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The Douchey DM » Alternate Views, General Gaming, Opinion, RPG Industry BS » I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore!

I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore!

Editor’s note: While I seemingly rail against Kickstarter creators in this post, I am well aware that many good people are conducting good business on Kickstarter. I also acknowledge that many projects by first-time creators get funded and made because of Kickstarter, and I know these projects might not otherwise see the light of day. Kickstarter is a valuable service to our community and many others. This article is not to attack the concept or all creators, but to shine a light on those who seemingly abuse it.

I recently ranted on and on about a very late projects on Kickstarter on the most recent episode of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast. The rant began when I heard a recent episode of the Bear Swarm podcast, where a listener mentioned in an email a very late Kickstarter project.

During that episode, several people listening on our live stream began listing in our chat many of the chronically late Kickstarter projects they’ve contributed to.

And there seems to be some misconceptions regarding Kickstarter and a backer’s expectations.

  1. Yes, there is risk. You are essentially funding an unfinished project with pre-sales. Because the project isn’t finished, there’s a risk it will never get finished at all. This is a real risk, and we should all be aware of it before contributing. Meliorate that risk. Look at the profile of the Kickstarter creator. Read the comments for other projects they’ve created. Are people complaining about previous projects. 
  2. Even with the Risk, This is a Contract.  Kickstarter’s terms of use state this explicitly. If you’ve backed a project you are well within your rights to demand and expect whatever rewards were listed for your funding level.
  3. You are NOT an “investor.” Investors contribute money in exchange for part ownership in the project or company. That is their compensation for taking a risk by contributing. YOUR compensation for contributing is your backer rewards.

But with the many chronically late projects, we bear some of the blame. Kickstarter project creators — at least many of them — are trading on their good names to fund their projects. We see familiar names: names we’ve seen in the credits of books on our shelves, on the covers and on the boxes.

Many respected names in the industry turn to Kickstarter as a way to fund and gauge interest in a project. We see their names, we know their work and track record and we feel comfortable contributing.

But there’s another mechanism necessary to make this work: comments. Contributor feedback. Me must make sure our voices are heard when things go right and when things go wrong. We have the ability and responsibility when someone trades on their good name to get us to part with our money to reinforce their good reputation when we are satisfied with their conduct.

And when a creator engages in conduct that makes them undeserving of their good name, we have a right and responsibility as contributors to make our displeasure heard. To do otherwise is a disservice to future backers of these creators’ projects.

Of course, there exists a mechanism to protect those undeserving of a good name: fan boys. Express your displeasure on a popular, but very late, project, and they’ll come out of the woodwork. “Stop being negative.” “He’s doing his best.”

Don’t let these fan boys intimidate you into silence. Argue back with them. Explain that  you are a customer and have rights. It is not okay for someone to take your money and never deliver on their promise. That’s what crooks do.



Written by

Stu Venable is the producer of Happy Jacks RPG Podcast and writer and editor of He is founder and director of the Poxy Boggards and a member of Celtic Squall. He holds a degree in Journalism and Public Relations from California State University, Long Beach. He is a husband and a father. He hates puppies.

Filed under: Alternate Views, General Gaming, Opinion, RPG Industry BS · Tags: , , , ,

8 Responses to "I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore!"

  1. […] chronically over-due Kickstarter project mentioned on a recent episode of the Bear Swarm Podcast. A summary of said rant is available at the Grayson emails about two things: designing your own RPG, when you […]

  2. Rob JusticeNo Gravatar says:

    The two year “late” project was Powerchords by Phil Brucato, and the original e-mail we received didn’t mention if he was taking other work. It was Jeremy Keller who was called out for late Technoir supplements and an admission that other projects were taking him away from those supplements.

    As far as the whole “Investors” comment I made, it was meant to be more along the lines of “You act more like an investor than a pre-orderer.” Kickstarter uses the term Backer for a very specific reason. You’re not a customer or an investor. You’re giving money on good faith. If the project fails, there is little to no action you can take against Kickstarter; as my co-host suggested you do. You’re only course of action is to go against the creator.

    In regards to the “contract” suggestion, I’m not sure if it would be a legally binding agreement. Plus, I’m not bothering to hire a lawyer over a $60 investment for a game. You’d need to rally a large portion of the backer base to pull that off.

    You’re idea for keeping a list of Kickstarter’s behind on their promises, that’s a fantastic idea. As i said in the episode, I’ll never back David Hill until he delivers what I’ve backed him for. I feel like many people would be the same way if they were simply educated.

    Also, thanks for listening to the show. I was shocked to see the trackbacks this afternoon. 😀

    1. quixoteNo Gravatar says:
      “Thank you, Matt.

      And yeah – the project is running a lot later than I would prefer, but I’d rather take a while to put out a good book (or two or three of them…) than rush to hit a deadline and then release something I’ll regret.


      – Satyros Phil Brucato”

      rushing a +2 year late deadline…

      1. Neal DaltonNo Gravatar says:

        Hello, I’m the person that emailed into the Bear Swarm regarding late kickstarters. Quixote has it right and the link is accurate but the more telling part of that link for Powerchords is the part where Mr. Brucato writes:

        “2. Early last year, I got two unexpected freelance projects that took up most of my work time. Work on Powerchords has continued throughout that period, but those were very big-ticket items, with correspondingly tight deadlines. Both projects are finished now, but between them they consumed a large portion of 2011 and part of 2012. (There were also two bouts with illness and a nasty round of personal drama, all of which are long since passed but both of which delayed my writing work overall.)”

        Powerchords is supposedly in editing now and Mr. Brucato last wrote that he had to get on one of the editors who had only read 3 pages.

        Rob Justice is also correct about my mentioning Jeremy Keller. Here was his last comment on April 16th, 2013:

        “Hexnoir is nearly there. I just need to do some playtests of the magic system to finesse it into something that’s a fun, mystical extension of Technoir. It’s not quite there yet. Sorry it has taken so long. My involvement on Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Fate Core, and Atomic Robo have been demanding much of my time. But you will get your stretch goals!” (

        Not a word about it since then and no official update since August 1st, 2012.

        Another one is David A. Hill for two of his kickstarters. He still owes the anthology for Amaranthine. He still owes some physical rewards for Farewell to Fear. In the case of the former, he responded to my message about it with:

        “My editor flaked. Second editor flaked. Third editor flaked. I’ll be assembling the drafts and releasing them once I get them recompiled. Honestly, it fell out of my attention because it was a delegated project. I’m going to try to follow up on it ASAP.” That was April 11, 2013.

        And in the case of the latter, here was my message to him:
        I’m sorry to be a pain about this. I received my book and it looks great. Although I don’t know if you are aware that none of the backer names made it into the printed book…at least not in my copy.

        But that isn’t the reason I’m writing. I had contributed at the key and cloth map tier but I didn’t receive a key or cloth map with my book. I was wondering if those were to follow or if that was given the ax when the financial problems happened.

        Thank you for your time.”

        And his response:
        “Oh, sorry if I didn’t clarify: Those will have to come a bit later. I had to squeeze together the shipping for the cores with my IRS refund. I will be making those happen as soon as I can. Sorry about that.

        And yeah. My printer ended up sending me books based on the beta version that didn’t have the final credits page. 1,000 books later, they weren’t able to fix it. Needless to say, I won’t be going with them again.”

        He was the victim of theft at last year’s Gen Con but when he started to send out books, he didn’t address the fact that the other backer rewards would have to wait until later. He then proceeded to put up another kickstarter for Apotheosis Drive X. While I backed him for it, I did not back for a physical product, only the pdf, which seemed the safest.

        Sorry for the long drawn out comment.

  3. StuNo Gravatar says:

    Yes. The problematic thing about such a contract is that, unless you happen to live close to the creator, legal action is not worth the effort for the money involved. At the levels where most of us fund, it’s not worth it to miss a day of work to take them to small claims.

    There’s also the problem with getting blood from a turnip.

    We need a listing of late projects — especially chronically late ones with little or no hope of delivery.

    I’ll gladly host it. Just need to come up with a good URL.

    1. TylerNo Gravatar says:

      Slackstarter, or Kickslacker.

  4. […] I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Take It Anymore! ( […]

  5. DonnaleeNo Gravatar says:

    Eh, I also chucked in some money for Powerchords, and pretty much expect zip. *shrug* It’s the times: everyone’s busy, frantic, overwhelmed plus bumming around can occur, so we’ll see it if it happens. I tried Kickstarter ONCE, for this, and would never consider participating in ‘crowdsourcing’ again. It fast became the gimme tool for the entitlement/chronic teenager age, and I just don’t want to enable enabling–and I went broke myself!

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