Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – How to Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck

No vanity-press-buy-a-RPG-creator’s-credit this week. Instead, let’s focus on a publication to improve my RPG adventure module writing skills.

How to Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck by Goodman Games
Kickstarter campaign ends on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 at 11:50 PM EST.

How to Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck

Their Pitch:

“Advice on how you can write great adventures – from the company that has published more than 200 top-notch adventures!

Many years ago, when Goodman Games was first starting out, many sage elders in the industry gave Joseph Goodman advice on what to publish. The most common advice received was: “Don’t publish adventure modules. They don’t sell.”

What we have learned since then is that advice is largely true. Poorly written, uninteresting, uninspired adventure modules do not sell.

But the good adventure modules – the exciting ones – that ones that read well and play well at the table – they become treasured memories for us all. They become legends. These adventures are the shared experience that builds our community. We remember our exploits, ask each other how a different group handled that encounter, and lament the secret doors we may have missed. We tell our friends about the climactic finale; we are in turns surprised and devastated and thrilled as we navigate the encounters. And most importantly, if an adventure is fun to play – if the game master and the players both have a blast – then we tell our friends, and they play, and they tell their friends, and that adventure becomes a community builder. It is played thousands and thousands of times. It becomes a legend.

How to Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck

This book is about how to create tabletop RPG adventures that become those legends. This book is about how to write great adventure modules – the ones that gamers can’t stop talking about.

This is the primer that every game designer needs to have on his bookshelf. I’ve been in the role-playing game design industry for more than forty years. In many of those years my products were the best selling products out that year. I learned many new things from this set of articles. I have learned things that have improved my design skills, so I know they will improve yours as well.

The essay writers include:

Jobe Bittman, Mike Breault, Anne K. Brown, Timothy Brown, Stephen Chenault, Casey Christofferson, Chris Clark, Michael Curtis, Chris Doyle, Joseph Goodman, Allen Hammack, Jon Hook, Kevin Melka, Brendan J. LaSalle, Lloyd Metcalf, Bill Olmesdahl, Steve Peek, Jean Rabe, Merle M. Rasmussen, Lester Smith, Harley Stroh, Jim Wampler, James M. Ward, Skip Williams, and Steve Winter.”

Egg’s Thoughts:

How to Write Adventure Modules That Don’t Suck

I want to be a tabletop role-playing game freelancer. I have some creator credits and experience that I’ve bought through RPG Kickstarters. What I don’t have is a mentor. HtWAMTDS is not that, but it is written by individuals that would be ideal mentors. The book promises to share their thought process for designing modules and adventure paths.

The cleverest part of Goodman Game’s Kickstarter is the updates, they’re samples of the book’s philosophy. Unlike so many projects, this one creates a clearer and clearer picture of what you are purchasing every time they add a new post.

To be clear, there are no vanity press rewards here. Instead, for as little as $12, you can get the PDF of HtWAMTDS and learn from those that have gone before and made money in this industry. Seems like money well spent.

***

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 – Writer
  • Ember Design Studios’ Yrisa’s Nightmare for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com – Writer
  • Ember Design Studios’ Rats in the Street for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com – Writer & Artist
  • Kobold Press’ Tome of Beasts for 5e available at KoboldPress.com – Playtester

Why Kickstarter RPG Vanity Press Rewards? Why Not Self-Publish?

Why am I dead set on buying role-playing game writing credits via Kickstarter? Why build a resume through paying to work for other creators? Why not, you know, self-publish my own RPG content? There are a number of options to sell third-party RPG publications: OpenGamingStore.com, DMsGuild.com, RPGNow.com, DriveThruRPG.com, Kickstarter.com (of course) and more. So why not be my own boss and dive in?

open-gaming-store-logo

I’ve touched on my major obstacle to doing more, time. I lack it so it makes more sense, for now, to do small parts of larger, collaborative projects.

Another major concern I have is being seen. I want what I write to be read. Would I develop a following out of the stone blue?

Then there’s the one my creditors care about the most – Profitability. Would I make more publishing than I hope to make as a freelancer?

Some of the answers to those questions appear in One Year on DM’s Guild, an entry by Jacob Driscoll on his blog The Wonder Waffles. In the article, he discusses his RPG sales in 2016 on the DMsGuild.com. Well worth a full read.

drivethrurpg-logo

Without reprinting all of Jacob’s research, here are the *edited* parts of his article that are pertinent to what I do (see his article for a fuller picture):

Productivity (Supply)

  • I’ve made a total of 16 Products […] Prices ranged from Pay What You Want (potentially free!) to $5.
  • These products have had about 340 Total Sales, in all, or a raw average of about 21 sales per product.

Profitability (Demand)

  • I’ve made about $250 profit for myself in royalties …
  • That profit works out for me to about $2.06 per page, or, hourly, $0.50/hour. Or, by word, about three-tenths of a cent per word.
  • On a per-product basis, I’m looking at an average of $16.19 profit per product. That breaks down to about $0.70 per unit …”

From the perspective of my vanity press experiment, there are some worthwhile pieces of information to be assumed from this. After buying two of Jacob’s products – People of the Eternal: Races of the Astral Plane and Hereos of the Eternal: Classes of the Astral Plane – and some Googling, Jacob has more experience in freelance RPG creation than I do. Because of his position ahead of me, his results are worth referencing as a roadmap for the road not taken.

rpgnow-logo

For this comparison, the most important difference between Jacob’s path and mine is our methods. I’m hoping to buy writing assignments, do a solid job and move from being a wanna-lancer that pays to write to a freelancer that gets paid to write. Jacob is jumping right into production and profit and contacting RPG fandom without working for a third-party publisher.

That deserves emphasis. He’s making money while I’m spending it. Jacob’s generated profits ($250) equal to what I spent on my first RPG Kickstarter vanity press reward ($250). He’s WAY smarter than me.

That said, I’m experimenting and that’s worth something. Testing a hypothesis has value… right? Right? I mean, what’s, ah, what’s money?

I mean, other than everything… hmm… uh, <sniffle>… back to topic…

kickstarter-logoJacob points out that, to-date, his per word pay rate (the normal measure for a RPG freelance writer) is $.003 (3/10ths of a cent) per word. While I have not jumped to paid writing gigs, many RPG publishers advertise freelancer rates of $.01 and $.02 per word and $.03 per word and $.05 per word, between three and sixteen times higher than Jacob’s current take. That said, I believe (and clearly Jacob does as well since this is the direction he’s moving) that he will grow a fanbase over the years and in the long game see more money.

In measuring his first year’s accomplishments, Jacob notes his total units sold in 2016 are 340. While that does not represent 340 individual fans, he’s been seen by a number of fans. In the article, he talks about the pricing methods he’s using to attract customers and get a greater amount of sampling. I am lockstep with him on the need for fans to see your work. It’s part of why I chose to buy onto Kickstarter projects. Because they funded, I know they were successful and that any work I do will get eyes on it. As an example, my short (few hundred words) location seed in Sasquatch Game Studio’s Primeval Thule for 5e was seen by at least 850 RPG fans. No one bought it because of what I wrote they bought it for the genius of what Sasquatch Games created. In that amazing campaign setting, the fans got to see what I added and, I hope, will look favorably on trying my future freelancer work because of it.

If Jacob is bringing in a check and building a fanbase and establishing himself, why don’t I? Why am I not going Jacob’s route?

dmsguild-logo

It’s still time. He’s putting in an estimated 10 hours a week. I have difficulty being certain I’ll have that week after week. But also there’s the exposure. I believe that saying I worked on X projects is more likely to turn heads and generate interest in future works. Then there’s the money. In the near-term, freelancer work has the potential to pay more. In the end, there’s my experiment. I think that there is value in a story. Saying you bought your way into your job, well, that’s a story worth telling.

Thanks to Jacob Driscoll for writing his article and John McGuire for pointing it out to me.

* * *

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
  • Ember Design Studios’ Yrisa’s Nightmare for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com
  • Ember Design Studios’ Rats in the Street for 5e and Pathfinder available at DriveThurRPG.com

Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Did I Miss? – The Faerie Ring

Current State? Role-playing game wanna-lancer. Mission? To become a RPG freelancer. Plan? Pledging for writing credits in other creator’s RPG Kickstarters.

The_Faerie_Ring_1

From The Faerie Ring by Zombie Sky Press.

That’s the situation now, but what about the past? Are there any un-mined RPG writing credits in Kickstarter’s long tail of products? As it turns out, yes.

The projects I didn’t back… Some are professional and, likely, memorably fun but charged more for their vanity press pledge levels than I could afford. Some were great looking products but did not have a vanity press option at all. One of the latter was The Faerie Ring for Pathfinder and 5e. I did not pledge but I follow them on Facebook and they have posted a writing opportunity…

The Faerie Ring for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and 5E by Zombie Sky Press

This Kickstarter is in the rearview having started on November 30th of two thousand and fifteen.

Their pitch:

The Faerie Ring expands the fey options for both players and GMs using either Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or 5E and creates new opportunities for meddling where you probably shouldn’t. It introduces new fey monsters, playable fey races and other character options, fey big bads or patrons (or both!), fey cities and planes and other locales, and more.

This project aims to highlight the fey: to build their mythos with the strong personalities of powerful fey lords, to build their mystery with extraplanar fey locales and adventures, and to build their influence with fey character options.

The_Faerie_Ring_2

This picture encapsulates the wanna-lancer to freelancer journey. From The Faerie Ring by Zombie Sky Press.

We’re updating and remastering the two existing PDF releases (“Prelude” and “Red Jack”) and incorporating them along with nine additional chapters of brand new content as The Faerie Ring: Along the Twisting Way in two printed volumes: a Campaign Guide and a Player’s Guide. Plus, a third book in PDF, the Magic Guide.

The Faerie Ring began over 5 years ago and launched Zombie Sky Press. And though the project’s been silent for a while, we’ve been quietly designing the whole time, and now, we’re ready to unveil our plans. The original “Prelude” is linked in the Update section for everyone to check out.

Egg’s thoughts:

Not out of intention, but every RPG game I’ve played has been set in a human-centric world. The concept of the fey fleshed out to be more than the occasional antagonist is interesting. This product seems likely to offer both the flavor and crunch needed to make the faerie races, monsters, magics, and societies feel grounded and workable. Had there been a vanity press option, I’d have happily put in my coin.

But, a year later, there is an option.

The_Faerie_Ring_5

From The Faerie Ring by Zombie Sky Press.

Update #23:

Public Update and a Call for Magic Submissions

We Want Magic Submissions! 

As we pull together the Campaign and Player’s Guides for The Faerie Ring, we’re thinking more and more about the Magic Guide. So we’re calling for magical pitches. Interested in submitting something for consideration? Accepted pitches will be commissioned at 5 c/w.

For design contributions, please put together a pitch of one or more ideas for the Magic Guide that you’d be interested in working on. We are certainly looking for individual spells and rituals—and I’ll be asking for those at a later date—but we’re currently looking for other things, like fascinating optional subsystems related to magic and the fey. For the pitch, give me a description of what you’re proposing and the presumed word count (assume you can’t have more than 2,000-3,000 words per idea, though great pitches may be given more room). These can be for either 5E or Pathfinder (if accepted, we’ll convert if possible), or maybe, they’re largely flavor with minimal to no crunch; let us know in the pitch. Send pitches to scott(at)zombieskypress(dot)com by December 1, 2016.

Get your ass to Mars.

Kuato Lives! From The Faerie Ring by Zombie Sky Press.

For example, the concept of the moonshadow will be a part of the Magic Guide. This will detail how the moon’s passing affects different fey in different ways (but all fey feel the effects of the moon in some way).

Here’s the PDF that started it all back in 2010. It’s getting some updates for the new release, but it is offered here as inspiration: The Faerie Ring Prelude.

Egg’s closing thoughts:

To this point, there has been safety in paying for the opportunity to write. Once they have my money they can’t fire me without a refund.

What Zombie Sky Press is offering is work-for-hire. Submitting to write comes with no guarantee of acceptance like a Kickstarter pledge does. This situation requires skills not born of my bank account. They’re offering the first major test in my mission: Have I reached the level (oy) where I can move from paying to write to being paid to write? Am I ready to jump from wanna-lancer to freelancer?

Vanity Press: What Kickstarter RPG Rewards Are Available? – Apocalypse the Risen RPG

I am building a resume of tabletop role-playing game writing credits by buying them from Kickstarter. The goal is to go from a RPG wanna-lancer to a paid freelancer. It’s… well, it’s my personal demon. To that end, there is an option to pay to write about that or any type of demon.

 

* * *

Apocalypse the Risen Campaign Setting

Apocalypse the Risen Campaign Setting

Apocalypse the Risen RPG (Pathfinder Compatible) by Rust Portal Games

 

Kickstarter campaign ends on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016 at 10:18 EDT in the evening.

 

Their pitch:

 

Can you survive the undead and demonic horrors ravaging post-apocalyptic Earth some 25 years after the Rise? Pathfinder Compatible RPG.

 

Apocalypse the Risen Campaign Setting is a Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible post-apocalyptic fantasy horror RPG based on Earth, twenty-five years after the fall of society, an event known as the Rise. This full color hardcover campaign setting will be heavily illustrated and over 400 pages.

 

Ghost, Emotes All by Preston Stone

Ghost, Emotes All by Preston Stone

Apocalypse the Risen thrusts you into the role of a resolute survivor, forging through the ashes of humanity on an Earth besieged by demons and the dead—known as Risen. Twenty-five years after the collapse of society, humankind and their new allies now fight back, staggered and beaten but never broken.

 

Is it the survival of your Colony that drives you onward in the hunt for precious resources? Or perhaps hatred for the evils walking the Earth that fuels your righteous anger seeking redemption?”

 

Egg’s thoughts:

 

First, like so many Kickstarter RPG projects, the art is rich and amazing. The book will look glorious with this level of art.

Second, you get to design a demon. I mean, does it get more metal than designing a demon? No, no it doesn’t.

 

Their vanity press rewards:

 

Descended Draft, Seraphim Banner by Rodrigo Vega

Descended Draft, Seraphim Banner by Rodrigo Vega

“Pledge $349 or more

 

Demonologist

You are the Light against the Darkness.

 

Includes

  • Design a Demon! Apocalypse the Risen includes a detailed demon creation system and we will put it at your fingertips. Give us an idea, a name, a concept, or dig deep into the demon creator and we will work with you to design a demon to be published by Rusted Portal with designer credits for you.
  • Apocalypse the Risen Campaign Setting Hardcover
  • Access to Stretch Goals unlocked during campaign!
  • AtR Character Portfolio Pack (18 Sheets)
  • Apocalypse the Risen GM Screen
  • Apocalypse the Risen Campaign Setting PDF
  • “Adrift” AtR One-shot Adventure PDF
  • Nine 8th Level Pre-Generated Characters PDF”

 

* * *

Shonk, The Holy Wood

“OMG! Demon metal me?! Yeah-no!”    – Shonk, The Holy Wood!

 

Closing thoughts:

 

The project looks stunning, the concept – post-apocalyptic Earth – is, while not wholly original, a fresher patch of farmland than replanting yet another crop of pseudo-western Europe setting-seeds. It looks like a world where action will carry the story and the conflicts of good and evil are defined.

The vanity reward is designing a demon. How do you make a demon fun to run for any role-playing group? Pinhead would not work for every table and, because of that, making a fitting demon would take some thought. The hardest part of this task is likely to be not basing the demon on one of your old role-playing buddies… That might be impossible.

 

* * *

 

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? – The Dread House and Salt in Wounds Tabletop Setting

I want to freelance in the tabletop role-playing game industry. To get there, I’m buying a resume of writing credits via Kickstarter rewards. So far, I’ve largely bought into D&D 5e. But the RPG industry is wider than D&D and I want to add as many systems to my resume as I can. That makes these projects of interest to me.

"Fascinating." - Mirror Mirror Robert Jeffrey

“Fascinating.” – Mirror Mirror Robert Jeffrey II

 

* * *

 

The Dread House (Pathfinder/5th Edition/Call of Cthulhu) by Hammerdog Games

 

Kickstarter campaign ends on Saturday, October 29th, 2016 at 3:00 EDT in the afternoon.

 

Their pitch:

 

The most haunted house in the world, presented with multiple storylines, in multiple time periods, and for multiple RPG systems.

 

Dry leaves crackle under your feet as you make your way up the hill towards the dark manse, your path lit by a bold harvest moon. The taste of rain is in the air and you hear a distant peal of thunder. The townsfolk begged you not to come up here. Not tonight. Especially not tonight.

The Dread House

The Dread House

 

You reach the grounds as storm clouds slip across the moon, darkening the yard. You make your way carefully to the front door but find it barred from the outside. It would take a crowbar and some muscle to get in this way. The windows are high off the ground but seem breakable. You test your theory with a large rock, and the glass shatters as the first bolt of lightning slashes across the sky. You climb up and through the broken pane, carefully turning and lowering yourself to the floor of the room inside. The townsfolk may be afraid of this place buy you aren’t.

 

“Good Evening” says a deep strong voice that makes you whirl with shock. Your eyes search the darkness but you see nothing. A flash of lightning verifies to your eyes that you are alone.

 

“I trust you will be staying?” says the voice. “Excellent, it’s been a long time since we’ve had company.” Lightning flashes again. The drawing room is empty of everything but old furniture. You turn and scramble to the window, ready to leap through it and to the ground below. But the window isn’t broken any more. Somehow it’s healed.

 

You stop to puzzle this impossibility for the briefest of moments. That’s all it takes. The voice in the darkness gets you, and nobody hears you scream. You should have listened to the townsfolk. You should have come better prepared…for The Dread House.”

 

Egg’s thoughts:

 

The Dread House is a series of adventures set in different eras that utilize different systems – Wizard of the Coast’s D&D 5e, Paizo’s Pathfinder, but, most important to lil’ Egg Embry, Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu. Call of Cthulhu is not on my resume. Add to that the concept – a haunted mansion that exists from medieval times to present – offers a growing tale and world to explore. Character’s actions from one era can be felt in the next. The vanity press offer – “an adventure, encounter, or monster in the Dread House” – combined with the chained nature of these adventures will, I hope, allow me to write something a little longer than many of my Kickstarter vanity press pledges.

The Dread House's Gentleman Ghost

The Dread House’s Gentleman Ghost

 

Their vanity press rewards:

 

“$150 or more

Architect of Dread

 

An undead professional, you seek to further your career even after death. You gain a copy of The Dread Wedding and all PDFs. You will participate in the development process of an adventure, encounter, or monster in the Dread House. No prior experience is required but the more experience you have, the more you can contribute. You will gain a credit as a developer. [Freight Extra]”

 

* * *

 

Salt in Wounds Tabletop Setting for 5th Edition & Pathfinder by J. M. Perkins

 

Kickstarter campaign ends on Thursday, October 27th, 2016 at 2:03 EDT in the afternoon.

 

Their pitch:

 

A gore splattered, monster-fed, city based dark fantasy setting for your favorite Tabletop RPGs.

 

Salt in Wounds is a fictional city; a detail-rich dark fantasy setting designed specifically for tabletop roleplaying games (although it can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates intricate works of imagination). More specifically, Salt in Wounds is a city whose culture, economy, and existence is beholden to the reality of the giant, regenerating kaiju called the ‘Tarrasque’ which is imprisoned within the city center so it can be butchered over and over again.

 

Salt in Wounds City Map (Rough Draft)

Salt in Wounds City Map (Rough Draft)

There are few monsters in role playing games more iconic than the Tarrasque: the ‘end game’ boss that’s been terrorizing high level characters (and delighting players) for decades. The Salt in Wounds setting takes the beast in an entirely new direction: as the perpetually slaughtered ‘natural’ resource that has been feeding the population & fueling economy of the sprawling metropolis of Salt in Wounds for the last two centuries.

 

Since 2015 I’ve been fleshing out the city, its inhabitants, and setting the stage for adventure: first on the Ennie nominated gaming website Tribality and then on its own page www.saltinwoundssetting.com. I’ve written fiction, created monsters, and worked hard to create a compelling, incredible world just begging for exploration & play. Here’s just a sample of some of the work that’s already been made public about Salt in Wounds:

  

Now, with your help, I want to take my mishmash of ideas, player options, lore & creatures and turn it into a proper series of books & supplements that will inspire your Pathfinder, 5th Edition, and other gaming for years.

 

Egg’s thoughts:

 

Salt in Wounds. Any city with a title for a name (like King of Prussia, Pennsylvania) screams out, “Visit me!” more than, say, one of the early titles of my home city, Marthasville [Note – Marthasville, where Superman and Batman get on like chocolate and peanut butter.] Title alone states this is an engaging product. J M Perkins has a fully realized city with enough real estate to share some pretty views with the public. The reward – design one of the 13 main families in the city for both D&D 5e as well as Pathfinder – has curb appeal. This reward could lead to a dynasty write up, information about their home, magic items, and NPCs. Lots of potential to show your RPG writing skills.

Salt in Wounds. I spy a Tarrasque.

Salt in Wounds. I spy a Tarrasque.

 

On the other hand, by the time I noticed this one all of the rewards were gone. Fiddlesticks. I believe the individuals that chose this one picked a great vanity press option. I cannot wait to see the results.

 

Their vanity press rewards:

 

“Pledge $250 or more

Binder-Lord

 

You rule Salt in Wounds, and you get everything listed above, three additional pieces of Sway, and design considerations (see text below for more information).

 

INCLUDES

  • Name the Harpoon Release Command Word
  • Help Design a Meridian House
  • Swag x 6

 

Limited to only 11 (there are 13 Aristocratic Meridian Houses, and two Binder-Lordships have already been claimed by patrons) you get all the above rewards + an *additional* 3 pieces of Swag (for a total of 6 pieces of Swag) and you get design considerations for your chosen Meridian House, invitation to an exclusive design session hangout, and you select the legendary ‘command word’ of your house’s immoveable harpoon. Legal possession of this command word grants Binder-Lords their authority within the city of Salt in Wounds and can be used to actually free the Tarrasque.”

 

* * *

 

Closing thoughts:

 

The Dread House offers the chance to add Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu to my list of vanity projects. Sold. Salt in Wounds lives up to its name because it looks amazing but all of the writing rewards are spoken for. Regardless of my salted wound, I think both of these projects are going to be fun. I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress.

 

* * *

 

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? – 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.

* * *

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

* * *

$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

* * *

Pledge $400 or more
Forlorn Beast

INCLUDES

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

 * * *

 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.

***

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.

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

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.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

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…

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

 

***

 

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