Dwarven Forge is currently running its fourth kickstarter: “Castle Builder” (running through March 30th, 2016 at 6:00pm PST). As expected, it blasted past the initial goal within hours and unlocked a number of stretch goals before the day was out. Let’s take a look at what makes Dwarven Forge kickstarters so incredibly amazing.
Dwarven Forge was founded in 1996 by artist Stefan Pokorny. It was clear from the beginning that this wasn’t your typical company; making money isn’t their only goal. Dwarven Forge is far more than that. It is a means for Stefan to realize his vision of creating 3D dungeons and terrain in order to bring his FRPG hobby to life. In doing so, he has given us all the gift of being able to take part in that vision.
I had known about Dwarven Forge for many years, and dreamed of owning a large collection of this terrain. But financial constraints prohibited me from fulfilling that dream. Until that wonderful day when Stefan announced their first kickstarter.
Kickstarter #1 – Game Tiles
Dwarven Forge made history on March 25th, 2013 when they introduced us all to their first kickstarter: “Game Tiles“. This supplied everything you would need to create dungeon rooms and corridors, including doors, stairs, and numerous other dungeon features. Beyond that, this kickstarter introduced Dwarven Forge’s new material “Dwarvenite”, a substantial improvement over the previous “Polystone” pieces.
What’s immediately striking is Game Tiles’ casting material. Made from a dense, incredibly strong, color-infused compound, Game Tiles are nearly indestructible and remarkably affordable. You can literally throw Game Tiles in a bag, haul them to a game session, dump them on the table, set them up – and then scrape them off the table back into your bag. In testing, we actually struck our prototype pieces hard with a hammer – and it didn’t leave a mark!
— Dwarven Forge
This kickstarter was tremendously successful, with over five thousand backers pledging nearly two million dollars. I am so pleased that I was able to take part. Fortunately, I remembered to do an unboxing post when I received my loot.
Kickstarter #2 – Caverns
On March 12th, 2014 they announced their second kickstarter: “Caverns“. It allowed you to expand your stonework dungeon into a series of natural caverns (including stalagmites, pools, and other features common to a natural cave system. (Nearly four thousand backers pledged over two million dollars.)
Kickstarter #3 – City Builder
The third kickstarter, “City Builder” was announced on March 8, 2015. This time, you are taken out of the dungeon and into the city. This kickstarter included everything you would need to recreate an entire city: houses (in various designs), streets and sidewalks, doors, windows, stairs, even damaged buildings in order to create ruins and burning buildings. (More than 2,500 backers pledged over two million dollars)
I was saddened that I wasn’t able to take part in the Caverns kickstarter, but I was heart-broken to have had to miss out on the City Builder project. The images from this one are truly spectacular!
Kickstarter #4 – Castle Builder (Current)
On March 6, 2016 (last Sunday), Dwarven Forge announced their latest kickstarter: “Castle Builder“. I didn’t think it was possible, but Dwarven Forge managed to outdo themselves. This project lets you create actual castles!
Imagine a line of handcrafted 3-D miniature terrain with everything you need to build your own magnificent castle: Stackable Stone Walls, Ramparts with Walkways, a Forbidding Moat, Flying Buttresses, Soaring Towers, Mighty Crenellations, Dramatic Cliffsides, Arched Bridges, a Gatehouse with a Working Drawbridge!
— Dwarven Forge
There are a number of pledge levels available. Each of the following, from Ramparts on up, include free stretch goal pieces as well.
With Double Doors in back, a Drawbridge Arch in front and a Crenellated Top.
A 20″ long Castle Wall system with Crenellated Gatehouse.
A powerful 6″ Diameter Round Tower Topped With Battlements.
A standard-sized, enclosed Castle with Crenellated Gatehouse and an Interior Court.
A massive, enclosed Castle with Crenellated Gatehouse and Interior Court.
A massive Castle with 2 Round, Battlement-topped Round Towers.
Dwarven Forge tiles are completely modular. Each pledge level supplies the pieces to build the basic buildings, but there is so much more you can do with them. You can arrange the pieces in any way you want in order to create custom designs to match your imagination. This doesn’t even touch on the additional options available through add-on packs or the free stretch goal pieces. The pictures of the basic sets don’t do justice to the vast variety of configurations available.
The Castle Builder pieces are completely compatible with the City Builder pieces (buildings, streets, sewers, etc.). You can create a castle (in any configuration you can imagine), incorporating wooden buildings within the curtain wall, crenellations and boiling pots of oil along the top, flags and standards flying from the ramparts, shields emblazoning the walls, drawbridges spanning a slimy, murky moat that surrounds the castle. You aren’t limited by what you get from this kickstarter. You also have at your disposal everything from previous kickstarters, since all the pieces fit together beautifully.
It isn’t readily apparent just how much thought and engineering goes into these pieces to ensure everything works perfectly. Here is an image showing how the round pieces fit together. Notice the use of magnets to help hold things together and the use of dove-tailing to ensure stability. It is touches like these that show just how much Stefan really cares about the product.
You can find more highly-detailed pictures like this in this thread (at the bottem of the last page).
It seems like I have gone on forever, but really I have just scratched the surface. Obviously, you want to go to the actual kickstarter page and get the information directly from Stefan and the Dwarven Forge team. But there are many other resources available as well.
To start, go to the Dwarven Forge website. They have a much better presentation of the pledge level contents than I have here. In fact, I think it is better, visually, than what is on the kickstarter page. They also show all of the add-on packs, including larger images of what is contained in each, videos, an image gallery, and an on-line forum containing a great deal of additional information about the kickstarter.
I’m very disappointed that I can’t participate in this amazing kickstarter. I share Stefan’s dream and am excited that he was able to bring it to fruition. He and his team have brought something wonderful to life. I’m happy just knowing it is out there!
Let me leave you with one last amazing video. This is a time lapse capture of Nate, one of the Dwarven Forge crew, building an amazing castle, showing what you can do with the kickstarter pieces.