" in the works, maybe they've decided they're more trouble than they're worth and the next will be the twenty year anniversary. My only query was, if such things are still on the horizon and if some candidates are being ruled out as uneconomical, is there any chance that they may utilize kickstarter to push those boundaries somewhat?


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Steve Geddes wrote:

Lisa (at some point or other) said shed looked into boxed sets but they weren't economical. I wonder whether kickstarter might alleviate that problem, that's all. I'm not suggesting a massive restructuring of the company or revamp of any product line (I'd argue against both of those, in fact - in my view, outsourcing is risking one of Paizo's most valuable assets - their attention to quality. It's manageable, as you set out, but it's still a risk).

Youre correct that the issue of human capital is not addressed at all by kickstarter, but given the right imperatives, that issue has been manageable (if only barely).

As you observe, the motivations behind a hypothetical Absalom boxed set are very different from those behind the beginner box (or the RotRL hardcover). Maybe there are other "special projects" in the works, maybe they've decided they're more trouble than they're worth and the next will be the twenty year anniversary. My only query was, if such things are still on the horizon and if some candidates are being ruled out as uneconomical, is there any chance that they may utilize kickstarter to push those boundaries somewhat?

When all's said and done, I'd still love to know whether they'd think this was viable, particularly for something like you mention - an Absalom box set. James has said they would love to have a proper, signature 'city' product out there in the market at some point, and I'd prefer that to be a box rather than a hardback, but how do you do that if you can't make money on them? I agree that Kickstarter could make that realistic, and it would be interesting to know if this is something that might be considered.


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I'm not hopeful, but they are remarkably frank about their business from time to time. It's always interesting to hear why something's impossible, even if it seems it would "obviously" work.

The absalom book is one of the very few pathfinder products I was disappointed by. What was in it was great, but there just wasn't enough room to do the city justice, in my view. (I'd actually love a boxed set detailing the dungeons under kaer maga too, but I'd guess that would be even more economically risky - plus I'm holding out for a mega dungeon AP some day... )


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Steve Geddes wrote:

I'm not hopeful, but they are remarkably frank about their business from time to time. It's always interesting to hear why something's impossible, even if it seems it would "obviously" work.

The absalom book is one of the very few pathfinder products I was disappointed by. What was in it was great, but there just wasn't enough room to do the city justice, in my view. (I'd actually love a boxed set detailing the dungeons under kaer maga too, but I'd guess that would be even more economically risky - plus I'm holding out for a mega dungeon AP some day... )

Me too, although I can't decide whether I want the Kaer Maga dungeon in an AP or a box / book. I'm not sure you'd be able to cover it properly in an AP. I think a box detailing the dungeon, followed by an AP in it would be adequate :)

But I would have thought that there would be at least as many people interested in some form of megadungeon AP as Asian and / or Pirates.


Paizo should release a dark future boardgame about auto-dueling with d20 RPG elements to it as well... before Steve Jackson get's Car Wars up there. :-P Or, work in tandem with SJG to do a d20 RPG of Car Wars alongside SJG once they get their Kickstarter set up for that project.

I would love to see a boxed Kaer-Maga AP with giant maps.


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Whiskey Jack wrote:

Paizo should release a dark future boardgame about auto-dueling with d20 RPG elements to it as well... before Steve Jackson get's Car Wars up there. :-P Or, work in tandem with SJG to do a d20 RPG of Car Wars alongside SJG once they get their Kickstarter set up for that project.

I would love to see a boxed Kaer-Maga AP with giant maps.

Boardgames are an interesting possibility. Can’t say I’m keen myself, but from an objective viewpoint, Wizards have demonstrated their effectiveness in generating turnover from non-rpg markets. Whether or not you’d want to saddle yourself with the opprobrium that might draw from the hardcore rpgers is another matter.


Kickstarter has it's place and works well for individuals and small companies such as Rich Burlew creator of Order of the Stick. But Kickstarter takes something like 15%! Not to mention, there is generally a fair amount of work or money that goes into providing "rewards". There may even be tax on the money. 15% May be reasonable if you don't have other options for generating revenue, but taking 15% off the top is terrible if you run on thin margins, as I would imagine most larger companies do.

I hope that Paizo has other options for raising money that don't skim so much off the top. (Also, if an idea wasn't economical before, adding 15% more cost isn't going to help)


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Fergie wrote:

Kickstarter has it's place and works well for individuals and small companies such as Rich Burlew creator of Order of the Stick. But Kickstarter takes something like 15%! Not to mention, there is generally a fair amount of work or money that goes into providing "rewards". There may even be tax on the money. 15% May be reasonable if you don't have other options for generating revenue, but taking 15% off the top is terrible if you run on thin margins, as I would imagine most larger companies do.

I hope that Paizo has other options for raising money that don't skim so much off the top. (Also, if an idea wasn't economical before, adding 15% more cost isn't going to help)

It's pretty old, but this article suggests its 5%.

However, it's not about "adding costs" to a project which can be funded some other way. My thought (feasible or not) was that, given enough heavy hitters, some people will pay more for the product than others and this may drive down the cost of the entry level version. I'm not suggesting paizo need to tap kickstarter because they struggle to raise capital for some projects which are currently feasible, but for the lack of funding. I'm suggesting that a boxed set (which might have to retail for $100+) may be able to be sold cheaper than that if some people are willing to shell out a couple of thousand for it plus a Skype/coffee with the author (or whatever the higher tier perks are).

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Fergie wrote:
Kickstarter has it's place and works well for individuals and small companies such as Rich Burlew creator of Order of the Stick. But Kickstarter takes something like 15%! Not to mention, there is generally a fair amount of work or money that goes into providing "rewards". There may even be tax on the money. 15% May be reasonable if you don't have other options for generating revenue, but taking 15% off the top is terrible if you run on thin margins, as I would imagine most larger companies do.

Kickstarter takes 5%, and Amazon Payments takes between 3 and 5% from each transaction (the smaller the transaction, the higher the percentage). So 8–10%, not 15%—though your point is still very valid! And yes, money raised from a Kickstarter is normal income, and is therefore going to be taxable for most people.

Fergie wrote:
(Also, if an idea wasn't economical before, adding 15% more cost isn't going to help)

That's actually a place where Kickstarter is awesome—it lets you provide rewards outside of your regular cost structure. If you set it up well, a much higher percentage of the higher-level rewards will go to your project—something not easily done outside of Kickstarter.

In effect, normal business requires the creator to tell you "here's how much we need you to pay," and it's difficult for you to pay any more than that if you want to. But Kickstarter has the ability to effectively let you tell a creator how much you *want* to pay, which—if you make good products—can be quite a bit more than you could make otherwise.

The example I like to use is a band recording an album. Most bands manage to release an album a year, if even that; maybe I also get to see them in concert once per year. That means that, no matter how much I love a particular band, I can only readily spend maybe $30 on them each year, give or take. But if that same band offers a Kickstarter for their album, and they come up with an appealing selection of rewards, it's suddenly possible for me to spend as much as I want on them. If they get me to spend $3000 where I would have spent $30, and if they've developed those rewards properly so that their costs go down (as a percentage) with the higher reward levels, then the $3000 from me does indeed give them more profit than selling $30 of stuff to 100 people would. I think that that's the secret genius to Kickstarter.


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Vic Wertz wrote:
The example I like to use is a band recording an album. Most bands manage to release an album a year, if even that; maybe I also get to see them in concert once per year. That means that, no matter how much I love a particular band, I can only readily spend maybe $30 on them each year, give or take. But if that same band offers a Kickstarter for their album, and they come up with an appealing selection of rewards, it's suddenly possible for me...

Dang Vic!! Where do you go to see a band & get an album for $30. Most of the places out here, charge upwards of $50 a ticket *each*, and for the bigger bands well over $100!

-- david
Papa.DRB

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Papa-DRB wrote:
Dang Vic!! Where do you go to see a band & get an album for $30. Most of the places out here, charge upwards of $50 a ticket *each*, and for the bigger bands well over $100!

I was assuming the type of band you'd see in a small club, as they're the ones most likely to be independent from a label, and therefore able to even *do* a Kickstarter.


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Vic Wertz wrote:

That's actually a place where Kickstarter is awesome—it lets you provide rewards outside of your regular cost structure. If you set it up well, a much higher percentage of the higher-level rewards will go to your project—something not easily done outside of Kickstarter.

So... is that a yes, no, or 'no comment' to the OP? :)


You know, you guys have to be pleased with the response for the Kickstarter, as well as scared to death. On the one hand it says there is a HUGE interest in this product. On the other hand it is a message, "Don't screw this up." :P


Could you please consider adding second progress bar for the Goblinworks kickstarter? It's no fun to see percentage go up from visit to visit without visible progress on the already filled bar...

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Drejk wrote:
Could you please consider adding second progress bar for the Goblinworks kickstarter? It's no fun to see percentage go up from visit to visit without visible progress on the already filled bar...

That's actually a widget that Kickstarter provides, so it works the way they want it to work, I guess....


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Drejk wrote:
Could you please consider adding second progress bar for the Goblinworks kickstarter? It's no fun to see percentage go up from visit to visit without visible progress on the already filled bar...

this is fun but you have to take it with a grain of salt: kicktraq.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Cormac wrote:
Drejk wrote:
Could you please consider adding second progress bar for the Goblinworks kickstarter? It's no fun to see percentage go up from visit to visit without visible progress on the already filled bar...
this is fun but you have to take it with a grain of salt: kicktraq.

That site is cool! I like the prediction that we'll get 1,405% of the goal, or over $700,000 (though I don't expect that estimate to be very accurate).


It constantly updates based on progress. It was predicting over a million for both this and the Rappan Athuk Kickstarter, but as the progress slowed, the trend adjusted.


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Mark Moreland wrote:
Cormac wrote:
Drejk wrote:
Could you please consider adding second progress bar for the Goblinworks kickstarter? It's no fun to see percentage go up from visit to visit without visible progress on the already filled bar...
this is fun but you have to take it with a grain of salt: kicktraq.
That site is cool! I like the prediction that we'll get 1,405% of the goal, or over $700,000 (though I don't expect that estimate to be very accurate).

fun update on the kickstarter main page ;) Now to work on the stretch goals!


Vic Wertz wrote:
Papa-DRB wrote:
Dang Vic!! Where do you go to see a band & get an album for $30. Most of the places out here, charge upwards of $50 a ticket *each*, and for the bigger bands well over $100!
I was assuming the type of band you'd see in a small club, as they're the ones most likely to be independent from a label, and therefore able to even *do* a Kickstarter.

Even taking small venues and unsigned bands into account I'm convinced that you're seeing these shows in 1987.


what is pathfinder online, like a MMO?


Vic Wertz wrote:


Kickstarter takes 5%, and Amazon Payments takes between 3 and 5% from each transaction (the smaller the transaction, the higher the percentage). So 8–10%, not 15%—though your point is still very valid! And yes, money raised from a Kickstarter is normal income, and is therefore going to be taxable for most people.

Opps! I think I got the incorrect % from an article I was reading, sorry about that.

Very interesting insights on Kickstarter Mr. Wertz. I'm still trying to wrap my head around how that concept will affect different companies, and I appreciate your insights.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

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Reis wrote:
what is pathfinder online, like a MMO?

It's so much like one that it *is* one! See goblinworks.com for more.

Grand Lodge

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Reis wrote:
what is pathfinder online, like a MMO?

I have the impression that it's going to be much like the way Neverwinter Nights was an expy of D&D with more of the Eve Online cuthroat mentality.

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