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Kobold Press FAQ

Open Design FAQ

1. How does this work?
2. You mean I get to pick everything? Sign me up!
3. Am I buying my way into a publishing credit?
4. Why use voting and polls? Why not just let the lead designer choose?
5. I donated, now what?
6. Can I get a copy of a project that is already over?
7. What do I get for my patronage?
8. How do I make suggestions to the lead designer?
9. Can I upgrade my patronage at a later date?
10. Can I support more than one project at a time?
11. What happens if my project doesn’t make the cut/commission?
12. What if I change my mind about supporting a project or wish to change my vote?
13. How does it work in practice?
14. Can I playtest these projects?

How does this work?

Open Design uses an old business model called patronage. People directly commission an artist (in this case, a game designer plus mapper and illustrators) to produce an adventure of interest. It’s rather like a preorder, but you get to influence what goes into the adventure or sourcebook. No distributors or retailers are involved.

You mean I get to pick everything? Sign me up!

Like a Renaissance artist who worked for a patron, your voice will be heard in what the final project will look like. You can offer suggestions about what you want to see, vote on proposals for the adventure slots within the book, playtest and provide direct feedback, and—if you’re interested—even contribute and be paid as a designer.

Some patrons prefer to lurk, and that’s always an option. Notes patron and freelancer John Ling, “Whether you opt to contribute is entirely up to you. But, for example, I was a patron on Halls of the Mountain King and didn’t make a proposal, and I feel I still got my money’s worth from the project.”

Am I buying my way into a publishing credit?

Not that easy buddy! Open Design most certainly can and does reject material all the time — the strongest suggestions are the ones that are accepted by your fellow patrons.

While some patrons prefer to make suggestions from the sidelines, in every project, many people would like to design a chapter or two of adventure or sourcebook material. This is why the project filters all suggestions through a polling system, so only the strongest ideas and the most talented designers are chosen.

While some patrons who pitch to write an adventure are turned down, there’s always feedback as to why, and suggestion for how to improve for the next pitch. Major donors and sponsors get coaching on their pitches, to improve more quickly.

Why use voting and polls? Why not just let the lead designer choose?

Open Design is collaborative design. If your pitch is accepted or your monster is taken for a bestiary, that doesn’t mean it goes into print without changes. Critique, review, and playtest are part of the process as well.

It’s like a writer’s workshop (for game designers). Most such workshops cost $500 or more for a weekend retreat. You pay a lot less here for months of feedback that builds your ability and insight into how to design.

I became a backer at a level that gives me behind-the-scenes access: now what?

The first step is easy, but the second step requires a little patience: you’ll get access to the KQ Forum for the project and an email invitation to visit the private posts for that project.

Because there’s a small volume of patrons (relative to, say, customers of the latest mass market adventure), it’s pretty much done manually. You’ll get the invitation email within 48 hours unless something is seriously wrong. Send us a note if you haven’t heard in a day or two.

And not to worry, the project work of designing a good RPG adventure or sourcebook takes time. You won’t miss the start!

Can I get a copy of a project that is already over?

Yes, most recent projects are available. However, projects up to and including Halls of the Mountain King (from 2009) all Open Design projects were limited editions and are sold out.

Starting with From Shore to Sea and Sunken Empires, all Open Design projects are available from KQ.com and elsewhere in print editions.

What do I get for my patronage?

In addition to the tangible (or digital) rewards that a project offers backers during the fundraising stage, you gain access to private KoboldQuarterly.com forum threads for the project. You can participate in the discussions, and vote in polls that determine the project directions. You’ll read design essays that uncover how professional designers work, test, and think about game structure.

If you’re a senior patron, you can suggest an NPC or a monster and/or template, see the unfinished manuscript in progress, request design essay topics, preview maps and artwork, pitch your own adventures for anthology projects, and submit other materials such as spells or rituals if you are so inclined. That’s all purely optional, but senior patrons tend to be more involved in the collaborative design.

All patrons receive a PDF of the final product, plus all errata in an updated edition, and the option to purchase a print copy of the project at as low a price as we can manage (typically under $10). For From Shore to Sea, a print edition was included in the project.

How do I make suggestions to the lead designer?

When you see a post in the private boards, you can discuss either by leaving a comment on a post, or in some instances, sending the lead designer an email. Everyone is collaborating on the same team, and the conversation is pretty friendly!

Can I upgrade my patronage at a later date?

Yes, at any time you can upgrade by picking up the difference between your current level of patronage and the higher level you wish to support. Include a note with your purchase in the KQ Store, so we can update your access to private discussions right away.

Can I support more than one project at a time?

Absolutely. You could be a major backer on one project that interests you most, while being a standard patron on a second project where you just want to weigh in from time to time and get the extra backer rewards (essays, extra PDFs, battlemaps, these vary from project to project).

What happens if my project doesn’t make the cut/commission?

Before we started using Kickstarter for our patronage funding campaigns, donations to projects that didn’t meet their goal were returned. With Kickstarter, backers are not billed until the project reaches its goal so this isn’t an issue.

What if I change my mind about supporting a project or wish to change my vote?

Kickstarter strongly discourages backers from canceling their pledges, but it is possible to do so. First though, please get in touch with Wolfgang and let him know what your doubts about the project are — he may be able to address them. If you must cancel, visit the project page and click “Manage Your Pledge.” At the bottom of the next page you’ll see the “Cancel Pledge” button.

Once a project has been commissioned, you are a sponsor and patron of that project, and you will be recognized for your support.

How does it work in practice?

Updates, information, and discussion happen through the KQ Forums for all projects. The blogging software assigns permissions and differentiates standard and senior patrons. Senior patrons see additional materials.

The main venue is the discussion between you and the project designer. As mentioned elsewhere, senior patrons have a lot of pull, but a great idea is a great idea from any source. Many of those elements are laid down in initial brainstorming posts and refined over time with playtest and discussion.

Patrons need a KQ.com registration to get the most out of the project, and that is absolutely free.

Can I playtest these projects?

Yes! Patrons can be playtesters, either running or participating in the playtest. Playtesters must sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) before materials are released. You will receive electronic copies of the material for testing once Open Design has received your NDA. Specifics of the playtest may vary from project to project.

See you on the boards! A list of current projects is available.

Kobold Quarterly FAQ

Hey, what happened to Kobold Quarterly?

After an amazing five-year run culminating with Kobold Quarterly 23, Kobold Press ended the magazine on a high note. The kobolds are now focused on designing and publishing high-quality RPG adventures, sourcebooks, campaign materials and other types of roleplaying game supplements in print and electronic formats.

What happens to my Kobold Quarterly subscription?  

If you have any issues remaining on your KQ subscription, you will get a full refund for your remaining issues.  You have three options:

  1. Receive a 150% refund in Kobold Store credit. If you opt in, you’ll get a credit to use on any future purchase equal to 1.5 times your remaining issue credit.
  2. Receive a 100% refund for your remaining issues via PayPal.
  3. Receive a 100% refund for your remaining issues via paper check, if you paid with a check or money order and do not have a PayPal account.

All subscribers will get an email from Shelly letting them know how many issues they have remaining, and she will deliver the option you prefer for a refund or store credit.

If you don’t choose one of these 3 options by Saturday, December 15, you will get the PayPal refund by default. We will strive mightily to process all refunds by December 31, 2012.

What happens to the Adopt-a-Soldier KQ subscriptions?

Any new Adopt-a-Soldier funds coming this quarter will be refunded in full to the donor. Service members who are currently subscribed to KQ through the Adopt-a-Soldier program will get an email giving them the option to either take the store credit as described above, or receive a refund.

Why are you doing this now?

While we are profoundly grateful to every subscriber, every advertiser, and everyone who ever bought a single issue of Kobold Quarterly, the magazine has always led a hand-to-mouth existence. It’s been glorious fun, but at some point in the last year or two it became a burden and even a bit of a grind to devote every night and weekend to KQ, four months a year, while working a full-time job and being a husband and a father to two kids.

The reality is that magazines are born, they grow, and eventually they decline and disappear. Others will carry on, but after five and a half years of publication, it’s time for the kobolds to move on to other things.

I submitted an article to KQ. What’s going to happen to it?

If you have submitted an article to the KQ editors, they will respond to you directly about your article. Even though the magazine is coming to an end, Kobold Press is still going strong – so some articles will be picked up for other Kobold Press series, such as the New Paths line, Midgard Adventures, and other new releases.

Why can’t you just do a Kickstarter to pay for KQ?

A Kickstarter might raise enough money to support a print run, but it’s unlikely to raise enough money to maintain a staff. (And honestly, paying a salary is not what Kickstarter is for.)

I’ll spare you the details, but editing, publishing and distributing Kobold Quarterly with a staff of volunteers and freelancers has simply exhausted the existing Kobold staff.  With the birth of our second child in addition to the hours Kobold needs, my wife Shelly (Kobold Minion #1) has burned out; and we can’t fill her roles in accounting, customer service, shipping, and ad sales with volunteers. We’re grateful she has agreed to close out existing subscriptions and handle the transition.

Why can’t you just go PDF?

We thought about that, but after a lot of soul-searching, financial calculations, and looking at the fantastic resources and talent we’ve built up over the years, we decided to dedicate our time and energy toward putting out insanely great adventures, sourcebooks and other types of RPG supplements.

What should I read now? I’m massively bummed.

You’ll be happy to know that the Kobold Quarterly blog will continue, and it is still totally free, with a new article every weekday. That is about 20 articles a month, submitted by gamers and industry pros alike. Check it out, and maybe sharpen up a pitch to send to Miranda.

You should also subscribe to the free Kobold Courier e-newsletter if you haven’t already. (The signup form is at the bottom of our home page.) It has original Kobold content, links to industry news and products that we think you’ll like,  as well as roundups of the latest blog articles.

Also, there are lots of great print or PDF magazines still out there: WayfinderPathways, Crusader, Fight On! and others. We encourage you to check them out and support them with donations and subscriptions!

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