Tephra: Back on Track July 02, 2015 16:59 2 Comments

TL;DR - Hey everyone, I'm back in charge, the Kickstarter is all caught up, Tephra's debt-free for the first time in three years, and we have a ton of material coming to you soon! Thanks for playing! 

I am proud to be back in charge of Tephra again.

Tephra's had a rough history, but it's primarily the story of a young 20-something's youthful neglect. A few years ago, I had a friend and artist tell me, "Daniel, you are the most professional person I know, for your age." I took that as high praise. Now-a-days, I look back at that and almost feel like it's ironic.

I began working on Tephra when I was 21, nearly 7 years ago. I was a few years into college, had plenty of D&D games going on, and I just liked world-building. Tephra was an extension of that. It was a few months after I started developing Tephra's setting that I decided to start building Tephra as a game. With the help of some dear friends, we made it happen.

In 2010, we started going to public anime conventions to showcase and playtest Tephra. That was a blast and addicting. While never easy, it was always fun getting people's feedback, feeling their excitement, and sharing our growing game with them. We never had much money; the cost of going to those conventions was something that was probably beyond what a few college kids could pull off. But we kept going! We kept pushing forward!

In 2012, the Tephra book was nearly done, and I decided to run a Kickstarter. I didn't need much - only about a few hundred dollars to cover getting an ISB number and some other start-up costs. When we put up the Kickstarter, all we wanted was a $1000. We honestly didn't even really think we'd hit that. (I mean, we wanted to sell our book for $30 to $40, and none of us could afford to buy the very book we wanted to sell.)

But it blasted off. I launched the Kickstarter, sent out over a hundred private messages to people on Facebook, and was in bed around 4am. When I woke up the next day around 10 or 11 (I miss those days of sleeping in), our Kickstarter had already blasted past $1000 and was solidly in the $2000s. By the end of the first 24 hours, we were over $4000.

It was a crazy month, watching that Kickstarter swell and grow like it did. I had no concept of what that money was like, and when I the Kickstarter ended at nearly $23,000, I was dumbstruck. Friends might remember me during that month, constantly trying to rebudget and rebuild the math. I felt like it didn't work (haha, I was right), but I just couldn't get the numbers right. I distinctly remember telling my roommate when it hit $16,000 that "I ha[d] no concept any more of how much money that [was]."

Needless to say, I made some errors with running the Kickstarter.

It took me about 6 months to fulfill the "harder" part of the Kickstarter - I shipped the Playing Guides to all of my US backers. But the custom Adversary Book and the international backers, well, that was more difficult. First, I had no idea what my shipping costs would be and the international backers took me off-guard. Second, the amount of work required to finish that Adversary Book took not only me off-guard, but my entire development staff.

Now, I want to tell you about how we powered-through and overcame all the odds. But that story would be exactly that: a story. Near the end of 2012 I started to lose hope, and midway through 2013 I was getting pretty burnt out.

That's when I moved to Austin. My lease was up in San Marcos and I needed to get away. I moved to Austin and looked for a new job, and I found a great one. It added a great deal of stability to my life and I learned quite a bit about logistics and running a business, skills I desperately wish I had possessed a few years prior.

In early 2014, I resigned. I felt like I had done enough damage to Tephra and I was tired. Things were out of control and I didn't know how to salvage it. I felt like it had gone as far as it could with me at the helm. My friends, Jeffrey and Alex, graciously took over. They held down the fort and tried to grow Tephra, but I was of no help to them. A few months ago, they came to a similar conclusion: they had done as much as they could with Tephra.

It was sad, but it was time to move on.

...or was it?

This last year has helped me grow a lot. I've learned a lot of things from working my day job and I've gained a lot of stability. I feel more grounded than I ever have. So when Jeffrey and Alex let me know that they were calling it quits, I felt excited: now was my chance to take back over and fix everything.

And that's exactly what I've been doing.

Though I work a full-time job and have a great social life, I am on the warpath to get Tephra moving again. What I discovered was a huge swath of content that our teams had developed that was just sitting around. I had stores and stores of writing, specialties, augments, crafts, setting, characters, EVERYTHING... all of this unpublished material just waiting to see the light of day. So that's exactly what I want to do: bring that material to you.

But there was one thing I had to do first: I had to finish the Kickstarter. And I have. Okay, okay, I have a few more people who need their books (I am tweaking the adversary book for them), but everything else is mailed. I am happy to say: it's finally over.

Today is the first day in over 3 years that Cracked Monocle and Tephra are not in severe debt. And I aim to keep it that way.

Now for the growth part.

Get ready to see more and more!

Daniel