Sunday, August 7, 2016
An Oracle Stares Into The Abyss...
Well, around 3 weeks back (give or take), I posted and promoted Troll Lord Game's newest Kickstarter for the Hallowed Oracle -- an adventure path for Castles & Crusades based on the Abyss Walker setting and novels by Shane Moore. You can read up on that HERE. Before the campaign, I hadn't really heard much about the Abyss Walker series but, I recently started reading them and I'm enjoying them. They are a fun, light, and fast-paced read.
Now given TLG's recent Kickstarters were more to do with updating and reprinting past titles, one would think that new material would be doing better in this Kickstarter campaign. That isn't to mean it has done badly either. The minimal goal was $3,000 and the current total currently sits a bit above 11,000. In the past week, there has been minimal gains in the total funding the project has received.
It's might be worth examining *why* it hasn't been doing better.
The belief that it's an adventure path / module and not a sourcebook / accessory.
Well, for some, it may affect how much one decides to back it but there is plenty of material beyond the adventure path for players to enjoy. New classes, optional rules, magic are all promised for this project and higher stretch goals promises even more material.
The belief that you need the C&C Rulebooks to play.
Thankfully, the basic rules and classes (up to level 5) are all there. Since the adventure path takes characters up to level 5, one has everything they need to play in the Hallowed Oracle books. That said, there are opportunities to add some of the other C&C books in with the Kickstarter at reduced prices. However, the best thing to remember is that C&C is very compatible to D&D and other similar, FRPGs. It would take minimal effort to port this adventure path to your 5th Edition game for instance.
The problem of not knowing anything about Shane Moore or the Abyss Walker books.
Well, this one is fairly easily fixed. He has an author section on Amazon.com which can be found HERE where you can easily pick up on of his books. They are available as an ebook (Kindle) or you can get a physical copy if you are so inclined. However, picking up an ebook now and reading it (or at least starting it) can give you a taste of what the Abyss Walker setting is all about. There are several to choose from. Naturally, Google is your friend if you need to find more info. ;)
There doesn't seem to be much activity in this Kickstarter.
Yeah. That's a problem.
Let me assure you that TLG have done many Kickstarters in the past and have ALWAYS delivered the goods. And, normally they are bit more talkative but they chose to start this shortly before GenCon. Why oh why, did they do this? Sometimes it's best not to ponder what goes on in their minds. Perhaps this was the best they could manage with the rest of their publishing schedule? Perhaps they thought they could manage both and really overestimated their capacity to do so? Many of the present backers are already loyal fans so a lot of the pledging happened early on. But Shane Moore himself has been active as have been a couple other people. If you are interested, pledge at the lowest level and feel free to ask questions there and participate. Hopefully that will dive up chatter and interest in the project. When that happens, we all win.
Some of the things seem expensive.
Unfortunately, I don't agree with all the pricing I've been seeing and I think a slightly different strategy could have been employed here. But gaming books *ARE* expensive and they are only getting more expensive. A couple years ago, WOTC released the Players Handbook for the newest edition of D&D with a price tag of $49.95. Fifty bucks for a book is pretty expensive but it is a full colour hardback with a page count of about 300 pages. Generally speaking, Troll Lord Games has always been VERY good about pricing but the reality is that it costs what it costs. In comparison, the C&C PHB is $30 (190 page, full colour, hardback) and the C&C CKG is $50 (352 page, full colour, hardback).
At $40, you get the main book in hardcover which is going to be over 200 pages (but in B/W) along with a Player's Guide which has changed considerably since the project began and likely to be at least 90 pages. There is also and expanded map, PDFs, and a bonus adventure. The Player's Guide is *not* in hardcover at this level -- only a perfect bound softcover. You'll need to boost you pledge to $59 to get the PG in hardcover as well. But at this level there are a couple more physical items thrown into the package. Now, I describe the pricing at these levels as fair but not great but I can't fault them to not giving the PG the hardcover treatment at the $40 pledge level either.
But the pricing for the leathers honestly irks me. They have a level at $125 that gives you leather copy of the core book as well as a regular copy of the main book and the players guide. The players guide is NOT in leather. Apparently a leather copy of that means an add-on of $50. So at $175 total, you get a regular set and a leather set. However, unless my math is mistaken, you get can achieve the same with a $59 pledge and then add-on the two leather books at $50 each for $159 total! The only thing you don't get is a special stretch goal where you get to immortalize a character in print but that goal is just shy of $5000 from even being unlocked with only 3 days left to go! Unless those $50 leather add-ons are merely UPGRADING your books and that makes a lot more sense but this also goes to the previous problem with not a lot of people asking questions getting communication from the company regarding the project. It would make for an expensive book but, leather isn't cheap to begin with either. ;)
So... summing up?
There is a LOT of potential with this project with a few questions and not a lot of answers. If this projects hits $16,000 before it closes, a lot more cool material will be added thanks to the talents of James Ward and another book will be added to the bunch. It will focus on the various gods and heroes of the setting and only serve to give it a bit more depth. The enthusiasm from Shane Moore is also very encouraging to see and, with the game system bits being largely written by Jason Vey, the project and material is in good hands. GenCon is pretty much over and this project is soon to follow.
Now is the time to step up and pledge over HERE!