Crowdfunding Carnival: October, 2022

Welcome back to the Crowdfunding Carnival! It’s actual carnival season here in the northeast, with a lot of state fairs happening in the month of October due to the fall harvest. If you’re not into fair food, rickety rides, and farm animals, though, we still have plenty of entertainment coming out of crowdfunding sites as the days get shorter.

October is kind between GenCon and the holiday season, so we’re a little short on product announcements in the hobby as a whole. There’s definitely still action in the crowdfunding space though; last week I reviewed Rae Nedjadi’s Apocalypse Keys, which is being crowdfunded with the help of publisher Evil Hat as we speak. As of this writing there’s a little less than a week to go, so click through if you’re interested.

Beyond the games, there’s also some moves happening in the crowdfunding business. Some are large, some relatively small, but all worth examining. Let’s take a look.


Big news in the Kickstarter world this past week was the official hiring of the company’s new CEO, Everette Taylor. Taylor has been making the rounds to media outlets, mostly saying the sorts of things that a CEO typically says. In an interview by Dicebreaker, he was questioned about the company’s blockchain plans. Taylor didn’t attempt to walk back what the company is doing, rather clarifying that it’s a development effort and not an attempt to change the primary mission of the site. This is unlikely to change the minds of technology absolutists, but most who are more pragmatically concerned about the site’s user experience and the current failures of Web3, this sort of answer is good enough. Kickstarter also got a new head of games at the end of August, Jon Ritter-Roderick, so there is still an open question as to what the games division will look like and if we’re done seeing unforced errors like the rescheduling of ZineQuest to August.

For the backers, though, it’s another month with another crop of games. Jack Harrison of Artefact fame is crowdfunding a new game, Koriko: A Magical Year. The game tells the story of a young witch spending time in a new town, and is played either solo or as an asynchronous journaling game with another person. The game isn’t based on the same framework as Artefact or Bucket of Bolts, so I’m excited to see what it entails. Another interesting new game is Nevermore, a game of gothic horror set in an alternate United States around the turn of the twentieth century. This world differs from ours mostly in the existence of Aethyr, a strange substance that powers magic and creates dark phenomena. While the game is inspired by authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and others, said authors still exist in the setting, except now their work is prophetic. Continuing on the horror train is Fear of the Unknown, a Powered by the Apocalypse horror game intended to be zero-prep. This is accomplished by giving the GM frameworks for the mystery, antagonist, and inciting incident, where the characters and collaboratively built setting feed into the tools. I’m interested to see how it works, luckily there are links to a quickstart and some actual play recordings in the campaign. For another completely different take on horror, we have The Zone. The Zone is a completely card-driven game that is described as ‘play-to-lose’, evoking peers like Trophy Dark or Ten Candles. The idea of The Zone is that the players will create their version of the Zone based on their characters fears and obsessions, and see how their downfall plays out. Play-to-lose is a niche playstyle, but I’m interested in seeing how the form factor works out.

Powered by the Apocalypse does lend itself to, well, apocalypses, but I like seeing post-apocalyptic games with their own flavor. This month we have Rebels of the Outlaw Wastes, a game which goes hard on a high-style vibe like that in Tank Girl or, its Canadian bicyclist cousin, Turbo Kid. While Rebels of the Outlaw Wastes doesn’t technically claim to be PbtA, it does claim PbtA and Forged in the Dark (FitD) as its two primary mechanical influences. Also, as apparently I would be missing something very important if I forgot this, there are stickers. Another, somewhat different apocalypse plays out in Code Warriors, a game developed by Craig Campbell. In Code Warriors, the apocalypse is that the computer, inside which your characters are programs, is crashing. Code Warriors uses the same mechanics as another one of Campbell’s games, Good Strong Hands, and portrays a really unique world and premise that I’m excited to see.

Over in the fantasy realm we have Must Be a Dragon, an interesting GMless game. Here, the entire play group plays one explorer, and chronicles their journey to seek out a dragon in a setting based on 19th century Europe. The game is scene-driven, has rules for both one-shots and short campaigns, and is structured such that at the end of the game, you will meet your dragon. On the other side of the genre is Heroes of Cerulia, an old-school, dungeon-centric game which is designed to emulate video game logic. Heroes of Cerulia cribs very heavily from the Legend of Zelda, but I’m still interested in its approach to dungeon creation and characterization of monster challenges. Stepping away from old-school but keeping with the video game inspiration is Beacon, a game mechanically inspired by Lancer and D&D 4th Edition, and thematically by Final Fantasy. Beacon takes the Lancer/ICONS approach of making combat and narrative play completely separate systems, and then leans hard into a complex combat system.

The Others

There are actually no standalone RPGs funding right now on Indiegogo, Gamefound, or Backerkit. There are multiple reasons for this, but the most significant one is simply that the momentum created by Kickstarter’s gaffes earlier this year has faltered. Now, if one assumes that with a new CEO and new Head of Games, Kickstarter is going to be better this time, that’s fine. I, though, want to see actual competition in this market. I’m still looking to Backerkit; the site’s crowdfunding is still in beta, so having no current standalone RPG campaigns merely means that there aren’t any being run by the relatively slim list of chosen test partners. There are a couple of non-standalone RPG campaigns on Backerkit, and blissfully they aren’t 5e-related: Coyote and Crow is campaigning a supplement, while Monte Cook Games is wrapping a very successful (over $350k) campaign for their system-agnostic supplement The Weird. Both are likely worth checking out, they just don’t fit into my personal focus on new and original games. As far as Indiegogo and Gamefound are concerned, there are differing reasons there. Indiegogo has never been as focused on tabletop games as Kickstarter, and even though creators like Jay Dragon had good things to say about working with Indiegogo, it’s unlikely that it’s worth their resources to commit to the hobby games segment in the way that Kickstarter has. Their bread and butter, more capital-intensive tech and tech-adjacent projects, likely make the site more money to boot. Gamefound has been focusing on board games, and that’s come across in several ways. Adam Vass had a long Twitter thread about his experiences using Gamefound for Cybermetal 2012, and he was quite negative about the campaign, advising TTRPG crowdfunders to avoid Gamefound if at all possible. Gamefound has found more attention in the board game space and, as if I have to say it again, more expensive projects make more money for the site they’re hosted on. RPGs are near the bottom of a long list of project types in terms of profitability (though edging out community theater productions), and the amount of love they receive in crowdfunding is, as much as the entire indie world hates to admit it, dependent on Kickstarter and the fact that Kickstarter had early RPG champions on their staff. Kickstarter still has RPG fans on their staff, and no one person is going to make or break the RPG crowdfunding phenomenon. That said, there’s a reason Kickstarter continues to be the only real game in town. Keep watching Backerkit, though.

October means raking leaves, carving pumpkins, and, of course, backing some RPG crowdfunding campaigns. Make it out to a state fair this month, but be sure to support some RPG creators if you can. The days are getting shorter where they are too (sorry, Australian RPG designers, I don’t mean to exclude you with this northern hemisphere-centric signoff). Once you get your share of Halloween candy, you can come join us for next month’s installment of Crowdfunding Carnival!

Like what Cannibal Halfling Gaming is doing and want to help us bring games and gamers together? First, you can follow me @LevelOneWonk on Twitter for RPG commentary, relevant retweets, and maybe some rambling. You can also find our Discord channel and drop in to chat with our authors and get every new post as it comes out. You can travel to DriveThruRPG through one of our fine and elegantly-crafted links, which generates credit that lets us get more games to work with! Finally, you can support us directly on Patreon, which lets us cover costs, pay our contributors, and save up for projects. Thanks for reading!

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