Deathfire Launches Direct Funding After Failed Kickstarter

I was never too confident for Deathfire‘s chances. A classic-style RPG, aiming to breathe narrative life into a Wizardry style game, certainly sounded appealing. And coming from a well-loved RPG creator, Guido Henkel (Realms of Arkania), it was reasonable that it might get funded by Germany alone. But $390,000 was always an enormous figure for an archaic genre, and while it did pretty well, it could only bring together $200,000 in pledges. Of course, they’re not giving up. Instead the team is moving to a direct pledging model, and planning to release the game episodically. So far they’ve picked up $43k from just under a 1,000 people, but they’re going to need a lot more than that.

Emulating the Kickstarter model, they’re offering a bunch of rewards based on what you donate. A copy of chapters 1-3 is $15, while 1-6 is $20. (A cloth map comes in at $55.) But – BUT – please, please be aware that they’re not emulating Kickstarter’s need to reach a target. Pledge that money, and they get that money. And when they’ve made it clear they need $400k to make the full game, having raised less than an a tenth of that so far means you could be funding a project that doesn’t get finished.

There’s some new footage since we last mentioned the game. Some troll animation, in-game:

And here’s a reel of in-game stuff:

Finally, there was a Kickstarter update that they appear to still be planning to go with – a D20 bluetooth dice that will let you roll your actions on your desk.

(That should piss a few magicians off, since that’s basically Hugo Shelley’s gimmick.)

You can read our interview with Henkel about the project here.


  1. Themadcow says:

    Yeah, cause other ‘archaic genres’ like isometric RPG’s have struggled oh so much. Not to mention that games such as Etrian Odyssey, SMT and arguably Grimrock have done OK in recent times.

    It’s didn’t make megabucks in it’s KS because Deathfire isn’t a recognisable brand name and Guido isn’t well known outside the hardcore RPG community and Germany. I’m fairly certain you’d see a pretty successful KS if someone like DW Bradley decided to do a Wizardry sequel.

    • frightlever says:

      D W Bradley? Have you played Dungeon Lords? Or Wizards and Warriors for that matter. He doesn’t have anything to do with the Wizardry franchise now and his recent games have kinda sucked.

      • Wizardry says:

        No one has anything to do with the Wizardry franchise now, but I’ll take whatever Wizardry-like I can get.

        Wizards and Warriors wasn’t that bad, by the way. It wasn’t exactly good though.

      • Themadcow says:

        Frontier: Elite II and various dodgy Kinect titles didn’t stop people giving David Braben over £2m. Lord British’s iffy looking Shroud of the Avatar made double it’s £1m Kickstarter goal despite Ultima IX and an up and down record since then.

        • jezcentral says:

          Not that it didn’t have it’s problems, but Frontier: Elite 2 was fine, it was Frontier: First Encounters that was the arse-gravy from Gametek’s gravy boat.

    • Anthile says:

      Wizardry is alive and well…in Japan.

      • jrodman says:

        I’m surprised these don’t get translated. They seem a fairly easy type of game to modify for the international market. Well maybe not puzzles.

    • XhomeB says:

      Totally agree. He should have asked someone like Avellone to support the campaign (“Chris will put two sentences into our script!!!”), that would provide a MASSIVE boost in pledge rate.

  2. BTAxis says:

    Today in Pedantic Hour: “a dice” is bad grammar, as dice is plural. The singular is “die”.

    (It bothers me how often people get this wrong.)

    • DestructibleEnvironments says:

      Shut up and die (I made a good joke)

      This game looks rather good! Like a higher budget Legend of Grimrock.

    • Colej_uk says:

      Actually according to modern English it’s not wrong.

      link to

      You can use die of course, but ‘dice’ as a singular is not wrong. Stop your pedantry sir!

      • BTAxis says:

        Fair! Though both that definition and the one I used define dice as “cubes”, which would make a 20-sided die a contradiction in terms. Clearly the dictionaries are a bit lacking in this case.

  3. Maxheadroom says:

    I almost backed this, and I think i would have if it wasn’t for Grimrock which quite satisfactorily scratched the Dungeon Master itch I’d had for 25 years.

    Still sad to see it failed KS though

    • Wizardry says:

      Dungeon Master != Wizardry.

      Wizardry > Dungeon Master.

      • Kaeoschassis says:

        This statement… I…

        I at once agree completely and feel compelled to scream at you for even suggesting it.


        am very confused…

      • jrodman says:

        well Wizardry 8 > DM 1, but DM 2 > wizardry 1.

        That’s maths.

  4. burth says:

    According to the following blog post they are actually planning to refund backers if they can’t get $50k within the first two weeks, i.e. until Saturday so: link to

    • Keyrock says:

      Looks like they’ll make the 50k as they’re almost there now with almost a week to go.

      • PegasusOrgans says:

        i know, eh? He had all these opportunities and chose to go the episodic route! If I didn’t know better, I’d say this was really the only option left (thus “Plan B”), but that can’t be, cuz all the people that have nothing better to do than complain and criticize every developer fully funded the Kickstarter project! Otherwise, they’d not complain because they’d know they were part of the reason it now needs to be episodic.

  5. ZombieRiot says:

    You really shouldn’t animate the trolls.

    I remember the interview making me misty eyed with memories of Realms of Arkania (I got my first RPG experience with The Dark Eye, talking Pen&Paper here). But the project, while interesting in its promise to bring back some of the attention to detail that made classic RPG’s great, ultimately left me with little of an impression and was quickly forgotten. I think it’s not so much the lack of a recognizable franchise name that doomed it, but the overall generic, well, everything.
    Still hope this gets made, but only because I’d trust Guido to make a decent game.

  6. InternetBatman says:

    I don’t know if episodic really suits this game. It might for a Grimrock style dungeon crawl, but I thought he wanted it to involve substantial exploration as well.

    • XhomeB says:

      Yep, this isn’t supposed to be a “mere” dungeon crawler, but a complex RPG in the vein of Realms of Arkania (with a first-person combat system). I have no idea how they intend to divide it into episodes.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        The Witcher 1 and 2 are divided in chapters and it doesn’t feel to constraining, rather the world opens up gradually for exploring. The same would work nicely for Deathfire, they don’t have to abandon areas opened up by previous chapters.

  7. Gothnak says:

    My worry as a games developer is that $390,000 isn’t very much money. If an average reasonably experienced games developer takes home something like £35-40k a year, that’s a team of 8 people for a year or so, not a big dev team at all. If the games sells for £15 that is less than 20,000 sales worldwide to break even. Obviously if we factor in costs, taxes etc, then you need to sell a bunch more…

    I guess most kickstarters use the kickstart cash to go into development and still need many more sales to break even later

  8. Philomelle says:

    The reason why I refused to back Deathfire is because its Kickstarter page was all “THIS IS NO MERE DUNGEON CRAWLER WE ARE BIG COMPLEX RPG WITH TONS OF STORY SLAKGDKLASGDLASGDLASDAS”, but then…. provided next to zero information on both the gameplay and the story. Why would I back a story-driven RPG if you’re not going to tell me what it’s about? What if the story you’re writing isn’t for me, leading me to regret the money I spent on the game later?

    It was a badly run campaign with little to no information beyond awkward animation test trailers, only one story-related update, barley any gameplay-related updates and generally no incentive to back it at all beyond “Awww look at how cute Guido looked on the Torment cover years ago, don’t you just want to give this man money?”.

    No. No, I don’t really want to. This man has run two Kickstarters now and both of them were unfocused, daydreamy messes that sold the game in all the wrong ways. He obviously doesn’t know how to get people interested in his projects.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      …because the Doublefine Kickstarter completely had the game all planned out. Hell, they even had a demo up and running… right? Right??

      • zeekthegeek says:

        What DoubleFine had to offer: Tim Schafer’s reputation. You pretty much know what you’re in for when someone tells you you’re getting a Tim Schafer adventure game. I don’t think even a fraction as many people recognize Guido by name.

        On an unrelated note: This game had the worst wordsalad RPG title I’ve seen in a long time. Sure it won the vote on their site buuuut..the other poll options were also dreadful.

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        The Doublefine pitch was that you get to see the making of a game, both the bad and the good, from conception to release. They said that if they failed, you would see them fail. The game itself was supposed to be a small thing until it blew up.

    • Halk says:

      That’s because the project / theme isn’t interesting enough. Sorry :( but he will learn this lesson soon,,,

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      What you say is all true, the whole presentations of the project wasn’t very inspiring or intriguing. However the man has already shown his ability of making good RPG systems (Realms of Arkania) and bringing a huge game project to completion as producer (Planescape Torment). He’s also a writer, having a series of decent novels published, so he should be able to give the game a decent story.

      I recently tried and enjoyed Wizardry 6 and liked it just because of the combat and leveling (and a few good descriptions at the beginning) – the story was just a nonsensical patchwork of fantasy element. I just want a recent game with similar interesting mechanics, and if the story ends up sucking, it can hardly be worse than what Wizardry or Might and Magic called a setting. Just give me a few nice looking places to explore and a bestiary of monsters to beat up with my elite team of heroes.

  9. Keyrock says:

    I backed this because I know Guido can make great games. I loved the Realms of Arkania trilogy. It was hardcore, brutally unforgiving, but fair. The Kickstarter campaign got off on the wrong foot as the initial pitch made it seem like just a dungeon crawler. They gave a lot more info on the game in updates, but by then maybe the damage had been done. I am particularly interested in the party interaction system where each of your party members will have a set of attributes (some visible to the player some under the hood) that will define their personality and decide how they will act and react to certain situations and potentially lead to bickering or even violence among party members. Now bickering between party members is nothing new, plenty of party-based RPGs have had it, but it’s usually scripted and more often than not there is no real consequence to it. Supposedly the party interactions in Deathfire will be dynamic and have real consequences.

    Anyway, I hope this manages to garner more support and gets made in full.

  10. DrMcCoy says:

    it was reasonable that it might get funded by Germany alone

    Well, most Germans don’t have a credit card which is required to back a Kickstarter campaign…

  11. forgottenlor says:

    This article is a little bit light on information about the funding. First they are going to refund people if they don’t make 50k. If they do make 50k they are going to produce an episode and sell it on steam (its already greenlighted). For circa every 50k of funding/sales we can expect a new episode. As I understand it the episodes are supposed to sort of tie into each other the way Might and Magic 4&5 did, making a bigger and bigger world which can be explored. So if you help this game (with either 15 or 20 bucks) you will be getting at least one episode (but only if it makes 50k, if not they are giving up), and a pretty big chance of getting 2 of the total planned 6. How much farther it goes from there depends on sales. I’ve funded it, because I love this kind of game. I know its a risk, but so are all sorts of crowdfunding.

  12. VladVoivode says:

    Funny you should mention the “pissing off magicians part.” One of my jobs is as a professional sleight of hand artist, and, this die – or dice for the more modern grammarians – can easily be exploited by a sleight of hand magician despite the electronics.

  13. MellowKrogoth says:

    Guido Henkel did a nice four-part video interview on Matt Chat, discussing his history developing RPGs and his plans for Deathfire: link to (first video, just go to Matt Chat 217 for the next one, and so on).