Downsizing, a Plan?

A few weeks ago I completed fulfillment of my latest game: Foundlings. This is the third game I have published physical copies of. All three of the games I have published (Corsairs, Rascals, and Foundlings) are A5 saddle-stitched zines of varying lengths.

Foundlings is the largest, clocking in at 48 internal pages, and cover (4 more pages). It has the highest GSM cover stock, making it the heaviest game I have produced. Why is this relevant? Well, this post is broadly about shipping costs.


You can also grab Foundlings, Corsairs, and Rascals from Exalted Funeral, or Indie Press Revolution


If you backed Foundlings on Kickstarter, $15 AUD would net you one physical copy of the game (as well as PDFs, etc). The cost of shipping (which I collected through GameFound) was $14 AUD.

Yes.

Shipping cost nearly the same as the game itself.

Anyone from Aus will probably not be overly surprised, but for anyone else: this wasn’t me price gouging, inflating the cost of shipping to make more out of suckered in backers who just wanted their physical copies, this is actually less than what shipping those games cost me.

A backer jumps onto GameFound, uses their credits to get their copy of Foundlings, and pays the $14 for shipping.

Stripe and Gamefound take their %, and I get about $13.30 deposited into my account. Shipping an envelope large enough to hold an A5 zine internationally (let’s say somewhere in Europe), costs me $13.50 at the post office. This does not include the costs of the envelopes, labels, time, or anything else.

Shipping is wildly expensive for a small time publisher.

With Foundlings I tried something I hadn’t done before, I used shipping partners in the UK and the US to help reduce the costs of shipping. So how did that go?

It did not really reduce the costs of shipping.

The cost to send a box of games to the US (or UK) is expensive, the processing costs charged by my shipping partners (which were very reasonable I need to add), were in USD and GBP – both of which are worth considerably more than the humble AUD – so whatever the cost, you can times it by a minimum of 1.5 for USD, and about 2 for GBP.

All of it meant that the actual savings passed on to the customer were small – indeed, the shipping costs for Backers in the UK and the US were both only a couple of dollars cheaper than had I not used shipping partners.

It might have been more cost effective if I was shipping larger quantities than I did, but not significantly.

Now, I’m not complaining – it costs what it costs. It’s important to note that I absolutely understand why backers might be upset with the costs – hell, I certainly am! It is also absolutely reasonable for shipping partners to charge – of course – and both partners I used were extremely reasonable and extremely helpful, and I am very grateful for having had the opportunity to work with them – they were and are wonderful.

But… Shipping is expensive. It is, by a long way, the most expensive part of creating and getting a game like Foundlings (or Corsairs, or Rascals) into the hands of gamers around the world.

In fact, it’s so expensive, that I’m not sure I want to try publishing a game of the same size (or larger) here in Australia, and sending it out internationally. I think for any future game of this size (or larger) I will need to look at working with a publishing partner, probably in the US. Anyway – food for later thought…

So why is this post called Downsizing? Well, if you made it this far, this is the experiment I plan to undertake…

The next game I am releasing is called Owlbear Omelette – a reworked and rewritten version of a little game I published back in 2019. This game is designed to be a fun and silly dungeon crawl style game, in which the players (Goblins) are ransacking the Goblin King’s palace for an Owlbear Egg for the express purpose of omelette making.

Owlbear Omelette will be published as an A6 saddle-stitched game. At 34 internal pages, it will be about the same thickness as Corsairs, with the added bonus of being literally half the size.

Why?

Shipping.

Besides the fact the A6 is a fun little size, and I quite like mini-games, shipping an A6 booklet of that size will allow me to use tough card DL envelopes, keeping the cost of international shipping to about $4.00-5.00 AUD. That reduces the cost of shipping by two thirds, and with currency conversion should come out at a pretty minimal addition for most international backers.

Will it be successful? Who knows! I will be Kickstarting Owlbear Omelette during the ZineQuest promotion Kickstarter is running in August, and will let you all know how successful (or not) it was after that…

If it is successful, then maybe I need to take a long and careful look at a few of my planned and upcoming games, and ask myself how they would look wearing an A6 sized overcoat.

Rascals is a Finalist…

I was much thrilled and excited to receive the news that Rascals is a finalist in the Freeplay Game Awards Non-Digital Category. Winners of the awards will be announced on the 27th of June, at 7.30pm AEST, and the ceremony can be followed on the Freeplay YouTube Channel here.

To see Rascals listed alongside so many other wonderful games is a real thrill, win or lose, it is a great honour! I thoroughly recommend checking out the other finalists at the link above, they are truly wonderful games!


A short reminder: if you missed the Kickstarter, and are keen to get in on the action, you can find Rascals on the Caradoc Games Webstore here. You can also find it on DriveThruRPG and Itch.io.

For anyone interested, the TableTop Simulator DLC is a great way to play Rascals remotely, and can be found here.

Speaking of the DLC… using the card images I made for TableTop Simulator, and the wonderful art from Juan Ochoa, there is a deck of premium poker cards available print-on-demand from DriveThruRPG, and you can find them here.


Heralds

Some choose the path, some are chosen, others are called. All accept the risk; all know from scar and memory; the path is not easy. Across rock and ice, through canyons deep and valleys strange, under brutal sun and violent storm, on old paths and new, so venture the Heralds.

The cover, as it stands right now…


Heralds is a post-apocalyptic fantasy RPG, which I am hoping will hit Kickstarter later this year. I am really excited about this game, and it will mark a number of firsts for Caradoc Games. It will be a perfect bound book, and at somewhere around 100 pages, will be the largest game we have released to date. It will also be published in full-colour, with art throughout from the amazing Andie Lugtu.

Andie’s art is absolutely stunning, and I can’t wait to share some of the other pieces he has created for Heralds.


Stockists

On the Caradoc Games website, I have updated our list of stockists, and included links to their stores. If you are after a physical copy of Corsairs or Rascals, and want to buy from somewhere in the US, Canada, or the UK, check out our Stockists Page here for the links! More will be added soon!

Winging away…

Rascals is in the post and winging it’s way around the world!

After a mildly stressful beginning, the Rascals Kickstarter has been fulfilled. So what was the stressful part? Well, full of excitement, I marched into the post office with the intention of sending off Rascals. The postal worker informed me, that due to Covid, Rascals would be treated as ‘parcels’ instead of ‘letters’. A difference that would mean the cost for shipping each copy of Rascals would more than double, and that the money gathered for shipping was no where near enough to cover what I was told it was now going to cost. After recovering from the mild fit my heart decided to undertake at this news, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and legged it.

I was fairly confident I had done my due diligence, and had researched the shipping costs properly, but by the same token, Covid has had a way of changing things rapidly. Add to this that fact that being told a thing by a person who should know has a way of getting one to question one’s own reality, and I was ‘somewhat’ concerned.

After undertaking some more research, and finding that I had been correct after all, I decided the best course of action was to try my chances at a different post office. Thankfully the people there were wonderful, took everything in hand, and to cut a long story short: Rascals is in the post.

Now seems a good time to mention that in addition to Rascals you can also download the adventure module, Operation: Bramble, get a copy of the official card deck, as well as make full use of the Rascals DLC for TableTop Simulator​.

I have been thrilled to see some photos from people locally who already have their copies, it is wonderful to finally see the game in the wild!

 

State of Play

After some delays, Rascals is being prepped and packaged, ready to post… I have finished all of the ‘One-of-a-Kind’ backer level pieces, which ended up including a lot more of my drawings than I had expected (my humble apologies to everyone who is about to get more of my attempts to ‘art’ than they bargained for)!

For anyone interested, the TableTop Simulator DLC is a great way to play Rascals remotely, and can be found here.

Speaking of the DLC… using the card images I made for TableTop Simulator, and the wonderful art from Juan Ochoa, there is a deck of premium poker cards available print-on-demand from DriveThruRPG, and you can find them here.

Below is a link to survey about the future of Rascals. If you have, or are interested in Rascals I am keen to read what you would like to see next…

What’s next for Rascals?

Heralds

I’ve written about Heralds previously, it was originally the game I had intended to release for ZineQuest 3, but as I worked on it I realised it needed to be a larger game than would fit comfortably in a zine format. Heralds will be the largest game I have produced so far, and I am really excited to see it taking shape!

So what is Heralds?

Some choose the path, some are chosen, others are called. All accept the risk; all know from scar and memory; the path is not easy. Across rock and ice, through canyons deep and valleys strange, under brutal sun and violent storm, on old paths and new, so venture the Heralds.

Heralds is set in the world of Ashmerl, a world where the ebb of magic has had a profound impact. What was once a united empire has been smashed apart, the old low-ways of the World Beneath, which joined the many Enclaves of the World Above are sealed now, too dangerous to travel. Enclaves which once bustled with trade and wealth have been separated, and forced to survive alone as best they could…

The characters are Heralds of their Enclave, daring the hazardous paths over mountain paths and unknown valleys, looking to reconnect what once was whole. But as the world has changed, so too have the people.

In Heralds, the Enclave where the characters grew up is a vital living element of the game. As players make their characters, they will also build their Enclave: map and history. As a group plays, the characters will grow, change, and develop, and so too will the Enclave.

I am hoping that Heralds will hit Kickstarter a little later this year. I won’t say much more than that right now, as development and writing are still ongoing; but I will have more to share over the next couple of months. Until then, here is an early draft of the cover, with art by the supremely talented Andie Lugtu…

 

I had a few people message to ask about physical copies of my RPG of sky ships and floating islands: Corsairs. I am thrilled to say that physical copies of this zine are now back in stock on the  webstore here.

Or, if you’re US based you can get a copy from Spear Witch, here.

Or in Canada, from Monkey’s Paw Games, here.

I think I have said enough this time around, until next time…

Giles.

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 is live!

Rascals is live on Kickstarter now! You can check the project page out here.

On the project page I preview some of the wonderful art created by Juan Ochoa, and you can also see my first foray into creating a project video…

I’m really thrilled with how this project has come together, the black and white interior, supported by the sublime artwork of Juan Ochoa, looks really nice (in my very biased opinion). I can’t wait to see how the project goes!

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!

Announcing: Rascals…

Kickstarter has officially announced Zine Quest (you can find the link to the KS announcement on my Zine Quest page here, along with a bunch of links and articles I hope anyone thinking of undertaking Zine Quest will find useful).

My project this year is Rascals. In Rascals you play ex-special forces, intelligence operatives, or crooks who operated as a team during the final years of the civil war that wrought havoc on the Network of Star Systems now administered by the New Government.

You thought you had left that life behind, when the peace accords of Luyten B were signed and the ink had dried. but something has happened to pull you back in…

In Rascals your character will be one of four archetypes: The Brains, The Face, The Muscle, or The Stick, each tied to a suit of cards. Characters have archetype powers and tricks they can use to manipulate the outcomes of the challenges they face.

Game play is built around cards, with the players sharing a deck, and the GM having a deck of their own. Poker chips are also used to measure character health and energy (called Hustle), ammo that can be spent for extra hits, as well as power and damage to vehicles and ships.

Rascals will be a 40 page zine, including rules for character creation, creation of the problem the characters face, rules for actions, combat, space ships and vehicles. A lot is packed into a small zine!

I’ll be writing more about the rules and the setting in upcoming posts, as well as dropping the link to the prelaunch page for the Kickstarter… until then, strap in and get ready for a wild ride!

Locked and Loaded

I was unsure what to do for the 2021 Zine Quest, and I wrote last time how my fantasy RPG, Heralds, was approaching a point where the project was too big to fit comfortably into the Zine Quest format. I could have cut it back, but I like the systems, and I felt it would lose too much if it was cut shorter. I bit the bullet and did what any self-respecting Zine Questee would do, I decided to write a different game.

In fairness I had the core of the system already written up, so I wasn’t coming at it from nothing. I knew the genres and themes I wanted to hit, they were baked into the system I had dusted off. So what did I do?

First, I made a few more notes, and left it at that for a week.

In that week I did three things before really delving into the system, setting, and writing. I worked on finding an artist whose style matched my feel for the setting and game, I looked for fonts that would work in a similar vein, and I started developing the layout and look of the zine.

Normally I tend to get writing first, so this was a departure from the established routine for me. Why did I go this route? To be honest, it was the fact that while I had a feel for the game in terms of what I wanted out of the mechanisms and setting, the setting itself was nebulous, it was feelings and emotion, a pace and rhythm, a soundtrack with no lyrics. I felt that getting a good grip on the visuals of the game would help me ground the the rules and setting, provide inspiration and limitation in equal and needed quantities. I’m glad I did.

I found an artist I am really excited to be working with, I won’t say too much just yet (not until there is something to show alongside), but I will say that I think his work is going to make Rascals look absolutely brilliant.

I started working on the layout. With Corsairs the game was originally envisaged to be more of a old-time worn look, faded leather and the like. With Rascals I wanted to make something stridently black and white, something that would fit within the two-tone rules for Zine Quest, and really sit comfortably within that space. I am really happy with how Rascals is looking at the moment, and I think once the art is dropped in, it will really look amazing.

Lastly I looked at fonts… and well. That’s a whole thing. Finding fonts that fit the style you want, but making sure that they are free for commercial use (or that you can get hold of a license for them), is not as easy as it could be. A lot of the fonts that come with Word or whatever program you happen to use might be free for personal use, but not for commercial use. I looked through a whole slew of fonts before settling on two I really liked. One will be used for all the headings, and the other for the body text. The 3D and gradient overlay effects for the title and contents pages were all done in Affinity, and fit the theme and game perfectly in my opinion.

So, a little update on where I am at in the lead up to Zine Quest 2021. I will be back with more on the subject, and back with some reflections on the year past (and hopes for the year ahead) in another post.

Where-ever you are, I hope you and yours had a lovely Christmas/Holiday period (if you celebrate such things), and a smashing new year (again…).


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