Kickstarter Round-up: May 13 – 17

Kickstarter is quickly becoming a favorite place for us here at Castles and Cooks to mine for our next great game or piece of cooking equipment. While the risks are well established, the chance to discover something truly unique is one of the things that keeps us coming back for more. From time to time we’ll aggregate our favorite Kickstarters here and tell you why they are worth supporting.

Methodology: We do not actually back every project listed in this round-up (though we do specifically indicate those projects we have helped fund). The projects that we choose are based on several factors, but we tend to gravitate toward projects that have low risk, great value, and where there is excellent communication about the economics. It also helps for the product to just be awesome, something that we would want to play or use.

Transhuman: Eclipse Phase Player’s Guide
What is it: A player’s guide for Eclipse Phase (check out our review for more information) providing alternative character generation, expanded rules for tricky morphs and backgrounds, and lots of new player options to fill needed gaps in the existing rules.
For fans of: The Eclipse Phase sci-fi RPG, or of gritty sci-fi horror roleplaying in general.
Why we love it: Eclipse Phase is an awesome setting which does not shy away from difficult concepts or take the easy way out of a theme. There are plenty of elements to the game universe that make you scratch your head, and this sourcebook has answers to a lot of the trickier questions.

Where are memories stored in a gestalt swarm of mechano-bugs? How different is an uplifted chimp’s psyche from a human’s? What rights do bodiless infomorphs have? The alternative caracter generation is also a great addition for when you don’t want to tackle the complicated-but-detailed standard generation method. This is especially good for new players but probably the biggest sell for GMs in need of fast NPCs.

In addition to the original content of the book, the Kickstarter has been run extremely well. The stretch goals (almost all of which have been met so expect more soon) are really compelling and interesting for backers, and are actually improving the whole game, not just this sourcebook. Also, much of the material is being openly playtested at the Eclipse Phase forums so the fans are really getting a lot of input into this book.
BACKED BY CASTLES & COOKS

Exalted Third Edition
What is it: The next version of the Exalted game from White Wolf.
For fans of: the Exalted game or fans of wuxia-style fantasy in general.
Why we love it: White Wolf is a great company and Exalted has been around for a long time. The world (already large and impressive) is big and this book will expand it further, as well as revisiting to the game’s combat system, character creation, and powers after experiences with the new World of Darkness Storytelling system that the company has already been benefitting from.

In addition to a cool new game, the Kickstarter is doing interesting things with stretch goals as well including improving the quality of the book, creating a number of game aids, and giving out bonuses to the staff working on the project (presumably because of all the extra work from other stretch goals). Onyx Path has several successfully Kickstarted books under their belts at this point and are ironing out a lot of the kinks but this is the first new game system they are trying to launch in this way.

Fantasy Gaming Figures
What is it: Wooden fantasy meeples for all your minimalist miniature needs
For fans of: Tabletop RPGs, wooden figures and style
Why we love it: Jesse made the mistake of backing the legendary Reaper Bones Kickstarter and Dwarven Forge, so when another miniatures option came up, it had to be a good one. With our current games making use of LEGO and random parts and pieces, the Fantasy Gaming Figures offer a cheap and unique alternative. The figures exist as classic archetypes, like a knight, elf or wizard. Nothing flashy, just good old fashioned meeples. In a time when miniatures are continually getting more and more complex, it’s refreshing to see designs that put the imagination back in the mind of players – not on the table.

But the big reason why we’re supporting this is because Gamelyn Games is giving Dungeon Roll a run for its money when it comes to transparency and listening to fans. The new add-ons of a monster pack (which Jesse actually suggested) and the upcoming fairy tale add-on make this a great project that needs funding.

BACKED BY CASTLES & COOKS.

DrunkQuest: The 90 Proof Seas
What is it: Munchkin meets a keg or two in this social fantasy-themed drinking game
For fans of: Drinking, card games and alcoholic puns
Why we love it: DrunkQuest was originally backed by Castles & Cooks and we interviewed the creator Jasn Painter. Originally as a bonus, backers of the first Kickstarter were going to get this expansion as a freebie – but thanks to some new add-ons many of the original gang returned to back this project anew! The premise is simple – take a game like Munchkin with less rules, but add in the challenge of drinking being a resource.

Between new cards and a fantastic sea-theme, 90 Proof Seas is shaping up to be a great addition to the social drinking game genre (then again, I don’t think the solo drinking game genre is very popular…) Plus the Boozar is rapidly adding optional additions that make this outing more interesting.

BACKED BY CASTLES & COOKS

Maple Syrup Like You’ve Never Seen it Before
What is it:
A third generation farm in upstate New York selling custom maple syrups infused with unique fruit flavors and extracts from various liquors.
For fans of: Artisan maple syrup, custom infusions, small regional farms, sweets
Why We Love It: We were intrigued when we saw that Maple Farms was using a “reverse” infusion process to get fruit flavors into their artisan syrup. Yet, what really sold us was the use of oak barrels from various regional distillers to infuse liquor into the syrup. The price point for backers might be higher than you’re used to paying, but shelling out for quality maple syrup is never a bad idea, especially if you consider the corn syrup alternative.

Plus, it isn’t every day that you get the chance to have a maple syrup named after you. One other note, the delivery date for this kickstarter is in June, so you won’t have to wait long for sweet satisfaction. Better get your favorite pancake recipe ready.

Red Duck Ketchup
What is it:
A new custom ketchup company from Oregon.
For fans of: Artisan ketchup, ketchup and other condiments in general, ducks.
Why We Love It: It was the name that initially caught our attention. It doesn’t totally make sense and yet at the same time it completely works. But, there seems to be more to this group than just a clever name and logo. Artisan ketchup is nothing new, but with handcrafted batches and wholly organic ingredients we like.

It’s also nice to see them sticking with just a few core flavors rather than trying to offer too many options which can impact quality. They seem to have a handle on how the finances will be used and we also like that they’ve already been testing on scalability so that they can retain consistency even as they expand. Now, someone send us a duck t-shirt, immediately.