How to Human and the Thin Margin Stretch Goal Challenge

As I write this, How to Human is in it’s final few hours. It’s well past our very small goal of $500. We had a tough time with stretch goals on this one as we have so little financial room on the project. We have already made a set of digital downloads (screen desktops, phone lock screens, icons).

We did add a fairly unique stretch goal for this campaign already – we decided to open source the art if we hit $4K. What does this mean exactly? Well if any game developer out there wants to use any of the images from How to Human, they are free to do so. They don’t have to pay us even if their project is “for profit.” The only limitations are that they have to credit Ali who did the art and they can’t use the name Dr. Blobbleplop when referring to his image (names/characters are hard to open up like this). We hope that this is a good resource for other game designers both analog and digital who might not have access to art like we did.

We hit that $4K goal this morning. So with just 5 hours left, I wanted to make a new stretch goal. Which brings me to the story to how Jordan and I spent this last weekend. The two of us, along with JR Honeycutt of “DFW Nerdnight” fame went to Dreamation – a great smallish game convention in Morristown NJ. Somewhere along the way, and very unplanned, we had an idea for a “game jam” type of game. At about 5pm, we decided to jump in and actually design the game with the goal of running it at 10pm.

The idea was to design an RPG you could play in the elevator at cons. It ended up as an experimental RPG dragon slaying adventure. When players entered the elevator, they would see a large image of a Dragon, along with 4 character sheets on the wall. Your EM (Elevator Master) would then quickly tell you the story. “The Dragon will be eating the convention at 11pm and it’s up to all of us to deal enough damage to the dragon to defeat it before then.” The Riders/Adventurers would then pick one of the character classes, and choose which of the actions on the character sheet to take. A roll would be made which would result in some amount of damage to the dragon based on the choices of all of the party members. If all went well, the convention goers would defeat the dragon by 11pm.

Jordan took the reigns on the art – making 4 characters and a poster sized dragon that was just awesome. JR and I worked on the abilities and how to handle combat. We knew we had to both teach the game and play the game in the time that it takes to ride an elevator – which was limiting, but also a great challenge. We were done at 9pm with an hour to spare, so JR and I took the “Otis” dragon poster that Jordan had made around the con letting folks know that we would be running the game in the middle elevator from 10pm to 11.

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The end result was ridiculous and ridiculously fun. The players loved it at a level that far exceeded our hopes. Elevators are an odd place to play a game. Usually even talking in an elevator is uncomfortable, so to take folks from uncomfort to a team-based RPG adventure in such a short time really tickled our players. We had a line the whole time and players coming out of the elevators had great big smiles on their faces.

JR was the EM in the elevator and decided to give extra damage bonuses to the LARPers who had weapons. This resulted in one of the early parties returning like this for their second trip.

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It created this fantastic moment in time that I won’t soon forget and that I think those players will be talking about for years.

What does that have to do with the Year of Kickstarting Dangerously? Well, as our final stretch goal for How to Human, we’re going to include a free PDF download of “Level Up, the Elevator RPG con game” complete with all of Jordan’s awesome art. This project so “fits” the idea of what How to Human is, that I’m super happy to include it as a stretch goal.

I set the stretch goal at $5000 (about $800 will be needed in the last 4 hours to get there). I would have made it easier, but it will take Jordan a good bit of time to take the work we did at the show and turn it into something more polished. The goal is going to be challenging, and it will ONLY be achieved if there is actual demand for a crazy con elevator game.

If a campaign has very thin margins, you have to think outside the norm to create stretch goals. Don’t make the mistake of killing your margin by including lots of free stuff and hope to “make it up in volume” unless you really have your numbers down solid. For this campaign, we had to avoid free physical stuff at all costs, and in the end, I think we came up with some very thematic and appropriate stretch goals.

Other Campaign Updates

Meeple Playing Cards: First set of files off to the printer. We expect a good bit of back and forth here, but we’re right on time.

Next Up: Miskatonic and Meeple Action!



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