The Misery Index will be a collection of eight tabletop games about human suffering. Each game approaches a different miserable topic with unique mechanics. Our games tackle subjects ranging from racial and cultural violence to sexual abuse, class conflict, and mental illness, and do so through the lens of multiple genres, including science fiction, sword and sorcery, cyberpunk, supernatural horror, and superhero fantasy.
Our goal is to produce a finished, polished print and PDF version of this collection. More information about our mission, our games, and the book itself can be found below.
Our Miserable Games
At Misery Tourism Games, we design tabletop games about vice, inhumanity and suffering. We make terrible games about terrible people in terrible situations.
We don't design games to make a moral point or push an agenda. We don't design games to offend you or your sociology professor or your congressman. We do it because we believe there is fun to be had in exploring tragedy and depravity with your friends in the safety of your kitchen, den or mother's basement.
Each game is played differently, and all of the games are designed to be easy to learn, but hard to forget. The games draw inspiration from a number of sources, including role playing games, board games, card games, and improvisational theater. The mechanics have been carefully chosen to compliment each game's subject matter.
The eight games that will be included in the collection are described briefly below. If you want to give any of them a test drive, you can access a fully playable alpha version of each game by clicking on the link in its title.
Student/ZOMBIE: When an attempted school shooting is interrupted by a zombie outbreak, the shooters find themselves forced to assume a new, awkward role: that of heroes.
Passing: A town in the Deep South in the early 20th century is being terrorized by a vampire, and the town elite—a group of old white aristocrats—is determined to catch it. Unfortunately, the search threatens the safety of a black man who has been secretly living among the white elite for years.
The Needs of the Few: Stranded on a deteriorating spaceship far from any inhabited planet, a group of incompletely trained youths must try to survive while struggling with the memories of the abuse they suffered at the hands of their dead captain, whose ghost might still be on board.
Welfare Queens: It's 2084, and wealth has finally finished trickling down. Thanks to the magic of laissez faire economics, every American now lives a prosperous life. However, many are still dissatisfied. These discontents turn to illegal virtual reality dens where they escape their frustration and boredom by living imaginary lives as poor people on welfare.
Mentors: A troubled inner-city kid discovers that she has remarkable, perhaps even supernatural, powers, and the only one who seems willing to help her reach her full potential is her Urban Outreach mentor. Too bad he has a devious ulterior motive.
6 Page Manual: This is game of serious, thematic role-playing. It is about things thought about in dark room, at night waking, alone, but now experienced as party game with good friends. In 6 Page Manual you will put yourself in shoe leather of suffering persons throughout world, face their difficulty, and overcome—or fail!
The Oldest, Cruelest Sword: It's a fairy tale premise: a well-intentioned thief sets out to steal a magical sword from an evil sorceress. But nothing is ever so simple, and soon he is lost inside her tower and trapped in a cycle of sadism and sexual aggression.
Danse Macabre: Death is inevitable, so why not have fun with it? Danse Macabre allows players to live the final days and moments of characters doomed to die, and, ultimately, to assume the role of Death itself.
Our Miserable Book
Our plan is to present all eight games in a single volume. We've put a lot of thought into how to create a book that will actually be used in play. We want the book to be an active, useful part of the game, not a reference manual or a fetish object.
To that end, we've decided on a large 11” square book with wire-o binding and thick, durable pages. This will allow the book to lie open on any flat surface, and will be perfect for including game boards, diagrams and charts that can be seen and used by multiple players at once.
Layout design will be provided by Jonathan Walton, who has worked on a number of independent games and supplements, including Mortal Coil Revised and Dark Heart of the Dreamer.
Additional details—color vs. black & white, the number of illustrations, the thickness of the cover—will be dependent on how successful the project is. We're committed to producing the best book we can with our resources.
Our Miserable Praise
Here are some nice things that people have said about our terrible games:
“I don't care if you are fooling or not, I just read Passing and it is terrible and excellent.” - Jason Morningstar, creator of Fiasco and Grey Ranks
“I guess the biggest surprise is that someone hasn't done this already considering how well all the parts fit together.” - Ron Edwards, creator of Sorcerer and co-founder of The Forge, on Danse Macabre
“So if you want to find in the games narrative catharsis, deep content and real problems, and at the same time you can play such as sexually frustrated pacifist working in the factory of chemical weapons and telling racist jokes in the company of melancholy housewife addicted to online poker, which allows acts of vandalism—recommended.” - Grynarracyjne.pl on 6 Page Manual [translation courtesy of Google]
If you have any questions or feedback about this project, feel free to email us.
You can also find more information about this project and our games in general at miserytourism.com.
Risks and challenges
We are committed to making this project a success! We have quotes from printers, and we've done a few preliminary budgets that include estimated printing and shipping & packaging costs, and we're confident that we can deliver on budget.
We have drafts of all of the games complete, so the only steps standing between us and a completed book are editing, layout, printing and shipping. We have 5 months to complete these steps in order to hit our estimated January 2014 delivery date. We believe we can do this.
That doesn't mean delays are impossible. This is our first time producing something on this scale, so our timeline may be off. If that's the case, we will be very direct and upfront in our project updates.
And please never hesitate to email us with questions and concerns!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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