Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press.

Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom and Manastorm

My journey from tabletop role-playing game wanna-lancer to freelancer involves buying into the right projects (chronicled here). To build my vanity press resume, I review a number Kickstarters. Here’s a few standout projects with vanity press options.

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Manastorm – A Pathfinder-Compatible Campaign Setting by Terran Empire Publishing

Kickstarter campaign ends on Wednesday, October 26th, 2016 at 9:06 EDT in the evening.

Manastorm's Zula Pyromancer

Manastorm’s Zula Pyromancer

Their pitch:

“Manastorm is a new campaign setting set on a planet located in the Milky Way galaxy. Shin’ar is a world of high magic and epic fantasy!

What is Manastorm?

Manastorm is the inaugural product offering from Terran Empire Publishing. It is a new Pathfinder Compatible campaign setting featuring 16 new playable races – each with their own hybrid class – and 6 new prestige classes.

The planet of Shin’ar boasts 10 expansive regions to explore, from dust- choked ruins to far off enclaves guarded by logic driven automatons.

Manastorm introduces players to the Manasphere, a bubble of radiation that surrounds the planet, given off by mana crystals found deep within the planet’s interior. The Manasphere allows those who can tap into it’s unlimited power to fuel fantastic feats of magic and wonder. Players will be able to create new magical items from mana crystals that allow the user to cast stored spells on themselves or others, as well as allow spellcasters to renew spent spell slots. Players must be warned though, the overuse of mana crystals can result in Mana Poisoning, and eventual death and rising as a Mana Zombie.

Manastorm's Kalarin Rogue

Manastorm’s Kalarin Rogue

The planet suffers from events known as Lunar Quickenings. The Dri-jen moon, the smallest of the planet’s two moons, has an erratic orbit. When it moves close enough to the planet, the moon causes all mana crystal deposits within the planet to react wildly. Bursts of raw mana saturate the Manasphere and cause fluctuations in its behavior. During these times, portals to unknown planets and planes of existence spontaneously open all over the world, depositing countless people and creatures on Shin’ar.

The vast majority of the peoples encountered on Shin’ar are not native to the planet. Many races have migrated to the world during Lunar Quickenings and found themselves stranded when the event ended. Portals to others dimensions or planets can only function during Lunar Quickenings. The Manasphere does not allow the opening of gates or portals outside of Lunar Quickenings, and it has a way to punish those who try to circumvent this. These events last for an indeterminate amount of time. Some have come and gone in the span of a few years, while some can last over a millennium.

Lunar Quickenings allow GMs and players to include all kinds of “homebrew” races and monsters. While Manastorm will offer more than enough to begin to play wonderful and exciting adventures and campaigns, the Lunar Quickenings make it so anything and everything can be encountered on Shin’ar. Terran Empire will also be hosting competitions to include new races and monsters from fans into future products.

History has been disrupted multiple times by these Lunar Quickenings, often with the release of demonic entities and other fearsome creatures, some of which could not find their way back home before their portals of origin were closed. Here is where our story begins: a Lunar Quickening has raged on for the past 38 years, only recently ending and leaving the world to recover once more.”

Egg’s thoughts:

This patchwork world is purpose built to seamlessly port your homebrew Pathfinder lands/creatures into. Add to that, this third party Pathfinder campaign setting feels ready-made to upvert for Paizo’s upcoming Starfinder system/setting (2017), it is like you’re getting two products in one. While not written in their pitch, this setting recalls the best of DC comics’ Adam Strange and his Zeta-Beam trips from Earth to save the planet Rann. For me, Manastorm screams unabashed sword and jetpack barbarian-fi!

John McGuire, American Novelist

John McGuire, Novelist, Moleman Bent on Conquering the Surface World, Amazing Role-player

Their vanity press rewards offer a little extra vanity, not only do you get to write an NPC for their product line, but for $35 more they’ll draw the NPC. I’m likely to request a character modeled on great American novelist, John McGuire.

Their vanity press rewards:

Pledge $90 or more
Most Learned

Reward – Full color hardcover book of Manastorm: World of Shin’ar; Credit in our “Special Thanks” section; Terran Empire game token; Hand drawn “Thank You” card; Poster Map of Shin’ar, PDF (Full) of Manastorm: World of Shin’ar, World of Shin’ar Book of Maps (softcover), PDF of World of Shin’ar Book of Maps, Terran Empire Bookmark, Create a NPC

***Special – Most Learned Backers will be given the opportunity to create a NPC to be used in future Manastorm products and Adventure Paths!***

INCLUDES

  • Manastorm: World of Shin’ar (Hardcover)
  • Terran Empire Game Token
  • Hand drawn “Thank You” card
  • Map of Shin’ar (Poster)
  • PDF of Manastorm: World of Shin’ar (Full)
  • World of Shin’ar Book of Maps (Softcover)
  • PDF of World of Shin’ar Book of Maps
  • Terran Empire Bookmark
Pathfinder

Pathfinder, the logo

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$125 or more
Elder Sage

Reward – Same as Most Learned plus more!

***Backers at this level will also get a small color portrait of their character created and a Limited Edition Art of Shin’ar book!***

***Portrait will be delivered after delivery of book, completion and acceptance of NPC created.***

INCLUDES

  • Manastorm: World of Shin’ar (Hardcover)
  • Terran Empire Game Token
  • Hand drawn “Thank You” card
  • Map of Shin’ar (Poster)
  • PDF of Manastorm: World of Shin’ar (Full)
  • World of Shin’ar Book of Maps (Softcover)
  • PDF of World of Shin’ar Book of Maps
  • Terran Empire Bookmark
  • Art of Shin’ar (Limited Edition Softcover)
  • Portrait of NPC

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Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom by Metal Weave Games

Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, October 23rd, 2016 at 9:00 EDT in the evening.

Their pitch:

Lady Ceidwen of the Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom

Lady Ceidwen of the Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom

Discover the forsaken. A systemless, soulsian-inspired book of NPCs and creatures to take your games into dark new worlds.

All backers, who receive a PDF or more, will receive two free PDF statbooks of their system of choice.

Any additional statbook will be a $5 add-on.

Systems so far supported: D&D 5th Edition, Pathfinder, Shadow of the Demon Lord, OSR/AD&D, Cypher System, Dungeon World, FATE, Savage Worlds & 13th Age.

Embers is a systemless art and lore book designed to inspire GMs and players, much like the Baby Bestiary was. However, instead of adorable creatures, we have a line-up of dark fantasy characters and creatures to invade your games.

Egg’s thoughts:

A systemless offering, this product requires AAA writing to stand next to its epic-level artwork. The art is the selling point for this project. Based on its quality, I believe that the final product will look exceptional. If you’re writing for it, you’ve got to rise to breathtaking prose to go next to these portraits.

Their vanity press rewards:

Art from Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom

Art from Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom

Pledge $400 or more
Forlorn Lord

INCLUDES

  • Name in backer credits
  • PDF of Embers
  • Print of Embers
  • Create a surviving character with us

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Pledge $400 or more
Forlorn Beast

INCLUDES

  • Name in backer credits
  • PDF of Embers
  • Print of Embers
  • Create a surviving creature with us

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 Closing thoughts:

Each project brings interesting art options. I am intrigued by both. Getting a chance to design within Pathfinder for Manastorm would expand my work into a system beyond 5e (albeit a related system). Going systemless will remove the “crutch” of rules all together and require a focus on creativity to match the art of the Embers of the Forgotten Kingdom.

I pledged Manastorm. Getting to design a character to appear in a third party Pathfinder product, with a hoped-for conversion to the upcoming Starfinder, AND getting original art in the deal, it’s a winner and the right choice for lil’ Egg Embry.

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Sasquatch Game Studio’s Primeval Thule for 5e (2015) available at DriveThruRPG.com

Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge & Luminous Echo

My goal? To write tabletop role-playing games professionally.
My plan? To pledge for RPG Kickstarters that let me write as a reward.
My reality? I pay-to-play to build my resume.

So far, I discussed my contribution – monetary and writing-wise – to the Kickstarter for Sasquatch Game Studio’s 5e campaign setting on Kickstarter Reward Level: Vanity Press – Primeval Thule. If my path inspires you to do the same – buy writing credits – then here are some of the RPG vanity press rewards currently on Kickstarter.

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Luminous Echo (D&D 5E, Anima, Pathfinder compatible) by Project Lux

Wen-M art for Luminous Echo (D&D 5E, Anima, Pathfinder compatible)

Wen-M art for Luminous Echo (D&D 5E, Anima, Pathfinder compatible)

Kickstarter campaign ends on Friday, September 30th, 2016 at 11:07 EDT in the morning.

Their pitch:

“Luminous Echo is a world containing ten years’ worth of lore, characters, artifacts, and amazing weapons by world renowned artist Wen-M.

One world, forever divided into two realms. The Dream World, a realm of magic, immortality, and mysteries. Mhodica, a realm of solid matter, stone, and certainties. For as long as either realm could remember, they were precious little more than myth to each other.    

Though once stories of witches, wizards, ghosts and goblins were considered nothing more than stories to frighten small children, the age of certainty is coming to an end. A darkness is stirring which threatens to shatter the equilibrium of the two realms forever.

The only way to avert this catastrophe is for the people of Mhodica to accept the existence of magic, and for the people of the Dream World to accept that the world of Mhodica exists for something more than their own amusement.

Luminous Echo is half art book showcasing the work of Wen-M and half an outline of the world, as well as many characters, weapons, stories, and places.

They set the stage for those who purchase the book to create a variety of adventures in the RPG system of their choosing.”

Egg’s thoughts:

Why would you want to be in this book? It’s so pretty! So, so pretty! You will be happy with the words but even happier with the art! A huge incentive to pledge for their vanity press option is that Wen-M, this project’s artist, will draw a picture of what you write about and you get to keep the sketch.

Need another perk? It will be available for D&D 5e, Pathfinder, and Anima gaming systems. More systems = more exposure.

More Wen-M art for Luminous Echo (D&D 5E, Anima, Pathfinder compatible)

More Wen-M art for Luminous Echo (D&D 5E, Anima, Pathfinder compatible)

Their vanity press rewards:

Pledge $350 CAD or more
ABOUT $271 USD
Custom Designed Weapon

You will receive all rewards in the “Signed Book and All Printouts” tier + custom designed weapon in full color with short story in the book, with the signed original sketch from Wen-M.

INCLUDES

  • Your name in the credits
  • Digital Sketchbook
  • PDF book
  • Hardcover Book – Signed
  • All 11″ x 17″ Prints – Signed
  • Your custom designed weapon in the book
  • Original sketch of your custom designed weapon – Signed

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Pledge $750 CAD or more
ABOUT $580 USD
Custom Designed Creature

You will receive all rewards in the “Signed Book and All Printouts” tier + custom designed creature in full color with short story in the book, with the signed original sketch from Wen-M.

 INCLUDES

  • Your name in the credits
  • Digital Sketchbook
  • PDF book
  • Hardcover Book – Signed
  • All 11″ x 17″ Prints – Signed
  • Your custom designed creature in the book
  • Original sketch of your custom designed creature – Signed

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Pledge $1,600 CAD or more
ABOUT $1,238 USD
Custom Designed Hero

You will receive all rewards in the “Signed Book and All Printouts” tier + custom designed hero in full color with short story in the book, with the signed original sketch from Wen-M.

 INCLUDES

  • Your name in the credits
  • Digital Sketchbook
  • PDF book
  • Hardcover Book – Signed
  • All 11″ x 17″ Prints – Signed
  • Your custom designed hero in the book
  • Original sketch of your custom designed hero – Signed

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Pledge $5,000 CAD or more
ABOUT $3,868 USD
Custom Designed Clan/Family

You will receive all rewards in the “Signed Book and All Printouts” tier Build your landmark in the setting with this custom designed clan with a Clan Emblem of your design, and up to 5 characters with their stories in the book!

INCLUDES

  • Your name in the credits
  • Digital Sketchbook
  • PDF book
  • Hardcover Book – Signed
  • All 11″ x 17″ Prints – Signed
  • Your custom designed Clan/Family in the book
  • Original sketches of your custom designed clan/family – Signed

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Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (5e, Pathfinder) 01

Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (5e, Pathfinder)

Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (5e, Pathfinder) by TPK Games

Kickstarter campaign ends on Sunday, September 25th, 2016 at 5:11 EDT in the morning.

Their pitch:

Author William “Mindflayer” Tucker (Kenzer and Co.), brings his brand of danger to TPK Games in the form of two great adventures.

Two Dark Fantasy Adventures, Two Great Systems, Just in Time for Halloween!

We are looking for your support to help us publish two great dark fantasy 64-page adventures for the Pathfinder and 5e Dungeons & Dragons games. We love both systems and will be dual-statting the adventures so no matter which is your favorite, we’ll have you covered. Your investment will help us bring more art and layout to the project.

It is well known that Total Party Kill Games brings the pain on dark fantasy adventures, so you won’t be disappointed in either of these new titles.

More art from Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (5e, Pathfinder)

More art from Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge (5e, Pathfinder)

Egg’s thoughts:

Two modules for D&D 5e and Pathfinder. The main one is all sorts of bugbear goodness! Can’t go wrong with bugbears!

(Bugbears, they look NOTHING like the name implies… NOTHING!)

This Kickstarter campaign does not have a vanity press option. However, it does have four print advertisement pages. The reward offers ad space for your gaming-related project. With four days to go, they had all four print ad pages left so I took a chance and contacted Brian Berg (Slaughter at’s co-creator). I asked if I could take one of those four print pages for $100 and, instead of submitting an ad, submit a monster or magic item or whatever would fit into their module. He said yes. That made my day!

Their vanity press reward (technically none so please read the section above and reach out to TPK Games before deciding to pledge the $100 level expecting to write something):

$100 or more
Print Advertiser

We’ll place your PRINT AD in our adventure books. This advertisement must be gaming related. We reserve the right to refund your money and not run your ad based on content.

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Closing thoughts:

Both of these projects are going to be fun. I’ve already pledged for Slaughter at Splinterfang Gorge and will document what comes of the pledge in the months to come. Review them both with a thought toward your name on the credit’s page.

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

Sasquatch Game Studio’s Primeval Thule for 5e (2015) available at DriveThruRPG.com

Kickstarter RPG Reward Level: Vanity Press – Primeval Thule

“Can I buy enough RPG writing credits to springboard from vanity press to a paid freelancer?”

Since my first game of D&D with J Edward Neill, I’ve seen tabletop role-playing games as an opportunity to tell stories professionally.

Jeremy Neill. Honest.

J Edward Neill was my first DM. Honest.

However, it’s not a profession that I pursued. I plead “responsibilities” – day job of nearing two decades, kids, over a decade into my mortgage, excessive comic book and TV consumption, you know the chorus to this song. I have not made time to create, to move from wanna-lancer to freelancer.

In 2015, that changed.

Certain projects on Kickstarter let you purchase the opportunity to submit content to their publication. The barebones of the idea looks like:

  • A publisher pitches a product on Kickstarter.com selling rewards to crowdfund it
  • I pick the reward that lets me write for their product
  • I pay, I write, they edit, they print, I rejoice

The writing is nothing too intensive, nothing that eats time. An adventure hook, a NPC, a location seed, a monster, or a magic item, just a few hundred words – my words, my name in the credits. This is my journey to freelancer and it starts with selecting the Kickstarter Reward Level: Vanity Press.

 

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Primeval Thule 5e by Sasquatch Game Studio

Primeval Thule is a Conan versus Cthulhu inspired campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. Created by Richard Baker, David Noonan, and Stephen Schubert of Sasquatch Game Studio, they have written for D&D 3e, 4e, and – their most relevant product to this Kickstarter – Princes of the Apocalypse for 5e.

Interested in a free sample of Primeval Thule? Try Primeval Thule Traveler’s Guide to get a taste of their world.

For most gamers, the high-concept description, creator’s bibliographies, and setting sample decided their level of interest in backing this Kickstarter. For me, it was the $250 Dungeoneer Reward:

PrimevalThule5eCover

The cover to Primeval Thule for 5e

  • Hardcover and PDF versions of the Primeval Thule 5e Campaign Setting – $49.95 / $19.95
  • A large pullout map and PDF of the Thule continental map – Cost bundled with the book
  • A GM’s screen – $25
  • A large pullout map of the city, Quodeth – Cost bundled with the GM screen
  • Six player reference cards and PDFs – Cost bundled with the GM screen
  • A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e GM Companion – $7.95
  • A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Players Companion – $7.95
  • A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Red Chains adventure – $2.95
  • A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Watchers of Meng adventure – $2.95
  • A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Secrets of the Moon Door adventure – $2.95
  • A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e Night of the Yellow Moon adventure – $3.99
  • A PDF of Primeval Thule 5e The Lost Tower of Viondor adventure – $3.99
  • Total MSRP – $127.63

All great offerings but the sentences that opened lil’ Egg Embry’s wallet were:

  • “[Y]ou’ll be invited to name a dungeon, ruin, or adventure locale and provide a brief background or description which will serve as the basis for our development of that site. (The copyright to the name and description you provide will be held by Sasquatch Game Studio, LLC. We reserve the right to reject and/or applaud inappropriate, vulgar, or unsuitable suggestions.)”
  • Vanity press upcharge – $122.37
PrimevalThule5ePg126

This image from Primeval Thule page 126 pops for me!

Their reward – pay-to-play or, for my situation in the era of credit cards, swipe-to-write – fit my time budget and my love of D&D. Combined with Thule’s barbarian-nightmare setting, their first-rate production values, and, top of my Christmas wish list, my words and name in print, I saw a path to freelancing with Primevel Thule as the first step.

 

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The Mammoth Graveyard.

There is a valley where mammoths go to die. Centuries of their ivory wealth litters the ground in testament to its consecrated importance. Overlooking those graves is a primordial, decaying fortress built onto a godly-proportioned mammoth’s skull and ribs. The ruins whisper of lost treasures, violence, a dead god, and a plea to escape. But no one does…

 

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Sasquatch edited my submission, elevating it to Robert E. Howard-lite, and printed it as a sidebar within their 5e edition of Primeval Thule Campaign Setting. The process was effortless – pay, write then submit while professionals handle the editing. The books have been delivered, read, and greatly enjoyed. Vanity press RPG writer’s credit number one complete! On to number two…

PrimevalThule5ePg228

Thulean Cyclops from page 228

 

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Kickstarter information:

Primeval Thule: 5e Campaign Setting by Sasquatch Game Studio LLC
Raised: $52,811 starting July 16th, 2015

Primeval Thule: Pathfinder, 13th Age, and 4e Campaign Settings by Sasquatch Game Studio LLC
Raised: $75,232 starting July 2nd, 2013

 

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Egg Embry, Wanna-lancer

Egg Embry wrote comic book short stories, edited comic book series, wrote and drew a webcomic, and contributed to comic book journalism across the 2000s. Now, he buys the opportunity to write for a variety of tabletop role-playing games in the tradition of vanity press. His purchases have been published by:

 

  • Sasquatch Game Studio’s Primeval Thule for 5e (2015) available at DriveThruRPG.com

 

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Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links to DriveThruRPG.com.

Savage Worlds: Fast, Furious, and Fun! - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

 

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