I just cobbled-together a quick (and crude) tutorial on how RPG publishers can use the free Scribus software for layout. It’s a powerful, though flawed, piece of software and I think the video might help folks who can’t afford the rather expensive license for InDesign. I hope this is helpful!
I am currently working on a major setting, which is actually going to double as an expansion of the core game. Sig: The City Between is multiplanar fantasy, inspired by a number of sources. I have the fantasticediting this, and I have two award winning artists contributing some rather jaw-dropping art for this one. I am the author of this setting, and it’s including a number of rules variants that suit this specific kind of setting. It should show you a number of places where you can tweak Spark for your own games, and it will open up a fantastic new playground. I am going to be talking a lot about this over the coming months, so please bear with me. I thought I would start this off by share some of the fantastic inspirations which led to this fascinating multiplanar setting.
1) Planescape. This is the biggie. In some ways, this setting is the reason why I got into game design. If you want to hear about philosophers with clubs, about a cosmopolitan fantasy city in the middle of the multiverse, and about the planes in the D&D multiverse? Check out the Planeswalker Handbook, though I’m sad that the full boxed set is not yet available on DriveThruRPG.
2) Saga. A comic set in a space-fantasy setting, focusing on the importance of family, relationships, childhood and parenthood. It’s a wild tale of distinctive (odd) cultures and social commentary, and one that will bring a tear to your eye.
3) Planar Codex: Dark Heart of the Dreamer.
4) Kill Six Billion Demons it may be the last on this particular list, but it’s certainly not the least among these options. It’s a mindblowing, free webcomic. Demon-kingdoms. Eastern religious influences. Throne, Domain of Kings, Kingdom of God and center of the Omniverse. Demon-kingdoms and mystic orders fighting on the fossilized bodies of the massive angels. This will absolutely captivate you.
There’s a lot of beautiful stuff that is feeding into Sig: The City Between, and I am eager to share it with the world.
What does that turn into? Well, something like this.
Morkanah, the Stone that Shelters
It is Morkanah. It is the Stone that Shelters. It is last of the Primorials. It is simple but keeps worshipers safe. It is shelter from storm, from conflict, from fear, and even from death. It cares for worshipers of flesh, of stone, and of clay. It is strong and eternal, so worshipers need not be. It wants worshipers happy and together with family. It misses family.
Portfolio: Love, Hearth, Protection
Servitors: The Flowers
Taboo: Never harm family.
Ritual: Morkanah’s Embrace covers someone in a shell of stone to protect them from harm. If the Flower chooses not to spend one Influence, the shell will not dissipate when its job is done.
Initial Agenda: Build a true sanctuary for star-crossed lovers on the Plane of Stone.
More to come!
I’m very happy to report that I have recieved a nomination for “A Spark in Fate Core” as Best Free Product for the 2014 Ennies Awards. It’s was a lot of fun to produce some content that would integrate wtih the Fate Core book, and to try a different style of collaborative worldbuilding. If anyone wants to get their own free copy, it’s over at DrivethruRPG over here! I’m currently working on a very short run printing of hardcopies of the game for GenCon attendees.
In gratitude, I am also temporarily putting the Spark RPG on sale at 50% off, right over here!
Just as I have done with the Spark RPG kickstarter, I wanted to present a financial breakdown of the Posthuman Pathways project. Unlike that previous project, this one was a bit less successful at the preliminary stages and may take a year or two to get into the black. I am very proud of the game as a design and a product, but this taught me a number of valuable lessons as a publisher!
Original Budget $3,360
Printing 1000 copies of the game: $2,500
Printing 1000 cover stickers: $500
Other freelance costs: $360
My original, minimal kickstarter request was planning on just covering print costs for the core pamphlet. I met this goal, but didn’t exceed this be a very significant amount. Unlike my previous kickstarter, all donations were made in Canadian dollars which meant that I couldn’t benefit from the currency exchange rate.
Gross Kickstarter Total: $ 2,806
Admin Fees: $280
Net Funding Received: $ 2,525
Campaign Expenses – $ 5,351
Printing 2000 Copies. $3,219
I originally budgeted for 1000 copies, but secretly hoped that I would have enough demand in the kickstarter to justify a larger print-run where the costs decreased. When I originally planned this project, I had assumed that the economies of scale would kick in at 1000 units for pamphlets, just as they do for books. Turns out that is not the case, and things only became economically feasible at a 2000-unit offset print run. Oops!
There is normally a variance of +/- 5% on print runs of this size, and they provided me with 100 discounted copies. Note that each “copy” of the full game involves five different pieces of printed material, so they printed over ten thousand individual pamphlets in this little endeavour.
Lesson Learned: Get comprehensive quotes earlier in the design process and don’t assume all products have the same economies of scale.
Printing 2100 Stickers. $594
Before going into the campaign, I had gotten several quotes and settled on a professional-seeming company specialized in sticker production. Unfortunately, I discovered after the campaign closed that they didn’t provide physical proofs, didn’t understand how crop marks worked and demanded payment up front with no refunds. I went back to the printer who produced the pamphlets and they were able to give me the high-quality stickers that I used, at a pretty competitive price. It worked out pretty well in the end, though it was a bit of a hassle to get there.
Lesson Learned: Double check what printers offer as “proofs” when getting quotes, not at the end of the process.
Commissioning Velvet Cases from Sink or Swim Stitching: $ 378
I was originally not intending on including many of these in the campaign, but due to popular demand I included them at a stand-alone level. These reward levels brought more money (making it possible for me to meet my goal) but also increased my overall costs not insignificantly due to payments to the artisan and additional shipping costs. Good thing they are beautiful!
Lesson Learned: Consider the additional shipping costs as a more significant portion of goals using large add-ons such as this.
Other freelance costs: $360
This project included two editors, one illustrator and one graphic design professional. I was happy to compensate each of them for their work and the payments were made before launching the kickstarter campaign, out of the profits of the Spark RPG sales. It was a relief to be able to simply hire skilled professionals to help me with this, and they did amazing work.
Lesson Learned: Paying all the freelancers before launching the kickstarter campaign drastically decreases the stress levels while running the campaign; would recommend!
Shipping : $ 800
Shipping is always an issue, and this was no exception. One of the goals of this campaign was to produce something that would be as affordable as possible to ship. Between the product design and the printing, our mail prices skyrocketed which made “as affordable as possible” still rather nasty. I also had the unpleasant surprise that the final product (5 pamphlets + 1 sticker + envelope) was heavier than I had originally forecasted. I had expected that the final product would increase in weight 50% over that of my prototypes, while it turned out that it doubled the weight instead. This pushed it over a mailing price threshold and boosted the cost for international backers (outside of North America) by another $2 which was rough.
Fortunately, I worked with Magpie Games to reship most of the rewards to American backers domestically, which dropped my overall costs considerably. The cost-savings from that little maneuver pretty much negated the cost increase for the international shipping.
Stretch goal costs : $ 0
One of the reasons why I created that first stretch goal, only $250 above the base goal, was that I could do it entirely in-house. As a purely digital release with no external costs, I could add value without spending additional funding. I’m very happy about this digital supplement as well.
At the end of the day?
Despite these setbacks, I am happy to say that this kickstarter has been a success overall. While I haven’t broken even yet, I have plenty of product available for sale and it’s only a matter of time before I do so. I think that the actual product and the underlying game design are beautiful, and I’m really proud of what I have accomplished.
I have sent out just under 300 copies of the game at this point to you fine backers. Within the next few years, I am confident that I can make up most of the difference, and break into the black on this project. More importantly than that, I hope that people really enjoy this game and that you tell stories of the transformation, tranhumanism and sacrifice.
That said, your support would be very much appreciated. I depend on your enthusiastic voices to spread the word and get copies of this in people’s hands.
Play the game: Play sessions at home, at game stores and at conventions. The best way to help is to play the game and enjoy yourselves!
Leave Honest Reviews: Reviews are great, and I would love to hear your thoughts about the game. The DriveThruRPG page is a great place to talk about the game.
Send people to GenCon: I will be working at the Indie Game Developer Network (IGDN) at GenCon, running demos and selling the game. Spread the word and send people over, so I can introduce them to the game in person.
Send people to buy copies direct: With the completion of the kickstarter campaign, I have now put the game on sale and included a more reasonable shipping premium. Please feel free to send friends, colleagues, and random strangers to buy their own copies over at https://genesisoflegend.com/posthuman-pathways/buying-the-game/
Thank you for all of your help, and your support. The more people hear about Posthuman Pathways, the more likely I am to sell a few copies and produce more interesting RPGs.
Just a quick note; I have pretty much finished all of the work for the Posthuman Pathways kickstarter. Now that the shipping of rewards is effectively complete and we have finished the local launch party, I am ready for the formal public launch of the game at Origins. I will be working at the Games on Demand section, or staffing the Indie Game Developer Network (IGDN) booth where I will be selling copies.
I hope to see you there!