What an interesting turn of events has developed in our part of the hobby! In the space of just a few years, do-it-yourself publishers and small presses have gone from creating home made PDFs available with print-on-demand services, to full-blown print runs funded in advance through crowd-funding services like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The need for an overarching corporation maintaining the game is quickly dwindling.
There are plenty of interesting funding campaigns underway for some upcoming games. Here are a few I'm watching:
I loved Barrowmaze 1 - there's a review kicking around on the blog here somewhere - (Review of Barrowmaze) - so I'm looking forward to the sequel. This one is already funded, but gets over in June - I'll be signing up for at least the PDF. I find I actually like putting megadungeons in binders (easier to lay flat) and just writing notes on the map and margins of the print outs. I don't think I'd do that to a nice hardcover.
Holy moly! An old school product breaking the $75k marker. Ah, on closer look, you can see it's split between Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry. That right there gives you an idea on the popularity of Pathfinder. I would love to have a copy of Rappan Athuk, but I don't know if I can see myself spending $40 for a PDF. This is one to pop a reminder on the calendar to see how my funds are looking in late June and decide then if the hardcover is worth it.
Lamentations of the Flame Princess
I've been clamoring for a hardcover copy of the LOTFP rules, so this one is a must-do. I'll have to chat with my group if anyone else wants a copy of the hardcover - the deal where you get 4 copies for a group is enticing. Here's the main thing: I'd love to see the Ken Hite LOTFP adventure get funded, so expect to see me make some noise as this one gets closer to D-Day. Maybe we'd see more premiere horror adventure creators dip back into the world of D&D and bring the fear.
Weird West Miniatures
I have no interest in lead painted miniatures, but this is a fascinating campaign because it shows the democratization that's happening with production - we're seeing dice, miniatures, all sorts of nifty gaming accoutrements getting created without a big company sponsor. Even if you don't want the miniatures, there's an option to get the Weird West book printed and sent out. I'll be sending $5 that way.
What are the downsides of the crowd-funding madness? The first issue I'm seeing is wallet fatigue - I've got a limited gaming budget so I have to be selective. There's the risk of vaporware. I haven't heard of a major campaign that failed to deliver anything, but the risk is out there. Which project will be the first to go 'poof'? I'll probably stick with publishers that have a track record of success, or invest at the lower levels if it's a product in development or a newer publisher - just common sense precautions.
I'm also seeing more established publishers and authors moving to the crowd funding. I keep thinking it's only a matter of time before Chaosium or some of the other Cthulhu publishers start pre-selling or funding their print runs this way, too.
The crowd funding revolution is a big problem for WOTC. If their stated goal is to develop a future D&D that appeals to old school players, it's got to be good enough to lure us away from rules that work, and the wide choice of adventures and published supplements for those rules coming from DIY and self-publishing campaigns. I just don't see it happening. Creation by committee (or public tally) doesn't work. I hope they're successful, because retail and big box stores are ways to reach new gamers, and the big companies have that reach. That 5E open play test is in a few weeks; it will surely be worth perusing.