A Real Story From Le Morte d’Arthur, Lightly Edited

It’s Arthur and Guinevere’s wedding feast, just a couple of years after he pulled the sword from the stone. Nothing else super weird has happened since then. A bunch of rebel lords challenged his right to rule, calling Merlin and his sword a fraud, and the succession was resolved with bigger army diplomacy, which is a totally standard way for a medieval king to spend the first couple of years of their reign. Now that his rule is consolidated, Arthur is looking forward to hopefully at least a couple of years of feasting and jousting and generally enjoying kingship without having to kill anyone over it.

He’s appointed Kay, his adoptive older brother, as his seneschal, so Kay would’ve been in charge of organizing the wedding reception. Kay is often depicted as a brute by Le Morte d’Arthur because even though Thomas Malory is English, his work is a product of the continental tradition, and the French for some reason thought Kay was two parts beatstick to one part buffoon, but apparently he’s perfectly capable of managing a giant wedding reception all by himself. Like, Arthur is undisputed king now and the text mentions some podunk knights here who will get famous later but right now are total nobodies, so it seems like the entire noble class of England was invited. Probably Kay was also in charge of security, so maybe that’s where the beatstick thing comes in, but his main responsibility would’ve been arranging the food and gifts for the guests (when you’re king, you give gifts to the guests at your wedding reception instead of the other way around), so he’s apparently a pretty competent manager. Take that, the continental tradition.

It’s in the middle of the feast on the first day of the celebration when a white hart comes running into the great hall, leaping over tables and running between the benches. Before anyone can do anything about that, a white dog comes running in chasing after the white hart. Before anyone can do anything about that, no less than sixty black dogs come charging in, completely overrunning the great hall, getting up on all the tables and knocking over all the wine goblets and eating all the best parts of the duck.

The white dog bites down on the white hart’s flank, but the hart knocks the dog off and into the lap of one of the knights at the feast. That knight grabs the dog and skedaddles while everyone else is too busy trying to clear the three score black dogs away.

Then a lady rides into the great hall, like, on a horse. She must’ve seen the knight who stole the dog on the way out, because as soon as she comes in, she shouts – so as to be heard over the black dogs, who still haven’t been evicted – “hey, that was my dog, someone get me my dog back!” Before anyone can ask her what’s with the hart or if she happens to be the owner of the sixty black dogs that just ruined the feast and if maybe she can get them outside, a knight in black armor riding a full-on warhorse charges into the great hall, hefts her off the saddle, and carries her away.

And Arthur’s like “what the fuck.”

And Merlin says “it’s a quest hook, Your Majesty. You’re supposed to send knights to figure out what the fuck.”

So Merlin helps Arthur pick some knights out to chase down the stag, the dog, and the lady, and slowly Arthur realizes that he’s being given a tutorial and this is his life now.

Malory never says one way or another, but I think we can safely assume that Kay was blackout drunk for all of this.

Celawyn’s Guide to Wilderness and Fey Post-Mortem

Celawyn’s Guide to Wilderness and Fey got 574 backers and raised over $10,000. Going by backers, that beats Thaemin’s Guide to Gods and Miracles by nearly sixty percent. This is totally unprecedented, and I see four possibilities for what might happen next. Unfortunately, due to the anomalous nature of this growth, it doesn’t tell me much about where the plateau might be, but that’s a cloudy lining on a big pile of silver, so I’m not complaining.

The spike behind Celawyn’s probably came because Wizards of the Coast announced their next adventure path, the Wild Beyond The Witchlight, was going to be Feywild themed, and I happened to have fey-related content positioned to take advantage of that just about perfectly. In a worst case scenario, the Witchlight spike may have carried me far past my plateau point, and I can’t get that high without some kind of special opportunity like this. In this case, the next guide, Harlequin’s Guide to Cities and Poison, will likely do worse than 425 backers (although it’s possible that the plateau happens to fall in one of the other ranges here, making it easy to confuse for an alternative scenario).

Just using the data from Natalia’s to Thaemin’s and ignoring the anomalous performance of Celawyn’s, you would expect Harlequin’s Guide to Cities and Poison to get somewhere between 425 to 525 backers, depending on whether you take 10% or 20% as the average growth. If it does indeed land in that range, that could indicate that all the additional backers from the Witchlight spike were purely a one-project thing, and that growth is continuing at the same rate without them, but it could also indicate that the plateau happens to be there. This would be a very nervous-making range to hit, because it could indicate that I’m on target for massive 1,000+ backer success by the end of the series, but it could also indicate that I’ve hit my limit. At least that limit is firmly in the range where it’s worth it to continue producing books to the end of the series, though.

There’s a weird gap here where if Harlequin’s gets between 525 and 600 backers, that indicates a plateau, because it represents trivial growth (or shrinkage) compared to Celawyn’s but is still far ahead of what you’d expect given the trendline without the Witchlight spike. 600 is one of the magic numbers, partly because it marks entry into the third decile from the top, which would indicate that I am actually quite good at this and have reason to feel confident in continued success, but also because it’s double the 300 needed to make these books worth it on absolute value (assuming average amount backed doesn’t decline). This means that when I transition to a new series in 2022, I could lose half my backers and still be making enough money on each book to justify the effort. Hitting a plateau just under that number would be unfortunate, but it would still mean that the series can most likely consistently hit numbers in the 500s through to early 2022, at least.

If Harlequin’s gets between 600 and 750 backers, that indicates growth in line with the 10%-30% that the series has been getting so far, which would indicate that the series is retaining the growth from the Witchlight spike and then continuing to grow at the usual non-Witchlight pace from there. This would be fantastic news, as it would indicate that the plateau is at least as high as the 600s and that, if the plateau doesn’t hit me first, I’ll be getting well into four-digit backers by the end of the series, which will again make it easier to transition to a new series without losing so many backers that it stops being worth it.

If Harlequin’s gets more than 750 backers, then that would be roughly 40% growth over Celawyn’s. That would indicate that the release of the Wild Beyond The Witchlight is actually coincidental, and what drove the success of Celawyn’s was just hitting some kind of threshold with backers where the Kickstarter algorithm looks favorably on me and starts showing my project to more backers. This is very unlikely, but if it happens, it could mean that this explosive growth is the new normal, at least until I hit the plateau (and the plateau – or the peak – has to be somewhere, even in the most ludicrously optimistic scenario).