Crowdfunding can be a beautiful thing that allows people to directly support the ideas and products they believe in, giving folks the chance to truly vote with their wallets. Aside from the dystopian nightmare of people crowdfunding their medical and legal bills through services like GoFundMe, as well as the vaporware projects that either never make it to market or are just flat out scams, crowdfunding is a great concept. It’s also a really good way to get me to spend even more money on tabletop role-playing game systems and paraphernalia than I already do. So here are some of the money-pits that I’ve recently tossed my cash into that luckily for you and your wallet, are either finished or about to finish up their funding campaigns. You’re welcome…
Crowdfunding can be a beautiful thing that allows people to directly support the ideas and products they believe in, giving folks the chance to truly vote with their wallets. Aside from the dystopian nightmare of people crowdfunding their medical and legal bills through services like GoFundMe, as well as the vaporware projects that either never make it to market or are just flat out scams, crowdfunding is a great concept. It’s also a really good way to get me to spend even more money on tabletop role-playing game systems and paraphernalia than I already do. So here are some of the money-pits that I’ve recently tossed my cash into that luckily for you and your wallet, are either finished or about to finish up their funding campaigns. You’re welcome.
Let’s start with the project that started my descent into crowdfunding hell. Dungeon Alchemist is an AI powered 3D map making tool that sells itself on its ease of use and quick automation. The idea is that you draw the size of a room, select a theme, and the software auto-populates it with various flotsam and jetsam that make sense within said theme. Smartly, the software will absolutely allow you to get a bit more granular and select specific items too place as you please, as well as adjust its size and rotation, allowing for a fairly unique map. Or at least, that’s what the pitch is.
And the pitch is very good, especially when you see how much money this thing has raked in. The original goal was set at €45,000, or about $53,000, but by the campaign’s conclusion it had raised a total of €2,462,821 or about $2,886,020, easily blowing past all stretch goals including the final one set at €1,000,000. That’s an insane amount of money and pressure to suddenly have to grapple with, and I hope the team behind Dungeon Alchemist are able to live up to the expectations of their 57,000+ backers. Luckily, everyone is super understanding and compassionate on the internet.
Despite owning a king’s bounty worth of materials on one of the most popular virtual tabletop (VTT) platforms out there, Roll20, I found myself wanting more than their hit-or-miss approach to basic functionality like a fucking pause button for music tracks and their servers that work only when they feel like it. There are other services I could utilize, but Let’s Role has a style to it that really caught my eye. From rolling dice to YouTube integration and even a customizable hot-bar to make it feel more like you’re playing a video game, Let’s Role has some cool functionality that I’m very into. Being in the alpha, I can say that it’s still very janky and needs some more features and bug fixes in order to be something I’d use instead of Roll20, but it’s still very much in active development with a long way to go before its official release.
While I’m very hopeful for Let’s Role to become an actual competitor in the space, the big question for me revolves around external integration. I need a VTT that is simple too use and has the books and modules I use to be fully integrated, and they’ve mentioned that there will be some of that, but to what extent I can’t quite say. If they can provide me with the books and modules that I frequently use in a more accessible and serviceable way than Roll20 offers, then I think it could become my new home for my group’s game nights. Here’s hoping.
DUNGEON MASTER’S LITTLE BLACK BOOK
I’m a big fan of having tactile, physical references when I play any TTRPG. Even throughout the pandemic where playing online was a necessity and not just a preference, I still have my books and notebooks all within arms reach, usually opting to use those instead of online resources if I can. What I like about Dungeon Master’s Little Black Book is how straightforward and useful it appears to be. It is just a handy guide filled with various tables for me to utilize whenever I need to throw something interesting at my players, which is something I could definitely make great use out of. It also helped that the physical books were priced very reasonably, making supporting the project a no-brainer.
Stonetop is a game system that’s been built off of the excellent Powered by the Apocalypse system set in what they call, “an Iron Age that never was.” I really like the PbtA system and have actually had some successful games using a variant of it called Monster of the Week, so I knew what to expect when reading up on Stonetop. If you’re looking for a new game system that isn’t very rules heavy and relies more heavily on role-playing and collaborative storytelling than anything else, I recommend it. But Stonetop posies itself as a bit more of a grounded experience that doesn’t assume that all the players are playing as adventurers, rather, the conceit is that all of the players are from the same village and are protecting it from external threats. Meanwhile, the players will have manage the village itself through fortifying, expanding, collecting resources for it and more. It seems to be solving the classic D&D problem of having just a bunch of homeless, wandering murderers for hire, with no connection to any particular place from the outset.
I’ve always enjoyed the idea of a campaign that was less about adventurers seeking another adventure, and more about normal people stepping up or being thrust into the action. That’s kind of how my current D&D campaign is structured and it’s been a great time for everyone involved, so having a system and setting embracing that from the start is very enticing to me. I like what Stonetop is pitching to me and I like the fact that I already have some familiarity with the system itself, hopefully making it an easy transition for my players and I once we wrap up our seemingly never ending campaign.
So yeah, that’s nearly half of the projects I’ve recently thrown money at because I have no self control whatsoever. But I actually like the things that I’m supporting and really hope they turn out well, but if they don’t, I know what I signed up for. And for those who are curious, yes, all of the other products I didn’t mention here that I’ve supported were also TTRPG related. They were mostly just source books and modules for me to utilize, or in reality, just more books for me to admire the spines of as they collect dust on my shelves.