Shards is a 36-page - now 44 page - World-Building Zine - rather than being designed around a specific setting or system it provides tools for the creation and expansion of your own science fiction and fantasy worlds.
We're the sort of people who buy setting books purely to read through and use whatever bits we like for our own setting. Shards aims to streamline that process for you, giving you the sort of things that you'd pull out of these big pieces in a form that's easier to simply slot in to your world.
To show you what we mean, here's a free shard that won't be in the Zine - The Druidic Routes
With a new issue every month we aim to make sure you never run out of inspiration. And with the first two issues being extra long due to our People's Heroes we'll be getting started with a bang.
Each issue contains:
- Three Setting Shards: pieces of setting that can easily slip into whatever world you're using (including notes on how to do so for specific settings or how to adapt to other genres where relevant)
- An article dealing with certain tips or tricks for building your own world
- [Unlocked by Philanthropist Backers] - The Magpie's Nest, talking about how to steal concepts from reality and/or mythology and repurpose them for your own world
- A segment where our resident Agony Aunt - the Letter Lich - answers some more specific world-building problems. [Possibly including yours, if you send them to us!]
Details of NPC and monster statistics for some of the more popular roleplaying systems will be available on our website where appropriate.
We want to make this project as widely readable for all English-speakers as possible: Two of our team are dyslexic, along with several of our family members, so we have personal experience with how people who love to read and expand their personal worlds can struggle to do so.
- Our PDFs will have all the text as text - rather than embedded in images - and images will have embedded descriptions to ensure accessibility for screen readers. [this is also why te section header images have captions]
- We're making sure the paper used is not bleached white - but instead will either be a light cream or the same sort of "natural" paper as novels - in order to make reading easier for colour-sensitive dyslexics.
- Our font choice is based on advice from dyslexia websites and our own dyslexic team members, in order to allow for shape-sensitive dyslexics to read - Century Gothic is our font of choice as it remains readable without the "childish" impressions assigned to ultra-readable fonts such as Dyslexie.
Postage is included with the Zine because we'll be sending Shards to you as a letter rather than a parcel, and thus the cost doesn't vary anywhere near as much for different nations.
With a tiny number of exceptions, documents (such as Zines) at a value per issue of £8, sent through the regular postal system do not need to be addressed by customs - each individual delivery is below all relevant thresholds. Thus the deliveries should be customs friendly by their nature - and they'll all be labelled with the appropriate customs declarations, so as to prevent delays and fees for inspections.
Crowdfunding is ultimately the best way small groups like us have of simultaneously funding our projects and gauging the demand, as well as providing a great opportunity to improve the final product by working with its audience - for example Marcos Hidalgo, a backer who helped us with our art on our earliest projects. We've had many successful Kickstarters, and two where the ultimate result has been "this isn't what people want" and we moved on to the next project.
As an ongoing project, Kickstarter was not our first choice for this style of release - instead we tried using Patreon. But ultimately we found that a lot of our past supporters didn't like the platform or were wary of automatically repeating charges, so we put it on the back burner.
With Kickstarter's Zine Quest we realised that a "6-month subscription" model would answer a lot of people's concerns - so here we are.
Why a Quickstarter?
We've found in the past that we end up worrying about the funding for the entire duration of the Kickstarter, slowing down our work. Going Quickstarter means we knock 10 days off our default time, and we don't bother with stretch goals at all - so we're spending less time worrying, and more time working on June and July's issues!
We're all writers and roleplayers, but we each bring our own experience and style to Shards.
Loz: He has been a tabletop gamer for a quarter of a century, and in that time has come to realise he likes light-weight systems which don't get in the way of the story.
When running games, he creates his own locations and NPCs (and so rarely if ever uses published modules), and when playing he likes his characters to be up to their necks in the lore of the world, and will frequently write additional things to provide hooks for the GM.
Amy: Our resident artist-in-training, as well as a biology graduate - Amy tends to take a scientific eye to both alien and fantasy ecologies, but armed with a knowledge of just how outlandish the real world is, this definitely doesn't mean that they get less weird.
As a GM Amy tends to run more conversational and explorational scenarios, revealing aspects of the world through peaceful means; while as a player she likes her characters to look at the world from an unusual angle, whether that be due to coming from a different social standing, a different place or even a different time
Ste: While technically the boss (because no-one else wanted the job) Ste is by far the newest to roleplaying with only 12 years of experience, although his love of speculative fiction and worldbuilding has been around since childhood.
As a GM he likes to challenge the PCs and give them tough choices - and loves it when the players come up with a better option that he hadn't foreseen. As a player he tends towards characters with conflicted motivations, especially ones where each motivation drives them towards interaction with different parts of the team, and of the world.
Ali: She's been a roleplayer for 24 years, and has played quite a range of RPGs - from classic to modern fantasy; from hard sci-fi to supers. Her favourite typographic character is the hyphen - (see!) as she tends to write in bursts.
As a GM, she tends to the cinematic, using language culled from film making, like calling NPCs extras. As a player, she likes to play Galahads - characters who are naive or ignorant, and let her discover the secrets of the campaign with them.
Art on this page: Bearowl by Ravenfire55, Letter Lich by Artyom Semenov Design, Manacled Eye composed by Ste Coffey from work by Tamas Baranya and Keistutis, Computer-diamond by Somerset Geere, Dragonborn Bard by Dean Spencer.
Risks and challenges
We have run several successful Kickstarter campaigns before - notably the Concept Cards line - so we know most of the issues that are likely to crop up. We have also successfully run a similar project (on Patreon) called Jigsaw Fantasy, releasing monthly pieces without problems. While we have had scheduling slips with large one-off projects in the past, our previous experience means we are confident we will not do so with a monthly project.
We've made sure that the size of the zine is well within our capacity to continuously produce new issues, and maintain a buffer of content to fill future issues. Combined with the modular nature of the content, should one or two members of our team be incapacitated for any reason the remainder can still continue to provide the new releases.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (20 days)