Author Topic: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me  (Read 2435 times)

Ron Edwards

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[Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« on: October 17, 2012, 10:27:43 PM »
Well, this is the rough draft, open to all comments and critique.

First, this isn't a ransom. The plain PDF of the annotated core book  is going up for free as soon as it's done, no matter what. The cool-ass annotated Sorcerer PDF and the bundled-supplement PDF will both be made available for sale as soon as they're done, no matter what. I figure $20 each is a pretty good price.

$1: you get no bennies, just "thanks" and a public acknowledgment. This is pretty much the way to say, "Hey, keep it flyin'," all by itself. This means a lot to me, don't dismiss it.

$10: You get the awesome Sorcerer PDF that will be the same one that will be sold for $20. This is the "pre-order" option at a substantial savings. I suppose you could do this for the bundled-supplements PDF by itself, although I can't imagine why. (Also, one point about these PDFs is that they should be usable on-screen, easily printable, and sized for easy custom binding of your own.)

$20: You get both the awesome Sorcerer PDF and the bundled supplements PDF too.

$50: You get the PDFs and choose one thing from a list that includes:
a good-looking physical book (core)
a good-looking physical book (supplements)
some cool gear, clothes or whatnot
10 hours of custom work on your game from an artist or layout person (painfully forced into servitude by me for this purpose)
playtesting critique on your game from me

$100: Treated as the $50 above, $25 goes to a charity (I'll choose a few, you pick which), and you get two things from the list.

Increment up from there by $25 chunks, each one getting you another thing from the list, for a maximum contribution of $175 for everything on it. (You can't get more hours though; I'm pretty sure that won't work.)

One thing I'm not sure about is a goal. I mean, the products are being done no matter what, the point is to make them happen faster, and every little bit will help. So why would a ceiling figure be important? Yes, yes, I know people expect it, but I'm stumped regarding a hard amount. Maybe $2000? That's sort of my OMG figure at a gut level.

Being sort of nervous about the speed with which news about this would travel - remember, I don't Twitter, I'm not on Facebook, I don't even know what "following" means  or those other little icons either - the month-long project seems most viable to me.

I think that satisfies my concerns pretty well. All comments and suggestions are welcome!

Best, Ron

Justice Platt

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2012, 11:35:36 PM »
Hmmm-I'm something of a kicstarter fan, but no expert, so...

My first reaction is that your $2000 goal is, if anything, very low.  I mean, you know the money you need to do this without loss, and I figure that's probably the figure to shoot for, but my gut tells me you'll likely raise that in 24 hours, assuming that any promotion whatsoever is done, either by you or others who ring your name out.  I could be wrong, but I would compare Kevin Crawford's current kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1637945166/spears-of-the-dawn-rpg) as at least a possible reference-his goals are somewhat similar to yours, in that it's basically about getting a finished product as he would like with some ancillary benefit to the community.  I'd also point out that he, AFAICT, started exactly two forum threads and made a short blog post and a tweet as his early promotions, plus an e-mail to previous customers. 

The bigger point about the goal, though, is that the KS audience is likely to expect stretch goals (bennies added on with the "extra" money) as the project climbs higher.  You'll notice this is kind of bedeviling Crawford's project as well.  I'd imagine that pdf'ication of other Adept products, along with adding them in to whatever level is appropriate when that goal is reached, could function as an excellent stretch goal here, assuming there's fat in the budget for that purpose.  Another stretch goal option might be the commissioning of "mini-mini supplements"-expanded one sheets to be added to the book or released separately from whoever the best people to do that sort of thing are, bonus if they're "names" (although the Hillfolk KS seems to be getting along very well with a very broad definition of "names")-just a suggestion.  Point is, if you want to tap into that kickstarted "Can we do it?!" excitement, you'll likely be wanting these.  People seem to like the idea that they get seekrit bonuses from the backing.

I'd also wonder about your reward levels, and wou;d at least suggest breaking them up.  I mean, I get you don't want to bleed the audience, but chances are that almost anybody who would want detailed game design feedback from you likes Sorcerer enough to want a fancy hardback, y'know?  Ditto to the T-shirts and whatnot.  So you likely could set multiple tiers with these as add-ins and ditch the whole "choose 1 or 2" entirely.  It also may or may not be the case that KS allows for solicitation of charitable donations.   If I read their rules right, they don't, but I also don't know whether your $100 tier would count as that in their eyes anyway. 

I do wonder about the $50 for a physical book thing, but since I know nothing about your costs or plans and just would like a physical book cheaper, I'll leave that.  People do often seem to dig signed fancy editions at one tier of a KS and a more utilitarian softcover as another tier.

Just reactions, and I hope helpful at some level. 

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 12:04:55 AM »
Very helpful!

To clarify, I'm thinking that there will be no plain-basic softcover Sorcerer books any more. I think the customer's choice will be to buy the PDFs, for which my plan is to format in such a way that if you wanted to go to Kinko's and make a pretty good perfect-bound book with them, you could; or buy the pricey book which would be very, very spiffy - hard-cover, gold leaf, all those sorts of frills. That's why it represents the big jump in contribution.

I'm not sure if quickie-short supplemental material really works for Sorcerer, and I know it's completely incompatible with my other games. The whole Apocalypse World "skin" thing works beautifully for that and so many other games, because (bluntly) we're really just talking about prestige character classes ... but everything I write deconstructs character class to the point where even trying to force that onto the game simply fails.

Although if anyone has any notions to the contrary, I'd be interested to know about it.

Other points ... I'm planning on getting all the Adept books into PDF and up for sale as soon as possible, so I don't see that as a stretch goal. I'm inclined to buck the expectations and simply say, "Look, stretch goals don't work for me; they are all sexy and everything, but ultimately, they create massive work choke-points and would ruin the original point which is to get out of my current morass. If the money goes over the goal, then awesome and thanks, that's all I got."

On further thought, I probably need to set a higher goal too. I just remembered that I wanted two great new covers for the proposed Sorcerer book, and the incredibly good artist who asked to do it some years ago is not cheap. I think the $2000 probably won't cover his fee (although you can bet I'm emailing him ASAP now).

Disclosure: conversion to PDF for all the non-Sorcerer stuff is probably $300, the layout work for Shahida is probably $400, the layout for the new Sorcerer is $150 and $225 for the supplements. So that's ... $1075. I dare not even guess what the artist (whoever it turns out to be) is going to want for two hellacious Sorcerer covers, but add whatever that is. So the sum would be the goal, and actually a real goal, because without it, no spiff covers. And then, oh shit ... how would I fund the printing of spiffy-ass gold-leaf books? I was hoping that each of those pledges would pay for itself, but not if each one has to do double-duty to reach the layout costs and art cost. I need an estimate for printing those things, which I think will be viable for my purposes if it's no more than $20 a copy (which is insanely high, but we are talking about print-on-demand for a high-end item, a verrrrrry pricey concept).

It strikes me that making this disclosure absolutely explicit is a good idea. It certainly makes me feel better to do it.

Best, Ron


Miskatonic

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 12:27:54 AM »
I got some thoughts. Some excited, some mildly concerned. I'm a little fried tonight, I'll try to put my thoughts together when I'm a little better rested.

KarlM

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 03:06:15 AM »
I'm not sure if quickie-short supplemental material really works for Sorcerer...

What I would love to see published is some one-sheets of actual games, yours and/or others, preferably with art-work, preferably with some brief pre/post game analysis/actual play account from one or more participants. If possible, you could link these to the annotations: here's a one-sheet plus analysis which shows something about something specific in Chapter 4, etc. Of course these should underscore the point that a Sorcerer game is about a group (band) coming up with their own stuff.

It probably doesn't count as 'quickie' supplemental material, but I'd pay $ for it.

bankuei

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 03:12:43 PM »
Hi Ron,

Definitely getting the costs together first makes sense! 

The only thing which seems really shakey to me is the "10 hours of an artist" bit, because I could see a lot of ways of that getting wonky, in terms of logistics, expectations, etc.

I'd also suggest considering putting out something like a 6-8 page preview PDF or something so people know what they're paying for.  There's been several Kickstarters where I end up on the fence of whether a) I want the product at all, or b) whether I want the PDF or the book, and any kind of preview makes the big difference between whether something is worth $10 or $50.

Chris

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 04:35:06 PM »
Hi everyone,

Thanks! I want to stress that this really is a first draft. Anxiety about it is totally unnecessary; for all I know, the accumulated comments will lead me to toss it out and start over. For now, a few thoughts and modifications ...

1. At the risk of losing tons of potential money, I really don't think that optimizing the model for every maxed-out bit of Kickstart-junkies' enthusiasm is a good idea. I hope the project will first and foremost appeal to enough people who genuinely support me and my games, who see the achievement of the minimal funding I need as a good thing to do, and who can see that the structure is optimized for that. I can see putting in a few other sides or bennies to gather in a few more "neato Kickstart swag cool" participants ... but if my understanding of all the linked material from this thread is correct, then the absolutely worst thing that people consistently do with Kickstarts is robbing the future to get the present to pay for the future being robbed. In other words, creating rewards for stretch goals that outweigh the money gained or the effort to make them or both, or which interfere with getting the basic goal's product done. So I need to build it well, i.e., attractively, but not necessarily including every imaginable way to punch every enthusiasm-button out there.

2. Previews are a must. I want people to know what they are getting. I don't want any product or activity to exist only as a promise that I'll "figure out how to do some day."

3. I'd include services from others (art, layout) only if I get a prior commitment from someone who's willing to do it. Maybe multiple people with a limited number of claimants each, so the person isn't at the beck and call of zillions of game designers.

4. Karl's idea is great except that such products are insanely more work-intensive than they look, and as it turns out, such material features heavily in the annotations to the core book anyway.

5. I kind of like the idea of "pledge in multiples of X and choose from the list for each multiple." The current articulation is a bit whacked; the charity ought to be one of the options.

6. Who knows how to make files that a company like Shapeways uses to make figurines and other stuff? How much does this cost (because it seems too cheap to be real!)? Would anyone be willing to help me make such files for amusing and wicked demon sculptures? Or hey! Would a customized figure of "your sorcerer and his/her demon" be a good item? I think it would!!

Best, Ron

Editing this in: Important - I know we keep saying "Kickstart," but I'm using the term generically. Once I get the project outlined to its best structure, then I'll use whatever internet service or mechanism suits it best. So it's not like I have to stay within the official Kickstart parameters at this design stage.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 04:40:14 PM by Ron Edwards »

Christoph

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2012, 11:41:45 AM »
Hello Ron

A general reflection for crowd-funding projects (of which I'm by no means a specialist).

Shouldn't any configuration of donations yield the same benefit for the creator?

Take your draft. If everybody takes part at the $10 and $20 levels, and you reach your goal of $2'000 precisely, you are left with $2'000 minus the percentage Kickstarter (Amazon?) or whoever. Let's make this 10% for ease of calculations (and because I think it's the standard cut). Okay, so only you get $1'800.
Now, if everybody takes the donation to a charity option as well, and you reach your goal precisely, then, out of the $1'800 you're left with, you still have to give away a few hundred bucks to donation, leaving you with quite a bit less money. The very awkward thing here is that Kickstarter is taking a cut on donations from which you don't profit in the slightest. I'd rather donate to the organization directly myself in this case. You could always make donations to a charity be part of stretch goals, i.e., when you really have too much money you don't know what to do with (instead of wasting time and effort in making silly bonuses you would never have done if you hadn't raised that much money.)

Particular considerations of charity donations aside, all levels should yield at least the same proportional benefit to you, so that no matter the way you reach your goal, you actually have the money you need. For me it's not clear that the $50 level is beneficial to you, especially with the 10 hour deal (if you're paying the specialist the $30 difference from the $20 level, you are actually making less money proportionally than if you've 2.5 contributors at the $20 level, while paying the artist/layout-guy a lousy $3 hourly rate, this somehow doesn't add up, and you're gonna end up paying the difference somewhere, even if it's only in personal time to compensate said specialist).

Also, don't forget that it's possible to select a reward level and then pledge more money. Have international customers do that to pay postage fees (but again, you're running into similar problems as outlined with the charity donation, except that here you are probably getting pledges from people who couldn't otherwise pledge at that level).

Maybe my argument is completely wrong and somebody will set me straight. Stated otherwise, should high-level pledgers be considered as buyers and thus benefit from a discount (to the detriment of the creator), or should they be considered more like sponsors (if you're pledging high, it's because you believe in the project, not because you want to get the best deal)?

I've read an report that roughly says that a few high level pledgers actually contribute the same monetary mass as lots of low-level pledgers, so that a project's best chances are in catering to a mix of pledgers. If high-level pledges are attracted with discounts, then this has to be factored in (but it also means that the low-level pledgers are paying for the very possibility of the high-level benefits, while both tiers are roughly equally important...)

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #8 on: October 19, 2012, 04:16:54 PM »
Hi Christoph,

You're talking the way I think. I really don't want any pledge to yield a loss for me. The above post/proposal is completely off the top of my head and I know it won't stand up to detailed economic breakdown, which isn't really what I'm looking for here. I'll apply that reasoning later. Right now my main concern is working out what the possible rewards are, what they might cost, how they might work, and stuff like that. For now, I'll say, "You're right, I'm thinking about it."

Best, Ron

ndpaoletta

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2012, 02:12:09 PM »
I'm absolutely a fan of saying no stretch goals. I think you don't want to be a victim of your own success, as they say.

I'm also giving the side-eye to the "10 hours of work from a third party" thing. Seems like too many moving parts, and is a serious lowball for 10 hours of artistic work.

However, for the charity angle, instead of having that as part of a pledge level, the "stretch goal" could be everything over a certain dollar amount goes to charity.

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2012, 05:26:22 PM »
I think I got it, pending some ideas and suggestions.

The goal is built to facilitate the following.

  • Break me out of this period of too many logistic and minor financial hassles, which is currently (dis-)organized in such a way as to block any one of the things getting done.
  • Pay for fantastic new covers for Sorcerer and the collected supplements book.

No matter what, at the end of the kickstarter period, the following will be available at my website.

  • Plain PDF annotations to the Sorcerer core book: free.
  • Spiff PDF annotated core book and spiff PDF supplement for $25 each; these will be constructed such that the customer could print them up as books if they wanted.
  • PDF and print-PDF bundled options for my other titles: Spione, Elfs, Mutual Decision, S/Lay w/Me, and Shahida (this last by early 2013). Trollbabe is already in good shape for this .

Levels of participation

  • $1 for support - you get acknowledged on the site and in the book, and I say "Thanks!" (and I mean it).

Preorders: $25

  • Spiff PDF core book + spiff PDF supplement book.

The logic here is that the pledger gets them at half price, which is not a burden for me considering that PDFs once made are cost-less, and I can actually afford the price of upgrading/producing these already, absent the cover. If I don't make the goal, then these won't have a gorgeous cover (just a decent b&w one). For those of you concerned about my business sense, this material has long proven itself to be an evergreen product, so I don't think I'm robbing future sales.

Add-ons: $25 for any/each of the following; choose as many as you like. This remains a tentative list, still in the realm of brainstorming. I won't have anything on it that is not organized & logistically possible at the time I launch this.

  • Cool demon figurine (maybe even a pack of them, depending on cost).
  • T-shirt & shot glass (tentative plan: Sorcerer logo and hot gal/guy demon silhouette).
  • Dedicated playtest feedback from me for one (1) game.
  • (Suggestions welcome for more items in this category)

$100 for the following; these are kick-start only items. I guess people doing this would get the previously-mentioned PDF versions too.

  • The bad-ass custom core book + the bad-ass custom supplements book.

You might note that you don't get core book or supplement book either for PDF or physical form, but rather packaged together. I know this might puzzle some of you, but I've been over the alternatives and I'm keeping it this way for a couple of reasons, including to stay sane.

My next concern is to price some services, like printing the expensive books, getting a figure from the artist, and finding out more about 3-D printing.

Best, Ron

edited to fix those pesky bullets - RE
« Last Edit: October 22, 2012, 10:12:56 AM by Ron Edwards »

Moreno R.

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2012, 04:12:40 AM »
I suggest that a option for buying multiple copies of the physical books bundled (and shipped) together would be a very good thing, both in keeping you sane with less packages to send away and in the way it could save money for the buyers and get you more money for each book

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2012, 07:55:28 AM »
Good idea - and also a very important reminder that shipping (expletive expletive) shipping is a major factor in the book offer. I'll have to consider whether this should be an item in the options or a matter of communication, maybe with a text box or something like that. Thanks Moreno!

Best, Ron

Ron Edwards

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Re: [Sorcerer Kickstart] A first draft - tear it up for me
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2012, 11:15:56 AM »
News: Thomas Denmark has agreed to do the covers for the annotated Sorcerer core book and the bundled supplement book. I hope you will agree that this is a major asset to the project.

I realized that starting this on November 1 was the dumbest thing I ever said. December 1 is way, way better. I'd like to get all the shot-glasses, demon-figurine, et cetera stuff organized long before hitting the "go" button.

Best, Ron