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$2,660 pledged of $7,000 goal
By Joe Mcdaldno
$2,660 pledged of $7,000 goal

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Perfect, Unrevised is now finished!

Dear backers,

While the Kickstarter failed, I never stopped working on Perfect, Unrevised. I spent a few extra months fine tweaking it, and had editor Josh Roby take another development pass through the text.

The end result is really awesome. And it's available now! The PDF is $10, and the book is on preorder for $22 (comes with PDF).

The book is 158 pages long, 5.5"x8.5" (half-letter), black & white.
The finished text is about 30,000 words long.
The book includes most of the art from the first edition, plus 4 new pieces (from Kaleigh Barton and Andrew Gillis).

You can find out more, and order, here:
I reminisce about the design process here:
And finally, an early review of the new version here:

If you're still interested, grab a copy!

Joe Mcdaldno

Help spread the word!


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What Freedoms Are Good For

We hit 20%! I've decided that every time we hit another 10% increment, I'm going to post another sneak peak, update or tidbit. I polled some people at to find out what they thought I should post about.

In this new edition, there's better text surrounding Freedoms (the contract laws that one signs in order to climb social ranks). They thought I should share some of that text.

So, without further ado:
Using Freedoms in Play
Freedoms shine a little light on what passes for logic in Cadence. When you sign a Freedom, you are signing your name to a losing bargain - trading away rights that should be inalienable, in exchange for things you should be able to do anyways.

But once you enter play, and you’ve got those Freedoms as part of your character’s back story, what do you actually do with them? Well, regardless of whether you stand in the shoes of antagonist or protagonist, Freedoms are there to be exploited, to hold against your foes.

If you are the protagonist player, search for opportunities to halt the inspectors in their tracks. If you have the Freedom of Privacy, deny them access to your home. If you have Freedom of Thought, feign illiteracy and appear to be unable to answer their questions. Use the Freedoms you have to put up blockades.

They won’t necessarily help, in the long run. The inspectors can still stake out your house, skip the questioning and move directly into accusing, and otherwise sidestep your blockades.

So, what’s the point? Why pull out those narrative stops? The point is that it shifts the power dynamic, and it shifts where the dramatic tension sits. It is no longer a narrative of oppression, but one of two-sided conflict. Two sides, wielding the same weapon – that of a mangled and nightmarish system of law.

And if you are the antagonist player, Freedoms present you with another thing to attack. They point out things that the character in question cannot do, by law. They aren’t trifling things, either. There are Freedoms that remove your right to speak, to touch, to create and to gather. The protagonist player has just painted a giant red target on their character, and it’s there whenever you want to take a shot at it.

Freedoms are new points of conflict, with the ability to redefine the relationship between the criminal and the system. They can be exploited by both the protagonist player and the antagonist player. That’s what they’re good for, in play.
That text is unedited, but there it is!

Feel free to respond with feedback! Or to suggest what the next sneak preview should be!

Things That Have Changed

Brian Peters asked:

"Can you tell me some about what's sweeter and tastier about this new edition? Game-wise, I mean."

Brian, I'd absolutely love to tell you about some of the changes I've made from the first edition book and the upcoming one. Right now, I'll focus on two: I've changed how Aspects work, and I've added Holds.

In the first one, a large part of character creation was creating Aspects. You'd give them a name, and then spend time fiddling with balancing out levels and numbers and strategizing, all before knowing how the game played out or what your choices really meant. The system for building your Aspects was broken - there were a few winning combinations that you'd be silly not to take. Some of the decisions you were making at this pre-game stage (specifically, choosing Fallouts) would have mechanical significance that as a new player would be extremely hard to predict - Fallouts are dangerous across multiple rounds or even sessions of play, not so much in an immediate, concrete moment.

Before play, Aspects were complicated and hard to get a grip on. During play, Aspects were tedious. Since your only way to get ahead in the game was to constantly rely on your small number of Aspects, you are struggling to work "Scent of My Mother's Perfume" and "Vicious Like a Caged Animal" into every single scene. So the system was leading you down a stale and contrived path.

That whole system has been cleaned up, in a major way. You have a Resources score. In a given scene, you decide what your Resources are in that scene, and invoke those numbers that way. During character creation, your choices are dead easy: you can have Resources 6, or you can have Resources 5 and take 2 points worth of Contacts (a slightly more volatile option).

The named-traits-called-Aspects thing still exists, in a different role. You create 3 Aspects, which are phrases that demonstrate things you rely on: Sharp Wit, Flawless Liar, My Father Taught Me a Code, Unremarkable Face, etc. You can invoke 1 per cycle, for a re-roll (a BIG deal in Perfect).

So, now almost all of the mechanical strategizing has been taking out of character creation, and getting started with the game takes about fifteen minutes less. Play is much more about manipulating immediate resources, and much less about rely on fallback strengths.

The other new thing is Holds. I saved it for last because it's best. In the old version of Perfect, the inspectors were always after you, once you'd committed a crime. There were lots of chases and interrogations and invasive home searches, even when it didn't fit a character's narrative, because that's how the game was structured.

There was no, "Jacob, you don't know me. My name is Inspector Raleigh. I've been watching you for quite some time. I'm glad you managed to make it." There was no Inspector looming in the shadows, collecting evidence and building a repertoire of perfect emotional weapons, biding his time.

And mechanically, there wasn't any way for the antagonist to build up resources without just intentionally losing a bunch of times, which really weakened the authority of the inspectors!

Now, when you're the antagonist, you have two choices: do you attempt to capture the criminal, or do you establish a Hold?

Holds are things that will come back to haunt the protagonist character later. They come in two flavours: Minor Holds (evidence, witness testimonies, etc - things that help the antagonist win a test), and Major Holds (secret fears, emotional weaponry, hopes and dreams, the names of loved ones - things that both help the antagonist win a test, and double the stakes).

Holds change the pacing of the game. They lend it "quiet, too quiet" moments, and then they bring the hammer down and smash everything to pieces.

Source material where Holds are ruthlessly accumulated and then dropped all at once: A Clockwork Orange. Source material where the antagonist is focused on constantly weedling down a character: Quills.

Holds in A Clockwork Orange might be stuff like: He loved the music of Beethoven; "Singing in the Rain".

So, those are two changes I'm really excited about with the new system. Mechanical resources that don't require a lot of forehead-scratching during character creation, and that lend themselves to dynamic and fluid stories; and, a way for the antagonist to bide their time, to get their dirty little strings deeper into your head before they start tugging.

Hopefully that stuff excites you too!

10 in 10. And 5 to give away.


We managed to raise 10% of the goal in the first 10 hours. At less than half a day, we're already sitting at $790, which is radical. Totally radical.

I wanted to mention something that I forgot to include in the original text: 5% of the initial print run (so, 25-50 books, depending on how many I print overall) are going to be set aside as give-away copies. I'll send a few to reviewers, and a few to the library system, and donate the rest to conventions (door prizes & giveaways) and awesome causes (charity auctions, raffles, etc). Specifically, my goal is to get them into the hands of people who would be interested in gaming but not already steeped in it - people at steampunk conventions and literary festivals, for example.

So, yeah!

10% raised in under 10 hours.
And: I'm going to be giving 5% of the print run to reviewers, convention organizers and charity events.

I'll check in again soon.