designdragon70sHere’s an intriguing Kickstarter from Evil Hat Productions, the folks who ran a highly successful KS for pulp tie-in novels to their Spirit of the Century game, and several other Kickstarters besides. This one is for a four-volume history of role-playing games entitled Designers & Dragons. Previously published in a single volume, it has been revised and expanded by its author to four full books. And this Kickstarter looks like a great example how to do things right.

For starters, they set the goal to $7,500—a reasonable level for printing and shipping the first volume. Perhaps unsurprisingly, just a few days into the campaign it’s already taken in six times that amount. Those who might have been on the fence waiting to see if it would fund, wait no longer—it’s definitely funding. (In fact, it completely funded before it was even officially announced.)

Another nice thing is that the $1 pledge tier gets you a PDF (and, it turns out, EPUB and MOBI) download of the complete first volume. So you can kick in a single buck, read the first book, then decide if you want to pledge more. $15 will get you “PDFs and other ebook formats of all the volumes the project funds.” (They didn’t leave out the possibility of add-on volumes beyond the four if the project funds well.)

According to their project updates, e-book formats will be PDF, MOBI, and EPUB. Nothing is said about DRM, but I would expect them to be DRM-free. Having gone ahead and funded to have a look, these files have plenty of pictures; the first volume is 14 MB in PDF, 9 MB in MOBI, and 24 MB in EPUB. This volume is polished and professionally formatted; you’re getting a lot for your money here. I’ve only read a few chapters, but it seems well-written and impeccably researched.

In addition to all the e-books, $25 gets you one physical (softcover) book of your choice, US shipping included, $45 gets you two, $65 three, or $85 all four. (There are slightly cheaper prices to buy the books without shipping if you live elsewhere, with shipping costs to be figured and added later.)

It looks like they’re going to be so well-funded that they could come out with any number of interesting extras by the time the project is over. I’ll have to stop by their booth at GenCon and see what they have to say about it in person. Meanwhile: if you have any interest in learning the history behind role-playing games, this is a great (and economical) way to go about it.


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