We’re getting ready to put up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of the Shinobigami core rulebook and its first supplement book. Rather than going the traditional route of printing a few thousand and dumping them into distribution, we’re going to attempt to fund this project via crowdsourcing on Kickstarter. We want to raise enough funds to print a few thousand copies of the core rulebook, a few thousand copies of the supplement book, and raise a little overhead for some new materials: Things like English language scenarios, settings, art assets, promotional materials, etc.
We also want to see if there’s a market for Shinobigami in English. We imagine that we’ll probably fund the core of the project, but we want to understand the pull on this net: If there’s a lot of interest, we will likely consider the translation of other Shinobigami supplements (which contain little rules pieces, new clans, or unique replay content) into English in the future.
What We Want You To Understand About This Campaign
If you’re waffling on backing our Kickstarter campaign, here’s some things we’d like you to know, that may help inform your decision.
1) It’s Just A Few Guys, and We Only Aim to Please
It’s come up from time to time, but basically the core of Shinobigami and Kotodama Heavy Industries are two middle-aged guys with day jobs, Matt and Andy. We have extremely busy – perhaps too busy – day jobs, have families, have hobbies (of which game translation, and playing, is a core for both of us). We’re not getting rich off what we do, and we’re not out for your cash. We also brought in some new friends to facilitate this project: The indomitable precision-driven Josh to assist with replay translation, and the acute design-minded Alex to do layout and design. Our core value with the creation of this company and the release of Shinobigami and other games is this:
“There are some really cool, unique RPGs in Japan. Without our organization and effort, it is very likely that they would otherwise never see play in English on a tabletop outside of Japan. All we want to do is bring these games faithfully into English and give exposure to the original authors and artists, at a moderate pace that doesn’t strain us or take away from our jobs, families and relationships.”
That’s at the core of what we do, and note that “Get that CA$$$H” isn’t in there. If something we say or do puzzles you, please give us the benefit of the doubt and feel free to ask us to clarify, and don’t assume the worst.
2) We Will Succeed
Our previous projects, Tenra Bansho Zero (Andy alone) and Ryuutama (Andy and Matt) are both in print, and gorgeous. They were funded by crowdsourcing. They were delivered to the backers to great feedback and kudos.
Both projects were delivered later than expected, for different reasons: Tenra mostly because of the sheer volume of the book that required last minute rewriting and editing; and Ryuutama mostly because of unexpected life changes that we didn’t allow time for. Neither of these mistakes will be repeated, and we have the project schedules such that we’ll complete one book a year or sooner, with no unrealistic expectations or unmanageable pacing.
With crowdsourcing there’s only one failure: Failing to fund is not failure, it’s an opportunity to reassess and come back with a smarter plan. No, the only failure is raising the money, collecting the money, then collapsing without producing the promised core content. That will simply not happen, as Matt and Andy have banded together with one promise: Even if for some reason the crowdfunding money vanishes because of unexpected expenses (they won’t but still, it’s a common thing we see happen in crowdfunding), we will be using our own money to push it through to completion.
To that end, we’re keeping the project simple, no doohickeys or silly extras (T-Shirts, Can Openers etc) that could add unexpected costs, a reduced focus on objects and a hard focus on additional content for the English audience. With our experience, this focus, and dedication, there’s no possibility of us collecting your money and not giving you the book.
3) You Really Only Need the Core Book to Play
Hey, this is where you get to watch us sabotage our own project’s higher-tier rewards! 🙂
Seriously, though, if you are waffling on pitching in when seeing the prices of the higher-end tier rewards, please understand one thing: To play Shinobigami, to have extreme amounts of fun with it for… well, forever, basically: You only need the core book in PDF or hardcopy. You do not need the supplement to enjoy playing the game. Between Andy and Matt, we’ve run dozens of sessions at houses, conventions, meetups and the like, utilizing only the core rules for most of those sessions.
So if you’re waffling, just aim for that core book. If you like it and want a little more, the supplement will have more background, art, nifty rules (for non-ninja “human” characters), and a large replay demonstrating the new stuff. But I know when it comes to RPGs and Board Games, we tend to look at the Big Set with Everything, and think “the core set must be okay, but the expansions/supplements together form the Real Package, right?”
Nope: With Shinobigami, you can have years of gaming fun with only the core book, we can promise that.
4) We Expect to Raise Little Money: We Want Backers, Not Cash
Unlike the previous campaigns we have run, there will not be as many extraneous items, nor will there be those really high pledge levels to throw money at (though we will have a limited edition print run of the book with an alternate cover, we love how that turned out with both Tenra and Ryuutama). Since the Shinobigami books are smaller, around “paperback book sized” where you can palm it; and since we’re aiming to put them into distribution eventually alongside manga books and the like at bookstores, we’ll have much lower margins than other campaigns. That’s why we have to be very careful, “measuring twice and cutting once”.
To that end, we won’t see the sheer money inflow like in our previous projects. Instead, we’d like to aim for Backers, not Money. We had 1,700 backers for Tenra, and 2,100 for Ryuutama. I’m hoping that we see 2,400 for Shinobigami, and I’m hoping that you will help get the word out: Shinobigami has a very low buy-in for what amounts to an extremely easy to play, fast “book-to-table” speed, role-playing experience.
5) More Interest Equals More Material
The more backers support us in the Kickstarter drive, the more funds we’ll allocate to extras like settings, scenarios and other add-ons that will be available for download. More material that help new players get the game to the table faster than ever before. Many of our stretch goals will not be based on raw cash flow, but the number of backers who support it.
Finally, of course the more people who support the project, means the more we will consider later producing more of the original Japanese Shinobigami supplements in English!
6) We Have Other Irons in the Fire, but We Will Resolve Everything
We will be publishing expanded Shinobigami material: New Settings/Worlds, new Scenarios, etc. However, we also have some promised Tenra and Ryuutama supplements to wrap up, which we’ll be doing in conjunction with this new project. We aren’t hopping from one to the next before resolving the previous; in fact, after Shinobigami we’ll be taking around a year off to focus on support for the games we’ve published to date, as well as write and produce some original content. It is of extreme importance to us that we keep ourselves at a pace that lets us bring awesome new games to Japan without burning us out, even as we keep producing both promised and new material for the games we’ve published in the past.
Hope that explains what we’re doing here with Kickstarter. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!