Game Designer Workshop Episode 16: Shipping, The Devil

News: Red Markets is now available in print and PDF at Indie Press Revolution and in PDF at DrivethruRPG. Get your copy today! It makes a great Christmas gift.

Synopsis: The logistics of international shipping are maddening. Caleb went through a crucible but has finally delivered print copies to both American and overseas backers. Find out what went wrong and what lessons can be learned from it.

Song: Obey, Consume, Escape by Jon of the Shred

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  1. I ship CalebXAaron… what? What do you mean “not that kind of shipping”?!

  2. Caleb, I had not realised quiet how bad it had gotten with the abuse.

    I had backed with the expectation of paying USPS ratees, knowing what that meant.

    It blows my mind that people didn’t understand this.

    I am so sorry this happened.

  3. The ridiculous level of impact a handful of assholes being horrible on one’s psyche is mindboggling. I hope the continuing support of the community will manage to wash the bad taste of it away. I’m waiting for my code for DTRPG to 5 star that shit ASAP.

    Also, it honestly sounds like you need a break from RM, maybe pick it back up in february. Just from a mental health standpoint, that was, what, a 6 month deathmarch of work, stress, dread, anxiety and panic ON TOP of a full time teaching job? The notes of panic attack are still there when it comes to further sales. If for nothing else, than to maintain sanity, give yourself enough breathing room, work on Party Fowl, spend time with Ross et al, etc.

    I know people who have pushed until they literally could not sleep without meds from the nightmares and waking up to massive panic and I strongly suggest some time off beyond the holidays which itself is a stressor.

  4. Hey if it helps at all, I have to say that I ran a game of red markets when you released the first version to backers and it was the most fun I ever had as a GM. I’m pretty sure that my players loved it too even though there were two fatalities and one of them went crazy during the tontine and rode a boat into the sunset

  5. @mapleandblood Well-played.

    I am also really sorry to hear about the many pitfalls along the way with shipping. It’s baffling to me that a kickstarter that was on time and transparent received so much horrible backlash from a subset with unreasonable expectations. And it’s extremely unfortunate that you had to deal with that for honest (and transparently explained) mistakes.

    Some of the statistically unlikely aspects (like that first UK crate) make it seem like your bad luck when rolling dice in Red Markets extends outside the game sessions.

    It’s an amazing book that you and the rest of the team (art, editing, layout, and playtesting) put together and I cannot wait to run a full campaign. GDW and the RPPR recordings sold me on the game, but the actual product blew away all my expectations. I’m excited for the stretch goals, but I can wait.

    Because you have absolutely earned a break and should take one without guilt. I know that’s hard to do for certain mindsets, but it anyone’s earned it, you have, Caleb.

  6. It is a beautiful book and the most compelling RPG background section I’ve read. Well done!

  7. I was listening to this on the way home from work and when I arrived there were some dice waiting for me! The Red Markets kick-starter has been the best organised of any of the very small publishers I have pledged to, some of which I did long before the start of RM and am still waiting for. Without a doubt, Caleb deserves all of the praise and none of the abuse.

    I have, however, been convinced that any RPG kickstarter I create will be electronic and PoD only.

  8. Why stoners make good customers:

    *Box shows up.*

    “Hey cool, Red Markets.”

    “Hey cool, dice.”


  9. So as a eurotrash backer I knew what was happening with shipping from the US, hence backing for the PDF only level. I don’t know why that shipping is crazy but given the strong pretense of US based RPGs I found it a bit shocking that so many people had such a negative response to something they likely had in the back of their head.

    However, I will say that after you sorted out the shitestorm of it. I got on backerkit and added on the book and in the end I am happy I did. Part of the reason I guess was because I was on the fence about the shipping cost, but the quality of the communication through out the entire process and all of this really I think has also helped to develop a type of brand-loyalty as well…if there were to be a silver lining and all.

  10. I just want to echo what Paul Hudson said. I also realised early that shipping to Europe would cost a lot and therefore backed the PDF only. Once everything was sorted I added a print version with Backerkit. Am weary happy with my monster of a book now.

    If I remember right Caleb where communicated the shipping prices quite well. First as “Do not know how much and honest about it” then as “lots but we are looking into getting it lowers” and then open and honest about it to the end. That was my experience at least. So the shitstorm he experienced surprises me. It’s not like id was a hidden cost to us backers.

  11. One other thing – this episode really helped me to understand the things that can (and have) sunk other kickstarters.

    I’ve only had a couple kickstarters fail to deliver entirely, but it’s much more clear to me now how a sudden (and hard to foresee) setback or two could completely derail a project.

  12. Isn’t there a certain irony here, in that publishing an RPG about economic horror was itself an exercise in economic horror?

  13. I’ve said this over and over in comments sections on GDW and RM, but it’s just crazy to me that Caleb sees his performance here as fucking up or unprofessional? I struggle to get out of fuckin bed in the morning, I have no idea how I’d react if I had to be making call after international call staring down multiple potentially-bankrupting potential solutions. the only time you CAN be resilient is when it’s tough to go on!

    I woulda given up over and over going through what you’ve described. you should be proud of every minute of perseverance!

  14. On the first kickstarter I backed, I ordered a physical copy of the book, and the creator lost money on shipping. Since then I’ve only gotten electronic rewards, no physical merchandise.

    I’m unfortunately unsurprised by the terrible behaviour of some of Caleb’s backers. I mostly avoid kickstarter comments and online discussions because of the vocal minority of people who think that backing a kickstarter means that they can treat the creator like a slave. The dehumanising behaviour (threats, stalking, doxxing, etc.) is utterly vile and wearisome to read.

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