Rascals is available now!

It’s been a busy few weeks. The Kickstarter for Rascals finished midway through last month, and since then I have not been idle…

First, and most importantly, Rascals is available now! You can head to the shop and find the Rascals PDF, or preorder the print copy, as well as snag a copy of the adventure module Operation: Bramble.

Rascals is a science fiction role playing game of action and adventure. You play as ex-special forces, operatives, or crooks, who managed to escape their old lives… peace is a reward only briefly tasted, as something terrible is happening in the shadows that pulls you back into your old lives. Rascals uses it’s own game engine, utilising traditional playing cards and poker chips (I’m hoping to have a deck of Rascals themed cards available as a POD soon). You can check out a free DLC for playing Rascals online through TableTop Simulator here.

Operation: Bramble is an adventure module for Rascals, but could equally be used in any science fiction game. It includes a background and operational outline, as well as the backgrounds, plans, and approaches of three potential adversary groups for the player characters to tangle with. Each adversary group is flavoured differently, meaning the adventure has multiple options to suit the different sorts themes, pacing, and styles that your play group might prefer. After a game with an emphasis on fast paced and over the top action? Prefer a high-tech surgical op? Or maybe a more straight-forward military op is the order of the day… Of course, you can mix and match as desired. Operation: Bramble is a 16 page adventure module, which includes a section that can be used as a player handout, and can be downloaded for free.

Of course, as well as being available through the Caradoc Games webstore, Rascals is also available through Itch.io and DriveThruRPG.

I’ve sent the files for Rascals off to the printer, and ordered a second run of Corsairs, and both will be available as physical copies from the webstore soon.

Speaking of Corsairs, I recently went back and updated the rules file for Corsairs. As well as fixing up a few errors, and making a few minor clarifications, I went through and added a bunch of bookmarks and hyperlinks that should make navigating the book a whole lot easier. If you purchased Corsairs here, through Itch.io, or on DriveThruRPG, you should be able to find the updated files there!

Lastly, I am slowly building up a list of stockists… a number of stores around the world where you can grab copies of Corsairs (and soon, Rascals). You can find our list of stockists here, and it’s a list that I hope we will continue to grow!

Rascals, in 3, 2, 1…

Rascals is preparing for launch… Find the prelaunch page and follow along here.

Rascals is a science fiction table top role playing game of action and adventure. The game system uses traditional playing cards and poker chips, and is designed to bring the tension, twists of fortune, and calculated gambles of action adventure stories to the fore. Rascals is ideal for 2-5 players, including the GM.

You are Rascals: ex-special forces, spies, or crooks. Hard boiled types who worked together in the hottest zones during the former unpleasantness. You were some of the few who managed to get out, make a new life, but something has changed all that…

Now the old crew is together again, you Rascals who survived the bloody final years of terrible war, have been pulled back. An abominable plot is unfolding in secret… 

From high-tech cityscapes to shattered habitation domes, through the heaving corridors of stations in chaos to empty transfer stations and the broken worlds beyond… Where will your path lead, and what awaits at journey’s end?

At 36 interior pages, with a 4 page cover, Rascals is bigger than my previous game: Corsairs. Inside you will find the rules for character creation and play, as well as rules for vehicles and space ships. A part of the rules includes a system the GM (called the House) can use to generate the problem the characters face, as well as which character or characters is somehow tied to it.

In addition to the physical zine, when Rascals drops after the Kickstarter ends, I will be adding a free DLC to the Table Top Simulator Workshop, which includes cards, chips, editable character sheets, and everything you need to play the game.

A work in progress… And a big shout out to Michael Jamieson who helped put this together!

Rascals is perfect for an action-fueled campaign, follow the prelaunch page to get notified when it launches!

Done and in the Works…

Speed, Strength, and Wits is complete! Download codes sent to Backers… and with that everything achieved for the Corsairs Kickstarter has been completed and sent.

Corsairs is the core rules book, and includes all the rules for play, character creation, equipment, scoundrels to face off against, and also includes rules for sky ships and sailing.

Smoke and Oakum is the first supplement for Corsairs, and delves into the world of Sky Ships. It includes rules for weather, heights, managing a crew, upgrading a ship, and much more.

Speed, Strength, and Wits is the second supplement for Corsairs, and expands on the rules for characters. Providing 54 new Abilities characters can learn, more nuanced rules for relationships, new conditions, rules for building a refuge, and much more.

All three books are now available to buy, you can find them in the Caradoc Games shop, and also over on DriveThruRPG and Itch.io.

Physical copies of Corsairs are still available, and you can get those through the Caradoc Games shop…

All three of these books together represents something around 100 pages of content. It started with a Kickstarter during the ZineQuest promotion in February of this year, with the physical copies of the core book having shipped out in August, and the two supplements unlocked as stretch goals have since been released.

The big question for me in regards to Corsairs is where to next? I have a bunch of notes ideas, but I am keen to see what others would like to see from the line. I’m not only interested in seeing what you would like to see released next for Corsairs, but also what format you would like that to take. To that end I have created a survey you can find below…

What else is coming from Caradoc Games?

I have been working on the next game, and at the moment the plan is to launch it via Kickstarter during ZineQuest in 2021. The rules are nearly finished, as is the setting. I just need to start pulling things into a more cohesive whole. I am really excited about this one, and I think it will be a lot of fun. I won’t say more yet, as much as I am itching to do so…

I am also starting to pull some of my shorter games into a different format. I started with Brigands of Sherwood. A silly one-shot about being robbers in Sherwood forest who legitimately want to get rich, but who have to keep giving their loot away thanks to Robin ‘bloody’ Hood. Instead of the A4 layout it’s currently in, I am working on putting it into a brochure format… it’s been fun to play around with Affinity Publisher as I am doing so. I think I will do the same sort of format for Freedom or Toaster, and The Hoppy Pops.

I am hoping that 2021 will be a productive year for Caradoc Games, with lots planned and around the corner, I am quietly excited to see what comes…

Implications…

Earlier in this series of articles about running a Kickstarter (links to all of which can be found here), I wrote a post called Levels and Goals in which I talked about setting the backer levels, the prices for the backer levels, and the funding goal for the Kickstarter. The relevant part is that I had decided that the physical zine would cost $15 AUD, and the digital only zine would cost $10 AUD. In the linked article I delve into why I made these choices, and for the digital zine that level seemed on par with what a lot of other ZineQuesters were charging for their digital zines (Australian Dollars translates well into US Dollars, with a $10 AUD level costing about $6.70 USD when the Kickstarter launched).

All of this has implications…

I don’t mean implications for the Kickstarter, though obviously pricing is important, and I’ve lost track of the number of times I have written hand-wringing articles about the added costs of shipping. No, I mean implications beyond the Kickstarter.

Corsairs funded (yay!), the physical rewards have been sent, and of the two digital supplements that were unlocked as stretch goals one has been fulfilled, and the other will be fulfilled in the next few weeks. But, what about after the Kickstarter? What would I do after the dust had settled and the Kickstarter has been fulfilled? Is that sweet goodnight for Corsairs?

Obviously not. I had always planned to have Corsairs available to buy digitally through both Itch.io and DriveThruRPG. What I had not considered was the implications of setting my backer levels, and what that might mean in the months that followed…

At the moment Corsairs is available on both Itch.io and DriveThruRPG for $7.99 USD. Why this price? Why not cheaper? I mean, it would be nice to have Corsairs sitting at say $4.99, and appearing in the ‘Popular Under $5’ lists on DriveThru. It’s certainly a more appealing price, and likely to lead to more sales. So… why?

Well, the reason comes back to implications… The backers of Corsairs spent good money supporting my Kickstarter, and without them it wouldn’t be a success, and certainly wouldn’t be available as it is. For the digital only copy backers paid their $10 AUD. How would they feel, having supported me, to turn around and see the game on sale for cheaper? Is it a betrayal of sorts? Would I be disrespecting them? Playing them for fools? Would I be undermining any future Kickstarters I run through such disregard?

All these were thoughts that swirled through my head when it came to putting Corsairs up for sale as a digital product. While the backer prices I set were a reasonable choice for the sake of the Kickstarter, they had implications and set (in my head at least) boundaries on what I could or should charge after the Kickstarter… How could I place Corsairs up for sale for less than what my backers paid? In the end I didn’t. I have no doubt that a number of purchases have been passed over because of the cost, and that more sales would have been achieved at a lower price point, but still…

I am pretty confident that many backers wouldn’t mind seeing Corsairs online for a little less than what they paid, after all they got two extra digital zines as Stretch goals, and yet… I also think there would be some who would feel they had been unfairly treated, and that is valid.

So what does this rambling thought train of a post imply? For me at least it means that next time I will think carefully about the future implications of pricing for backer levels, and what that might mean carried forward past the Kickstarter phase. I need to ask myself where will this game be available in six months time, and what sort of price do I want to be selling it for. And lastly, I need to parse those thoughts and bring them into the decision making process when defining backer levels.

Implications…


This article is a part of a series about running a Kickstarter campaign for ZineQuest, you can find the other articles in this series here.

Stretch Goals

Should I, or shouldn’t I?

That was the first question I asked when thinking about running my Kickstarter. The answer seemed obvious: of course I should! What Kickstarter goes live with no stretch goals? What even is a Kickstarter with no stretch goals? Stretch goals are such a pervasive and common aspect to almost every Kickstarter I really felt that I couldn’t run the Corsairs Kickstarter without them.

Now I’m not so convinced, but more on that later.

Ok, so Corsairs was going to have stretch goals… for what, exactly? What would they be? I started, conversely, with what they shouldn’t be:

  • I didn’t want to add any weight to the zine. So no extra pages of content, no hard cover option, no extras that would go in the envelope…
  • I didn’t want to break the ‘rules’ of ZineQuest. So no colour cover, no colour art.
  • I didn’t want to be ordering things from multiple companies. So no bookmarks (I assumed these wouldn’t add a significant amount to the weight, so waived that consideration), and no stickers (see previous), because Mixam didn’t do either.

Ok, so now we have a start, a list of things I didn’t want to do. But why didn’t I want to do them? Simplicity. As this was my first Kickstarter, my first time printing anything, my first time fulfilling anything, I wanted to keep the process as simple as possible. Keep it simple, keep it straight forward, keep it within the cost parameters I had already worked out.

The last point there is really the most significant, I wrote about shipping in a previous post, and on backer levels, in both I had already costed out the options. Shipping particularly is an issue. From Australia to overseas shipping was going to cost $8.30 per zine, if I added anything to the zine (like extra pages, postcards, etc) and the weight tipped over the magical line of 125g it would cost me, even with the backers paying for a set amount of shipping. If it tipped over the 125g line shipping would jump to $13.50, and that would mean I would be inadvertently be absorbing and extra $5.20 per zine. That’s a significant amount.

So we have the why I didn’t want to do those stretch goals… what could they be instead?

Art by Felicity…

The first was always going to be art. My art was… ok. But professional art by a professional art doer was always going to be better. I had been in talks with a number of artists, and settle on Felicity Haworth. I loved her style, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to work with her. She has given flesh and bone to Corsairs in a way I could never have hoped to achieve on my own.

I settled on the idea of PDF supplements. This is not an uncommon thing in RPG Kickstarters – get to a certain level and the supplement on the ‘acid spitting borer beetles on Zargon XII’ becomes a reality! Ok, so this was a tested path for RPGs, Corsairs could do the same. It would serve three key purposes: it would provide stretch goal material, it would allow me to expand the Corsairs line, and, just as importantly, it would allow me a vehicle through which I could engage the backers. Yes! Do you want to see ‘Acid Spitting Borer Beetles of Zargon XII’ as the next supplement, or ‘Knife Wielding Voracious Voles of Seragon IX’? Vote here! Sounds like I am not taking it seriously, and that’s not the tone at all. I thought it would be a great way of involving what I hoped would be a growing community around the Kickstarter in decisions and choices – what did they want to see next? What aspects of this little zine about Sky Ships and piratical adventures would people like expanded upon? It would also help me create content for the game that people actually wanted. Was it background material? Was it a campaign to play through? Was it more rules on area X, Y, or Z? I wrote down the ideas for about a dozen different potential supplements, and then refined it to six:

Strange Customs

Strange Customs is a Corsairs campaign. A customs and storage company in Teboa has been transferring goods coming into port to storage sheds in the interior of the island. A quartermaster with the Corsair ship ‘The Harlequin’ has noted some discrepancies in the log notations. A number of Corsairs captains want the matter brought before the Council, but some proof is needed to add credibility to the claim. Is the customs house skimming off the top? Or is something deeper unfolding?

Jewel of the Molten Sea 

A background zine to Teboa including details on the island, the main port, trades, piracy, the influence of empires, important people and places, and adventure hooks every step of the way.

The Molten Sea 

A background zine to the Molten Sea including details on the dangers and places, rumours and stories of fouled ships and lost treasures, and an exploration of the people and denizens of the floating islands.

Speed, Strength, and Wits 

Expanded rules for Corsairs with a particular emphasis on character development. It will include advancement tables to extend character development and growth.

Smoke and Oakum

Expanded rules for Ships and Sailing, including modifying ships and special ship abilities.

Batsh*t Crazy 

A Corsairs campaign. The chance discovery of guano smugglers has much bigger implications than anyone could have guessed.


INSERT OBLIGATORY PLUG:

If you don’t have a copy of Corsairs you can fix that by heading to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io. If you missed the Kickstarter and are interested in a physical copy of the zine, there are still some physical copies left, contact me at caradocgames@gmail.com for details.

The supplement, Smoke and Oakum, is also available at DriveThruRPG and Itch.io now!

END OBLIGATORY PLUG.


Of course, I had no way of knowing whether we would hit any of these stretch goals. But I knew I wanted each to have it’s own art. To that end I asked Felicity to quote me for art for these supplements, and I included that in the stretch goal ‘price’. Originally I set each stretch goal to open at $1000. This would cover art, as well as the cost of writing, layout, and everything else they entailed. At some point during the Kickstarter I decided I wanted to reach more of them, and dropped the ‘levels’ to $750. In the end we unlocked three stretch goals, new art, and two new PDF supplements.

To decide what those supplements would be I turned to surveys. These I sent to backers via ‘locked’ updates. First I tried Survey Monkey, but this platform just did not work the way I had hoped it would, and I shifted to Google Forms, which worked perfectly well. These surveys maintained a solid engagement, and helped me identify which supplements people wanted. Anyone following Corsairs will know, Smoke and Oakum was the most highly voted for. Once that had been locked in the next clear winner was Speed, Strength, and Wits.

Google Form results for the second supplement…

I had assumed that the campaigns might have been near the top, potentially the background book on the main island in the setting, so it is fair to say I was surprised that both the most highly requested supplements were for expanded rules. I was surprised, but in a good way. Smoke and Oakum has already been released, and Speed, Strength, and Wits is not too far away from being ready for release as well.

So I wrote at the top that I wasn’t convinced about stretch goals. This may be specifically for the ZineQuest, maybe they are more important for a standalone kickstarter… But I am torn. On one hand it has given me the opportunity to add some really neat content to the game. It has also, I hope, added some serious value to the price backers of the Kickstarter got from their pledges. On the other, I wonder: how many of those backers joined (or didn’t leave) thanks to the stretch goals. Maybe some? I’m not convinced that too many would have joined on the basis of the stretch goals. Maybe that is down to marketing, maybe it is down to being a zine format game, and maybe it is down to being a ZineQuest game, and that stretch goals would play a larger or more ‘felt’ role in a standalone kickstarter. Food for thought… I think if there is another ZineQuest, I would take more time to ponder the question I first asked myself: Should I, or shouldn’t I? For the ZineQuest my jury is out. For a stand alone Kickstarter, I still think they are a valuable addition to the campaign.

What did I think of adding supplements as stretch goals? I was paid to write them when the funding goals were met, the amount I was paid was reduced by the Kickstarter fees, and then by the dropped backers, but I was paid, and if I planned well, then I was paid appropriately. Smoke and Oakum released a month ago, and a majority of the audience who might buy it already did – that is both a good thing (providing the stretch goal level was priced well), and needs to be considered when looking at subsequent sales. If I release a further supplement for Corsairs, one that wasn’t a stretch goal, will people buy it? Well, we’ll find out in the future, and maybe I’ll finish this train of thought then…


This article is a part of a series about running a Kickstarter campaign for ZineQuest, you can find the other articles in this series here.

Pixels and Pages

One of the things I assumed when creating the Corsairs RPG Kickstarter, is that the digital (PDF) copies would be a more popular option than the physical copies.

I was wrong.

Nevermind that I was wrong for now… why did I think digital copies would outsell physical copies?

Shipping. In the simplest of terms, the answer was shipping. Shipping is expensive. Shipping from Australia is especially expensive. A couple of posts ago I wrote about the costs of shipping. Last post I wrote about the different backer levels, and the prices I came to for each of those. But to summarise: I had decided that the backer levels would be set at $10 for a digital only copy of Corsairs, and $15 for a physical copy, with the cost of shipping added after the Kickstarter had funded. Now, these prices are in Australian dollars, and so translate well into the US and UK currencies, which I assumed would be my largest sources of backers. Shipping domestically would add a cost of $2, and internationally would add a cost of $8. Bringing the total for a physical copy domestically to $17 AUD, and internationally to $23 AUD. At the end of the day this is a price that is more than double the cost of the PDF. Based on that I would completely understand, and expect, that a majority of international backers would opt for the digital reward level.

Yes, currencies play a key role, and $23 Australian dollars in US dollars or UK pounds is a better proposition (at the time of the Kickstarter it was around $16 USD for the shipping and the physical copy combined). Compared to the cost of the digital backer level, it was more than double. Based on this, I assumed that the digital version would receive more backers than the physical.


INSERT OBLIGATORY PLUG:

If you don’t have a copy of Corsairs you can fix that by heading to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io. If you missed the Kickstarter and are interested in a physical copy of the zine, there are still some physical copies left, contact me at caradocgames@gmail.com for details.

The supplement, Smoke and Oakum, is also available at DriveThruRPG and Itch.io now!

END OBLIGATORY PLUG.


As I wrote above, I was wrong. At the end of the Kickstarter Corsairs had 236 backers, funding at 274% of it’s goal. Of these, 80 backers opted for the digital only level, while 148 opted for the physical level. 63% of backers opted for the physical level, representing 79% of the funding for the project. Compared, only 34% opted for the digital only level, representing 20% of the money raised. With the final percent coming from the few lovely people who backed but opted for no reward.

Interestingly, and annoyingly, the Kickstarter Fulfillment tab gives you the number of backers by country, but no option to filter that by backer level. So I had 236 overall backers, and 148 backers for the physical copy, and the fulfillment tab tells me that 149 of those were in the US (that’s obviously 149 of the 236, not the physical copy). But it’s interesting data nonetheless. Counting by country I had the following:

  • US – 149 backers
  • Australia – 28 backers.
  • UK – 18 backers
  • Germany – 10 backers
  • And a whole bunch of other countries with 1 or 2 copies, from Spain to the Philippines, from Norway to Puerto Rico.

So… why did people opt for the physical game?

I have no idea. I think the most likely answer is that many people, when they can afford to, prefer to have a physical thing, a manifestation of their pledge, and a book to thumb through. I know personally that I like to have physical copies of the RPGs I own where possible. I can’t explain why, but I prefer reading a physical copy than a digital one, and there is a visceral element that plays a key role as well.

Ok, so what does this mean?

Well, on one hand it’s nothing more than an observation. On the other, I think I would be very hesitant to run a Kickstarter that offered no physical copy. It seems that people like their physical books/zines, and that neglecting that would potentially turn away a number of backers. How many of the 148 backers I had, that opted for a physical copy, would have backed for a digital copy I will never know, but some, perhaps a significant number, would have been lost, of that I am sure.

So the next Kickstarter I run, and there will be one, whether for the next ZineQuest (presuming there is one) or independent of it, I will make sure to include a backing level that is for a physical copy…


This article is a part of a series about running a Kickstarter campaign for ZineQuest, you can find the other articles in this series here.

Levels and Goals…

Today I want to ramble about funding goals and backer levels. In the last post I listed what the costs would look like in an ideal scenario. I mean, in an ideal scenario I would get half a million backers, but what I mean in this case is an ideal scenario in which I printed 200 copies of Corsairs, and would sell close to 200 copies through the Kickstarter…

Playtesting Corsairs back in 2019.

Questions that needed answers were: What should the funding goal be? What should the backer levels look like?

Before trying to math out either answer I looked through a slew of the ZineQuests from 2019. It’s one thing to have an idea of how much the game might cost, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Customers have expectations, and setting too high a funding goal, or setting the backer levels significantly higher than what has been charged in the past for similar products is going to turn potential backers off. Underneath all of this too, was the concern about the shipping costs. Shipping from Australia, as I wrote in my last post, is expensive. Whatever price I set for the backers who wanted a physical copy had to respect the fact that an additional cost was going to be tacked on, and for international backers, that was a significant amount ($2.20 domestically, $8.30 internationally).

In my last post I broke down the costs as I had worked them out so far, here I want to look at what they would be per copy of the zine. So what were the costs looking like in an ideal scenario?

  • Printing ($675 for 200 copies ($3.38 per zine) (all my calculations were on my original printing quotes)
  • Envelopes ($100 for 200 ($0.50 per zine))
  • Shipping Labels ($30 ($0.15 per zine))
  • Shipping Domestic ($2.20 per zine)
  • Shipping International ($8.30 per zine)
  • Margin for screw ups (?)
  • Kickstarter and processing fees (10% ish)

Overall it looks like the cost of printing the zine, as well as the cost of an envelope, a label, and the portion of shipping I was absorbing would add up to around $5.13 per zine. Not bad. Remembering of course that I was rounding the cost of shipping down, and Kickstarter takes 10% of the shipping money as well… $8.30 for an international backer was rounded to $8, of which Kickstarter would take $0.80, meaning I would get $7.20, and I was absorbing not $0.30, but $1.10.

Okay, so that all makes some sense… but it is not as simple as all of that. I could order print runs in multiples of 50 (50, 100, 150, etc). I wanted to take into account a margin of 10% losses in shipping, meaning that 10% of the packages would get lost somewhere en route, and I may need to resend them. I accounted for this by essentially saying to myself that if I get within about 10 of the next multiple of 50, I would print the next level up. With 30 backers I would print 50, but if it climbed to 40 backers I would print 100, I would have enough therefore to account for any losses. This introduces some issues, if I got close enough and printed the next amount up, but didn’t get too many more backers, the costs would be defrayed over fewer backers. The per zine costs above are only if I actually sold all 200 copies. If I sold only 140, the trigger point for raising the print run from 150 to 200, the costs would look like this:

  • Printing ($675 across 150 copies ($4.50 per zine))
  • Envelopes ($100 for 200 ($0.67 per zine))
  • Shipping Labels ($30 ($0.20 per zine))
  • Shipping Domestic ($2.20 per zine)
  • Shipping International ($8.30 per zine)
  • Margin for screw ups (?)
  • Kickstarter and processing fees (10% ish)

Overall, for printing, envelopes, labels, and the absorbed shipping it would be around $6.47 per zine, a jump of around $1.30.

If we hadn’t hit the first Stretch Goal backers would have been saddled with my art…

So in the worst case scenario, and betting on 200 copies printed, Corsairs would cost me $6.47 to produce. I have a margin for screw ups in there, and a margin for Kickstarter. Everywhere I read suggested something around 10% for a margin for error is a reasonable calculation. So that’s a 20% increase between Kickstarter fees and margin for screw ups. That leads to a cost of about $7.76 per zine.

In all of these calculations I haven’t included any costs for labour. The design, writing, editing, layout, none of that is included. Profits on the zine equate to pay, so I was content to leave it at that, but had to ensure I set the appropriate backing level. The other thing to consider is tax, but I’ll write a tangential note on that another day.

If I had set the backer level at $10 for the printed zine, with a cost of around $7.76 per zine, I was worried that if anything went wrong I would end up losing money. What could go wrong? The costs could go up of course, the price of printing, or shipping, any of those things. But of biggest concern was the exchange rate. All of my calculations are in Australian dollars. If that loses or gains value against international currencies it could lead to a big impact on the money raised, in Australian dollar terms, which is what I would be using to pay for everything. The exchange rate was also in my favour, with the Australian dollar weaker than the US dollar and the UK pound, meaning, I hoped, a more attractive price for international backers. But the risk of increasing or decreasing the money raised due to fluctuations in the currency was there. In the end I settled on a backer level of $15 AUD, which would roughly equate to $10 USD – very much on par with the cost of other Zine Quests.


INSERT OBLIGATORY PLUG:

If you don’t have a copy of Corsairs you can fix that by heading to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io. If you missed the Kickstarter and are interested in a physical copy of the zine, there are still some physical copies left, contact me at caradocgames@gmail.com for details.

The supplement, Smoke and Oakum, is also available at DriveThruRPG and Itch.io now!

END OBLIGATORY PLUG.


The logo for the Kickstarter page…

But what of the Funding Goal? Using the ‘worst case scenario’ above:

  • Printing ($675)
  • Envelopes ($100 for 200)
  • Shipping Labels ($30)
  • Shipping Domestic ($2.20 per zine ($0.42 absorbed per zine))
  • Shipping International ($8.30 per zine ($1.10 absorbed per zine))
  • Margin for screw ups (+10%)
  • Kickstarter and processing fees (+10% ish)
Felicity’s wonderful art. If you look carefully you can see the name of the ship: The Fyrerider. This was the ship of the playtest group…

If I assumed that in the best case I would get 200 backers wanting the physical copy, I would be spending around $250 on absorbing shipping costs, the total costs based on that estimate, and using the ‘worst case scenario’ for the rest of the costs, adds to $1055. Add 10% for Kickstarter and 10% for screw ups and that comes to around $1266. There are also other costs as well – test prints, software, ink, all the other bits and bobs I spent while drafting and making Corsairs. In the end I settled on a Funding goal of $1500, after all, many of the Kickstarter FAQs advise setting a thicker margin for error, because…

Another thing to consider is dropped backers. After the dust has settled and a Kickstarter has finished, there are a number of backers who, for whatever reason, drop out. While a funding level may look like it got $1000, it may in fact have only raised $850 because a number of backers have dropped out. A drop of a few hundred dollars in lost backers could have a significant impact overall.

So with all the mathing out of the way I had settled on my Funding Goal of $1500 AUD, and the backer level for the printed copy at $15 AUD. I decided to drop the price for the digital only copy to $10 AUD (about $6.70 USD when the Kickstarter launched), because that seemed on par with the costs of other zines in the 2019 ZineQuest.

Two things changed over the course of the Kickstarter: 1) I swapped my printer to Mixam, which meant a significant drop in the cost of printing. And 2) I realised that Kickstarter would take 10% of the shipping fee as well (yes, I was stupid), luckily I built in a margin and had a reduction in the printing costs.

So how did it wind up? Corsairs ended with 149 backers wanting physical copies, which was high enough to push to the 200 copies I was hoping to print, but was also close to the worst case scenario in terms of costs for printing that many copies.

Ending by writing that the Kickstarter resulted in a worst case scenario sounds gloomy and ungrateful. This is not the tone I intend, Worst case scenario in this context was my short hand for the different calculations I was using. I don’t mean ‘worst case scenario’ in a bad way – Corsairs funded, has been fulfilled, and exists in the world – believe me when I write that I was elated when it funded and am thrilled still!


This article is a part of a series about running a Kickstarter campaign for ZineQuest, you can find the other articles in this series here.

Shipping a game about Ships…

One of the biggest costs for any Kickstarter that is shipping a physical product is… well, shipping. This is especially true when to or from a country like Australia, where ordering a game from overseas can cost more for postage than for the game itself. I was seriously worried about the costs of shipping, seriously worried that if I got the weights or sizes wrong, the parcels I was sending would be bumped into a different category, and therefore end up costing significantly more per zine. As I wrote in my last post, one of the only things I was certain about in the beginning, was that I was uncertain of so many things…

Many Kickstarters absorb some or all of the shipping costs by wrapping them into the backer level prices. I thought I might be able to absorb some of these costs, but that if I tried to absorb too much, the price of backing for the physical zine would balloon to a point where it was ridiculous. I decided, after much uncertainty, to add shipping as a cost after the Kickstarter. Kickstarter allows you to set an amount for shipping, and I set one for domestic shipping, and one for international shipping. I could have used a service like Backerkit, which would have allowed me to collect pledges after the campaign was over. But these have fees, and I thought the cost of doing so would not be much different than doing it through Kickstarter.

It’s important to note, and it may be obvious, but Kickstarter has fees – usually a bit more than 10% of the money raised. Shipping is included in this amount, so whatever you charge through Kickstarter for shipping, will be included in the money raised before Kickstarter takes it’s 10%. I said this may be obvious, but when you are setting backer levels you may easily remember that 10% will be taken as fees. But when you are setting the shipping costs you need to remember this 10% (approximately) applies to them as well.

Before I go too much further there are three key things I was trying to work out at this point. How much would a backer pay for a physical copy, what would I put for the shipping costs (domestic and international), and how much would the funding goal be? Getting one of these right doesn’t necessarily mean the others are correct, and setting either the backer level or funding goal too high would turn off potential backers. The backer level needed to be priced in order that the money gained from a backer would cover the costs of producing the game for that backer. Of course, the economy of scale is at work here (the more zines I print the cheaper per zine they are), and I needed to be able to price out a range of things before I could settle on a solid figure for either. I wrote in my last post that I decided to set the funding goal around a print run of 200 copies, with the idea that if we got more than 200 backers who wanted the physical zine, the excess of funding would cover the next step up in the printing. I also decided to base my backer level costings around the idea that I might only print 50 copies, in which case the cost per zine would be higher. I feel these were conservative choices, and they were partly driven by the idea that more international backers would go for the digital only rewards than the physical rewards (spoiler: I was wrong).

Not the most beautiful tests, but they were a beginning…

Setting a funding goal meant I had to be able to make a good estimate for what it would all cost – if I printed 200 copies, and included a little of the shipping, envelopes, everything else required, a safety buffer, and the Kickstarter fees – how much money would I need to be able to hit print? So what were the costs?

More research was called for. The biggest hurdle was postage… What was the size of the finished package going to be? What was the weight? These things impact the cost of shipping significantly. I printed test copies off to see what the weight might be – but the tests were not the right gsm, not the right cover card, the envelope I added wasn’t the same as the ones I would use in the end, but these tests gave me a good idea.

Shipping from Australia Post is based around the size and weight of a package (surprising, I know). For a zine, I could get away with sending them as letters. Given the size of the envelope I had the following costs…

Domestic shipping through economy post, using a large letter (which would be the size of envelope), would cost me:

  • $2.20 if it was up to 125g.
  • $3.30 if it was more than 125g and less than 250g.

Internationally sending a large letter through economy post would be:

  • $3.20 if it was less than 50g.
  • $8.30 if it was between 50g and 125g.
  • $13.50 if it was between 125g and 250g.

I did not think it would be more than 250g, but it could easily have been more than 125g, the envelope counts too of course. While the difference between 124g and 126g in costs for shipping domestically is small, it jumps by more than $5 internationally, which is not an insignificant leap. Especially when I did not have an exact idea of how much the zine, envelope, etc would weigh, just a rough estimate.

Once I had settled on Mixam as the printer, they were kind enough to send me estimates of the weight of a single book, I also bought a few envelopes and used the heaviest for my calculations. Despite all the tests and estimates I still wasn’t 100% sure what the prices were going to be until I actually walked into the post office and was relieved to find I was right – it is within this size of 260mm x 360mm x 20mm, and less than 125g? Well, I’m not 100% because I haven’t had them printed yet, but I estimate that is the correct sizing and weight to be…

INSERT OBLIGATORY PLUG:

If you don’t have a copy of Corsairs you can fix that by heading to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io. If you missed the Kickstarter and are interested in a physical copy of the zine, there are still some physical copies left, contact me at caradocgames@gmail.com for details.

The supplement, Smoke and Oakum, is also available at DriveThruRPG and Itch.io now!

END OBLIGATORY PLUG.

With the tests made and weighed, adding in a heavier envelope of the correct size for good measure, I made the judgement that the zine would, in fact, weigh less than 125g, but more than 50g. This would mean that shipping domestically *should* cost $2.20 per zine, and internationally *should* cost $8.30 per zine.

Getting ready to pack the printed zines ready for shipping…

When I looked for envelopes I found plenty of options, but the ones I found early were quite expensive, at about $90 for 200, including shipping I rounded to $100, and that meant $0.50 per zine. Shipping labels I found for $30 (I could have gone cheaper, but wanted to be able to print them out – more on this in another post).

So what were the costs looking like given the ideal plan of shipping 200 copies?

  • Printing ($400 for 200 copies)
  • Envelopes ($100 for 200)
  • Shipping Labels ($30)
  • Shipping Domestic ($2.20 per zine)
  • Shipping International ($8.30 per zine)
  • Margin for screw ups (5-10%)
  • Kickstarter and processing fees (10% ish)
All packed up and lots of places to go…

I decided to absorb a small portion of the shipping costs by rounding the cents down to the dollars, $2.20 and $8.30 became $2 and $8. Ahh! But… Kickstarter collects that shipping as a part of the funding total and then applies it’s fees… so 10% (roughly) of each of those values was taken by Kickstarter… a point I initially (and stupidly) overlooked. Luckily I had built a margin for screw ups.

Of course, if I got 200 backers all of this would work out perfectly… which is why I based my final choices for the backer levels and funding goal on the more conservative estimation based on printing only 50 copies, where the costs would be defrayed over far fewer backers, meaning less profit margin on each zine. More on that in the next post though…

In the end, after all was done and dusted, Corsairs ended with 149 Backers wanting a physical copy. I posted those out a few weeks ago, and it cost a little over $1100 to do so. Meaning, of course, that a bit less than a third of the money raised by the Kickstarter when into postage.

This article is a part of a series about running a Kickstarter campaign for ZineQuest, you can find the other articles in this series here.

Smoke and Oakum has Launched!

Smoke and Oakum is the first supplement for the Corsairs RPG; and delves into the world of Sky Ships and sailing the skies of the Molten Seas.

In it you will be able to find rules and guidelines covering:

  • The effects of fair weather or challenging winds.
  • Rules for encounters with storms, shoals, and more of the dangers that can foul a sky ship.
  • Guidelines for running a crew or factions within a crew on board a ship.
  • 6 new Conditions that can have a serious impact on a ship and it’s crew.
  • Rules for chases which expand on the recommendations in the core rules, and include bonuses and setbacks for starting a chase at a lower or higher level than the target ship.
  • A ship may gain a Reputation, or be upgraded, and there are a range of upgrade options from a Figurehead to larger cannons all of which can make a ship better, more fearsome, or more dangerous.
  • Two collections of stat blocks for enemies a Corsair Sky Ship might face off against, one titled ‘Sails Ho’, and the other ‘Here There Be Dragons’…

Sitting at 32 pages from front cover to back cover Smoke and Oakum is almost as big as the core rules.

Of course, Smoke and Oakum also includes more of Felicity Haworth’s wonderful art, and I hope you love how she has brought the world to life as much as I do!

Also included is a new and updated Ship Sheet, including room for marking a ship’s Point of Sail, details on the Crew, and other sections to accommodate the added rules in Smoke and Oakum. There is a page of Condition Cards, which may be printed and cut out to help track the conditions player characters or a ship might be suffering from at any given time. As well as a faction sheet, for play groups who want to delve into the murky waters of a conflicted crew.

Smoke and Oakum is a supplement that adds new material geared toward making your play experience as Corsairs sailing their infamous sky ships a more interesting, dramatic, and exciting experience!

You can find Corsairs on DriveThruRPG here.

You can find Corsairs on Itch.io here.

For those who love the art in Corsairs as much as I do, the artist is Felicity Haworth, and you can find her work here.

Smoke and Oakum

Smoke and Oakum is the first supplement for the Corsairs RPG, and delves into the subject of Sky Ships and sailing the skies of the Molten Seas.

Sitting at 32 pages from front cover to back cover it is almost as big as the core rules, and covers a lot of ground. In it you will be able to find rules and suggestions covering a slew of topics, from the effects of fair weather or challenging winds, to rules for encounters with storms, shoals, and more of the dangers that can foul a sky ship. There are guidelines for running a crew or factions within a crew on board a ship. 6 new Conditions that can have a serious impact on a ship and it’s crew. There are rules for chases which expand on the recommendations in the core rules, and include bonuses and setbacks for starting a chase at a lower or higher level than the target ship. A ship may gain a Reputation, or be upgraded, and there are a range of upgrade options from a Figurehead to larger cannons all of which can make a ship better, more fearsome, or more dangerous. Of course, Smoke and Oakum also includes more of Felicity Haworth’s wonderful art, and I hope you love how she has brought the world to life as much as I do!

Also included are two sets of stat blocks for enemies a Corsair Sky Ship might face off against, one titled ‘Sails Ho’, and the other ‘Here There Be Dragons’, and I’ll leave it to you to imagine what might be covered in the second!

At the back of the book is a new and updated Ship Sheet, including room for marking a ship’s Point of Sail, details on the Crew, and other sections to accommodate the added rules in the book. Lastly there is a page of Condition Cards, which may be printed and cut out to help track the conditions player characters or a ship might be suffering from at any given time. In short, Smoke and Oakum is a supplement that adds a lot of new material, all of it geared toward making your play experience as Corsairs sailing their infamous sky ships a more interesting, and nuanced experience. I am really thrilled with how Smoke and Oakum has come together, and I hope anyone who snags a copy of Smoke and Oakum will get a lot from the book!

I expect Smoke and Oakum to be available from DriveThruRPG and Itch.io within the next ten days, and I’m really excited to read what people think!

Speaking of which… if you have a copy of Corsairs consider heading to DriveThruRPG or Itch.io and giving it a rating or review, these things really help, and are very much appreciated! If you missed the Kicksarter and are interested in a physical copy of the zine, there are still some copies left from the print run, contact me at caradocgames@gmail.com for details. I am looking at a bunch of options to allow me to sell physical and digital products online at the moment, but I haven’t made any decisions on that front just yet.

Phew… So what’s next? Well, I am currently working away at Speed, Strength, and Wits, which will take a look at characters in the same way Smoke and Oakum took a look at Sky Ships and sailing. Beyond that… who knows. I am working on an adventure at the moment that I may just write up and put up for sale, and I have a half a dozen things I would have liked to include in Smoke and Oakum but just wasn’t able to fit in. If there is interest, I am keen to keep developing the Corsairs world!

Beyond Corsairs I am working on a new RPG setting and system that I was hoping to launch later this year, but which I may just hold on to in anticipation of next year’s ZineQuest (presuming Kickstarter run it again). I am really digging the theme and world I am currently developing, so we’ll see how it progresses!

Lastly, if you want to keep up with Corsairs, and everything else happening at Caradoc Games, head here to join our mailing list, or follow us on twitter @caradocp or @caradocgames