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Dungeons & Dragons, a game that changed the world.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: A DOCUMENTARY

2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, a game that is, simply put, a cultural phenomenon.

Whether you know it or not, you may be playing Dungeons & Dragons. Any computer game you play, any role-playing game you play, any online profile you fill out, have their elements and DNA rooted in Dungeons & Dragons. It's a game that has had far-lasting, powerful and yet subtle influence in our culture. 

From its humble beginnings in a basement in Lake Geneva, WI, D&D was created by a group of game enthusiasts and game designers. The story of D&D and its creation spans four decades and is a complicated, heart-breaking story. Imagine "The Social Network", the creation of Facebook, but no one ends up rich. This is a cautionary tale of an empire built by friends and lost through betrayal, enmity, poor management, hubris and litigation.

Dungeons & Dragons is a game beloved by its fans. A game that brings family and friends together, creates communities, societies and sub-cultures. D&D teaches. We have heard countless stories of gamers who have delved deeper, studying history, language, science and math purely for the desire to be better players. Gamers have created lifelong friendships because of this game and come in all walks of life; firefighters, educators, computer programmers, entrepreneurs, and yes, even a few documentary film-makers.

FILMING THE DOCUMENTARY

What it feels like to be interviewed.
What it feels like to be interviewed.

We love this game and the people that we've met while shooting it. They deserve our best efforts to create something really special. And you, our audience, also deserve something special, to know the story of D&D. A story that needs to be told so that people know how important Dungeons & Dragons has been in our culture. That's why we've set out to create a definitive look at Dungeons & Dragons. And we need a lot of help.

We've already shot hours of footage and spent the better part of a year putting this project together. It's been an amazing experience. But we've done all that we can and spent as much as we can afford. We still have a long, challenging road ahead of us.

We need to interview people all over the country, find folks who were there at its creation, talk to experts to explain to us why this is such an important game. We also have archival footage to find and pay for. Once we get it "into the can", we then have to cut all of that footage together. We need to edit, add music and include some fun graphics, etc. We then have to sound mix it, master it and put all the finishing touches to make it look great.

And we'd like to get all of it finished by 2014, the 40th anniversary of the first publication of Dungeons & Dragons, when the first boxed set was released.

The good news is, we travel light. With almost 40 years of film making experience between the three of us, we know where to cut corners and shave time without ruining the integrity of the film. We're filling in where we need to and putting on different hats. With just the three of us, we have to. But now, we need your support to elevate this project to a new level. That means hiring a small crew and paying them slightly more than indentured servant wages.

WHY KICKSTARTER

Anthony and James conferring.
Anthony and James conferring.

Well, because we love the idea of Kickstarter. We think that Dungeons & Dragons (the game and the documentary) is a perfect fit for this grand experiment. It's a game that's affected millions of lives and there's a built-in community behind it. It was a game made for groups of people and we felt it was a natural conclusion that it should be a film made by groups of people.

That's where you come in. We need your support. It's an expensive project and yes, we are asking for a lot of money. But rest assured, transparency will be our focus and our mission. We will be updating our blog, sharing on our social media sites, sending out reports and making sure that every dollar we spend is accounted for. You will be with us the entire way, at every interview, during the edit and at the mastering. We will need your support making decisions, helping us spread the word and see us through the moments of despair.

This is what makes the Kickstarter idea so exciting for us. That you, our investors, will be with us, that together we can make a great film. Something we can all look back on and say, "yeah, you know that cool little doc about D&D, I was a part of that."

WHY WE NEED WHAT WE NEED

At the original, long-abandoned TSR offices in Lake Geneva.
At the original, long-abandoned TSR offices in Lake Geneva.

Making a movie isn't cheap, but we've managed to cobble together some figures that might help explain what we need and why need it.

  • If we get our goal of $150,000, we get to shoot the film. This is the minimum we need for actual production, crew, equipment, flights and lodging.

  • If we get $250,000, we get to edit, add music, mix the sound, add some graphics and do the Mastering. We get to pay for the archive footage, which, we are learning, is expensive. This pays for all the finishing costs. The $250K level brings everyone to the first of our FIRST STRETCH GOAL, a beta version of our smartphone app: GAMER FINDER. Find gamers around you using your smartphone's geo-tagging features. Now, if you want to play a game and your friends are too busy, just use your app to find gamers near you.

  • At the $500,000 level, we get to market the film. Yes, marketing is expensive. Even the extra $250K is never enough. This helps us send it out to film festivals (Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, to name a few) and eventually, cross our fingers, sell the film to a distributor so they can get it to theaters. The $500K level brings everyone to our SECOND STRETCH GOAL (and this one, we are very excited about). Everyone who donated $100 or more will automatically receive the Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary Companion Book. This beautifully bound, illustrated book, published by Green Ronin and edited by James Lowder, will chronicle the creation of the documentary and will include essays from interviewees and other special guest contributors. Those who payed less than the $100, will be given the opportunity to increase their pledge to the $100 (or more) level and we will send the book along with your other rewards.

FINALLY

If you can't help us monetarily, help us by spreading the word. Share your stories on our social media sites, follow up on what we're doing with our blog and website. The more people know about this documentary, the better we can get the word out about how influential this game truly is. Everyone should know the legacy of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson and how they changed the world. We hope that with this documentary, they finally get their due.

Thanks, everyone.
Thanks, everyone.


A FEW CLIPS

ADDED REWARDS

- At the $3,000 Level, you can have this one-of-a-kind item. Once someone snatches this reward up, it's gone. What you are pledging for is a Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary Banner that we've had specially made. We will have everyone who either worked on the film or was interviewed sign their autograph. Plus some special guests.

Tim Kask, our very first signator on the Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary Banner
Tim Kask, our very first signator on the Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary Banner

PS If you go to our Facebook page, you can take a sneak peek at who has already signed it.

- Our 3rd $100 Reward is here. This exclusively-designed shirt by local Brooklyn, graphic artist, Kay Kramme, will have a limited run. Order yours now with a copy of the film.

T-Shirt Graphic
T-Shirt Graphic
Close of t-shirt graphic
Close of t-shirt graphic

- At the $150 Level, we have two new Rewards to offer.

Diesel LaForce, famed illustrator who has provided illustrations for many of the first D&D manuals, such as Deities and Demigods and The Shrine of Tomoachan is helping our efforts by creating these two new Premium Rewards. Here is a quick look at some of his iconic work.

http://diesellaforce.deviantart.com/gallery/

D&D artist Diesel LaForce will create a poster-sized print of artwork based off the iconic Greyhawk cover illustration from 1976. The pen and ink print will feature a full scene inspired by the artwork created by Greg Bell of a warrior in battle with the dreaded beholder. This artwork is a limited edition of 300, signed and numbered by the artist. It is being commissioned exclusively for our Kickstarter premium.

(Copyright Wizards of the Coast)
(Copyright Wizards of the Coast)

D&D artist Diesel LaForce will do a poster-sized print of artwork based off the iconic Player’s Handbook cover illustration from 1978. The pen and ink print will feature a full scene inspired by the artwork created by Dave Trampier of the adventurers pillaging a temple. This artwork is a limited edition of 300, signed and numbered by the artist. It is being commissioned exclusively for our Kickstarter premium.

(Copyright Wizards of the Coast)
(Copyright Wizards of the Coast)

PS Backers who pledge for either of these two posters will also get the DIgital Download of the Documentary.

PEOPLE WE'D LIKE TO THANK

- Kira Smith, Tavis Allison, Vincent Rodriguez, Raul Mandru & Peter Ramos.

FAQ

  • Yes, we do plan on having region-free discs available to those pledging from foreign territories.

    And Yes, we also plan to have multi-language options on the discs (DVD or Blu-Ray). Although we don't have a complete list of the languages that will be used, we imagine they will the standard languages used on most disc releases.

    Last updated:
  • At the last moment before we launched, our $100 pledge reward fell through. We are working on several other rewards that will fit into the $100-$225 range, but we are still finalizing the details. We should be able to post them soon. Everyone who has pledged will be given the opportunity to upgrade to the new reward levels. Also everyone who has given us $100 and chose the $75 reward will be allowed to choose between the new $100 reward or stay with the $75 reward.

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    A Great Big Thank You Email PLUS you will be included in our mailing list so you can keep up with our progress. We appreciate everything we get. In fact, here's an extra thank you: THANK YOU.

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    A Great Big Thank You on our Website PLUS Digital Package containing downloadable tools to show off your support, including a digital wallpaper, logo and a PDF poster. Let your friends and family know that you love documentaries about Dungeons & Dragons.

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    Due to popular demand, we are offering a Digital Download of the Documentary (in HD) when it's released to everyone. We want to thank the many people who suggested this option. We should have thought of it sooner. The proper interns have been sacked.

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    All of the above PLUS Digital Download of the Documentary. You get access to download (in HD) the full theatrical release of the Documentary 2 weeks before anyone else from from our website. Bragging rights, optional.

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    A DVD or Blu-Ray copy of the Documentary (International backers please add $15 for Shipping). What's the difference? Uhmm, it's like a gajillion lines of resolution better, that's what.

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    A DVD or Blu-Ray Copy of the Documentary (International backers please add $15 for Shipping) PLUS Exclusive Access to our Website which allows you to watch supplemental material including behind-the-scenes, raw and unedited footage, full interviews and other cool stuff. We might as well do something with all this bandwidth.

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    A signed copy of James Lowder's classic Forgotten Realms novel, Prince of Lies (2003 WotC edition). This highly acclaimed, bestselling dark fantasy epic chronicles the plots of the mad god Cyric to remake the world in his image. Parallels to TSR management history purely coincidental. PLUS the two-disc, limited-edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to new Kickstarter backers. (International backers please add $15 for shipping.)

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    An autographed copy of Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, signed by foreword author and fantasy legend R.A. Salvatore and editor James Lowder. The essay collection reveals new insights into the hit fantasy series and includes discussions of the Ice and Fire RPG and the place of fantasy in the literary tradition. PLUS the two-disc, limited-edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to new Kickstarter backers. (International backers please add $15 for shipping.)

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    A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. The 2nd Disc includes all the supplemental material and never-before-seen footage. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers.(International backers please add $15 for Shipping) This way, when the Zombie Apocalypse comes and civilization is in ashes, you'll still have a hard copy of the documentary.

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    A signed copy of David Ewalt's book "Of Dice and Men". This authoritative history chronicles the surprising history of D&D’s origins (one largely unknown even to hardcore players) while examining the game’s profound impact, written by a respected journalist (Forbes) and life-long player. David also serves as one of the historians for the Documentary. If you ask nicely, he'll even put a smiley face next to his autograph for you. PLUS the 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers (International backers please add $15 for Shipping).

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    A signed copy of Jon Peterson's book, "Playing at the World". This thoroughly researched book on the history of war games and role-playing games is one of the backbones of our documentary. Read this book if you want to know more than we do. If you watch the movie and read the book, then, wow, consider yourself an expert. PLUS the 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers.(International backers please add $15 for Shipping)

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    A T-Shirt. Exclusively designed for our Kickstarter backers (see pic on the right), this t-shirt will only be available through the campaign and the number will be limited to the amount of orders we get. Wear this shirt and tell everyone proudly how much you love documentaries about Dungeons & Dragons. PLUS the 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers (International backers please add $15 for Shipping).

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    UPGRADE OPTION: A signed copy of David Ewalt's book "Of Dice and Men". This authoritative history chronicles the surprising history of D&D’s origins (one largely unknown even to hardcore players) while examining the game’s profound impact, written by a respected journalist (Forbes) and life-long player. PLUS A signed copy of Jon Peterson's book, "Playing at the World". This thoroughly researched book on the history of war games and role-playing games is one of the backbones of our documentary. David and Jon are our historians for the Documentary. That's 2 for the price of...well, 2. PLUS the 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers (International backers please add $15 for Shipping).

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    11 backers Limited (289 left of 300)

    D&D artist Diesel LaForce will do a poster-sized print of artwork based off the iconic Greyhawk cover illustration from 1976. The pen and ink print will feature a full scene inspired by the artwork created by Greg Bell of a warrior in battle with the dreaded beholder. This artwork is a limited edition of 300, signed and numbered by the artist. It is being commissioned exclusively for our Kickstarter premium. (Please add $15.00 for international shipping)

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  • Pledge $150 or more
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    64 backers Limited (236 left of 300)

    D&D artist Diesel LaForce will do a poster-sized print of artwork based off the iconic Player’s Handbook cover illustration from 1978. The pen and ink print will feature a full scene inspired by the artwork created by Dave Trampier of the adventurers pillaging a temple. This artwork is a limited edition of 300, signed and numbered by the artist. It is being commissioned exclusively for our Kickstarter premium. (Please add $15.00 for international shipping)

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    39 backers

    UPGRADE OPTION: The T-Shirt which has been exclusively designed for our Kickstarter backers by Kay Kramme, PLUS both David Ewalt's book "Of Dice and Men " AND Jon Peterson's book, "Playing at the World". PLUS the 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers (International backers please add $15 for Shipping). You're gonna need a bigger boat or at the very least, a bigger shopping bag to carry all this cool stuff around.

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    Your Name in the Thank You Section of the End Credits of the Documentary. $7,563 more if you want your name in BOLD or ITALICIZED, PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers. (International backers please add $15 for Shipping)

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    21 backers

    SUPER SPECIAL UPGRADE OPTION: Your Name in the Thank You Section of the End Credits of the Documentary. PLUS you get the T-Shirt designed by Kay Kramme. PLUS you get the two books by David Ewalt and Jon Peterson PLUS you get the 2 DIsc Limited Edition DVD/Blu-Ray (add $15 for international shipping). Yes, it's a dollar extra for all that, but we've gotta make some money out of this.

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    “Skype-Rim" Talk (we know, it's corny, but the reward isn't). Have a 10 minute conversation on Skype with the Film-makers. Ask them any question you want. They may even answer you. PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers. (International backers please add $15 for Shipping)

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    9 backers

    An Associate Producer Credit in the Documentary PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers. (International backers please add $15 for Shipping). Hey, Big Shot Producer, yeah, we're talkin' to you.

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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    This reward is another one-of-a-kind. Stefan Pokorny of Dwarven Forge (who appears in our film) is offering, in his words, "A day of gaming and a night of carousing in NYC". That's right, you and 5 of your friends get to hang out with the man himself. Play his game and party with the king. Plus, he's giving everyone a Dwarven Forge Set (valued at $150) to take home with them. That alone is worth the trip to NYC. Check out his videos at http://www.dwarvenforge.com/ to find out what you're in for. Also, you get 6 copies of the 2-Disc, Limited Edition DVD/Blu-Ray of the Documentary. Snatch this up fast, otherwise we will. (Travel and hotel are not included)

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    An Associate Producer Credit in the Documentary PLUS DOCUMENTARY FILM-MAKING 101. Have a one-on-one, 2-Hour Session with the film-makers. Learn the craft of film making and what you need to know about making a documentary.* With all that you'll learn, you could even make a documentary on D&D...oh wait, no, don't do that. PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers. (International backers please add $15 for Shipping) * Location will be a factor with this reward. We will update you as to our schedule and locations as we travel across the country during the filming of the documentary in the hopes that we may be near you. If our locations do not allow for this, you may either choose to visit New York City (on your own expense) or a Skype session.

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  • Pledge $3,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)

    Okay, this is for a one-of-a-kind item. Once someone snatches this reward up, it's gone. What you are pledging for is a Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary Banner that we've had specially made (see pic). We will have everyone who either worked on the film or was interviewed sign their autograph. Plus some special guests. Since we're not finished filming, the piece won't be ready to be shipped to the lucky owner until the movie is finished. Until then, if you follow our progress, you'll know who's autographs you'll be getting. Pledge now and make everyone else on this Kickstarter jealous. PLUS You get a copy of the 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary.

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    0 backers

    A Co-Producer Credit in the Documentary PLUS You'll get to play a D&D game run by one of the experts interviewed in the documentary. The roster of Dungeon Masters is still under development, but is certain to include Tavis Allison whose company Adventuring Parties will help organize this reward. If you live in NYC or through the magic of Google+ video-conferencing, have Tavis run a game with you and your friends (limit to 6 people). What happens in one of Tavis's game, stays in Tavis's game. PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers.

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    A Co-Producer Credit PLUS Game With the Film-Makers. If you're in NYC (or SKYPE if you're not), the Film-Makers will invite you to their next D&D game. We play a loose 2nd Edition, but make a mean guacamole.* Guacamole not available in the Skype version of this reward. Guacamole is also not available if avocados are not in season. In fact, guacamole may not be available at all and may, in fact, be store-bought. PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers. (International backers please add $15 for Shipping)

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    0 backers

    A Co-Producer Credit in the Documentary PLUS An Invitation for You and a Guest to attend the Premiere (Location TBD, Hotel and Transportation not included) Just like one of those big time Hollywood premieres...but without the big time Hollywood stuff. PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers.

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    0 backers

    A Co-Producer Credit in the Documentary PLUS An invitation to visit either the set or the editing room, depending on location (Hotel and Transportation not included). Help us make the big decisions like "where to put craft service" or "which tie should I wear to the award ceremony?" PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers.

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  • Pledge $8,000 or more
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    1 backer

    An Executive Producer Credit in the Documentary PLUS You'll get to play a D&D game run by one of the experts interviewed in the documentary at your place, anywhere in the U.S.A. The roster of Dungeon Masters is still under development, but is certain to include Tavis Allison whose company Adventuring Parties will help organize this reward. For a cool million dollars, we'll let you keep them as your very own DM. PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers.

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  • Pledge $10,000 or more
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    1 backer

    An Executive Producer Credit in the Documentary PLUS An Interview* with You (or a person of you choice) on your experiences with D&D. The interview will be included in the Supplemental Material. You'll be a permanent part of this documentary. And who said 'money can't buy you happiness'? PLUS A 2-Disc, Limited Edition Blu-Ray or DVD of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers. *Location will be a factor with this reward. We will update you as to our schedule and locations as we travel across the country during the filming of the documentary in the hopes that we may be near you. If our locations do not allow for this, you may either choose to visit New York City (on your own expense) or a Skype interview.

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    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    An Executive Producer Credit in the Documentary PLUS A Screening in Your Home. We come to you. You invite whoever you want. We show the film. You are the Guest of Honor. We party afterward. We take embarrassing pictures of you. We post it on Facebook. Everybody wins. PLUS You get to keep a Blu-Ray or DVD copy of the Documentary. This is limited only to Kickstarter Backers.

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Funding period

- (30 days)