February 2024

  • Domain Building Video Tutorial

    Domain Building Video Tutorial

    So, took some time, and made a video tutorial on using the domain-building rules. I have wanted to do it for a long time, and now it’s done. Enjoy! Thank You for watching!

  • Field Report After Two Months of Publishing

    Field Report After Two Months of Publishing

    This post is primarily intended for other aspiring designers like myself, but it can be a (long) interesting read for others nevertheless, offering insights into the decisions and work behind the scenes of SAKE.

    It has been a few days more than two months since I published SAKE (Sorcerers, Adventurers, Kings, and Economics) Basic Edition, and titled myself as a game designer (Link to First Field Report: https://sake.ee/field-report-after-the-first-week-of-publishing/ ). It’s going to be a long post, so let’s get right to it.

    1. Numbers

    The Basic Edition has been downloaded exactly 708 times at the moment of writing. 30 people who downloaded it decided to pay for it, and I am immensely grateful for that. So, in total, it’s a 4.2% paying rate. However, it’s not that simple. There was a post in the TTRPG designers subreddit a few weeks ago discussing that on DriveThru RPG, more people decide to give money for PWYW (Pay What You Want) products. I see a similar trend here, as 24 out of 30 payments are from DriveThru RPG, but only 317 downloads are from there. So, that is something to keep in mind if you are planning to sell your products at the price of PWYW and hope to make some money out of it. As for me, the Basic Edition is meant to be a free preview, and I am very thankful for people who have decided to support my endeavour.

    After finishing the book, I started simultaneously with three things:

    • Sending out review requests.
    • Making the first official dungeon crawl – Crime Districts of Irongate – for the game.
    • Fiddling with Facebook ads.

    2. Reviews

    I have sent out 23 review requests, and to be honest, I am very positively surprised. Before, I was afraid that I would be sending those emails into oblivion (or the spam folder) and nobody would answer. But that’s not the case. Even if nothing has come from it yet, many people still took their time to answer (around 1/3), and I am very thankful for that.

    Also, in three cases, something more has happened:

    1. Freddy from rpggamer.org has made two videos about the game.
      An overview of the book: https://youtu.be/UhgWQ76Nf7I?si=p2MP0Pr0fQMqIMMR
      A quick breakdown of combat rules: https://youtu.be/4m07e7UwK2c?si=m8zz4nrglRWCZgDS
    2. Moe from Show & Tell asked me for an interview, which was grand, but oh my – my spoken English is not good at all: https://therpgacademy.com/show-tell-135-sake-ttrpg/
    3. Guys from 2 Legit 2 Crit have taken a look at SAKE: https://www.youtube.com/live/1YjoOl61U5w?si=aFvbBdd3zipKm4Hv
      They also took a look at the adventure module – Crime Districts of Irongate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEj_hARmBPU&t=667s&ab_channel=2Legit2Crit
      Also-also, they are always fun to listen to!

    So, all together, I am very happy with this, and writing it down reminds me that I probably should get some more emails out.

    3. Crime Districts of Irongate

    After releasing the Basic Edition, I straight away started working on an adventure module Crime Districts of Irongate, which I published in January. But mind you, I didn’t write a whole book in one month; I mostly edited and rewrote material that I had written throughout the year when taking part in the Dungeon23│City23 challenge. Most of the blog posts here are about the Irongate City.

    I priced it at $5,99 and sold exactly… drumroll… two copies (Thank You so much for You two!).

    That sounds like a total failure, but I don’t see it that way, mainly because of two reasons:

    1. I plan to add it as an add-on to the Kickstarter campaign with the same price and sell it this way. Maybe it will find more buyers this way.
    2. SAKE is still in its earliest phase of adoption, and I think having an adventure module out there gives some proof that this will not be a one-time thing – I am trying to build its own tiny brand, and more adventures and books in Asteanic World are to come.

    Anyway, if you want to take a look, here are the links:

    DriveThru RPG: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/468117/Crime-Districts-of-Irongate?affiliate_id=4178266 (affiliate link)  

    Itch.io: https://rainer-kaasik-aaslav.itch.io/crime-districts-of-irongate

    4. Facebook Advertisements

    The Importance of Facebook Ads

    There were an estimated 13,7 million active D&D players (WotC made that estimation in 2017). How many active TTRPG players that translates to in 2024 is hard to say, but it’s likely more. All types of groups on Reddit, FB, forums, etc., have a lot fewer participants, and the active participant count is even lower. (r/rpg has 1,5 million users – hard to estimate how many users per day or week).

    So, the reason for FB ads basically comes down to reaching those people who play TTRPGs but don’t actively take part in online communities.

    For personal economic reasons, I have only spent on ads as much as the book has earned.

    I have tried several advertisement combinations, and the best one seems to be this sort of simple combination.

    Link to ad post: https://www.facebook.com/SAKEttrpg/posts/pfbid02XeGG75QMHgsr35c6Tsp1v3MbaY6cGg8kQdoPmDvAnWdtx87dwFPGJrNU4LU5EGUjl?notif_id=1707735218187328&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic&ref=notif

    As you can see, it’s a long descriptive post, without an advertisement button (the click here thing), without any beautiful pictures or videos. Picture or video ads I have tried have worked more poorly than this type of simple posts, and for some reason, people tend to like it more when the main link is to DriveThru RPG.

    Suspicious advertisement results (captured the moment and had to share)

    After the Crime Districts of Irongate adventure was published, I have fully focused on preparing for the Full Release Kickstarter, which will open in the first half of April. And, as you can imagine, it’s a lot of work when you want to do it at as a professional level as you can.

    5. The Full Edition Book Itself

    With the final book, it’s been a lot of back and forth. As you can see from some materials on the Kickstarter prelaunch page and campaign video – there are two books, but right now I speak of one.

    I started with the idea of one book of 450 pages Printed on Demand. 450 pages are a lot, but the Basic edition is almost 250 pages – the game just is large as it has all sorts of other systems for domain management, large battles/sieges, economy, and so forth. The PoD pre-calculations showed exorbitant prices for a hardcover full-colour book of this size. Just rechecked – over 90 dollars on Lulu. Adding my expenses, Kickstarter expenses, taxes, and we’ll be looking at a book with a selling price of almost 150 dollars – which is just crazy, and even crazier when taking into account the questionable print and paper quality of Print on Demand.

    So, I decided to go with offset printing as it’s a lot (and I mean a LOT!) cheaper, better quality, and somewhat easier for me as I can communicate with printers quicker. Or so has been my experiences (I have published and printed 2 books in my time). For the time being, I decided not to bother with that more and started working with the Kickstarter video, also, not thinking much – decided that maybe printing two books would be better – that’s why you see two books in the Kickstarter video right now.

    But. Think about it! The price of offset printing is cheap because you print a lot of books – print run under 300 would get very expensive again and basically costs the same as 300 books. So, two books would really mean 300 + 300 books for me, and that would be too risky for two reasons:

    1. I would have to have a Kickstarter base goal of almost 20 000 dollars, which is too much for a first-time indie Kickstarter, as it will just scare away potential backers – they will think I don’t have any idea how money works. So, the Kickstarter succeeding with such a base goal would be meagre.
    2. Thigh success on that goal could mean I am left with a lot of books nobody bought and no money.

    So, that’s why back to one book, with that, the base goal can be around 10 000 dollars, which shouldn’t be too frightening for such a large book.

    6. Kickstarter Video and all Small Bits and Pieces

    There is one thing extremely useful for me in this endeavour – my artist background. I am a metal artist, and while not as at home with illustrating or graphic design, I still can do them at some levels.

    Also, another thing I have recently decided to do more – is play on my stronger suits – which is 3D – an important thing when visualizing large sculptures and engineering their structures – but same useful for modelling ships and castles. And those models can be used in wildly different settings. For example, you can see this one ship in:

    • And it will find its way to the pages of the book also.

    Same with the castle, that will be added to the video also.

    So, as you can see – I try to work as efficiently as I can, using the same things in different scenarios, as for Kickstarter you need a lot of small bits and pieces: Mockups, icons for pledges, page spreads, and so on – and a lot of this stuff is useless for the final product, so I really try to make it in the way I can use it still in the final product and don’t waste my time on useless graphical bits and pieces.


    I could write so much more, but I think the most important things have been mentioned for now, and the post is getting huge (4 pages in Word). So, best wishes and Thank You for reading!

    Rainer Kaasik-Aaslav

Recent Posts