About this project
Hail, and well met, Adventurers!
Your humble castellan has returned to the gaming table with Kickstarter #4. This time around I'm designing and shipping 3D printed dice citadels. Here's the prototype:
These twist-top towers hold one complete set of RPG dice, with space for an extra d10 so you can get your percentage on.
Dice Citadels are craft-batch 3D-printed in biodegradable plastic and digitally sculpted using only fair-trade polygons hand-plucked from the slithiest of toves. Whenever possible we use sustainably-sourced algorithms during production.
These towers are roughly the size of a banana, sturdy enough to toss into a haversack ahead of a weekend's gaming, and are printed in either a solid color or Glow in the Dark.
Either of these materials can be primed and painted with standard miniatures paints.
The prototype Dice Citadel needs a bit more buffing and polishing before it can be shipped to backers, but now that it's printing reliably I'd like to take what I've learned in the design process and apply it to a new tower aimed at players who like to play magic users:
We'll keep the same basic mechanics of the screw top but make the tower a little shorter so that it's easier to ship and will print on a wider variety of hobbyist 3D printers. Having already hammered out most of the design issues with the prototype Dice Citadel, I should be able to execute the Wizard's Tower in about a month of working nights and weekends. I need your help to keep the lights on at Zheng Labs while I'm toiling in the Forge.
How We Got This Far
The Dice Citadel is an evolution of a design I did a couple of years ago, when my 3D printer was shiny and new and Donald Trump was just a reality TV star and nobody knew what a Fetty Wap is.
(You can take a break and Google the Fetty Wap. Just be sure to come back to the Kickstarter, m'kay?)
But I digress. Here's the original Dice Plinth, of 2012 vintage. It's compatible with your run-of-the-mill plastic dice boxes.
This design was a moderate success in the 3D printing world, but I always wanted to take it up a notch. So a couple of months ago I did a little vertex surgery and came up with Dice Plinth 2.0:
Version two looks the same on the outside, but has a working trapdoor hidden on the inside:
(We'll be using Dice Plinth 2.0 as an entry-level backer reward for this Kickstarter. It's compatible with modern Chessex dice boxes.)
Around the time the new dice plinth peeled off the print bed, my son hands me a new set of D&D dice for my birthday and I'm thinking I can do a better job on a dice case than this plain ol' plastic tube! So to the sketchbook we go.
The design progressed through several iterations, punctuated with test prints, non-manifold boolean geometry, and occasional ragequits; achieving a reliably-printing screw top was a particularly grim challenge to be overcome. Now that it's done, it can be reused on the Wizard's Eyrie with little difficulty.
Once the engineering gets nailed down the rest of the design is just window dressing. We are firm believers in reducing, reusing, and recycling here at Zheng Labs, and so when Kickstarter #3 failed to thrive we were quick to fold some of the design of Dungeon Blocks into the new Dice Citadel prototype.
And, roughly 160,000 polygons and a hundred test prints later we've got a functional prototype that looks like this:
Scale-independent manufacturing is one of the unsung perks of 3D printing; design an object once and print it at any size you like. For those among us who don't play RPG's I'm offering a half-scale printed citadel as a backer reward. It's still a functional container with a twist-off top, but it's scaled down by half. 'Tis wee.
This is the first Kickstarter I've done where the focus is on delivering a physical product to backers. The printers at the lab will be running day and night to conjure dice citadels from the coils of plastic filament that the kobolds haul in from shipping and receiving.
You'll be able to choose whether you'd like your rewards in a solid color or in glow-in-the-dark plastic.
Backers will receive their 3D printed towers and plinths in an as-yet-to-be-determined color, likely some variation on silver or desaturated blue. Those lucky souls with access to a 3D printer will of course be able to download their rewards and print at home.
Backers have had some issues with digital delivery getting gummed up in past Zheng3 Kickstarters, so this time I’m partnering with tried-and-tested hip-as-heck 3D model sharing site Pinshape to help deliver the goods. Every backer will receive a super-secret code that will unlock their Stronghold downloads directly from Pinshape: no muss, no fuss.
Update: With less than 24 hours to go in the Kickstarter I've just learned that Pinshape is closing its doors! Yikes.
REMAIN CALM. ALL IS WELL. I've got my own digital distribution channels at Zheng3.com. All backers will still receive their digital rewards, it'll just be a little more back-end server voodoo on my part. No biggie.
Be advised that neither dice nor the clear plastic cases shown in the photos above are part of this Kickstarter-- you'll have to supply them yourself.
Lest we forget: many, many thanks to Peter Mor for his epic background music.
Risks and challenges
The biggest anticipated challenge in this Kickstarter will be printing and shipping physical backer rewards. We've tested the mettle of our 3D printing capacity here at Zheng Labs and reasonably expect to produce one or two dice towers every 24 hours. 3D printing is definitely not a technology that enables mass manufacturing!
Some folks may have to wait a bit to receive their physical backer rewards, depending on demand. We can only flog the kobolds so hard.
Our Faire Play Kickstarter involved some shipping of physical rewards to backers, so we're taking the lessons learned from that experience and applying them to Strongholds. I'm confident that production and shipping delays will be minimal, although I am taking a week off in June to see Mount Rushmore with the in-laws. Holiday ro-o-ooooooaaad!
Also, and this is no small thing, my friends: like all Americans I live under the constant threat of beaver attacks. I've taken measures to mitigate these risks, but there's always a chance one of the oily bastards will get past the tripwires and crossbows.
Please call my family If you don't hear from me in a couple of weeks, and tell them I died well.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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