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Accessible and intuitive tabletop game platform for the spinning of collaborative, character-driven stories.
The Bhaloidam handbook is freely available online and you can even download and print your own Lifewheels. High quality Skein packs are also available for sale in our online store.
The Bhaloidam handbook is freely available online and you can even download and print your own Lifewheels. High quality Skein packs are also available for sale in our online store.
578 backers pledged $31,346 to help bring this project to life.

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The Bhaloidam Handbook v2.0 is Underway!


I just wanted to drop you all a line and let you know that I've started working on a second edition of the Bhaloidam handbook. There are three rules tweaks - ranging from minor to significant - a new twenty-minute gameplay demo based on the demos I've been running at conventions, and plans for loads of new material for both Spinners and Weavers, and a whole new art style!

Even better, I've loosened up the license for Bhaloidam to a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, meaning Bhaloidam is now fully Free Culture compliant. Not only that, I'm hosting the new handbook on Github so that it'll be even easier to translate, remix, and access. Once completed, I will make a free PDF of the handbook available and will likely make it available through a print on demand service as well.

As you'll see, I've already made progress on the first draft of the script and you're more than welcome to follow along as I work, submitting issues and requesting clarifications. So please click the link below and join me in ensuring the next version of the handbook is as clear, informative, and helpful as possible!

An April Fools' Remedy

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Final Update: Following the Money

I promised one final update with information about Bhaloidam's financials. And now, thanks to pressure from the US government to participate in something called "taxes" by an April 15th deadline, I have all the data I need to do so!

Most of what I have for you is in handy charts, starting with charts from our Kickstarter dashboard. Let's start with our funding graph.

See that sudden surge on October 25th? That Thursday morning Rachel and I woke up, looked at each other, and said, "We're not going to make it and that's okay." That's the morning that inspired my post, Every Kickstarter A Success. That's the morning that causes me to shake my head in disappointment when people abandon their Kickstarter projects with several weeks left to their deadline. Because that's the morning that the excitement began. That's the morning that turned everything around for us. Incredible.

Next up is a chart that will be of most interest to people running - or planning to run - their own Kickstarter project. The percentage of backers who came from external links rather than finding the project via Kickstarter itself.

As you can see - the vast majority of pledges came from external efforts. And although these charts were implemented after Bhaloidam's project was funded, I suspect those internal pledges mostly came about when we were the Project of the Day on Friday the 26th. The full version of this chart includes the referral links, which is very helpful information to have.

Next, some revealing information about project videos.

My video was 2 minutes and 42 seconds long and less than half of the viewers played it to completion. I'll let you extrapolate your own conclusions from that.

The final Kickstarter-provided chart is hardly surprising.

The most popular reward was the $45 Skein Pack. This was the target reward I referred to in my post, A Strategy for Kickstarter Rewards. All of my calculations for shipping costs, etc, were based around this reward.

And finally, here's the chart I created for how the money we brought in was spent.

The missing percentages there are Backer Reward Extras - 5.5% and Mailing Supplies - 1.6%. Backer fulfillment, by the way, means postage. We spent nearly 16% of our take mailing product to backers.

Our funding goal was $27,900. The amount pledged was 112.35% of that, or $31,346.00. The amount Kickstarter was actually able to collect was $31,203, or 111.84%.* That shortfall of $142.84 didn't harm us because we were careful about our math, but I have heard of projects where the shortfall caused them to bring in less than their original goal.

It should also be noted that we haven't spent about $235 of that Backer Reward Extras slice. There are still backers waiting on posters, a few replacement Weaver Thimbles that got crushed in the mail, and replacement custom pawns - all of which will cost us a bit more than $235. Replacing the pawns is my choice, however, as I didn't like how the first batch turned out. Regardless - if you're one of those backers, I appreciate your patience! I should be on track to get those all out to you in mid-April.

So there you have it. 50% careful planning and 50% good fortune means that every dime we collected has gone (will soon go) to fulfilling the Kickstarter promises. Any profit we make will come from the pallets of Bhaloidam that, thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of our backers, we have in storage looking for homes.**

* Obviously, that's the total you should use if you want to figure out how much money those percentages represent.

** Speaking of which, if you'd like to see Bhaloidam on the shelves of your friendly local game store, tell them they can order skein packs at wholesale pricing from Indie Press Revolution!

Happy New Year!

We're getting reports of Bhaloidam arriving in pretty much every continent to which we mailed it. We're assuming that means the majority - if not all - of our backers have received their rewards by the end of 2012. If that isn't true of you, please email us at bhaloidam [at] zakelro [dot] com and let us know.

If you have received your copy and have something you'd like to say about it, let us know! You can email us at the above address, or leave your thoughts on our Facebook Group or Google+ Community. Who knows, your comments may make it onto the site as one of our featured testimonials!

I promised you news about the future of Zakelro! and Bhaloidam and here it is, copy and pasted from my blog at


2012 has been a landmark year for Zakelro! thanks to the arrival of our first in-house game, Bhaloidam. Over the last four years our focus has been increasingly on Bhaloidam and in mid 2011 through 2012 I stopped taking contract work in the videogame industry altogether in order to dedicate myself to it.

Our plan for 2013 and beyond was for Zakelro! to become a publisher of board and card games - starting with games of my design and potentially expanding our vision to helping other independent designers follow in our footsteps, utilizing the resources and channels we'd acquired. This approach would have featured Bhaloidam as our flagship product, but would have required figuring out how to monetize continued support for it, all while working on the new games as well. Knowing now how much time and energy it takes to bring a board game successfully to market, I began to wonder how I could pull it off and continue to do Bhaloidam justice.

To make matters worse - doing our research - we weren't convinced that we could make enough money to justify my doing this full time at all. This is especially true if I were to continue with experimental narrative designs - the seeds of which are pretty much what my notebooks are full of. And the thought of Bhaloidam being just another product in our lineup wasn't sitting well with me either.

So this fall we made a difficult decision - we're not going to try and transition Zakelro! into a profitable business. This means Zakelro! will now formally be what's it's always pretty much been from the start - a games-as-art studio with a focus on story, play, and community - the interrelation of which lies at the foundation of Bhaloidam.

This difficult decision - along with some equally-difficult decisions about my involvement with the videogame industry that I'll talk about in another post - gave me a profound sense of freedom. Now I will be able to continue working on Bhaloidam with my community - not because I need to maintain profitability or in order to support it as a commercial product - but because it is a platform that I am passionate about and want to see grow.

So while I plan and pursue a new approach to my career - again, more about that soon - Bhaloidam will remain a major part of my focus. In fact all my planned projects revolve around it in one form or another.

So welcome to a new year and a new Zakelro! that isn't bogged down by pursuits of commercial success. I can't wait to see what we - meaning you, my community, and us - make of Bhaloidam in 2013!


Okay, one final Kickstarter update is in the works. In the next week or two, we should be ready to share our Kickstarter financials so you know where all the money went.

Have a safe and happy New Year's Eve. See you in 2013!

Bhaloidam Rolling Out, Pictures Rolling In

Reports have been rolling in on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and here on Kickstarter that backers are receiving their rewards.* The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, which makes us very happy we went with Panda GM for the manufacturing. They did an amazing job. We are loving all the pictures of people holding their Skein Packs - or miniCorvus figs - up for the camera. We even got to watch an unboxing video.

Our favorite reviews of the handbook so far have been, "A weird, appealing way to communicate a weird, appealing system," and, "Now only if I could pry the handbook out of my daughter's hands."

We've only had two shipping issues so far - one bad address and one mangled box - which is amazing. I'm not holding my breath that we're in the clear yet, but if there is a problem with your reward, please don't hesitate to send an email to and let us know about it.

We've even sold our first retail copies of Bhaloidam! And if you find yourself needing extra Lifewheels, be sure to stop by the Bhaloidam storefront and order more. We'll be adding more merchandise slowly in the new year - some merely promotional, some gameplay enhancing (3d-printed, stackable tokens, anyone?).

Don't forget you can join the new Zakelro! communities on Facebook and Google+ to talk about your Bhaloidam experiences, ask us questions, and suggest variants. We're planning on publishing some digital supplements to the handbook dealing with Embellishments, so get your questions in now!

I like doing things in sets of nine, and that means two more Kickstarter updates before I leave you alone. We're preparing a full-disclosure financial report for the next update so that you know exactly where the money went (there will be charts, oh yes). The final post will talk about the future of Bhaloidam and Zakelro! This has been an incredible year and we foresee many more to come.

*As I write this, we just got our first overseas picture from Northern Ireland!