Monday, January 28, 2013
People in our hobby have talked at great lengths about the advantages and problems that Kickstarters cause and, I am one that has generally been positive about them even though I take some of them with a grain of salt. To this date, I have backed 35 projects on Kickstarter and another 2 through Indiegogo. The majority of these have been gaming related though not all pen and paper based RPGs -- there are many video games as well. The majority of these happened last year and to date, 6 have been completely fulfilled and another 8 have been fulfilled in part. Despite the waits involved, I have been satisfied for the most part.
A few days ago, I had caved and pledged for another Kickstarter. I had known and been following it since the start but waited in the last few days to pledge because of the money involved. Within a few hours of doing so, I regretted the decision and lowered my pledge. Within a day, I cancelled it entirely. The project in question? The Razor Coast being developed by Frog God Games.
Don't get me wrong -- I think the Razor Coast will be simply awesome and I would very much like to have it but it in the end, it comes down to simple economics. Could I afford to back it? Well, frankly yes... yes I can but I wasn't willing to pay the prices being asked. I was more than willing to back their last two crowd funding efforts though.
I backed Rappan Athuk which wasn't cheap but there was a perceived value to it. The tome is huge being over 450 pages for the Swords & Wizardry version and even bigger for the Pathfinder version and then there was everything thrown in with it. The book itself is $99 and, while pricey, it is signature stitched and textbook durable. Given the cost of the hard-to-come-by box set that preceded it years back, it's actually not a bad value at all. If you pledged at the $100 level you got tons of swag to go with it. Bottom line: REAL VALUE for your dollar. Shipping still had to be covered and there were extras you could pay for or you could ramp up your pledge to get cooler swag and exclusives.
When the Sword & Wizardry kickstarter launched, I backed it at a very high level but once again... there was some value for your dollar. At the Black Dragon $250 level, you get the Swords & Wizardy Complete Rulebook, the Monstrosities monster book, the Tome of Horrors Complete, the Black Monastary, an introductory module, a GM Screen, a signed canvas print by Erol Otus, as well as other swag. The Tome of Horrors Complete is a $99 book and is over 650 pages and the Monstrosities books is around 550 pages! What's curious is the MSRP listed on the site for the new Monstrosities book -- a mere $49.99.
Think about that for a moment and no... it's not an error. And yes... it's hardcover and it's supposed to be in the same signature stitched format that the rulebook is in. Now, I'm eager to receive all these books and have paid my invoiced shipping and I imagine I won't have to wait much longer for my physical books. Judging from Rappan Athuk, I will certainly be pleased and I consider the money well spent.
This brings us to the Razor Coast. I am happy the project was funded successfully and proved to be a great success. At the lowest level to be eligible for a physical book, we're talking $110 and this is the only physical product you get. The rest is a bunch of electronic material. Now the book is estimated between 280 (S&W) and 350 (PF) pages depending on the version. It is full color. For perspective, the D&D 3.5 Edition Monster Manual is about 320 pages and is also in full color. The recent release of the premium reprint of this book retails for $49.95 which is half of what the Razor Coast book will be retailing at. For that matter... the Warhammer 40K book is something like $75 (or $90 in Canada) is full color and comes in at over 400 pages and Games Workshop has a reputation of charging high prices. Granted, the print volume of Razor Coast books are going to be a fraction of the volume printed for either one of the other two but I really think $100 is too high for a gaming book -- especially if I have many shelves worth of other gaming books I can pull from to create a comparable gaming experience ...
In the end, I think it's not just the price but given what's available (whether it is immediate or not), is this something I need. Usually the answer is definitely a 'NO' but... price is always an interesting modifier to that equation. Many a book I would normally have passed on are on my gaming shelf because the price I picked them up for. The third-party series of d20 books, 'Legends & Lairs' are solid books but I would have never picked them up at cover price. I didn't need them given what I already had. But when Fantasy Flight Games decided to clear out their inventory and sell these hardcovers at $5 per book, I immediately swooped them up. If a $100 book is one extreme the $5 books are at the other end of the spectrum. Anything in-between is a give or take depending on the moment.
I'm certain that others will find the new Razor Coast book to be worth every penny and I'm certain it will be a fine book and an important step in Frog God Games' development. Keep up the good work and I'm eager to see your next big project!