The What, The Why, and the How
So I've loved these games for as long as I can remember. The dice, the adventures, the minis...all of it. OK...so, not all of it. I am one of those Dungeon Masters who absolutely loves seeing and using miniature terrain in my games (the Dungeon!), but I have always struggled with one aspect or another. Some terrain options are beautiful and realistic, but weigh (AND COST) a ton. Sometimes I want my dungeon to be a thing on a wall or easel, more as a visual aid to understanding it's topography than for combat encounters. I have, on many occasions, just begrudgingly drawn the dang thing on a large grid and just accepted the loss of the visual detail in trade for ease of use and transport.
When I would use physical miniatures and walls, I also ran into several other frustrating things that you are probably all too familiar with, like keeping my walls straight, or keeping Frank from knocking them over every time it was his turn at initiative. These are the struggles that many of us feel every weekend.
My love of traps, castles, and dungeons led me into a career designing mechanisms for a living. I am lucky enough to get to work using the latest technologies in Computer Aided Design and Additive Manufacturing (3D Printers!), and have spent the last decade signing my name to a number of patents in technologies way more advanced than kobold traps and dwarven secret doors (but not nearly as fun). This path allowed me to learn a great deal of things about design, manufacturing, and marketing, and as such, given me the chance to learn what I needed to solve my biggest dungeoneering quandary; how do I make an easy to manage dungeon system that Frank won't knock over every time it's his turn?
The new GRIDSCAPE™ modular terrain system has design features that allow each piece to snap onto common pegboard (you know, the thing on the wall in your garage). Where most dungeon terrain options only detail thin walls, Gridscape™ pieces fill in all of the solid space of a dungeon, making it all the easier to understand the layout of your dungeon. But this is only the most obvious advantage of Gridscape™! Just check out a few other features that makes Gridscape™ stand out:
- LIGHTWEIGHT – Most dungeon terrain options are cast from resin, which makes them thick and heavy. Gridscape™ are molded from common ABS plastic (think video game controllers), meaning an entire dungeon would weigh a fraction of that of many others on the market (fun fact: FIFTY of our largest blocks weigh less than your player's handbook). So, lugging your entire collection over to Oz's house on game night won't throw out your back!
- SOLID HOLD – The patent-pending peg features in each Gridscape™ piece snap onto any standard pegboard. This is the single best part of Gridscape™ terrain! Use the industrial (9/32" holes) pegboard for fast scene changes when you want a loose fit, or domestic (7/32" holes) for a tighter fit.
- FAST SCENE CHANGES – If you need to move blocks for a scene change, it is faster than any other system because you spend only a fraction of the time positioning, especially when using industrial grade pegboard (9/32" holes).
- STACKABLE – Features on the top of the blocks mimic the hole patterns of the pegboard below to allow you to loosely stack pieces for a more three-dimensional game. This also makes storage and transport way easier than the heavy fancy stuff.
- INEXPENSIVE– Though we can't compete with the old marker and paper standby, Gridscape™ blocks are cheaper than most other systems. Because they are made in a mold, most components cost less than a couple bucks ($1.50 in this campaign)! The purpose of this Kickstarter is to fund the costs for the large four and eight cavity molds, which reduces the cost per part to prices unheard of with other terrain.
- PUT THEM ON A WALL – If you are using the pegboard with 7/32" holes (lower grade, but cheaper than the industrial stuff), Gridscape™ pieces will easily stay attached so the DM can show the map on an easel or wall. Just keep in mind that your figurines still have to follow Newton's law of gravity.
- MOBILE MAPS – Because Gridscape™ pieces hold their position so well, you can move your pegboard base around as you need to. How nice would it be to pick your entire dungeon up and rotate it so you can show Nate that his character couldn’t possibly see the assassin around that corner over there?
- REALLY-REALLY MOBILE MAPS – Not trying to be redundant here, but here is another take on the whole, "mobile maps" concept: As your party moves through the dungeon, you tend to leave the last section behind, right? With Gridscape™ terrain, you can simply move the dungeon out of the way (i.e. pick up the peg board) and move more sections in as you need it. If the DM thinks the party might be about to turn around and come right back, he/she can simply move the entire section out of the way, only to put it back on the table when the party happens back that direction.
- LOTS OF GRIDSCAPE™ DESIGNS – Though this Kickstarter campaign starts with just the base 2x2 block, a total of ten different pieces can be unlocked as the pledge numbers go up. Regardless of how many blocks are unlocked with this Kickstarter, all of the parts from this campaign, as well as dozens of other designs, will become available in the months following the Kickstarter. We currently have almost thirty alternate designs, including natural caverns, curved wall pieces, wooden and stone structures, and many more that will begin to roll out as sales begin to grow.
The GRIDSCAPE™ Kickstarter Campaign
The purpose of a Kickstarter Campaign is to, well, kick-start an idea; not necessarily to fully fund every aspect of a business. As such, I have been exploring the costs associated with starting this thing off at a level that would generate enough interest and momentum to open the door to every conceptual option that has been prototyped to date'
After much thought and debate, I have decided to start this campaign with the single, 2"x2" block (representing 10'x10' on a standard map), and open up the other block designs as the pledge levels rise enough to unlock them. The reason for this is simple: plastic injection molds, especially 4 and 8-cavity molds, are very expensive (5 digit expensive), but the payoff is that, once purchased, the parts themselves become very inexpensive, allowing for hundreds of thousands of pieces to be made for pennies on the dollar. This cost is the reason all pieces are not unlocked with the base campaign.
As you will see below, each new mold is about a $25,000 increase. These numbers are based on two factors, the cost of the mold, and the cost of 20,000 pieces from that mold. I recognize that these stretch goals are steep, but they are simply based on the actual cost to have them manufactured. All of the numbers associated with this Kickstarter are to acquire these molds and the price-per-part arrangements with the tool makers.
These costs are based on an initial arrangement with a single tool maker. I am working diligently to receive lower mold quotes. If lower mold prices are found prior to the end of the Kickstarter, the stretch goal targets will be lowered and everyone will be informed of parts being unlocked as they can be afforded (I can always lower the goals, but I can't raise them).
So, what happens if we barely hit our initial goal? Does that mean we only get the 2x2 blocks? YES, for now. My business model is set such that if the baseline Kickstarter goal is made, I can deliver on every piece promised and set aside some additional funding towards the next mold (especially if additional pieces are sold after the campaign). Once a mold has been made, I can get a million or more parts made before it would need to be replaced.
If the Kickstarter is not a success (I know, I know, don't think like that), I have a plan B that will still move us towards production, but it will delay the process by as much as six months. Regardless, Gridscape™ will be producing every single piece shown below in the stretch goals; it's just a question of whether they are made in July or sometime in 2019. So, if you are really hoping to get some Gridscape™ terrain, but are considering holding off to see if the other designs are unlocked, consider the idea that doing so is a recipe for waiting 6-10 months for ANY parts. We get the 2x2 block going, and the others will come fast.
Also, since these are at scale with other terrain that you might have, you always have the option of using other terrain sources to fill in the gaps while you wait for additional Gridscape™ designs to become available. They were designed to be as compatible as possible.
OK, its time to talk about pledge levels. By now, you've probably already looked over the pledge levels in the side bar, so let's jump into the details!
UPDATE - All Level 5 and above backers ($100+ base pledge) now gain access to STL files for four different FLOOR piece designs (1"x1", 1"x2", 2"x2", and 2"x2" 45 Degree designs), so you can print your own floor tiles (printer not included of course). All Level 7 and above ($200+ base pledge) also get access to 3D-Printable versions of both door designs, and all three staircases (Normal, Spiral, and Downstairs), AND STL files for all of this campaign's 3D-Printed Specialty pieces (sarcophagus, chest, barrels, etc.)!
OK, so you are a little unsure of yourself. I get it. We all get it. At this point, you really don't have a lot of gear or experience, but hey, we've all been there. At least you made the decision to help the part, and for that we are eternally grateful. If anything, it takes real grit to take up the cause without the need for reward.
At level one, and all levels beyond, you will receive our thanks. Every copper piece counts, and who knows, yours might be the one that takes this thing over the top. A formal note of thank you will be presented shortly after the campaign to all who helped, regardless of level. Who knows, maybe your local GM might throw some xp your way for helping.
Congratulations on reaching Level Two! Finally, some gear! Sure, it's just a start, but this is just the beginning on a life of grand adventure!
Second Level Backers will receive their choice of any 20 unlocked blocks as well as a High Five when I see you next!
By Third Level, you've started to get into your groove. You've got better gear, special abilities, and are starting to get a reputation (for better or worse). Plus, the treasure is starting to get all the better for it!
Level three Backers receive 40 Gridscape™ blocks from the unlocked list at the end of the campaign, and as a special reward, they will also receive their choice of any two of the 3D-Printed Specialty Pieces (see below for details). A great way to earn the respect of Innkeepers and Barkeeps!
The bards may not be telling your tales yet, but still, your name is beginning to carry weight with it throughout the kingdom. People know your deeds, and your foes know the bite of your blade. Now you have the gear and the land to build your own domain!
At fourth level, backers receive their choice of any unlocked 60 Gridscape™ blocks, as well as a pegboard and any three 3d-Printed Specialty Pieces (see below). Bringing this stuff to the game is a sure way to get your GM to help get you out of a jam on game night!
New Backer Level Added!
LEVEL 4.5 - BIG BOX OF BLOCKS!
This backer level is for those who already have access to good peg board, and really only need the blocks. Pledge Level 5.5 includes 80 Gridscape Blocks of your choice from the unlocked list at the end of the campaign. Because it only includes the blocks, the shipping is cheaper too!
Some say you have it all. The treasure, the honors, and the reputation. Your name has crossed the lips of kings and tyrants alike.
Level Five backers receive their choice of any 80 unlocked blocks, as well as a 12pc set of Mob Coins, their choice of any four 3D-Printed Specialty pieces, and a Battleboard! Great way to gain honor!
The Lords of the land vie for your attention, and your enemies have enough respect to only send the most well respected of assassins to challenge you. The bards spin impossible tales of your deeds, guaranteeing your legend will live on for decades to come.
At level six, you will receive 100 unlocked Gridscape™ blocks, a battleboard, any five of our available 3D-Printed Specialty Pieces, and a 18-piece Mob Coin set. At level Six, Kings will give you a knowing nod and share their Kudos!
You have it all. You are a leader of your kingdom, a figure of lore. Your name will be known for as long as legends are told. You surround yourself with the epic treasures of your conquests and of the good reputation of heroics well earned. But there are still dangers in this world, and your kingdom needs you more than ever to face the evils that lie ahead.
At level seven, you will receive 140 unlocked Gridscape™ blocks, TWO Battleboards, all seven 3D-Printed Specialty Pieces, and a 24 piece Mob Coin set. Only those of us at Level Seven get to know the secret handshake!
LEVEL 8 - UBER EPIC ($500)
At Level 8, you are beyond epic. It's not just the Bards singing your praise, now the clerics can reference you in their scripture, and the great artists vie for the chance to sculpt you (laying it on thick here, ehh?)
Level 8 Backers receive 250 Blocks of their choice from the unlocked list of Gridscape™ block designs, two 3D-printed copies of every block design in this campaign (even the ones that weren't unlocked), a 24pc Set of Mob Coins, a special 8pc set of Large Mob Coins (for the big monsters), another set of mob coins with your party's names on them (max 8), FOUR Battleboards, and Gridscape™ T-Shirts for your group (again, 8 max).
LEVEL 9 - Dungeon Master, Limit 5 ($1250)
This is a special level that is limited to 5 backers. It is pricey, but has some pretty cool perks. First and foremost, it comes with everything that comes with Level 8, plus for the next FIVE YEARS, you will get TEN copies of any and all new designs that we build molds for. For example, when we build a cavern set (or a sewer set, tavern set, crypt set, etc.), you get 10 of each part, you just cover shipping. You will also be invited to come play with the Louisville Gridscape™ Playtesters (we got dinner covered), and you might even meet Frank! Lastly, and most importantly, Level 9 backers get a cape...that's right. A CAPE.
THE BASE CAMPAIGN
The 2x2 Block (Standard Kickstarter Campaign)
OK, before we talk Stretch Goals, allow me to introduce the 2x2 Starter Block, which represents a 10'x10' section of a dungeon, castle, or other structure. It is the cornerstone of the campaign, and will definitely be the most widely used part on everyone's board. Unlike other game terrain, which simply generally provides only a standing wall, often attached to a floor piece, Gridscape™ Blocks represent the full thickness of that part of the dungeon. This image below of a classic looking dungeon shows how much of it would be made from this one single block (Yellow blocks are ALL 2x2 Blocks).
STRETCH GOAL #1 - The 1x2 Block (Unlocked at $25K (not including shipping))
This piece is a half-sized version of the 2x2 block, representing a 5'x10' section of dungeon wall. It is very useful for filling in the spaces on the board where a full 10' square area isn't necessary, and is often used to separate rooms that are close enough that your map just shows as a dark line.
STRETCH GOAL #2 - The Standard Door (Unlocked at $35K)-UPDATED
The first in a series of door models, the basic door includes a 1x2 door frame and a removable door.
STRETCH GOAL #3 – The Staircase (Unlocked at $45K)-UPDATED
One of my favorite designs, this piece is a great visual representation of a classic dungeon stair case. When used in sets of 2 or three, stacked on 2x2 blocks, these stairs look great in any dungeon!
STRETCH GOAL #4 – The 1x1 (Unlocked at $50K)-UPDATED
The 1x1 block is great as a filler piece in cases where your map geometry is a bit complicated, or to add pillars or hidden alcoves. It represents a 5'x5' section of your dungeon wall structure.
STRETCH GOAL #5 – 45 °Angled 2x2 (Unlocked at $60K)-UPDATED
Dungeon walls don't always run north and south or east and west. Sometimes they jut off at a 45 degree angle. Also great for adding creative geometry to rooms with angled geometry!
STRETCH GOAL #6 – Floors (Unlocked at $70K)-UPDATED
This first in a series of optional floor pieces, the basic floor section has 1" wide (5' wide in game) square platforms that help keep the dungeon feel without losing the visual grid of the map.
STRETCH GOAL #7 – STAIRS DOWN (Unlocked at $80K)-UPDATED
The Stairs down piece is a visual representation of a staircase leading to lower dungeon levels. Obviously this staircase doesn't physically go down (you would need a hole in your pegboard to do that), but it does look great, especially when painted!
STRETCH GOAL #8 – Double Doors (Unlocked at $90K)-UPDATED
These basic double doors use the same frame as the single doors, representing a slender set of doors. Other variations are in the works for wide doors, swinging doors, and even circular doors!
STRETCH GOAL #9 – Spiral Stairs (Unlocked at $100K) -UPDATED
Perhaps the most visually stunning of the designs, the Spiral Stairs piece stacks nicely atop standard 2x2 blocks to give your players a clear visual that always gets a great response in game!
The first, and most obvious award are the Gridscape™ Blocks. For this Kickstarter, the basic price per part is right at $1.50, regardless of design. The top six backer levels (level 2-7) below will have a specific number of blocks that the backer will be entitled to shortly after the campaign. Once the Kickstarter is complete, each backer will get to pick which blocks they want from any unlocked designs by using the Manage your Pledge tool. So, if you ended up scoring 60 Gridscape™ Blocks, and the first four levels were unlocked, you might choose 50 of the 2x2, 4 Door sets, 4 of the 1x2's and 2 stair cases (just as an example).
What's better is that you are not limited by the backer level. Using the Manage Your Pledge tool, additional parts can be added as add ons. For every additional $9 pledged, you will pick up six additional pieces of your choice (again, from unlocked designs), so a base pledge of $60 would pick up 40 blocks, adding $9 will increase that to 46 blocks of your choice, etc. $1 US will be added for shipping ($2 international).
Additionally, some pledge levels offer some of the other rewards (see below), but any of these can be swapped out for blocks at your option. For example, let's say you already have a good piece of peg board, and your backer level entitles you to a simple piece of industrial pegboard. You can choose to trade that in for 8 blocks!
What's a Mob Coin? Mob Coins are small, unpainted (just need a sharpie) 3D-Printed game pieces that can be used in lieu of enemy figurines in combat scenarios. They come in quantities of 12, 18, and 24 in this campaign. In an 12-piece set, one side will have a number (#1 through #12) and a pointer arrow to show which direction the enemy is facing, while on the other side is a skull and crossbones (used if the enemy is lying dead on the battlefield).
The use for these are rather simple; rather than having a ton of figurines, the game master can use these for the enemy combatants in a fight, and will aid greatly in sorting out the details of who is fighting who, and for easier note keeping behind the DM screen. So, when Amy wants to move up on that gnoll over there, she can say that she moves up on Gnoll #7, and when she injures it, it is easier for the GM to track which enemy has been injured (or whatever). If Amy managed to dispatch Gnoll #7, the GM simply flips the Mob Coin over to show where the corpse lies.
Sure, it is nice to have 12 gnoll figurines, AND 12 goblin figurines, AND... (well, you get the point), but it is also nice to carry every one of them in a dice bag too. Plus, how often have you simply used orc figures to represent other enemies like hobgoblins or skellys anyway? Your players don't really care, why should you?
Trade-out Value: 3 Gridscape™ blocks per 6 Mob Coins (6 blocks=12 coins, 9 blocks=18 coins, and 12 blocks=24 coins)
Our base peg board is 18"x18", cut from industrial quality peg board, set with 9/32" holes (the good stuff). This means the holes are the larger cut, so the parts will fit loose enough for quick scene changes, but not so tight as to be used on a wall (use the cheaper 7/32" hole cut pegboard if that's your goal). Peg board generally comes in large sheets, so if you're looking for the large stuff, you will have to find some locally (for now). The industrial peg board is about twice the price, but worth it every time (in my opinion).
Also, our generic peg board does not have the lines drawn on them, so you will need a marker, a straight edge, and a spare 10 minutes to do this yourself.
Trade Out Value: 8 Gridscape™ Blocks per Peg Board
A Battleboard is simple a peg board that have had the lines drawn on them. Because of the cost to have this done in mass, Battleboards are more costly, but as such also trade out for more blocks. In addition to trading out for blocks, backers may also choose to exchange their Battleboard for two regular peg boards (if you happen to have a marker, a straight edge, ad a few extra minutes).
Trade Out Value: 16 Gridscape™ Blocks per Battleboard, or TWO pegboards for one Battleboard.
3D PRINTED SPECIALTY PIECES
These 3d Printed specialty pieces are effectively floor pieces with specially designed dungeon "extras," like treasure chests, pillars, water barrels, sarcophagi, etc., included in their designs. After the Kickstarter, I am going to work on creating a half-dozen other options as well (so you may have a great deal more options beyond the initial seven designs). For clarity, these are physically printed pieces, not plastic injection molded pieces (all of the actual Gridscape™ blocks are plastic injection molded), and are unpainted.
The current list are as follows: Pillar, Chest, Bookshelf, Table, Sarcophagus, Barrels, and Sleeping Pallet (dungeon bed). Here are a few examples:
Trade Out Value: 2 Gridscape™ Blocks per 3d-Printed specialty pieces.
A Note about Pegboard – There are two basic standards for pegboard; those with 7/32" holes and those with 9/32" holes. Both are considered ¼" nominal as an industry standard, but stores and manufacturers usually identify them as either 7/32" or 9/32". Does this matter? Sort of. Gridscape™ blocks are designed to work with both, but as the hole sizes are different, are generally used differently. I prefer the more expensive 9/32" hole sizes because the blocks fit comfortably into place but are not tight (so you can lift them out rather than pulling them out). This makes this size perfect for tabletop gaming (the way I do it), but not as good when my map is on a wall (they would fall out). The 7/32" hole size is perfect in two cases; when you want your map on a wall, or when you want build your rooms ahead of time with sections of peg-board rather than one large piece. I only recently discovered this as an option when one of my playtesters showed me, "how he would do it." GREAT IDEA...but I still prefer the 9/32" option so I can swap pieces faster. The take-away? Both sizes work, but each has an advantage over the other. One more thing, the 9/32 stuff tends to be built to better tolerances, so one piece is nearly identical to the next, while the cheaper stuff (7/32") is often slightly different from piece to piece.
A Note about Shipping - Shipping costs for sending large boxes of plastic parts and peg boards internationally are obviously high. I based the cost on a 20" x 20" x 6" box, with weights based on all components included and the cost for the box itself, packing supplies, and costs to pay for packers. US prices are significantly cheaper because I am centrally located, and that domestic pricing through the USPS is simply cheaper.
I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to a number of people who were instrumental in seeing this Kickstarter take place, including:
To my Playtesters - You guys are the best!
Tom, Nick, Nate, Jesse, Charlie, Amy, Zakk, Pip, Grant, Nathan, Fred, Adriane, Chloe, Kevin, Kenny, Josh, Keith, and even Frank.
A big thank you to Travis Hanson for the wonderful pieces, for the excellent advice, and for the words of encouragement. Be sure to check out his website by clicking on any of the images on this page!
To my family,
Jean and Avelyn - for helping dad to fly.
Risks and challenges
Every great endeavor has its risks and its challenges. This campaign is no different, but what separates ours is our strategy in dealing with each potential challenge. Great care has been taken to ensure that if we meet our goal, a plan has been set to ensure that not only do we reach our deadlines on time, but we do so with all of our cards on the table. We have already lined up our designs, as well as our lead toolmaker (for the molds) and have fully explored all of the details for a timely delivery. We have seen only one unknown that offers a significant risk: tool-makers.
The one factor that is an unknown at this stage is the final funding of this Kickstarter campaign (obviously). The reason this could be a risk and a challenge is that in the case of an spectacular campaign, such as breaking anything over $250K, the final delivery dates would be pushed out as we would become limited by the capabilities of our tool-makers. I have quoted several backup tool makers prior to identifying the one that I am currently partnering with, and though their prices are significantly higher, they are still within a margin that will keep this from dragging out more than a few months in cases where volume becomes a challenge. In short, there is a Plan B (technically there is a Plan C and a Plan D in case this thing goes crazy big crazy quick). I will be working diligently throughout the months of June and July to identify additional tool makers to ensure that we can have the correct molds built as soon as possible.
Our primary strategy with our challenges is transparency. As we reach each milestone, both during and after the Kickstarter Campaign, we will be providing updates and details to everyone through Kickstarter, our Website, and through social media.
Lastly, one risk/challenge is simply that this is my first Kickstarter, and I am bound to discover something that I could have done better. I will inevitably make one mistake or another in this process, but I can only say this to this risk: I am not in this to get rich. I am simply a guy with an idea, and the goal to have something to hand off to my kid in a few years. Any mistakes I make in this endeavor will be met with honesty and transparency.
Thank you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)