What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:

What I'm Backing on Kickstarter:
After Winter Dark Campaign Setting

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Economics of Bones III for Canada & ROW

Busy times all around.  It has been just over a weeks since my last post and it's just over a week till Gen Con 2015.  For fans of miniatures, there is exactly a week left to the end of Reaper Miniatures' Kickstarter Camapaign for Bones III which just happens to fall on the day of my wedding.

Ugh.  Between Gen Con, a wedding, and this Kickstarter any discretionary funds I had will quickly disappear and being in Canada, that Kickstarter will be financially painful judging by the current rates of our dollar compared to the US.  Add to that shipping and the eventual customs.  Bones III is nowhere near the deal it appears to be.  It doesn't get much better for ROW either.

However, if you are a fan of Reaper and enjoyed their previous Bones Kickstarters, it is likely that you don't want to miss out on this one.  That doesn't mean you have to sell a kidney or trade your first born to get in on this -- even if you are in Canada or in the rest of the world.  It's about choices and some might be harder choices to make than others.

With Bones II, I had to be a bit more restrained than I was with Bones I.  With Bones I, I got a couple of Vampire pledges and one of every single add-on.  It added up quickly but the value of Bones I was greater than that of Bones II.  I wrote about this in a previous post (can be read in full HERE) but the most relevant points I made were:

The core set features just over 150 miniatures (158 by my count) and, aside from a variety of add-ons, the also had expansion set add-ons which also held a number of miniatures at $50 each.  The first of these contains 39 by my count and the second 22.  So, for $200 you got about 220 miniatures and given that for two vampire pledge levels in the first Kickstarter in yielded more than twice that, it might give someone pause.

As it stands, this one is looking promising and will likely yield comparable amounts of miniatures to Bones II by the time this is done.  Frankly, the best bang for your buck, regardless of destination resulting in elevated shipping charges are the core set and expansion.  Beyond that, grab a couple of the MUST HAVE items like the big show-stoppers.  Bones II had Khanjira and Dragons Don't Share and both of these were half of what they are priced at retail.

This is what I did with Bones II and it helped though my final tally if you included shipping, the exchange rate, and customs was higher than I would have liked.  You see, Bones I gave free shipping to Canada which is actually their policy with their regular online store for orders of $35 or above.  Other ROW destinations had a much more reasonable shipping options but customs still happen and this wasn't necessarily cheap.  It is interesting to note that the Reaper Online Store also has free shipping beyond a certain amount but that's closer to $100 (60 pounds for the UK, 70 euros for the rest of europe, etc).  The point is they give free shipping if you shop at their store, and it isn't hard to have a shopping cart that will meet this requirement.  But you will be paying retail prices.

Why do I bring this up?  Well, some of those models (add-ons) that you want could really screw with the shipping totals now given that, since Bones II, they attempt to charge 'actual shipping costs'.  The shipping costs from the US to international destinations are frankly crazy -- especially if you live just north of the border.  One of those $10 add-ons will translate into a $20 model in their online store once they have the models in stock and available for purchase.  At the same time, those add-ons could mean a large bump in terms of what your shipping cost could be.  If you factor customs, the shipping charges, that add-on or two won't necessarily translate into as much of a deal.

Since Bones II miniatures have started showing up in stores, I've been buying a couple of the models I chose to pass on during the Kickstarter.  I wanted them then but I knew that, even at twice to Kickstarter price, I could still save money in the long run due to racking up enough in my shopping cart to get free shipping.  In my case, due to the nature of the items and the low value of the package (I tend to order just enough to qualify for free shipping and that number is low for Canada compared to ROW), these don't always get stopped at customs.  Granted, I've been lucky in that regard but I've learned that a lot of this is also dependent on the postal carrier used.

But that is Canada.  The rest of the world has a much higher threshold as far as attaining free shipping from their online store but I suspect that the additional shipping from a lot of add-ons might make it worthwhile to wait on some of those $10-$15 items in order to benefit from free shipping on some of these after the fact.  There will always be customs to worry about and the customs would be calculated on the retail prices but it might be worth playing with the numbers.  At worse, you won't really be any worse off by buying them at a later point in time.  It might also help justify participating in this Kickstarter at a scaled back level.

At least, that is what I'm trying to do.  ;)

The Kickstarter can be found HERE and ends in a week.

Happy Gaming!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Modular Underground Project... Canceled!

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  The reasons for some projects not quite working out can be numerous but credit has to be given to those who toss in the towel when required.

A few days ago, I wrote about 3D Dungeon Terrain and talked about what was an ongoing project at the time called the 'Modular Underground Project'.  You can find that article HERE.  Honesty, I was really excited to see what was to come out of this project had it funded.  Unfortunately, after a nice and successful launch, funding completely stalled.  There were a few reasons for this and once of them is simply the fact that, for this kind of product for a niche hobby, it has some pretty stiff competition.  Many fans of other products were taking notice but not seeing exactly what they were hoping for.  In short, the project as outlined, wasn't perfect.  Some of the features mentioned, and even shown, weren't available yet but they would have been in some undisclosed stretch goals.

Stuff like that is what keeps people from immediately pledging and they end up waiting and watching.

Add to that, a mammoth Kickstarter just launched today with a rather shortened window as to how long it was running.  Reaper's newest Bones Kickstarter was only 18 days and would have ended a mere 5 days after this one.  There were more than a few backers that were also looking to back the new Bones and many can only spend so much in a short time.  Let's just say that the timing didn't help.

The plug was pulled yesterday but that doesn't mean it's gone for good.  The creators of the project are now looking through things, re-reading backer comments, and that sort of thing as many hope that there will be a re-launch of this project in the near future.

Who knows, with just a couple of minor tweaks, a revised attempt at this project could become a run away success.

Happy Gaming.


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Weekend R&R: Petty Gods - Revised & Expanded

While I do enjoy the various offerings from the OSR community, I admit that I am very particular about what I actually pick up. I first hear about the Petty Gods project the same way many did. We read it on Grognardia and it was one of the latest projects that James Maliszewski was involved with. I was vaguely intrigued though it wasn't the first OSR project the community worked on that seemed to have promise But, it was one of Maliszewski's last projects as well and one that was never completed. I, and many others, forgot about it. Some of us were more concerned with what was going to happen next with Dwimmermount and the Grognardia blog. Others just moved on to the next 'thing'. Thankfully others didn't leave it be.

Seemingly abandoned, dice kept on rolling, and life continued. What few know is that the project had been kept alive and someone was entrusted with the material that Maliszewski collected. The problem was that no one really knew about it. This was back in the Fall of 2012.

Independent of this and after the collapse of Grognardia, a fellow who goes by the name of Greg Gorgonmilk steps up to take the reigns of the project in the Spring of 2013. Being an enthusiast himself, he rallies people to him to basically do what it takes to finish the project and more. He decides to expand upon the content and devotes considerable energy for a very specific aesthetic suitable to the material. This became the revised and expanded version of Petty Gods.

The original version of Petty Gods which was complete by Peter Gifford is available for free HERE. This would be the version that James Maliszewski was last involved with. It is the foundation that the newer version rests on.

Now that a bit of the project's past has been discussed, what is Petty Gods exactly? Maliszewski described it best as this:

...The working title is Petty Gods and it's intended as an homage to Judges Guild's awesome Unknown Gods, which presented 83 minor gods -- complete with stats -- for use in your D&D adventures and campaigns.

And when I say "minor gods," I mean it: we're talking deities like the goddess of dancing girls, the god of summer storms, and the goddess of deep water fish, among others. That's the vibe I'm aiming for with this project too. If anything, I'd prefer that the divinities in Petty Gods be even more minor, esoteric, and obscure than those in Unknown Gods -- the kinds of beings worshiped only by a handful of devoted (and probably crazed) followers and whose power is limited enough that they could conceivably be offed by a party of appropriately bloody-minded PCs. In short, this is a "Monster Manual" for swords-and-sorcery in the manner of Elric.

Now I have a copy of Unknown Gods from Judges Guild. It is one of the few Judges Guild products I still own and cherish and will remain in my collection for YEARS to come. Frankly, it is an awesome book and I enjoy looking through it. This new and expanded version of the Petty Gods on the other hand is astounding and I love this book.

Honestly, I was surprised with it. Back when he original Petty Gods was made available (also in the Spring of 2013), I grabbed as I'm sure others did. It was nice, clean, and simple albeit in a slightly elegant way and at 150 pages, there was enough material to make the average gamer happy. There was an interesting article at the back by M.A.R. Barker which alone makes the download worthwhile. It's also has a forward by Paul Jaquays who, worked on the original Unknown Gods. It was a good book and I filed away and forgot about.

When I heard that the new revised and expanded version was available, I didn't pick up up immediately. I think I got around to doing so about a week later. After flipping through the PDF, I immediately went to Lulu and ordered a print copy. To my regret, I ordered a perfect bound softcover copy and I've seriously considered rectifying that oversight and getting a hardcover copy for my bookshelf.

It's that good.

Don't get me wrong. The first was also good and there is of course overlap but this book went from 150 pages to almost 400! The entries are 'smaller' and by this, I don't mean the entries are abridged in the new version. There is just MORE. With the original, most entities took up an entire page and in some cases they took a couple. In this case, you have multiple entries per page. The notion of additional white space is gone and what you have is a book whose look mimics the 1st edition Deities & Demigods hardcover that TSR published many moons ago. Given the material, it just works.

The book delivers what James Maliszewski had envisioned for the project and then some. The original back was just a book of these lesser beings of power and note. In the revised version of the book, these occupy a section of the book and it is the rest of the book that really helps make this tome shine. In the new book, you have a comprehensive introduction section with articles to help guide you to the book and obviously you have the main section, the Petty Gods themselves. In addition to that, you have sections dealing with minions, knights, servitors, cults and cultists as well as divine items and relics and some spells for your game. However, you also have a comprehensive section of appendices with even more material to flesh out the book even further. There are simply more entries to contend with. To go from a 150 page book with 99 petty gods to a much larger book with 327 petty gods and minions and followers on top of that is a pretty impressive feat. It also shows that a few dedicated individuals and a supportive community can truly do some amazing work.

The fact that the Expanded & Revised edition of Petty Gods is also free or, at cost if you want a print version is equally outstanding. There is no reason not to at least check this book out. If you like this sort of thing, like me, you may immediately order a physical copy for yourself.

While I often hold some of the projects published by Lamentations of the Flame Princess as the gold standard that other OSR projects should aspire towards, Petty Gods - Revised & Expanded easily joins those ranks.

You can get the the PDF over HERE on RPGNow! (OBS Services) for free and/or visit Lulu to order a physical copy HERE.

Happy Gaming!


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Modular Dungeon Terrain

About 30 years ago, I was introduced to pen and paper RPGs and like many, I started with an older version of D&D.  At the time this was AD&D with a healthy does of classic D&D (the BECMI sets).  We also didn't use any miniatures.  Third Edition changed all of that and miniature use become a necessity but I need to be clear here, I never had a problem with the miniatures themselves, only the new ruleset which mandated them.  I moved to Castles & Crusades to get away from those rules but found myself keeping the miniatures.

They are great for new players and they are fun to use and easier to make sure everyone at the gaming table is on the same page when looking at the dynamics of combat between the characters and their opponents.  But, with the love of these miniatures -- be it the collecting, painting, and actual play use, the more I became enamored with them as well as the idea of dungeon terrain for the miniatures.  Drawing on a Chessex map with water-soluable markers works really well but there is nothing like seeing a dungeon 'come to life' and ever since I started looking at miniatures, I've been seeing amazing terrain to go along with it.

And so the quest began!

Dwarven Forge was easily the first I heard about when looking at 3D Modular Dungeons and, as nice as it was, way too expensive.  A couple of years ago, the introduced a new line via Kickstarter called 'Game Tiles'.  It was a hit and a project I had almost backed; my own funds were considerably restricted back then and the shipping was essentially unreasonable.  Upon reflection, this new material which promised to be lighter, stronger, and less expensive was still quite expensive for what you were actually getting.  However, they are a recognized brand and since their release I have found myself looking at their offerings while hoping to find something comparable and cheaper.

Enter Dungeonstone.  Dungeonstone is, by comparison much less expensive and made of some sort of composite material.  At first, I thought Dungeonstone could be the solution to my 'dungeon-esque 3D cravings'.  Unfortunately, they too are based in the US and shipping is just not feasible if you live in Canada or abroad.  To be fair, they are willing to ship but looking at someone's review of them who also happened to live in the Great White North, shipping was done via Fed Ex and cost them $100 to ship less than $200 of material  Crazy even if the stuff is quite nice.  They are durable though not as durable as the new Dwarven Forge material which they dubbed 'dwavenite'.

Since then, I have seen a couple of others and one looked a bit promising like the one Stones Dungeon Tiles Kickstarter.  This was less 3D as it consisted of some flooring with no walls so to speak.  It was nifty but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.  The cost didn't interest me much either though some of their add-ons like furnishings did.  Besides, a few years back, I had a modular dungeon game that included plastic and magnetic tiles which I could use for that exact same purpose and re-investing in a concept that I already had didn't make sense.  Besides, I wanted the look of a dungeon and not flooring.

Dungeonstone still seemed to be the most attractive option despite shipping but I couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger.  I started looking at the Hirst Arts molds.  If I couldn't find an affordable modular dungeon solution, I could just make my own.  They have many molds to choose from and, while slightly costly per mold, the simple fact is that you can effectively make as much as you want makes it infinitely the most affordable solution.  But it's messy and time consuming and there are certain to be problems along the way.  I have hundreds of miniatures I have little time to paint so having to make my dungeon from scratch sounds like I will end up with very little dungeon even if I have the tools to do so.

Despite that, it looked like I was going to start investing in some Hirst molds.

At least, that was the plan until about a couple weeks ago.  Through the grace of social media, I think I have found my solution on Kicktarter, provided that it funds.  The project and look is amazing.  Made entirely of plastic (and thus way lighter than some of those resin-like compounds), the kit take a serious step towards affordability.

The project is by MAKI Games and is called the 'Modular Underground Project'.  Granted, it isn't the most imaginative of names but, looking at the pictures, who the hell cares.  This looks awesome!  It is definitely more affordable than any of the offerings I've seen thus far and as being much lighter material, the shipping is actually reasonable and affordable in comparison.  A creative design will transform an archway to a wall, doorway, or gate without having just a series of different walls.  Two types of flooring by default ... stone flooring with or without flooring and everything looks nicely sculpted.  MAKI Games is partnered with Manorhouse Workshop who has been making detailed resin terrain for the past two decades.

In any event, for the cost of a single starter, you tend to get more than you would from Dwarven Forge and even Dungeon Stone depending on your dungeon style.  However, if you already own either, they are compatible with this new line from MAKI Games.  In other words, why limit yourself?  By that same token, the Hirst stuff would be compatible as well which is just fantastic.

The crowdfunding endeavors have slowed down a bit -- it's hit that middle peak that many projects do and little movement has happened over the past couple of days.  There are things that are coming such as stairs and wooden floors and a few other surprises but all of that depends on future stretch goals.  Being plastic, the machining process is a costly one.  They have the prototypes as can be seen from the pictures and they've been posting additional pictures every few days showcasing the flexibility of the set.  We all know that a lot of people hold back waiting for stretch goals or key components to be released.  That is all fine and good and perhaps even understandable.  However, it seems like it is not getting a much social media attention as this project perhaps deserves.

MAKI Games have already made strides to reduce costs / customs for various international destinations -- even Australia, and they continue to work for other key locations and despite that, shipping is still reasonable (a chart of approximate costs is included on the campaign page).  Shipping to be charged well after the end of the campaign as well as they continue to work towards the most efficient cost-effective options to various places like Canada and abroad.

This isn't their first campaign and they have learned from their last Kickstarter experience.  They have delivered, and while there were hiccups, they aren't leaving a ton of backers in the lurch and launching other campaigns.  A few of us have been burned by these Crowdfunding efforts so we are perhaps all a bit more conservative.  However, looking at how they are communicating, and how realistic they are being, I have no doubt that this project is a very minimal risk compared to others we have backed.  I say minimal only because NO Kickstarter project come at NO risk for the backer.  Some people look at the time frame to delivery which is, basically a year.  I welcome this.  They aren't like most Kickstarter, promising delivery in 4 months only to have you wait and wonder for an entire year.  Frankly, this is all good.

If you have dungeon terrain from stuff I've already mentioned, maybe just a kit or two (the example above is with two base kits without stretch goals) will be all that you want.  A single kit that is eligible for stretch goals is $59 USD.  If the Modular Underground Project is something that might interest you, I highly encourage you to visit their Kickstarter page and pledge now!

You can find it HERE.

Happy Gaming!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Priorities & Practicality

As my long-time readers know, I will sell off parts of my gaming collection from time to time.  In the past three years though, the rate at which I have been selling material has been growing. When I do so, there is usually some sort of secondary motivating factor.  A bit of extra money coming is always a good thing even if that extra money ends up going back into the hobby a different way.

Last year, for instance, it helped pay for my first ever trip to GenCon and, given the amount of gaming material I brought back with me, I think I did well.  Between the complete cost of the trip, be it for food, accommodation, events, swag, and games, I did not have a 'want' for anything else.  It was a stress-free trip and a blast.  This year I'm repeating the pilgrimage and I've got a wedding as well.

Truth be told, these things (and the years I sold stuff before them) were really not motivated by a need to bring in some money even though it always helps.  It's more to do with where I am right now (and likely future) in the hobby.  Now, this isn't the first time I've given this some thought but I had been thinking about it a bit more since I saw an interesting post though one of the RPG Auction groups I am part of on Facebook.

The person in question asked a general question to the group:
Just curious as I'm a buyer, not a seller, (as anyone on here can attest) -- How are y'all able to sell your stuff??? Not that I'm complaining, I like buying it. But, I have NEVER been able to part with my stuff, I'm talking 30+ years of stuff. I can't do it. How do you do it?
You see, I've been doing it on and off for the past few years and sometimes it's a book here or there and other times, it's a straight out trade.  Admittedly, it used to be a lot harder to do but, there comes a point and you take a step and sell something that you thought you'd never sell with the realization that you actually don't need it or use it.  This person's post generated a lot of responses and a large number echoed the sentiments expressed in the original posts.  Stuff these other people sold were often parts of lots they acquired and already had or just doubles in general.  Some sold because they didn't play X,Y, or Z anymore and others genuinely wanted the cash to quickly buy something else or pay some bills.  I reflected and wrote the following:

Priorities and practicality. Over the past couple of years I have sold off easily half of my collection. I realized that despite my love for a lot of the stuff, it was NEVER going to be used. I still have a lot and I'm still buying stuff but the idea is that what I will leave in my collection will see a lot more use than what I sold and didn't. There are always exceptions though plus the money can really be handy at times.
Not particularly deep and a bit off the cuff but I thought more one it.  I feel that there will come times when a person consciously makes a decision to 'streamline' their lives.  About a year ago, I sold my Comic Book collection -- I was just fed up of lugging the stuff around after a few moves with a few boxes of comics that were read once or twice when I first got them 25 years ago or so.  I found a buyer who bought the lot off me and I got more than I would have if I had just taken them to a store.  I probably didn't get a much as I would have had I pulled out a couple of 'key issues' that I might have had in the period that I collected.  Frankly, I didn't care.  But with a few hundred in my hand and one less thing I was holding on to that didn't serve any purpose for me in 2015.

It's the same thing with my gaming collection.  With the amount of clones and the actual editions and printings of D&D and D&D-type games, how many do I really need?  Despite what I have, I play Castles & Crusades and have been for almost a decade now and yet I still have so many variations of the various D&D games that have been released over the years and a couple of OSR clones. 

Many items which I considered as must keep items did get sold this year as I took a bold step forward to streamline my gaming collection.  Many modules were sold and a lot of those were iconic ones.  I've sold almost all of my C&C ones because I own everything on PDF.  During the d20 boom which followed the release of 3rd Edition, there were some great third party d20 sourcebooks and supplements and some which I tracked down and acquired a number of years ago.  They too were sold - usually as sets and lots because it made better sense to do so.  Two or three shelves were cleared in the past couple of months and, while my selling for this year is winding down.  There are bound to be a few more last minute sales in the next week or two before I break off to do other things for the summer.

I still don't need anywhere near what I currently still own and, stuff is coming in all the time. I love this stuff and I love to play.  But if I don't use it and won't use it, why hang on to so much for years without even opening the book.

Regrets?  Sure, I can understand that.  Some people sell something and regret doing so.  I read about people who got rid of parts of their collection and regret doing so all the time.  About twenty years ago, I owned most of the Spelljammer line and I sold it.  While I was happy to do so, I did come to regret it a number of years later.  However, instead of trying to re-acquire the whole collection, I stuck with three items -- the original campaign boxed set, the Spacefarer's Handbook, and Lost Ships.  I was fortunate that these didn't cost me an arm and a leg when I reacquired them compared to some of the prices I see now.

Obviously my situation is exactly that -- mine.  I'm certainly not saying that everyone should start selling off pieces of their collection.  I'm just saying that I have found a bit of peace and have come to a point where I don't see the need to hold on to all the stuff I had been keeping the past few years. 

My priority is to play and enjoy what I do have and it's just more practical to keep on hand what you truly will use.  Besides, cash is always good.


Happy Gaming!


GenCon 2015: Less than 30 Days!

So, if GenCon is less than a month... I guess that means my wedding is coming up even sooner.  Five days sooner to be exact.  Yes... things continue to be busy and while I tried to keep up with 'Under Siege', my back has been to the wall for many weeks now.

Fortunately it hasn't been all work.  Today is Canada Day so, best wishes to all my fellow Canadians.  While the past few weeks have been incredibly busy and the next three week before the wedding will likely be busier and even more stressful, today I took the day off -- completely.

After what seems to be an eternity, I've been able to pull out some brushes and splatter some paint on some miniatures.  And some dice (un-inked Game Science dice -- I paint those in).  I relaxed in front of the TV and just put all thoughts of the wedding and the trip to GenCon out of my mind.  I've also decided to make an effort to write this (and a couple other to-be-published posts).

While gaming the past few weeks has been almost non-existent, I did participate and run a demo for Castles & Crusades for Free RPG Day earlier in June.  I miss running a regular campaign.

In the past couple of months, I've also been doing quite a bit of 'house-cleaning'.  A couple of groups (Google+ and some Facebook groups) have benefited from my housecleaning as I seemingly radically started pulling gaming material off my shelves and putting them up for sale.  I've cleared a few book shelves.  As far as gaming books are concerned, I'm actually down to a bookcase from what was close to two bookcases about 3 years ago.  The sudden injection of cold hard cash is always welcome though, some of it seems to invariably go back to my hobby.  ;)

This 'purge' will be the focus of my next post here on Under Siege which should be along later tonight or tomorrow evening when it's done.

Well, supper calls so I'm signing off for now.  Keep them dice rolling!