About this project
Music in the video courtesy of the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble.
Video edited by Iden Baghdadchi--check out more of Iden's work here.
Wherever a bird flies, wherever its call is heard, wherever its colors are displayed, the House of Feathers will be there, watching and listening. They are the spreaders of color, the painters of the world. By carrying these colors far and wide, these merchants paint a picture across the world in tribute to the Sun.
--The House of Feathers from the Temikamatl
I still have trouble believing how far we have come, and how astonishingly awesome you all are! Your support has made Semanawak a living, breathing, shimmering reality! In other words, we are now able to commission full color artwork for the Temikamatl! Thank you so incredibly much, everyone!
I now present our second stretch goal:
If we can raise $10,000, everyone who contributes $15 or more will get a free PDF of the Journey of the Dead supplement as soon as it comes out.
There has been a lot of excitement about this supplement, and I definitely don't want us to get ahead of ourselves. But I am confident that, if we hit this Stretch Goal, I will be able to put Journey of the Dead together sometime next year.
We have carried the Sun through a long, brilliant, and glorious day! Let's see if we can make her strong enough to survive her trip through the Underworld!
Absolutely amazing! We went from zero to fully funded in just 5 days! Incredible work, everybody!
At this point, we are set to create a book full of beautiful black and white artwork. It will look wonderful, as you can see in the samples below.
New Fire is inspired by one of the single-most colorful settings known. Mesoamerica is a land filled with brilliant reds, splendid greens, vivid turquoises, deep blues, and every other color imaginable, and we would absolutely love to fill Semanawak with these colors as well!
So here's the deal: if we can raise $6,000, we will commission color artwork for New Fire!
If we hit this goal, all the PDFs will have color artwork, and all the printed books offered at the $70 level will be printed in color.
We have reached the Dawn! Now let's see how high we can make that Sun rise!
Hello, everybody! My name is Jason Caminsky, and I am the creator and lead designer of New Fire, a tabletop fantasy roleplaying/storytelling game inspired by the history and mythology of the Aztec-Mexica, the Maya, and the other great civilizations of Precolumbian Mesoamerica. I, along with a wonderful group of about 20 other contributors, have labored long and hard, combining extensive research with imagination to produce this game of adventure, excitement, and dreams. We are very proud of our work, and can't wait to share it with you all!
The Short Version
New Fire is a finished game, and we are looking to publish the core rules and setting into a book called the Temikamatl ('Book of Dreams'). We are putting it together as we speak, polishing it and ensuring it will be as smooth and shiny as an obsidian mirror! It will be about 300 pages long and contain everything you need to know in order to both play and run New Fire:
- The unique geography, history, and mythology of Semanawak, the world of New Fire
- The Sunstone system, an original storytelling dice mechanic developed exclusively for New Fire
- Detailed rules for Jaguar Warriors, Eagle Warriors, Priests, shape shifting Nahual Sorcerers, and more
- A pantheon of more than 20 gods, and rules for summoning the power of each
- Quick and intuitive character creation rules
- Much, much more!
The one thing we're missing, however, is Artwork.
That is what brings us here to Kickstarter. We are hoping to raise enough money to afford some high quality artwork for the Temikamatl, something to truly draw people into the game and inspire their imaginations.
But in order to do so, we need your help!
We have a deal worked out with the amazing artists over at Outland Entertainment, a publisher, producer, and purveyor of fine artwork and fiction. Outland publishes online stories, webcomics, and games, hosts an online gallery of current comic book and fantasy artists, and offers art direction for a variety of creative projects. They are a great company, and we encourage you to check out their other projects as well!
Four of their artists--Jeremy, Scott, Chris, and Alan--are interested in producing the artwork for New Fire. They are all experienced professionals with a long history of top-notch work, and have generously agreed to do some pieces for us in advance. Here are some samples of New Fire artwork:
The Eaters of Light, guardians of the sacred flame at Teteoshiwakan.
Night Axe, demon of cowardice and the Warrior's fear of dying on the sacrifice stone.
The Battle of North Pass, the decisive conflict in the war between the Tonalteka and the Usurpers.
- Jeremy D. Mohler is the head of Outland Entertainment. He read his first comic book in middle school, and from that day forward has devoted himself to drawing. He attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art and earned his BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute. He is the creator of the massive online world-building project Baeg Tobar and Art Manager of the interactive exhibit at the Colorado History Museum in Denver. He has also managed the Cowboys and Aliens webcomic for Platinum Studios and worked on the World of Warcraft card game, in addition to many other projects. He currently lives in Topeka with his wife and baby daughter where he freelances full time.
- Scott Godlewski is a freelance illustrator living in Gilbert, AZ. He has done work for Amara Entertainment, Super Seventy-Five Comics and BOOM! Studios on titles like Codebreakers and Dracula: The Company of Monsters. He is also co-creator of both the action anthology comic, Mysterious Adventure Magazine, and the live comic art blog, Comic Improv.
- Chris Meeks was born in 1971, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He began drawing and painting at age 4, and at age 9 wrote and illustrated his first comic book, The Galaxy Express, drawing out all 10 copies by hand and binding them with Elmer's glue. Afterwards he attended Henderson State University on journalism/art scholarships and received 1st place for 'Best College Paper Cartoon' through the Arkansas College Journalism Awards and the Columbia Scholastic Journalism Awards. He is currently employed as a graphic designer for The Sentinel Record and does freelance work as well. He resides in Hot Springs with his lovely and talented wife Sandy and his children Zac and Annie.
- Alan Gallo has been working as a freelance illustrator for over 5 years and has done various works and illustrations for different individuals and companies. He holds a degree in Architecture and has done sequential art, comic book and storybook illustrations, shirt designs, trading cards, and character designs.
Our funding goal of $3,000 will give us everything we need to create a beautiful book full of high quality artwork like this. We have it all planned out, and are ready to go just as soon as we raise the money. Any extra we raise will go towards creating more and better artwork--we are committed to using everything we raise on Kickstarter to produce the finest book possible!
If we hit our goal, we are on track to finish the Temikamatl by July or August, 2012, at the latest.
So if you're interested, we need your support! We have some more info about the game below, some excellent rewards that you can see to the right, and we'll be adding additional stuff as the project progresses, so check back with us often! You can also find information at the New Fire website, and don't forget to 'Like' us on the New Fire Facebook page!
Contribute today, Kickstarters--make the Sun rise over Semanawak!
I first began work on New Fire a little over two years ago, living in a tiny but undeniably charming student apartment in scenic Ann Arbor, Michigan. Things were very different back then--I had a few less wrinkles on my face, a few more hairs on my head, and no idea what the difference between a Tlatoani and a Tlaxcalli was--but even then I had a strong desire to make a game like no other, a game that would take the players to places no other game had taken them, show them adventures no other game had shown them, and help them tell stories no other game had inspired them to tell. Then one day I came across an image of the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca from the Codex Borgia, and I found the inspiration I was looking for.
Curiosity was and has always been the driving force behind New Fire. When I began, I knew almost nothing about Mesoamerica, except that it piqued a powerful curiosity in me. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn, and that seemed like a good indication of gaming potential to me! I have tried very hard to maintain that sense of wonder and fascination throughout the game.
The game progressed steadily over the next year. There was a very charming rhythm to it--learn something new, get excited about it, add it to the game, try it out on my trusty playtesters, get their feedback, adjust the game accordingly, repeat. I will admit that the early versions of the game were pretty weird (we started out with about 3 or 4 times as many stats as we have now in the final version!). Nevertheless, it was fun and interesting enough to warrant repeat play-throughs, and with each new edition the game became more refined and far simpler. Many games start simple but end up very complicated--New Fire was just the opposite.
The very first convention we attended was UCon, 2010, held at the University of Michigan Student Union. We registered New Fire events on all three days of the convention--only one of them received enough people to play! But it was an important experience, for it introduced me to some wonderful people who would go on to make great contributions to the game, and gave me the chance to talk to some more experienced game designers who gave me some truly valuable advice.
After that, New Fire did progressively better at the cons, culminating in Penguicon 2011, which was a fabulous success--New Fire sold out, and I received so much wonderful feedback and so many enthusiastic questions that I lost my voice by the end of it from talking to people!
The game was officially completed in early 2012, at which point we moved into production mode.
A Brief Disclaimer
New Fire is not History. It is Fantasy. My goal was to create a fantasy setting using the history and mythology of Mesoamerica as its basis, the way so many other fantasy games use Europe as their basis. Mesoamerica is a uniquely beautiful, fascinating, and dramatic place, home to wonderful stories, exquisite art and culture, deeply moving spiritual beliefs, glorious architecture, and countless accomplishments that have been tragically under-appreciated by many. My greatest hope is to introduce these amazing concepts into fantasy gaming.
To create this fantasy, I and my fellow collaborators have done a tremendous amount of historical research. We have consulted professors, researchers, and people of indigenous Mesoamerican descent, read mountains of books, attended museums and lectures, listened to traditional music, and watched movies and films (both historical and interpretive). We have even practiced some of the skills and trades of ancient Mesoamerica, such as atlatling, flintknapping, and pottery. We have learned as much as we could, and let the things we learned guide our imaginations.
I want to state up front that there is nothing official or definitive about New Fire--Mesoamerica is a boundlessly complex and fascinating place, and it would take an entire lifetime of research to truly do justice to its nuances and depth. We have come to greatly admire Mesoamerica, and hope that our fantasy interpretations are entertaining and enlightening. But our interpretations are just that--our interpretations. We are not part of these cultures, and we do not speak from a perspective of authority. But we have worked very hard to try to at least speak from an informed, educated, and respectful perspective.
New Fire is a game about Sacrifice and Heroism in a beautiful but fleeting world. The players take on the roles of brave Warriors, devout Priests, scheming Nahual Sorcerers, enterprising Merchants, and other notable individuals and pursue glory, greatness, and adventure, all the while struggling to support and nourish nature, the Sun, and the universe.
Life in New Fire is a beautiful gift given to humans by the gods of Wind, Fire, Water, Earth, and Sun. But this gift does not come without a price. In exchange for life, humans must offer sacrifices to nourish the gods, to restore the energy they gave up in order to create human life. There are many things offered as sacrifice--food, tools, incense, valuable objects, blood--and most of the time these offerings suffice. But sometimes the gods require more. Sometimes humans must die to feed the gods.
Just as a human cannot live without food, the gods cannot sustain the forces of nature without the sacrifice of human life. Without sacrifices, the wind will stop blowing, the Earth will become barren, and the Sun will stop rising, leaving the world in darkness and despair. Humans rely upon the gods, but the gods also rely upon humans.
That is the central drama of New Fire. Everyone wants to live a good life and achieve the goals that are important to them, and most of the game is spent pursuing the stories and adventures of the Player characters in a way that will be both familiar and refreshingly new to RPG players. But behind these stories there is a timer running and a debt to be settled. Unless someone periodically steps forward and offers their life or the life of another, the universe will collapse and the story will end.
In New Fire, the Sun only rises because of the struggle and sacrifice of heroes. Heroes like You!
Semanawak, the Land Between the Waters, is the setting of New Fire. It is a place of towering mountains and bottomless caves, sparkling lakes and searing deserts, stark highland plains and lush lowland jungles. It is a place of exquisite beauty and civilization, of art and song and prosperity. But it can also be a place of great discord and violence.
It is currently the age of the Fifth Sun. Four Suns have risen and fallen in the past, each ruled by a different god and inhabited by a different race of people. Each race possessed certain virtues and lived for many years, but in the end each of them neglected to sustain the gods with nourishment and sacrifices, and therefore perished in catastrophe. Their stories live on as warnings and lessons to the people of today.
Semanawak is currently dominated by the great Empire of the Sun, a union of powerful city-states ruled by a noble tribe known as the Tonalteka, the 'People of Light.' According to legend, the Tonalteka were created from the bones of all the previous races combined, and given life by the blood of the gods themselves. This divine blood still flows through them, imbuing them with the sacred right and ability to rule. They are the heirs of the gods and the ancients, the descendants of the very first people to walk the Earth, and it is their duty to sustain the cycles of universe to ensure the survival of all.
Long ago, the Tonalteka lived as one people, and the gods smiled upon them. But Sholopinekok, god of night and discord, was displeased with their unity and whispered terrible things into their ears, spreading fear and jealousy and turning the Tonalteka against each other. Today the Tonalteka live as five competing noble houses, united by kinship but divided by ambition and suspicion. Tensions are high as the houses compete with each other for power and prestige while struggling to sustain the gods and keep their Empire from falling apart.
Under the Tonalteka are the Tlalteka, the Earth People, Commoners who emerged from the land itself and who now work and protect that land from those who would destroy it. For as long as anyone can remember, the Tlalteka have been ruled by one dynasty or another. Currently, they are ruled by the Tonalteka, and while the five houses have been relatively generous masters so far, there are some among the Earth People who feel the time is right to at least seize their own destiny.
Beyond the Empire are many other people and many other lands. Scorching deserts sprawl across the north, home to raiders and monsters but also to rich cities of turquoise and trade. Misty jungles cover the lowlands to the south, home to jaguars and quetzal birds and to strange cities that seem to sail like boats through the endless green forests. To the east and west are the Great Waters, home to coastal traders and to ancient monsters that dwell beneath the waves.
Four directions--infinite possibilities in each!
For more information on Semanawak and the stories and legends that comprise it, visit the New Fire website!
New Fire is a storytelling role playing game that uses a simple and intuitive set of rules known as the Sunstone system, developed by us specifically for New Fire. At the heart of Sunstone are two main goals:
- Drive the story without getting in its way
- Combine ideas rather than rejecting them
Most of the time the game proceeds in a familiar fashion. The situations are set up by a Gamemaster-like figure called the Giver of Life and dealt with by the Players, who role play their characters and describe their actions. So long as everybody is happy with how things are going, the story will unfold organically--you say what you want to happen, and it happens. But eventually, somebody will have a different idea about where the story should go, and will issue a Challenge to the narrative.
Sunstone uses dice rolls to resolve Challenges, but these rolls don't determine success or failure--instead, they determine who gets to narrate the outcome and decide where the story goes next. So long as their narration is judged plausible by the group, Players are free to use their own sense of drama to create whatever situations they wish to experience. Stories emerge not from a blind sequence of successes and failures, but from the different viewpoints of those participating.
What makes the Sunstone system truly unique, however, is that narrative control is a matter of degree. In many storytelling games, narrative control is absolute--you either get narrative control or you don't. That is not the case with New Fire. There are instead four outcomes for a Challenge in Sunstone:
- Player A gets complete narrative control
- Player A narrates but must honor a Condition set by Player B
- Player B narrates but must honor a Condition set by Player A
- Player B gets complete narrative control
Regardless of all other considerations, however, the only one who can narrate the death of your character is You. Neither the Giver of Life nor another Player can ever narrate the death of your character, nor can you narrate the death of theirs.
This rule is very important. New Fire is not a game about trying to avoid death--dying the Flowery Death (dying in a meaningful and glorious way) is in fact the ultimate goal. New Fire is a game about facing death in a world that requires death to renew it. It is inevitable--your character will have to die eventually, or the game will end. But only you can choose when and how your character meets his or her end.
Make it a death to be proud of, one that people will remember for ages to come!
For more information about the Sunstone system and the rules of New Fire, visit the New Fire website!
Just as the people of Semanawak make offerings to bring about the Dawn, your offerings to New Fire will help us make this project rise! And in exchange for your support, we are prepared to offer you some nice things to make life a little bit sweeter!
For $15, you will get a PDF of the New Fire game book, the Temikamatl ('Book of Dreams'), as soon as it's finished. It will contain everything you need to know to play and run New Fire, plus the beautiful artwork your backing makes possible! And because you believed in us before everybody else, we think it's only fair that you get the game before everybody else--Kickstarters are guaranteed to get the game at least two weeks before we release it to regular audiences!
For $30, you will get the PDF AND a special limited edition New Fire Tonalteka T-Shirt, identifying you as one of the Tonalteka, the first humans to live and explore the world of Semanawak! These T-Shirts will be exclusive to Kickstarters--nobody else will ever have the chance to earn them! The image is a beautiful, sparkling metallic gold color and they are printed on high-quality Gildan shirts available in Red (as seen below), Royal Blue, and Black.
Instead of the T-Shirt, you may also get a black and white printed version of the Temikamatl. If you contribute $50, you may get the black and white printed Temikamatl AND the T-Shirt.
For $70, you will get the PDF, and a signed, potentially color printed copy of the Temikamatl (printed copies at this level will be upgraded to color if we reach our first stretch goal).
For $100, you will get the PDF, the signed and potentially color printed Temikamatl, and an invitation to a (at least) 2 hour long Gamemaster training session with me--learn how to run New Fire from the man who designed it! If you live or plan on being in the Santa Barbara area, I would be happy to meet with you and talk to you in person, but otherwise this session will be conducted via phone or skype. We will only be offering 10 of these, so don't delay!
For $200 you will get the PDF, the the signed and potentially color printed Temikamatl, and a chance to contribute to the design of a prominent landmark, god, or village that will be featured in the game. After the Kickstarter ends, we'll get in touch and work with you to develop your idea and figure out how to incorporate it. Leave your mark upon the world of Semanawak for all time!
There are a couple special restrictions on this, however. Firstly, we have broken this reward up into 3 categories--Landmarks, Gods, and Villages--and are only accepting 2 contributors per category, so we don't risk having six people all wanting to design the same thing. If there's a category you really want to contribute to, make sure you donate and claim it quickly!
Secondly, while we promise to do everything we can to work your ideas into the game, there are a few things I will forbid: New Fire is strictly Precolumbian Mesoamerica, so we won't be including any references to Europe, Asia, or other places or times--no white-skinned metal-wearing gods, no ninjas, no lost colony of Greeks, no elves or dwarves, no guns, no steam powered mechas, and so on. Also, we will not be including any references to aliens or visitors from other planets--Semanawak is a magical, fantastical place, but it was built by the people who live there, not by "advanced" visitors from afar.
I do not like placing rules on creativity, and I assure you that I do not forbid these things lightly. I love Euro and Asian fantasy, I love aliens, and I love blending mythologies, but these things have already been explored in many other games. Mesoamerica has not, and it is truly tragic to see such an interesting and beautiful place go so under-appreciated. I sincerely believe that New Fire will be a far better game if we stay in the realm of Mesoamerica-inspired fantasy, and take the road less traveled!
For $300 or $400 you will get the PDF, the signed and potentially color printed Temikamatl, and an original of one of the art pieces displayed here--the ORIGINAL, as in the actual piece of paper upon which the artist drew the actual picture that graces so many pages across the world. With this reward, you will own a piece of New Fire forever. You will always have a unique view into Semanawak to inspire your stories, and always have a token of our most profound thanks for making this game possible!
Each of the three available pieces is listed as its own reward. The two 1/4 page images (Night Axe and the image of Teteoshiwakan) are $300 each, while the 1/2 page image (the Battle Scene) is $400.
Robert is the one who created the atlatl I myself use, and he is an absolute master of his craft! Each atlatl is utterly unique, created specially for New Fire and for this Kickstarter drive. They are very beautiful and also fully functional, equally at home on your wall, on the target range, or out in the forests during hunting season (though make sure you learn and follow all your local laws in regards to atlatl use). You are unlikely to ever find a reward like this on Kickstarter or anywhere else, so act fast--we are only offering up to 5 of these special atlatls!
In addition to all these rewards, anyone who backs us will earn a special place in our hearts and on the Acknowledgements page of the Temikamatl, with a title based on the amount you contributed. Backers who contribute less than $10 will be acknowledged as Tlameme (Porters; those who carry the load). Those who contribute $10-$49 will be credited as Masewaltin (Commoners). Those who contribute $50-$99 will be honored as Pipiltin (Nobles). Those who contribute $100-$499 will be praised as Tetekutin (Lords). And finally, those great souls who contribute $500 or more will be lauded as Tlatokay (Rulers).
US shipping has already been factored into the reward prices, but we humbly ask that any international backers please contribute an additional $10 for shipping to any rewards you select, and $20 if you are getting a poster.
In addition to the printed Temikamatl, we have a number of follow-up ideas to support the core game. Release dates for these have yet to be determined, but if there is sufficient interest I would without question release at least one of these sometime next year:
- The New Fire NPC Deck, a set of cards designed to help Givers of Life populate their worlds with interesting and detailed NPCs. Each card will have a picture of the NPC on one side and stats/description on the other. You may select an interesting cast ahead of time, or you may randomly draw each time the players meet a new NPC!
- The Expanded Profession Supplement, a collection of additional profession-specific mechanics to add greater variety to gameplay and characters. The Temikamatl focuses mostly on four professions--Warriors, Priests, Nahual Sorcerers, and Merchants--but if people are interested in exploring Semanawak in other forms, we would love to offer them!
- The New Fire Journey of the Dead supplement, a book with rules for how to run games set not in Semanawak, but in the Land of the Fleshless, the Underworld. Death is not the end, but rather the beginning of yet another journey. The dead travel through a dark and gloomy land full of skeletons and monsters, facing trials and challenges and ultimately seeking the lowest level of the Underworld, the place where they meet Nakoyomiketl, god of the dead. If they have enough light left within them, they may pass and join with the Sun as it travels through each night. If not, Nakoyomiketl devours them.
These are just a few of the ideas we have ready and waiting. We will also tailor future releases to audience response, expanding and focusing on the areas you find most fascinating! We are the Astrologers, and you are the Stars--we look to you for guidance!
Thank you for your time and interest! We hope you enjoy our game, and are as excited as we are to bring it to the world! Donate today, and help make the Sun rise over Semanawak!
--Jason Caminsky, Lead Designer and Creator
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