About this project
It has been a long, exciting campaign. With only hours remaining, we can't wait to see how far you'll take us!
Scroll down to the 'Funding Levels' section to learn about our exciting stretch goals!
Stretch goal #1 reached! The people have spoken, and the fifth race will be "Elemental Humanoids"!
Stretch goal #2 reached! Large, mounted miniatures will be added to the character builder for an additional cost (The first of our large-sized 'premium' mini options!)
Stretch goal #3 reached! We will add a range of science fiction parts to our character builder!
Stretch goal #4 reached! We will add a selection of equipable "spell effects" to our character builder!
Stretch goal #5 reached! We will add a range of Wild West parts and outfits to our character builder!
Stretch goal #6 reached! We will add familiars and animal companions as a customization option in our character builder!
Stretch goal #7 reached! We will add a range of East Asian themed parts, weapons, and outfits to our character builder!
Stretch goal #8 reached! We will add a range of modern themed parts, weapons and outfits to our character builder!
Stretch goal #9 reached! We will add a range of pulp/noir themed parts, weapons, and outfits to the character builder!
Stretch goal #10 reached! We will add a range of cyberpunk parts, weapons, and outfits to our character builder!
Add-Ons: Scroll down to the bottom of the "Backer Rewards" section for details on add-ons!
Hero Forge is a service that lets you design custom tabletop minis, have them 3D printed, and delivered right to your doorstep. By using a sophisticated parts system and web UI, we're bringing the flexibility, ease, and control of a robust video game character creator to the tabletop.
Choose your race, your gender, your build, and your facial expression. Select and swap individual armor pieces, weapons, adventuring equipment, hairstyles, and faces. Choose your pose and watch all of the dynamically rigged parts and attributes conform to fit your selection. Choose the scale of your mini, and even the material it's printed in. We're bringing a high-tech update to a classic analog hobby and giving you the opportunity to breathe your vision and creativity into your miniature.
Whether you want to create stranger fare (good luck finding a dual-wielding halfling barbarian mini), capture key details (no one should be forced to make compromises on their dwarf’s beard style), or simply have more say in your mini than just the paint job, Hero Forge is for you!
We've built a team uniquely qualified to bring this project to life. We invite you to get to know us:
There are many advantages to using 3D printing and digital models over the more traditional injection mold and sculpting techniques. Printing from digital models means we can easily scale our models up or down. Want 6 inch display versions of your party to immortalize their heroic deeds? Can do. Playing a niche tabletop game that uses a larger or smaller scale? No problem. And that's not all: our character builder will let you save high resolution screenshots of your model for your character sheet and overhead views for your favorite virtual tabletop program. You can even save your mini and edit it later so it can grow and change as your character does!
Print on demand means you're not limited to what big companies think have the broadest appeal, and we don't have to exclude poses, equipment, or designs simply because they can't be made with injection molds. This means more freedom for you. Interior or recessed detail, which is notoriously difficult for injection molds, is easy with 3D printing. We can also offers certain novel options like printing segmented chains or swinging lanterns with articulated parts, no assembly required.
We believe that this is the next step in miniatures and a fantastic application of new, exciting technologies. We'd love to be another example that tabletop gaming is alive, well, and just getting started!
We've come as far as we can on our own, but it is your support that will allow us to see this project through. Backing will go towards turning our concept art into one of the coolest, most diverse digital armories on the internet, and further developing/polishing our web UI to provide the smoothest experience possible. We can't wait to start our next campaign where every player is using a custom, bespoke mini that they designed themselves. We invite you to help make that happen!
We need the funding and support of backers to help us turn our library of concept art into a library of fully rigged, 3D parts. Backer's funding will also go towards developing our web UI so we can give you unparalleled flexibility and control while building your character. With a wide range of 3D parts and a perfected web app, users will have the tools to build truly unique, distinctive, interesting minis.
Additionally, Kickstarter offers the ability to go beyond basic funding, to reach exciting stretch goals so we can implement some of our big plans even earlier! In short, the more funding we receive, the more we can offer at launch!
Beyond giving us the ability to fully fund this project, Kickstarter lets us connect with you. Many of our limited reward tiers offer you the opportunity to make your voice heard, working with our artists and modelers to make armor, weapons, items, and poses YOU want to see included. We wanted to give the community a voice in our product’s creation, and Kickstarter seemed like the perfect way to do that.
Our concept artists have earned their stripes in the tabletop and video game industries, and they know what makes a character truly exciting. We can't wait to see what they come up with next! Here are some of the designs they've turned out already.
By breaking all of our armor down into multiple parts we can generate an incredible amount of variety. Even with the limited pool of parts and poses we have now, our in-depth parts system can generate millions of variations, each with subtle differences. But that isn't enough for us.
We want enough variety that one could randomize our parts for years and still never arrive at the same mini! To that end, we are focusing on designing armor sets that have distinctive motifs, themes, and profiles, that will really come to life when you log in and combine the parts in exciting ways to create a truly unique look, distinctive to your character.
We've highlighted the customizability of our armor, but we aren't neglecting weapons and adventuring equipment either. Not only do we want everyone to be able select exactly the weapons they have listed on their character sheet, but to also be able to choose from multiple motifs, looks, and styles. When your character upgrades from a regular long sword to a masterfully crafted +3 long sword we want you to be able to have that reflected in your miniature. Hero Forge will make that a simple proposition.
With our initial funding goal, we'll be starting with fantasy-themed figures with an eye on expanding. Sci-fi, steampunk, cyberpunk, Victorian era, historical military outfits and weaponry, pulp, western, superheroes--the possibilities are endless, and some may even be revealed as stretch goals. Our in-depth parts system makes mixing and matching genres easy! As new parts are released you will be able to add a robotic arm to your knight, or give your cowboy a samurai sword.
After setting aside the manufacturing costs of our physical rewards, the majority of the funding will go towards building 3D models and finishing the development of our web UI. When we reach base funding, we plan to have five races available at launch: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, and Half-Orc, and we will expand over time! With a successful funding campaign from Kickstarter we aim to have our full-featured mini-builder off the ground this year with new batches of parts hot on the heels of release.
If we exceed our base funding goal, we will have more resources to produce more parts and features faster. For example, here are a couple features we hope to add. You can help us add them sooner by helping us meet our stretch goals!
We've got many other big things in mind, including more genres, nudity options, color, wings/horns/tails, multi-figure poses, and more!
Meet our All-Star team:
Building the right team takes careful planning, an eye for talent, and a guiding passion. Joshua Bennett is that jack-of-all-trades. Having worked as a freelance artist, writer, editor, and project coordinator from L.A. to Hong Kong, he has been embedded in the tabletop RPG community for years. His work has appeared in Wayfinder Magazine, on paizo.com, and in dozens of online shops and indie RPG releases.
Creating a character customizing UI is a complex endeavor. There are website limitations to work within, quality and quantity of art to consider, not to mention making sure that all parts are compatible with each other. As Technical Art Director for the video game studio Naughty Dog, Teagan Morrison has been dealing with digital resource management and character customizers for critically acclaimed games like the Uncharted series for years.
The fantasy genre is rich with traditions, tropes, and distinctive styles. Freelance artist Nicole Cardiff lives and breathes fantasy art and provides an insider’s understanding of what people want when it comes to their fantastic heroes. Her work has appeared in Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition materials and the reboot of Tomb of Horrors, in Warhammer, Call of Cthulhu, and Game of Thrones cards for Fantasy Flight Games, and on the covers of fantasy novels.
Creating designs that are iconic and integrate well into a parts system is no easy task, but expert concept artist Molly Maloney is uniquely suited for it. Currently working as a concept artist for Telltale Games, Molly is skilled at creating gorgeous concept art with an eye on its future digitalization.
Modeling characters for miniature, 3D printing, and a parts system requires a number of considerations that would make some 3D artists balk. With a masterful understanding of proportion, and a keen understanding of the medium, Margaret Dost is the perfect artist for the job. An expert 3D modeler who has worked on everything from blockbuster films like Pacific Rim, videogames like Mortal Kombat vs. DC, commercials, and cinematics, Margaret has the skills to guide our transition from concept art to 3D models.
With Hero Forge, customization is king. This is built on a complex and in-depth part system which requires extremely clever, dynamic rigging, and a balance between creativity, efficiency, and a keen artistic eye. Beverly Sage excels at all of these things and has earned her stripes working as a freelance rigger and technical artist in the videogame industry on games like The Last of Us. She currently works for Nickelodeon Animation Studios as a technical character artist.
Making a part system that just works, plug-in free, in your web browser involves a lot of pipeline challenges, as does getting a customized 3D model into a data format that can then be 3D printed. David Lenna has been dealing with pipeline as South Park studio's Chief Technical Officer for years and is uniquely equipped to make the right decisions.
All that to say: We have an amazing team with passion, big ideas, and the technical chops and experience to back it up. We can't wait to make Hero Forge a reality!
There are technologies available now that would have made this project impossible even a year ago, and further improvements in this already groundbreaking tech are right around the corner.
While injection mold minis are not likely to see any revolutions in their production process any time soon, 3D printing is evolving at a blistering pace. While current printing technology allows us to capture detail comparable to current minis, our character and object models are sculpted at remarkably high detail, so you can look forward to fidelity improving as printing technology does!
We've chosen to use Shapeways for our 3D printing needs. They recently released a developer API which allows small businesses, independent sculptors, and start-ups like us to take advantage of the latest in commercial 3D printing technology. By using the Shapeways developer API, we can evolve and grow as new materials and printing options are added. As new features like color printing or improved materials are released, upgrading will be easy. This frees us to focus on what we're really excited about: making high-quality models. We're happy to have manufacturing handled by one of the leading names in the 3D printing industry.
At the moment, there are two main materials that we are interested in releasing at launch. The first is an 'ultra-detail plastic' material which is slightly translucent (before priming), highly detailed, and is fantastic for painting--very suitable as a high quality display piece. The majority of the miniatures we show here are printed in this material. The second is a lower cost, albeit lower detail material which is very durable and flexible. This 'strong plastic' It is opaque white, and has a rougher finish that makes it less suitable for painting. As in all other aspects of Hero Forge, We wanted to offer users as many choices as possible, so a cheaper, but still entirely customizable option just made sense. Note that the "patron" and "novice party" tiers are both available only in the latter 'strong plastic' material. Keep in mind that, by the time we launch, there may be exciting new material options available!
WebGL, the new web standard for 3D, allows video game-quality graphics right in your web browser. This has allowed us to build an interactive 3D interface that lets you easily and quickly design miniatures without downloading plugins. See beautiful, interactive models as you design, pose, and build them. Gone are the days of browsing low-rez photo galleries or rooting through poorly stocked shelves. You'll be able to see your mini in crisp 3D long before it arrives in your hands.
WebGL also allows us to add fun, free features that we believe people will enjoy: whether you're buying our minis or not, you will be able to export high resolution screenshots of your unique character. Use it for your character sheet, as a keepsake, or for a 'wanted sign' player handout. Export an overhead views for your favorite virtual tabletop program. Save a character to edit later, or get a head start designing your next one. Here is a video highlighting some of the features that we will be including!
We believe our WebGL character builder will be a fun and amazingly useful tool. We just can't stop thinking of new uses for this technology, and we're sure you'll have some great ideas too!
Pledge tiers $20 and up may add individual miniatures and statuettes to their order!
Risks and challenges
---While we want to offer as many options as possible, we also want to ensure that we have the absolute best base product we can before sticking baseball cards in the spokes and painting flames on it. Some of the more ambitious customization options may have to be prioritized or wait for things like print technology to catch up.
----3D printing tech is rapidly improving, but just as the injection mold production process has its challenges and problems (flash or mold lines, limited shapes, etc.) so does 3D printing. Current print technology still has some disadvantages that it is working to address. For example, the strong material is not especially detailed, and the detailed material is not very strong. Another example: we've pointed out that the sandpapery texture of the 'strong plastic' material is not especially suitable for painting (paint sticks just fine, it just is harder to layer on). And the ultra-detail plastic is not as durable as most plastic miniatures. Much like a resin model or miniature, if you drop one from high up, it very well may break.
---The ultra detail material can also come with some visual artifacts in the plastic's consistency. This is different than the "stair-stepping" effect of earlier 3D printing. In most cases it is a primarily a visual quirk rather than a physical one--and will be undetectable once a figure is sprayed with primer.
Of course, these are challenges that are actively being researched and addressed. We are especially excited about new material offerings that are stronger, more detailed, and even allow for fine color application. These are advances we hope, and expect, to see in the very near future.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
While we expect 3D printing technology to get faster, more accurate, and cheaper in the near future, our pledge tiers are pretty in-line with the prices we expect at launch (so, in the neighborhood of $15-$25 depending on material, before shipping—note that reward tiers INCLUDE shipping). While this does price them higher than most minis, we think it will be a powerful service for when you're looking to get that one hero just right, or build that one perfect mini to lead your massive army.
We're keeping our eyes trained on the horizon for new, more detailed, and cheaper materials though. 2014 will be a very exciting time for 3D printing, and we're likely going to see new materials, printers, and techniques very soon:
This is a far more popular question than we anticipated. Though we don't have any plans to offer this at launch, it is clearly something people are interested in. We will keep this in mind!
It's no surprise that a name as evocative as Hero Forge sees a fair bit if use—it pops in a few different industries, applying to several very different properties. A few folks have pointed out that, in tabletop circles, "HeroForge" (with no space) is a fantastic, free character manager app. Though we're clearly doing very different things, we just wanted to avoid confusion and point out that there is no affiliation. We've spoken with the fellow though, and he is just as cool as his app! Check it out if you get a chance:
This is another question we got a lot more than we anticipated! While we don't plan to offer a way for users to submit or view parts at launch, we are definitely going to keep the possibility of offering a curated selection of user submissions in mind.
I pledged for a tier that gives me multiple figures. Will I be able to redeem my figures one at a time, or do I have to do them all at once?
Our current plan, so as not to be crushed by shipping costs, is to credit each account for the value of the number of miniatures they have backed for, and the cost of ONE shipment. That way, if you opt to split it up over time, or want to postpone getting one of your figures until certain new features are added, you can.
Will the Kickstarter backer base be available to all tiers, including the higher ones that don't mention it?
We're planning on offering the Kickstarter backer base to all pledge levels, yep!
Kickstarter lets you select one value for international shipping rather than breaking it down by country. To simply things for the Kickstarter, we're just sticking with the one flat value. Of course, when the service launches, you'll be able to select your shipping based on what shipping to your country actually costs. We regret if this keeps some people from offering their support.
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