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The Biggest TTRPG Kickstarter Creators: Free League Is King!

They say you can't make a million in tabletop RPGs. With 26 successful campaigns totaling nearly $8,000,000, Swedish company Free League is one of the big heavyweights of tabletop roleplaying Kickstarters. Their latest offering, Ruins of Symbaroum, has already joined that streak of killer Kickstarter campaigns with over three weeks still to go.

Free League currently tops the chart (boosted by its recent $2M The One Ring campaign), but Monte Cook Games is right behind them.

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Everybody has heard of the giant $1M+ Kickstarter successes (Matt Colville, John Wick's 7th Sea, The One Ring, Coyote & Crow, Twisted Taverns, and Humblewood). I've already compiled that list. This list, on the other hand, is a look at the totals raised by various Kickstarter creators over all their projects which add up to $1M or more. These totals were correct at the time of posting. If you're reading this in the future, they're probably outdated!


It's a work in progress, so if I've missed any obvious contenders, let me know. I only included creators who were primarily doing tabletop RPGs on the platform, but I didn't audit every project, so the totals will include any other things they've done. I also stuck to Kickstarter for the sake of my own sanity; several other crowdfunding platforms are available!

Company/Creator​
Projects​
Known For​
Biggest Campaign
Total Funded​
1Free League
25​
Tales from the Loop, The One RingTHE ONE RING Roleplaying Game, Second Edition$7,839,651*
2Richard Thomas (Onyx Path)
45​
World/Chronicles of DarknessDeluxe Exalted 3rd Edition$7,264,672
3Monte Cook Games
19​
Numenera, Cypher SystemNumenera 2: Discovery and Destiny$6,671,520
4Hit Point Press
7​
HumblewoodThe Deck of Many Animated Spells, Tarot, and More for 5E$3,865,801
5Shane Hensley (PEG)
25​
Savage WorldsDeadlands: the Weird West$3,569,108
6Matt Colville
2​
Strongholds & StreamingStrongholds & Streaming$3,494,150
7Kobold Press
18​
Midgard, 5E hardcoversVault of Magic for 5th Edition$2,867,580
8Jim Searcy (Studio Agate)
11​
EsterenEncyclopedia: Lore Books & Toolbox for your 5E Campaign$2,254,420
9Eldermancy
2​
The Seeker's Guide to Twisted TavernsThe Seeker's Guide to Twisted Taverns$1,990,428
10Evil Hat Productions
16​
FateThe Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game$1,969,348
11Frog God Games
28​
Swords & Wizardy, Tome of HorrorsRappan Athuk$1,906,713
12Ghostfire Gaming
3​
Grim Hollow (5E setting)Grim Hollow: The Monster Grimoire$2,373,990*
13Goodman Games
30​
Dungeon Crawl ClassicsDCC RPG 4th Printing$1,756,612
14John Wick
8​
7th Sea7th Sea: 2nd Edition$1,640,153
15Ulisses Spiel
14​
Fading Suns, Dark EyeTorg Eternity$1,621,113
16Modiphius Entertainment
7​
Conan, Star Trek, many other licensed 2d20 gamesRobert E. Howard's Conan Roleplaying Game$1,618,550*
17RiotMinds
12​
TrudvangTrudvang Chronicles$1,461,447*
18Russ Charles
3​
Animal Adventures (5E setting)Animal Adventures: Tales of Dungeons and Doggies$1,413,286
19Warchief Gaming
1​
Auroborous (5E setting)Auroborous: Coils of the Serpent$1,260,863
20Morrus (EN Publishing)
23​
5E products, Judge Dredd, WOIN, ACE!Judge Dredd & The Worlds of 2000 AD Roleplaying Game$1,106,759*
21Connor Alexander
1​
Coyote & CrowCoyote & Crow the Role Playing Game$1,073,453

*converted to USD
 
Last edited:

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey




Dungeonosophy

Adventurer
These guys and other non-Hasbro entities ought to team up for "fusion Kickstarters", like how Paizo and Shane Hensley did with the Savage Worlds+Golarion kickstarter. Where the house setting is fully converted to the house rules of another publisher. Mutual boosting of player networks. Synergy. Big kickstarters.

For example:
Golarion+WOIN? (Wouldn't that be an awesome Kickstarter?)
 


The name Free League appeals to Americans, I bet the biggest market in the world. Originally, the company was Fria Ligan in Sweden, and the Symbaroum IP Kickstarter was via acquisition Jaringen (though it was called a merger, the brand name says otherwise)
 

Conor Alexander is a genius, from relatively unknown before this year, to right here taking seat with Matt Colville's millions of streaming fans.
 


TheSword

Legend
Supporter
A million sales just through crowdfunding is pretty amazing stuff.

I wonder how much roughly converts to profit? Particularly if kickstarters, while giving volume, have higher cost of sale because of the extras.
 

A million sales just through crowdfunding is pretty amazing stuff.

I wonder how much roughly converts to profit? Particularly if kickstarters, while giving volume, have higher cost of sale because of the extras.
Not enough, the collapse of the indepdent publishing brand, John Wick Presents was a sad reality of this.

Hopefully, Coyote and Crow creator, Connor Alexander, manages his finances better. One smart thing he did was the focus on supplying printed books on Native Lands first, and international backers not a target of the print and shipping run. That is wise for a fresh Kickstarter creator without partnerships with international logistics and shipping companies. Also, stretch goals can ruin profits, with too many successful Kickstarters having been drained by unrealistic stretch goals that required new manufacturing.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The name Free League appeals to Americans, I bet the biggest market in the world. Originally, the company was Fria Ligan in Sweden, and the Symbaroum IP Kickstarter was via acquisition Jaringen (though it was called a merger, the brand name says otherwise)
Free League is literally "Fria Ligan" translated from Swedish. That name was chosen long before the considerations of international markets became an issue. It was picked from an organization in the Coriolis sci-fi game back when the Free League people were just fans.

Specifically, fans of Järnringen's games. Järnringen created the edition of Mutant that's held in high regard still - I myself consider their campaign the Swedish equivalent of GWs Enemy Within or Chaosium's Masks of Nyarlathotep! (Coriolis was an original creation of Järnringen with a unique ruleset. When Järnringen folded FL picked up the rights and issued a new edition based on their ubiquitous Year Zero game engine.)

Much later Järnringen was recreated and published Symbaroum. But by then FL was successful and much bigger, so when a merger was considered, it would have made no sense to go with anything else than "Free League envelops Jarnringen".

I bet the FL people felt satisfaction from being able to incorporate their old idols, the ones that came up with the organization they used to name their company no less, though!
 

Free League is literally "Fria Ligan" translated from Swedish. That name was chosen long before the considerations of international markets became an issue. It was picked from an organization in the Coriolis sci-fi game back when the Free League people were just fans.

Specifically, fans of Järnringen's games. Järnringen created the edition of Mutant that's held in high regard still - I myself consider their campaign the Swedish equivalent of GWs Enemy Within or Chaosium's Masks of Nyarlathotep! (Coriolis was an original creation of Järnringen with a unique ruleset. When Järnringen folded FL picked up the rights and issued a new edition based on their ubiquitous Year Zero game engine.)

Much later Järnringen was recreated and published Symbaroum. But by then FL was successful and much bigger, so when a merger was considered, it would have made no sense to go with anything else than "Free League envelops Jarnringen".

I bet the FL people felt satisfaction from being able to incorporate their old idols, the ones that came up with the organization they used to name their company no less, though!
Thanks for this, I saw mention of an old Coriolis RPG but I think it was Swedish only. And thanks for correcting the misconception on my part that at first considered the faction name Free League was shoehorned into the Coriolis RPG as a vanity project.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Cheers.

PS. Trust me, the fact Coriolis 1E is Swedish only doesn't mean you're missing out. (The atmosphere and imagery of the game is the draw here, while the rules were just poor)
 

eyeheartawk

Works 60% of the time, every time
Not enough, the collapse of the indepdent publishing brand, John Wick Presents was a sad reality of this.

Hopefully, Coyote and Crow creator, Connor Alexander, manages his finances better. One smart thing he did was the focus on supplying printed books on Native Lands first, and international backers not a target of the print and shipping run. That is wise for a fresh Kickstarter creator without partnerships with international logistics and shipping companies. Also, stretch goals can ruin profits, with too many successful Kickstarters having been drained by unrealistic stretch goals that required new manufacturing.
John Wick's other problem is that his game just wasn't very good. The interest in his new games plummeted after people read the final version of the second edition of 7th Sea. The reception, was uhm, mixed. The Khitai Kickstarter after did a fraction of the business and he couldn't get his 7th Sea board game crowdfunded even after two tries.
 

babi_gog

Villager
Just thinking that some of the publishers above have used other crowdfunding platforms as well as Kickstarter. I know that Ulisses Spiel have done a few using Game On Tabletop. So that may change some of the totals if other funding platforms are included.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Just thinking that some of the publishers above have used other crowdfunding platforms as well as Kickstarter. I know that Ulisses Spiel have done a few using Game On Tabletop. So that may change some of the totals if other funding platforms are included.
I mentioned that in the article. But it took me hours as it was, so I'm just going to stick with the one platform. If anybody else wants to do the research, I'd be happy to include it.
 

An interesting metric would also be the timeframe in which the Kickstarters have been run. For example, OPP started back in 2010 or 2011, I think. While Fria Ligan has been using Kickstarter for a much shorter timeframe (and managed to raise more money for less projects in a shorter time).
 


Another interesting breakdown would be licensed properties vs original
Yeah I'd be interested to know that. I mean, it's asking a lot, but ideally, if we went for a full deconstruction what I'd like to see would be both licenced/merchandised vs original, and, separately original rules-sets vs stuff for existing rules-sets. Coyote and Crow was surprisingly/awesome because it's an original setting with original rules, and just blew past $1m. As others, glad to see ENworld in on here!
 

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