Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Miskatonic University Prop Project

Now that the Arkham Sanitarium project is over I'd like to start working on a followup tackling Miskatonic University.

The core group of physical props would be similar to that effort, with a run of patches, an enamel lapel pin, two new postcards, and a notebook. The one thing I'd like to change up is the notebook. In the past I've defaulted to using the pocket size Scout Books because they were one of the very few period accurate options available. The ubiquitous and cheap spiral bound notebooks of today simply didn't exist in the 1920's. There's some evidence they might have been available commercially as early as 1934, but US Patent 2123149, granted to W. Grumbacher, dates their creation to 1936.

Yes, I actually research this stuff. Heh.

The other problem with the Scout Books is that they're damn expensive in small runs. The 100 I ordered for the Arkham Sanitarium project comprised $330 of the project's total cost. They're a great little product, don't get me wrong, but I think there's a better option- composition books. For roughly double the cost of the pocket sized journals it's possible to get three times as many full-sized, custom printed notebooks. Like the pocket journals they would make ideal props or daily use items, with 25 lined pages, the traditional mottled black and white covers with the Miskatonic University logo printed on cardstock, and a historically accurate binding.

The one unfortunate side effect of switching to three composition books instead of one pocket journal is that it will increase the overall project cost, both for the printing of the notebooks and the cost of shipping. I'm going to get more precise figures later today, but I think domestic US shipping will jump to around $4.50 for the completed packages while EU postage will easily approach the $8-$9 range. Considering over half of the donors to the Arkham Sanitarium project were in the Eurozone that's going to add up real fast.

There are a couple of different ways to deal with the increased costs. One is to keep the $25 price point, which I think is the sweet spot for a project like this, but to raise the number of required donors. The second is to have one package available for $25 that includes a single notebook, and another at $30 that includes all three. The third option is to simply charge EU donors more to cover the extra postage cost.

As always, I'm open to your suggestions on how to make the pricing palatable as well as any items you think would be nifty to include.

Update: Ack! Not surprisingly, I vastly underestimated the postage. The mockup package I used weighed 1 pound and would cost $5.55 US and a whopping $10.76 to the EU.

28 comments:

The Doctor said...

An MU student ID card would be an interesting thing to have as a prop. So would a pennant, or a blank class schedule sheet (for working out when to take which course). Perhaps a map of the campus would be doable as well.

Alex Kaeda said...

Pacific North West Zone checking in . . .

I'd happily pay $30. *nods*

RLW said...

What PDF props are you thinking about for this project?

baralier said...

I've no idea what the price comparison with postage to Europe vs postage to the antipodes but I figure they'd be close. I'd be happy with a single notebook package. And from your comments about people missing the deadline for the Arkham project I can't see you have a problem filling extra orders.

Mark said...

Well, having missed the Arkham Project, I definitely want in on this one.

As a Eurozone guy, I like either option 1 or 2. If it's option 2, then whether I'm in the $25 or $30 bracket will depend on timing and finances, but one of those for sure!

Kari Toivanen said...

I personally like the little notebooks you've been making for other projects just fine.

I agree that a student ID card for MU would be great.

Alex said...

3o bucks would be okay for me. But I also could live with just one book. Having a choice would be nice but it complicates things a lot for you.

James Floyd Kelly (Jim) said...

* map of campus - sufficiently aged

* Student ID

* A course catalog (would be a HUGE time requirement, but can you imagine a 50-100 page university catalog, complete with course listings, history, staff writeups, etc? (This might make an interesting contribution-group project)

* School newsletter

* Lab photos

Raven said...

The all-wise, all-benevolent Propnomicon has already provided a pennant. Go fly it!

MU student cards, along with an undergrad course book, have been done by the HPLHS (using their own logo). A campus map has been done by RPG Plotter (using the HPLHS logo).

I think it's a bit of pity we have to have competing logos, beautiful as they both are. I suppose we could indeed re-invent all these wheels with the other logo. It just seems to be getting farther away from the whole idea (and advantage) of a shared story-universe.

Postage to Europe: I hate to cite a recent "ransomed" gaming book as a role model (since its delivery ended up having problems), but if you lived in Europe, you were asked for a separate pledge of $X for the extra postage -- and no-one seemed to think that unreasonable.

Propnomicon said...

@ The Doctor

An MU student ID would definitely be doable, and I'll see about the pennant pricing. Both the map and class schedule would make great printable props.

@ Alex Kaeda

It looks like I'll have to figure out something beside the composition notebooks to keep shipping reasonable for you fine folks down under.

@ RLW

I'm in the process of putting together research materials, but a selection of official paper and the workparts for producing an issue of the campus newspaper is what I had in mind for now.

@ baralier

I don't think it will be a problem to hit the ballpark budget I have in mind, but the economy is hitting a lot of folks pretty hard. Ideally I want to keep the cost at $25 and see if I can push the number of donors up.

The Jigsaw Man said...

Sign me up for this! I like the idea of the last one, but Miskatonic is what really gets me going.

Mr. Remakre said...

2 different packages....one $20.00 - capped and containing all the usual suspect and THEN a mega prop package with more stuff. Pennant, cards, ect. That way, everyone can play....

Anonymous said...

Leaving here in old Europe the price for shopping is what I pay when I'm buying some docs or books from the other side of the sea - I'm waiting this this project with "impatience"

Alban

raphael said...

also, official enrollment papers would be awesome. i could imagine it to be interesting to delve into how such matters were handled in the microcosmos of academia.

lets see, what are other items of student life... id card was mentioned, what today are shirts with a logo and fancy design, must have been the pins you are already planning to include.

Handgrenadealien said...

With regards to the extra postage to the "Eurozone", I for one have no objection. Considering the quality of merchandise on offer it is a small price to pay.

M. le Comte de Rigueur said...

No fuss here for extra postage, if 'Eurozone' also represents the cost to post to Australia?

Just curious: how easy is it to get an all-brass version of the pins made when you get the cloisonné versions? Is one the basis of the other, or are they two different manufacturing techniques?

As for prop suggestions, how about an after-hours pass to the MU Library Special Collection, for those late-night desperate scroungings for knowledge?

Miss_fortune said...

report cards would be kinda fun.

lets see university...
library card? maybe with a note about access to the special collections?
campus security badge?
diploma?

totally can't wait for this btw.

Matthew said...

Any chance we can get these with the University Name changeable? For example, if I wanted to make it into a prop for Yale University for a professor the investigators have to go visit, I could...

Thanks!
Matt

TT Mooney said...

I missed the Arkham project. I was travelling, and when it wasn't a quick click through on Paypal, I didn't have enough time. Work is like that, I guess.

I'd love to get in on the MU project, but the notebooks have always been the least interesting part to me. A composition book would be more interesting. And I think an extra $5 to ship to EU is totally acceptable, as long as George Osborne leaves me with something from my paycheque.

Any chance of an MU diploma?

Scott said...

Perhaps a tiered project, like most others are: $20-no book, $25-one book, $30-three books? Or perhaps have the books as a separate tier within the project: $15-books, $25-everything else, $35-the whole shebang?

I have no problem with you charging what you need to in order to make it work (though I probably wouldn't be able to swing $50), but I suspect you're right about the sweet spot. On the other hand, I'm sure "the rest of the world" is used to paying more for postage to get something from the US, just as I am used to paying higher postage to bring things into it. I've seen a few projects simply ask non-US backers to add a few dollars to the donation to cover the extra postage and it seems they almost always do--heck, I might even add a few dollars to help out in that case...

docrocray said...

Greetings,
Please sign me up for this project.
I am a fan of MU!
Mike Raymond
MU Class of 1967

LA Coach said...

Perhaps (depending on period accuracy), you might consider an admissions letter as a pdf piece. It might be a nice, relatively simple thing to add to the mix.

I also love the idea of MU library cards of some kind. Those might be even better than student IDs.

Like just about everyone else, I'm entirely comfortable with a tiered pricing scheme. It's a really exciting idea and whatever it takes to make it work will be fine.

Tom said...

I was only saying after I received the asylum set that I hoped MU would be next. I live in England and would happily pay up to $35 for something like the proposed set. I'd probably pay more depending on whatever other goodies I could get my mitts on.

Raven said...

@ M. le Comte: Propnomicon has already had all-brass MU pins made in the past. They show up on eBay now and then.

@ Miss_fortune: an MU library card and diplomas, likewise, are among the many existing offerings on the HPLHS Prop Documents CD ($20 by itself, $35 with a beautiful period-style font collection). But wait, some are also among the FREE downloadable files!

Dre said...

Count me in -- though I'd be interested in seeing comps before making a full commitment. I'm ok with paying a little more if necessary, too.

RLW said...

I'd prefer the tiered kickstarter option - one for the main prop(s), one for props + incidentals, and a deluxe package with incidentals, bonus copies of the incidentals and perhaps already printed out PDF papers? I think you could probably expand the kick starter options without jacking up Eurozone shipping.

I'd love to see:
An admissions letter
A rejection letter
Form-fillable letter head
Course schedule
Some vintage ads for businesses on or near campus

Amanda C. Kooser said...

I suspect that you wouldn't have any trouble attracting the volume of investors you would need to balance out the added costs. Miskatonic University should be a big draw. $25 is a nice price point, but I doubt most folks would quibble with $30. On a side note, a pennant would be pretty dang cool.

Miss_fortune said...

a cool prop would be science lab journals. i know my campus bookstore reams students for them. methinks the only difference from a normal composition is the graph paper.
if graph was period authentic it would be a cool piece to use for creating Herbert West's notes...