04/16/2006

Lowtide: The Undead Kickstarter Campaign – Third Update

In the summer of 2013, Tarol Hunt and Evertide Games joined together and launched a Kickstarter for the creation of a tabletop game based of off the webcomic, Goblins.

Goblins: Alternate Realities (G:AR) raised over $182,000, but the game was never made. Instead, the owner of Evertide Games disappeared with the money.

Lowtide: the Undead Kickstarter Campaign, is an up to date account of Tarol’s attempt to create G:AR and get it to the people who paid for it in good faith.

The Kickstarter Page

Lowtide – First Update

Lowtide – Second Update

My Twitter


G:AR “pre-orders” are still being collected by the Evertide Games site. DO NOT PRE-ORDER G:AR ON THAT SITE! IT IS A SCAM! None of the merchandise shown on Evertide’s Goblins: Alternate Realities page will ever be made by him, but his ordering system WILL take your money. If you have pre-ordered anything from that page in the last three or four months, see if you can get refunded through your credit card company or Paypal. If you cannot get your money refunded, tweet to me with the hashtag #GARBacker or email me at goblins@dccnet.com (put #GARBacker in the email’s title, so I can spot it easily), with a copy of your receipt. We’ll make sure you’re on our list of backers and we’ll get you hooked up the replacement loot when that day comes.

I’ve sent “take it down” messages out to Richard but so far the page remains up.

I’ve Talked To Kickstarter

I emailed Kickstarter and I’m sorry to say that it hasn’t gone well. Here’s my initial email…

Hi. I’m Tarol, the author of a webcomic called Goblins. In July’13, I did a KS with Evertide Games <linked> that was very successful. However, the head of Evertide, Richard James, disappeared about 4 months ago, taking with him $182,000 given over by my readers, without delivering anything promised to them. After months of trying to contact him and thinking “No, he’d never run off, would he? No, that’s crazy” I’ve recently, finally accepted that he and the money are gone and I’ve started the process of facing the 2700 backers and cleaning up this mess. Here’s my public announcement to my readers- <linked>. Of course, I don’t hold KS responsible in any way, as this is clearly an example of me being far too naive. <some private info edited out>

I’ve announced that I will be having a less expensive version of the game made and shipping copies of it to the backers, all paying for it myself. However, as I technically was not running the KS, I have none of the info, like a backers list, etc. I realize that you can’t exactly hand over that information to someone online, who isn’t listed as a creator with KS with ease. But I’m hoping that there’s something we can work out. I’m willing to provide whatever proof that you’d need, to show that I am who I claim to be and the situation I’m explaining is genuine. I’ll also happily allow you time to do whatever might need to be done first (I imagine you’d want to try to contact Richard, for starters).

So there it is. My wife and I are looking into what legal action we should be taking against Richard and fielding the hundreds of questions pouring in since the announcement. But more than anything, we need that backers list/info in order to hopefully fix this as without it, there’s no way to prove that everybody asking for merchandise is being honest.

On top of that, any advice or help you can offer, would be gratefully accepted, though I understand that there’s not a lot you can do. I look forward to hearing from you.

<personal contact info edited out> -Tarol

This was the response…


Hi Tarol,

Thanks for reaching out about this project and with your follow up questions regarding how to proceed.

  1. We expect all members of the Kickstarter community to act with honesty and openness. When we find that people are abusing the system or the trust of others, we do not hesitate to suspend their account or restrict certain account privileges, like launching another project. We have a dedicated Integrity Team that monitors our system and reviews reports that we receive from our community. While we can’t speak to the nature of specific projects that have been approved or declined, we’re constantly working on improving our vetting process for creators and we are grateful for the feedback that folks like you provide.

  2. We are not able to distribute any backer information publicly. Kickstarter is not able to facilitate any transference of pledges from one project to another or help with any sort of project transference. You will need to work this out directly with the project creators.

It looks like we’ve reached out this creator recently to remind them to check in. Unfortunately, we’re not able to force a creator to respond but we have made note of the fulfilment issues with this account.

Kickstarter’s Terms of Use outline the responsibilities of backers and creators. This information can serve as a basis for legal recourse if a creator doesn’t fulfill their promises. We hope that backers will consider that option only in cases where they believe that a creator has not made a good faith effort to complete the project and fulfill. If you believe legal action is appropriate here, please talk to an attorney about how to proceed. Kickstarter takes the privacy of our users very seriously, so we don’t provide a creator’s information directly to backers.

Hope this helps clarify!

Best,
Kickstarter Person <I edited out the person’s name, just to be on the safe side>


Not the best response ever. Take it up with the creator? You mean the person that I just explained, has run away with the money? Since that’s not really an option for me, I wrote another email…


Hi Kickstarter Person,

Thank you for your quick response. I’m honestly surprised that there’s nothing that can be done here, I mean, the KS was clearly made around my comic. I’m even in the introduction video with Richard, in which we both talk together about our project.

There must be some way for me to get that backers list. Everything I’m doing is very, very public, so it’s quite easy to make sure that I’m being honest and my situation is real.

I’d be willing to provide some sort of free advertising on my site or even simply pay a fee. Whatever it takes to get that list, I’ll do it. There are almost 3000 backers who are owed something and I’m just trying to get it to them. I can’t do it without your help.

My name is all over the KS page.

My name is on the box of the game.

I’m in the introduction video, in which Richard acknowledges me as a creator.

I’m clearly not a scam artist or thief. Please help me to make this right.

-Tarol


Reading that email now, I can tell that I was really sleep deprived at the time. Oh well. Here’s the response to it…


Hi Tarol,

While I’m sure you’re not a scam artist or a thief, and that you are actually just trying to help,
we are still not able to transfer the account to you or distribute the backer list to you from our end. You would need to locate and work with the project creator in order to obtain this information. I’ve double checked this with the head of our Integrity team who has confirmed that this kind of information transfer would not be possible.

You can review our Privacy policy here: https://www.kickstarter.com/

Best,
Kickstarter Person


So Kickstarter is hinting that they actually, seriously don’t have that information. I really can’t believe this, for a few reasons…

  1. Kickstarter Person never officially makes the claim that they don’t have the backer list. Only that it’s not possible to give it to me. It seems to me that if they didn’t have that info, they’d lead with that as a definitive statement. “That sucks, Tarol! We literally don’t have that info though. Seriously, we don’t posses it. Only the creator has it”.

  2. If Kickstarter doesn’t have access to the backer list, why did Kickstarter Person check with “the head of the Integrity team”? If the problem is a lack of access, you’d be more likely to check with some sort of information retrieval person or tech person. The head of Integrity is where you’d go to decide whether or not you want to give out the list, not whether or not you can find it.

  3. I read the privacy policy and although it also suggests that they don’t have that kind of info, it never actually says “We don’t have a list of backers. We seriously have no idea who funded what”. Which brings me to my final point…

  4. There is no way Kickstarter could function without knowing who’s backing what projects and by how much money. I can’t picture them shrugging their shoulders and saying “I dunno where the millions and millions of dollars filtering through our business comes from. Meh, who cares”.

So they have the backer list. Meaning that it’s impossible because it goes against their policy. Well like I said, I read that policy. It says…

We do reserve the right to disclose personal information when we believe that doing so is reasonably necessary to comply with the law or law enforcement, to prevent fraud or abuse, or to protect Kickstarter’s legal rights.

“…to prevent fraud and abuse…” So Kickstarter seems to have the list and the privacy policy seems to clearly state that they are able to make exceptions in cases exactly like this. I’m not sure what my next move is, but I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Edit: Danielle and I are digging through boxes of records and computer files in hopes of finding a copy of the backer list that we ‘may’ have (fingers crossed).

 

Common Questions

  • I backed the Kickstarter through Paypal and not directly through the Kickstarter page. Will I be on the backer list?

Absolutely! We’re doing everything we can to get our hands on the backer list and we’ll make certain that everyone is on it. If for some reason, you’re not on it, we’ll correct this. Seriously, if you backed us, there is just no scenario in which you hear this…

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  • I’ve moved since I backed the Kickstarter. How can I get my new address to you or make sure you have the correct address listed?

Once we (somehow) get the backers list, we’ll start making sure it’s all accurate and up to date. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to get your new address to us.

  • I now live on the surface of the Sun. Will you still ship to me? It’s crazy expensive to ship here. Also, ouch.

Totally! It really doesn’t matter how far away you’ve moved. You backed us. You’re getting your loot.

  • Are you still going to have the Shield of Wonder bonus deck?

I was the one who pushed for the SoW deck to begin with. HELL YES!

  • What’s going on with Goblins? Where are the updates?

My computer died after eight years of loyal service. I immediately ordered a new one (with the help of a tech savy friend. Thanks Shannon), but they seem to be taking a scwillion years to get it to me. Today I learned that one of the parts had to be special ordered from somewhere else and so I can expect it to arrive on Friday, Dec 12th. Kinda climbing the walls here. I need to draw. Grrrrrrr.

The Actual Game

Note: None of these rules are definite.

Terrain

With no drawing time, I’m getting a ton of work done on G:AR. I’ve started writing terrain cards that randomly create a world to run around in and explore. The cards are dealt face down in the center of the table and get flipped over to reveal the location, once a character travels to it. The outer circle of terrain cards, would represent things like forests, mountains, lakes, cities… while the terrain cards inside of that circle will represent a dungeon crawl. So far, I really like the idea of having a deck for each dungeon crawl. The Dragon’s Maw, The Maze of Mazy, The Well of Darkness, and more. This way, the players could decide which dungeon crawl they’d like to have in this particular game. Of course the placement of the individual rooms would be random each time, just like the outer terrain. And naturally, locations from the comic would be included.

Roleplaying EXP and Backstories

This is still new, but so far I really like it. In social situations, like in a tavern, for instance, player characters can drink and talk together. While doing this, those players go head-to-head, competing to try and form the best backstories and therefore make the most interesting characters and earn buckets of EXP. Here’s how it’d work (keep in mind, that this is still in early development)…

  1. Two or more players, who’s characters are spending some quality time together, each draw a Backstory Card, face down. Then, a Theme card is drawn face up. The Theme Card affects everyone competing.

  2. The first player turns their Backstory Card over for the whole table to see. It might read “The day I was born, many…” or “How did I, as a small child end up standing on a massive pile of dead bodies? I’ll tell you.” or “I thought I was drinking water, I really did! But the truth was…”.

  3. As soon as a player turns over their Backstory Card, they must immediately improvise a part of their character’s history and tell that short tale to the other players, according to what’s on the card.

  4. The Theme Card is used to depict the mood or atmosphere of the stories being told. While each player is dealt their own, unique Backstory Card, the single, face up Theme Card sets the same tone for everyone involved in the social interaction. If the Theme Card says EPIC for instance, then everyone’s backstory must be a truly epic tale. If the Theme Card says HILARIOUS, then everyone’s backstory tale must be as funny as possible. The Theme Card could also be things like TRAGIC, HORROR, NONSENSICAL or CONNECTION TO ANOTHER CHARACTER (which would mean that the player would incorporate one of the game’s player characters or non-player characters into their past in a creative way that could potentially add to the game).

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  1. Character Details: Theme Cards would also contain a single word (aside from the word that sets the tone) such as +phobia, +addiction, +attraction, +immunity, +hatred or +fascination. Backstory Cards would contain four detail words, like +acid, +music, +elves, +killing, +big-butts, etc. The player winning the event, would then connect the single word from the Theme Card (let’s imagine it’s +phobia) to one of the choices on their Backstory Card (let’s imagine they chose +big-butts). This choice must be a direct result of the improvised backstory given by the player. The result is a character who has 1 token point in phobia: big-butts. This phobia would give penalties when socializing with or battling anyone with a really big butt.

  2. Some of these details are obviously beneficial, like (+immunity +curses) or (+notices +traps), while things like +phobias and +addictions are indeed, disadvantages. But the disadvantages would offer benefits in other ways. For instance raking in the roleplaying EXP is much easier, with disadvantages. Also, terrain, weapons and other aspects of the game would play off of these character details in both good and bad ways.

  3. If a player becomes stuck and can’t think of a backstory that’s within the given parameters, they automatically lose that social encounter. If two or more players complete their backstories, then all players vote on who’s was the best (I have ideas how to streamline this voting process and make it fair). Only the winning backstory becomes canon. The rest then become tall tales, dreams or drunken babblings that never happened. And only the winning player receives roleplaying EXP, character details and other bonuses.

I’m still keeping speed of play into careful consideration. No one wants to wait 15 minutes for their turn to come around (I hate that).

Thanks,

-Tarol