Thursday, February 4, 2016

Too Many Kickstarters!


I know I’m not alone in feeling this, but there are too many cool Kickstarters out there or about to be out there in the RPGsphere.

As mentioned before, Olympus, Inc. is a Savage Worlds setting of superpowered corporate espionage in a world where the Greek gods and their Titan enemies secretly run the world’s biggest mega-corporations – and the black ops fixers (i.e. the player characters) are all demigods. They recently released a brief preview piece highlighting the Satyr player character race, and you can access it here. I’m a backer, but I’m also an interested party; if they reach one of their higher stretch goals, then I’ll be writing an adventure featuring my favorite god, Dionysus.

At the same time, Pinnacle Entertainment Group just announced that they’ll be running a Kickstarter for their latest setting: Weird War I. I’ll probably skip this one despite having been a fan of the Red Baron when I was a kid. I just can’t see myself ever running a war-based campaign that isn’t about plucky rebels fighting mighty empires, whether in a galaxy far, far away or in an 18th century that never was.

Pinnacle graciously pushed back the campaign for Weird War I in order to give more time to Olympus, Inc. and the other Savage Worlds-affiliated Kickstarters going on right now: Aaron Allston’s Strike Force, Against the Axis, the Hell on Earth issue of The Folio, and High Space. High Space intrigues me because it’s about post-scarcity, transhuman space opera and Philip Sandifer’s reviews of Ian M. Banks’ Culture novels made me curious about that kind of flawed utopia. I’d love to support the Strike Force campaign to help my friends Ross Watson and Sean Patrick Fannon – and I know I’ll eventually donate something – but I just can’t see myself ever using the book. The other two, unfortunately, are just too far outside of my wheelhouse.  

On the other hand, there are some non-Savage Worlds Kickstarters that are very, very much in line with my interests, and I’m going to have to budget carefully for these. In fact, I’m probably going to forgo buying The Curse of Strahd so I can support these instead.

Somewhat at the last minute, I backed Nord Games’ Ultimate NPCs: Skullduggery campaign., choosing the D&D 5e option. As might be deduced from the title, it’s a collection of crime- and espionage-themed NPCs for the usual D&D default fantasy setting. Once my current high-level 5e game ends, I’m going to try to talk the group into doing something a little more swashbuckling, a little more earthy. Ultimate NPCs: Skullduggery would certainly help me flesh out a “Scumbags of Waterdeep” campaign.

There's more than just Europe this time.

Of course, I might be tempted to ask them to switch systems entirely, because a new version of 7th Sea is coming from John Wick. I never played the original 7th Sea – I got out of RPGs just before it came out and came back just as the line began dying – but I’ve read a lot of its material and it is definitely my kind of setting. (Newer readers should check out the blog archives from the first year; I was all swashbuckling all the time.) I just hope Wick changed one irritating thing.

The original 7th Sea suffers from one of my absolutely least favorite tropes: a secret known only to the GM that damns the players without their knowledge. One example of this is found in the original Rippers; quite a ways into the campaign, the players learn that anybody who has Rippertech has damned themselves to Hell. In the original 7th Sea, the secret was that using magic actually invited Lovecraftian outsiders into the world. I can almost forgive Rippers for that twist, but I’m totally baffled by the twist in 7th Sea – particularly since the setting as a whole fits more into the lighthearted, black-and-white morality a comrade of mine once called “the pernicious influence of The Princess Bride.”

I expect there will be quite a few changes between AEG’s releases and Wick’s; for one thing, the setting will no longer be tied to the meta-plot of a collectible card game. Wick has already mentioned changes to the setting – new nations, a fuller globe – that make me believe I’ll actually want to play in this version of the setting. I suppose, at worst, I can always house rule away the monsters behind the magic.

Speaking of monsters, the last campaign on my list of tempting Kickstarters is Mysteries of the Yōkai, a small press RPG that’s very much something I wish I’d written. It looks to have more of a Sengoku Era-style setting than the Heian Era that I prefer, but the idea of a game that’s more about negotiating the conflicts between man and monsters rather than just hacking away at them is definitely something I can get behind. And I will get behind it; I just haven’t figured out how much to contribute…

This makes me realize I seriously need to start planning the campaign for The King is Dead. I’m going to need stretch goals and backer rewards and all of that. Some thoughts I’ve had are:

Stretch Goals
  • Additional Art – I just don’t think I’m going to be able to illustrate the setting with the fake movie stills I originally planned. I just don’t have the time to write and play in Photoshop, so I’m going to need to commission art. Hell, I need to start those commissions now and then hopefully raise more money for more art.
  • Expanded Setting Information – The book as planned will provide a broad overview of the islands of Malleus with more detailed information about two settings: the capital city of Hammerstadt and the county of Thornmark. I could offer to include more information about the neighboring lands of Malleus’ version of Europe or about the equivalent of the North American colonies.
  • More Villains – I could make Dracula and Bathory stretch goals, I suppose. They’re sort of outside the main narrative anyway. Hmm… I suppose I could even reveal the location and history of Salome, the first vampire, if we hit a high enough goal.
  • Crossover Adventures – I wonder if I could talk John and Ross into an Accursed/The King is Dead crossover adventure like they have for Shaintar?


Backer Rewards
  • Create a Secret Society – Just as Accursed offered top backers the chance to create their own Witchbreeds, so I could offer backers the chance to create new secret societies. There are an odd number of societies as is, so if I want GMs to be able to randomly roll encounters with other cabals, I need to either add or subtract some societies anyway.
  • Create an Iconic CharacterThe King is Dead doesn’t have any Elminsters or Drizzts. It doesn’t have any notable NPC allies, any “higher-level “ characters the players can turn to as mentors and inspiration. I might as well let contributors create some of those.  

That’s a good place to start. It’s also a good reminder to myself that I can’t spend all the money I earn freelancing on other people’s projects. I mean, I want to support some of them just out of enlightened self-interest (if I support their games, they might support mine) but there are others that just look fun. Dang it, why are there so many cool Kickstarters these days?!

2 comments:

  1. There are between 8 and 10 RPG Kickstarters ending with a week of March 2nd, all of which I have some degree of interest in. If they were spread out, I might kickstart most of them. Since they all hit at one, I'll have to choose. Apocalypse World 2nd Edition already has my money allocated, and Aaron Allston's Strike Force is very tempting. But now Weird War 1 is in the mix as well...

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  2. Many good ones indeed. I backed Olympus inc. Folio #7 and Apocalypse World 2nd edition. With Modiphius' Conan RPG launching very soon I'm forced to be very picky about where I spend my money now.

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