Category Archives: Worldbuilders 2017

Final day, and feel-good stories

As I write this blog, we’ve blown past our million-dollar goal and are in fact well past 1.1 million dollars with more than 24 hours to go in the fundraiser.

That’s a lot of flocks of chickens. That’s a lot of cows and goats for milk. That’s a lot of bees and trees and seeds and baby ducks.

It’s a lot of families that get to take control of their own lives. It’s a lot of kids that get to go to bed with full bellies. It’s a lot of parents that can go to bed knowing with certainty that they’ll be able to feed their children tomorrow, but for always. For ever and ever.

(It’s a lot of happy people.)

I feel like we’ve done pretty well this year, so rather than attempt to exhort you into donating more, I’m going to share some stories with you. Because stories is kinda what I do….

*     *     *

One of my favorite things is when people donate to our fundraiser for the first time. A lot of the time, it’s the first time they’ve donated to *any* charity. Seeing how happy it makes them makes me happy…

For the past five years, I’ve tried to donate but was not in a place to be able to do so. This year, I am, and it makes me ridiculously happy to know I’m buying some ducks for people who need them.
-Erika M

For the first time in my life I feel like I have a lot of money. Money that I earned myself. Finally I can donate to this wonderful cause! And bees, we need more bees!
-Sander T

I don’t usually have the ability to donate money to causes, but I love doing it when I can. I especially love donating to causes that have the right idea in mind. Improving lives is one thing I try to do every day with deeds and action. When I can’t do it in person, I gladly lend my money to help others do what I could not.
Andrew F

Long time reader of the books and the blog, first time donating. This year is the first I feel economically stable enough to do so. I got married earlier this year, and we recently found out we are expecting a baby. I’m not a religious man, but when life smiles at you, one has to do as much as possible to pass that smile on.
-Pablo G

Over the years I’ve always wanted to donate and have typically [been] strapped for cash. This year despite getting engaged, going back to school, and saving to buy a house I managed to put some aside specifically for this.
-Timothy A

Some people were passing along surprise windfalls that they felt could go to better use with Heifer.

Got this rebate-in-the-form-of-a-debit-card from buying tires, of all things. Figured I should spend it on something worthwhile.
-Byron C

I started a new job as a barista for an Independent cafe in Philadelphia this year. I saved up all the change that people tipped to me. I was so surprised at how much i had when I counted it up! Thanks for all that you do!
-Adam O (total $245)

I’m getting married in two weeks. Our family and friends have been so incredibly generous, covering almost all expenses before I even had the chance to make a budget plan. Our first official wedding gift therefore, goes to Worldbuilders! Onward and Wayward!
-Ki S

Others did it in honor of a friend or family member, including some new babies in their lives:

Here is a donation from my new baby boy, Axel. His very first donation!
-Ashley F (and Axel!)

I have an infant daughter this year, and this whole parenting thing is plenty difficult even in my privileged bubble. Hopefully this will go at least a little way toward helping a parent or child in much less fortunate circumstances.
-Alex R

Donating enough for a clean water installation, because my parents have for years been raising money for the Pure Water, Pure Love campaign, which provides clean water in underdeveloped areas throughout the world. They’re my inspiration, and I couldn’t be who I am without their love and support.
-Carrlet S

My Grandfather was a farmer. He raised sheep and cattle in New Zealand for most of his life. It Was his life. When he passed away two years ago, I wasn’t sure what to do. I’m still not, this isn’t the sort of thing that gets easier over time. But, I remember seeing him smile, looking down at his herd. Maybe I can give someone else, somewhere else, a chance to do the same. Thank you, Pat, for giving me this chance to spread some good.
-Francis A

Recently my family decided that instead of traditional gifts for Christmas, we would fall back to donations to a charity if the gift recipient didn’t have anything they really needed. My family comes from an agricultural area, and my sister has, in the past, had goats. The first year we did this. She was elated to learn that I had gifted a goat in her honor to a needy family less fortunate than our own. Every year since, when I ask her what she wants for Christmas, the answer is always “A goat!”
-Michael K

Some people are using this as an opportunity to pay forward favors they received in the past.

Five years ago I was in a pretty bad place, when I met a homeless man who gave me $6 for gas money so I could make it back home. I think about that stranger often, and how he gave me literally everything he had to help me out. I’m in a much better place now, with more than enough money to spare. I wish I could find him again and return the favor… but until that happens, I’ll continue to donate to Worldbuilders and other charities in honor of that stranger. I hope my small gift of a goat will be similarly life-changing for someone else.
-Thorina S

I have received help when homeless with 5 kids, now my children are almost all grown, everyone should pay it forward.
-Theres K

In general, there’s just some damnfine people out there helping out with Worldbuilders.

My adoptive parents taught me to love reading at an early age, and in the years since no other experience has brought me as much joy as cracking into a new book and exploring the pages within. It is my hope that by making this contribution, another child will be given the opportunity to stop worrying about where their next meal or glass of clean water will come from and instead be able to concern themselves with the next book they get to read, the next game of make believe they want to play, or pursuing a higher level of education than they previously thought they could achieve.
-Jason L

I’m donating because my parents raised me well. Last December my mother was diagnosed with a particularly rude form of cancer, and in the past year she has taught me new lessons about strength, perseverance, and the impact of a positive attitude on a person’s life.
I had two separate groups of chickens when I was growing up. While these friendly little birds did teach me lessons of responsibility and the rewards of caring for beings outside of one’s self, I know that impact is but a fraction of what a flock could do for a family truly in need. I’m just sorry I can’t afford more.
-Paul W

Aaand now I’m all weepy.

Y’all are such lovely people. You’ve done so much, and you’ve made the world better through your kindness and generosity.

In the end, we’re all here to make the world a better place. And this message really hit home for me.

If you listen to the news the world seems to be full of craziness and hate but not at WorldBuilders. Here is an easy way to make the world better, have a real impact on people’s lives, and offset the negative. My donation is my down payment on the kind of world I want to live in.
-Humberto A

What a good way to look at it, Humberto. It’s really easy to be angry about the state of the world. I’m guilty of that a lot. It’s better to do something in the attempt of making the world a better place.

Thanks so much to everyone who has donated so far. Thanks for spreading the word.

Most of these stories have come from the comments that people have left when they make their donations. Like this one, obviously left by a mother on behalf of her little boy:

There are hundreds of these little stories in there. Far too many for me to share. But if you’re looking for a pick-me-up in your day,  you can go look.

Or, if you have a story of your own you’d like to share, you can leave it in the comments below.

And now, for the last time of 2017, here’s the donation link.

Let’s make our down payments on the world we want to live in.

Posted in Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat13 Responses

The Traditional Pat Rothfuss Donation Blog

As I write this blog, Worldbuilders has raised $655,000, which means we’ve raised over $160,000 since we first made the announcement about our million dollar goal two days ago.

That $160,000 alone is enough to give over 300 families the gift of a cow. A cow like the one Rahel Mhema and Steven Kipagatie received five years ago, or like Guli Siwale is just beginning to prepare for, as a part of the same program.

Rahel Mhema and Steven Kipagatie (left). Guli Siwale (right).

One of Heifer’s most successful programs has been the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD), which works with small-scale farmers in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania to improve dairy production at every point, from caring for the animals, to training in more efficient milking techniques, to improving distribution infrastructure.

When Mhema and Kipagatie joined the program five years ago and received a dairy cow, they shared their long-term dreams:

  • Educate their children through high school and on to university
  • Establish an orchard
  • Buy more land for commercial timber
  • Plant timber trees
  • Buy a Vehicle

I’m sure you can guess where this is heading: Five years after receiving their cow, Mhema and Kipagatie have achieved all these goals and even more.

Guli Siwale is a coffee farmer who is eagerly awaiting the gift of a cow. Siwale’s life hasn’t been easy–her husband died in 2005, and she lost her only daughter a few years later. This left her to provide for her three grandchildren by herself. And time are hard, as it’s a daily struggle to provide even regular meals.

But Siwale believes better days are ahead, because very soon she will receive her cow.

As my son constantly reminds me, a cow provides 7 gallons of milk a day. Enough to provide a reliable nutritional cornerstone that will keep Guli’s family heathy. The extra milk will generate a constant income stream that will allow her to buy necessities like medicine and clothes. Beyond that, the money can be used to pay for school fees and will help put varied, healthy food on the table three times a day.

Perhaps most importantly, the cow’s manure will improve her coffee crop, meaning healthier soil, and vastly improved crop yields. Guli says her dream is to set up small businesses for her grandchildren, to give them the same hope she feels. “I will be able to lead a life that other people are leading,” Siwale said.

For Guli, the gift of a cow means hope for her family, control over her future, and a way to become self-reliant despite the upheavals in their lives.

Thanks to you folks donating and helping to spread the word, we’re making it possible to give that kind of hope to more than 300 new families. Since Tuesday.

Have I mentioned that you are awesome? Because you are.

* * *

Every year it becomes harder for me to collect items together to donate to the fundraiser. I mean, how do can I compete with 2,500 books from John Scalzi, or an amazing, hand-crafted Black Walnut gaming table from Wyrmwood?

But I’ve got to throw my hat in, because this is my charity, after all.

So. Let’s show off some things.

  • 5 sets of Kingkiller Books, signed by me.

Donating my books makes the most logical sense, so I always toss a few of these in. Each prize consists of The Name of the Wind, The Wise Man’s Fear, and The Slow Regard of Silent Things. I’ll sign all of them for you.

Hell, I’ll even personalize them for you if you want. My team will be irritated that I’m adding that at the last minute. But if you win these, we’ll drop you a line and I’ll sign them however would make you happy.

  • Auction: 1st Edition 1st Printing of The Name of the Wind. Signed and/or personalized to the winners desire.

This auction is for a 1st/1st The Name of the Wind hardcover, which is currently unsigned. But if you win it, I’ll sign, quote, and personalize it to your specifications.

These usually end up going for a lot of money, and I’ll be honest, I’m running out of them. When I was first published I sold them out of the trunk of my car willy-nilly when I should have obviously been hoarding them. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that some day I’d have a successful charity that could turn these things into goats and cows for Heifer International.

Soon we’re going to have to start auctioning the ones I’ve rescued from libraries.

The point is, they’re pretty rare. So if you want a chance to own one (While helping out a cool charity) you might want to jump sooner rather than later and bid on it right here.

  • 5 sets of The Princess and Mr. Whiffle books, signed by me.

The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle is my worst-kept secret, because for some reason everywhere I go there are still people out there who have no idea these exist.

They’re delightfully illustrated picture books that I did with Nate Taylor, and Worldbuilders is the only place keeping them in print, so every copy supports charity.

  • Auction: “Storybeard” art print. Signed by me and Nate Taylor.

When Worldbuilders was at the Emerald City Comic Con last spring, Nate was there as well, and he gave us the very last signed “Storybeard” print he had.

This is that print. I signed it, and now it’s safe in its mylar sleeve, away from my grubby hands and waiting for a new home.

You can bid on it here.

  • 5 copies of the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Name of the Wind, signed & badly doodled by me.

This book surprised me this year. We had to start a new printing practically instantly. It sold better than I could’ve possibly anticipated.

It has beautiful illustrations from Dan Dos Santos, a new dust jacket by Sam Weber, currency descriptions with illustrations from Nate Taylor, and the first-ever codified calendar.

I’ve also gotten Brett to give me a step-by-step instructional sketch on how to doodle a bee.

He makes it look really easy, but it’s not. Not if you’re me.

I’ve already started practicing:

I hope you’ll note that as I worked on this, moving from upper left to lower right, my bees actually became progressively worse. At best they look like kinda weird, hairy potatoes. At worst they look like bees brought into existence by a cruel, cartoony god. The lopsided orbs that were meant to be eyes, twisting until they seem to become mouths, crying out silently for the sweet surcease of death….

Um. Yeah. So these books I’m putting into the lottery will have bees in them. Hopefully better bees than these, but if not… I’m sorry? Maybe I’ll just draw the bee on a piece of paper and you can use it as a bookmark instead…

  • Auction: A handmade marble and copper tak board made by a fan.

A generous fan made this and gave it to me at PAX West this year. I was amazingly touched, because it was the first Tak board I’d seen done in stone.

That said, I’m from the midwest. So I have trouble accepting gifts for myself. But luckily, when I asked him if we could use it to raise money during out Worldbuilders fundraiser, he happily agreed.

It’s made of three different colors of marble, with an 1/8″ sheet of copper as the base. This thing is HEAVY. It looks like an in-world artifact that you might find in some noble court off in Vintas.

I love that the surface is a little uneven, and the copper is starting to develop a beautiful patina. You can can even see a few stress fractures in the marble–the whole thing looks like it’s had thousands of games played on it.

This one-of-a-kind tak board can be yours if you bid over here.

  • A set of 40 of my favorite fantasy books.

A few years ago, someone asked me what they should read while they were waiting for my next book. So I posted a blog listing my 40 favorite fantasy books and/or series are. Books that everyone should read if they wanted to consider themselves well-versed in fantasy.

The clever among you will note that this picture contains a lot more than 40 books. This is because I cheated and used entire series as an entry. Like the Dresden Files, which I adore. (Currently 15 books.) Or Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Series. (38 books.)

Some of these books are exceptionally hard to find. It took my team many attempts to get all of them. And now I’ve put a set of them up here.

  • Auction: Slow Regard of Silent Things page proofs, signed by me.

As part of the publishing process, authors are sent page proofs. This is an important step before publication, to make sure that everything looks right before they finally go to print. It’s the last opportunity to fix typos or change a word.

It’s a pretty important opportunity to me with any book, but especially so for Slow Regard because in addition to my obsessive revisionist tendencies, this was my last chance to make sure the art was properly positioned on the pages. That the pages where the text wrapped around or near illustrations were perfect.

I spent a lot of time with these page proofs. And now, they can be yours. They’re truly one-of-a-kind, containing the entire book, and I’ve besmirched the first page of them with my grubby signature. You can get all biddy on this over here.

Lastly, I’d like to remind you that there are more auctions than the ones I’ve mentioned in this blog going on now, and that the money we raise them does count toward our final total in the fundraiser, so bidding here will help us reach our $715,000 goal to get that matching donation of $285,000.

But don’t forget, every $10 you donate directly to the fundraiser moves us closer to that goal, too. Plus you get the chance to win all manner of books like the ones I’ve just donated above. Also games. Also jewelry. Also a Balcony Cabin for Two on the Joco Cruise and so much more…

It also make you feel really good, too. Trust me on this. Knowing you’ve changed someone’s life is a good feel. When you donate to us, you know you’ve helped a family forever.

* * *

We’ve come a long way in these last two days, folks. We’re so close to the $715,000 goal that I can taste it.

We’re making a difference. We’re making the world a better place.

Four days left. Keep spreading the word….

Also posted in Nathan Taylor Art | By Pat16 Responses

The $1,000,000 Challenge

Every year, something happens that makes us extend the end date of the fundraiser.

In the early days, it was often me gumming up the works. I’d screw up in my planning, (back before we had better people to handle the planning) or I’d get a great idea that would have fit just fine into our schedule…. if I’d thought of it two weeks earlier.

In recent years, the extensions have mostly come about for good reasons. A last-minute sponsor comes in with a cool donation and I need extra time to write a blog about it. Or we end up hosting an event or posting last-minute auctions.

I thought this year’s big last-minute excitement was going to be the table Wyrmwood donated to our prize lottery. (More on that below.)

But we were ready this year. We actually scheduled a couple extra days for last-minute additions. So our team jumped up and down with delight, we slotted the new blog into our buffer time, and patted ourselves on the back for being clever. This was it. This was going to be the year we finally wrapped up our fundraiser on schedule.

Then we got more news. THE news. The news I’m writing about today.

You see, someone out there saw what we were doing here at Worldbuilders. They thought we were cool and wanted to help.

Specifically, they want to help us raise a million dollars this year.

Here’s what they’re proposing:

If we raise $715,000, they’re going to kick in $285,000. And that will carry us to a cool million dollars.

Now here’s the truth: I was excited about us hitting $500,000 today. Half a million is a lot of dollars. It’s a huge accomplishment, and that money is going to change lives. It’s going to make a huge impact on the world. Even if we didn’t raise another dollar after today, our fundraiser would still be a huge success.

But I’m not going to lie to you. I *really* want to hit a solid million this year.

And I think we can do it with your help.

Here’s how.

*     *     *

  • First and foremost, we’ve extended our deadline.

The fundraiser will now be ending on Tuesday, December 12th. That gives us exactly one week to hit our goal of $715K.

This will be it though. Final deadline. If we haven’t hit it by then, we’ve missed our chance.

  • Second: Asking Nicely.

I’m guessing those of you who read the blog or follow Worldbuilders on social media already know what we do here. I’m assuming you’ve been with us for the past three weeks, and you’ve probably made a donation or two. Maybe bid on some of the auctions. Maybe checked out a few of the team pages….

If you haven’t donated yet, I get it. There’s a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world right now. Hurricanes and fires. The holidays coming up fast…

But I’m asking, if you haven’t joined us yet, would you consider it? The simple truth is that the great majority of our fundraiser doesn’t come from huge donors. It comes from the thousands of people who kick in $20 each. (Enough for a flock of chickens) Or families that pool their resources and kick in enough for a goat ($120).

You see, together we are mighty. And there are no small donations. $20 bucks can change someone’s life.


If you need proof: here’s Ndiolle Faye. Two years ago, Heifer International gave Ndiolle a flock of chickens along with the tools and education needed to make good use of them.

Now she owns over 150 chickens. Her farm is thriving. She makes money from selling chickens and eggs. Her children get to eat three meals a day, every day. And for the first time in her life she has enough money to send them ALL to school, something she’s always dreamed of.

What’s more, she is sharing her prosperity with her community. Following Heifer’s tradition of Passing on the Gift, Ndiolle has given 11 other local families their own flock of starter chickens. Now they are on a similar road to self-reliance and prosperity.

I guess what I’m asking is this: Do you want to change the world? Because you can, and the price is low. Two years ago someone donated 20 dollars, and now 12 different families aren’t just surviving, they’re thriving.

A million dollars would buy a LOT of chickens. And you can help us make that happen if you donate here.

  • Third: Remind Y’all about the Fabulous Prizes we’re giving away.

In addition to making the world a better place, I want to remind you that every $10 you donate gets you the chance to win one of the more than 5,000 fabulous prizes we’re giving away this year.

Prizes like the beautiful Wyrmwood gaming table.

(Ooooo…. Ahhhh….)

I gushed about this table in my last blog. So here I’ll just mention that it’s hands-down the most beautiful piece of furniture I’ve ever seen, and I covet it with the powerful passionate lust of a thousand suns.

It’s handmade here in the US out of Black Walnut, and were you to buy one, it would cost you more than $10,000. But you don’t need to buy it, because it can be yours if you donate $10 or more and select “GAMES” as one of the types of prizes you’d like to win.

I can’t can’t stress how beautiful this game table is. The recessed playing area can be raised and lowered. It’s amazingly well designed so you can play a game, then pause it partway through, put the cover on the table. Then eat dinner. Or do some work. Or (here’s a wild thought) play an entirely different game.

A DIFFERENT anonymous donor (We have some good people here) has agreed to cover any additional shipping costs from Wyrmwood, so the winner will be able to accept this gift without any additional expense.

If you’re more into experiences, you can also win a balcony cabin for two on JoCo Cruise.

I’ve talked about JoCo Cruise on the blog before. But in brief, I’ll just say it’s one of my favorite parts of the year. I’ve made some of my best friends on the ship. I snorkeled for the first time. I’ve learned about new music, met cool comics writers, and got to hang out and perform onstage with the folks who make Nightvale….

Also? Tequila. Or drinking Rum out of a Pineapple on a Beach. Or playing games with your fellow nerds then spending time in the hot-tub.

And you can join us. You can be on this cruise. If you donate $60 (enough for tree seedlings that will prevent soil erosion, provide nutritional diversity, and bring in extra money to a family) you get 6 chances to win this cabin (as well as all the other prizes.)

There are literally thousands of books and games you can win. In fact, our prize wall is full enough to be difficult to photograph.

And this doesn’t include ANY of the games. They just don’t fit on the shelves, so there’s BOXES and BOXES of them in our warehouse, just waiting to be shipped out at the end of the fundraiser.

The money you donate, in addition to getting us closer to our $715,000 goal, puts your name into the mix for these prizes. And if you love math, we have a wonderful little widget that shows you what your odds are of winning at least one prize… (Though people who donate over 100 bucks frequently win more than just one.)

We’ve never had so much stuff to give away. Your odds of winning are ridiculously good AND you’ll help us reach our goal of $715,000, which is to say, that you’ll help us raise a million dollars.

  • Lastly and most important: Spreading the Word.

“But Pat!” I hear you say. “I’ve already donated. I wish I could help you hit a million, but I’m utterly tapped…”

Believe me, as someone who never made more than $14,000 a year before he got published, I get what it’s like when times are tight.

It turns out there’s a big way you can help us that has nothing to do with money.

You see, I’m proud of Worldbuilders. Heifer is an amazing charity. We have wonderful sponsors. This year we’re giving away more than $160,000 in prizes….

But people don’t know about us. It’s hard for us to get the word out to new people.

So… can you help us spread the word?

Do you have a blog? A podcast? A Webcomic? If you could talk about us to your people, it would help a lot….

Do you make videos on The Youtube? Are you a Twitch streamer? Can you let your audience know who we are? That we’re giving away amazing prizes in an attempt to raise a million bucks for charity?

Do you contribute to your the local paper? Your campus paper? Do you just have a regular piece of paper? You can write a note on it about Worldbuilders, then put it in a bottle, and then… I dunno. Maybe just hand it to someone? I bet that would get their attention.

You can even help us by updating your cover photo on Facebook and including a link to our donation page in the description. ( will point people right there, Or you can pick a link to your favorite team page.)

We’ve made a whole bunch of them with different messages in them. And they’re available in two layouts: as general sharing images, as well as formatted to work as a cover photo on Facebook or Twitter. You can download the ones you like best here and use them all over the place.

You can cash in your change jar. Make your own fundraising team page where you work together with your family or friends to raise enough to give a community cows or clean water.

A lot of folks I know give charitable donations for Christmas this year instead of presents. Last year, my sister gave me a picture of a goat she drew to let me know she donated. I put it on my fridge and it made me happy all year….

Tell your friends. Post about it on social media. Tweet it out to some of your favorite charitable celebrities. Donate to support teams in tonight’s StarCraft Tournament

Barring that. The simplest, most honest way you could help us spread the word is this: Think of the person in your life who would be most interested in what we’re doing here. Think of someone who loves games. Or books. Or goats. Someone who loves sustainable farming. Someone who wishes the world were better than it is.

Then tell them about Worldbuilders. Show them this blog. Invite them to come be awesome with us.

As I type this, our donation total is $532,000. We’ve raised $40,000 dollars today, most of that after we started sharing this news on social media around 5:00.

It’s a strong start to our final week. I think we can do it.

Here’s the donation link one more time, just in case you need it for anything….


Posted in Worldbuilders 2017 | By Pat17 Responses

Wyrmwood Gaming: The Prophecy Gaming Table

I’m guessing if you read my blog, you’ve heard of Wyrmwood Gaming before.

They’re the ones who have produced the high-end Tak sets we’ve made. Both the ones in the initial kickstarter, the travel sets we have in the Tinker’s packs, and the one-of-a-kind set pictured above that’s currently up for grabs in the fundraiser’s prize lottery where every $10 bucks gets you a chance to win among thousands of games and books.

I love them with a fierce love, which is why we’ve done so much with them, including, for example, the wooden poker chip sets we did in our recent playing card Kickstarter.

But I’m not here to tell you about the cool stuff they’ve done in the past.

No. I’m here to tell you how cool they are right now…

*      *      *

About a week and a half ago, I went to PAX unplugged where I met up with some friends, played some D&D, and just generally mucked about and had a good time.

I stopped by the Wyrmwood booth too, because, as I mentioned, I love them. I looked around at some of the new stuff they had for sale, chatted with some of the folks there, checked out the Tak set they had on display…

And then, off to one side of their booth, I saw this:

And here’s the thing. This is the point at which words fail me. This table. It was so beautiful. Not just that, it was amazingly well designed and engineered.

This is going to sound a little crazy. But I couldn’t stop touching it. I was there, chatting to the folks running the booth, and I realized that for the last 10 minutes I’d been obsessively running my hands over the table. Almost… well… kinda petting it.

But no. That actually undersells what was going on. I was caressing the table. I’m sorry to put it in those terms. But I was. I was caressing this table in a sensual and loving manner. And I could not find it within myself to stop.

I honestly don’t want to make this weird. But I don’t know how else to explain to you how much I fell in love with this table. How it looked and how it felt.

And then they showed me how it worked. How the recessed playing area could be raised and lowered. How they used rare-earth magnets to secure the drink holders. How the leaves that covered the table were not only tongue-and-groove, and not only held together with magnets, but it also has a rubber gasket so if you spill something it won’t leak through and ruin your game underneath!

God. s I’m typing this, I’m actually angry and sad and frustrated that I can’t accurately describe to you how amazing it was.

Here’s a picture they took of me when I was there.

(Look at my hands.)

How ginchy is this table? Let me tell it you. If a Unicorn were a gaming table, this is the table it would be. If you went to god’s house to play D&D, this is what you’d see. This is the Tesla of gaming tables. It’s the one table to rule them all.

This is the Lin-Manuel Miranda of gaming tables.

Anyway. While I was talking to them, creepily caressing their table, I thanked them for the donations that they had already made to this year’s fundraiser. And then I mentioned, using my best used-car salesman tones, that if they wanted to donate a table to Worldbuilders, I’d do a really good job of showing it off to the world.

And here’s the thing. They said yes.


*     *     *

Yeah. So as of right now, there is a Black Walnut Prophecy table in the Worldbuilders prize lottery. That means for every ten bucks you donate, you get a chance to win. (Not only the table, but over $150,000 of other books, games, and geeky swag we’re giving away.)

By the way, here’s a video that shows off the table at some length. You should really check it out.

Let me say it again: This Black Walnut Prophecy table is being added into the lottery for *anyone* to win who donates $10 or more, and selects “GAMES” as one of the items they’d like to win.

The winner, in addition to the table, will also get up to $500 worth of rail accessories of the their choice (in matching Black Walnut, this would be roughly 4 cup holders and 4 component collectors). The total retail value of all of this is $10,500. And, again, anyone who selects games as one of the types of things they’d like to win is eligible to win this table. You could donate $10 and still possibly win this.

Now, there’s some things to take note of.

First of all, this table would be fulfilled at the end of May 2019. Wyrmwood has already sold a bunch of these tables, and they can’t promise it would be done any sooner than that. You’d know you won it early next year (when Worldbuilders does the prize draw) but you’d be waiting until May 2019 for it to arrive.

Additionally, a $500 shipping credit will be applied. Which is to say, you’d be responsible for paying any additional shipping costs for delivery. See, this table is huge, and hefty. Solid wood craftsmanship is like that. And since we’re not limiting this prize to only people in North America, there’s a chance the shipping could cost a LOT of money.

When the winner is selected, we’ll reach out to be sure they’re willing and able to cover any additional shipping costs. If the winner declines, we’ll draw another name and a new winner will be chosen.

Believe me when I say, you want this table. If you’ve been holding out on donating, now’s the time to jump in, and maybe you’ll win.

And also, if you get the chance, can you show the folks at Wyrmwood a little love when you get the chance? They’ve really gone above and beyond with this donation, and they deserve some kudos.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Arts and Crafts, Beautiful Games, cool news, geeking out | By Pat9 Responses

A sense of play: the Worldbuilders Starcraft Tournament

Last year as a part of our Worldbuilders fundraiser, the folks at Cards Against Humanity helped us put on a very-last-minute Overwatch Tournament.

It was a smashing success, and this year we decided to try something similar and have a 2v2 Starcraft Tournament.

Now first off, I’d like to make it clear that I did not pick the game. At first I thought we might be playing PUBG. Which I am hilariously bad at. Or maybe Rocket League, which I have never played at all.

But they picked the original Starcraft. A game I actually used to play back in the day. Back in the beforetimes. Back when you could even have considered me to be, in some small way, l33t.

Now I’m not saying I was the best at Starcraft or anything. But I *am* saying that I used to play against 3 AI opponents set to the highest level of difficulty. And I would win. I would win while laughing maniacally.

Admittedly, that was… oh sweet christ… More than 17 years ago. So there might have been some *minor* skill degradation since then.

What I’m really getting at here is that if I’m awesome at this game, I expect you to be really impressed and assume it’s because I’m possessed of nigh-godlike powers. But if I suck at it, it’s really not my fault. Can we agree to those terms?

Okay. Great. Good talk.

Last year we pitched our Tournament as kind of a Hunger Games style thing. Which is fairly appropriate, as we *are* combating hunger.

What’s more, we have ten teams, and each of them will have a donation page. (see below) All that money will be part of the Worldbuilders fundraiser, and 100% of it will get passed along to Heifer International. (Also, you’ll be entered into the Worldbuilders prize lottery, getting a chance to win cool swag for every $10 you kick in.)

The meta-game, if you will, is that each team will be trying to raise more money than their opponents. Fundraising will be incentivized by the simple fact that when each team goes head-to-head, the one that’s raised the most money (as of 10 minutes before the match starting) will get a tactical advantage over their opponent.

The other team will not get an advantage. Very much not. In fact, they will be exiled to the outer darkness, where they will doubtless wail and gnash their teeth in impotent rage.

Here’s our full list of the teams:

The links will take you to their pages where you can donate to support them (and, of course) feed hungry kids.

The tournament starts on Monday, December 4, with our first round of matches. Wednesday, December 6, will have the second round of matches and the Championship Game.

Even better, this tournament will have honest-to-goodness commentators hosting the full event from the Cards Against Humanity office studio. Pre-game talk will be beginning at 7:30pm CST both days, with the first matches of the night starting at 8pm CST.

Our commentators will be Chris Geiger and Mary Beth Smith of The Nerdologues, some real professional comedians, and they’ll be explaining what’s going on, as well as keeping you up to date on the funds raised and other interesting facts about Worldbuilders and the tournament in general.

You’ll be able to watch the entire thing on the Worldbuilders Twitch channel, and I’ll be rebroadcasting it on my channel as well. The first night is scheduled to run until about 11pm CST or so, and you’ll be able to pop into the twitch anytime and see the games or the hosts working their magic.

Below we have a lovely bracket graphic that breaks down the schedule, as well as shows you who all of our teams are in a more graphic sense, in case that is a little more up your alley than a bulleted list.


If you’ve never been on Twitch before, I’d encourage you to create an account (it’s free) so you can join the chat. (You can also follow my channel if you like, so you can catch me when I stream games, do Q&As, or have conversations with cool folks.)

Okay, that’s it. Donate to your favorite geeks team’s pages to make sure they have an unfair advantage during their melee. Join us next Monday and Wednesday to watch people blow each other to kingdom come. For charity.

Later Space Cowboys,


Also posted in Beautiful Games | By Pat14 Responses

Giving Tuesday: For the Love of Cows

As I type this, Worldbuilders has raised more than $279,000 dollars.

It’s also Giving Tuesday. And I’m going to be honest with you. Part of me really wants to be snarky about that. This year someone used the term “Thanksgiving Eve” around me, and I went on a tirade because no. No there is no such thing as that. We started with Thanksgiving. Then we got Black Friday and that was fine. Then there was small business Saturday and that was kinda okay. Because yay, small businesses…

But then there was Cyber Monday too, and you know what? Not everything has to have a day. Sometimes it’s just Wednesday. So no, thank you very much, it’s not Thanksgiving Eve.

So I’m going to be honest with you. I feel a little bit the same about Giving Tuesday. That cussed, contrary part of me *really* wants to have a problem with it. It feels kinda… artificial.

Boy, this isn’t the best way to start off a charity blog, is it? I’m doing this all wrong.

Here’s the thing. No matter how I happen to feel right now, today is still Giving Tuesday. It’s a day when a lot of people feel moved to donate to charity. And even at my most curmudgeonly, I think that’s pretty great.

And *because* it’s Giving Tuesday, I’m supposed to write a blog that will inspire y’all. To be generous. To dig deep. To think of others. To pick Worldbuilders as your charity of choice, donate, (and maybe win some fabulous prizes while you’re at it.)

I’ve written those blogs in the past. Typically about halfway through the fundraiser I get caught up in the excitement, write something passionate, and y’all warm my bitter heart & stomp out to donate. This has happened ever year so far, and it reinforces my belief that humanity is good. And that geeks in particular are lovely, empathetic, large-hearted individuals.

But this year… I don’t really have a great idea for a blog. I… honestly? I just feel so tired. Every day the news beats me down a little more. Every day it seems like the world is a little more on fire. Every day it seems like we’re just a little closer to the brink.

And we just had my dad’s funeral this weekend. I’m not bouncing back from that as quickly as I thought I would.

But the fact remains that it’s Giving Tuesday. And I’m the only one who can write this blog. So I’m writing a blog. And, apparently, I’m determined to make a mess of it. This really isn’t how it’s supposed to go….

*     *     *

I just got up from the computer and had a walk, pretty convinced that when I sat down again, I’d have to erase what I’d written and start over.

But instead, I found this on my dining room table.

(Click to embiggen)

This is a box my son brought over to my house a couple weeks ago at the beginning of our fundraiser. It’s full of change he’s been collecting all year. He *really* wants to get enough to buy a cow for a family through for Heifer International.

If you want to know why, here’s the video from a couple years ago:

My boy knows a cow costs $500, and he’s been working at it tirelessly. He scrounges the house for change, going through our pants pockets and couch cushions. He has emptied both his own piggy bank and his brother’s. He opened a store after Halloween, selling his candy haul piece by piece to anyone who came over to the house….

Sometimes he just straight-up shakes people down for money, explaining how helpful a cow can be to a family that doesn’t have much food or money. In fact, just this weekend at my dad’s visitation, I found out he was offering funeral home mints to people for a quarter. I explained, gently, that this might not be the best place for that. But not before he brought me a check a kind soul had written out to Worldbuilders.

Somehow I don’t think my dad would mind. Especially not given what I found in the box just now.

I think this must have come from a letter they exchanged over the last year. My dad wasn’t an easy man to persuade, but he had a soft spot for my little boy….

I don’t know if I have a real point to sharing this with you except to say that finding this box made me feel… happy. I feel proud of my boy. And right now, when my own enthusiasm is at a little bit of a low ebb, it’s nice to be able to borrow a little bit of excitement.

If you want to be excited about what a cow can do for a family, you should watch this video. It’s not even two minutes long.

Tomorrow, I think I’m going to show my boy that video. We’ll count his change and we’ll talk about cows.

In fact, I’m going to invite him to come livestream with me tomorrow, too. (For the next two weeks, I’m streaming to raise awareness of our fundraiser 4-7 CST every day.) Tomorrow, he and I will do it as a team. We’ll play some video games and talk about cows.

You can come on over to my stream and meet him, if you like. Maybe a little of his enthusiasm will rub off on you too.

That seems like a nice way to spend Giving Tuesday.

[edit: Amanda here! We’ve made a team page to support Oot and his change jar, so if you want to help him raise enough for a cow, you can donate here.]

*     *     *

Just to be clear, Heifer International doesn’t just deal in cows. It works with people around the world to improve their lives in the long term. They don’t give people a loaf of bread or a sack of rice. They provide animals and materials sometimes. But more importantly they provide education. They provide the training and tools to become better, more efficient farmers and business people.

Take Félix Octavio Rosales for example. He’d been farming for many years before he received Heifer training as a part of the Healthy and Sovereign Land project.

Félix and his wife, Mrs. Gómez, had been using chemical fertilizers and pesticides without understanding what they were doing and the harm they were causing to not just their farm, but their health.

They attended multiple workshops and training sessions with the Healthy and Sovereign Land project and were educated in how to make their own fertilizers and pesticides naturally. Instead of spending money on agricultural chemicals, they made their own out of the rabbit and guinea pig manure they already had at hand. Their soil has become nutrient rich, and the produce yield has increased significantly.

Mrs. Gómez has been able to sell the additional produce at the weekly market fair, empowering her to contribute income to her family.

“Another change is in my health,” Félix said. “I see this reflected in the way I feel when I work and when I have to walk long distances; I feel better. I see these changes because the food we eat is natural, without chemicals.”

And all of this was through education alone, provided by Heifer International.

The projects that involve gifts like chickens require training too, like Ndiolle Faye went through.

For many years, Faye’s family lived in poverty, struggling to get two meals a day during the off-season on their farm, and eating mostly millet the rest of the year. Faye was unable to go to school as a child, and though she tried to make it a priority to send her children to school, there was never enough money.

Then Faye joined the Wax Bakh Self-Help Group as a part of a Heifer project.

“Assistance started with a series of trainings, building a hen house and the placement of four hens and an improved breed rooster,” she said. “There was great joy in my family and in the  community. I saw this as an opportunity to move ahead in life.”

She received the gift of a flock of chickens, which quickly grew from 5 birds to 155. Her family’s income greatly increased, and she was able to run a business as she’d always hoped to do.

Less than two years later, she had sold more than 100 chickens. She used that money to buy 2 young rams for the purpose of fattening them up and re-selling them, providing more income and further diversifying her farm. Now she buys and sells rams three times a year, and invests the money into her poultry farm as well as saving more for her family.

She no longer worries about paying for her children’s education. If she doesn’t have the money, she can simply sell some of her chickens at the beginning of the semester to pay for school fees, new clothes, and supplies.

By integrating livestock and agriculture, she increased her income while improving her family’s food security and nutrition. Growing the flock increased the quantity of manure available, which she used to replenish the soil. As a result, her farm yield has increased by 20 percent. She keeps a portion of the harvested produce to add nutritional diversity to their meals.

Now, two years after receiving her flock of chickens, her family eats three nutritious and diverse meals daily, all year long.

Faye has also participated in the Heifer Cornerstone of Passing on the Gift, where she shares her training and a starter flock of birds to families who are in need.

And get this: As of today, she has Passed on the Gift to 11 different families.

“I am a happy woman. I meet my needs, and support my family. I own a poultry farm and we eat well. I can sell poultry anytime we face any challenge. We eat eggs and chicken as we want. And I have basic livestock husbandry skills – all thanks to the Smallholder Income and Nutrition Project.”


Okay. Now I’m into it again. I’m excited. Are you feeling it? Because I’m feeling it….

This is what we’re doing with our fundraiser, folks. This is what Heifer International does, and everything you donate to the fundraiser goes to help programs like this.

The gift of Bountiful Harvest training costs $72.

The gift of a flock of chickens, and the training necessary to raise them, is only $20.

Clean water for a whole village costs $300.

A cow, of course, costs $500 dollars. As my son will no doubt explain to you tomorrow on our livestream.

If the world is getting you down, try joining us here at Worldbuilders. You can give a family the chance to be self-reliant. You can help parents feed their children. You can literally change someone’s life forever. Seriously.

Here’s that donate link one more time.

Also posted in a few words you're probably going to have to look up, Heifer International, Oot | By Pat9 Responses

Black Friday, but from the safety of your home

Well folks, it’s Black Friday.

I’ll admit, I’ve never actually ventured forth in search of deals on this, the most terrifying of all shopping days. But every year I see the news stories and I think to myself how much I love to stay inside and never ever leave.

In an attempt to help you make some similar good decisions with your life, we are continuing in the fine tradition of offering some deals in The Tinker’s Packs.

As I’m guessing many of you know, the proceeds from The Tinker’s Pack go to Worldbuilders and help us run… well… everything. Electricity bills. Website development and maintenance. Rent and employee salaries and… well… everything that it takes to make fundraisers of the sort we’re running now happen.

Once Worldbuilders covers its expenses, all the money we make go into our General Donations pool, which allows us to run our other fundraisers and support organizations like First Book or Mercy Corps (like we did for our recent Puerto Rico fundraiser)

The fact of the matter is, NONE of what Worldbuilders does would be possible without the store.

So if you’re thinking of doing some shopping today, can I interest you in some bargains?

It’s worth noting that the folks who are subscribed to our newsletter got a heads up about all of these new cool things yesterday. If you want to be in the know early, you can sign up for the Tinker’s Packs newsletter over here.

Here’s what we’re offering.

First and Foremost: 10% off the ENTIRE store.

If you’ve been holding off on buying something from the store to wait for a deal, now’s a great time. Every single item in the store is discounted, and you don’t need to do ANYTHING to get that except go to The Tinker’s Packs and buy something.

There we have things like the Eolian Bar Mug (a wonderful holiday gift), various Tak sets (for the gamer in your life), specially-designed change jars for your annual donation (good for the whole family) and officially licensed merchandise for books, webcomics, and more!

Everything is 10% off, and will remain so through Monday night, so don’t forget to grab your gifts before the sale ends!

New Products in the Store!

In honor of the fundraiser and our Black Friday sale, we’ve put up some new, rare items, as well as some previously-sold-out items that we’ve either found hidden away over the years or had been secretly saving for just such an occasion.

Many of these things have fewer than 10 available, though, so if you’re interested you’ll need to snap them up quickly.

  • Caesura

Recently, I worked with the folks at Jalic Inc to produce Caesura, Kvothe’s Ademic sword. And it’s truly beautiful to behold.

This first-edition run of Caesura was limited to 5,000 pieces, and each sword is engraved with its number, and comes with a card of authenticity.

And now you can buy your very own in The Tinkers Packs.

  • Kvothe’s Bloodless, True Dungeon Token

When I teamed up with the True Dungeon folks to set this year’s game in Temerant, that also included making equipment and items for the players set in the world, as well.

I was tickled when the Bloodless was made, and I think its effect (-4 damage on missiles and spell attacks) is excellent. I keep one with me wherever I go just in case.

The Bloodless is classified as an Ultra-Rare token, making it difficult to acquire, and extra-valuable to True Dungeon players.

True Dungeon was kind enough to donate money from each of the runs this year to Worldbuilders already, and now they’ve also generously given us our very own set of Bloodless tokens to sell. You can grab it over here.

Back For A Limited Time

Everything else we’ve added today is a limited-edition item that we’ve scrounged up from our vault. Some of these we’ve had sold out for years before the team discovered where I’d squirreled them away, and they persuaded me to give up a bit of my horde for a good cause.

  • Limited Edition Domesticated Owlbear

The Owlbear Plushie was a limited edition item that John Kovalic designed to help us raise money for Worldbuilders at GameHole con two years ago. We sold out fairly quickly, but a few have been put back into the store, so if you missed your chance, you can grab this little dude right here.

  • Limited Edition Bast & Bastas heroes from Boss Monster

We also found our limited-edition Bast & Bastas hero cards for the game Boss Monster. The lovely folks at Brotherwise Games made them exclusively for us to sell to support Worldbuilders, and our vault has been cleared to get the last of them out into the world.

These are special promo cards for Boss Monster, so you need a copy the game if you’d like to use them accordingly. Of course, since there’s 10% off the entire store, that’s not so hard to pull off. You can get the cards here, Boss Monster 1 here, and Boss Monster 2 here.

  • First edition copies of The Slow Regard of Silent Things, double signed by me and Nate Taylor.

Nate Taylor has been one of my dearest friends for many years, and I loved working with him on Slow Regard. We have a few first edition copies of the book that he agreed to sign for us, and we’ve put what we’ve got up in the store, but fair warning: when they’re gone, they’re gone. Grab yours here.

  • Limited Edition of The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below. Double-signed by me and Nate Taylor.

A few years ago the second Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle book came out, and the special edition came with a full-color cover, in addition to being numbered and signed by both me and Nate.

We’ve been out of these for ages, but we’ve re-launched them in the store right here.

That’s all of the new stuff, but since there’s 10% off the entire store, there’s plenty more you could go check out and see if it tickles your fancy.

Thanks for all of your love and support, folks. You’re the best people a charity could ask for.

Also posted in The Tinker's Packs | By Pat8 Responses
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