Jun 3, 2024

Stars of the VTT Galaxy #16: Mammoth Factory Games

11 min read - Published: 20 days ago

Greetings to our amazing community, and welcome to the sixteenth edition of our Stars of the VTT Galaxy interview series. In this series, we illuminate the already bright stars that make up our community of Bazaar Creators.

In this edition, we had the honor to talk with Dav, the CEO and one of the founders of Mammoth Factory Games. They're a company that makes monthly quality 5e adventures with 3D printable miniatures, VTT tokens & Paper-minis for your gaming table - whether virtual or physical!

Our sky consists of many stars. Each of them illuminating our planet. As you can guess, the stars are you. Yes, it's you, the great content creators who, in your own unique way, shine on our worlds. Thank you for being part of our heavenly sky and weaving the fabric of our Community.
Let's meet today's star.

Introduce yourself! For those who don’t know who you are and what Mammoth Factory Games is, what do you do there?

Dav: We make and believe in great stories and great miniatures!
We make 5e modules with deep lore, printable paper minis, Foundry VTT conversions, and most importantly... we playtest everything TWICE. First, we playtest at home with our team (in my house). It's a real D&D game with too many snacks and jokes. And then, once that inner playtest is done and we start to work on the 2D art, we playtest again with our patrons on our Discord server every week.

When we make our stories, we also think about what kind of cool miniatures we could make for those adventures.  It is a fine balance, as we want to produce PREMIUM miniatures from a theme. We want to balance the fantasy and wargaming audience alike.

For example, we write books once a month. They have 50-60 pages of story and take 4-6 weeks to playtest. The books include:

  • Art
  • Printable Paper Minis
Paper Minis
  • Digital battlemaps and VTT tokens as well as a Foundry VTT conversion including effects, journal, and dynamic lighting.
Digital Battlemaps and VTT Tokens 

And we also include:

  • Area maps
Area Map
  • Combat annotations
Annotated combat map
  • NPC cards with mini statblocks
NPC Card
  • And a ton of premium miniatures

All miniatures come with the playtested original lore and statblocks.

Lore and Statblocks

And if I can go even further, this is a 60-page book, but it is also only one chapter of a seven-part saga/campaign that you can play in a row. This 'Coils of Dread' can be a stand-alone short arc, OR it can be chapter 4 out of 7 in a campaign setting called Dark Decent, which can be played in over a year.

Dark Decent

We are very proud of what we make, as we took our hobby and turned it into a full-time job.

What’s one random fact about you?

Dav: That us three founders didn't meet in person until 1.5 years into running this business (when we had ten people working for us pretty much full-time at that point). People tell me it is a "modern" business.🙂

And how did Mammoth Factory Games get started? Are you the original founder?

Dav: I used to work for MyMiniFactory as a Business Developer/Influencer Manager. MyMiniFactory is a website that sells files for 3D printing. (Like Amazon for 3D printing files). I worked with a lot of great creators there like OnePageRules, Bestiarum, and many other amazing names in the 5E/3D printing industry.

One of the people who was trying to break into that miniature industry was David Pereira. He is an incredible 3D artist. He used to work for Marvel and DC making collectibles. He is obsessed with anatomy and is a lovely Spanish man who lives in California with his wife and kid. He approached me and said: "Hey Dav, you are good at this business thing - let's start a business together".

At the time, Daniel (the third partner and head writer) and I were playing my FIRST homebrew DnD campaign at my house. We started the home game just before COVID, and when COVID hit, Daniel had some health-related risks. He could not leave the house at all. So to cheer him up (and to maintain our sanity) we started a D&D podcast. It was just us chatting about D&D stuff.

It wasn't great but we felt like we were onto something. We enjoyed spending time talking about this, and it seemed like there was an ENDLESS amount of nerd energy coming from the two of us talking about D&D and anything fantasy-related. So naturally, we thought and were starting to work on making our own 5E adventure Patreon.

And that is when those two stories meet. So I had this 5E Patreon brewing... and this amazing sculptor offering to partner... and I knew the business... It was meant to be.🙂 So we are the three OG Mammoths.

I wanted to add one more thing that I am VERY proud of about what we make from before. We make a DM shortcut for our adventures.

DM shortcut

It is an overview page for the adventure... the different sections... chapters... how long they roughly take to play, and what monsters you fight in each section.

And the printable paper minis come with the correct amount of minis per encounter already ready to use!

So you’re the CEO of a business that puts out creative content. What unique challenges do you face in trying to lead a company based on creative work?

Dav: Because we have a Patreon with over 1300 subscribers (Patreon & Tribes subscribers) we need to produce HIGH-quality content EVERY month. Without fail.

It feels like a train that does NOT stop, especially as we also run Kickstarters once a year. There is no such thing as too much creativity, so we hire some great people to help us. We are lucky enoguh to be in the position to do that. We hire writers, designers, sculptors, and illustrators.

From there, we brainstorm with our "inner circle". It's a group of 15-20 people, including some of our community, to help think about what is next. The hardest part is how to keep the quality, and how to keep "the fire" going without overworking.

We work crazy hard, that is the truth. But you know what makes it all worth it? I was hanging out in our Discord, and I saw one of our patrons post this image:

This is him playing his home game - one of our adventures - using Foundry VTT on a TV with our painted minis.

I was so excited I jumped on a call with him. We talked for hours about how much he loves our first Kickstarter with the 8 adventures, and the 8 different themes. And now, he is our head of marketing and the reason we are on The Forge in the first place, haha.

You get so much back from seeing an image like that. This is WHY we do what we do. To bring people together and to enjoy quality time telling beautiful stories - together.

Can you describe the process behind developing each adventure, from conception to release? We always hear from individual creators regarding this subject, but we’ve not had the chance to talk to a full-scale business that handles that.

Dav: Well, the truth is - because we have such a massive scope, it started with "I guess this is kinda cool, let's do that".

And now it is more like: Here are 20 things we like. Which one will make the most people happy, aka what is the most sustainable thing for us to do? We tried for a few months to do what would make the most $... but it felt cheap... we hated it... but we have to listen to it too.

The process: Me and Daniel meet for a pint at some point. Please keep in mind there are always 3-5 adventures being worked on at the same time at different points in the pipeline.

Month 1: INTERNALLY playtest chapter 1.
Month 2: Make 2D art for chapter 1, and then EXTERNALLY playtest chapter 1.
Month 3: 3D sculpting and test printing, andmaking art for the booklet and battlemaps.
Month 4: Release.

Now, during month 2, we also start chapter 2... So everything overlaps like crazy.

Concept

And final mini:

Final Mini

I mean, the phase idea has a lot more to it: brainstorming with our team and then brainstorming with our patrons. Understanding a story deeply and thinking about what is fun is very different than what would make a good product for a varied audience.

We argue ALL THE TIME about the smallest things like fantasy names, is a monster too sexy/too scary, etc.

We have 2 sides to the company - the side that wants to please and the side that wants to do what we feel like. We aim to do both. It is fun. I am proud to love my job.

Did Mammoth Factory Games begin with digital adventure distribution? Or did you first begin with physical (paper release)?

Dav: We started with PDFs. We only did our first physical product as a hardcover via our 1st Kickstarter and ordered 1000 books in mass production.

We do have a service that sends physical booklets too. It takes a good 2-3 weeks to ship as it is printed on demand.

But yes, by far we sell PDFs and STLs for 3D printing. We have a 2 for 3 on PDFs on our website at the moment.

You have a lot of adventures. In your opinion, what makes a truly memorable and engaging 5e adventure?

Dav: A great 5e adventure has to do with getting a tone right. We write pretty serious stories. I mean, we work hard on making the combat interesting for sure. Like this crazy boss battle with all these insane elements from our adventure Flesh to Stone.

In this boss fight we have a prisoner that needs saving... Exploding crystals that can push you the same distance as the crystal's size (medium crystal 5ft push, large 10 ft, etc.). During the adventure, two bosses are arguing for power, there are two entrances, and a STONE BREATH TITAN that is stuck and needs to be awakened by aligning totems correctly via a ritual.

So yeah, we think about our fights a bit, haha.

However, the joy is the understanding of what are these stone flesh orcs, why they worship the titan, what is their culture... Why are the people of the land are turning slowly into stone (slow petrification), giving roaming monsters those same themes and characteristics...

For example, there is a bird in this adventure that can't fly anymore because of all the stone growths all over her body. So you fight it when climbing a mountain as it climbs up with its talons.

Anyway, what makes a great adventure is a grounded theme and a clear tone. If people can believe the place you made, you did your job.

Great NPCs help with that, too.

The Titan

What is your opinion on AI, especially in the TTRPG space?

Dav: Well, we did consider using it, but honestly, I don't think it can make great things. I think it can create average stuff.

But DnD is in the details.

Are there any specific ethical considerations you think TTRPG creators should keep in mind when using AI or incorporating AI-generated content into their games? How do you navigate those ethical dilemmas?

Dav: This is hard! Well, when Midjourney was making big steps forward, our head of graphics was really concerned, because they thought they might lose their jobs. After a while, they started to use it to gain ideas for colors and compositions.

It is a powerful tool. It can replace averageness, It is a tool. I think using it is natural, but yeah, it has its limits. As an art director, it is wild to see Google slowly start to become more and more infested with AI. And AI is getting better and better to the point that even we are struggling to identify it.

Basically, if you can be replaced with AI, maybe you are not making something unique enough. It is a scary world.

I think my main concern about this topic is how it will replace the 'PAID' grind. Beginner illustrators used to get paid for an average little drawing. Now, people just use Midjourney. That low-level art is not paid anymore. How are they (the artists) supposed to get better?

Do you have anything you want to say to the greater TTRPG/VTT community? And what advice do you have for creators wanting to get into the digital/VTT space?

Dav: Be bold, make cool things, grind, and build a community!

I think that people are hungry for deep content. There are a lot of normal things out there. Get silly, get serious! Do your own thing and keep at it. Soon, other similar crazies in your style will join your movement and be easy to follow.

I am also going to plug one of my mentors.

Looking ahead, are there any upcoming releases or plans that Mammoth Factory is particularly excited about? What are your plans in general for the future?

Dav: Well, we are now producing our second Kickstarter (we got it funded half a year back), and we are currently planning our 3rd Kickstarter book. We are playtesting the 5th one and brainstorming the 6th. So.... many, many books are coming.

I'll give you a short summary of each of them below as a round-off.

  • 1st Book - MAMMOTH CHRONICLES VOL. 1-8
    A library of 8 unique Fantasy Themes, LVL 4-11
MAMMOTH CHRONICLES VOL. 1-8, LVL 4-11
  • 2nd Book - THE HOARD OF GHAUNDAL
    An Epic Treasure-Hunting Campaign, LVL 3-10
THE HOARD OF GHAUNDAL, LVL 3-10
  • 3rd Book - DARK DESCENT
    An Underground Dark Fantasy Campaign & Setting Guide, LVL 5-10
DARK DESCENT, LVL 5-10
  • 4th Book - THE IMMORTAL FLAME
    A Draconic War Campaign & Setting Guide, LVL 3-8
THE IMMORTAL FLAME, LVL 3-8

And the current book is being released RIGHT NOW on Patreon:

  • 5th Book - A SURVIVOR'S GUIDE TO THE FROSTWILDS
    An Ice Age Survival Camapaign & Setting Guide, LVL 3-8
A SURVIVOR'S GUIDE TO THE FROSTWILDS, LVL 3-8

If people want to see our full adventure breakdown & overview, they can read more here.

Join the rampage!
Be a Mammoth!😉

Thank you, Dav, once again for your willingness and time, and the great answers! I really enjoyed our conversation!

Dav: Thank you very much for your time!

Mammoth Factory Games Linktree
Mammoth Factory Games Creator Page on The Forge