This morning, a Kickstarter campaign for a Ghostbusters board game went live, led by Cryptozoic Entertainment. No one should be surprised to hear my ears pricked up immediately. Cooperative, modular design for high replayability, Ghostbusters. What else could it take to get me through the door?
Very little, as I read through the summarized pitch on Boardgamegeek. But then I loaded the campaign page and looked at the component designs. And all I could think was, “This looks suspiciously like Zombies!!!,” which is not a good starting point for my tastes. And interestingly, apparently there are many comments on the campaign page and elsewhere that, based on the initial component images and description given to date, Ghostbusters: The Board Game sounds an awful lot like Zombicide, which is another cooperative board game about beating back the undead, albeit of a different psychokinetic vibration band.
There’s not much to go on about how the game plays right now, aside from demonstration participants in the Kickstarter video saying good things about it. Wherever my sense of mistrust is coming from — I have little personal experience with Cryptozoic’s board games besides one round of the DC Deck Building Game, which plays an awful lot like Ascension Deck Building Game — I feel reassured to see I’m not the only board game player looking askance.
On the other hand, Cryptozoic is more than halfway to their $250,000 goal in less than a day, so there are 900+ people who have decided this game could be for them. It could be for me, too, but I’m staying wary for now. I’d love a Ghostbusters board game, but I want it to also be a game that I love, not just something based on one of my favorite movies.
Imagine you are a simple educator, working in a struggling charter school. Further, imagine you are unexpectedly possessed by a demon from Hell. This psychic invader grants you amazing powers — impossible beauty, transmutation of matter, laser eyes, any number of possibilities — but at the same time, demands that you commit all kinds of evil with those powers. So naturally, being a mostly decent person, you appease the demon as best as possible by concocting ridiculously grandiose acts of largely hollow villainy that also happen to benefit the struggling school in which you are deeply invested.
Congratulations! You’ve just devised a character for No Soul Left Behind, the campaign for Greg Stolze’s Better Angels role-playing game. Written by Caleb Stokes, author of the No Security horror scenarios, No Soul Left Behind is currently raising funds on Kickstarter. The material is written, playtested and edited, so the money goes toward book design and publishing.
If you’re not sure whether this mix of infernal villainy and public education is up your alley, check out the actual play recordings of the playtest campaign, run by Caleb for the Role Playing Public Radio crew. They’re pretty spectacular, featuring a debate team turned cult of personality, a grackle cannon and a sinister horse with laser eyes.
It’s been all Pathfinder in my role-playing life, lately. Two on-going adventure paths and now my friend Neil has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund Companions of the Firmament, a Pathfinder supplement for flying mounts, flying characters and aerial options.
Lucky for you, the project’s already funded, so you can climb on board knowing you’ll get a nice reward no matter what. If you want to hear more about the project first, I interviewed Neil this week over on Carnagecast. Neil also talks about the preparatory work he did for Companions of the Firmament, including conducting the Kickstarter role-playing game study that he released a few months ago.
Check it out!
I’m starting to think of Kickstarter projects as addictive little rushes. I’ve done two now — I can’t remember if crowdfunding the original edition of Wild Talents was actual Kickstarter or something Kickstarter-esque — for Conspiracy X books. There’s more than a bit of frisson, repeatedly checking in on the total, wondering if the project will reach its goal in time.
Most recently, with The Paranormal Sourcebook, Eden Studios threw in some additional enticement. First they offered Zener cards for pledges of a certain level, then created a secondary fundraising goal, on attainment of which the pledged get GM screens for the game. The project reached that secondary goal today, so I’m feeling pretty jazzed, like I accomplished something good and right for the world. That’s probably a gross overestimation of a role-playing game supplement’s impact on the destiny of billions, but it’s possible the book may not have seen the life of day if I hadn’t pledged and done my portion of sharing links and so forth.
And that’s maybe one of the cleverer parts of Kickstarter: the projects are set up that the pledged are motivated to promote. They want the thing being promised, so it’s in their direct self-interest to make it happen by telling friends and interested parties. It’s a built-in marketing effort. And at the end of it, one gets to feel good for contributing to the creation of something that likely otherwise would not have existed.
Of course, I’m crowing before the game’s over. I haven’t actually gotten any of this stuff for which I’ve pledged. The Extraterrestrial Sourcebook has reportedly gone to the printer by now. I wasn’t happy that the two fundraisers overlapped such that I wouldn’t be able to receive and gauge the first book before the pledge deadline for the second passed, but I took a gamble. The play’s still underway, so we’ll see how it goes.