Monday, March 31, 2014

Add Some "POW!" to Your Role Playing Combat

Welcome back to the Conversation!  I’m joined by Mark Scott from ConflictRPG who is here to talk to us about their Combat Description Cards.  Thank you for joining us today Mark!

Hello James. Thank you for having me aboard.
The Combat Description Cards seem like such a simple but powerful game mastering tool, could you tell us all about them?  

No problem.

Okay, I'm a long-time gamer. Over the years, I've sat at a lot of gaming tables, as both a player and gamemaster. And if there's one thing I've come to realize it's that combat is a lot better when it's vivid and descriptive, rather than being just, "You hit for 17 points of damage."

But all too often, that "17 points" is all we get.

I'd been wanting to tackle this particular issue for a while, and I'd been playing around with the idea of having some kind of list ready-to-hand that people could consult whenever they needed something interesting and fresh to say during a combat. But there was one major issue. How do you get the words to people in a quick and simple manner that doesn't involve consulting books and lists? How do you get those words to them in a way that doesn't break the flow of ideas?
Then I had an epiphany - cards. Quick, simple, ready-to-hand, and with just a touch of randomness to keep things always fresh and new. And thus the Combat Description Cards deck was borne.
Are these cards only for fantasy settings or do they work well for gunshots and vibroblades as well as swords and fireballs?  

The CDC deck is as system neutral as we can make it. What we have done is split combat up into damage types, and kept our wording as generic as possible, offering it to the GM to fill in the details as needed. So, in the deck, we are describing cutting, slashing, and piercing damage, but not the weapon that does the damage. That is left for the GM to fill in.

Thus, the CDC deck can be used for just about any RPG, regardless of its game system or its time frame. We do have plans for expanding the CDC deck outside of the range of physical damage, but getting just physical taken care of was a large enough project as it is.

Why make them into cards?  Why not an app or just a small book?  

One of the key elements we wanted to deal with is time. You already have to look up enough things in books, searching for the right rule. We wanted something that didn't interrupt the flow of of the conversation for any more than a moment. And for that, picking up a card beats the pants off looking up something in a book. As for apps, that's a good way to go, but it is also impossible to reach everyone with an app.
Just about anyone can use a deck of cards. Not everyone is app-ready.

How surprised have you been with the response you’ve been getting?  

We have been blessed with the response, truly. As to our success... We believed we had a great idea, and we believed that we would be a success because of it. But I can't say that we expected this level of support. Everyone here is truly grateful for the support we have received.
Personally I think your success is well deserved as this concept is simple, but definitely engaging and a welcome addition to any GM’s library.  (Full disclosure I have not as of this writing, but I probably will back this campaign) Did you do anything before your campaign launched to drum up support and draw attention to your campaign so you’d have a strong day one launch?  

Thank you. And, yes, we did do some preparation work. We purchased advertising at several sites and had our press release sent out just before we launched.
Does your $15 Writer’s Grid include all the content in the stretch card decks as well?  The Print and Play PDF’s as well?  

Yes, the Writer's Grid and the PDF will indeed include all unlocked booster pack stretch goals.
Something I look for in any Kickstarter campaign is a budget breakdown.  These basic business tools reassure potential backers that there is a thought out plan for the funds which leads to a greater belief in success.  Why did you not provide a budget breakdown?  

We spent a lot of time on the budget. We created several financial models and “What if” scenarios in advance of the Kickstarter. In my estimation, those are the tools that are needed to have a firm grasp on the budgetary needs of a Kickstarter. In fact, I feel a simple, high-level budget breakdown isn’t a truly meaningful expression of a Kickstarter campaign. There are just too many variables in such a project, none of which are brought out in a simple, high-level pie chart. If I personally want to gain confidence in a Kickstarter campaign through it's budget plan, then seeing a pie chart with the typical 60%, 30%, 10% breakdown on it just isn’t enough for me. Therefore, when it was my turn to have a Kickstarter, I intentionally left it out.
How did you discover Kickstarter?
I discovered Kickstarter in October of 2010!  like conflict games, It is a new York based company and I heard about it through friends.
A key part of successful Kickstarter is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

The success of our project has kept me hopping. Our updates have largely all been about our next stretch goals. We had other plans, but it's been about all I can do to get the web graphics ready and keep that list updated. We are making sure we give timely replies to comments and messages but that is where our time has been spent so far.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?
A fair number of RPG bloggers have contacted us for interviews, which we are very humbly grateful for.
How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  

We purchased advertising at many major RPG sites, sent out a press release to lots of sites and bloggers, and we have been using Facebook, Google+, forums and interviews to help get the word out.

Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?

No, we haven't been using Kicktraq so far.
Do you have any tips/advice you would give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

1) Prepare for success. Think through the kickstarter process from start to end and prepare as much material  in advance as you can.
2) Make sure your team understand the pledge levels, stretch goals and shipping options as well as you do.
3) Have a good and complete idea and don’t expect your backers to fill any gaps for you.
4) Keep your pledges simple and remember that many backers are visual. Therefore, a picture is truly worth a thousand words.
Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

We have lots of good ideas for further expanding the CDC deck and adding onto our Conflict PvP platform. So keep your eye on Conflict Games, you will love what you see.
Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!

Thank you for having me bro.

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