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.
The Strange RPG
What is it: A new game from Monte cook using the same system as Numenera.
For fans of: Monte Cook’s projects (Planescape, Beyond Countless Doorways, Ptolus), Bruce Cordell’s projects (3e Psionics Handbook, 4e Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide), and the new Numenera game.
Why we love it: Many of us (most of us?) here at Castles & Cooks cut our D&D teeth in the Planescape campaign setting, a world of strange philosophical realities and stomach-churning geometries, and we have soft spots in our hearts for Bruce Cordell’s evocative take on psionics. If this was all there was to The Strange, we’d probably back it but it also has the distinction of being a companion game to the wonderful Numenera and has an incredible backstory.
In a nutshell, there is a spray of universes out there and you are part of a secretive group that travels between them, somewhat like Planescape or Sliders. On the other hand, you take on the native qualities of whatever universe you are stepping into making it also like Inception or The Matrix. The best part is the game mechanics that go along with this, using the simple Cipher system of Numenera in a smart and elegant way. Readers of our review will remember that your character is built on three pillars which fill in the blanks of the sentence “I’m a ____ ____ who ____s.” In Numenera this might work out to “I’m a Clever Nano who Bears a Halo of Fire” or “I’m a Learned Jack who Howls at the Moon.”
In The Strange, the third portion (the focus) is left blank and gets filled in depending on what universe you find yourself in. So on Earth you could be a “Clever Vector who Works the System” but on the techno-organic world of Ruk you could be a “Clever Vector who Regenerates Flesh” and on the magic-infused world of Ardeyn you become a “Clever Vector who Wields Flaming Weapons.” I’m so excited for this game, the only downside is that it comes out next year…
BACKED BY CASTLES & COOKS
Aeon Wave Cyperpunk Scenario
What is it: A one-shot Fate Core scenario featuring a near-future cyberpunk setting.
For fans of: Mike Shea (author of SlyFlourish.com), the Fate Core systems, and edgy cyberpunk settings (like Eclipse Phase or Shadowrun)
Why we love it: The Fate system is really awesome and simple one-shot scenarios like Aeon Wave are an excellent introduction. Because the system is flexible it’s really easy to start in on it with a group and because it really encourages world-building a “one-shot” like this could easily develop into a campaign setting for groups that like it. Add to this Mike Shea’s reputation and proven ability to generate awesome game content and we’re in. Oh, and did we mention it has a secret alien signal from Mars that is throwing the Earth into technological and political chaos? Well, there’s that too.
BACKED BY CASTLES & COOKS
Reaper Miniatures Bones II: The Return of Mr. Bones
What is it: The second offering of high quality plastic miniatures from Reaper Miniatures.
For fans of: the original Bones KS, table top gaming, interesting mini-figures, painting mini-figures.
Why we love it: It’s quite possible that Jesse still hasn’t made it all the way through his box from the first Bones Kickstarter. Reaper really came through with an impressive KS in terms of both quality and diversity of its offerings. We get more of the same in Bones II.There are only a couple days left and they’ve already surpassed $2million, well above the first Bones.
This time around there are more expansion sets, tons of extra minis included with the core set and even some unique expansions to please gamers with uber specific needs. Gelatinous cubes? YES. Adorable Mouslings? YES. Numenera specific miniatures? YES. Tardis and Angels? YES. Wereshark? YES.I could keep going, but I think you get the picture.
BACKED BY CASTLES & COOKS
Star Realms Deckbuilding Game
What is it: A sci-fi deck building game from two Magic Hall of Famers and one of the co-creators of Ascension.
For fans of: digital and physical deckbuilding games, Ascension, SolForge, Magic.
Why we love it: From the outset, Star Realms is being billed as both a physical and digital game, with plenty of backer tiers for people to choose how they want to play, or get in on both. Versatility and variety is nice, plus you won’t have to worry about getting hooked on the game and wait around forever for them to make it into an app.
The pedigree in terms of game development and business is there, given that Rob Dougherty co-founded Ascension, so there shouldn’t be too much concern about delivery. The value for extremely high backers is present as well, with unique rewards like permanently being named a high ranking member or even the leader of one of the game’s four factions.
Playsets – The Future of Social Storytelling
What is it: A new app based (iOS) toolset for making, sharing and running RPGs remotely.
For fans of: Maptool, D&D groups that are separated by the miles.
Why we love it: Digital tabletop apps are sort of a dime a dozen. Wizards even tried their hand at it, with mixed results. Yet despite plenty of attempts systems like Maptool remain the relative standard, even if they aren’t exactly the most fool proof or intuitive systems. What sold us on Playsets is the simple and intuitive approach, as well as the warm and colorful art design. Hopefully they can expand beyond simply iOS (they mention a web client or other platforms for the future) and maybe raising enough funds will make that a reality, but this is a great start.
Finex Cast Iron Skillet: A Beloved Classic Updated
What is it: A CNC machined, octagonal shaped cast iron skillet with quick cooling wire-spring handle.
For fans of: Cast iron skillets, but looking for something a bit different.
Why we love it: The cast iron skillet is one of the most versatile pieces of cooking equipment there is, and if you’re lucky there’s an heirloom one to be handed down to you. If not, then this might be the skillet for you. The octagonal shape allows it to actual sit on it’s side for drying or storage, while the wire handle will make it easier to grab and carry the hot skillet. It does come pre-seasoned and the skill is CNC machined, ensuring it’ll have a smooth interior that will help keep it nonstick. All this does come with an inflated price point over what you could find at your local kitchen store, but cast iron skillets are usually purchased for life, so it’ll be worth the cost in the long run.
What all of this amounts to is a different type of cast iron skillet that sacrifices none of the legacy and implements a few smart tweaks. The project is already fully funded and has an aggressive production schedule including some testing already done, so some of the fears about product design Kickstarters are alleviated. They plan on broadcasting the first pouring live, which is cool and, if you pledge for the first wave, you might get this in time for Christmas, making it a candidate for an awesome holiday gift.