Kickstarter part Two


Last week I posted a form of this, discovered that it was not my week to post, pulled it down, and now have rewritten and reposted it. 🙂 With changes.

Three weeks ago we started to tell you all about the Kickstarter project for the Rogue Mage RPG. It was mostly the networking part of the project: how we all met, the pivotal push we got from Mike Pruette, and the start of the difficulties — namely, the huge problem of translating the Rogue Mage series, its world, and its magical system into a game. Wow. Difficult!

Today, I’d like to address several things: first, the Middle of the Makings of a Project and Why It Takes So Long. Oy. Four and half years, and we are still not *quite* done. CLOSE! Very close. And the Kickstarter has been very successful so far. The original goal was $6,000. And with 12 days left to go in the project, we passed that goal, which means we will be able to publish the Rogue Mage RPG, with all the fiction it contains.

Faith: Okay, this is where it gets a bit silly again, but I have to ask myself a question. Faith, tell us why the Rogue Mage RPG is different from other role-playing game books.

Faith: (laughing) Okay. Yeah, so, Ummm. I had never read a role playing game book, but Christina told me there was a little fiction in them to show how the various magic users did things, to show the world they live in, and to show the magical system. I thought, Cool! And I started writing little vignettes. Lots of vignettes. And then Christina suggested that I write a short story about Thorn St. Croix, my main character, which I had never done. It was so cool to dive back into this character and her world! I picked up her life about two months after the end of Host and before the next book would begin. Book Four was to take place in an Enclave, so, of course, the setting for the short began with Thorn on a train, ready to leave Mineral City, her home for the first three books. It was so much fun to write! And what we ended up with is an RPG with LOTS of fiction, something that read as much like a World Book as a game, something that the non-gaming readers of the Rogue Mage series would enjoy too. A crossover, if you will.

Faith: Okay, Christina, tell us bit about how life gets in the way of projects. Also, tell us about losing Raven.

Christina: Our little project has not been without its share of woes. What I thought was going to be a project only taking a few months has grown into a four-and-a-half year endeavor. For many reasons: 1) I had never converted fiction to roleplaying game material, and I didn’t understand it wasn’t as easy as it sounded; 2) some on-again-off-again health problems reared their ugly head, complicating my life; 3) other members of the team had health or family issues that blindsided them; and 4) I moved twice during this project, adding more upheaval to my life. And then, about two years in, we lost contact with Raven Blackwell. We knew that was a nom de plume — or maybe nom de guerre is a better term. She just… vanished. We took over her job, which means, actually that Spike took over a huge part of her job. And we still can’t find her.

Faith: We miss her. And you changed jobs too.

Christina: Yes. That. Still, we persevered. I chalk that up to Spike’s consistency in pushing the project forward. He’s been the steady hand guiding this game to completion. And he didn’t even threaten to kill me for tying up his time and patience for years. He’s also a font of religious knowledge, which was a bonus to this project.

Faith: And my life was odd, too. A few health problems, a surgery or two, family health problems, job woes. In the off time between new novels I made lots of jewelry and wrote lots of shorts for the current project.

 Spike: Yeah, the current project.  Y’see, at some point last year, I took a look at the whole book together as a single package instead of as more than a dozen chapters that various team members were working on as separate files, and I realized that the game book was too big to publish as a single title. It took some doing, but I managed to persuade the rest of the team to break it into two volumes and then to break the longest chapter of the second volume into four chapters. But since every chapter in each of the books needed to open with a Faith-written vignette, and since each volume needed to have its own short story, the change in format meant…

 Faith: More Thorn fiction! And the current project kept growing….

Christina: As Spike said, it’s now two books: a player’s handbook and a monster book (officially for the game master, although lots of players will want a copy anyway — especially if they’re Thorn St. Croix fans). And if we reach our new Kickstarter goal of $10,000, some shorts will be written free just for the pledgers, and at cost as e-book for other fans, but to be released to the general market later.

Faith: Thanks for mentioning Kickstarter, Christina. To most published writers, book publishing consists of either a contract with a traditional publisher who will handle all the details of getting it into print or self-publishing. These Rogue Mage game books will contain approx. Nineteen or more pieces of full page art plus many pieces of small character art throughout. The cost of self-funding the art alone is a huge case of hiccups! Right around the same time we decided to print the game in two volumes, Christina brought up the idea of using Kickstarter to finish the project. Why did we need Kickstarter on a project that had already spanned over four years?

 Christina: The first book is going to be 250 pages and the second one probably 150-200, so that’s 400+ pages in total, with art on every fourth page. Art we have had to pay for. We are opening each chapter with a full-page piece by Peter Bradley.

 Faith and I have invested about all the money we can afford at this point on our collaboration, and we are so very close to being finished. I’ve seen some fellow game publishers and independents do very well with their projects on Kickstarter. Since we are really only lacking the money for Spike’s editing, the rest of the art, and layout, I said, “How about we give Kickstarter a go? It’s an easy process for people to back, as it goes through, a trusted company.”

 I’ve backed a few projects myself, and it was very simple to do so. The Kickstarter will also give us an indication of how interested people are in reading more about the Rogue Mage world and gaming in the setting.

 Faith: We added up the costs of the tiers, decided how much we needed to finish the project, and we came up with $6,000.00 required get 2 large books through the process and to print. And we are not talking about profit. Costs will eat up every dime of that money. We have some set aside to forward to Spike, as we have, to date, paid him very little and he is WORTH SO MUCH!

 Christina: The only additional funding we discussed was on an e-book of fiction set in the Rogue Mage world. But for the Kickstarter project here is where you can go to learn about the project and the gaming part of the project. But then – we realized that we still needed more people to make this work.

 Faith: Kickstarter Part Three can address that!



7 comments to Kickstarter part Two

  • Thanks for this glimpse of the process, Faith and Christina. Christina and I have chatted informally about doing something like this with one of my series, but I don’t know if I’m up to the time and money commitment — it sounds pretty intimidating! Do you feel that it has been/will be worth it from the standpoint of a) artistic/personal satisfaction and b) long-term profits?

  • David, A, yes. The satisfaction and the fun-quotient have been great. But even better, the ability to keep a world and a character alive has been wonderful. Excellent PR. As to profits, we won’t see anything out of this first launch. However, Christina and I plan to do a set of shorts ovet the summer and publish them as an e-book. I’ll hire her as *work for hire* to write in my world, so I don’t have to write *all* the stories and so we can expand on the characters in the world. We’ll publish them and see what happens. I think *that* will be profitable. Plus, we *Could* kickstart another project in the game-word of Thorn, and that might generate profits.

  • Thanks, Faith. Something to mull over.

  • It’s a truism among game designers (or at least it used to be so a half-dozen years ago, when I was more active in the game designer community) that, outside of a few big-name titles/publishers (like D&D and White Wolf), there isn’t really any money in role-playing games. The problem being that there’s a huge home-brew feel to the community where players just take what’s already out there and tinker, or invent their own systems, and so on… so there doesn’t tend to be a huge demand for new RPGs.

    But that doesn’t stop designers from designing and publishing games, and even turning very small profits.

    But in my experience, designing a game is enormously satisfactory, in a creative sense, in much the same way that writing a book is.

  • Oh, those rewards are drool-worthy. I *love* Kickstarter and I’ve supported a number of causes, too. It’s always great to see successful projects happen because of it.

  • I wonder if using a RPG writing model for developing a world and a magic system before starting a book or series might help with consistency and depth. I’ll have to think about that.