Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Recap and Analysis: The Adventure Campaigns

It's over.

("Thank fuck" say most of you who have been bombarded with updates. I do have two new modules that should be in stock and ready to sell next week, so take that breath of air between blitzes while you can.)

4 projects funded. 15 didn't.

To the people who contributed to Vincent's project, and for the higher levels of Brockie's, give us a few days to ready the procedures to get your PDFs or shirts/posters/tickets to you. Things have been nuts here.

To those two people in for the Collectors hardcover option: I'll take care of you. Give me some time to think of how, but "ha ha, fuck you, you paid $450/$500 for 4 adventures!" is not how this is going to be handled.

The Final Totals (see day-by-day totals here):

$7545.00 The Seclusium of Orphone by Baker and Sheppard
$7050.00 Broodmother Sky Fortress by Rients and Robertson
$6623.00 Horror Among Thieves by Green
$6601.00 Towers Two by Brockie

$3221.00 We Who Are Lost by Kreider
$1680.00 Of Unknown Provenance by Curtis and Sterns
$1620.00 The Unbegotten Citadel by Cook and Lofgren
$1270.00 The House of Bone and Amber by Crawford Earl Geier
$  920.00 Machinations of the Space Princess by Desborough and Phoenix
$  740.00 The Depths of Paranoia by Steen and Rainville
$  690.00 Strange and Sinister Shores by Bingham
$  650.00 Normal for Norfolk by Seppälä and Longmore
$  645.00 Escaping Leviathan by Alfrey
$  540.00 The Dreaming Plague by Vuorela and Makkonen
$  500.00 The Land that Exuded Evil by Miller and Aitken
$  470.00 Red in Beak and Claw by Särkijärvi and Rainville
$  460.00 Pyre by Pett and Syrigos
$  350.00 I Hate Myself For What I Must Do by Pohjola and Sammallahti
$  340.00 Poor Blighters by Sparks and Sparks and Allen

Total Contributions: $41,915.00

How Are You Feeling, Jim?

I'm feeling good. 4 out of 19 isn't so great, but we drew over $11,000 in the final 36 hours so it was a strong finish and we ended up so far ahead of where I thought we would as of Friday.

And the authors themselves can be thanked for that. Rients funded without any gimmicks, but Baker, Green, and Brockie did things that made their projects stand out and here we are. (Cook, Kreider, and Steen did as well, but they didn't catch on for whatever reason.)

What Happened?

There was one key assumption to the whole thing:

Each author's fans would follow them to their adventure here.

Or, "The byline is more important than the brand." That assumption led to:

Those fans would sufficiently fund a enough projects to a point where people who wanted a bunch could swoop in with the high-dollar perks to finish them off and get a big bunch at a discount.

... and the more adventures that were involved, the bigger that discount could be. And the bigger the discount, the more people would go for it!

And that's why there were 19 adventures.


 Couldn't You Have Gone With Less Adventures?

A smaller number of adventures would not necessarily have been a bigger success. Rients and Baker, the first two to fund, were last-minute replacements. They weren't even supposed to be part of the whole thing! I thought Green would only ever fund as a knock-on effect of a dozen other people funding first.

Basically, my popularity radar is so dysfunctional it's not even funny. (I also thought Isle of the Unknown would be way more popular than the hardcover Carcosa because it was brand new, as another example.) So less adventures up for grabs might have ended up with less appealing writers doing it.

Because honestly, could anyone have predicted Kelvin Green drawing over four times the money Monte Cook did? I can't believe that now. I thought Cook was the shoe-in for "will fund first and fast." I thought I was so fucking brilliant and amazing for getting him on board.

But the paying audience disagreed.

Likewise, I thought Michael Curtis, who has Stonehell and the DUNGEON frickin ALPHABET under his belt, would be the far-and-away OSR leader, especially after Maliszewski and the ACKS crew dropped out. But Rients outdrew him more than 4-1. I'm still trying to figure that one out.

There is the theory that certain people are more likely to get their stuff out there anyway... The thinking: Curtis, for example, always has projects going for publication, so if he has a good idea it'll show up eventually. Rients, on the other hand, hardly ever publishes anything, and not on a  professional level, so this might be Our Only Chance to get it!

I would have thought the opposite: "Oh, Curtis and Cook and the other frequently published writers have their own shit to do, no reason they'd do anything like that'd resemble what they'd do for LotFP. Rients could post whatever he wanted whenever he wanted since he's not got a steady stream of RPG work to do."

So maybe it's a good thing I threw a whole lot at the wall to see what would stick, because I'm generally pretty clueless.

Did the Target Amount Need to Be That High On Each Adventure?

No, it didn't need to be. I could have hardballed negotiations with each and every writer and artist and had adventure goals starting from $3500 in some cases.

But if I was going to kickstart (heh) my business by building a catalog on the backs of these people, I was going to make damn sure they were going to be compensated decently for it. These aren't really even top writing rates, just much-better-than-average in RPG-land (or WOW HOLY SHIT for most in OSR land). Brockie and Green are going to get quite decent piles of cash when they turn their adventures in, and Baker/Sheppard and Rients/Robertson will be splitting quite decent piles of cash. And they all deserve their piles.

I suppose a lot more could have succeeded if I'd negotiated shit rates for the talent. But fuck that. Paying people well makes me feel good (and makes the wife think I'm crazy and never going to be able to afford to buy her that mansion :D).

So What Happens to the Unfunded Projects?

I have to say that a lot of people got attached to their projects as the month went on. I got attached to some of them. Some of the authors have their own publishing imprints.

I think, sooner or later, at least a dozen of these things will see the light of day. Not on the original production schedule, and not with the same financial security a funded project would have afforded the creators (and for those that will not be published by LotFP, not half as cool in their presentation - sorry guys)... but I don't think a lot of the authors will leave them alone.

If any of those are released by LotFP down the line, Gardening Society members will get double their usual discount.

Any Other Questions?

Ask in the comments, on the LotFP message board, G+, or wherever. People were watching how this whole thing would do, and I think there were lessons to learn.

I'm glad I did this.

You've done your part. Now it's time to get our noses down and get all our shit done.

LotFP Crowdfunding Will Return in 2013 for the


  1. "LotFP Crowdfunding Will Return in 2013 for the FUND A HUGE "FREE RPG DAY" PRINT RUN FOR LOTFP campaign."

    I hope more successfully than Buckaroo Banzai returned in "Buckaroo Banzai Against the World Crime League".

  2. I could only afford to support one project, and I chose "I Hate Myself For What I Must Do" by Pohjola simply because it sounded the most interesting to me, but it didn't reach it's goal.
    My question is twofold:
    1) Do I get my money back now?
    2) If not, will you use the extra cash to help fund the projects that didn't make it?

    This was an epic project and I'm sad to see that it wasn't 100% successful, but I'm pleased to hear that LOTFP has four new adventures coming out soon.

    1. Yes, you will get your money back if you put it on a project that didn't fund.

      IndieGoGo should get to that shortly. Well they better. (they haven't started to send me Brockie's campaign money yet either, but they're sometimes a few hours behind. Why I don't know, I like to think they have someone manually check this stuff before the computer starts spitting money back out at everyone. :D)

    2. Still no sign of the dough. Should I worry yet, do you think?

    3. Got the response from IndieGoGo. It takes them up to five days (sigh...) from the end of a project to return the money from unsuccessful projects.

  3. Well, I first contributed to The Land That Exuded Evil, but when it became obvious it wasn't going to fund, shifted to Rients, as it was the frontrunner... But some of the ideas presented here are fantastic, and it would be a shame to see discarded... Maybe eventually you could try an Anthology approach with the authors still on board ?

  4. The take away for me is that stuff will not fund solely on the strength of a name. I was particularly surprised Michael Curtis's project didn't fund.

    That some of the projects weren't very clearly described at the start of the campaign, and when descriptions were added they were only vague blerbs, retarded progress. Vague blerbs are fine when you're trying to intrigue gamers without giving away secrets to players, but investors want to hear exactly what they're funding and why it's cool. Rients said "this is me doing a Giants module with the following Rients-esque wacky touches," and I was like "ah, ok, *that's* what this is; I'll fund that."

  5. I contributed to Brockie's (to be certain something else would fund) but overly was much more interested in seeing Desborough's come out. Mostly because the premise sounds cool, but also because there's a little part of me that wanted to see all those PC whiners shut their faces. The amount of smug that'll be bandied about by those idiots is going to be gutwrenching, never mind the fact that 14 other projects didn't fund along side him that had industry giants at the helm like Cook and OSR giants like Crawford and Curtis.

  6. I was one of the Curtis and Cook (and Pett and Desborough) fans that desperately wanted them to succeed. But I held off, afraid to contribute because of the seer volume of choice. So I waited until the end... Perhaps more would have done better if there was a stronger early showing? Who knows. I've backed about 4-5 Indigogo projects now and 34 Kickstarter campaigns - it's amazing how all the various dynamics play out...

  7. Great Job Mr Raggi!

    Sure there were some gems in there that I'm disappointed I won't see in print anytime soon. Desborough's Heavy Metal thing with Satine Phoenix's art and the Escaping Leviathan adventure never got the traction I was hoping they would get, but that's part of the uncertainty of crowdfunding in general. Cook's Unbegotten Citadel caught my imagination early on and now I'm going to have to come up with a good reason for a castle to move backward through time so I can run it anyway.

    I'm happy to be getting a handful of adventures and see LotFP with an expanded catalogue of weird adventures.

    Have fun putting all this stuff together before the end of the year!

  8. It does seem like an anthology of the unfunded, if workable, could be a campaign that's sure to hit its goal quickly.

    Really pleased to see KG's funded, by the way.

  9. I believe a great deal of the module that funded had to do with the fact that their authors did heavy promotions themselves (via blogs etc.) or had fanbases that helped to promote each. Rients had both. He promoted his mod and had people (such as myself) who like his ideas and blog to the point that we funded/promoted the funding ourselves, just to see him have his day.

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  11. "Because honestly, could anyone have predicted Kelvin Green drawing over four times the money Monte Cook did?"

    I didn't predict it, but I'm not surprised at the outcome. Kelvin Green is a solid dude, and I think anyone that has worked with him knows that. He's got a good reputation without a lot of self-promotion.

    1. I do believe that many fans of Monte are waiting for soemthing from him, a new game more than just another adventure (I know I and my group are).

      Still I do believe is more about the marketing of the whole line that just the authors fault.

  12. Thanks for the sumary of events, I really wanted to know how they all had done and to understand the reasons you chose to launch the projects this way.

    I do believe that this was a very ambitious project (both in a good and bad context). The idea was pretty good and maybe under other circumstanses it would have gotten funded in its entirety.

    Organizing a montly kickstarter for 2 different modules would have find a better reaction, mostly because then you would have not only the fans of the author on board, but also the fans of the product, that would have given them the chance to get every single product even when unable to afford to spend 100 dollars in a single bill.

    But I suppose you have taken all of this in consideration, it was just a worm nagging on my brain so I needed to tell it. Personally I would have invested both in Monte's and Desborough's adventures and keep watching how they were doing and knew they would NOT get funded saddens me.

    Well, better luck next time and hopefully you would bring these and other adventures to existance.

    PS: This kind of comments need a way to edit them after posting them... *mumble grumble*

  13. Still scratching my head why Alfrey's didn't fly...but, as things turned out I really wanted to pledge for Brockie's adventure but couldn't. Right down to the wire I was searching for a funding source to go the $30, but realized at 2 hours to go, with the financial problems we've experienced in the last 4 months, the adventure module could eat credit for medication for either my wife...SO, my question is, when will the funded adventures be available for general sale through your store? Hopefully, we can get our shit together by that time.

  14. Umm, my typo implies I meant "medication for either of my wives.", that was suppose to say "...either my wife or me". I am neither a polygamist or *that* much of a masochist.

  15. Because honestly, could anyone have predicted Kelvin Green drawing over four times the money Monte Cook did? I can't believe that now.

    You're not the only one. I thought Monte Cook's adventure would be funded by the end of the first week and that I'd struggle to get $1000 by the end of the campaign. I also thought that Michael Curtis' adventure would reach its target in short order.

    I did think from the start that Jeff's would make it with ease, so my guesses weren't all off.

    I still can't quite believe it all. I feel like there's been a terrible mistake!

    1. >>I still can't quite believe it all. I feel like there's been a terrible mistake!

      Oh shit. I just noticed. You're not Kevin Green?

      Uh oh. :P :P :P :P

    2. Oddly enough, I once worked with a Kevin Green. I sometimes still get his emails.

    3. I think offering up the adventure for FREE if it didn't fund as long as one pledged at the $10 & up levels shored it all up. Pledgers wanted to contribute because you were being the nicest, most generous fucking guy imaginable, and damn, even if it didn't fund--BAM--the adventure was on the house. Sweetest marketing move I've ever seen, whether you planned it this way or not!

      Your adventure sounded cool, but it was your offer that made me want to contribute to yours (along with Brockie's, Alfrey's & Bingham's). I've already whined about why I didn't further upstream.

      Nice job, men.

    4. Same for me. Kelvin's offer is why I started promoting his campaign. Then Raggi's backing it up is why I committed to it so enthusiastically. The adventure sounds cool, but it's the people and their actions that I wanted to support.

    5. That is very kind of you both. It honestly wasn't a promotional move; at the time I made the offer I thought the thing wasn't going to make its goal, so it was very much a token of gratitude to the thirty or so backers I had at the time.

      Of course, now it's irrelevant and no one gets a free adventure, so I'm throwing around some ideas of what to do instead to say thank you to everyone.

    6. "It honestly wasn't a promotional move; at the time I made the offer I thought the thing wasn't going to make its goal, so it was very much a token of gratitude to the thirty or so backers I had at the time.

      "Of course, now it's irrelevant and no one gets a free adventure, so I'm throwing around some ideas of what to do instead to say thank you to everyone."
      --Kelvin Green

      Exactly that attitude is why I wanted to support you. Such selfless decency must be rewarded.

  16. The results probably shouldn't have been so surprising, especially given the comparable LotFP data points that you already had in your back pocket. You have hard sales data for how many units a given LotFP module sells in its first month (the same length as this crowdfunding campaign), and past that. I bet Rob & Michael & the Sparks guys would have shared (or did share) their OSR sales data-over-time points with you. Ditto for Vincent and his Indie sales data-over-time points.

    You have hard backer data from two other relevant LotFP crowdfunding campaigns, plus something like Barrowmaze II, and (if you dig a bit to find the ~15% number) the OSR-specific buyers for something like Rappan Athuk.

    While the dollar values (and product prices) vary quite a bit, the number of backers for those other data points is clustered around 200, plus or minus. Unsurprisingly, the number of backers for the four newly-funded projects is in the same ballpark. (Be sure to account for folks who bought Grab Bag and higher and apply them to all the successful campaigns.)

    So why didn't some peoples' projects fund when intuition would normally suggest that they could reach that same number of sales? The key may be in examining what was different about this campaign vs. the conditions that produced the numbers fueling the intuition. So for instance, the amount of hype for – and details about – individual projects *before* the sale date. (In the case of a crowdsourcing project, the start of the campaign.) Also, the amount of hype/details for the product during the first month of sales. Also, the amount of time allowed to reach the expected units sold. Also, that these didn't cater to the Acaeum "I like it signed and numbered" crowd. Also the fact that there's little or no evidence of most of these manuscripts even being in progress. Also, the individual authors' track records. Also, the author/artist payment structure. Also, the all-or-nothing aspect (especially the potential for stifled momentum) of the campaigns.

    On the last couple points, imagine if the funding level for this campaign was closer to what your Monolith + God combo proved could be successful: About $3000 per module. And then imagine if the authors got paid the way you got paid for those: Basically a royalty per unit sold. History has shown LotFP can sell upwards of 500 copies of individual OSR modules, _given enough time_. I bet some of the folks who didn't fund would have been more than happy to accept a smaller "guaranteed" payment, plus continuing royalties (so _not_ shit rates), in exchange for a higher likelihood of funding success; it's easier to achieve $3000 in a month, than $6000. And then more of the projects get past the hump, and gain momentum on their own. And then the higher funding levels actually become worthwhile.

    1. The royalties idea falls apart completely when the writer and artist are different people.

    2. How so? Both contribute content to the product, and one (the artist) usually sees higher payout over the short term than the other (the writer), potentially inverting later on. The royalty scheme could be structured to to mimic that. Or you could stick to a more traditional model for paying the artist.

      Maybe you're hinting at the amount the art would cost, if it were paid for in the traditional way, and alluding to the fact that the art costs are $1500+? If so, then how did the Monolith + God modules manage to work out?

    3. They worked out because I was willing and able to invest several more thousand to get them done right - the IndieGoGo allowed me to just order the proper art I needed as I needed it.

    4. Sorry, I probably wasn't clear. What I meant was: You knew you'd be able to commit to Monolith with a crowdsourced budget of slightly less than $2500. Ditto for God. (Though you ended up with about $3k toward each.) The author (you) was different from the artist, and you get what amounts to a royalty. (Effectively, though not literally, of course.) You knew you were going to sell more than the ~150 units the crowdsourcing project would need to successfully fund.

      So why did these campaigns need to work differently?

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    6. I mangled that, let me try again:

      Because the "royalties" for Monolith and God all go to me.

      On a crowdfunding project, it seems rather insulting to ask a writer to commit to *maybe* doing something if it gets some minimal level of funding with the *potential* but certainly no guarantees of *splitting* profits after it's released, all in the name of enriching (in money, awareness, and catalog depth) my company.

  17. Why adventures instead of modules?