Thursday, January 28, 2021

Big Wet Five: Past Lives, Stats Arrive

This is about the Big Wet, my postdiluvian Mothership hack setting thing.


Mothership has four stats: Speed, Strength, Intellect, and Combat. It also four saves—Body, Fear, Sanity, and Armor.

I'm cutting saves, I think. I'll figure something else out for armor, but the Big Wet is fundamentally less of a horror setting than Mothership, and I prefer to just make stats and saves the same thing anyway. Stress is probably getting slashed, too.

The current stats I'm think about for the Big Wet are:
  • Brain: your intellect, processing power, knowledge. Left and right brain both, really.
  • Nerves: your reaction speed, ranged combat abilities, fine motor control. Anything connected to your senses or nervous system.
  • Heart: your emotional sway, willpower, tenacity. More metaphorical than physical.
  • Lungs: your athletic talents, endurance, melee combat abilities. Anywhere oxygen flows.
I like these because A) they're good fleshy nouns with some zest, and B) they're a little more flexible and metaphorical and thought-provoking than just basic terms. 

They follow the same procedure as Mothership for determining them: roll 6d10 for each stat, down the line. Roll under that stat to succeed on a check. 

Wet, of course, is the fifth stat: it comprises your literal wetness, but also fatigue, weariness, exhaustion, and lack of will. 

(Eyes, Ears, Hands, Fingers, Bones, Face, Tongue, Liver, and Meat were all reject stats. They might get added in later. We'll see.) 


Mothership has classes, which give you your starting saves, a couple of skills, and one or two random abilities. I'm not super into them, to be honest, so instead the Big Wet's going to have a giant d100 list of "who you were when it was dry," which gives you some starting skills. Roll one of these at chargen.

Not all of these are equal. The basic weighting is that stats > free skills > selected skills, and a given background should have the equivalent of ~4 free skills, but the balancing is pretty loose. Embrace the inequality, to some degree.

Here's the list:
  1. Accountant
    +10 Brain, Mathematics, 2 skills
  2. Activist
    +5 Heart, Politics, Tactics, 2 skills
  3. Actor
    +20 Heart, Art, 2 skills
  4. Airline Pilot
    Driving, Piloting, Vehicle Specialization, 2 skills
  5. Architect
    +5 Brain, 3 skills
  6. Arms Dealer
    +5 Nerves, Bartering, Economics, Post-Collapse Markets, Fighting, Firearms, Ammunition Recycling
  7. Assassin
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Fighting, Firearms, Close-Quarters Combat, Weapon Specialization
  8. Astronaut
    +5 Brain, +5 Lungs, Mathematics, Physics, Diving
  9. Author
    Art, 3 skills
  10. Banker
    -10 Heart, Mathematics, Economics, 2 skills
  11. Barista
    +5 Nerves, +5 Lungs, 3 skills
  12. Bartender
    +5 Nerves, +5 Face, Coastwise, 2 skills
  13. Bodyguard
    +10 Lungs, Fighting, 2 skills
  14. Boxer
    +20 Lungs, Athletics, Fighting, Close-Quarter Combat
  15. Bus Driver
    Driving, Coastwise, 3 skills
  16. Caregiver
    +10 Heart, +10 Brain, 2 skills
  17. Carpenter
    +10 Nerves, +5 Lungs, Mechanical Repair, 1 skill
  18. Cashier
    +5 Lungs, +5 Heart, 3 skills
  19. Celebrity
    +10 Heart, +10 Lungs, 2 skills
  20. Chef
    +10 Nerves, +5 Brain, Agriculture, 1 skill
  21. Chemist
    +10 Brain, Chemistry, Explosives, 1 skill 
  22. Civil Servant
    +5 Brain, Politics, Administration, Governance, 1 skill
  23. Dancer
    +10 Lungs, Athletics, 2 skills
  24. Dentist
    +10 Brain, Biology, Medicine, Surgery
  25. Dietician
    +5 Brain, +5 Lungs, Agriculture, Biology, 1 skill
  26. Drug Dealer
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Bartering, Economics, Post-Collapse Markets
  27. Ecologist
    +10 Brain, Hydrology, Biology, Botany, Meteorology, Climatology, Neo-Ecology
  28. Economist
    +5 Brain, Bartering, Mathematics, Economics, 1 skill
  29. Editor
    +5 Brain, -5 Heart, Art, 3 skills
  30. Electrician
    +5 Brain, Mechanical Repair, Scavenging, 2 skills
  31. Engineer
    +5 Brain, Mathematics, Physics, Engineering, 1 skills
  32. Farmer
    +10 Brain, Agriculture, Meteorology, Botany, Hunting
  33. Fast Food Worker
    +5 Lungs, +5 Heart, 3 skills
  34. Film Producer
    -5 Brain, Bartering, Politics, 3 skills
  35. Fisher
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, +5 Brain, Biology, Hydrology, 1 skill
  36. Flight Attendant
    +5 Heart, +5 Nerves, 3 skills
  37. Forester
    +5 Lungs, +5 Brain, Biology, Botany, 2 skills
  38. Game Designer
    -5 Brain, -5 Heart, -5 Lungs, -5 Nerves
  39. Garbage Worker
    +5 Heart, +5 Lungs, Scavenging, 2 skills
  40. Geographer
    +10 Brain, History, Art, Hydrology, 1 skill
  41. Hairdresser
    +5 Heart, +5 Nerves, Art, 2 skills
  42. Historian
    +5 Brain, History, 2 skills
  43. Hunter
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Hunting, Firearms, 1 skill
  44. Illustrator
    +10 Nerves, +5 Heart, Art, 1 skills
  45. Influencer
    +10 Heart, +5 Lungs, Athletics, 1 skill
  46. Insurance Agent
    Bartering, 3 skills
  47. IT Tech
    +5 Brain, Mechanical Repair, Computers, 1 skill
  48. Jeweler
    +10 Nerves, Art, History, Bartering
  49. Journalist
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, Coastwise, Art, 1 skill
  50. Lawyer
    +10 Brain, -5 Heart, History, Tactics, Philosophy, Ethics
  51. Librarian
    +20 Brain, History, Politics, Administration, Governance
  52. Linguist
    +10 Brain, 3 skills
  53. Locksmith
    +10 Nerves, +5 Brain, Breaking & Entering, Safecracking, 1 skill
  54. Magician
    +10 Nerves, 3 skills
  55. Marine
    +10 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Fighting, Firearms, Close-Quarters Combat, Amphibious Warfare
  56. Marine Biologist
    +10 Brain, Diving, Biology, Hydrology, Scuba, 1 skill
  57. Martial Artist
    +10 Lungs, Athletics, Fighting, Spirituality, Close-Quarters Combat, 1 skill
  58. Mason
    +5 Lungs, +5 Brain, Scavenging, 2 skills
  59. Mathematician
    +10 Brain, Mathematics, 2 skills
  60. Mechanic
    +5 Brain, +5 Nerves, Mechanical Repair, Driving, Jury Rigging
  61. Miner
    +10 Lungs, Scavenging, Urbex, 1 skill
  62. Musician
    +10 Heart, +5 Nerves, Art, 2 skills
  63. New-Age Guru
    +10 Heart, Spirituality, Theology, Apocalyptic Mysticism, 1 skill
  64. Nurse
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, +Nerves, First Aid, Medicine
  65. Organized Criminal
    +5 Lungs, Breaking & Entering, Coastwise, Politics, 1 skill
  66. Painter
    +5 Nerves, Art, 3 skills
  67. Pharmacist
    +5 Brain, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, Pharmacology, 1 skill
  68. Police Officer
    -20 Heart, +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Fighting, Firearms, 2 skills
  69. Politician
    +5 Heart, +5 Brain, Politics, Tactics, 2 skills
  70. Priest
    +5 Heart, +5 Brain, Spirituality, Theology, 2 skills
  71. Private Eye
    +5 Nerves, +5 Brain, Fighting, Firearms, Scavenging, Hunting
  72. Psychologist
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, Biology, Psychiatry, 2 skills
  73. Public Health Worker
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, Biology, Agriculture, Hydrology, Politics, Administration
  74. QA Specialist
    +5 Brain, Mechanical Repair, Scavenging, 2 skills
  75. Rancher
    +5 Lungs, Hunting, Agriculture, 2 skills
  76. Realtor
    +5 Heart, Bartering, Breaking & Entering, 2 skills
  77. Receptionist
    +5 Heart, 3 skills
  78. Roustabout
    +5 Lungs, Scavenging, Urbex, 2 skills
  79. Sailor
    +5 Lungs, Hydrology, Athletics, Diving, 1 skill
  80. Salesperson
    +10 Heart, Bartering, 2 skills
  81. Sanitation Specialist
    +10 Brain, Biology, Medicine, Sanitation, 1 skill
  82. Schoolchild
    Scavenging, Fighting, Coastwise, Diving, 2 skills
  83. Sculptor
    +5 Nerves, +5 Lungs, Art, 2 skills
  84. Secretary
    +5 Brain, +5 Heart, Politics, Administration, 1 skill
  85. Singer
    +5 Lungs, +5 Heart, Art, 2 skills
  86. Social Media Manager
    +10 Heart, +5 Brain, Politics, Administration, 1 skill
  87. Spy
    +5 Nerves, +5 Heart, +5 Brain, Athletics, Fighting, Coastwise, Politics, Breaking & Entering
  88. Stripper
    +10 Lungs, +5 Heart, Art, Athletics, 1 skill
  89. Student
    4 skills
  90. Surgeon
    +5 Brain, +10 Nerves, First Aid, Medicine, Surgery
  91. Tailor
    +5 Nerves, Art, Scavenging, 2 skills
  92. Teacher
    +10 Heart, +5 Brain, +5 Lungs, Coastwise, Tactics, Command
  93. Thief
    +10 Nerves, Breaking & Entering, 2 skills
  94. Trucker
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Driving, Coastwise, 2 skills
  95. Trust Fund Kid
    -5 Heart, +5 Lungs, 2 skills
  96. Undertaker
    +5 Lungs, +5 Brain, Biology, First Aid, Scavenging, 1 skill
  97. Veterinarian
    +5 Heart, +5 Brain, +5 Nerves, Biology, First Aid, Medicine
  98. Weather Person
    +5 Brain, Hydrology, Meteorology, 2 skills
  99. Yoga Instructor
    +5 Lungs, +5 Nerves, Spirituality, Athletics, 1 skill
  100. Zoologist
    +5 Brain, +5 Lungs, Biology, Hunting, 1 skill
I'm sure there's a few more in here somewhere that I'm missing. Feel free to make your own, too. 


My semester is starting back up, so my time is reduced, but next on the docket are things like:
  • Dry Wonders, all of the artifacts and strange devices that you, as scavengers, are hunting for
  • Wet Vehicles, for land and sea (and both), and all of their stats and stuff
  • Flooded Wastes, and how you might run the over-land/sea procedures of the game
  • Wet Gear revised, since the last listing were slightly suspect
But yeah. Keep an eye out.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Big Wet Four: Skills Galore

I made a skill list for the Big Wet, my flooded (post?) apocalyptic Mothership hack thing. 

If you're unfamiliar with Mothership skills, they add to your d100 rolls, increasing your stat by 10-20%; if you had a 35 in Intellect but can apply a +15% skill, you now succeed if you roll under a 50. 

I don't think I'm going to have classes in the same way Mothership does, so I don't quite know how these skills will be acquired, but here's the list:

Here's a link to the PDF. You can also click on this image to expand it.

Most of these skills should be relatively self-explanatory, I think. Weapon and vehicle specializations mean you pick one single vehicle or weapon, and get +20% with just that one. 

This list is slightly more filled-in than the stock Mothership one, but I think that's okay; the Big Wet's a more-defined setting than the default Mothership, and the specific scientific sub-disciplines matter more.


My next thing to do for the Big Wet is to make a giant d100 table of "What you did before the world ended," which give you some starting skills and probably a piece of gear or two. 

I also think I'm going to change up the stats. Not quite sure what they're going to be, but I find the Mothership stats slightly too narrow and slightly bland for my tastes. 

Keep an eye out. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Vayra Asks Ten Questions, I Give Ten Answers

 Vayra has questions, I now have answers.

1) What class knows the most martial arts? Are they real martial arts like kung fu, or made up ones like krav maga?

...Fighter? Maybe? My games usually don't have an archetypal unarmed martial arts-type warrior class. Unarmed fighting, usually, is only something you do in my games when you don't have weapons. That said, Fighter, because they're the best at fighting. 

Most of the martial arts would not exist in real life (though probably would draw inspiration from them) but would be "real" in the context and history of the game, although the idea of a more-constructed martial art is not at all out of the question.

2) Can you start having already made a deal with the devil or do I have to do that in game?

Hmm. This one depends. If we're doing collaborative backstory generation together, where all the PCs link their characters together some way or another, and if deals-with-the-Devil are something that's part of that collective backstory, then sure? Otherwise, though, I'd say it's probably something you have to do in-game. If you express a desperate desire to sign a devilish contract early, though, I'd try to make sure you got that opportunity early—and probably tell you that, too.

3) Do I want you to write an 8-page backstory? Can you write an 8-page backstory, if you want to? If you write something down in it like you're the timelost princess of the Brass City and the daughter of the sun and you commanded legions in the Hell War but was betrayed by your father's vizier but you don't know that, or that you're elf Conan and cooler than everyone else, will that be true?


If you really, really want to, and you write me a TL;DR, and acknowledge that it's difficult for me to incorporate all those elements together in-game.

Probably not. If it is—which is probably only if every other player is okay with it—I will 100% dump extra responsibilities, problems, and challenges onto you accordingly.

4) If you eat someone's heart, will you gain their powers? What about their brain?

No? Like, maybe if it's a big fancy monster and you specially prepare it or it's part of a ritual or something. But usually no.

5) These classes are boring, can you be one from somewhere else? What about a different system entirely?

This is another big "it depends." I usually provide classlists that have a "Recommended" list and then also a "Maybe but talk to me first" list. So you'd have to talk to me, but probably.

"Different system" means different things to different people. Can you play a B/X class in GLOG? Sure. Can you play you a Troika background in Apocalypse World? Probably not.

6) If you make a sword, which one of us gets to name it?

You. You're the one who made it.

Unless you mean coming up with a magical sword as part of your backstory or whatever, in which case see answer #3.

7) Are you allowed to kill the other PCs? What would you have to do to be allowed to? Do you win if you kill them all? How do you win at all?


Have a genuine conversation as part of session zero and talk about whether or not PC-killing is a thing we as a collective table want. If yes, you then have to earn it with sufficient character- and tension-building in-game. A session or three at least.


You don't. Roleplaying games almost never have win conditions; some have endings, some even have "good" and "bad" endings, but almost none have a genuine win condition. 

8) Which language stands in for "Common?" Or what are we all talking to each other in? Like the party, mostly, but also everyone else?

Depends a lot on the campaign and the setting. 

Assuming the traditional glove-trotting adventure campaign, I usually have the "common language" be a kind of late-stage traders' pidgin that's taken on a life of its own and thus is spoken widely, but is rarely someone's first-language. Like, say, Polari, but with the wide spread of Esperanto, but also successful and largely syncretic, and now with a life of its own.

That said, I am a huge fan of having lots of tiny shitty villages that the party travels through (and resupplies from) have nobody who speaks the trade tongue. Not knowing most of the language is a critical part of strangers-in-a-strange-land, in my view.

9) How do you learn to talk to rocks? Not once a day, but just, like, normally?

I don't know? Probably either some kind of druidic ritual, or else by being descended from a stony creature, or possibly by being some stripe of ultra-ascended-enlightened grandmaster. Or maybe just by being an elf? (Or a dwarf? Or a gnome?)

I really don't know. 

10) Which kinds of wizards get to serve kings and live in towers and shit, and which ones are run out of town or stoned to death in the streets? Can you be both? At the same time?

Again, depends a lot on the campaign and setting. Generally, though, the wizards that get to live in towers and serve monarchs are the ones that go to (magic) school and sign a bunch of paperwork and have their true names and blood type and everything locked in a CIA-analogue vault somewhere. Usually. Otherwise, wizards usually get reported to the local authorities, who won't hang you immediately or anything, but will definitely ask some strongly-worded questions. Unless they're directly beneficial (your healers, crop-growers, cold-warders-off, etc.), in which case the common folk turn a blind eye and try not to draw attention to you or themselves.

You probably cannot be both. School-and-paperwork wizards have badges and papers and things, which generally prevents the authority-questioning, and wizards that get their magic elsewhere usually can't then fill out the paperwork without strongly-worded questions.

That said, you could play a paperwork wizard who's gone rogue, or a wild wizard that's too useful for the CIA to kill, or some combination thereupon. Worth thinking about and planning with the others. 


Ten questions, ten answers. Not sure how I feel about these questions, not sure how I feel about my own answers. 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Not Horrifically Failing at Kickstarter: a Guide

Adapted from a guide I wrote several years ago that you probably didn't see.

Hello! I'm writing this guide to cover the basics of making a Kickstarter page and campaign that probably won't horrifically fail.

A couple of conditions and caveats to that:
  1. At time of writing, I've done four Kickstarter campaigns (soon to be five, since ZineQuest 3 is around the corner). All four succeeded, but only one of them was a major success in anything approaching a strong, influential way; the other three did fine, but they weren't anything to write home about.
  2. All of my Kickstarters were for tabletop RPGs. That's what most of this blog is about, but if you wandered here for some other purpose, bear in mind that TTRPGs will be the focus. I would tentatively guess that what I advise could be extrapolated; something similar (a board or card game) would be pretty similar, but something more different (a video game) would take significant tweaking.
Regardless, caveat emptor.

This guide is divided into several sections. My advice is loosely ordered according to priority; that is, the first things are more important than the last things—but everything I'm telling you is worth at least something. 

With all that said and done, the guide itself:


This is the simplest part of Kickstarter, but is also probably the most difficult. If you don't make something good, it's much, much harder to get funded. It's worse than that, really: even if your bad thing does get funded (which happens all the time), once it comes out people will realize it's bad, and then you're screwed.

On some level, this feels obvious: "No duh, Sam, of course my game actually has to be good." Sure, sure. Everyone knows you should always do your best.

It's a bit different here, though. While backers don't get to see the final product of what you're making until it's done, they can sniff out a lot about you. Don't cut corners. Keep your standards high the whole way. Show some effort in your product and your page. If you do these, it will show: backers will realize that even if you're not the most ingenious designer or have the snazziest budget, you've poured some heart and soul into the making of it, which counts for a lot.

Dedication is important: part of the allure of Kickstarter is the fabled pipe-dream—the plucky underdog creator that couldn't find a home for their work in the mainstream, and so turned to the crowd.I f you can sell this image, this story, this allure, your project is far more likely to succeed.

The best and simplest way for that dream to feel true is for it to actually be true: if you can show, quickly and easily, that you are turning to Kickstarter as your last best hope, people will latch onto that. 

Likewise, the pages that succeed are the ones that don't feel like sales pitches. Everyone knows a sales pitch and can spot it from a mile off; if you frame your page not as "buy this thing" but as "here is this cool thing I made," you will see more success. 

That's why dedication matters: you have to really and truly love whatever it is you're putting up. People can see that, they can feel it, and they'll back your project because of it.


There's a notion in some circles—particularly very-online DIY-ish blog-centric game circles—that art basically doesn't matter. That gameplay (and thus, in RPGs, rules text) is king, and art is for the sidelines: window-dressing on the main event.

This is wrong. 

Art is critically important in pitching your game: art is what people first see, what immediately draws their attention, and what sticks in their head after they've gone. A mediocre project with amazing art can and will succeed more than a good project with mediocre art.

The most important art piece in the whole of your game is the pitch thumbnail: it's this art that people see when they're scrolling by your project on Kickstarter, it's this art that will get publicized elsewhere online, and it's this art that will be the icon of your game.

For the page itself, the more art you have, the better. You need text (don't do that weird thing where the entire page is one giant image), but the more you convey about your game through images and artwork and expression, the better. Use art for titling your sections, for breaking up text, for showing off stretch goals, for diagrams, for gameplay, whatever you can. More art is good.

Bad art is death. You could have the best, most creative, most brilliant project in the world, and if you have crummy art, your game will die. The flipside, as mentioned, is that you can have an utterly garbage game, but if it has amazing art, it will sell like hotcakes.

Ideally, you have the liquid cash on-hand ahead of time to fund commissioned pieces for the Kickstarter. You can work with one artist to have a more detailed vision and a clearer idea of what you want—once you've funded and made your money back, you can hire them again for the final book.

If you have zero art and have zero budget, trawl around online for royalty-free images and use those (check pexels, unsplash, wikimedia commons, etc.), or fork over a pittance of cash (<$50 is enough usually) and grab some stock images that fit your game. For any royalty-free images, don't be afraid of recoloring, tweaking, and adjusting them using Photoshop (or gimp, or, or whatever you have). Having at least a visuals is critical, so get whatever you can, but make it look good.


Straight-up scammers on Kickstarter are relatively rare these days, but everyone's heard horror stories of campaigns that promise the world, hit their funding goal in spades, and then vanish with the cash. Or maybe the creators don't disappear, but they over-promise and then produce mostly garbage once the game's actually released.

There are two key parts to proving you're legit:

First, show you're not a scam. There's no direct etiquette to this, but you should explain who you are, what you need the money for, where the money's going, and what your general estimates are. Be transparent, be honest, and be yourself. If your backers smell something fishy going on, they'll be quick to withdraw and leave you in the lurch. 

Don't promise too much. One of the most common reasons that Kickstarter projects fail after being funded is that they smash through their goal, wildly promise extra content, and only then realize they've massively overscoped and can't pull through. If your stretch goals smack of being too ambitious—let alone the base goals of your campaign—backers will be wary of a scam.

Second, you have to prove that you can actually pull off making the game itself. There are a thousand wannabe game devs that jump on Kickstarter with what they think is a million-dollar idea—and may well be, honestly—but they have zero skills to back up their lofty ambitions. You need to prove that you're a talented designer, one that can actually deliver on what you're promising.

There are several ways to do this: showing off past projects is very helpful. If you've made a 200-page RPG, making a 300-page RPG isn't that much of a stretch for you. It's rare that people will actually click through your portfolio and actually look at what you've made, but just having a volume of work on-hand for reference is extremely useful in proving your credibility.

The best way, really, is to just have a lot of the work done already. Show demos, examples, instances, scenarios, whatever you can to show that you know what you're doing. Getting started is usually the hardest part of these sorts of things; showing you have the core of your game done is a good way to prove that you can get the rest of the way. 

This ties into Point #4:


Your game is made of stuff. Show that stuff off.

What this stuff is varies a lot based on your game, but a good possible includes:
  • Page/spread samples
  • Rules text
  • Example play procedures
  • Actual play of your game
  • In-game art
  • Character sheets
  • Content (items, monsters, classes/playbooks, events, tables, etc.) that will be in the game
Show off as much of this as you can. Don't just tell your backers why your game is cool, show them. Let them see for themselves what they can get if they back your project. Tantalize them. Show off one really dope feature or level or example and they'll want more.

For some games, you might actually give away some for free ahead of time. Lots of RPGs put out their basic hacks or the basic rules early, for free, before the Kickstarter page even launches. This is a good marketing tactic, since it A) gets eyeballs on the project, and B) it means that people know what they're getting their hands on before they dump a bunch of cash. It's also just a good way to build goodwill: people love free stuff, and are a lot more willing to contribute to a paid thing if they already like the free thing.

Ideally, you've actually been doing this for a while before your campaign launches: putting out blog posts, releasing snippets of content, maybe running some playtests for strangers.

This ties into Advice #5:


People love shinies. If you can hang something on a string right in front of them, they’ll take it.

This means that you should have a tier reward, ideally for every tier, that gives something out right then and there. This is probably some kind of playtest kit or early backers kit, something that lets them start playing right away, but it could be something else, like a set of player’s options or an intro module or something.

However you figure it, you want something that you can give away, right now. It's a really good incentive to get people to pledge sooner, rather than later, to hook them in on the impulse buy. Lots of would-be backers think about backing a project and then forget about it, or wait to see if it’s doing well first, or otherwise hang around a lot, and putting something right in front of them is a good way to sell that.

This ties in to #4, too: if you’ve put something out earlier, for free, that can do basically the same thing. A souped-up or revised version of what’s already free is a great incentive: people know what they’re getting and it’s nothing too crazy, but it’s still shiny. Likewise, if backers know they already like something (your free thing), they’ll jump to get more of it (your shiny). It’s a vicious cycle, sorta, but one that profits you immensely.


There's a lot of tricky math on Kickstarter, and there are lots of other posts and articles that cover it in more detail than me. I'll hit the best-of list here:
  1. On paper, Kickstarter eats 5%, but they will usually end up charging closer to 10% in processing fees. If your budget is super-tight, this might sink you.
  2. You'll want separate shipping fees depending where in the world you're sending your physical products; these shipping fees get added onto your total funding amount. If you have a $20 tier and $5 shipping, the total contribution added to your campaign is $25. 
  3. You can change tiers after launch, but only if nobody has pledged to them. Go through your tiers and make sure they're all perfect before launching.
  4. You can always add more tiers; if you have some special reward or early bird tier that sell outs ultra-fast, do another round. Make some more cash.
  5. Budget in a little buffer cash. Things always end up a little more expensive than you think, so make sure your "oh shit" fund is intact, in the event that things really go south.
Review all of Kickstarter's funding math. It's very important.


Hit up every single social media outlet you can find: be on Kickstarter constantly, but also be on Twitter, reddit, the Gauntlet,, enworld, the RPG blogosphere, the podcast beat, the RPG Discord servers, wherever you can. Be there. As often as you can, as fast as you can. 

Hawk your game. Tell everyone who will listen about it. Always be around to answer questions. There are a number of YouTube channels and blogs and podcasts that will just talk about the newest Kickstarter releases—if any of them turn hits on your game, be there to answer questions (google your project incognito to find them). People will leave comments on your posts, always be ready to answer them. If anyone DMs you, answer them, too. Word of mouth is a powerful force in the RPG sphere, so don’t be afraid to use it.

Likewise, there’s a chance that someone will message you to be on their podcast or come on their show or do something on their chatroom. Take it. There’s a chance they’ll be weird and scummy to you, but more often than not they’re just trying to hawk their own brand, same as you. Those opportunities are beneficial, even if it's just for the eyeballs. 

While your project is live and afterwards, update frequently. I've never heard of anybody complaining about too many updates, and while I could theoretically imagine it, it's better to update more often than necessary than not often enough. Your backers are the most important people to you, so keep them in the loop.


This ties into #6. Whales are the big spenders on projects, the people who will dump proportionately huge amounts of cash into your game. Lots of people will take the low tiers, some people will take the middle tiers, and a few people will grab the high tiers—those are the whales.

Don’t be afraid to have some high tiers. People will take them. Probably not all of them and probably not very fast, but there are definitely backers out there that have deep wallets and are willing to spend on the projects they care about.

Because of this, don’t cap your whales. Always let people spend more money in exchange for stuff. Do combo deals, add on fun knick-knacks, offer to run games, let them name the example NPCs, do whatever you can to charge more. Your whales will eat it up, and you’ll be all the closer to funded for it.

That said—don’t really lose your mind. If your basic low tier is in the $5-$10 range, don’t go putting up tiers for $1000. You can get away with those huge tiers on projects where the baseline is $50, maybe, but don’t do it for small projects. It’s not often that a whale bites by any means, but it definitely does happen. 

Don’t cap your whales. Let people spend their money.


Every once in a while, Kickstarter will run events. For an event, Kickstarter will do some advertising ahead of time to let creators know, and then they’ll have special conditions to join the event. My first game was a part of ZineQuest, where you made a very short RPG (a zine) with some specific formatting conditions. If you fulfilled the requirements and tagged your project correctly, you’d show up on Kickstarter’s ZineQuest page.

There are several other events like this, where doing certain projects can earn you visibility. If you can fit your project into one of these, you’ll be rewarded with lots of free clicks, and possibly the illustrious “Project We Love” tag, which is very hard to get otherwise. Boosting visibility is extremely helpful, and will increase your chances of getting funded.

If you can’t fit your project into the current event, you should be wary. Other projects that are in the event will be getting boosted on Kickstarter, and yours will not. You won’t necessarily get buried, per se, but you’ll be fighting against the current. Trying to launch a non-event project in the middle of an existing event is a dangerous business, one that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. Be careful, and do your research ahead of time.


Kickstarter is hard. It’s scary. It’s a lot of work. But! You can use it to fulfill dreams you otherwise could not, to push projects that otherwise would not exist, and to earn the cash needed to keep working the entire time. 

Follow these rules, and you might not horrifically fail. You still might, though. Uncertain. Anyway, good luck.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Dunerider REVISED

 A while ago I posted my Dunerider class. It wasn't very good, I didn't think, so now it's new and improved! Huzzah!

GLOG Class: the Dunerider

A: Sandsurfer, Dunespeech, Stunts
B: Catch This!, Stunt Combo
C: Macking
D: The Big One

Most of these templates only apply while on your duneboard. Use your good judgement.

You gain +5 ft. of movement per Dunerider template while on your duneboard (assuming normal movement is about 30 ft.)

Starting skills [1d3]: 1 = beach bum; 2 = caravan scout; 3 = psammologist (like an oceanographer, but for sandy seas)

Starting equipment: a duneboard with a custom paint job, a 15’ ankle leash, a couple of rad tattoos, and a see-through headscarf to keep the sand out

(A) Sandsurfer
You are trained in sandsurfing, the sport of standing on a piece of treated wood and riding across the dunes. You travel at normal speed while on your duneboard (compared to sandshoes, which go at half-speed), and can travel equally well on both daytime and nighttime sands. Your board is of such craft and quality that it can sit on the surface for any length of time, without sinking, although it will drift.

You’re trained in all of the basic tricks and moves sandsurfers do: you can corner on a coin, pull short leaps, ride up and down dunes both, and generally maneuver better than any ship. If you have to make a check on some kind of basic stunt (which usually you won’t have to, but occasionally you will), you have advantage.

Generally speaking, you cannot ride your duneboard in anything heavier than light armor.

(A) Dunespeech
You know the strange dialect of sandsurfers, called Dunespeech. It consists of a variety of strange jargon and terminology, plus the ubiquitous Shaka Sign. All duneriders know the Dunespeech; communications between you can be incomprehensible to others, to the degree it’s effectively a form of code.

In addition to duneriders, certain other creatures—certain long-haul caravaneers, sand-dolphins, hellbenders, particular sentient dunes, and a handful of others—might know bits and pieces of the Dunespeech. When you attempt to communicate with one of these creatures, you have a [templates]-in-6 chance of being able to make yourself understood and understand what they say in return, though precise clarity might vary.

(A) Stunts
You know some of the legendary sandsurfer stunts. Every template, roll 1d12 and gain that particular Stunt. If you roll a repeat, take your choice of the one above or below it.

(B) Catch This!
When you end your turn, for every 10’ you are from where you started this turn, you gain +1 Defense, up to a maximum of +8. This extra defense lasts until the beginning of your next turn.

The key thing here is displacement vs. distance travelled: it’s 10’ from you started, so just surfing in a circle won’t get you anything.

(B) Stunt Combo
You can now do two stunts at the same time, but risk failure. To make two stunts as one, make a [templates]-in-6 check; if you fail, you wipe out: suffer 1d6 damage and faceplant off your board into the sand. If you want to tack on a third stunt or higher, you can do so, but have to make the check again. 

Additionally, you can make a [templates]-in-6 check to negate a cooldown, reset, or setup time on a single individual stunt, like the 1-minute setup for Shoot the Tube or the minutes-above-the-surface reset clock on Turtle Glide. You can combo this with two stunts at once, but this takes two checks (you can, of course, reset the second stunt, too, with another check, and the third, and so on.)

At your option, you can choose to automatically succeed on a check; after completing the stunt combo, your board splits in half.

(C) Macking
When you successfully perform a stunt (or continuous sequence of stunts) in front of an audience, they are be enthralled and unable to look away from your performance, and may even begin spontaneously throwing Shaka Signs of appreciation. This lasts until either your set of stunts is complete, or you mess one up and wipe out.

(D) The Big One
Once per adventure/arc/chapter, you can declare some kind of giant dangerous phenomenon (like one of G_d’s Sanding Blocks or a firestorm) to be The Big One. Until that phenomenon leaves or ceases, you can surf across the surface or outside of it as if it were a regular dune.

For every Dunerider template you take, roll 1d12 and gain one of these; if you roll a repeat, take your choice of the option above or below it. As with most Dunerider abilities, these generally only apply if you’re on your duneboard.
  1. Duck Dive. If you grip the edge of your board and hunker down, you can ignore falls that are [templates] × 10’ high. If it’s higher than that, you can make a [templates]-in-6 chance to ignore all fall damage onto sand.
  2. Big Air. When you crest the top of a dune, you can immediately make a leap, [templates] × 10’ long and [templates] × 5’ high, without counting towards your move total.
  3. Shoot the Tube. If you surf continuously for 1 minute without turning more than 90° or stopping, you can create a cylindrical wave of roiling sand—a tube—around you, opening 10’ in front of you and closing 30’ behind you. This tube of sand obscures sightlines except from the very front and is extremely difficult to fire regular projectiles through. The tube lasts until you stop, turn more than 15° in one round, or wipe out.  
  4. Turtle Glide. For [templates] × 2 rounds at a time, you can twist around 180° and ride along the underside of the surface of the sand. This can, for example, allow you to ride underneath a ship. You must then spend an equal number of minutes then surfing normally before doing this again.
  5. Twist & Grind. If you stop short of your full movement on your turn and twist hard, you can kick up a wave of sand in a 45° arc that is [templates] × 5’ long. Anyone caught in this wave must save vs. big sandy wave or be blinded for a minute, or until they laboriously scrape the sound of their eyes.
  6. Scissor Shear. If you detach your ankle leash and then ride in a straight line for your full turn, you can launch your duneboard (without you) forward at a target in that line, up to 100’ away. Any target in that line must make a save vs. oncoming duneboard or immediately suffer [templates]d8 damage.
  7. Bodysurfer. For [templates] minutes, you can lie on your belly and surf across the dunes without your duneboard, behaving exactly as if you did have your duneboard. You must spend an equal amount of time on your duneboard before doing this again.
  8. Jackknife. If you flip your board sideways and stand on the edge, you can duneboard across solid or liquid surfaces that are not sand as if they were sand, up to [templates] × 10’ at a time. 
  9. Helping a Hodad. For [templates] minutes, you can put another person on your duneboard with none of the normal disadvantages. You can pull stunts and surf like normal; they won’t fall off or mess anything up, unless you wipe out.
  10. Going Aggro. For [templates] × 2 rounds, you render your board completely impervious to harm of any kind. (If you combo this stunt and choose to auto-succeed, your board still breaks at the end.)
  11. Hang Loose. For [templates] minutes, your board can surf around without you on it, still being controlled by you as if you were on it. 
  12. Soul Surfer. [templates] times per day, you can grip your feet on the edge of your board and sandsense out to [templates] × 10’ for [templates] minutes. During this time, your Dunespeech works with any native psammitic creature.