e20 RPG Kickstarter failure results in complaint to Texas State Attorney General

118 Total Shares

e20Gary M. Sarli’s Game Design: “e20 System Evolved” Roleplaying Game successfully closed with $14,605 (asking $10,000) in March 2010. One backer pledged $1,500 and 27 others pledged $200 each out of a total of 148 backers.

Kickstarter has been vitally important to the RPG landscape in recently months and there have been many successes. However, despite being nearly three years old, the e20 Roleplaying Game has failed to appear.

Writing on his site just after Christmas in 2011, Sarli describes suffering from his own illness and his developer also being ill. In that post he suggests print products would be available around March 2012 with PDFs due out about a month before.

Meanwhile, the comment section on the Kickstarter has been filling up with gamers asking for their money back. In December, Steve Ellis wrote;

Gary- I too would like a refund of my $50 pledge.
Incidentally, has anyone contacted Kickstarter the company yet?”

This week, Brian E. Harris left a comment to say that he had discussed the matter with the Texas State Attorney General’s office and left a complaint. He notes it is not fiscally prudent to use the small claims courts, may not see his money back but refuses to let Mr Sarli abscond with his money. He left the URL www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/complain.shtml for the complaints form.

There seems no doubt that Sarli has been ill, but Harris notes;

Once again, I’m sorry it has come to this, but I absolutely refuse to believe that, over the course of an entire year, Mr. Sarli has been so incapacitated that he or someone on his behalf could not have made some kind of update here.

Gary M. Sarli is an established writer and has worked on Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons. His pitch for the e20 System is presented below.

118 Total Shares
Green Goblin
Green Goblin

Genuinely surprised (and a bit offended) no one went after him with a lawsuit, or small claims push for a refund.

Jeffry Willis
Jeffry Willis

I just want that game book to be made. sounds awesome.

Brian E. Harris
Brian E. Harris

Here's the thing:

Kickstarter's terms of service are quite clear: If you promise a physical product as part of your Kickstarter, you're obligated to deliver, or provide a refund.

It's been over two years since the promised date of delivery, and we, the backers of the e20 Kickstarter, have been quite patient. Up until now, all I wanted was an update - some kind of acknowledgement to the people that gave Sarli nearly $15K.

For over a year, there has been ZERO communication.

This is unacceptable.

As such, I am availing myself of the following clauses of the ToS:

- Kickstarter does not offer refunds. A Project Creator is not required to grant a Backer’s request for a refund unless the Project Creator is unable or unwilling to fulfill the reward.

- Project Creators are required to fulfill all rewards of their successful fundraising campaigns or refund any Backer whose reward they do not or cannot fulfill.

I do not think it unreasonable to, after nearly 18 months, start requesting (and later demanding) an update from the Project Creator, and, after giving that project creator a 60 day window to either update or provide a refund, then provide that Project Creator formal notice that, if a refund is not provided, that I will purse means available to me.

This project was never a "help us get a business off the ground so we can produce books and give them to you if the business is successful." It was a "pay us so we can put the finishing touches on a book that's mostly done and get it printed, and here's the various price points for various quantities of this book that we will deliver to you if we meet the minimum funding required to do this."


Kickstarter is for helping a project get off the ground. If you are giving money with the expectation of getting something back for it you aren't using Kickstarter correctly. If people are complaining because they aren't getting their swag then they need to rethink their position, but if earnest fraud is going on it's a completely different deal.

You are kickstarting a low level business, failure should not be unexpected.

Alan Kellogg
Alan Kellogg

Mr. Sarli needs to come clean with what he does have, at this point in time maintaining privacy is not in his best interests.

That said, keep in mind that illness can be a long lasting affair that has often left patients in very bad shape for years at a time. Seems to me that the man needs to recruit someone to finish the project and get it on the street.