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Protecting Intellectual Property & Image

This week not one but two incidents inspired this blog post. Both were potentially problematic but fortunately they were handled and hopefully won’t be an issue in the future.

Incident One: Homebrew

A customer and fan of Nord Games contacted me with the desire to publish the monsters from ‘Ultimate Bestiary: Revenge of the Horde’ to the Homebrew section on D&D Beyond. I wasn’t even aware that this feature had been enabled on the D&D Beyond website, but I checked it out and wow what an awesome tool! BUT… our published content is not homebrew. In the hierarchy of RPG content out there there is First Party Content (from a company like Wizards of the Coast for D&D, Paizo for Pathfinder, Frog God Games for Swords & Wizardry, etc.), Third Party Content (from a company like Kobold Press, Frog God Games, or us for D&D), and then Homebrew Content. I suppose that the main difference in my mind between Third Party Content and Homebrew Content is Third Party Content has commission artwork, is published under a registered corporation, and is typically on par with First Party Content. Homebrew Content typically has images ripped from Google, Deviant Art, Pintrest, etc. and is “published” in PDF form by an individual or group of people without a company.

I explained to the fan that our content is Third Party and not Homebrew which means it should not be put onto the D&D Beyond Hombrew section anyway, but the even larger issue is that if our content is out there for anyone to use then it cheapens our books and PDFs which hurts our company. Fortunately the fan accepted my answer, although I’m sure they were a bit disappointed. I did however point out that they could use our creatures as inspiration, just as we use other content for inspiration, to create their own content to put in the Homebrew section of D&D Beyond.

Incident Two: Misprinted Product

As many of you know, we had an issue with misprinted product in mid 2017. The short version is that we had tens of thousands of card decks printed on the wrong paper. It was a single ply card stock, but it was supposed to be a two ply card stock. These things happen sometimes, so we explained it to our Kickstarter backers and expedited a reprinting on the correct paper. We also sent back 9 pallets of product to our production facility via FedEx. Six weeks later we received the correct product and fulfilled the Kickstarter… so that should have been the end of it right?

Well as it turns out it wasn’t the end of the story. It was brought to my attention that an eBay seller was selling our Treasure Deck CR 17-20 in lots of 10 for $30. This meant each deck was selling for $3 which is 1/5 of the standard retail price. My first thought was “how did this person get so many of our decks?” and “why are they selling them for so cheap?” Well we reached out to them and simply asked. As it turns out, this seller had purchased them from a FedEx auction.

Apparently FedEx auctions off damaged, lost, or returned product if it’s never claimed by the shipper or the recipient. I used the tracking number of the shipment to find out that one of the boxes in the shipment containing 144 decks of Treasure Deck CR 17-20 was lost in transit. It was later found and FedEx (to their credit) attempted to contact the recipient (our production facility) but was unsuccessful. For some reason they never thought to contact me. Apparently when a lost packages is not claimed, it goes to an auction. However this was not disclosed anywhere on my paperwork.

Fortunately the eBay seller was willing to work with me after I explained the situation and I was able to purchase the entirety of the box from them. My main concern in all of this is that a customer purchasing a misprinted product. The secondary thought being these decks being sold for 1/5 of the regular price and undercutting our website sales.

The takeaway from both of these incidences is that protecting our intellectual property and company image are very important to me and indeed everyone at Nord Games. Fortunately the people in both of these cases have been very amenable. I’m hopeful that future issues are as easy to resolve.


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Logistics & Fulfillment

When it comes to running a business there are so many moving parts. Not only do you have the challenges associated with the creation of a product for your customers to purchase, but you also run into the logistics behind getting that product to the customer. Some companies only sell digital products, but that still means having some way of delivering products online. In our case, we sell digital and physical products. Recently we’ve gone from storing and shipping physical products from our location to having a 3rd party warehouse handle it for us.

We did this for two reasons. First off we’ve reached the point where we get so many orders each day that we don’t have the people power to get it done in a timely manner. Secondly we can get far better shipping rates by working with a company that ships thousands of orders a day. So we’ve crossed that bridge and now all of our fulfillment is handled by someone else. Everything is awesome… right? Well just when we thought things were handled we are informed that our new fulfillment solution is going out of business. This means we’re headed back to the drawing board as they say to find a new shipper.

Fortunately it only took us a week to find a new shipper, but now we face the logistics of getting our product to this new shipper. The takeaway here is that running a business is a bit like the people who twirl the plates in the circus. Just when you’re done spinning one plate you need to run to another to get it spinning again, and just when that one’s taken care of there’s another plate that needs your attention. It’s never ending, but all and all it’s a fulfilling experience. Both challenging and rewarding at the same time.

If you’re thinking of starting a small business just know that you’ll make a lot of mistakes, but it’s okay. Learning is rarely as easy as we’d like it to be.


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Treacherous Traps Development – Progress Report

Many years ago I (Chris) met Steve Winter. I didn’t realize who he was at first. He was playing a vintage board game in the hotel lobby at the North Texas RPG Convention. He was introduced to me by my friend Bill Webb as “Steve” and I took a seat at the table. I had some emails to take care of so I just watched the game as my brother and a few other people played the game with Steve. He impressed me as a great presenter. His manner of speaking and enthusiasm were quite pleasant and I enjoyed listening to the game play out as I did my work.

Later that night as all of the gang at Frog God Games were hanging out at the bar I arrived to partake in the festivities. This Steve character was there sitting next to Bill. I thought “this Steve guy must be a pretty important character to be hanging out and talking with Bill like they’re old friends. Well it turns out they were, and this Steve guy was none other than the legendary Steve Winter from TSR. Being a rather young game developer by comparison I said very little and instead did a lot of listening. The following morning I happened to see Steve sitting in the breakfast area of the hotel and asked if I could join him. We struck up a friendship which has lasted for years, and every now and then we talk about working together on a project…

For years Steve has been too busy to work on a project with us at Nord Games, but finally we have had a chance to collaborate. Several months ago we were on the phone and discussed this project for Treacherous Traps. Steve seemed very excited and had plenty of material to contribute. I’ve been working on over 250 traps, but what I really needed was some purpose behind the traps. I’m happy to report that Steve has just delivered the abstract for the entire book which goes into the motivations behind using traps in your adventures. In addition he’s written an extremely detail Random Trap Generator which goes into different Triggers and Effects.

This book and the 5 companion decks are expected to hit Kickstarter before the end of the year. It’s going to be a must have for all you 5E players! We look forward to seeing your reactions and feedback!


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Spectacular Settlements Development – Progress Report

Development of Spectacular Settlements has been going well, but in the last week the project has really picked up speed. Andrew Geertsen and I (Chris) have been heavily focusing on the settlement builder within the book. This is a tool at the beginning of each chapter that takes you through a step by step process on how to build the settlement which that chapter focuses on. Right now we are putting the finishing touches on the Trading Post settlement builder and we’ve finally been able to get the dice out and see if it actually works!

The resulting settlement that the dice gave me was a very interesting location with lots opportunities for an intriguing backstory. To your average traveler the trading post, now known as Emeralvale, is inconsequential. It supplies a much needed rest stop to folk traveling along the mountain passes, being slightly sheltered from the worst of the weather. But if one were to look a little deeper, perhaps overhear a couple of the tavern regulars speaking using their local slang, or notice an all too common tattoo located on the back of the neck, or notice a pattern to the symbols etched into the door frame of specific buildings throughout the place, one might come to certain conclusions. One might begin to suspect something…

Spectacular Settlements as a whole will have at least 5 different settlement types. These include Trading Posts, Villages, Towns, Cities, and Large Cities. We also have plans for more military type settlements such as Fortresses. Currently the artwork for the book is in development and we plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign as soon as we’ve created something which we can share with the world.

Stay tuned for more updates on this an many more projects!



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New Projects Update

Who knew how hard it would be to get in the habit of posting to our blog? Well it’s not easy! I think the trick will be to simply add it to my calendar every week. We’ll see how that works out 😉

Now down to business. We’re working on a book of traps for 5E D&D! So far it is going quite smoothly, and we even have a special guest writer who we’ve been wanting to work with for years! We’re in the process of commissioning artwork and working on the logo design. below is what we’ve come up with so far for the logo design so far and we’re liking the direction it’s going.

The book currently consists of 5 chapters with around 250 traps, a chapter with a few dozen puzzles, as well as chapters on example dungeons and even a section on the physiology of traps, when to use them and which ones to use. It’s going to be an extremely useful resource and will be available as a hardcover book as well as 5 card decks. The book or decks can be used separately or in tandem. The book will have more detail and history about the traps, but the cards will contain all the basic information required to run them. There are 5 decks so that you can pull from traps at an appropriate challenge rating. The decks range from 1-4, 5-8, 9-12, 13-16, and 17-20. This way you’re always challenging your players appropriately.

This title is set to hit Kickstarter this spring so keep an eye out for it!

Happy Gaming!


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It Takes A Village…

Howdy all, there is a lot to post about right now so I’ll just get into it:

Quartztoil Tower Kickstarter

Things went great! We achieved all 3 of our stretch goals, and now the book is in final layout. Many thanks are in order to our staff, our fans, and all of our Kickstarter backers. We are excited to be working on more Heroes of High Fantasy variable difficulty adventures which will have their own Kickstarters in the near future.

Ultimate NPCs: Warfare

Development continues and artwork is being commissioned continuously. We do not yet have a cover image which is crucial for our Kickstarter marketing. This and a few other missing pieces will delay our Kickstarter until January. We do not compromise on quality and would not feel comfortable running the Kickstarter without these very important components. The book itself is shaping up to be an excellent follow up to Ultimate NPCs: Skulduggery so fans of the franchise will be extremely happy.

The Ruins of Glendale Village

Our final Kickstarter for the year will be launching on Friday October 20th. It features a new product line we call Fantastic Worlds Miniature Terrain. These are sets of ruined structures and buildings cast from Merlin’s Magic Plaster. We’ve obtained a license from Hirst Arts to use their artwork for our designs. This is top quality stuff and we are so excited to reveal this project. There will be 4 sets as well as add on and Kickstarter Exclusive models. Each set features different ruins including houses, hovels, guard towers, walls, doorways, and a large ruined church with columns and windows (pictured above). These are designed for tabletop RPGs and Wargames to enhance the gaming experience. Make sure you’ve signed up for our newsletter (at the bottom right hand corner of the page) if you want to receive updates when the Kickstarter launches!

That’s about it for now, back to the workshop to continue the development.

Happy Gaming!


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So Many Projects, So Little Time…

As we head into our final weekend of the Artifices of Quartztoil Tower Kickstarter there is a sense of relief that we’ve funded, but also a sense of urgency to get going on the next project. We have no shortage of ideas, we’re just facing a shortage of people power right now. Many people are submitting manuscripts for future adventures, which is great, but there are many more projects besides adventures that we’d like to work on. If you’re reading this and you have ideas for games or a desire to work with a game company then please contact us and we will certainly be happy to talk to you.

In the mean time what crew we do have will all be working double shifts trying to get content produced and the product published on time. Wandering Monster Decks are going well and should be delivered in November as promised. The follow up products which will complete that set of which Treasure Decks and Wandering Monster Decks are part of are currently in the early design phases, but we need more people on board with that project to get some outside creativity.

All and all things are going well here at Nord Games and we look forward to what the future has in store for us. We are so grateful to all of our fans and their continued support of our products!