There is something alluring about the Deck of Many Things. One of the more brilliant and enduringly legendary artifacts ever introduced into the D&D/Pathfinder universe, the Deck calls to the gambler in all of us. It tests us as players, forcing us to weigh personal goals against loyalty to the party. A bad draw can completely disrupt a campaign, getting a character killed, trapped, stripped of all items, or compelled into story lines that were not part of the original script. A good draw can imbalance a party, making one character able to overwhelm content and overshadow the rest of the team. And for these reasons, the Deck can challenge a DM/GM as well.
In early 2013, during the usual clean-up chatter following a Rise of the Runelords session, Ed Courtroul, the game master of our international party of expat gamers in Tokyo, approached me with an idea: "We should make our own Deck of Many Things." Ed is a serious collector of RPG items, from entire sets of modern accessories to memorabilia of historical significance. So, when Ed explained his ideas about the Deck of Many Things, I was intrigued. I'm passionate about art and the creative process in general, and I liked the idea of bringing something to the gaming world, something gamers now and well into the future could get excited about. A short time later, Ed ran me through all he knew about the Deck, not only its in-game lore, but every known physical incarnation of it ever released, from early DIY print-and-cut versions in supplements, right up to the most recent release -- all of them now out of print. As I listened and learned, I thought about having a Deck myself, about how it would feel in my hand, the size and weight. I thought about how players might react when a DM places a Deck on the gaming table after the rogue picks the lock on the bone chest the party found behind the loose stone near the wizard's bookshelf. I thought about announcing the number of cards I would draw, of turning them over one at a time, the whole party reacting to the thrill of each card as it was revealed. I felt the hook being set: I wanted a Deck for myself, and I wanted our Deck to be the one gamers reached for at moments like the above.
The Analog Games LLC Kickstarter Limited Edition DECK OF MANY THINGS is a tarot-sized (roughly 3"x5"), 25-card deck in a printed, shrink-wrapped tuck box. It will include the 22 original Deck of Many Things cards, plus THE BEGINNING Limited Edition card, and a couple of cards displaying the Open Game License, as required by the License itself. Each card will be printed on high-quality 300 gsm art paper, which is durable and exceptionally suited for printing detailed artwork. That was vital to us, because we knew going in that the art is everything to this deck. We wanted the images to jump off the card, so the instant someone turns a card, even if they know nothing about the Deck, they should know whether fortune or doom is upon them.
That's why Holly Rorke was hired as our Art Director. Holly is a veteran freelance fantasy and indie comic book artist. We have depended on her instincts and interpretation of the classical descriptions of the cards' effects in developing an image that captures the OMG! factor of each card. Plus, we gave her unlimited freedom to design a special, limited edition 23rd card that would only be available in Kickstarter decks, and she blew us away with THE BEGINNING, a visually compelling card that also harbors a wealth of possible interpretations and outcomes if used in-game.
- MUSIC: All backers will receive a private link to download the song Tales of Many Things, the original composition created specifically for the video attached to this Kickstarter campaign. Use it as you will in accordance with the Creative Commons License.
- LIMITED EDITION: Every DECK OF MANY THINGS sold via this campaign will be a special limited edition deck, available exclusively through this campaign. It will contain THE BEGINNING card and will have the Funded with Kickstarter badge on the tuck box. Decks sold after this Kickstarter ends will not contain THE BEGINNING nor the Kickstarter badge on the tuck box. They will also not have domestic shipping rolled into the price as it is in our rewards. In other words, the limited edition Kickstarter deck costs less and contains more.
- FROM THE ARTIST: The ARTIST'S DRAW and DRAGON RIDER images are of the artist's choice -- please do not pledge for them thinking you can request anything specific or ask for changes to the artwork. These are unique, one-of-a-kind sketches (Artist's Draw) or mixed-media color prints (Dragon Rider); they are not offers to create custom art by request.
- MULTI-DECK ORDERS: Remember, the decks that follow the Kickstarter will not have THE BEGINNING nor the Kickstarter badge, so if you are the type to want something just a little special that says you got in first, you may want to order more than one deck here. Some to keep, some to use, some to sell, whatever. As multi-deck orders save us fulfillment costs, we have lowered the per-deck pledge prices accordingly.
Add Ons do not come with any Deck of Many Things. To purchase one, just add its cost to your pledge total and advise us when the post-campaign survey arrives what the additional money was for. Anyone is welcome to purchase an add-on, even if your initial pledge is only $1.
Deck of Many Things Windows Screensaver - $2
This $2 add-on screensaver will have the entire Deck, including the “face cards” once our backers’ faces are painted in, plus any stretch goal cards we happen to unlock. This little gem is only $2, but if everyone buys one, that’s more than $1000 towards the next stretch goal. Ah, economies of scale! Note: sorry, the software doesn't let me make screensavers for Mac.
Custom Character Theme Song - $50
If you’re like me, you get pretty attached to one or two of your characters. Well, for just fifty U.S. greenbacks, I’ll work with you to compose a 3-5 minute instrumental theme song for a character of your choice. Does your female elf ranger stalk the forest gracefully to the sound of flutes and oboes? Does your dwarf paladin make his entrance to horns, drums and bagpipes? I have a complete home studio, and can compose in styles ranging from death metal to classical. Each song will be made personally for you to your specifications. Need a sample? How about this for a Varisian Bravo?
Can you help the party past all the danger to collect all the loot?
To keep this main campaign page from becoming too cluttered, details about unachieved stretch goals are contained in Update #13, visible to everyone.
$13,500 - PDF GUIDEBOOK - ACHIEVED!
Gee,you guys are good... and stealthy! You achieved this goal while I was doing the math and creating the graphics. I have grand plans for the PDF guidebook. What will be in it? The artwork from each card with the "classic" effect from the d20 SRD listed, plus recommendations on how to use the card in play, tips and tricks, and hopefully anecdotes on each page about a memorable time this card came up in someone's gaming session. Where will all that additional material come from? You, if you choose to collaborate via the newly unlocked "Profession (Scribe)" reward that is detailed below. The guide will also have a thank you page listing all our backers, some extra special stuff for those who bought face card portraits, and best of all, it will be FREE to all of you and everyone else, always and forever. You won't even have to buy a deck to get one, it will be a free download from our website. So, all your names and the wisdom of our Scribes will readily spread 'round the world! Even possibly other worlds (we don't have one of those "are you human" code generators on our site, after all).
$15,000 - Rule Reference Cards - ACHIEVED!
You wanted handy reference cards added to the Deck of Many Things, so you could quickly and easily check the classic d20 SRD descriptions of each card's effect. Determined dungeon divers that you are, you made it happen, and in short order!
$17,000 - Card Pack 1 - ACHIEVED!
Card Pack 1 has been announced! The two guaranteed cards are WIZARD and STRENGTH. Wizard is the card available for a custom portrait via the unlocked reward now showing in the rewards list. In addition, the BACKER'S CHOICE card from Pack 1 remains up for grabs. Backer's Choice is an exciting new option to design your own card! Choose the name, the image and the recommended effect. Even have your face incorporated into the card if you so desire. Any Backer's Choice card which is not claimed as a reward by the end of the campaign will not be produced.
100 Facebook Likes - ACHIEVED!
This secret treasure was unlocked as well: a free browser based digital Deck of Many Things which scales perfectly for mobile devices. Once the Deck artwork is complete -- around the time the Decks are delivered -- we'll post ad digital/mobile Deck of Many Things on our website, which you can use as a quick and portable reference, or even to shuffle and draw as from a real Deck. It will contain our original artwork along with the classic d20 SRD effects for each card.
$18,500 - Adventure Module - ACHIEVED!
A flexible (non-system specific) adventure module centered around the Deck of Many Things! Just like our PDF User's Guide, this will be made available free via our website, no purchase necessary. Want to write your own DMT adventure module? Hey, why not help us? New reward level "Profession (Bard)" has unlocked along with this stretch goal, allowing up to two people to collaborate with us on this adventure! See the Rewards section for more details!
$20,000 - Card Pack 2 - ACHIEVED!
Card Pack 2 has been announced! The two guaranteed cards are WOLF and SWORD. Wolf is the card available for a custom portrait via the unlocked reward now showing in the rewards list. In addition, the BACKER'S CHOICE card from Packs 1, 2 and now 3 remain up for grabs. Backer's Choice is an exciting new option to design your own card! Choose the name, the image and the recommended effect. Even have your face incorporated into the card if you so desire. Any Backer's Choice card which is not claimed as a reward by the end of the campaign will not be produced.
Risks and challenges
The Deck of Many Things is almost ready, but I'm all about Operational Risk Management, so here is my assessment of the risk areas related to the Deck of Many Things.
The majority of the artwork has been completed, with the exception of the face cards being offered in this campaign and the two variations of the tuck box (Kickstarter and normal). So the art, which is the heart and soul of the Deck, is low-risk at this point. Following a recent run-in with a wild bear, we've put Holly in a padded room and given her only a 3DS with the corners rounded to make sure nothing happens to her before the last of the artwork is complete.
Many late nights entering formulae into Excel spreadsheets, testing and retesting assumptions, anticipating "perfect storm" scenarios, combining incense with a religious offering worth at least 25g, and rolling handfuls of dice has led us to the funding goal you see here, and hitting it exactly via the worst case scenario that I could conjure will still leave us able to fulfill all rewards, and bulk order our first batch of non-limited edition cards for sale after the Kickstarter, with $17.40 to spare.
Finding a printer we could trust to get us quality decks at a reasonable enough price to make the Deck affordable to gamers was the single biggest challenge our project has faced. After negotiations with numerous printers, the printing situation is sorted.
Fulfillment is the most potentially overwhelming aspect of a Kickstarter campaign. So sayeth our mentors, the amiable community of successful campaign creators we've communicated with. So, we're not taking any chances. We hired the professionals at FULFILLRITE, veterans of countless Kickstarter fulfillments, to take care of this for us. Joe Brieger at Fulfillrite has been patiently working with us almost from the very start of this idea, so don't worry. We got this. Which brings us to fulfillment's ugly sister:
We won't really know for certain how much it costs to ship one, two, five, or ten of our decks until we actually have them printed, pulled, packaged and shipped. That leaves a little bit of risk in the project, but I estimated high -- especially for international orders -- in order to minimize the impact of a bad estimate.
- (30 days)