we are especially delighted to present to you a novelty of some old friends of us, an interesting group of players and game designers, DeepDark Designs LTD (DDD later). After their successful first Kickstarter “Legendary Adventures” – more details in our previous post – DDD is at it again! Note: at the time we write this post, the KS already reached more than 50% of the funding goal, after a week from its start!
“Legendary Adventures, Volume 2” follows the scheme of their first KS, 4 standalone adventure modules (each one of around 80 pages) for D&D 5th Edition, with a broad selection of NPCs, locations, monsters, magical items, quests and background stories.
To use DDD’s own words, each Legendary Adventure module (Harrowing Heights, Quarantined, Vind’l Svar, and Bloody Battlefronts) offers:
- An interesting and original adventure with high production values, each of which has been thoroughly edited, playtested, and proofread.
- One (or more) hub locations that can be used as a ‘base of operations’ for your players during the adventure provided, or for use in your own campaigns – complete with guidelines for creating your own thematically-appropriate content and lots of optional/modular content suggestions of our own.
- Extensive appendices which grow and expand the game; adding new NPCs, templates, monsters, magical items, backgrounds, and a whole lot more besides.
Through the KS you can obtain the modules in many electronic and printed formats, for quite low a price and you can buy one, some or all of them! You can even retrieve the four modules of the first KS (Arctic Tundra, Buried Alive, Eastern Highlands and Lost Ruins)! We recommend you to go quickly to the KS page for the details, to see much more in depth this interesting project and really for yourself, since you can download nice samples and previews of the real modules and art cards.
The DDD team accorded us again an interview and we are very glad of it! It’s a bit long, it will be in two episodes, so let’s start! Enjoy the pictures too: they are all by courtesy of DDD and, some of them, never seen elsewhere before.
1. Well met again DeepDark Designs, we heard that you’ve had a busy year so far. What can you tell us about the completion and fulfilment of your first Kickstarter?
‘Busy’ is a great way to put it; although manic, frantic, and hectic would work too. Basically, it’s been non-stop for us since we launched our first Kickstarter way back in December. Running and fulfilling a crowdfunding campaign has been interesting, educational, emotional, and rewarding far beyond anything we could have anticipated, but it’s definitely a journey that we’re excited to go on all over again.
As you know, our last Kickstarter performed really well and easily exceeded our expectations. We weren’t looking for a fortune in funding, just enough to really prove to ourselves that there might be an audience out there for the adventures we wanted to write and the stories we longed to tell – and we did. We ended up funding to 250% and clearing our final stretch goal in the dying minutes of the Kickstarter.
From there, honestly, fulfilment was challenging. We made the decision early on to switch to using an entirely different, much more capable set of industry-standard programs to develop our products; stuff like InDesign and Photoshop in place of cheaper alternatives. This meant that we had to learn how to work with entirely new tools while crafting our adventures, which slowed us down an awful lot. And, on top of that, we upgraded and expanded on our original vision for each adventure quite substantially – increasing their page counts from 32-40 pages, up to around 75 pages each.
The good news is that, although it’s been a painstaking process, we’ve learned our lessons. We’re now able to develop all of the various digital formats of each product, and the physical print version, simultaneously, and much quicker than before. We’ve also slickened up in a lot of other areas but that’s another story.
2. Have you had to deal with any big changes in your company since the first Kickstarter?
I guess there’s always change. Change is good. That said, for the most part, things seem to be working well for us as they are and we plan to continue in largely the same direction. When we started out last year, I was the only one working for DeepDark Designs full-time. Jason was also between jobs at the time so he had a lot of availability as well. Since then, Sam has come to work for us full-time while Jason has found work -so Sam’s much more available than before while Jason is less so, if that makes sense?
We’ve also had the opportunity to work with an awful lot more freelancers the next projects going from just one or two to well over a dozen. We’ve now collaborated with several cartographers and illustrators who’ve either featured in the books that sit on our own shelves, or else done work for the companies that made them, which is just incredible. As a result, we’re going to be bringing around 3-4 times more artwork to each of our next Legendary Adventures, all of which is exquisitely premium and in full-colour instead of black-and-white like before.
3. Do you have more of these changes planned for the future?
The next big priorities for us are; bringing Pete Pinner, one of our DeepDark Designers, in-house on a full-time basis, as he’s only working with us part-time at the moment. And, we have similar plans for Caroline Pettifer, one of the incredibly-talented artists that we’ve been working with a lot just lately. These means a few minor infrastructure improvements, like getting a few more workstations set up and upgrading the coffee machine (absolutely essential), but should make a huge difference to how we operate. Most significantly because, Sam and I are more heavily involved in the product development side of the business and we’d like Pete to become our events co-ordinator and community manager, meaning that he’d have a much larger role to play in managing our online presence, being the face of the company on social media, and overseeing our playtest events – all of which are critically important to the success of any game design studio.
4. Okay, now on to the BIG topic. Another Kickstarter, wow! We were not surprised to see another from you, only to see it so soon. What can you tell us about it?
Thanks. We were tempted to take a little bit of a break between projects to prevent creative fatigue, but to be honest, by the time we finished fulfilling our first Kickstarter, we just found that we were raring to go again – so we just trucked right on through.
So, what to tell you about it? Well, the basics are that we’re creating four brand-new adventures for 5th edition that are chockfull of new monsters, mechanics, and materials. We’re making it so that these adventures can be bought individually in a variety of digital formats, or collected together into a full-colour, hardback tome for those who prefer to be able to hold a book in their hand (such as myself). As you know, this is our second Kickstarter and we’ve actually funded and developed four adventures like this before. Well, we’re making those four adventures available again through this Kickstarter. And, we’re providing physical print as an option for these adventures for the first time.
I realise that might be a little bit overwhelming, the ‘too long; didn’t read’ version is that we’re offering a total of eight expansive, original 80-page adventures through our Kickstarter in a variety of digital and physical formats at a huge discount compared to their general sale price.
5. When did you have the ideas for the new Kickstarter, did you start to plan it out during the fulfilment of the last one?
We’ve all been roleplaying for a very long time and, more than that, I’m quite meticulous about planning and jotting things down, so we’ve got lots of ideas on paper. I think even if we were releasing products much more aggressively, we’d still have enough to last us at least a decade. A lot of it just comes down to looking at feedback and market trends and trying to decide when the time is right to undertake a specific project or release a certain kind of product. Without giving too much away, I can reveal that the next big project that we’re working on has been in development since well before we launched the first Kickstarter – in fact, we had well over a dozen people locked away in a dark room playtesting it almost a year ago. It’s called Legacy of Baird Arden (LoBA) and that one will also be the focus of a future Kickstarter.
6. Speaking of the general structure of the new Kickstarter, it seems like you’ve stuck to the previous formula of creating 4 adventures, heavy with setting elements (like descriptions of the area, settlements, NPCs, main quests and side quests, etc). Like they say, you don’t change a winning team (“squadra che vince non si cambia”, in Italian). -what can you tell us about this approach?
Yeah, we felt this approach worked well last time around. Creating four adventures simultaneously allows us to experiment and iterate rapidly, crafting and developing lots of smaller, more self-contained ideas while giving gamemasters hugely unique, interesting experience each time. It’s an approach that works for us and the feedback we’ve had has been really positive as well. It’s also awesome for us to revisit the same type of project again because now we can go from just ‘…being able to do something…’ to being able to execute the same thing much more competently and confidently. I mentioned earlier that we’ve learned a lot of lessons from making the first four adventures and that’s really true, I think we’re ready to fully showcase that with the new ones.
One other benefit of crowdfunding several adventures at once is that we can stagger the launches. I think that with a lot of big projects, when you back them they’re often six months or a year away from being fulfilled, even longer with video games. We’re trying to do as much of the preliminary work as we can before launching each Kickstarter and then releasing much quicker as well. It would take us a lot longer to get a 300-page book to market than four 75-page ones. This means we can get products into the hands of backers sooner, and keep giving them new products for a wider window of time – personally, I find that neat.
Thank you DDD for the many interesting info! We hope that you, dear readers, enjoyed it as much as we did, and that you will read the second part of the interview, in a few days!
Let’s quote ourselves from our first post about DDD: “[…] we really enjoyed the freshness of ideas of this project: it caters to the general public of 5th edition rpg in a different way from other products, created to be long adventures / campaigns. Here we have four original adventures, easy to adapt to any setting and that require little preparation time, as the classic modules that we love so much. They are also different in that they still have a considerable background, NPCs, detailed plot hooks and several roads left open to ingenious masters who truly want to make Legendary, their Adventures! This is truly the origin of the name, as DDD guys told us themselves.”
We didn’t change our mind, these are still sound words today and we will see it better together in the second part of the interview! We will speak a bit more in detail about the single adventures. In the meantime, we suggest that you go and read for yourself the KS page of Legendary Adventure, Volume 2!