Frequently Asked Questions
Are the felt-backed tokens absolutely necessary? Couldn't you just run the game with pencil and paper?
The version of Blood on the Clocktower on offer is not a 'deluxe' option, it's the game as it should be. Felt-backed tokens and a felt-lined box are certainly a wonderful tactile thing to behold, but they aren't an aesthetic flourish - they're a physical feature required to play the game. Every token is backed with felt, and the felt in the Grimoire makes the tokens stick to it, with friction. When the Stoyteller moves around with the Grimoire, the tokens don't move around and end up in a mess. If you were to do this with paper and cardboard, it would all go everywhere.
The difference between having a standard box and a felt-lined box is not the same as the difference between, say, having standees (practical) and miniatures (fancy) in a tabletop game. The Storyteller needs to have the Grimoire with them as they move around of a night phase in order to update the information in the Grimoire as it happens, and they need it during the execution phase to enact game effects in real-time based on who nominates and votes.
The Storyteller also conducts every night phase in silence, tapping players on the shoulder to 'wake' them up and using visual signals to communicate. This design feature lets the Storyteller 'skip' characters that are on the script but not in the game without giving away their lack of presence and keeps the night phases as short as possible, but it also means that the Storyteller needs to be physically in the space with players in order to give these visual signals, show some players tokens as information, and perform all these actions.
As for playing with paper and pencil, this is something you could try out if you wish. The rules for the game have been made public on the Kickstarter campaign page. We've actually run a few games before using just a clipboard and a pencil. We found that when the game got above 5 or 6 players, things got tougher to keep track off. There are numerous status effects, all changing over time, so it's a heck of a challenge. It’s sometimes possible to pencil-and-paper a 5-6 player game of ‘Trouble Brewing’, but there’s a lot more for the Storyteller to keep track of when you get into the more advanced scripts (‘Sects & Violets’ and ‘Bad Moon Rising’). Here are a few examples of Grimoires during games, to give an idea of how much the Grimoire helps you keep track of: https://rebrand.ly/BostonGrimoires
Ben Burns, who has had a pre-release copy of Blood on the Clocktower for close to a year now and who runs games regularly, summed up his thoughts on pencil-and-paper quite well in the campaign comments, so we'll repeat it here:
“The first time I played BOTC, I immediately asked the guys if I could have a print and play version. At first glance, it’s the sensible option. Once you actually start running games you very quickly realise why this would be, at best, extremely difficult and most likely borderline impossible. There is so much going on at any given moment in this game, that trying to keep track of it all with scraps of paper and pens would be absolute folly. I’ve run a lot of games in my time, my fair share of RPGs, big games of diplomacy and nothing, not a single one of them, can even compare to BOTC in terms of how much you need to keep track of as a GM. It’s worth it though, because the level of replayability here is unparalleled.”
We've been developing this game for many years and we've tried every other alternative to felt throughout the production and development process – pencil & paper, magnets, dry-erase markers, stickers, etc, and none of them have been much good. By far the most effective option for running a game of Blood on the Clocktower is felt. Nothing else even comes close.Last updated:
As a matter of fact, we have considered an app. It's a proposal that's come up quite a bit as we've demonstrated the game widely. As with everything we do at The Pandemonium Institute, we want to take the time to get it right. An app is something that's on our radar, and if it's something we can do well (i.e. create an app that does not compromise on a player's positive experience of the game) and do it within our resources then we will do it.
Right now, the analog version is our priority for two reasons.
1) Philosophically: We don't want technology to be a barrier to entry. At the outset, all you should need is the game box and its contents. We want people to be able to play even if they don't have a smartphone or a tablet. For this reason we have worked to make sure that the game is fully playable in analog form first. We want the game to be 'Apocalypse-Ready' - people should still be able to play Clocktower after The Lights Go Out. ;)
2) Design: There are certain challenges in translating the game to a purely electronic setting. For one example, the Storyteller needs to be able to move around with the grimoire, and when static it needs to be placed where players cannot see it. A Grimoire on a tablet suffers in that there is no edge to not see around. This is a physical design issue - how do you make a Grimoire on a tablet easily visible to the storyteller, but not the players? It may be fine for the Storyteller to darken the screen during the day phase while it is static, however it is not a sufficient solution while the Storyteller is in motion with the Grimoire during nominations, voting, and the night phase (where individual players who get woken up may still end up seeing it if the Storyteller has to move across the room based on the action taken by the player). One solution is to create a special physical box that you place your tablet in the bottom of, essentially replicating the physical grimoire. However, it would kind of defeat the purpose to create an app that works best when paired with a physical component that basically replicates the thing the app was designed to replace.
An app is more likely to happen than not to happen, eventually. However, even an app may still need to be paired with some physical design elements (such as a 'Grimoire' for the tablet, or character cards so that roles can still be randomly assigned without everyone having to pair a smartphone to the app).
The smooth apps that exist for games like One Night Ultimate Werewolf could give the impression that many other social deduction games can be run through an app, but Blood on the Clocktower is a very different beast than ONUW. If a BOTC app were to be good and give the best possible player experience then it would consequently have to be a very different kind of app. If it's possible to do it, then we're committed to doing it.Last updated:
Translations to other languages are a priority of ours, but we want to take the time to make sure they're done right. Since the game is a social game, the translations of the rules and the character text explanations need to be done well, so that everyone understands them.
The game itself uses many subtle choices of words when describing the way the characters interact, and we need to make sure that any translations capture all of this. When translations do happen, it will take some time to playtest each version so that not only the character text is easily understood by the players, but that the rules are adequately explained to the Storyteller. This is certainly do-able, it's just not something that would be wise to rush. Consequently, there won't be any translations to coincide with the Kickstarter campaign but we'll get started on them ASAP.Last updated:
We've gotten the Grimoire as small as possible for increased ease of handling and for its total weight, whilst still keeping it large enough to contain all the game's contents and have enough physical space on the Grimoire to track a game.
Many of the Grimoires in use at conventions and events are older prototypes that are larger than what is currently planned. If you've played at a convention or with a regular BOTC group, chances are the final Grimoire will be smaller than what you're used to. The current planned dimensions for the closed Grimoire are 365mm x 300mm x 85mm. (Roughly 14.4" x 11.8" x 3.4".)Last updated:
We've filmed three full play-throughs of Blood on the Clocktower. The first of them was released on the 21st of April and the other two are on the way. The first can be found here: https://youtu.be/4sfa8_kNxsQ
Live Twitch streaming is something that we definitely want to get to eventually. But like everything with The Pandemonium Institute, we want to take the time to get it right. When we were running games at PAX West in 2018, many people would just come in to watch games being played. They particularly enjoyed getting commentary on the game from the Storyteller, who would explain what was happening, what the crucial relationships were, why the Storyteller was making the decisions they were, and what could happen next. We feel like we've achieved this in the recorded play-throughs we made, but without the benefit of editing and post-production this is going to be more difficult to convey in a live stream.
For any Twitch stream we do, we want to make sure that all players can be heard and seen, and that viewers will have full information and context for what is going on so that it's as engaging as possible. This will require time and resources to make sure the production values are high, but we want to get there eventually. :)Last updated:
UPDATE: A pledge tier exclusive to UK backers has been created. This tier contains the main game and ships at the advertised discounted price of $25 USD. UK backers should back at this tier, not the main reward tier.
The $30 USD price is one of those errors that you hope to find from checking the campaign ten thousand times before you launch, but that got missed on a project this large. The $30 USD price is a hangover from our initial projections of shipping price to the UK whilst incorporating the dreaded VAT, but we made the decision to subsidise UK shipping somewhat and drop the price to $25 USD. It made it into our internal accounting and our shipping tiers, but regrettably not the reward itself.
We're in talks with Kickstarter about getting the shipping changed to the U.K. from $30 USD to $25 USD, but we're hopeful that this can be resolved.
Kickstarter has a policy that they will not change a reward tier once a person has backed it. This is a good policy that ensures that backers are guaranteed to receive what they signed up for, but it is this policy that is currently the barrier to us being able to change the shipping price to be lower. Given that we are not attempting to change any of the content of the reward tier, and that what we are trying to change it to is objectively better than what is currently listed (i.e. we're trying to give a lower price), we're hopeful that the price can be changed in this instance.Last updated:
We've done what we can to get the shipping prices the best they can be. They're based on the projected size and weight of the game (minimum 3.6kg for the distribution version and over 4kg for the Kickstarter copy); the shipping prices quoted to us by the top tier of fulfillment companies; and, in the case of European countries, the Value Added Tax (VAT) that applies to importing games into Europe. We've taken measures to keep shipping costs down, even to the point of subsidising European shipping tiers to some extent. However, we must offer accurate prices for taxes and shipping, otherwise the funds required to freight the game to fulfillment centres, post it to backers, and pay taxes, duty, etc, won't be there, and we would not be able to fulfill our campaign promises to anyone.
Some campaigns will choose to offer 'free shipping' to some places and then reduced shipping costs to others. This is a fine thing to do, and the motivation for it is usually so that the backer can see all their costs in a single figure, but it's not really 'free shipping' – whilst nothing is charged for shipping costs on the pledge, the actual costs for shipping are absorbed into the price of the game/reward itself. For example, if Blood on the Clocktower were to structure its campaign this way, we would offer 'Free Shipping' to the USA, Australia, and China, and then the main reward tier would be $95 instead of $79, because the shipping cost to those places is $16. Shipping to West Europe would be $95 + $19, still for a total of $114 but with a shipping price that looks more pleasing to the eye, despite the fact that it would not represent an actual discount. We decided to be open with our shipping costs so that backers could see where their money is going.Last updated:
The $79 price point for Kickstarter represents a discount off the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for Kickstarter backers. Based on the production quotes we received from the manufacturer and using industry standards to determine the MSRP, that price comes out at about the $95-$100 range.
Blood on the Clocktower is a monster of a game. There is a substantial amount of high quality felt-lined pieces and a large felt-lined box, and all of it is necessary to play the game in a way that gives the best experience possible. Consequently, the game is priced according to the necessity for the felt components.
We have done what we can to make the game as accessible as possible, including offering a discount from the retail price for Kickstarter backers. We understand that it is a price point that is higher than the cost of a typical social deduction game, but we want to make sure that the game is as good as it can possibly be. Nothing comes even close to felt-lined playing pieces to offer the same experience. The '$79 + Shipping' pledge price represents a discount off the price that the game's necessary components dictate.Last updated:
We're looking into either generating a two-copy tier on the main campaign itself or determining the best way to handle it through the pledge manager (which will be CrowdOx).
Kickstarter backers are already receiving a discount from the game's MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) so regrettably it's not feasible to offer a further discount on bundled copies. However, any savings in shipping from ordering multiple copies would be passed along to backers.Last updated:
Whilst we have developed a large following in Australia from being based here, we developed an even larger following in the U.S. This is because we demonstrated the game there extensively and it has about 13 times as many people as Australia.
From looking at our own mailing list and because of the size of the market, we knew before we launched our Kickstarter that it was highly likely the majority of Blood on the Clocktower's backers would be American. U.S. dollars were chosen as the currency in order to provide simplicity to the most people possible, as well as to help protect this endeavour from fluctuations in currency values. If we'd launched in Australian dollars and then the U.S. dollar had crashed, the largest part of Blood on the Clocktower's audience may have been priced out from being able to buy the game. If the Australian dollar had crashed instead, then all the American backers on Kickstarter would get a great built-in discount at the currency conversion rate, but it means we'd have had to throw out all of our budgets and preparation about what it will cost to get the game made and into people's hands, and it's possible we'd have had a “successful” Kickstarter but with not enough funds to actually deliver on our promises.
A member of The Pandemonium Institute, Evin, is a citizen of both Australia and the United States, which has allowed us to set up the campaign with an American financial institution.Last updated:
Don't see the answer to your question? Ask the project creator directly.Ask a question