I love D&D kickstarters; right now I’m backing three. One question I try to ask myself is “will I use this in a game?” The answer for all three is “yes, but not necessarily as intended.”
OK, first, the project with the most obvious D&D utility: Stefan Pokorny’s city Dungeon Tiles. How precious! A set of little D&D dollhouses to complement my love of city-based D&D adventure. This has everything I need for urban set-piece battles: adorable Tudor houses, guardhouses with battlements, and, as stretch goals, minis missing from my lineup: commoners, city guards, and ratlings.
I have a lot of Dwarven Forge stuff, which is weird, because it doesn’t actually go very well with my DMing play style. I rarely do high-prep set-pieces: I mostly wing it based on the whims of the PCs. I probably won’t construct an intricate diorama of a lovingly-detailed city location, because I don’t want to force the PCs to use it. But if a fight does break out in a tavern, city street, or village square, I’d like to be able to plop down a couple of nice-looking houses and give the battle some character.
And I’d like some ratling minis.
Dwarven Forge stuff is expensive. For people who would rather drop $25 instead of $250 on D&D, Rob Schwalb’s Shadow of the Demon Lord might be a better choice.
Given that I’ll probably be playing D&D 5e for the foreseeable future, what does a new RPG offer me? I like a lot of Schwalb’s previous design work, including A Song of Ice and Fire RPG and, well, D&D 5e. Shadow of the Demon Lord looks like it will have a lot of stuff to mine for a D&D game. It’s got the post-apocalpyse dial turned way up, which I like. And from the descriptions of the spells, the gross-out and body-horror value is pretty high too. That’s less appealing to me as a core part of D&D, but there is a place for it.
I love spells-as-treasure. Maybe the “make a dude’s nuts explode” spell is too silly for a core D&D spell, but it might be a plausible find in an evil wizard’s spellbook – and maybe some warped PC will actually transcribe it. In my game, one of the players has a half-deciphered book of evil rituals. Hopefully I’ll get to see some more Shadow of the Demon Lord spells before the other half is deciphered.
My final kickstarter is ostensibly non-D&D: it’s a “cloud-integrated” paper notebook. What does that mean, besides the fact that the “cloud” buzzword is now officially overused?
Basically, what it means is that when you take a cellphone photo of a notebook doodle, it will automatically resize it, color-correct it, un-perspective it, and upload/post/email it to a location of your choice.
Why does this scream D&D to me? Because the notebook page has a dot grid. It’s essentially graph paper. I doodle a lot of maps and other D&D sketches during meetings. I wouldn’t mind being able to one-click post them, or one-click email them to my D&D group, instead of bringing the notebook home, scanning it, fiddling with it in Photoshop, etc.
The other goofy, fun feature: if you microwave the notebook, the ink disappears and you can use it again. Future technology!