What's Going On Here?
I've been self-publishing my comedy-fantasy-adventure webcomic The Order of the Stick in paper format since 2005, but one of the hardest parts about doing it all on my own is keeping the older books available. This project is designed to get at least one of those books back into print. The Order of the Stick: War and XPs was the third compilation of the color webcomic, covering a bunch of cool battle scenes like this and this and even this. Look, here's the cover now:
Problem is, we ran out of copies sometime in 2010. That means that many readers (especially those who only discovered the comic in the last two years) have had no opportunity to get it. Because it's such a long book (288 full color pages, the longest OOTS book yet), the cost of a second print run has been too high for me to raise on my own. Readers ask me every week when it will be available again, and thanks to Kickstarter, I now have an answer: Now (or never).
The goal, listed over in the top right corner, represents the amount of money we need to raise to print the minimum number of copies of War and XPs to place it back in stock on our website and in local gaming shops around the world (plus enough extra to cover domestic shipping for the pledge rewards and such). If we reach that goal, then I’ll call the printer up at the end of this pledge drive and begin printing almost immediately. If we don’t reach that goal within 30 days, though, no one will be charged anything; you only pay if the project is successful. (Obviously, if the drive is not successful, the book will also stay out of print for the foreseeable future.)
What's In It For Me?
Good question. Well, take a look to the right and see the different rewards that are available for different pledge amounts. You'll notice that most of them include a newly-printed copy of War and XPs, which will ship once they've been reprinted. But that's only part of the story.
If the drive is successful, everyone who pledges $10 or more will get a special never-before-seen The Order of the Stick story in PDF format. Titled "How the Paladin Got His Scar," this tale tells the story of how Azurite soldier O-Chul first joined the Sapphire Guard and includes appearances by many of the other Azurite characters from the online comic. I worked out the basics of this story for last year's Snips, Snails, and Dragon Tales book, but it ended up being too long to include. If the drive is successful, I'll go back, finish it, and release it to everyone who makes the minimum pledge as a digital file.
Furthermore, with most pledges, we'll also be sending out a brand new Roy Greenhilt fridge magnet, matching the ones we've made in previous years featuring OOTS characters Belkar, Elan, and Vaarsuvius. This magnet is exclusive to the pledge drive, so this is pretty much your only chance to get it.
Finally, we have a handful of premium rewards available for backers who really want to show their support (or who just happen to already own War and XPs), including crayon drawings of your favorite OOTS character by creator Rich Burlew (that's me again); a chance to commission an additional OOTS story featuring your favorite character; and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a walk-on cameo for your favorite D&D character in the actual The Order of the Stick webcomic! Seriously, they'll be part of the story forever. It doesn't get much more exclusive than that.
What If You Beat Your Goal?
The best part is what happens if we go over that goal, though. The more that is pledged, the more copies can be printed, ensuring that the book stays available for new readers in the coming years. But if we get enough money, we can also reprint our original prequel book, The Order of the Stick: On the Origin of PCs, which has been out-of-print for almost as long. Since this is a portion of the story that has only ever been available in print, that'll let more people discover the otherwise-hidden origins of Roy, Haley, and the rest of the Order of the Stick.
If we get close to that goal, we'll let everyone know (and add the ability to get copies of the book to the reward options). And if we get that far and still have time left, all additional funds pledged will be saved toward reprinting the next book that needs it, No Cure for the Paladin Blues.
Whatever happens, thanks to all the fans who have been waiting patiently for me to come up with a plan to get this book into your hands. With luck (and enough support), we'll get the whole The Order of the Stick story back in print in time for the next new chapter to be published.
What If I Have No Idea How Kickstarter Works?
If you're not familiar with Kickstarter or how it will work, here's a brief overview (or you can read the official one, here). For the next 30 days, you'll be able to make pledges to help support this project, ranging from $1 to whatever you can afford without your spouse/parent/financial advisor slapping you. For your pledge, you can select one of the reward packages—listed to the right—of equal or lesser value to your pledge. You can always pledge more than the minimum to get a reward if you want (and for some packages, you'll need to do so if it must be shipped internationally). Your credit card or other account will not actually be charged at the time you make your pledge, and you can change your mind right up to the final deadline.
If the final deadline comes and we've reached our goal, then everyone gets charged the amount they pledged at once and we get to work printing and mailing books and magnets and whatnot. But if for some reason we don't meet our goal, then the whole thing is called off. No one gets charged, no fees are applied, everyone just keeps their money. So there's no risk of putting up money and then the reprint project never getting off the ground. Of course, if we fail to meet the goal, then no one gets any rewards, either, and some of those rewards are pretty cool, in my highly biased opinion.
What If I've Never Heard of The Order of the Stick?
Why, then you're missing out on the finest tale of comedy, action, and adventure ever to be serialized on the internet using brightly-colored stick figures. The Order of the Stick is a webcomic by Rich Burlew (me), started in 2003 and continuing ever since. It tells the tale of the eponymous band of heroes living in a fantasy roleplaying game world as they struggle to overcome their enemies, their environment, the rules of the game, and their own crippling incompetence (not necessarily in that order of importance). Much of the story is available for free on my website, Giant in the Playground, too.
The story starts here, though be warned that the art is pretty crappy at that early stage, and the roleplaying game references are numerous and dated. But it gets better after that, such that I would rate the current art as "less crappy" and the gaming references as "virtually unnoticeable." It's not for everyone, but if you enjoy a fantasy epic that doesn't take itself too seriously while still delivering a good story, you might like it.