TL;DR: The Value Proposition
If you play, or run, a Pathfinder game, this book will save you time. It's as simple as that. Hundreds of detailed, ready-to-use PCs/NPCs and animal companions for a great price. Tons of high-quality, intricately-detailed crunch.
Not quite sure? Check out the free PDF DO1 Standard Pregenerated Characters for Pathfinder, a smaller collection of 46 characters that should give you a good sense of what to expect... times seven!
As we hit Stretch Goals, it will continue to evolve to be more beautiful (added art), more useful (hooks and context and integration), and have more content (additional books and chapters unlocked).
This KS campaign is also an opportunity to save a bundle on some of the most complex, richly detailed, and ambitious indie RPG content ever produced.
Prefab PCs and NPCs aren't new. But this many of them, covering this many different classes and options, and composed in alignment with a wide array of difficulty levels--that's super-convenient and useful. It's drop-in character crunch at its finest, its most diverse, and flexible.
A Little History
Dark Obelisk 1 was planned to be a 64-page softcover urban adventure. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, and months of development, it evolved into a 1,000-page mega adventure with more than 50 NPCs, delivered in the form of two massive hardcover books.
Dark Obelisk 2 was planned to be a modest continuation of the adventure path. In the course of its KS campaign, it saw a tenfold increase in funding, and more than a dozen Stretch Goals that describe an enormous and ambitious collection of campaign setting, adventure, and GM tools spanning the next several years of development.
And now, this.
Chest-Beating: Review Quotes from the DO1 EPC:
- "a rather impressive book"
- "the single biggest book of pregens I have ever seen for any gaming system"
- "surprised by the relative precision of the builds"
- "you get a metric TON of characters"
- "some serious value for the time-starved, but crunch-savvy GM"
In addition to the above praise, I will also admit that I learned a lot from the book and the subsequent feedback I received. The Character Compendium will address all of that feedback.
The EPC for DO1 was an enormous success, both as a Kickstarter project as well as based on feedback from backers and those who bought it after publication.
Dozens of backers, GMs and players alike, have extolled the utility of the book, either to get a gaming session started quickly, or to drop NPCs into an adventure with a bit more robustness than "20 hp with a longsword" placeholders that are there simply to perish at the hands of XP-seeking PCs.
This Kickstarter campaign builds on the success of that volume, adding hundreds more ready-to-use characters, and incorporating feedback from the first volume.
The resulting book, Character Compendium for DO2, is meant to make it as easy as possible to jump right into an adventure--either in the Dark Obelisk Adventure Path, or indeed any Pathfinder campaign.
We've also added a second book: the Villainous Compendium, a separate PDF and hardcover book.
This campaign is also an opportunity for those who may have missed IGS' previous Kickstarters to join in the effort, and grab published and future products at a discount.
The Character Compendium is a book of about 400 pregenerated characters. Though they're intended to be used as PCs, starting points for new players to dive right into a gaming session, they can easily be dropped into a game as NPCs by the GM.
The Villainous Compendium is a separate book of 10-50 villains, henchmen, henchwomen, henchthings, rumors, and lore. Additional Stretch Goals will unlock lairs, hooks, Quests, magic items, and more.
Each villain is a 10-50 page chapter unto themselves, and has all of the following:
- 3-6 pages: Full Quadded Statblocks for a variety of difficulty levels.
- ~1 page: Background, motivation, appearance, combat behavior, and other "non-crunchy" character description.
- Possibly 1-2 pages: Faction description related to the villain.
- 1-2 pages: Rumors and Lore specific to the villain and his/her organization or MO.
- 1-2 pages: Quest(s) specific to the villain.
- 1-5 pages: Lair, hideout, or other mapped location(s) related to the villain.
- 4-20 pages: Henchmen, henchwomen, and henchthings, fully Quad-Statted.
In addition, each pregenerated character shows what I call "Quadded Statblocks"--one separate statblock, individually created for each of four challenge levels. Typically, this corresponds to character levels 1, 6, 10, and 14. The point is to support a wide breadth of gameplay, and to let people start a game at nearly any level of difficulty. Used as NPCs, it means that a GM can easily drop a "scaled" character into a game of any difficulty.
Here's an example of a single Druid character. You can also check out the previews of the published Dramatis Personae & Bestiary book from Dark Obelisk 1.
In addition, all PDF copies of the book include a printer-friendly version, which foregoes the nifty-but-ink-intensive parchment background, like so:
What's in the Book
How many pregenerated characters will be in the book? 400. Or, rather, 100, each with 4 statblocks to represent different difficulty/challenge/CR.
And since there's a heavy focus on Druid archetypes, the actual statblock count is likely to be much more, given that most have Animal Companions.
Specifically, we'll cover the 11 Core, 8 Base, 3 Alternate classes... and beyond that, to cover at least 85 Archetypes.
Here's the number of different Archetypes for each Class, planned as of this writing. Things may change as we hit our Stretch Goals! Note that each of these will receive Quadded Statblocks, so the actual count of ready-to-use PCs or NPCs will be FOUR TIMES the numbers listed.
- Bard: 1
- Cleric: 3
- Druid: 30
- Fighter: 5
- Paladin: 1
- Ranger: 16
- Rogue: 15
- Wizard: 1
- Cavalier: 3
- Gunslinger: 2
- Inquisitor: 1
- Magus: 2
- Oracle: 1
- Summoner: 1
- Witch: 2
2-5 pages to cover the lavish crunch-y goodness of each, some intro and mechanics discussion, an index or three... figure a total of 300-400 pages, and over 400 total statblocks.
Feel free to grab the freebie PDF that explains the whole Quadded Statblock concept in more detail. I've found it to be a bit "love it or hate it", but for those like me who rankle at the thought of only being able to run Adventure XYZ if your party is of levels 6-8, the concept is a concise, neatly-packed and immensely-useful godsend.
At the risk of poking Fate right in the eye, here's what I have in mind, should we meet and then surpass our funding goals.
- UNLOCKED! Popularity Contest: If we surpass the number of backers that the DO1 EPC had, the lucky 44th backer will receive a free "Create an NPC": Help design an NPC with dedicated illustration (normally a $75 value).
- UNLOCKED! $1,736: Not a Businessman, But a Business, Man: If we exceed the funding level of the DO1 EPC, I'll grant the backer who takes us across that line a free Help Design a Character reward.
- UNLOCKED! $2,000: Added character illustrations.
- UNLOCKED! $2,500: More character illustrations.
- UNLOCKED! $3,000: Second Book Unlocked! Villianous Compendium: Monstrous Characters, Pregenerated Villains, Enemies, and Unusual Allies. Double the funding goal means double the output! An additional book with ~50 NPCs, 200+ pages, hardcover. Available as an add-on to your pledge for $15 PDF / $35 hardcover & PDF. More details if we hit this level!
- UNLOCKED! $3,500: Intro Quest Hooks chapter: A collection of Quests designed to introduce characters into an adventure or existing Campaign Setting. For example, you might choose one of these as a backstory for your character, or inspiration for a backstory of your design. Exceptionally useful, as well, for gaming groups who need to introduce a new PC in a story-based way that makes sense... e.g., your cousin Jennifer has decided to join a campaign halfway through, and you don't want to just say "bam, this new character is among you now".
- UNLOCKED! $4,000: Character illustrations for several Monstrous Characters.
- UNLOCKED! $4,500: Full Faction details for many Villains and Monstrous Characters.
- UNLOCKED! $5,000: Lairs, hideouts, and more for Villains.
- UNLOCKED! $5,500: Quests for Villains and their crews.
- $6,000: Free high-resolution Map Pack digital files of every Quest and Lair/Hideout map in the Villainous Compendium, free for ALL backers automatically!
Assuming the project gets funded, once things wrap up, you will have the opportunity to get Add-Ons via BackerKit.
Below are some planned Add-Ons. Which Add-Ons end up available, and at what prices, is subject to change between now and the BK survey going live. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to message me!
Shipping: For all items, typically $10 US / $15 rest of world. Combined shipping on multiple items halves this rate; I am still working with BackerKit as to how to implement this best in the survey!
Many products listed as Add-Ons are planned, in the pipeline. They're definitely coming. But I'm terrible at estimating my own work. This is for two main reasons: 1) I have a day job and three kids; 2) I have a habit of writing books far far far bigger than I had initially envisioned them.
Check out the IGS website for my best guesses as to publication dates for future products. I hate to turn money away, but I'd much rather set expectations realistically than to have well-meaning and awesome backers be disappointed.
Short version: It'll take me a while to deliver everything on the radar. But I will make every attempt to make it worth the wait, and to do so in a way that rewards early adopters as much as possible.
Creative Input Add-Ons
- $75 Muse: Design a Character: Name, and help design, a character. Your character will be included in the book, and have custom full-color artwork associated with him/her/it. These Add-Ons will be limited to 5.
- $125 Vibrant Muse: As Muse, but the character will have a persistent role to play in the greater Realm of Aquilae mythology and Dark Obelisk Adventure Path storyline. These Add-Ons will be limited to 2.
Premium Color Add-Ons
All Atlases are automatically printed in Premium Color. Nearly all other published and planned books default to Standard Color. Where the option for Premium Color is available (or planned), it's marked below like this: [PCO $40], meaning Premium Color Optional, and that it's a $40 additional charge.
That's a lot. I agree. I can only say that unlike some publishers, our Premium Color charge is pretty much at-cost: whatever the printer charges is the cost we pass along to you. That said, these figures are guesswork: On some books, we'll end up losing money if the book turns out to be big enough!
So is premium color worth it? Your call. My personal take is that it is worth it, but only on books that I intend to actually run with my gaming group. For casual reading and reference and mining for ideas and inspiration, for example, it's a truly indulgent expense.
Whenever I buy indie RPG books from RPGnow, if the publisher gives the option to print in Premium Color, I usually go for it. But that's me. YMMV.
It would be a small fortune to buy every single book we plan on publishing, in premium color. But damn wouldn't it look nice on your bookshelf... :)
Here are some examples of the difference:
Dark Obelisk Adventure Path Add-Ons
- DOAP Completionist: $90 PDF, $175 hardcovers & PDFs. Includes all these listed items. Note that DO3 and DO4 are planned, but no timeline exists for them yet; they are *not* included in this.
- Dark Obelisk 1: Adventure Book: $20 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF; [PCO $40]
Dark Obelisk 1: Dramatis Personae & Bestiary:
$20 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF
- Dark Obelisk 1: Players' Guide:$1 PDF, $5 softcover & PDF (yes, you can buy multiple copies for your players)
- Artifacts & Artifice, Volume 1: $18 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF; [PCO $25]
Artifacts & Artifice, Volume 2:
$18 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF; [PCO $25]
- Dark Obelisk 2: The Mondarian Elective: $25 PDF, $40 hardcover & PDF; [PCO $40]
- Dark Obelisk 2 Players' Guide: $1 PDF, $5 softcover & PDF
Setting Book Add-Ons
These are sourcebooks, presented as part of the Realm of Aquilae campaign setting, but usable in any adventure context and quite mine-able for ideas and inspiration even if your gaming group has nothing to do with Dark Obelisk. :)
Most will be $15 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF:
- Setting Completionist: $160 PDF, $310 hardcovers & PDFs. Includes all these listed items.
- Berinncorte Basecamp
- Druid Enclave [PCO 40]
- Aquilae: Pantheon & Tribute [PCO $40]
- Barrowton [PCO $40]
- Greatsnake Compound [PCO $40]
- The Pit of Hope [PCO $40]
- Western Realm Gazetteer [PCO $40]
- Mistwalk City [PCO $40]
- Sin Furnace of Arghastar [PCO $40]
Adventure Book Add-Ons
Each of these is a mega-adventure, or bundle of normal-sized adventures. They're planned as 200+ page hardcovers rich in lavish detail, full-color maps, intricate NPCs with backstories, and of course, Quadded Statblocks to let them be used with PCs of any level.
Most will be $15 PDF, $35 hardcover & PDF:
- Adventure Completionist: $160 PDF, $300 hardcovers & PDFs. Includes all these listed items.
- Dark Harbor [PCO $40]
- Echoes of Time Forgotten [PCO $40]
- The Highest Form of Flattery [PCO $40]
- Library Vitae [PCO $40]
- Grim Tokens [PCO $40]
- Fire & Gold [PCO $25]
- Husks [PCO $40]
- Northern Mountain Adventure [PCO $40]
- Prior Lives [PCO $40]
Premium Atlas & Map Pack Add-Ons
Each of these Atlases comes with a separate, ultra-high-resolution image file (PNG) of each map, in both GM and Players' format, with and without gridlines, for ease of use in VTT or other contexts.
Most will be $8 PDF / files, $35-45 for premium-color hardcover & PDF / files.
I'll be completely honest here: These will almost certainly end up costing me money, or I'll maybe just break even. Premium color is hideously expensive to produce, and my penchant for mapping each and every single detail in my books, and offering a Player and a GM version for each map, means the actual pagecount will balloon significantly. To wit: Dark Obelisk 2 will have at least 166 maps. At least. (My money's on 200, when all is said and done, but we'll see.)
But they are just so insanely useful and awesome, particularly if you're a GM with any intention of running these books for your gaming group. These Atlases are created to make actually playing the books as easy, and as fun, as possible, for both GMs and players. So are they expensive? Hell yes, painfully so. Are they worth it? YMMV.
If you're on the fence, check out the Dark Obelisk 1 Premium Atlas. Here's an example spread from that book:
- Cartographer Completionist: $140 PDF, $675 hardcovers & PDFs. Includes all these listed items.
- Dark Obelisk 1 Atlas
- Dark Obelisk 2 Atlas
- Barrowton Atlas
- Greatsnake Compound Atlas
- The Pit of Hope Atlas
- Aquilae: Pantheon & Tribute Atlas
- Druid Enclave Atlas
- Dark Harbor Atlas
- Echoes of Time Forgotten Atlas
- Fire & Gold Atlas
- Grim Tokens Atlas
- The Highest Form of Flattery Atlas
- Husks Atlas
- Library Vitae Atlas
- Mistwalk Atlas
- Northern Mountain Adventure Atlas
- Prior Lives Atlas
- Sin Furnace of Arghastar Atlas
- Western Realm Gazatteer Atlas
- Berinncorte Basecamp Atla
- (separate Atlas product will be published for each Setting and each Adventure book)
Who Gets What
To be clear, this Character Compendium for DO2 is an entirely new product.
No current / prior Kickstarter backers are slated to receive this product right now.
Risks and challenges
None, really. Man, I hope that doesn't jinx anything.
I've already created all 44 statblocks for all 11 core classes, and have nearly finished laying them out as of the start of this KS.
Extending things will, as I've said, take a bit of extra time, but it's using an established process that I'm quite comfortable with and that has next to zero risk implementing.
So barring a natural disaster, I can pretty much guarantee this will happen.
As with everything else I do, how long it takes is a function of the competing elements of my life: two kids, a family, a full-time day job, Top Chef being really compelling this season, stupid bodily requirement to get more than 3 hours of sleep a night... that sort of thing.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)