Friday, July 6, 2012

About the Adventure Campaigns: Answers and Updates and Changes!

Well, I leave for four days (not the smartest move but it was planned in advance) and I come back to madness... my email is lit up, G+ is lit up, forums are lit up.

OK. First thing. Yes, I am crazy. And yes, this is all crazy. But I think it's crazy enough to work, or at least work enough to be worth everyone's while.

Second, there has been some mention that there isn't a lot of info about the projects, the teasers are short. I'm getting on people about that because most of them are already working on their adventures. It's insane! They're excited! I'm excited! So hopefully info will flow soon. I might have missed stuff while I've been gone, but there are a few things out there:

Jeff Rients did a video talking about his project... view that here.
Vincent Baker is talking about his project a lot on his blog... see that here.

Over a dozen of the authors for this insanity will get their own interview on the Jennisodes podcast. It won't just all be about the adventure campaign (although everyone will talk about their projects!), but about everything they do. The first two, with me and with Kevin Crawford, are up.

Most Importantly:

There is a common thread to a lot of the comments I'm seeing. You seem excited (there has been a surge in Gardening Society signups so you want to do bundles!) but unsure. "The bundle packs are risky!" And people are holding back. Waiting and seeing.

This isn't going to work if everyone waits and sees. But if people think the bundle packs are a bit of a risk now, I must listen (because I want every single adventure in this campaign funded, and failing that, enough funded!). And I will sweeten the deal, because I think the bundles are what will get all this done:

For the $160/$180 levels, you will get the following:

  • A copy of every single adventure funded in these campaigns.
  • NEW: All of the "Extras" sheets (my notes on each funded adventure of how I'd adapt it to my campaign) combined into a booklet with exclusive Zak S art. (These were separate perk options, but nobody chose those on a bundle level, so I will listen, and just put them at this perk level.)
  • If you choose this option and it is the only adventure that funds, you get a 100€ coupon code for the LotFP store. If only the adventure you contribute to, and one other, funds, you get a 50€ coupon code.
  • NEW: A copy of a 64-page adventure by me. The writing is done and it's been sitting around for a couple months waiting for its turn to go into production. This printing will be exclusive to this campaign, will only be made available to the people picking the bundle perks, and it will never be seen again in this expanded format--only in an edited 32 page format. This adventure doesn't count against the number in the previous point. (This adventure will not have a PDF version. You know how this big adventure campaign is an experiment in crowdfunding? This adventure is just as experimental as a concept.) (My new adventure will not be part of the hardcover slipcase set, although you will get a copy of the softcover with your Collector perk).

Yeah, I'm willing to risk my work going down in obscurity to help everyone else's shit get out there.

I'll update the individual campaign pages with this stuff later today or Saturday.

So how do we proceed?

The top three adventures right now in terms of funding are:

Of Unknown Provenance (Curtis/Sterns)
We Who Are Lost (Kreider - who has said to me about her adventure: "Think Paranormal Activity meets 28 Days Later meets The Seven Samurai. It's going to be all kinds of blood, madness, and horrible decisions. I'm so totally going to own this thing.")
Broodmother Sky Fortress (Rients/Robertson)

Do you want this concept to succeed? Do you want the full set of adventures? Take the leap: Pick one of these and put down bundle money on it. If it's already funded by the time you get to it, don't put any more money on that one, put your bundle money on your next favorite. Show everyone else this can be done.

If my die-hards don't step forward, there's no reason for the individual author's die-hards to do the same.

Up to you, everyone. I can only wave my arms around ranting and raving about it. :)

(Soon to come: A retailer-level perk. Monday probably.)


  1. I wouldn't have called it crazy, but ill-conceived. A day before you announced this project I was complaining to somebody that there are too many crowd-funded projects all popping up at the same time, and I personally don't have the money to invest in everything I see on kickstarter and indiegogo. I'm sure a lot of people feel the same way considering that I can see what projects my friends have backed on kickstarter and I see that out of everybody I know I am the least frugal of all of them when it comes to gaming projects.

    I think one adventure at a time might have been a more worthwhile goal. As it is, I *might* support one of these projects, but it really depends on how much money I have three weeks from now and how far along these projects are. There's just no way I'm going to cash in on over a dozen adventure ideas when I barely use the ones I already have and money isn't overflowing out of my wallet.

    1. What makes this whole thing attractive to me is the opportunity to A- get a lot of stuff done in a smaller period of time, and B- be able to present it at a significant discount than if each were released individually.

      That's the payoff for me, and why a whole bunch instead of one or a group of, say, 4.

    2. Maybe the correct solution would have been to make one or a few adventure anthologies rather than individual editions, and not tried to have them cross-subsidize each other?

  2. Replies
    1. Less cool shit than if I'm right.

    2. I wasn't talking to you I was talking to nerdderp

  3. Are any of the adventures Carcosa-specific? I haven't heard anything about any particular setting for them, and wasn't sure if I'd missed some information somewhere.

  4. bouncing off nerdwerd's comment:
    I'd love to get in on every one of these adventures, but finances dictate I can either have lots of paper sent to me from Finland or feed the kids. My wife says I HAVE to feed the kids, so I can only get in on a couple of these. Problem is the couple I most want don't look like they have much interest from the community right now. This leaves me planning to wait until the zero hour to decide where I'm placing my chips.

    The campaign is SO GOTDAMNNED MASSIVE it's confusing what to do because it's 20 GOTDAMNNED simultaneous campaigns. Plus, it feels more like you're just reserving a copy of something. No LotFP or Vornheim or Carcosa t-shirt stretch goal or Flame Princess comic book or 32mm ltd ed resin miniature stretch. Where's the LotFP dice or the special Orne cd based on Isle of the Unknown? (These are all things on my wish-it-was list).

    Dude, I know you like big, and I like that you like big, but while the $180 pledge to get everything is great, it still requires $120,000 worth of pledges for everything to be printed. I'm not sure that more than 4 or 5 can hit the goals. Not because there isn't desire or support from the community, but just because I don't think there's that much money floating around in you're fanbase (ok, I have no facts to back me on that, it's just a gut feeling). The really big kickstarter/indiegogo money thrown at games has been primarily for new games, but here your target is almost exclusively a pre-existing fanbase.

    So, can we cancel and redirect pledges when it gets down to the wire?

  5. Just reread the pages and now see that indiegogo doesn't allow you to change pledges.

  6. So, in my situation, I only want PDFs, and I like about half the projects. I don't want a random grab-bag, I want a specific subset. I don't think either opinion is that rare (although obviously the specific subset will vary wildly).

    How about a new $100ish pledge level for PDFs only? Preferably everything that is funded, but I would settle for choose 5 or 8 or whatever.

    1. You obviously have a clearer view of the stats, but from a quick glance through several projects, around half the backers are PDF only. Offering some higher pledge levels for these backers is surely worth the effort.

  7. Another suggestion: some wierd and wonderful swag (the kind of thing Victor was talking about), added as numbers of projects are funded. Eg at 1 project funded, all cross-project backers will get X, at 2 projects, at 3 projects, and so on.

    This motivates people to jump in rather than wait, I would think. Better to get more projects funded faster if you can see more goodies down the road.

    Giving supporters a reason not to wait is very important.

  8. Idea: Put out Insect Shrine instead some regurgitated crap ala Dwimmersucks?

    History already answered the question of IS and it repeats itself again.

  9. From my perspective, all of the adventures sound great and I would love to see them get produced, but I think there has to be a better way of doing it than this. Don't misunderstand me. I want you to succeed. But I think practically you have to look at the market. What Victor said above makes a very good point, and breaking it down into numbers is a good way of looking at it. I don't think a lack of fanbase or a lack of interest has as much to do with whether or not the project will succeed or fail as just that figure alone: $120,000 for all of the adventures.

    Looking at all of the campaigns I'd estimate you are really close to $6,000 totaled between all of them right now. (My math says $5,655.) If this were a single adventure I'd wager that you would be able to announce success after this weekend, or if you had two adventures with a $10,000 goal then victory would be within sight. But since most campaigns see the highest amount of donations during the first three days and the last three days, I'd predict that you'll be lucky if more than one adventure completes it's funding goal.

    Financially, it just doesn't seem feasible. Unless there is one really wealthy fan out there.

  10. If I'm doing my math right (and I may not be), on average and in a worst-case scenario, a project needs an average of 400 backers in order to fund it. In a better-case scenario (the six most popular projects all fund entirely via the $100 grab bag option), that reduces the effective backer number to 360 per project.

    Not many OSR-related crowdsourced projects reach that number of backers. Those that do have major crossover appeal.

    Gotta ask yourself how quickly the prior LotFP modules sold 360 copies, and whether that pace is likely in the one month timeframe of the campaign given that happy customers aren't blogging during the first month of sales with mini reviews, play reports, and so on.

    And the campaigns have the additional challenge of fighting against each other ... choice paralysis, lack of discussion focus, some folks with not enough available money in the single month.

  11. Ultimately the success of this project won't hinge on the LotFP fan base. I'm sure James Raggi can do math as well as us, and can probably make some guesses as to how much he can pull in based on his previous campaigns. I also wrote a doom and gloom blog post about this topic, but the more I think about it, the more I can see where he is coming from. The names he has writing adventures are "famous" in their own rights. Does Monte Cook have 300 fans willing to pay $20 for his adventure? Does Michael Curtis? Rich Longmore? Satine Phonix? Etc. That's the real question for this campaign. If the focus is solely on him and LotFP then it's probably unlikely more than a couple of these will succeed.

    Kickstarter gets its name from the fact it's meant to kickstart your business. It's not supposed to be a tool for doing pre-orders for products. (There are much beter ways to do that.) I seem to recall Raggi mentioning in an interview he is hoping this campaign will be successful enough that he'll be able to produce the books he wants with LotFP funds. Who wants to run crowd funding campaigns every couple months?

    That's not to say this whole project isn't crazy.

  12. Of course a Michael Curtis + LotFP module would sell 300+ copies over a reasonable period of time. I'm less certain about a Monte Cook module, mainly because I don't have any data points on whether his fans would want to buy a module for the LotFP system, but by default I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. Satine Phonix ... she has no module authoring experience, does she? I'm less convinced her name alone can sell 300+ copies.

    But the point isn't about 300+ copies. The point is 300+ copies in *one* month with none of the free press that comes from customers posting about the receipt & play of the new module, *and* with the sales potentially being cannibalized by the other projects. The implicit publicity model for these projects is wildly different from the previous big LotFP releases, and the purchase decision timeframe is dramatically smaller.

  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. Just a few general replies about comments:

    There was/is/never would be a way that just LotFP fans could get this done. The whole point of recruiting all these different people from different corners of gaming was to get their fans to the table.

    My intention is not to emphasize, for example, "Vincent Baker w/ Cynthia Sheppard doing something for LAMENTATIONS OF THE FLAME PRINCESS, BRANDING BRANDING BRANDING"

    It's rather "VINCENT BAKER AND CYNTHIA SHEPPARD for Lamentations of the Flame Princess."

    I think the byline is rather more important than the system, especially in a cross-compatible environment like the OSR, and doubly especially since OSR rules systems are intentionally un-robust and can be twisted and broken and added to at will by any particular scenario designer.

    I didn't include shirts/buttons/custom dice because that stuff is irrelevant to the matter at hand and would only increase the cost of everything. Stretch goals seemed like a bad idea since the idea is to get people pushing on a different project once a project funds.

    $6000 does NOT break even on one of these projects--I do have a reserve to make up for the slight shortfall if all 19 projects funded at exactly $6000--and I wouldn't build in any more costs than I already have.

    Most of the costs for the adventure are for the creative talent, writers the most, artists next. If I am hoping to build a bigger business on the backs of people more creative and talented than I, I damn well better compensate them properly for it. I could have negotiated individual deals with everyone, and then all the projects would have different goals, instead of offering a flat amount for writing and art on all projects but taking care of everyone on the creative side is my priority. I thought the idea of "famous people have a larger goal than the lesser known people even though they're part of the same big thing" very distasteful so I didn't go for that.

    None of the adventures are Carcosa specific.

    Keep in mind that I intend to succeed, but if this does turn out to be a big goofup, all I'm out is some elbow grease and some ad money. Yeah, there will be some egg on my face, but I figure that washes off after a couple more cool releases.

    Either way, the plan is for no more crowdfunding until the beginning of the year, when I'm going to try to get a good Free RPG Day print run going.

  15. In a perfect world I could hand James $120,000 to find all of these projects. But I'm not rich, so in two weeks I will likely back the ones that interest me the most and hope they're successful, or that they're offered again at a later date.

    Strangely, the one that I find the most intriguing has the least amount of money attached to it. Go figure!

  16. Jim,

    I've read through quite a bit of the material and posts and but I haven't quite figured out how this works when funding fails for a particular project. With Indiegogo (unlike kickstater), I make a contribution and you get the money. regardless of whether the goals are met. So let's say I like one or two adventures and contribute, but in the end, none of my choices get funded. So then what? Do I get switched to a funded adventure or have I just given you a handout?
    It looks to me like the second one - nothing, and if that is the case you could theoretically raise tens of thousands of dollars without reaching any of your goals and thus without supplying any product. That doesn't make sense to me so I'm guessing that can't be right but I wish you would make it clear.

  17. If a project doesn't fund, all contributions are automatically refunded by IndieGoGo. I don't see the money unless a project meets a funding goal.

  18. Something like a hardcover compilation of all funded adventures (rather than the saddle stapled physical formal) would be a very attractive way to encourage pledging at the higher levels. The LotFP hardcovers really are one of your strengths as a publisher, especially compared to print on demand quality.

    Analysis paralysis really is kind of a problem here. I am excited about a number of these modules, but there are so many different ways to go about funding several or one at a high level that I haven't done anything yet.

    1. And, I just noticed there is a hardcover perk, but it's only available at the $450/500 level.

    2. Those things are soooo expensive to produce as a one-off (or ten-off), with the stitch binding and all. Not to mention the artwork for the slipcase is going to cost over $1000.

      I need about 15 people to contribute at that level before I see daylight on them.