FUNDED! And Offset printing, and tokens, and . . .

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Funded!

Well, we did it! Hit our funding target for Four Perilous Journeys and a bit more, and we’re sitting almost exactly at the halfway point of the campaign.

So that means the project will happen. Yay!

But even more is going on, and some of this information is hot off the press, so to speak.

Offset Printing

If you’re the type that reads the campaign story over and over, you’ll notice something.

The $32,000 stretch goal for offset printing has been removed from the “Stretch Goals” section.

That’s because I got a quote this morning from my Latvian printer, and simultaneously discovered an error in my comparison/budgeting spreadsheet. That error vastly under-costed the price of POD (you can look it up: $1.97 for an 18-page book, the minimum, on DriveThruRPG).

In any case, with the new quote in hand for an offset print run, it turns out the break-even point for number of backers to make offset the economical option is . . . 237.

As of the time of the Kickstarter crossing the $16,000 mark, we had orders of 257 physical copies, which means offset is the way to go. No longer a stretch goal, it’s “just the way it is.”

The book will be printed with a color cover (255gsm, or about 12-point stock), on 130gsm matte-coated interiors (about 85# paper, a bit heavier than what Lulu uses, and 14% heavier than DriveThru’s “Premium Color” paper).

The minimum order quantity is 500 copies of each one . . . so no matter what, I’ll have about 250 “spares” that will go into distribution – retail stores – after the campaign is complete and all physical copies have been sent to backers.

I consider this a major win for all of us. Offset printing is just better than print-on-demand when it’s affordable. Putting these adventures next to the Legacy Edition in stores will give ready-to-play  additional material to support that gorgeous box.

This is, frankly, how I wanted to do this thing from the get-go, and I’m thrilled that it’s going to happen. I’m a little irked at my mistake to begin with, but I blame never attempting to print four books at the same time before. It’s easy to either forget to count the x4, or double-count it. Anyway . . . yay, offset.

Tokens!

As you’ve seen, the add-on for token sheets has been announced. Each $10 you add to your pledge will be able to be spent on the four token sheets – one per adventure – that are being made to accompany the adventure.

Each sheet will be in full color; the exact same art will be used, but converted to greyscale, to make print-your-own tokens on the back of each adventure. Contrast and emphasis will be adjusted at the minimum to ensure what looks good in color still looks good in black and white.

I’ve contracted with Juan Ochoa, an artist that has worked with me on every Kickstarter I’ve run to date, to rapidly (like 36 hours) generate 42 sample tokens that I will use to prototype a sample sheet for Ironskull Castle.

These are not necessarily final! I wanted a good example of going through the entire process, AND converting these to B/W, to see how they’ll look.

But . . . here’s some of Juan’s initial output.

Skeleton Archer 1
Skeleton Archer 1
Skeleton Archer 2 - each figure is different
Skeleton Archer 2 – each figure is different
Skeleton Halberdier
Skeleton Halberdier
Silent Knight
Silent Knight

I’ve asked Juan to use a great deal of artistic license on these prototypes, and so some of the details in the final images will be different. For example: the Ironskull tabard (for the archers and the halberdiers) should be sable (a brown so dark it’s almost black), with the skull emblem in grey/silver. That’s how it’s described by David, so that’s what we want to see.

But . . . I really wanted to test the token manufacturer’s abilities to reproduce color and lines effectively, so this particular test isn’t about getting all the details right – it’s about doing it at all.

NPC and Monster Cards

There’s more on the way, too. Each token (and piece of art) will match up to an NPC or Monster card in the same format as those being made for Decks of Destiny.

Some of those cards – as per the stretch goal announcement – will be unique to Decks of Destiny. I’ll make the rest with a card deck per adventure, just as there will be a token sheet per adventure.

And when I say “the same format as those being made for Decks of Destiny,” I mean EXACTLY the same – at least on the card back, plus the form factor. Steve Jackson Games is very generous with their licensees, and I have precise specs (and even some raw files!) to ensure that if you shuffle the Four Perilous Journeys cards in with the Decks of Destiny . . . you will be surprised with every card flip.

The fronts may be more unique . . . but the backs and sizes will be entirely compatible.

No formal announcement on pricing and timing yet. Look for those as my plans mature. But . . . I’ve got my eye on it. The expensive bit – as is par for the course for printing – is setup. So a single deck of 130 cards would probably wind up being $30-35, but contain cards for just about every NPC and creature in the book, ready to kill and be killed by the GM and players.

Megahex Meanderings

The last thing I’m looking into is megahexes. These are tricky, as custom laser-cutting to make the hex shapes is something that is hard to come by.

Even So, two ideas, and I’d like your feedback on both.

A gripping concept

That being said . . . I have an idea. What would you all think of, instead of die-cut cardboard, I looked into die-cut stickers. I’ll need to chat with the vendor to see if these are going to work with dry-erase markers. But I can affordably print megahexes – with full-color art – on stickers, which will be die-cut “for no additional charge” to any shape, including custom multi-hex tiles. Backers would have to remove the backing (see what I did there?) and then mount them on your board-stock of choice.

If you ain’t got that cling

Another option, would be to produce static-cling stickers. The best thing here would be what they call face-adhesive stickers – they’re designed to stick to a surface and be viewed THROUGH the surface.

You’d mount them under a sheet of acrylic, lexan, or glass (the last two work GREAT with dry-erase) and then place the sheet on a table. You could assemble the stickers on a large sheet of glass, and then your labyrinth is fixed in place, cat-proof, and you can mark on the glass without marring or risking the underlying megahexes.

I spoke too soon about the expense. Turns out that at least at one source, they’re CHEAPER than stickers.

To Stretch Goals, and Beyond!

The big stretch goals on the table right now are the Decks of Destiny co-campaign goals published by Steve Jackson Games:

Three stretch goals that expand the Decks of Destiny project as the Four Perilous Journeys campaign attracts support.

  •  Four Perilous Journeys – $16,000 – Rumors & Treasures – Four rumor cards added to the Rumors & Treasures subassembly, each based on one of the Four Perilous Journeys adventures.
  •  Four Perilous Journeys – $20,000 – Adversaries – Four character cards added to the Adversaries subassembly, each based on one of the Four Perilous Journeys adventures.
  •  Four Perilous Journeys – $25,000 – Rumors & Treasures – Four more rumor cards added to the Rumors & Treasures subassembly, each based on one of the Four Perilous Journeys adventures.

These new cards, if unlocked, will provide you with hooks to the four adventures that may either be used to guide the player characters into one of the adventures or, if you wish, as the springboard to an adventure of your own design.

Now that we’re funded . . .

Stretch goals are cool, but not delivering the main product is the opposite of cool. It’s UN-cool. (If you heard that as the voice of Alan Tudyk’s Duke Weaselton from Zootopia, you heard it right.)

So, the biggest factor for me now that we’ve funded is to blitzkrieg the editing and layout so I can start engaging with the artists. Once that is in hand – and my goal is to have it in hand by the middle of next week – I will contract artists and cartographers and set that in motion.

Simultaneous with that I will work with SJG on first the “we funded!” goal of four Rumors and Treasures cards, to ensure no delays to DoD come from my end. I will also look into NPC and Monster full card decks as described above.

This is getting rather exciting.

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