Like 9,300 other backers, I pledged for the Elder Dice: Colors Out of Space Kickstarter last year. This was Infinite Black’s second Kickstarter, after 2018’s Elder Dice: Unspeakable Tomes campaign. The Colors Out of Space campaign featured ten different designs – nine colourful choices and the black Doom Edition set – available in a 9-piece polyhedral set, with D6 and D10 sets available as addons. Other addons included pins, playmats, slipcases, dice trays, and GM screens, all designed and branded to suit the campaign’s eldritch horror aesthetic. The Kickstarter was popular with the backers, hitting US$800,000 pledged – 1454% of its US$55,000 goal.
Now, I’m only an occasional Dungeons and Dragons player; my gaming time goes primarily towards Exalted and Shadowrun these days. So the D6 and D10 sets were sweetener enough to get me to back, but what really attracted me was the product marketing – these dice were truly gorgeous, leaping off the screen and into my face shouting “buy us!”
Unfortunately, I was new to dice collecting at the time, and I missed one tiny but very relevant detail: below those lovely product images was a line of small grey italic text: “Prototypes and visualizations”. Whoops. I wasn’t the only one, either.
The Kickstarter was plagued with what seemed like a constant flow of negativity from fans – many people were shocked by shipping costs (that, to an Australian, seemed pretty much par for the course), and as fulfilment was delayed by typical Kickstarter factors, tension mounted amongst backers. From my perspective a lot of the complaints weren’t particularly justified, as the Kickstarter seemed to be basically well-managed, but Kickstarters do tend to elicit strong feelings amongst fan communities.
The Pledge Rewards
A week after the first orders started reaching their owners, my parcel arrived and I was eager to break into it. Here’s what I received:
- Eye of Chaos 9pc polyhedral set (standard 7pc + 2d6) in a grimoire box with a magnetic-sealing flap, also containing a “lore card”.
- Eye of Chaos 9d6 set
- Eye of Chaos 10d10 set
- Seal of Yog-Sothoth 10d10 set
- Doom Edition D2 coin (Astral Elder design)
- Sigil of the Dreamlands enamel pin
Nicely packaged, although the d10 tubes are a very tight fit for the dice and hard to use regularly. The magnetic grimoire is a really nice touch, and it’d be good to have a matching one to carry the d6 and d10 sets.
Everything arrived safe, although the Doom Edition d2 coin had a blemish in the enamel and I’m surprised it passed QA. However, Infinite Black’s customer service has promised a replacement, so I’m currently awaiting that. The pin was very scuffed and I regret not asking for a replacement for it as well.
The issue came when I opened the packaging. I already knew that the Seal of Yog-Sothoth was quite different from the advertised pictures, as the news had already broken across Facebook, to mixed reactions.
I wasn’t expecting Eye of Chaos, though.
Here’s what was advertised for Eye of Chaos:
And here’s what I received:
Obviously, advertising pictures always seek to cast their products in a good light, and we all know to take marketing images with a grain of salt. This is a bit beyond that, however – the Kickstarter images show a very bright blue set with a strong two-colour swirl. The actual dice, however, are a dull, pearly blue with little colour variation in the pearl effect. I think it’s safe to say that nobody who backed for these dice based on the promo picture would have expected this product.
And now the infamous Seal of Yog-Sothoth. As advertised:
And as received:
I don’t actually hate the dice I received – I quite like the nebula style – but they’re definitely not what I was expecting.
There seem to be several variations on the colourway for the Yog-Sothoth dice, in fact – despite the difference from the marketing images, mine are relatively magenta compared with others I’ve seen which are a dull warm red swirled with a greyed-out blue. Mine seem a trifle over-mixed, but I can deal with that – rejecting them on those grounds really would be nitpicking.
And here are the additional items I received: the d20 coin (front and back), and the pin.
1. As mentioned, the colours aren’t true to the advertising material or product images at all, but they’re well pigmented and pleasing enough if you like the colours they actually are. (I’m on the fence.)
2. The material isn’t specified in the Kickstarter material or the Infinite Black website, but from the “feel” of the dice I’d guess they are resin. They aren’t as weighty as some resin dice I own, but they have no visible sprue marks and are very glossy.
3. The design features sans serif numbers in a very generic typeface, with a symbol on the high number on every single die. The symbol varies per set, and is the symbol associated with that set (also seen on the packaging, and on the matching pin.) Opinions vary on ensymbolled dice, but there are no symbol-free options here.
The Long and the Short of It
I’m pretty zen about these dice, at this point.
I’m not going to lie: I’m disappointed in the dice I received, Eye of Chaos more so than Seal of Yog-Sothoth. I’m probably not going to purchase anything from Infinite Black again, at least not without seeing non-doctored real world photos.
But that’s not necessarily entirely their fault; I was a newbie to serious dice collecting when this campaign launched, and I didn’t realise that what they were promising with their Kickstarter was probably not something a dice manufacturer could actually achieve in reality.
Do I think Infinite Black could have communicated better? Yes. They showed a few prototypes in Kickstarter Update #37 that, in hindsight, do reflect the colour variations. The prototypes weren’t clearly labelled, only included three of the sets, and were either heavily photo-manipulated or also differed significantly from the finished product – but if they’d been communicated clearly and honestly, backers would have been able to change their PledgeManager orders to sets they’d be happier with, and the current negative reactions could have been largely avoided.
However: I am an older and wiser dice collector now, and in future I won’t be quite so naive about the quality of marketing images, or the context of a disclaimer about prototypes vs. finished products. I like to think I’d make smarter decisions next time around – or at least more informed ones.