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 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.




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:


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

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.




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…




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…


Thulean Cyclops from page 228




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




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

Daydreams and Wanderings Anniversary

Daydreams and Wanderings

Friday, on April Fools Day no less, was the one year anniversary for the day my sketchbook funded on Kickstarter.  It was an experience I’ll never forget. The months afterward were just as exciting too. Holding my book’s proof in my hands. Opening my box of beautiful little books. Working on the sketches for my Kickstarter backers.

Daydreams and Wanderings Sketchbook

To celebrate the anniversary of my Kickstarter success I’m offering the remaining copies of my book for the early bird price of $15–originally only available during the Kickstarter last year. So if you missed out on my campaign, or want a second copy to gift to a friend, take advantage of this sale price. The sale runs till April 5th.


Here’s a look inside…

Thinking of Running a Kickstarter?

10 Kickstarter Tips

My first Kickstarter has come to a close. All of the books have been printed and shipped out to my amazing backers. My friends even threw me a book release party. What a ride! I’ve put together a list of 10 tips you may find useful if you’re thinking of running a Kickstarter.

1. Have a fan base. Seriously. It’s going to be that fan base that shares your campaign on their social media accounts. This is incredibly important. I’m certain if I had tried to run my campaign a year ago, it probably would have failed. What changed in a year? I was in the DragonCon Art Show.

2. Look at other campaigns, both successful and unsuccessful. I browsed and took notes for various art kickstarters and specifically those campaigns for sketchbooks. I looked at the type of rewards they offered, prices, and how they structured their descriptions. You can learn a lot this way!

3. Videos are important–more than you may think. The Youtube culture has exploded in the last few years. It’s taken a while for it to grow on me. I must be getting old! Everything I’d read reiterated how important it was to have a Kickstarter video. So I researched the videos of successful campaigns and 90% of the time those videos included either the artist talking in the background or the artist in the video. It needs to be personal. Backers are giving you their money, they are putting their trust in you and your product.



A lot of folks watched my video. This may not be a phenomenal number, but it’s more than I imagined.

3. Quality graphics to show off your rewards. People want to see what they’re going to get if they support your campaign. Take the time to create the graphics. You can then use them in your social media promotion too.



4. A complete profile, with links to your website and social media. This might seem like common sense, but I’ve seen more than a few campaigns with no link to a website. Or their link goes to a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated in over a month. That’s not a good way to make an impression.

5. Read the entire Creator Handbook and then also read the FAQ pages and the Rules. Read everything Kickstarter makes available to you. They have specific rules but they also give you an enormous amount of information to help you build your campaign.

6. Pre-promotion. You have to start talking about it online months beforehand. I probably could have done a bit more of this. Share teaser images, talk about your rewards, anything to start peaking the interest of your fans and their friends.

Sketchbooks and Drusilla7. Think about your fans when it comes time to schedule your campaign. December might not be the best month to run a Kickstarter. It’s a holiday season for several religions. Even November might be risky if people are beginning to buy gifts for December.

8. Don’t underestimate your goal. You need to know in advance how much it’s going to cost to ship your rewards. Either add shipping to your goal or add it to the rewards. I chose to include US shipping in my goal and add a flat rate shipping fee for intentional backers.

9. Promotion during the campaign–to the point you fear people will starting ignoring you. Truly, you need to share your campaign every day. Work out a schedule and make sure you’re not posting about it at the same time. It doesn’t hurt to ask other artists to share your campaign too.

10. Keep your backers updated! During the campaign you need their support more than ever. I recommend composing an update once a week to let backers now how the campaign is proceeding, to remind them to share with their friends, and for making announcements (stretch goals, new rewards, etc.). But don’t let it end there. If you’re campaign is successful then it’s even more important to let your backers now how things are progressing, so they know without a doubt you are holding up your end the agreement. I had a lot of fun sharing the arrival of my sketchbook with my backers. They made my book possible!