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THE ZONE RPG

Created by Raphael D'Amico

A tabletop rpg of surreal play-to-lose horror for 1-6 players In The Zone, you and your friends will take characters wracked with phobias & obsessions on a one-way trip into a dangerous place full of beauty, horror, and creative mutation. The fun of the game is taking turns flipping cards full of weird locations, scenes, and complications, and telling the story of how they push your characters towards each of their *inevitable* deaths. In the Zone, the mutations you face are created together, drawn from your character’s worst fears and deepest wishes. → More info here!

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Fulfillment is complete (& bonus sales tax refunds!)
20 days ago – Sat, Feb 03, 2024 at 11:30:05 AM

Hello friends!

Fulfillment is now complete!* I covered exactly what that means in the previous update but in short it just means that I consider every valid order to be with you (or on its way!) 

That's 3,585 copies of The Zone out in the world, in nearly 60 countries! 🌐

~Sits down and takes a breath~

~Thank you, all~ 🥹

*Ok but what about the asterisk.

As of writing this, there are a tiny handful of units that are ready-to-go but haven't been picked up by their couriers, including five containment editions and 11 of the Kickstarter exclusive posters. I'm keeping a close eye on them—if you haven't already, expect confirmation emails from BackerKit when tracking numbers are assigned!

I am now transitioning into regular day-to-day business and customer support with the game. That means I'll keep being there to deal with any issues you might have. If you emailed me to get a replacement part, I'm now finally able to take care of those items. 

And if you think you should have your game but it's not with you yet, or have any other problems, please re-read the last update for instructions and contact me at [email protected]!

A proper retail launch of the game is coming in Mar/Apr once the remaining stock arrives in the United States. In the meantime, I will keep fulfilling orders in Hong Kong with the remaining limited stock (and will likely continue to do so that way for international orders). 

If anyone asks, tell them they can get the game at www.TheZoneRPG.com!

Sales tax refund for some folks

With the game finally shipped, the last few weeks were spent working through my Q4 estimated taxes (did you know that businesses in the US have to pay taxes every quarter, not anually?) 

Unexpected good news! I discovered that there were several states where I charged sales tax, but actually didn't meet the threshold for doing so. Most states only require you to report & pay sales taxes when you have something called "Nexus", which means over $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions over 12 months, in that state.

If you were in any of the states where that wasn't necessary you should see a refund of somewhere between $5-13, depending on your state and which tier you backed.

The journey continues!

As a horror fan, I was so overjoyed that Bloody Disgusting,'s Aaron Boehm reviewed The Zone and gave it 4.5/5 stars! Never would have imagined something I made would be in one of my fave horror publications!

Also just amazing to keep seeing your mission reports, photos, stories on Discord, Twitter, Insta, Threads etc. As I transition from this wild fulfillment period to just... having a game out there, I feel just the most massive gratitude!

"Raph, is there anything I can do to support The Zone?"

If you've played since the last update, or even if you haven't but want to share some impressions, the single most helpful thing you can do is to leave a review on RPGGeek

All you have to do is click on the stars, then enter your thoughts.

It's very helpful for other RPG fans to be able to see reviews in one credible place, and a great way to help others discover The Zone!

Otherwise:

  • If you post about it on social media, please tag me @raphdamico so I see it
  • Join the Discord and share your stories with other players
  • ...or just drop me a line [email protected] with your stories, or let me know if you see The Zone mentioned anywhere out there in the wild!

Thanks again my friends! Now off to nap for a month.

Wishing you beauty and horror,

—a tired but happy Raph


 

Fulfillment ends Jan 15th. (Please read if you haven't claimed your pledge!)
about 1 month ago – Fri, Jan 12, 2024 at 01:34:38 PM

Hello friends!

Just a quick one—Kickstarter fulfillment is almost done! That means every single valid order has shipped, with the exception of a couple of orders that will go out Monday, two orders to Ukraine we are still figuring out how to safely ship (and will keep working on as long as it takes), and... 

...unclaimed pledges! 👇 

⚠️ A very important note about unclaimed pledges ⚠️

There are still a small number of you who never filled out surveys or submitted valid payment information for shipping. I sent you a final reminder this week. If I do not hear from you by next Monday (January 15, 2024), I will have to release your pledge items for general sale, which means your items might later sell out!

To complete your order, fill out your BackerKit survey here (these are the original instructions from ~1 year ago)

This is super-important if you backed the Containment Edition, as stocks are extremely limited there.

If you miss this deadline and I still have the game in stock, I will continue to honor your pledge until Nov 1, 2024, two years after the end of the Kickstarter. I really want to get you your game! 💖

Q: What does "Kickstarter fulfillment" include?

There have been three eras in The Zone's life so far:

  • (1) Pledges during the Kickstarter. I'm including Kickstarter pledges, and any add-ons or upgrades to those pledges.
  • (2) Pre-orders placed after the Kickstarter, via BackerKit, until shipping began—which was Nov 23, 2023, 2:25am PST (that's when the very first package left the warehouse 🙌)
  • (3) Orders placed after shipping started.

When I say Kickstarter fulfillment I mean (1) and (2). Orders placed afterwards (3) are just regular orders, and I'm fulfilling them as they come!

Q: What do you mean, finished fulfillment? I still haven't received my order!

Fulfillment just means orders have left the warehouse, and there are still ~120 that are still in transit. They should get to you in the next 1-2 weeks. Don't worry, I won't leave you hanging!

That said, if your tracking page says your game has been delivered and you don't have it in your hands, please email me!

Q: I have more questions! 

A: I love it! I have more answers!

📹 Keep the stories, pictures, videos coming!

It's been such a blast to see your games arriving in your homes, and your heartfelt messages mean so, so much! Hearing your stories—of games with friends, families, even fantastical adventures with your kids—is exactly why I made this game in the first place. You all rock. 

Please keep sharing!

  • Leave a review on RPGGeek<- This is particularly helpful right now!
  • If you post about it on social media, please tag me @raphdamico so I see it
  • Join the Discord and share your stories with other players
  • ...or just drop me a line [email protected]!

💖 So grateful for you all.

—Raph

Shipping update (90% shipped!!)
2 months ago – Sun, Dec 17, 2023 at 11:48:02 AM

Hello friends! 

Just a short & swift update to let you know that we are at 90% shipped! 2,997 packages have left the warehouse, and 2,184 of them are with their new owners. It's so exciting!

Two things I'd love your help with

1. Please keep sharing your photos & stories, it means the world to me! 

  • Threads, Bluesky, Instagram, Twitter, etc, please tag me @raphdamico or use the hashtag #TheZoneRPG so I can find them!
  • Come say hi in the Discord!
  • ...or just email me at [email protected] 

2. Leave a review!

If you've played the game and had a good time, you can leave a review on RPGGeek. It helps other people find the game, and I appreciate it a lot!


Progress by region

Fulfilled = is on its way to you. Delivered = tracking info marks it as having arrived.
  •  US is all fulfilled except for Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico
  •  EU orders have started moving for France, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland. 
  •  For everywhere else, these are the countries were shipping has begun! Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, United Arab Emirates

If your country isn't in the list above, your order will likely ship early next week.

The best way to check the status of your order is to login to your BackerKit. If your game is on its way, you'll see a tracking link in the top left of the page 🙌 

It'll look something like this

 If you don't see a tracking link, that means that unfortunately your game hasn't shipped yet. I'm hoping the final 10% of games ship at the start of next week 🤞 In case you missed it, I discussed the reasons for the delay in the last update.

I'll keep sending updates as I get more info from Floship! In the meantime, as always, hit me up if you have any questions, feedback, thoughts—anything at all. 

Wishing you all the beauty & horror (and happy holidays!)

—Raph

Shipping update (72% fulfilled!) & a tale of two tracking numbers
3 months ago – Fri, Dec 08, 2023 at 12:44:16 PM

Hello friends! 

Shipping is proceeding apace. We're at 2,362 / 3,272 of orders fulfilled (of which 1,619 are delivered!) That's pretty much every US order. Last night the very first non-US orders (starting with Canada) finally started moving! 

I've been so grateful for all your kind messages and posts on social media. Means the world to see pictures of The Zone arriving safe & sound in your homes! 

Whoah!

If you want to post/message me about The Zone:

  • ...on Threads, Bluesky, Instagram, Twitter, etc, please tag me @raphdamico or use the hashtag #TheZoneRPG so I can find them!
  • ...come say hi in the Discord
  • ...or just email me at [email protected]

I love to hear your stories, and what you think of the game!


Shipping update

We are behind, but Floship & I have been working hard to make sure things keep moving and everyone should be getting their games before Christmas.

In case you are wondering, the delays were due largely to the following things:

  • 🎄 Christmas logistics are an apocalyptic nightmare. November is the start of *huge* spikes in order volume, and even the best prepared warehouse can still end up scrambling. I was hoping fulfillment would start a few days after The Zone was delivered to Floship, but so much inventory arrived at the same time that the traffic jam took 2 weeks or so to resolve.
  •  🌏 For non-US orders, Floship has been integrating a powerful piece of software called Zonos which handles all the complexities of international duties & VAT for them. Software integration can be unpredictable, and they found unexpected bugs which blocked every single international order (youch!)
  • There were a smattering of other issues. The apostrophe in my last name "D'Amico" caused some trouble with a few couriers. Some orders with multiple items needed special packaging. 

These issues are now all resolved, but it all took a little longer than I was hoping for. 

 A tale of two tracking numbers 🤦

The other, um, exciting development that some of you experienced in the last week was receiving the wrong tracking number:

  • Some US backers received the wrong tracking information, which was very confusing
  • Some non-US backers received tracking information even though their orders had not actually shipped yet, which I know can be quite frustrating!

The most important thing is that this had zero impact on how long it will take to actually get your game—this was purely a communication mistake on my part, which was fixed last week (Nov 30th). I also made sure to check that no private information (addresses, emails) were leaked because of this.

As much as this sucked, it was a good moment of reflection for me. Three things.

💬 1. Grateful to have such kind backers. I only spotted this mistake because several of you took the time to reach out, and you made it super-easy to figure out what went wrong and to get to a quick fix. This was definitely on my list of Kickstarter nightmares, but those of you affected have been so kind and patient that it's made me once again grateful for having such wonderful backers. Thank you!

(Also a big shoutout for Brandon at BackerKit for jumping in and helping me lightning fast reset things in BackerKit! You're the best.)

2. Perfectionism, again! This happened entirely because of a typo in a VLOOKUP that I was using to painstakingly merge two spreadsheets: the customer list in BackerKit, and the order list from Floship. With thousands of rows, it's all too easy for a small mistake to have huge ripple effects. 

Can you spot the mistake?

I wanted to create the best possible experience with the custom Aftership tracking page (I love that I could put the game logo and a few images as a teaser), and in doing so I pushed myself a bit too hard. This is exactly when mistakes happen.

From now on, I'm going to never send out something like that without doing a QA pass—some spot checks at the very least. I've also written a Python script so that I never have to manually click around a giant spreadsheet to do this ever again.

🌈 3. Awe at the wonder of global shipping, and what connects us all. 

There's another angle to this, and perhaps if you're not too annoyed at the error you'll take a second to join me in a more sentimental place.

This message made me tear up with joy 🥲 

Thank you Keenan for giving me permission to share this!

To me, art isn't just something beautiful because of your own personal experience with it, it's also a beacon out in the world that connects us. In his book "The Creative Act", Rick Rubin talks about the way each and every one of us has an antenna capable of tuning into some aspect of the world—an aspect resonating for us in particular. 

Junji Ito had an equally poetic way of putting it, of course

When I saw Annihilation, Stalker, read Roadside Picnic, watched Made in Abyss, something about the idea of these zones stirred something in me that was strong enough to push me to make this game. Just like Keenan, some of my closest friends now are folks that I met because of that journey!

When I saw all these criss-crossing tracking numbers, my first thought was "Oh god, I have to fix this." But then I got hit by this thought that in the tangle was this tangible evidence that there are thousands of you who are also resonating with something in this genre. 

If you'll permit me a moment to be a bit soppy—when you loaded that tracking page with a copy of The Zone going to completely the wrong place (sorry again!), isn't there also this moment of realization that there is someone with such a similar interest perhaps 100 miles, perhaps 10,000 miles away? Isn't that... kind of magical? 

I'm so grateful to have found you all, and for your support—I hope that some of you will find each other through this, too! (Another plug for the Discord, I suppose)

Onwards!

⚠️ A final note (Important!) There are still a handful of you who haven't completed your surveys. I will keep your orders in the system, but I cannot guarantee that we won't run out of stock (especially the Containment Edition)! Here is how you can check your BackerKit.

I'll continue posting updates as the remaining orders ship. You should all have your games soon. Please keep the messages coming!

Wishing you all beauty and horror!

—Raph 

Zones are on their way! 📦✈️
3 months ago – Thu, Nov 23, 2023 at 03:03:21 PM

Hello friends!

Truly the day to give thanks: parcels of The Zone have started moving from their slumber in Hong Kong into the hands of their couriers, and soon into yours! I was hoping we'd get things moving last week, but apparently this is par for the course for these colossal warehouses at this time of year. 

Here's what to expect.

  •  We're fulfilling all US orders this week. The warehouse is going as fast as possible, in geographic batches, working through US orders first. They got 920 done yesterday!
  •  Tracking numbers. Once all the US orders are out for delivery, I will send out an email with your tracking numbers. You will also be able to access them from your BackerKit order confirmation page. (Don't worry, you haven't missed anything!) 
  •  ⚠️ If you're a US based backer and don't see your tracking number in the next few days, please make sure that you actually filled out your BackerKit survey and submitted payment info for shipping. If you didn't, I won't be able to ship your copy of The Zone. Here's how to access your survey. 
  • 10-14 days to deliver. These US orders should arrive some time around the second week of December. Well before Christmas.
  • Europe and rest of the world. I'll keep you posted as Floship moves through the list of orders. It's possible that some of those orders may take a little longer to get out the door because of the additional paperwork for VAT & customs duties, but should still be moving shortly. And as many of them are going less far than the United States, they actually may arrive sooner. 
  • 💼 Quick note for CONTAINMENT Edition only: The carrying case (with game and glowsticks) and the poster will ship as two separate packages. 

This time of year is truly intense for shipping atoms around the world. Things could arrive sooner than these estimates, but it's very much out of my control. Thank you as always for your patience, and for your incredible support. I'll keep you posted as updates come in.

In case you're curious, this is what I see 👇

The page I've been refreshing constantly for days.

This page is my mission control. I can see all the orders I've submitted (as a giant .csv from BackerKit), and watch them move through the steps to getting out the door.

What's happening behind these numbers? Well, after I submit orders, the team at Floship goes through each one to make sure it has the right info (addresses, phone numbers, customs details, etc...) and assigns the best courier for that particular job. 

Then, the order is "picked & packed." This is the flurry of activity where the right SKU is taken off the shelf ("picking"), repackaged if necessary (for example if there are multiple orders going to the same person) and a shipping label printed ("packing"), before it's sent off on its journey.

One day, I'd love to see this sight for myself.

What's next?

The big thing: If you have even the sneakiest suspicion that you still haven't filled out your BackerKit, it's not too late! Please take a look now by following this link.

On my end, I've got a long list of tweaks I'm excited to make to all the store assets for the game—new product photos, updating the website, setting up the online store; all the things needed to make the game available for evermore! Here's a fun WIP. I definitely didn't have time to learn how to make grass in Blender... but I couldn't resist! 

I'll send out more frequent updates while fulfillment occurs, but if any of you receive the game before the next update, drop me a line. Can't wait to see what you think!

Wishing you all the beauty & horror*,

Raph

--

*Ok, all the horror except the specific horror of an e-commerce warehouse around Black Friday. My heart goes out to all those who are doing that picking & packing for us!