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Freeport is one of the classic RPG city settings and we want to give it the deluxe treatment in a new 512 page sourcebook. Aaarrrrrr!
915 backers pledged $73,471 to help bring this project to life.

Why $50,000? Why a Deluxe Book?

Posted by Chris Pramas: Green Ronin Publishing (Creator)

We’ve got five days left in the Freeport Kickstarter and we are still over $16,000 short of our goal. Throughout these last weeks, I’ve been reading your feedback and adding to or changing the campaign in response. People said they wanted more new content, so I added the Return to Freeport adventure series. I’ve also done things like offer a book-only reward level, and a way for Canadian backers to get more affordable shipping. The most common reason given for not backing the Kickstarter, however, is that the physical book is too expensive. I’d like to take some time to explain why I chose this format for the project and why our initial goal was $50,000.

Freeport is important to me because Death in Freeport is what put Green Ronin on the RPG map back in 2000. It sold like crazy and won an Origins Award and the very first ENnie Award (given to me by Gary Gygax, no less). I had originally conceived of GR as a fun side project and I didn’t expect it to be my full time job, but due to the success of Freeport and other d20 lines it became just that in March of 2002. Freeport was also the first commercial setting I created that was always fully under my control. No business wonk or brand manager could tell me what to do with it. You can understand, I hope, why Freeport means a lot to me.

During Freeport’s fallow period, it was always my intention to go back to it. The questions were when and how? Once Kickstarter began to change the face of RPG publishing, I of course thought of the City of Adventure. The way we used to publish, I would not have tried to do a 512-page full color hardback. It would be too risky and if it failed, could really hurt Green Ronin. That sort of calculus went into how we did the original Freeport hardback and its successor, The Pirate’s Guide to Freeport. The former was 160 pages with a black and white interior. The latter was nearly 100 pages longer but only 16 of its 256 pages were in color. Kickstarter thus seemed like a way to do the Freeport book I always wanted to do: big, sexy, and full color throughout.

I considered doing the new book without any game specific info, as we did with The Pirate’s Guide to Freeport, but sales data suggested that wasn’t the best approach. From what we could tell, the biggest segment of our d20 fanbase was now playing Pathfinder so using those rules seemed to make the most sense. We had previously published a Pathfinder Freeport Companion of 160 pages. Combine that with The Pirate’s Guide and our starting point was 416 pages. We certainly did not want to just slap them together and call it a day though; there had to be new material. That’s how the book ended up at 512 pages in our pitch. We wanted at least 100 pages of new material (and at this point it’s looking like at least 150 pages). We also wanted to revise and expand the material in the Pathfinder Companion to make sure the rules material was as up-to-date as possible.

When picking the goal for the Kickstarter then, I had to bear in mind the following costs:

Art Budget: a conservative estimate for quality interior art and a new cover is $15,000.

Print Budget: we are looking at least $25,000 here, since full color hardbacks are expensive to print.

Content Budget: writing, revising, developing, and editing a book of this size—even starting with previously written material—is going to cost us upwards of $10,000.

So that’s $50,000 right there and that leaves us no profit at all. That just makes the book. Our plan is to do larger print run than the Kickstarter requires and then sell the rest of it through distributors, retailers, and our online store. That’s where our profit would actually come from if we only reach $50,000 with the Kickstarter.

I’ve been asked how much the book will cost at stores after the Kickstarter. Our estimate right now is $75. That makes the Scurvytown Special, in which you get the finished PDF and the book shipped to you, a pretty good deal at $80. At $100, of course, you get a whole lot more (like the Return to Freeport adventure series and the serpentman promo miniature).

Some people have suggested that we should have started smaller and built it up with stretch goals. Maybe so. Frankly though, I didn’t want to play that game. I wanted to clearly lay out my dream Freeport book and try to make a reality, and Kickstarter makes that possible. It tells you how much interest there really is in your project before you spend a lot of money on it. If this campaign fails, it will still have served a purpose. I will know this was not the right project at the right time. I will also have tried to give the Freeport fans something new, which they’ve been patiently waiting for these past few years.

But we aren’t done yet. We have five days to get Freeport: The City of Adventure funded and I think we can do it. We’ve already gotten some great promotion from our friends at Paizo and Steve Jackson Games, as well as game sites, podcasts, and fans the world over. Thanks to each and every one of you. We just need a final push to get the word out, to find old Freeport fans and make new ones. So tell your friends, tell the internet, and tell your old gaming pals that Freeport is looking for a new generation of buccaneers! Let’s hoist the skull and bones, spread the word, and find this booty for Freeport!

Chris Pramas
Green Ronin


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    1. Missing avatar

      Ron Dawson on

      I've long been a fan of Freeport, but I initially hesitated because of a combination of Kickstarter fatigue and deciding to reign in the household expenditures a bit. There's no doubt in my mind that there is good value in this so I finally broke down and jumped in at the Canuck Pirate level. Looks like that just bumped it up to over the $46K level with 3+ days to go. Things are not looking too bad for this succeeding. Fingers crossed and all that!

    2. William Z. Cohen

      I am really hoping this makes it... I am looking forward to having this book in my collection...

    3. Russ Luzetski on

      Thanks for the info, Chris - greatly appreciate it! I'm probably going to up my pledge just to help out, as I _really_ want to see this happen. :-)

      Best wishes!

    4. Lisa Kellogg

      I Love freeport that is why I have pledged $100 to get this book weather it is color or not is not as important to me but I do understand your point and your reasons. Recently another Pirate based kickstarter made $125,000 as I'm sure you know that being Razor coast and it looked shakey for them up to the last few days and their minimum was $75000. So I still think you can make it. And I really hope you do. It is disappointing that it hasn't already funded because their will unfortunatly not be any time for stretch goals.

      Your company has the same clout and reputation as Froggod does so I am sure people are hearing I just think it might be bad timing. A lot of people myself includes just plunked down a lot of money for Razor Coast and they might not want 2 expensive pirate based books so close together. But in my opinon this actually is a good thing if your gonna do a pirate campaign do it right. But I still think this will fund it can easily make $10,000+ in the last 2 days so we only need $4-5,000 in the next 3.

      Look at the Paizo kickstarter a few months ago they needed a million and with 5 days to go they only had about $700,000 and the made it so it can happen.

    5. Missing avatar

      Samuel Carter on

      Well, that is certainly understandable, and I thank you for the 'straight dope' post. At the current time, I can't really justify 80 or 100 dollars for a book which is going to have a bunch of Pathfinder stuff I don't need (both because I don't run FP in Pathfinder and because I already have lots of Pathfinder books - I do like the system, just not for Freeport). I love my systemless Pirate's Guide to Freeport, and I've used that book with half a dozen rulesets over the years. Being able to take Freeport along with me into any system my players want has been great (and DungeonWorld + Freeport = Total Win, btw - especially for convention games on a time limit).

      I don't have access to the data you do, so if you say the Pathfinder ruleset is gonna sell more books then I'll take your word for it - it just isn't true in my case. I would gladly plonk down 100 bucks for a 512 page systemless book with nothing but Freeport goodness, but if 160 pages are going to be Pathfinder stuff, I feel more inclined to step back and see what happens and maybe pickup a used copy down the road if it gets printed. I was really pleased with the direction you were going with the fluff/crunch separation and this just feels a little like a step backwards from my point of view (and a couple of my friends).

      Chris - thank you so much for Freeport over the years, and I still pledged a little just to help out the setting. Maybe if this doesn't get funded you can use the KickStarter list to do a survey and see why and/or find a way to adjust it (more or less pagecount, b&w, split into 2 books, something else?). I've been buying Freeport stuff since Death in Freeport, so I'll be keeping an eye on what happens regardless. Good Luck and keep your powder dry!

    6. Missing avatar

      Praeton on

      You make a compelling case. I was going to wait for retail, but I upgraded to SCURVYTOWN SPECIAL instead.

    7. Missing avatar

      Allan MacKenzie-Graham

      Add-ons, dammit! I'm on at the Freeport Pirate level, but I don't want to pay $100 so I can name a character in the book and I don't want an army of serpentmen. Sell me something else, I'm game. Different minis, a hardcopy adventure module, themed character sheets, you name it. Razor Coast did a great job with this. Learn from their success!
      I love Freeport. This is the treatment it deserves. This book is a landmark.

    8. Don Roberts

      Just for the record, I think a 500+ page full color hard cover is worth the price (I pledged at the $100 level). I really hope we make it.