277 Backing an RPG Kickstarter

The boys discuss their thoughts, opinions, and experiences backing kickstarters.

1 Like

A few surface level thoughts.
Brett, you may already be aware, but instead of putting a kickstarter in your calendar, the site does have a “remind me” function.

Regarding your comments on people who have made comments on not backing projects that have not previously run, or backed, kickstarters. I get what your saying, that this is an odd barrier for entry. However, I have seen different places hold solid rationale for this. If a person or group has never backed a project, that can have an effect on their understanding of time lines, stretch goal bloat, or even misunderstanding things like domestic and overseas shipping. Projects have literally died based on the managers not factoring in changes in shipping, be it the mail out or overseas from production. Sure, someone has to start somewhere, but I think the idea is to follow a few and see how they work, even if it’s just the one dollar level to track their progress, and starting with an “easy” project, not launching Reaper Bones.


Very interesting episode! I’m a superbacker on KS, so this gave me a lot to think about. One thing I think you guys could have talked more about is FOMO. I now that Hankerin’ Ferinale of Runehammer Games often criticizes KS as FOMO.

Even though I’ve backed lots of KS’s I also don’t search for projects through KS–the one exception being last year’s Zine Quest. I think this year’s Zine Quest will be similar. I will search through all the projects and KS makes this easy, listing all the projects at one site. I’m also planning on releasing my own KS for zine quest, an adventure I wrote for Five Torches Deep (and played at Evercon). It will be a real zine–there has been some discussion on Twitter how although KS has requirements for Zine Quest many of the projects last year didn’t follow them, some even publishing fancy hardcover books under the label.

1 Like

A couple times Brett mentioned people not choosing to fund on Kickstarter because maybe they hate it. I waited for either Brett or Sean to mention the union kerfuffle. I’m reminded of the episode “Why So Serious?” The reason should be obvious, once one looks at this statement included in a recent, successful Kickstarter campaign from Free League Publishing.

Currently I’m watching Frog God’s new Swords & Wizardry box set climb in the pledges, with no similar statement. Searching the news, I can’t find any indication that the union issue has been satisfactorily resolved.

Another question I’ve seen floated—and one to which I have absolutely no knowledge to add—is if “established” rpg companies (such as Frog God, Troll Lord, Modiphius, etc.) should be routinely using KS as their business models and procedures. The argument is that KS should be used for indie startups, not become systemic in company procedure. The answer I’ve seen to this is that very few rpg companies have the resources to continue without routine KS seed money.

P.S. I tried to rename my username to Gabe Dybing, so Sean may be permitted to stop saying it. But it appears to be a permanent selection? It’s AIR-vit. (And Huscarle is HOOS-carl.) :grin:


I think other than WoTC and maybe Paizo, the RPG market is pretty small, so I have no problems with more established RPG companies (is there a name for them like second tier?) using KS to fund projects. I get email updates from Steve Jackson Games, for instance, and they are public with the products they sell the most and are most dependent on for survival. Routinely, year-after-year, Munchkin products make up most of their top 10.

1 Like

One of the thing KS does for both new and more established companies is provide a known marketing platform (which can obviously be a negative for people who don’t like KS either specifically or generally) and, despite the lack of reality behind it (in my opinion) a feeling of trustworthiness—because it’s on KS, it must have some value. If a company, even Frog God, did a pre-order through our own web site, we would get neither. Of course, KS takes a fee for this, and in that sense, it seems that the platform should be used by those who think it makes financial sense. Companies can choose to instead take additional risk (printing then selling) or market their own pre-order. These have their own inherent costs.


I think I understand what you are saying here, and it puts me in mind of some follow up comments.

News of KS’s union busting happened to break (for me) just as a KS campaign I long was awaiting was about to launch (Against the Darkmaster). I realized that “punishing” KS by refusing to back a new indie project would… likewise hurt the indie developers who were, essentially, my own friends.

It’s complicated—when a service becomes so essential to be the framework through which communities and industries remain healthful. This is the pain, I suppose, that results while we wait for worthy competitors to emerge, or the enactment of anti-trust laws. KS has some competitors, I suppose. Even Facebook and Amazon. But, man, they are juggernauts, and they seem only too comfortable while dictating their own terms to users and producers.

I’m happy that the KS union was able to get out the message I shared in my screenshot above, because, of course, employees, even while they unionize, still need to work, and they need their services used or purchased.


Well said—it is complicated and I like how you’ve encapsulated the complexity.


I’ve only backed 2 kickstartes.
the first was a huge burn
the second, was The Streets of Avalon, to which I told Chris, Phill, and Brett to SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

and they did, then @Fafhrd came down to me in person and he did!

long story short, 12/10, Second kickstarter was best kickstarter, would kickstart Brett again

1 Like

I think along the same lines on people who haven’t previously backed a Kickstarter. It’s not an immediate rejection, but it is a warning flag for me that the person running it may not know what they are getting into.

Of course, backing dozens of projects doesn’t mean you know anything either, but at least you’ve had the opportunity to see things go both very well and catastrophically wrong. It gives some perspective.


I do like the advice given on the episode. Check the creators previous projects and see if they even delivered. Also checking the timeline of past projects to see how far past the projected release date may help persuade/discourage backing a project.

1 Like

A good episode like usual. Part of the conversation I wanted to reply to was what makes someone want to back a project or not. I’ve almost only backed RPG products but there are a few things that get me on board.

  1. An interesting IP/setting. 7th Sea, Freeport, Flash Gordon, Scarred Lands, Kobold’s Midgard, etc.
  2. A person or company I respect or trust. This can be a big company or a smaller group.
  3. Backing levels that offer me value (just a PDF for $30?)
  4. Backing levels that offer me interesting exclusives (a high end book binding)
  5. Stretch goals that add value to the core offering versus the “opportunity” to buy add-ons.
  6. Great artwork.

That’s interesting to me, Count.
Generally, I AVOID IP unless it’s from the originator. Not exclusive to RPGs. Comic books, board games, what have you.

But I generally agree. Trust and history can be a big factor. I’ve read places that it’s recommended first time KSers go with a small one, just to build that trust.


I’ve only backed a few kickstarters here and there. I’ve done a few miniatures, some game systems, but more recently they tend to be more unique products related to gaming. Combat Description Cards, The Storytelling Deck. Because I’m not currently playing much and so stacking up more modules or systems I won’t use has less value to me than some interestingly designed thing to spark my creativity or make gaming more immersive or interesting that I won’t be able to find/order through my FLGS or a company.

Another thing that sparks me is things that are designed for social good. So the recent system by Game to Grow around therapeutic gaming was something that seemed both unique, related to my interests in gaming/therapy and was going to be doing good in supporting folks doing really good work in supporting neurodiverse communities and the good gaming can do for them. The Storytelling Deck just sent out free printables and school exercises to schools to use but had part of that as their initial model as well.

So for me it’s gotta be something really unique or different and if its doing some good for the world, all the better.

It’s so interesting to hear others criteria and ideas for why they back something.

1 Like