A quick note to every new visitor in the last 48 hours: we're well and solidly funded! There are going to be cool dice! A really long map! Art! Cats! Really a lot. Please check out the updates for more art, maps, t-shirts, and more. If you want to check out a work in progress of the books layout, here—we've got one. Ok, back to the rest of the kickstarter. :)
A Strange Long Trip
The Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City is a tabletop role-playing game book, half setting, half adventure, and half epic trip; inspired by psychedelic heavy metal, the Dying Earth genre, and classic Oregon Trail games. It leads a group of ‘heroes’ into the depths of a vast and mythic steppe filled with the detritus of time and space and fuzzy riffs.
The UVG is the work of the designer, artist, and writer Luka Rejec and was made possible through the generous support of hundreds of discerning fans at the Stratometaship patreon. Luka's previous work includes illustrating Chris Kutalik's acid fantasy Misty Isles of the Eld, co-writing What Ho Frog Demons with the Hydra Coöperative, and writing, art, and design on the already-sold-out adventure of witch-hunting: Witchburner.
In partnership with Exalted Funeral Press, the goal of this kickstarter is to finally give the UVG the hardback full-color print run this celebration of metal psychedelia deserves. The writing and art are all done, the editing and final layout are currently in progress. The estimated date of delivery is late August 2019.
"Honestly, this module is like you climbed up inside my head when I was feverish with malaria while listening to Blood Ceremony and Wolfmother and also with a 5th of bourbon in me, and then laid out all my weirdest imaginations in a far better, more organized, and interesting fashion than I ever could. The only way this module would be more my thing is if you tattooed it on me." —A Fan (Was it you? Who wrote that? It's well written!)
But those aren't our words.
A Module for Journeys of Discovery
The UVG is for referees and players who want to run a months’ long science fantasy Marco Polo-style voyage across a weird, old world.
The UVG is for any gamer who wants to mine it for inspiration, adventuring locations, odd characters, maps, items, and random encounters.
The UVG is an art book knitting together Luka's illustrations and maps and writing.
The UVG is loud, heavy music, and grinding, tectonic sci-fi given flesh as a rule-light old-school 'R' or what have you continent-spanning rpg adventure.
The Vast Edge of the World
"A world begins when it emerges from the mists of time. So it is with the civilizations of the Rainbowlands, which mark their count from when the Long Ago ended and the Now began.
The Rainbowlanders are the humans of a later era, undisputed masters of the fertile lands around the Circle Sea, dwellers in the Eye of Creation. They come in many shapes, colors, creeds, and faiths. They pile unkempt technology and misremembered lore together into a teetering whole. They rule the settled lands under their polychrome deities of ill-repute.
This story is not their story. This story begins at the edge of their world, at the Left End of the Right Road. At the westernmost outpost of humanity, the Violet City. Bastion against the hordes, entrepôt to the exotic sunset lands, and last port of civilization before the trackless steppe studded with the detritus of the Long Ago."
The UVG threads its way across seven time zones of vast continent to end at the fabled Black City, where time and space become one on the shores of the wine-dark sea.
- Strange new humans, from the poly-bodied porcelain princes to the ever be-suited satraps and the mind-controlling cats.
- Dozens of modular mechanics for handling caravans, survival, theft and trade in a vast strange country.
- Thirty otherworldly areas, from the Porcelain Citadel to the Dead Bridge and the Forest of Meat, linking the civilizations of the Circle Sea and the mysterious Black City.
- Over 100 points of interest, from the Fallen Iron Obelisk to the Erosion of War and the time-distorting Copper Hulls.
- Hundreds of encounters, strange characters, odd magics, uncanny equipment.
- Over 300 pieces of art by the author.
- 80,000 words completed, loved, encouraged, and enjoyed by over 300 members of the Stratometaship patreon. Now being edited.
The People Behind the UVG
Luka Rejec, owner of WTF Studio, is a Slovenian designer, illustrator, and writer based in Seoul, South Korea. We've mentioned him before. He's done the art and the writing for the UVG, he's now working on the layout. He loves dogs, heavy metal, 1970s sci fi art, and rocks. Also penguins and owls.
Cristin and Matt Kelley of Exalted Funeral Press are building the place for the DIY and OSROWHY community to get all their printed materials. They got frustrated with searching for the books they loved, and decided to do something about it. They're printing and distributing the UVG after the successful collaboration on the first edition of Witchburner.
Fiona Geist and Jarrett Crader are the MoonRat Conspiracy and collectively responsible for editing Witchburner and also other works like the Spellburn podcast, Fever Swamp and Troika! from The Melsonian Arts Council, Sounds of the Mushroom Kingdom from LotFP, Solar Blades and Cosmic Spells from Old Skull Press, Phantasmagoria from Apollyon Press, the recent kickstarter Silent Titans from Swordfish Islands, and, not least, the Mothership Players' Survival Guide and Mothership: Dead Planet from Tuesday Knight Games. Whew. They're making sure the book makes sense.
Saker Tarsos is a grad student going into information science, and an ttrpg player since he was six. He's also behind a series of cool digital DM screens for other games, like Sean McCoy's acclaimed Mothership. He's joining the project to build a digital companion web page to the tables in the UVG, so you can generate results on the fly, from your handy personal digital assistant or using your desktop terminal console computing unit.
Funding the UVG
The goal is simple: to cover the cost of good editors and print 1,000 high-quality copies of this beautiful book. At $15,000 we've got this covered:
- 2 of the most beautiful editors in the biz.
- hardcover A4 books.
- 192 full-color pages to hold all the words and the art on their heavy pages.
Overclocking the UVG
We've seen many kickstarters sunk by over-ambitious stretch goals, that's why we're keeping ours on a tight leash: none of these stretch goals involve any new writing or content. It's all about applying the extra funding to improve design, add some cool accessories, and make the game easier to run.
$20,000 — Accordion Map
The UVG has a 140-centimeter (55-inch) long map. Well, if we hit $20k we'll spruce it up, prep it for print, and get it turned into an folded accordion map where you can track your adventures as they unfold. We got this! Check out an early version of the map.
$25,000 — Dice Set
We'll design a polyhedral dice set just for the UVG, so you too can burn your gaming eyes on some deep retina-searing purple dice. Also got these!
$40,000 — The Game Master Screen
Our editors are compiling the most relevant tables, rules, and information in the UVG anyway, but it's a rough thing. If we hit $40k, we're going to lay out the whole thing, whip Luka to make a 4:1 landscape artwork for the screen, and commission a fancy limited-edition screen to complement this kickstarter edition.
UPDATE: early March, 2019: huh, you guys smashed that. Cool.
UVG kickstarter - new stretch goals
Dear backers! Dear fans of the Ultraviolet Grasslands! Dear people of infinitely good taste, you smashed all our stretch goals, so we've developed a few new ones. We worked hard to make sure that none of them should break our production schedule.
$60,000 — Book and Editors Upgraded
When we hit $60K we're upgrading the production and compensation quality of this kickstarter. The UVG book is getting a stitched spine and a ribbon (trying to make it purple!). Our editors at the MoonRat Conspiracy, Fiona and Jarrett, are getting their paycheck doubled for all their hard work (and they get to proofread the Big Map, too, hah!).
UNLOCKED! Our editors are happier!
$70,000 - Full Color Ultraviolet
If we hit $70K, we're paying Luka some extra cash to hide in a bunker for a couple of weeks and bring full color to the UVG. This doesn't mean every last page is going to be a riot of color (yes it does —Luka). Sketches and details will remain just that, but the rest of the book will get the high-detail treatment.
UNLOCKED! All the art that can handle color is getting color!
Last of the Stretch Goals
We've gotta be clear here ... when we started, we hoped we'd do well, but never imagined we'd find an audience this big. Lots of kickstarters sink themselves by going overboard with additional stretch goals that break the piggy bank and the project timeline.
Well, here we have it. Full technicolor. So what now? We're not going to add massive extra goals because we've already got a lot on our plate with the editors' #NeedsMore.
But stretch goals are ... motivational? So we're adding two final, ultimate goals. One is serious, the other is fun.
$85,000: Digital Reference Companion
At $85K Saker Tarsos gets paid to make a free digital reference for the UVG: with all the tables and generators set up on a single page. Sort of like what he did for Mothership but with more UVG art and Saker spending time to figure out how to make the work better and faster. This goal is completely divorced from the delivery of the physical goods and will be handled by Saker Tarsos.
Minimum product is: a website with automated generators for everything UVG. Maximum product: we might get Saker to build a small tool that makes it easy to import random tables, spit out code, and embed it on other web pages. Think of this as all of us in the #OSROWHY (old school reorientation or what have you) giving gaming tools back to the world.
That was the fun stretch goal.
Unlocked! And we made it! Thank you!
$99,999: Ultimate Stretch
We'll make a heavy metal, leather jacket yoga video for the ultimate stretch goal. It will be terrible, just like the pun. We will do it after the books are shipped. We won't prepare for it beforehand. We won't script it. The shooting quality will be dreadful. Watching it will not make you a better person, a better game master, or a better roleplayer. It won't even teach you much yoga (downward failing dog, maybe?).
Ok, but the serious bit: this is a bit of a joke, and if we reach this goal, we'll add more jokes—but all of them will be weird, silly things we'll do to express our gratitude after the book is done and printed and delivered. Right now our goal is to bring you the most epic world crawling game.
Great. Now Luka has to start actually practicing properly and getting a routine down. Sigh.
Beyond: $111,111 and the Infinite* Exalted Stretch
Ok, let's have some fun with an infinite stretch goal ... Matt's Metal Mindfulness Mountain Meditation.
After all the packing and shipping is complete, we're going to force march Matt up a remote Idaho mountain to become one with himself, experience wellness, breathe in love and breathe out heavy metal.
For every $1,000 over $99,999 Matt is going to spend a minute in silent, mindful meditation, while listening to heavy metal on top of a mountain.
If we reach $111,111 we are going to add a special extra six minutes and sixty-six seconds of meditation on top of the rest. And then, we'll add another six minutes and sixty-six seconds at $122,222, at $133,333, and so on. Ok, ok, won't be totally infinite. We're capping the maximum mindfulness meditation at 129 minutes—the length of the 1982 classic, Conan the Barbarian. The film crew has to have something to do while Matt sits and meditates, after all.
We're only going to release a Six minute and sixty-six second video though, trimming the full meditation session down, because otherwise it'd be kind of boring to watch. But we'll keep the video and the clocks running.
*Definition of infinity subject to change.
Note: this stretch goal has zero impact on the actual deliverables or outcome of the kickstarter, but it is going to force our Exalted Funeral members to take care of their health after shipping all those books.
Shipping Costs Estimated
We're calculating shipping as a separate charge when backer surveys are sent out. The numbers are not completely precise yet, because we're covering a range to account for the final weight of the book, the map, the screen, the dice. As a rule, with just the book, you're looking at the lower end, with the whole bundle, close to the upper end (all prices in USD).
- USA: $4–8
- UK and EU: $12–21
- Canada: $18–25
- Australia and New Zealand: $21–25
- Rest of the world: $30–45
- Off-world: not available
Exalted Funeral Press is negotiating shipping and distribution around the world. We're working with the Melsonian Arts Council for distribution in the UK and hammering out details with a couple of other companies to cover Australia, Canada, New Zealand the Continental EU (CEU), because Brexit is looming and we're trying to bring those shipping numbers down for you.
Why does the EU have such a spread? Well, there are 26 or 27 countries in the EU (depending on when you're reading this), each with their own postal service. Once we have the numbers nailed tighter for each individual country, the list will get longer.
Import duties, taxes (VAT), and additional charges are not included in the price or shipping cost. Any additional charges added on by the destination country will be your responsibility. Please check with your country's customs office to determine if there will be any additional costs, and what they might be. <- We took this paragraph straight from the Silent Titans kickstarter, because it seemed sensible. Thanks, Jacob!
How much will delivery of just the dice cost? Less. Not sure how much less, but quite a bit. We'll get those numbers out soon.
Content Editing: 6 weeks [85% complete] - we've run into Luka having to write a few thousand supplemental words to cover the #NeedsMore hashtags.
Copy Editing: 4 weeks [80% complete] - most of the book is ready for layout.
Layout: 3 weeks [15% complete] - we've begun
Proofreading: 2 weeks
Final Layout: 2 weeks [end of May 2019]
Printing: 6 weeks [June 2019]
Shipping: 2 weeks
Extra fat month, just in case: 5 weeks
Total: 31 weeks [end of August 2019]
We've estimated how much work there is to be done, then added a bit more time on top, then added another month, because we suspect we missed something.
Risks and challenges
Ok, time for the scary stuff.
As we've said, the Ultraviolet Grasslands are written. They are currently being edited and laid out, and a digital version will be available no matter what. The purpose of this kickstarter is to give the UVG the print run it deserves. After all, the upfront costs of a solid full-color print run are scary for a small indie press.
But things could go wrong. Sickness, nuclear war (the author and designer lives in Seoul, after all) and global economic crashes could derail us.
A risk for EU backers will be Brexit, because our fulfillment in Europe is currently on the capable shoulders of the Melsonian Arts Council. If the customs and postage from the UK to the EU become ridiculously complicated, we will change the distribution arrangement. Fortunately, there's a lot of time between Brexit (29 March), the EU elections (26 May), and the delivery date (31 August) to sort that out. We should be fine, but this is the big risk to be aware of right now.
Fortunately the hard work (writing and art) are all complete and the tasks that remain are fundamentally technical: editing, layout, print, distribution. All of us organizing and participating in this kickstarter are doing our darndest to make ourselves replaceable in case something happens to us. None of the stretch goals require large additional work - dice designs or game master screen visuals would also work with a different artist (though, you know, Luka would be sad if that happened, for obvious reasons).
But, we're a small team, and that kind of trouble could delay us. To that end, we've laid out our timeline for you, and will communicate regularly to make sure you understand how things are going.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)