$50K Megadungeon ensnares backers and publisher in legal woes

The question “Is the $50K Dwimmermount RPG Megadungeon doomed? was asked about a month ago. It seemed the designer of the dungeon, the person who collected almost $50K worth of Kickstarter funds, had dropped off the grid.

Kickstarter makes it clear that sometimes projects, even if backed, don’t happen. That’s the risk you take as a funder. However, campaigns are supposed to honour their pledge deals. That’s the risk of tying your pledge rewards directly in with the project’s conclusion.

Yesterday, Wesley E. Marshall made it clear he was now looking at legal solutions to the no-show project. He wrote;

I am researching what legal action may be available to us. I wish it didn’t come to this, but at this point I have very little faith that James is going to make his commitments. I don’t know if there was another way to contact the backers directly instead of through the Kickstarter comments, but I would appreciate it if the the other backers would send a short e-mail so that I can have a way to contact them with any progress made.


I’m not a lawyer, but I am going to try to understand what our options are, and how to proceed if a valid option exists. Ideally the best thing to occur would be for James to keep his commitments. The second best thing would be for James to give Autarch permission to publish and return to Autarch the money intended to fund the publication. The path we’re on now is James seems that he is not going to keep his commitments for an indefinite amount of time (3 more months? Years? Ever?) while keeping the 48k raised by the backers.

I have some sympathy for what James is going through, but going silent for months at a time while leaving the backers and business partners in the dark is not acceptable. Even when there is a death in the family most employers will give you a few days off, and they might try to lighten your work load or make other accommodations to make things easier. You don’t get to abandon your responsibilities in silence for months at a time. I know he recently posted to a limited audience on G+, but I didn’t read in that post where he addressed his responsibility to the Kickstarter in any way that gave me hope that progress would resume soon.

This must be very frustrating for everyone involved – especially as Autarch have put enough work into the project to see it through to finish. They just don’t have the funds raised nor the legal right to give away James Maliszewski’s IP.

There have been many dozens of high profile, multi-thousand dollar, RPG Kickstarters and most of them are going well. Despite the occassional hiccup gamers seem pretty level headed with their views of the platform.

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