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Designing monsters is as easy as A, B, C! Illustrated systems-neutral RPG supplements for creature creation and GM idea generation.
Designing monsters is as easy as A, B, C! Illustrated systems-neutral RPG supplements for creature creation and GM idea generation.
741 backers pledged $35,645 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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THANKS everyone for your support! The Kickstarter went extremely well and we're all very proud of what you've helped us create. If you somehow missed the Kickstarter and would like to still be involved, you can pre-order Monster Alphabet and GM Gems from the Goodman Games online store!

Summary of Kickstarter

  • This Kickstarter funds the creation of two hardcover systems-neutral sourcebooks: The Monster Alphabet and GM Gems. They are intended for use with any fantasy tabletop role playing game, under any rules system or edition.
  • The Monster Alphabet is a lavishly illustrated 64-page hardcover sourcebook. Each page or spread is an “inspirational letter” which has a random table associated with a monster attribute. For example: A is for Android, B is for Breath Weapon, C is for Crossbreed, and so on.
  • The Monster Alphabet is written by Jobe Bittman with Michael Curtis. Inspired by the hit Dungeon Alphabet sourcebook by Michael Curtis, it includes a foreword by Frank Mentzer, an introduction by Michael Curtis, and art by Erol Otus, Jeff Easley, Doug Kovacs, Russ Nicholson, Peter Mullen, Stefan Poag, and a multitude of other great RPG artists.
  • The Monster Alphabet will be available in several formats, including regular hardcover, gold foil, and a leatherbound edition. With sufficient funding, a number of additional features will be added, including a bookmark, expanded end papers, a slipcase, a booklet of bonus letters, a dust jacket, an art folio, and more. There is also the possibility to unlock a new pledge tier of customized convention-specific leather editions, for Gen Con, Gary Con, and North Texas RPG Con.
  • GM Gems is an 80-page systems-neutral hardcover of game master inspiration organized around general adventuring topics. It is filled with a wealth of information and ideas to empower every aspect of your game. The first printing sold out several years ago. This Kickstarter funds a second printing, in hardcover format, with new art to supplement the original work, including new cover art by TSR alum Laura Lakey, new interior work by fan favorite Stefan Poag, and new endsheets by Peter Mullen.
  • Both GM Gems and Monster Alphabet are complete and ready to go to the printer. This Kickstarter funds their print run and the possible addition of incremental features through achievement of stretch goals.
 

The Monster Alphabet: Designing monsters is as easy as A, B, C! 

What foul beasts slosh and gibber in the furthest reaches of your skull? Unleash your demons with The Monster Alphabet, a compilation of monster design elements keyed to letters of the alphabet.

A is for Android, B is for Breath Weapon, C is for Crossbreed! Game masters of any rule system will find inspiration for creating strange, new abominations: random tables of traits, powers, and lore; awe-inspiring illustrations by your favorite fantasy artists old and new; and rolling handfuls of dice on monster generation tables.

X is for Xenotransplantation: by Russ Nicholson
X is for Xenotransplantation: by Russ Nicholson

Inspired by The Dungeon Alphabet

More than five years ago, The Dungeon Alphabet was released by Goodman Games. Written by Michael Curtis and illustrated by a who’s-who of RPG artists, this extraordinary book provided inspiration to dungeon designers through randomized tables sorted by letter. A is for Altar, B is for Books, and C is for Caves: The Dungeon Alphabet has advice, hints, and randomized tables that bring new life to your dungeons.

The Dungeon Alphabet met with critical success, and was awarded the prestigious Three Castles Award at North Texas RPG Con. It was commercially successful, and continues to sell through its third printing.

Peter Mullen's title page illustration
Peter Mullen's title page illustration

The Monster Alphabet Continues The Tradition 

Two things combined to make The Dungeon Alphabet successful: outstanding writing integrated with outstanding art. The Monster Alphabet continues this tradition. The work itself is a collection of randomized tables dealing with monster-related subjects. Any given page has a table that can juice up your monsters – the “average” encounter for your heroes instantly becomes fun and memorable with a few dice rolls.

C is for Crossbreed, by Michael Wilson
C is for Crossbreed, by Michael Wilson

What makes the randomized tables really stand out is the exceptional art, which is presented as images that work beautifully with the layout. All are based on the “classic TSR look,” and the list of artists contributing to The Monster Alphabet is a veritable who’s-who of old-school fantasy illustrators:

  • Jeff Easley
  • Fritz Haas
  • Jim Holloway
  • Doug Kovacs
  • Diesel LaForce
  • William McAusland
  • Brad McDevitt
  • Peter Mullen
  • Russ Nicholson
  • Erol Otus
  • Stefan Poag
  • Chad Sergesketter
  • Chuck Whelon
  • Michael Wilson

As if all that weren’t enough, noted TSR designer Frank Mentzer was impressed enough by the book to agree to write the Foreword!

Doug Kovacs' endsheet illustration
Doug Kovacs' endsheet illustration

GM Gems is Back And Better Than Ever

The first printing of GM Gems was released during the D&D 3.5 era, and proved very popular. It sold out several years ago, and we believe the time has come to bring it back! 

This second printing is still systems-neutral yet has been updated to use DCC RPG stat blocks when default rules are required. The rules conversion was done by well-known DCC author Daniel J. Bishop. The second printing is in hardcover with amazing new cover art by TSR alum Laura Lakey. The completely new layout features new interior illustrations by Stefan Poag in addition to the originals by William McAusland, plus a brand new two-page illustrated spread on the endsheets by OSR notable Peter Mullen. GM Gems is written by veteran game masters, and includes topics such as these:

  • Alchemical Mishaps
  • Empty Rooms Worth Describing
  • Extraordinary Campsites
  • Familiar Creatures with Unfamiliar Faces
  • Short Encounters for Short Attention Spans
  • Unique Taverns and Inns
  • Unusual Holidays
  • 100 Unique Treasures
  • And much, much more
Cover art for 2nd printing of GM Gems, by Laura Lakey
Cover art for 2nd printing of GM Gems, by Laura Lakey

Show Me What I’m Getting!

Both the Monster Alphabet and GM Gems are complete. All writing, text, art, and layout are finished, and the printer-ready files are prepared. Some details may change as this Kickstarter achieves stretch goals, but the content is sufficiently finalized that we are excited to show off previews!

P is for Plants, by Peter Mullen
P is for Plants, by Peter Mullen

Cover Options

For the third printing of Dungeon Alphabet, we offered an alternate gold foil cover featuring stylized illustrations of an A (front cover) and Z (back cover). These proved quite popular and we’d like to do the same with Monster Alphabet. The illustrations are shown here – the final printing will be done in gold foil in a printing method similar to Dungeon Alphabet.

We are also offering a limited print run of real leather covers. These will use the same cover concept as the gold foil, but with a different image to identify them as the real leather cover, and with a different background (leather) color so they are immediately distinguishable from the faux leather of the gold foil edition.

If we achieve the stretch goals of convention-special leather editions (see below), they will be further enhanced with unique, alternate “letter covers” in the same style.

Dungeon Alphabet limited-edition gold foil cover, by Stefan Poag. (Back cover features "Z"!)
Dungeon Alphabet limited-edition gold foil cover, by Stefan Poag. (Back cover features "Z"!)

How Can I Support the Kickstarter?

In addition to the pledge levels, we are also offering several add-on options to further support the Kickstarter! Simply add the funds to your pledge now, and we will provide a survey at the end of the Kickstarter that allows you to specify what the funds are for. Here are the standard add-on items:

The Dungeon Alphabet: What? You never bought it? Shame on you! The third printing of the award-winning best-selling book of dungeon inspiration is still available. You can add on copies in the color cover edition (+$20), the gold foil edition (+$30), or both (+$50). All copies include print+PDF.

Slipcover for Monster Alphabet (Achieve Stretch Goal to Unlock, +$20 per copy): One of the stretch goals is to unlock a slipcover option for Monster Alphabet. With sufficient funding we can meet the print run for a quality constructed full-color slipcover to encase the book. This is great for bookshelf presentation and durability. Once this stretch goal is unlocked, you can add +$20 to your pledge for each copy of Monster Alphabet that you would like slipcased.

Convention-Exclusive Leather Cover of Monster Alphabet (Achieve Stretch Goal to Unlock, +$100 per copy): As many fans know, Goodman Games attends many conventions each year, including some of the best-known “old-school” cons. In the past we’ve supported these conventions with con-exclusive products, and The Dungeon Alphabet won the Three Castles Award at North Texas RPG Con. We’d like to continue our tradition of supporting old-school cons with an authentic old-school product like The Monster Alphabet. One of the stretch goals is to unlock an extremely limited print run of leatherbound Monster Alphabet books to be released at three conventions:

  • The North Texas RPG Con edition will feature the convention logo, unique cover art not available on any other Monster Alphabet book, and a unique leather dye color for the cover. (We will try to have this complete by NTRPG'15, but it may be a NTRPG'16 release for non-KS backers given the lead times.)
  • A second Gen Con edition will feature the Gen Con logo, a different unique cover image not available elsewhere, and a different leather dye color. (This should be available in time for Gen Con '15.)
  • A third Gary Con edition will feature the Gary Con logo, and yet another cover image with different dye color. (This will be available for Gary Con 2016.)

Each of these books will be manufactured only to Kickstarter orders plus a limited additional quantity made available for general sale at their respective conventions. (Backer copies will be mailed as usual, of course.) 

And who knows, maybe we'll throw in something else special for the con editions - maybe another letter or two...

G is for Geas, by Erol Otus
G is for Geas, by Erol Otus

Stretch Goals 

Kickstarter provides a unique platform for us to offer expanded features as books expand in popularity! If you pledge additional support, here’s how we plan to expand the product.

FUNDED! At $17,000, a sewn-in bookmark: We’ll include a satin ribbon bookmark sewn into the binding of both Monster Alphabet and GM Gems.

FUNDED! At $20,000, bonus letter #1: We will include one more page of table and art featuring a bonus letter! This will be included as a free PDF (and possibly printed at higher levels; see below). The backers will vote on which letter will be included, out of these choices:

  • B is for Blood
  • C is for Celestial
  • L is for Lair
  • M is for Minions
  • O is for Ooze
  • S is for Sonic

FUNDED! At $22,000, bonus letter #2: A second bonus letter, with backer voting determining which one!

FUNDED! At $24,000 bonus letter #3: A third bonus letter, selected from the choices above, again with backer voting determining the outcome!

FUNDED! At $26,000 bonus letter #4: And a fourth bonus letter, as above!

FUNDED! At $28,000, we will include a special bonus letter, "W is for Weird" by James Raggi! James is the author of the Random Esoteric Creature Generator, one of the early monster creation books released by Goodman Games and one of the stated inspirations for the Monster Alphabet. He's crafted a special new entry that incorporates all the fun aspects of the Monster Alphabet format, with a set of ideas that bend the rules of DCC RPG! We'd love to include this in PDF or possibly print edition.

FUNDED! At $30,000 bonus letter #5: And a fifth bonus letter, as above!

FUNDED! At $32,000 bonus letter #6: At this level all six of the bonus letters will be produced!

FUNDED! At $35,000, we will print all bonus letters: The bonus letters will be printed! The exact format is still to be determined - they may be included in the main book, or printed in a custom folio and tucked inside the front cover of Monster Alphabet, as a Kickstarter-exclusive bonus item.

At $40,000, unlock the slipcover edition: At this level we will instruct the printer to include slipcovers. Any backer can add a slipcover to their copy by adding $20 to their pledge.

At $45,000, unlock the convention-special leather edition books: At this level, we will have the printer do a short run of convention-special editions for North Texas RPG Con, Gary Con, and Gen Con. See Add-On Section for more details. You can add on the North Texas RPG Con edition for +$100, Gary Con edition for +$100, or the Gen Con edition for +$100 (or more than one).

At $55,000, will also include PDF copy of three art folios: Over the past several years, Goodman Games has published dungeon crawl art folios for Brad McDevitt, Peter Mullen, and Stefan Poag. All of these artists contributed to both Dungeon Alphabet and Monster Alphabet, and their work is well known among old-school fans. These art folios were released in print as limited-edition bonus items, and are now hard to find. At this funding level we will re-release these art folios in PDF format, and provide a PDF of these artist folios for every backer.

At $60,000, will also include a PDF edition of the NEW William McAusland Classic Dungeon Crawl Art Folio: William McAusland is a fantasy artist who has worked with Goodman Games for more than a decade. He painted the cover of the second printing of Dungeon Crawl Classics #1: Idylls of the Rat King, and his art appears in dozens of Goodman Games products – including both Dungeon Alphabet and Monster Alphabet. As we have done with other classic dungeon crawl artists, we would like to produce a folio showcasing some of his best work. This art folio is 16 pages long and includes an interview with the artist. At this level of funding, we will include a PDF copy of the Classic Dungeon Crawl Art Folio: William McAusland for every backer.

At $70,000, will also include a PRINT edition of William McAusland’s Classic Dungeon Crawl Art Folio: At this funding level, we will print the William McAusland art folio, and include a printed version tucked inside the cover of every copy of Monster Alphabet!

What's above $70,000? Here are some of the things we want to do. As the Kickstarter progresses we'll ask for your feedback, and work these into the future stretch goals at the appropriate funding levels!

  • Stretch goal option A, to include a custom dust jacket for the Monster Alphabet with all-new art: We would like to commission a new piece of 11”x17” full-color artwork. It would be printed on a custom dust jacket released only for this Kickstarter. Every copy of Monster Alphabet ordered through this Kickstarter would receive the custom dust jacket. Because this dust jacket is not going to be sold through retail channels, we’ll be able to include some untraditional elements – such as omitting the back cover text and possibly even the spine and cover logos – to leave more room for art!
  • Stretch goal option B, to include a DCC RPG bestiary inspired by the Monster Alphabet: We would like to ask Jobe, Michael, and possibly some other writers to create as series of new monsters, using the Monster Alphabet in whole or part for their inspiration. This bestiary will be provided in PDF format to all backers, and possibly print format if the KS does well enough.

And above that – who knows? If we make it to even higher funding levels, we’ll look into even more amazing stretch goal options!

Shipping & Handling

Shipping and handling charges will be invoiced at the end of the Kickstarter. This allows us to give you the best price for your order. We will invoice the orders via Paypal when items are ready to ship.

Why do we invoice shipping after the Kickstarter? It allows us to give you the best shipping price for your order. Instead of an average value that overcharges some customers and undercharges others, we use "real" shipping charges based on the number of books in your order, and their destination. This also allows us to add on stretch goals without having to fear we'll go "underwater" on the shipping charge.

Estimated shipping charges: These are based on ordering 1 or 2 books. Retailer pledges and others with lots of add-ons may cost more.

  • USA: $6-$8
  • Canada: $12-$17
  • UK: $12-$17. Note: We use a European fulfillment partner so VAT will be assessed with the UK as origin point. 
  • Europe: 1 book will generally cost $15-20 in shipping. 2 books generally costs $20-$30 for most of Western Europe, and $35+ for Western Europe, Scandinavia, and other locations. Note: We use a European fulfillment partner so VAT will be assessed with the UK as origin point.
  • Australia, New Zealand, and rest of world: $19-$26.

Risks and challenges

Both Monster Alphabet and GM Gems are largely complete, and this Kickstarter funds the printing. Goodman Games has published more than 200 RPG products over the last decade so we see little risk in terms of delivery. If anything, there may be timing risk if stretch goals lead us to an amazing place!

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    Just Watching: Pledge $1 to watch from the sidelines as this Kickstarter progresses…and get all the updates as they’re published!

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    PDF edition of one book (either GM Gems or Monster Alphabet). In the final survey you can specify exactly which book you choose.

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    PDF edition of both GM Gems and Monster Alphabet.

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    GM Gems: Print+PDF copy of the GM Gems hardcover edition, with all the inspirational content described in the main text! Shipping will be invoiced after the project ships (see main Kickstarter text).

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    Monster Alphabet, color cover: Print+PDF copy of the Monster Alphabet color cover edition, with all the amazing art and inspirational material! Add +$25 to your pledge to also include GM Gems (you will specify what the funds are for in the survey we send at end of Kickstarter). Shipping will be invoiced after the project ships (see main Kickstarter text).

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    Monster Alphabet, gold foil edition: Print+PDF copy of the Monster Alphabet special gold foil cover edition, printed with the custom “letter design” art, with all the amazing art and inspirational material inside! Add to your pledge for other items: add +$25 to also include GM Gems, or +$25 to also include the Monster Alphabet color cover edition (you will specify what the funds are for in the survey we send at end of Kickstarter). Shipping will be invoiced after the project ships (see main Kickstarter text).

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    Monster Alphabet, basic leather edition: Print+PDF copy of the Monster Alphabet real leather cover edition! Add to your pledge for other items: add +$25 to also include GM Gems, +$25 to also include the Monster Alphabet color cover edition, or +$35 to also include the Monster Alphabet gold foil cover edition (you will specify what the funds are for in the survey we send at end of Kickstarter). Shipping will be invoiced after the project ships (see main Kickstarter text).

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    Pledge $117 or more About $117

    $117, Retailer tier: This pledge is for retailers, and verification of retailer status will be required. The pledge includes print copy of 6 books offered at 50% discount. The books are a variety of options for different customers: 2 copies of GM Gems, 2 copies of the Monster Alphabet color cover edition, 1 copy of the Monster Alphabet gold foil edition, and 1 copy of the Monster Alphabet leather edition. Shipping will be invoiced after the project ships (see main Kickstarter text).

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Funding period

- (25 days)